Saturday, June 19, 2010

finding old friends

what was once desire
has fallen to morbid curiosity:
how many cocks will crow
before someone weeps bitterly?

Monday, June 14, 2010


Jimmy knew he was too old to play under his grandparent's house, but he could not resist the temptation today. Having moved with his mother out of the neighborhood for almost two years now--an eternity at age thirteen and a half--all his friends had forgotten him, and were certainly too old to play such games as 'club-under-the-house'.

Jimmy walked around to the side of the house to use the most obscured entrance to the mysterious cavern of his childhood. Standing at the low entrance, he could feel the coolness leaking out into the summer heat, and against his face. A quick glance around proved that his entrance into the cave could only be observed from his old friend Brian's front porch through a gap in the low brush surrounding him. All was quiet at Brian's house.

Jimmy ducked into the cave with one quick motion--out of the hot summer afternoon and into the dark, damp, mysterious underworld of the house. After a moment to allow his eyes to adjust, Jimmy found himself in the inner sanctum of his childhood. Strewn on the earth floor, the old talismans were still laying about. Folded and broken-legged lay the old road construction sawhorse, with it's heavy battery that kept it's yellow light blinking for two days after it was stolen. Half-buried in the dirt, the varnished-bedpost-turned-Tiki-God stared up with it's deep, shadowy carvings. The frowning Tiki God always gave Jimmy chills up his spine, especially when he was alone.

Jimmy crawled deeper into the underworld, toward the opposite side of the house, where the flooring above and the dirt below constricted, forcing the visitor of this Exalted Shrine to crawl forward on their belly, swallowing the beginnings of claustrophobic fear. Reaching the dark space along the far inner wall, Jimmy pulled the loose brick from the cubbyhole in the cement block wall, exposing an old lunchbox. It seems that all profound objects of childhood --things too adult to be understood by grownups--were small enough to fit easily into a small box: hoarded cigarettes that were carefully doled out during bonding rites and ceremonies; cutouts from girlie magazines, folded and refolded until the reclining women bore deep, white vertical and horizontal scars on their glossy-surfaced skin.

Before opening the box, Jimmy slid back into the more comfortable domain of the Bedpost. Holding the rusted steel box in his lap, he could feel the warm excitement in his lap--the camaraderie and first lust contained within. Jimmy opened the box. A beetle was trying desperately to scale the vertical walls and escape the nearly empty box, his home-turned-prison-cell. All the contents of the box had long been removed except for a small book of matches advertising a local grocery store. Each item, in turn, had been used to grant a single club member entrance into adulthood. All that was left for Jimmy was a damp book containing two matches, and the scorn of an angry beetle.

Jimmy sat in the cool space of the clubhouse remembering times when everyone knew who they were supposed to be, and what they were supposed to be doing. Brian was a couple of years older than him, but up until two years ago they were best friends. Now, when Brian saw Jimmy, he pretended to not know him. Brian now smoked openly on his way to his new car. Brian now ferried girls in his new car, girls louder and younger than the ones kept folded in the secret box.

Crawling back to the entrance of the cave, Jimmy slipped back into the hot summer air, and began brushing off his dusty, cobwebbed clothing. He looked up and saw Brian standing on his front porch. Cigarette hanging from his mouth, Brian looked over and acknowledged Jimmy's existence for the first time in two years. Brian took the cigarette from his lips, blew smoke toward Jimmy, and laughed sarcastically at him before stepping off the porch, and walking toward his car.

Caught cherishing some discarded fragment of time, crimsoned-faced Jimmy took his time removing the last of his childhood from his clothing.

sand creature

Judy winced as the sand creature first conformed itself, then sank it's lower tentacles into the base of her index finger. An unpleasant sensation crawled up her arm. First numbness, then burning pain. Judy cried out loud as the pain hit her elbow joint. "That was plenty loud enough to be heard over the com," she thought to herself, hoping no one was listening. She had promised herself to not be a crybaby, regardless of how painful this procedure might be. She did not expect it to hurt this bad.

For a moment, Judy wished she were back on earth - to be off this over-baked, poor excuse of a planet - curled up in bed, plugged into her VPod, experiencing a virtual adventure. This was no VPod game. For one thing, the pain would have already triggered a shutdown, and the pain was getting worse as the burning sensation crawled up her arm and into her body. The puking would also have triggered a shutdown, as the fire reached her stomach. Down on her knees, she caught herself before she fell completely forwards. "A little more gravity on this planet, and I would be face-down in my lunch," she thought to herself.

Judy placed her other hand on the ground to brace herself, "Why did I choose this assignment in the first place?" she though, "I had seniority. I could be exploring the lush, blue Kanthar moons right now. But no, I had to prove that I was up for any assignment...they are laughing at me right now...I am such a fool!" Judy deposited the remainder of her lunch onto the gray-black sand.

The creature attached to Judy knew exactly what it was doing: It had been lying in the sand, waiting for decades, perhaps longer, for a potential symbiont brave enough to stick an appendage into it's burrow. "Probably not brave, just stupid," Judy thought as she weakly stood up, noticing that her finger was dripping blood, spiced with streaks of a pale-green substance, onto the warm sand.

The creature attached to her finger had protruded four upper tendrils and was groping the air, searching for something else to cling to. Judy had a sense that she was groping the air. When the creature felt movements in the air current, or when it's body was stretched as Judy made a fist, Judy felt these same sensations. She was feeling what the creature was feeling. If she concentrated on the creatures tendrils, she could make them stop moving, or make them move from side to side - losing her concentration, the tendrils would again blindly grope the air. She also had a an overwhelming, almost sensual desire to attach herself to something else. "This is so disgusting," she murmured - quietly enough not to be heard on the com system.

The sand creature was becoming part of Judy, or was she was becoming part of the creature?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

excerpts from the work of Bruno Schulz

My plan was to add some excerpts from Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories while re-reading the book, for how many times? However, I am finding it difficult to dissect his work. Like a fractal, any part of the whole is complete and noteworthy, yet it is difficult for me to select any given slice, since the text on either side of my demarcation is just as profound as what I originally roped off. I find myself scooping up more and more border material until I am left holding the entire contents of the book. If you have never read the collection of stories, my suggestion is to purchase a copy and place it beside the bed. The following might give you an idea if this suggestion is appropriate.

An attempt:

Excerpts from Street Of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schulz, translated by Celina Wieniewska

(from forward by Jonathan Safran Foer)
There are things Schulz wrote, "that cannot ever occur with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them. And they quickly withdraw, fearing to lose their integrity in the frailty of realization." Our lives, the big and magnificent lives we can just barely make out beneath the mere facts of our lifestyles, are always trying to occur. But save for a few rare occasions--falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, a revelatory moment in nature--they don't occur; the big magnificence is withdrawn. Stories rub at the facts of our lives. They give us access--if only for a few hours, if only in bed at the end of the day--to what's beneath.

But rub is too gentle a word for Schulz's writing. And what it uncovers is nothing like a fairy tale. I remember the first time I read The Street of Crocodiles. I loved the book, but didn't like it. The language was too heightened, the images too magical and precarious, the yearnings too dire, the sense of loss too palpable--everything was comedy or tragedy. The experience was too intense to be pleasant, in large part because it reminded me of how mundane--how unintense--my life was.


(from introduction by David A Goldfarb)
Schulz maintains that, when viewed through the "poetic" imagination, any degraded scrap of reality-- anything that might be found in the world's tandeta, a Polish word describing goods that are shoddy, cast off, second-rate, or trashy--might reveal the qualities of the sublime.


(from The Street of Crocodiles)
Once Adela took me to the old woman's house. It was early in the morning when we entered the small blue-walled room, with it's mud floor, lying in a patch of bright yellow sunlight in the still of the morning broken only by the frightening loud ticking of a cottage clock on the wall. In a straw-filled chest lay the foolish Maria, white as a wafer and motionless like a glove from which a hand had been withdrawn. And, as if taking advantage of her sleep, the silence talked, the yellow, bright, evil silence delivered it's monologue, argued, and loudly spoke its vulgar maniacal soliloquy. Maria's time--the time imprisoned in her soul--had left her and--terribly real--filled the room, vociferous and hellish in the bright silence of the morning, rising from the noisy mill of the clock like a cloud of bad flour, powdery flour, the stupid flour of madmen.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

a deer in headlights

For the most part, I stand stunned, caught between zeros and ones fashioned into deception, and the tight, unexpanding circle of vices and menial tasks that expose nothing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


cut to commercial

(chance meeting of two friends in line at grocery store. cut into ongoing conversation)

Friend 1: So, how have you been doing?
Friend 2 Oh about the same, I guess.

(freeze and pull back from conversation)

off camera voice: Do you have average health?
Are you concerned you might be sick even though you feel OK?
You may be suffering from Average Health Syndrome.
Average Health Syndrome is a condition with a specific set of symptoms that can be diagnosed by your doctor.
Studies show that over 80% of people with prescription drug coverage suffer from untreated Average Health Syndrome.
Now there might be help.

(cut to man in doctor suit)

Doctor: I am here to talk to you about a new medication. (hold up bottle) Hypochondriasol. In clinical studies, people with average health who took Hypochondriasol, and were asked if they felt better, were three times more likely to respond, "yes", or at least "I think so".
(new camera angle)
Hypochondriasol was designed by a person with average health, for a person with average health.
(new camera angle)
Only your doctor can determine if you have average health for your age, and if Hypochondriasol might be right for you.

(cut to very non-threatening view of children playing in a grassy park)

Really quick voice:Warning: Hypochondriasol is not for everyone. Hypochondriasol should not be taken by people who are really sick. This medication may cause headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bleeding from ears, or dry mouth. Discontinue this medication, and consult your doctor if you experience periods of elation lasting more than four hours, as this may be disruptive to future pharmaceutical ad campaigns, and also may be a symptom of a rare, but serious side effect which could cause your head to explode. Hypochondriasol should not be taken with other drugs that were developed before their corresponding illnesses were concocted.

(new scene of friends in line at grocery store)

Friend 1: So, how have you been doing?
Friend 2 Oh about average..., actually..., maybe a little better than average.

(freeze image of friend 2 smiling)

off camera voice: Ask your doctor about Hypochondriasol.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

duct tape

As yet another proof of the wonders of duct tape:

Remember the difficulties NASA encountered finding a material that would allow space shuttles to re-enter the earth's atmosphere without overheating and burning up?

A little known fact is that Russia had this problem solved nearly a decade earlier using an extract from ordinary duct tape. This compound, dubbed 'Factor D', has extraordinary insulation properties. A layer of Factor D one tenth of a millimeter thick has the same insulating properties as a stack of space shuttle tiles stacked over twenty feet thick.

To put this into perspective, if the surface of the sun was sprayed with a thin coat of Factor D, and hotdogs were placed on this protective layer, you would have to wait over 10,000 years before the wienies were warm enough to serve!

When two Factor D molecules touch, it is also nearly impossible to peel them apart - Factor D more than likely plays an important role in duct tape's adhesion.

Presently, the high cost of Factor D makes it's use impractical by the general public. (Nearly 8,000 cubic feet of duct tape must be refined to extract one milligram of pure Factor D). It is estimated, however, that the average single-family home, properly insulated with Factor D, would have a combined heating and cooling bill of US$0.11 per decade.

The Russian scientist, Dr. Alexander Morozov, who first discovered Factor D has authored two books on the subject that are now available in English, Finding 'D' - One Scientists Journey, and The Effects of Tape Adhesion on the Class Struggle.