Friday, December 31, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Forty-One

spirit car and driver goes right through you, right! Maybe you notice. Maybe no. But then spirit goes off on his own track, one completely perpendicular to yours, maybe all the way to the next town or he crosses three borders, showing his passport at each one and getting his passport stamped with artful rubber stamps. He jokes with the border agents about how the passport photo doesn’t look like him at all. He buys some groceries or souvenirs or invests in spiritual real estate. Eventually he comes back and this time he’s pacing you on the left. He’s wearing

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Forty

trying to get across, utilizing a metaphor with which you were familiar (but I seem to have been thinking of a metaphor with which someone else I once knew was familiar, he was big into cars, big cars, and fast cars), was a different way of looking at the interaction between the worlds. Let me go back to the highway you’re driving down, right, I don’t get the house thing, sue me, and your spirit self careens out of the right lane, the fast lane, and plows right into you, only instead of you guys getting in a big wreck,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thousand: Two Hunded Thirty-Nine

are no crashes. Keep your eyes on the road! There are no airbags in spirit world! Uh. I call myself a butler, not a driving instructor. Butler? That’s weird. Why would you do that? I consider the person a house which is inhabited and visited by spirits. Keeping those spirits in harmony, working together for the good of all, that is what I advertise. I used to advertise, but now I get all my work via referral. I assumed you knew what I did. Why hire me otherwise? I see. Yes. We’re inhabiting different worlds. You see, what I was

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Eight

In the physical world you are driving along in your Toyota sedan convertible XL3 turbo hybrid with racing stripes. The spirit realm is the next lane over and your spirit self is piloting the spirit equivalent of a Toyota Cressilantro. If you take your eyes off the road you can glance over at your spirit self and maybe your spirit self glances back, there’s an immediate connection, and sparks fly. In your case you try to get the two drivers to coordinate who perhaps weren’t, who were racing each other, say, or drifting apart. You want to make sure there

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Seven

up to the flow, and becomes one with it. One is such a lonely number. So you imagine the spirit world to be essentially the same world as the one you’re familiar with, that’s right, Samuel? Only to the left, just off stage, running parallel. Concurrent with, hewing to somewhat different laws. Laws a mercy. That’s not totally wrong. Who could ever be totally wrong! It’s not like the universe doesn’t have enough space for every wrong to be right. Or the multitude of universes stacked upon, within, below and through. I’m going to get didactic here for a sec.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two Hundred Thirty-Six

sparkly at that), or the number of cilia in my intestines, are these me? It’s an old question. I could count back to the first year it was asked. I’m spirit, we can do things like that. Though it involves more travel than I’m interested in at the moment. He takes a deep breath. A necessary breath or one for show? Are you doubting my sincerity? I didn’t say anything. Samuel isn’t even sure he thought something. Samuel has trained his mind to ride the currents at the border between the spirit and the concrete. He doesn’t doubt, he opens

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Five

led him through the red land, who disappeared into the pool. The blond curls, the shoulders, and he has a good-sized cock, too. Well. You look good dead, Mayor. Call me Ed. Ed. You look good. Yes. Thanks. I never really looked like this. This is my Peter Frampton spirit self. Peter Frampton lost his hair, too. Are you ashamed of what you really looked like? The now-familiar smile. Not at all. But are you your face? Are these limbs, this (he glances down at his sex) endowment, the blue paint on my toenails (yes, Samuel notes, blue polish and

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Four

into the flesh, digging with his teeth. Samuel feels a gentle pressure, like a massage, and a wetness. He looks out over the city. Half of it is in darkness and atwinkle with lights. On the other half the sun blazes, washing the shadows until they are sheer and hide nothing. Samuel looks down again and sees Mayor Rumiere, Ed, has located the pull cord; the yellow ring grip protrudes from the palm while the injured flesh drips a watery blood. There, Ed, says, wiping his mouth. He stands up, facing Samuel, naked. No surprise that it’s the youth who

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Three

they glide apart with the grace of elephants and the sun stretch its long warm legs upon the tiles like a proud spider? What do you think? Tell us. I think he took too many theoceuticals. Entheogens? God is a chemical. Who? The mayor takes Samuel’s hand and leads him out of the bathroom, both stepping carefully over the draped corpse. I’m sorry, he says. The noise in there could wake Brahma. At the window, a very nice window, you can easily forget it and drift over the city, the mayor, call me Ed, kisses Samuel’s palm, no, he’s biting

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-Two

end of the lining, isn’t it. Shut up. The tranquility, then, was amazing, wouldn’t you say? The solar disk ceased to ripple. The wind quit moaning and lay down in its own dust. The water going into the drain whispered as closely against the drainpipe’s wall as it could navigate to do. Very little splashing. The dying became circumspect. The angels, yes, even the angels, lowered their incessant and essential gossiping to a low background murmur. And what of you, Samuel, service worker, organizer, butler? How is the shine on the art pottery? And the drapes, upon the drawing, don’t

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty-One

there dead about? I wouldn’t know dead. Dead is done, isn’t it? What is dead going to do with tears! The day is measured out in soup spoons, coffee cups, ampoules, and seed pods. We carry our houses on our heads, the rain sloughing off the shingles, sluicing down the gutters onto the nice shirts our mothers pressed for us. Frankly, I think you are too tall. 3900 feet and rising? My name is Samuel P. Good4U. Isn’t. A new tolerance shall be construed over the objections of sundry restrictionists. The nice thing about asceticism is the et. It’s the

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirty

leanings. Watch the red line. No, take the red line. Line up in yellow. The linings of clouds are of a spongy material that naturally holds heat and repels cold. The ignorance of the other side has often been likened to a pizza, particularly with basil and olives, more rarely with three kinds of cheese. And this, said the angel, is what your tears taste like. Ethereal eternal tears, the tears that have been stowed in the box of destiny just for you. When did you say that? I always say that. You say that to all the dead? Is

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two Hundred Twenty-Nine

What do they come to? You mean, when do they come to? There’s nothing letting the light in. The dark room has your name on it. Things develop in the dark. Pictures come out of it to the slightly less dark. Eyes lose their red eye. Ah, yes. Look into the red, my love. Let the red rise, full of head, and spill over. Blink. Remember to breathe. Put that out there. The first breath of winter. The cloud doesn’t know its linings. Are they green? Growing and leaved, fruited and fresh. Are they black? Samuel. Listen to the green

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Eight

name is the name you give yourself. Or the name pressed on you when you’re born? You grow into your name. It’s a hope. It’s a dream. It’s a change. It’s tradition. Gathered into the tribe. Your story is the name’s story. All story gets name. Names weren’t the first words. Nowhere near. If they were, they’d be easy to remember. And you know they are hard! You should earn a name. You should pay for a name. A name should eat your breakfast. Or be breakfast. I been crossin’ names off de liss ah day. And adding them up.

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Seven

know. Muhammads? Haven’t seen one. Not lately. There was a spate. There are places in the world. A capital attitude. That’s what she told me. You are angry at me over nothing, she said. A death in the family and then what? You expect sympathy for every sob. It’s not going to happen. The world is a hard place. The stones crumble along the rim. Those are the obvious ones. But down here, hidden under the grass, the stones below, cracks here too, and all the way through. Samuel. That’s his name. The name he’s chosen for himself. The truer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Six

can catch a peep. This one can hear you, you know. What attitude! You wonder what a meat is thinking, don’t you. You can lay thought eggs in their heads. I’ve done it. Makes ‘em writhe in bed, it does. The other day a Jesus was sitting with us, we’re poking it in the belly, poking it in the belly, we are, and it keeps hissing at us, hissing! Like it’s going to scare somebody. Not a demon, one of the Jesuses, blood dripping from its hands and all, gash in the side, crown of thorns, the whole bit. You

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Five

those painful-looking yogic positions that takes so much work to achieve. Being able to still the body does help one escape distraction when keying into the subtle vibrations. Something about this client has destabilized the expected connections. The worlds are no longer aligned. Hopefully it’s a localized phenomenon. In any case it wouldn’t be the first time. Samuel has had hints of this on previous jobs, a little doubling of the person, phantom scents and voices. Could throw you if you hadn’t any training. Samuel is listening past several conversations, most of them not taking place where the surveillance system

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Four

The august retrovert, supplied by the near term servant class, ordered by cinder by, a newsy crew flattering tidy teak ash avocets. Wonder of partners, the green whiff of the merry eventuality. I see you’ve returned with that headache. Let me put it to you this way. Another bath. Yes, you have not a corpse but a tinsel. Samuel takes off his shoes and settles down on the flooded tile floor of the bath. The bloated body of the billionaire mayor, neatly covered with a sheet, stretches full length on a pink rug. Samuel tucks his legs into one of

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Three

beautiful he combines two realities, puts the stem of a striped lily to his lips and draws deep into his third spirit self its silvery smoke. “Allegro,” he says. “Another one unctuous.” But Samuel moves on across valleys of burnishment and glacial esprit. A nervous elegance destroys a stolid blanch at the union of the avalanche and the nostrum. Ms L’s face stands for the revolutionary in hard candies, but for the red stripes of the white peppermint wheel. After the rebuff of two and the commission of a lightly greased ceiling, a candled chandelier hungers into the master bath.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-Two

the errand, like an abraxas, know what I mean, a grand refibrillator in the sense a symbolist might enhance with a parabolic wave and a parson’s whip. Friends occasionally recompense the fandango, okay, but what I’m really after is a pulchritude bombarded with the vagaries of wine and Roosevelt heat. I don’t see why elderberries knock spiral-bound salt savages for a loop in a novena. It just isn’t video. The far version. What has to happen, even in these benighted orgiastic avenues, is welt gravy parboiled, vanishing specks of garden art.” One of the other EMTs, a black boy so

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty-One

up short of heaven, and the toe of an angel jabs him in the eye. Ms L’s third form steps out, followed by her second form. The angel, leaning from a mattress of unknowing cloud, nibbles on Samuel’s ear, the one that seems most relevant at the moment. Three emergency medical technicians are smoking in the penthouse foyer and chatting about seraphim classes. The prettiest looks Samuel over as, distracted by the nudging of the angel, he bumps a potted fern. “I don’t know,” the EMT says, “if another certification is absolutely necessary. The daylight model is a frame around

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twenty

if heard with an ear he doesn’t yet have access to. Although he has been working this terrain for years now, he isn’t ready. His own spirits (or, better, one might say, those spirits that have chosen to cooperate with his business) have negotiated positive outcomes for over one hundred clients, and his reputation has been well regarded across two planes. This reality and the spirit world have been enough to deal with. But as the elevator barrels upward, at least four realities and eight spirit worlds are sliding apart and in conjunction. His stomach lurches as the elevator pulls

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Nineteen

rapid that Samuel’s spiritual and physical bodies move out of sync. Ms L also doubles, then triples, although her emotional affect does not alter. Not so far as Samuel can tell, anyway. And he has the advantage of being able to compare her spirit versions to her physical version or versions. In that rapidly rising elevator there seem to be multiple realities, each the sort to which we apply the term readily, a world one apprehends with the senses, a shared world, a world that behaves. Samuel hears resonances, some as song, some as noise, which might also be song

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Eighteen

in the bath. If he were to try to bite it, it would bounce away before his jaws, too small to encompass it, its skin too resistant to his blunt human teeth to be caught and held. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t tempting to try. He closes his eyes and the water closes over his head. Is it leaking through the zipper? When he opens his eyes Ms L the mayor’s appointment secretary is squeezing his hand. “Mayor Rumiere is asking for you.” Samuel Obie nods. He follows her to the private penthouse elevator. The elevator’s rise is so

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Seventeen

inner body. You think the soul resides somewhere inside. It doesn’t. The spirit body resonates on the spirit plane, coterminous with the physical body on the plane we consider reality. Samuel runs his tongue over the zipper where it cinches his upper lip. Yet another thing that’s always been there that he’s never noticed. The red dot is blinking. Other dots are converging upon it. Dots of different and uncomfortable color. The water is up to his knees, the water is up to his ass, the water tips into his navel, a closed port. An apple bobs like an iceberg

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Sixteen

head, feeling for the thread that will start the raveling. There is no such thread. However, he does find a zipper. He fingers its rough teeth, edges along them until they run out at the base of his skull. Then he fumbles forward, trembling, he has to take off the heavy work gloves in order to feel every tooth of the zipper. The grip will be where? He traces the zipper over the top of his head, down his forehead, down the nose, over the lip. Like train tracks into a tunnel it plunges into the hidden world of his

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Fifteen

bug bites, which are starting to itch. He pulls a handkerchief out of the pocket of his pea coat and, mopping his brow, knocks off his fedora. The wool scarf, fine as it is, is also itchy, so Samuel whips it off and drops it in the mud. He takes off his glasses, having never needed glasses. He peels off the swim cap that was hiding under the fedora and the yarmulke that was bobby-pinned to his scalp under the cap. He dangles from two fingers the toupee to which the yarmulke is pinned. The other hand probes his damp

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Fourteen

quickly. He bends his knees, and dives. Samuel reaches to unbutton his collar. His tie is in the way. It’s a red tie with tiny yellow paiselys. His mother-in-law gave it to him before she died. She was standing on the roof, which was where his birthday party was being thrown, and she was laughing as she tossed the wrapped box in the air, catching it, tossing it, laughing. Something tickles his fingers. A spider. Tiny and red, bigger than a mite, easily. Must have been living in the red grass. The back of his hand is dotted with red

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Thirteen

Samuel wants to say. Let’s strip naked and wallow in the mud. But the youth. Youth? Has drawn them to a pool, a swimming hole under a spreading oak. A slow moving stream spreads into a wide half circle. He steps out of his trousers and underwear. The chest is sunken, the hair on it gray. His lips are thin, his cheekbones jutting. This is an old man. But when he looks over at Samuel his smile is as warm as before, the same smile, unhurt by the bodily transformation. He sloshes into the shallows. The water ascends his calves

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Twelve

spotted, and the skin isn’t flattering the muscles of the back but sagging, not hanging off, this is no sudden horror, but the skin betrays a looseness Samuel notices, he decides, only because he has been admiring the back’s shape and movement. When did the hair go? It’s gone. The youth might have been bald for years. Samuel looks down at the hand pulling him along. He follows willingly enough. The hand is cool now and dry. His own is sweaty and must feel hot because his clothes stick to him and they itch. Let’s take off all our clothes,

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Eleven

going to marsh, and they are surprised by puddles they don’t see until they’ve stepped in up to the knee in grass that looked as firm as lawn. They are slogging now, not bothering to pull their bodies onto the relatively dry, solid humps because they’d just have to step right off again. In this increasingly difficult trek Samuel wonders where they are going. He slows, though the muck has already slowed them, and his tiring would be expected, and he watches the back ahead. The pink skin, once rosy from too much sun, perhaps, has gone pale and faintly

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Ten

They lurch and stumble from lump to bump. Samuel sits suddenly, a foot having slipped on the grass, and he loses his grip. Oh, he says. That was. That was. He looks up. The young man is smiling mildly down at him, his skin creased at the edges of his lips, crinkling by his eyes, his chin roughened with reddish beard. And how his hairline has receded! The body is thicker. More than full, it seems to be carrying a weight it hasn’t grown used to. Samuel takes the offered hand and rises again. The ground beneath the hummocks is

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Nine

back, shadows touching its curves, flickering over the valley down its center, becomes a new landscape that Samuel sees himself wandering across, a landscape of yielding stone, warm and comforting, where he can explore his solitude. The young man glances over his shoulder, bemused, and Samuel grins sheepishly, as though his every thought were being read already by the young man’s skin. The golden light penetrates the hair at his crown, illumining a circle. Where the hair is thinning? So young and beautiful and balding? The ground becomes hummocky now, which makes it more difficult to hold the other’s hand.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Eight

walk, the youth knowing where they are going. Fields of grass, a red grass, not red all the way through, not like they’ve been splashed with paint left over from the candy store or even a barn, but a rough grass that scratches against Samuel’s pant legs, a species of grass that’s got a hint of red in its green, like a presentiment of something unexpected that becomes banal before one has taken ten steps. And the air, too, has taken on a gold, which begins to accept its own red, a sunset combination, isn’t it? The young man’s naked

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Seven

newly spread and muscled, his hand squeezing the butler’s. A reassurance. And the eyes, like in a photograph, red. A red glowing at the center of each. Samuel lifts his free hand to touch a cheek, but the youth steps back. He pulls Samuel by the hand, and Samuel follows, readily. The youth’s first steps are backwards so he can continue to look Samuel over. Samuel feels caressed by the look, not exposed, received rather, accepted? Which feels wonderful. You think you don’t need anyone’s approval, but when you feel it, feel it so thoroughly, you tremble, you laugh. They

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Six

the way one should feel, the way one should always feel. O! That is how a name used to begin, the one that drew him. What does it mean to him now? O circle, start on you anywhere and go on from there, go on, go on. No stopping until the traveler decides to, until he puts his foot down and points it in a new direction. The hand he is holding is not his own. A youth, his soft cheeks unbearded, dark curls around big ears, his eyes bright as in a photograph, his long neck descending to shoulders

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Five

gleaming, pulsing. It has muscle, this red. It has strength, this red. Heat. Are those flames? Skinny, velvet flames, like the ribbons on a present. It’s funny. A gift of love. From me to you. Nobody’s laughing at you. We are all laughing together. It’s funny. It’s a funny life, isn’t it? Sammy, Sammy. It’s a funny life, is it not? Way down in the pit, way down at the bottom, a white glimmer, he sees the spread of his teeth. His practiced, professional smile relaxing into joy. Yes, the transcendental butler is off duty. Or maybe this is just

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Four

throbs. The red dot. Is it whispering? Is it growing? Fatter. Thicker. Deeper. Samuel hears laughter. He closes his eyes. The darkness is red. Red and spreading. He puts out his hand. There is no resistance. Maybe this isn’t the spirit world. He opens his eyes. That, however, is not easy. He opens his eyes. He tries again, expelling his breath in the effort. The laughter, distant, then close, soft, is it even there?, then parked in his ear like a motor revving in a garage. The darkness is red, but it is not a dark red now. It is

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Three

walkie talkie and runs from the room. Mr Opie, the transcendental butler, rubs an eyebrow and watches the unmoving red dot. It may not be moving but it is not dead. The dot. The man, yes, the mayor is dead. Of what did he die? He drowned. But that only means his lungs filled up with water. Did he overdose on medications? On contraband? Did someone push the old man under, hold him down so the water could find its way where the air used to, could enter him and take up the space his life occupied? The red dot

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred Two

ringtone. “Odd,” says the appointment secretary. “He has voice control answering.” She whispers the next, “He will pick up no matter what he’s doing. Sometimes I hear him farting. Panting.” Resuming a normal volume, “So far as I can tell he doesn’t care who hears. He likes us to know where he is, so has the penthouse rigged to capture his movements. A red dot on this schematic is him. Yes, always. Guests are randomly assigned other colors. It is that sophisticated. I’m trying a louder alarm now. Mr Rumiere, Mr Rumiere. OK. Pardon me.” Ms L snatches up a

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred One

fingers a hint of that ancient obstacle. This world or the other one, you can’t have both. You can’t have both. He is humming this as though it were the lyric to a pop song. You can’t have both you can’t you can’t you can’t have both, baby. If you were to get there before me, I’d find you there, I’d find you there. I’ll take you there. The billionaire mayor whose spirit house the transcendental butler is to put back in order has not yet been found drowned in his bathtub. The telephone in the bathroom coos its dove-like

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thousand: Two Hundred

would curse as they scraped it away. No worries. It’s only a dream. Nothing bad can happen in a dream. Samuel is walking to his meeting. He remembers reaching through the resistance, stroking the cheek of the man he had been, the man who was afraid. That makes his lips curl. Afraid! Fear real things. Not spirits. His career is predicated on the unreal these days. It was that dream that dispelled the wall, what had seemed solid becoming a passage. Whenever he has to cross from the here and now to the other realm he feels again in his

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Nine

that had whipped his hair against his cheeks, that had rippled and puffed his shirt, that had tugged at his pants (wasn’t he glad he’d worn a snug belt!), that had rushed through the seams of his shoes and cooled the sweat in the toes of his socks. The wind had not quit, hadn’t stood aside in favor of some other power. That body was still on target to slam into the side of the building, was heading there directly. If something wasn’t done in less than a second, he’d be fly on the windshield, a smoosh the window washers

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Eight

been dying he feared. Rather, he said to himself, getting up from the black leather office chair, he was afraid to leave the world of sensation. He pressed his hand against the glass, its blue no more blue from this side than any sky when you are in it. The hand held to the window encountered not a surface but resistance, an unwillingness to go on. The body he had been flying was still in the phenomenal world, stretched out, suspended. No, that was wrong. It wasn’t suspended, it was flying. The wind it rode blew with the same strength

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Seven

bang into it, he struggled. He struggled against the inevitable. This was not how it would end. What was about to happen, no. The great blue face of glass stared his death at him. Only, it wasn’t death. That’s not what he thought was coming. Perhaps he would not have recognized death if he had been awake and launched on a collision course with 182 stories of financial district. It’s not that he knew what it was, but when he was sitting in a board room in the building, looking out at the distant fields, he realized it had not

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Six

anymore. It’s like he never had it. It was a mirage. After he’d walked through it he looked back and nothing was there. How could it be real? It left a residue, a new last name. “Obie. Is that Irish?” “Obie. Are you related to the Obie of the Obie Awards?” Once he dreamt he was flying. He soared over the a checkerboard of green and greener fields. A city appeared on the horizon. As it came closer he lost altitude. The air grew bumpy. A skyscraper of blue glass loomed. As soon as he realized he was going to

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Five

new policies that improve the interplay of spirit forces, that create the optimal environment for spirit entities, so far as can be determined considering the current state of things. He’s done pretty well for himself. Travels the world. Fucks beautiful women, occasionally hires a boy for himself. Just to carry his luggage. And for the nude massages. Plus he likes to be paternal. He doesn’t like children. But he likes to help people. Samuel Obie. Mr Obie. It’s not actually his name. O and B are his initials. Or they used to be. He doesn’t go by that other name

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Four

there also are those who are guests. There are invaders, too, but a butler is not an exorcist. You can’t do everything. The spirits of the throat want to work with the spirits of the lungs, but misunderstandings can occur. A butler’s job is to make sure the household runs smoothly, that the spirits who need to work together know their jobs and the spirits who oughtn’t be in each other’s business are occupied with their own. He’s more a consultant than a servant; he reviews the comity and efficiency of your spirit community, makes recommendations, oversees the implementation of

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Three

sum up creation, creation’s purposes, and the context of creation within the greater realms. Spirit is not more important than flesh, but it is more durable. The transcendental butler is a practical man. He doesn’t like long explications of systems, how future meshes with parafuture, past with pastime, present with omnipresent or subpresent. He’s found some things that work and he sticks with them, whatever the ultimate culmination explanation is. He calls himself a “butler” because he sees you as a house, a big house, in which various entities come and go. There are those who are permanent residents, but

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-Two

at a conference on business ethics under the dome, peaceful as a pizza, with the end result known only to the calculator. The spirit remembers, vaguely, what it will be like to remember experiencing the emotions of flesh, although much of history won’t yet have been written, writing being invented by parrots in a negotiation with crows. Writing has been invented several times by writers who never heard of each other, never read anything, and are too busy masturbating to understand the language of signs. Nevertheless, in paradise, the wise advisor explained, everyone is a word, and their meanings all

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety-One

the spirit please check November 11th for an afternoon interview as he was to meet a potential client that day, he is sure, yet can find but no mention of it in his day book. It’s okay, the spirit advisor wanted to say, that client was an ephemeral manifestation of the coming change that will reorder the world, not an ending but a realignment that will benefit some and be worse for others. The client exists, yes, and last week you rescheduled her for December 10th per a request from her son who called to say she was needed

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ninety

it said, or would say to a future self, which, the spirit advisor did not tell the transcendental butler, would be the transcendental butler at some point, although describing the events that would bring that about, while laid out with the lucid perfection of paradise, remained somewhat mysterious to the spirit advisor. When it tried in a roundabout way to share with the transcendental butler the insights afforded by a conversation with one’s paradisal self the butler got grumpy, snappish, claimed he was fine, thank you, not bothered by any of this, but he had a schedule to maintain and

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Nine

Paradise Falls or twenty-three to Paradise Lake. Paradise Park, Paradise Valley, Paradise Hill, it adds up. Then there are the transdimensional charges, discounted for spirit callers, true, but not negligible. Transdimensional calling is surprisingly affordable, although technically impossible. The transcendental butler’s spiritual advisor had been talking to its own future self ensconced in paradise. Yes, the real paradise, where everything’s perfect and the lion lies down with the lamb in an only incidentally sexual manner, the heavens rain lemonade, and everyone lives forever as far as it possible to determine. The advisor in paradise offered a few perspectives worth considering

Monday, November 08, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Eight

and toast and sipping at a tiny foam-topped espresso. Though dawn had managed and the curtains drawn from the windows, lamps had to be lit. The butler squinted at his day book, then, with a disapproving grunt, opened his electronic personal assistant, so-called, to make sure the two agreed. For several years he had relied upon a spiritual back up, but it took sides in a conflict between clients getting a divorce and began feeding the butler bogus appointments. It’s only so humorous to discover $50 charges on the phone bill for ten minutes talking to Paradise or twenty to

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Seven

yellow and vaguely barbell-shaped. As the transcendental butler is called upon to bring all the client’s service spirits into a harmonic working relationship and the sleep spirit was introducing a note of discord (“In the morning I can only piss in the shower,” the client explained) the sleep spirit department was called to a meeting. Which was promptly commandeered by dream spirits complaining about their work being disregarded. “He tells people he doesn’t dream! After we’ve put in such a long night!” one howled, to much nodding and applause. The butler was still thinking about work while munching poached egg

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Six

dropped his legs over the side of the bed and, after gingerly coaxing, added the rest of his body to his feet’s obligations. Over the boxers rumpled on the rug, he tottered, side-stepped the belt buckle, and got to the toilet before his sleep extension had wilted enough to allow him to hit the bowl. Pressing his forehead against the wall tile’s cool yellow, the transcendental butler waited for consciousness to drive away whatever sleep spirit conjured his genitals into a firm chaise longue for its comfort. There was more than one, he knew. He’d met someone else’s. It was

Friday, November 05, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Five

future atmosphere of healthful oxygen, provides nor comedy nor drama nor bewildered fascination to the modern audience. So. Consciousness. Start there? I don’t know. There was light. And it was on an automatic timer because in the middle of winter the transcendental butler had to get up before dawn and he had that depression caused by lack of light in winter so had a rough time shaking the weight of sleep without the help of electric light. So it was good? He saw the light. And it was too bright. Groaning and hacking to get out the phlegm, the butler

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Four

which we can identify. It’s all very well to say that virtually as soon as one puddle on a still-steaming earth slackened its rolling boil life found its chance and billions of years of successful being fruitful and multiplying began in that moment. Life! Who doesn’t love life! But how much family feeling do you get for a stromatolite? Maybe a gnome, a creature partial to toadstools and creeping slimes, would get misty over the “columnar calcium-containing mass of many layers.” But blue-green algae growing on a mound built up from the bodies of older algae, whatever it does for a

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Three

an old anger, the shame that hurts every time it’s touched. I don’t know that the new has ever been created out of nothing. Except in the beginning? In the beginning there was. There was no there there. There was no here here, for that matter. There was no matter to matter. There was no one to know the difference. In the beginning a dream disturbed the contentment. All was without form and void where not prohibited. A twitch. Was that what initiated? Starting too far back, you know, it deprives the story of anything we could recognize, anything with

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-Two

growls in its sleep, which makes the cat turn and look. But the growl quickly fades, the dog raises its head, blinks, then returns the head to cushioning paws and sighs with satisfaction. This is how the world ends? Not with a bang-a-lang or boom-shakka-la, not with a sob or shudder, but with a contented sleep. OK. Done with that world. We could come back to it? We’ll see. First, we need to dream something up. Dreams are unreliable guides to the new. They tend to be knotted with aches of the past, echoes of terrors, the smarting scar of

Monday, November 01, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty-One

man and the boy are carrying you. What are they going to do, waft you down to the end of the world and toss you over the edge? You remember those paintings of ships toppling down the great waterfall the oceans come to at the edge of a flat earth. Lying on air, even paralyzed, isn’t a bad deal, really. Makes one sleepy. A cat curls up on your belly next to a curly-haired little dog. The cat, eyes squeezed shut, purring, kneads away with its forepaws and through your sweater the pricks of claws tickle your skin. The dog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighty

animal standing in the forest, the yellow orange of a gimbe, calamansi orange, gentle pitaya reds, the deeper gumichama reds, purples of jambul, so bright, so distracting, that the animal standing in the forest cannot be seen but for its immensity, its breathing, its confident strength. Lightly, like the tickle of a moth, you notice at the base of your skull a touching. The old man. Your feet stick straight out, and you remember the assistant in the magic act who is rendered stiff as a board and stretched out flat on a bed of absolutely nothing. How funny. The

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Nine

and suddenly the boy is in your face. Gently, he takes your left arm and folds it across your breast. He takes your right arm, folds it across the left. He moistens his thumb with a kiss and to a spot directly between your brows presses it. With the thumb resting in that place, you begin to tip back. The view is tilting, filling up with sky. You look to the boy’s eyes and you see safety there. But eyes are replaced by clouds, clouds taking on the fruit colors of a yummy sunset, the day’s blue transmogrifying also, an

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Eight

uniform. She was an angel, surely. She gave you a drink ticket. She didn’t have to do that. She could have stabbed you in the heart with a pitchfork. The kid drops his rag back on the counter and gives you a curious look. It’s as though he were looking at something left behind that it really seems unlikely anyone would abandon. Like a television sitting on the curb playing the world series. Or an obelisk woven from disposable chopsticks. He gives a nod to the old man who stands abruptly, rocking the table and upsetting the glass of ice,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Seven

has snapshots of his handsome children in his wallet that he’ll offer up, a story with each, or who knows, he’s the devil. Or an angel. Could be. It is the end of the world, after all. Who knows who hangs out at the end of the world! But I suspect you are shy, that talking to strangers has always made you uncomfortable. And there’s something about the man’s silence and concentration that adds a wall you don’t feel you should break through to disturb him. You look over a shoulder. Where did that girl go? The one in the

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thousand: One Hunded Seventy-Six

ain’t nobody gonna be it for you. When else you gonna be genuine, huh? The end of the world oughta sober up anybody, make ‘em think about what they been doing. What they been wastin’ time at? Did they make some love along the way? You’re alone at the end of the world. Unless you count the magpie. And the kid cleaning tables. And the old guy. You glance at him. He’s staring at his glass of ice. If you are the gregarious type you might go up to him, ask him what brought him to this, or maybe he

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Five

what works for you. Be true to your own special, unique self. Don’t let anybody force you into some generic cookie-cutter version of a person. Don’t let anybody open your mouth, cram down your throat the soliloquy from Biloxi Blues, and permit yourself unthinkingly to throw it out as though your own heart (or a region nearby) contained naught but those words, those very only very you words which all these years had been waiting for the right moment to arrive, to set up shop, to hang out a shingle, to jump out in spangles and bows. Be yourself cuz

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Four

you? Everybody wants to be in pictures. You’re more real that way. It’s not that you aren’t real, right now, standing at the end of the world, or rather, near the end of the world. The end of the world promises to be just down the boardwalk. Yet in a room dark but for the light of your face, who could deny you enhanced reality? OK, say you refuse that whole Lord returning business. Say you keep it simple, “Oops. My bad.” Or. “Pardon me.” Or. “Hey. What the fuck! You tryin’ to trip me or something?” Fine. Go with

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Three

love interest has to dab at lightly with a cotton ball before turning to the apologetic hero and whatever else you are contracted to say falls away before the editor’s snips. But these lines entitle you to a union card, which means you get an agent and residuals, you get a royalty check every time the movie shows on late night TV, and surely you get a cut when the DVD comes out or the streaming video, don’t you think? I don’t know. Digital rights might still be up in the air. You’d say that stuff for a movie, wouldn’t

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thousand explained some more

So far I have three tags for this blog, two of them are related to the ongoing “Thousand” project: thousand and thousand process

Thousand Process is the tag for posts like the very one you’re reading.

I just reread the process posts for myself. Not much has changed, even though I wrote the last more than two months ago. Writing 100 words a day is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. It’s been at its most difficult when my husband Kent has been in the hospital or just home. That’s when I was so tired I could barely concentrate.

I began “Thousand” after Kent was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer. “Thousand” was to give me a practice demanding attention that had nothing to do with household tasks or medical procedures. I needed a distraction, a distraction that was also art, a distraction that would be an ambition – a 100,00 word prose work. Call it a novel? An improvisation?

My stepmother Jan was diagnosed with cancer this spring also. We went from accepting her sympathy over Kent’s diagnosis to expressing concern over hers. Jan’s disease was frighteningly far advanced, we learned. An obituary for Jan was published in the Anchorage Daily News this week. Two others I know faced cancer diagnoses this year. 2010 has been a year.

“Thousand” has been a helpful chore. I don’t know where it’s going, but it’s going somewhere with me. Having the sense that one is moving forward is a good sense. Even if the progress is on something as weird as a plotless hunk of prose and the progress consists of slapping a bit more prose on it.

When my brother David was here for a visit and I sat down to write my “Thousand” piece for the day he was surprised to see me stop writing and erase every word I’d written past one hundred. The work that appears on the blog is not written ahead of time. I write it. I post it immediately after writing it. This is not to say the posts go up completely first draft. I write, read the work over, revise (occasionally extensively), reread until it works for me, then post. But I do not write ahead.

David said he knew other people who were doing long projects but they produce a lot during short periods then parcel the work out over time on their blogs. I can’t work that way. Not to say Never. But the point of “Thousand” is the process. A product is created, yes, and that’s not incidental, but the work is not the result but the living it.

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-Two

to atone for such transgressions as these I have committed against you.” What? You doubt you’d say that? Even if it was in the script and you were on the stage in a community theater? Everybody likes community theater. Maybe you’ve been cast in a major motion picture as an actor in a community theater through the outer wall of which the hero bursts his white Range Rover and you get only three words of this spiel out of your mouth before the styrofoam bricks rain down, supposedly leaving you with a cut on the head the paramedic and

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy-One

over a wing at you, flashes a white underlid over its black eye, says, “Raak! Raak! Raak!” and wanders off among the condiments. You take a step backward and bump into the youth who slipped out of the drinks stand to wipe down the tables. “Oh! I’m sorry,” you say. “You will have to forgive me. It was what I wanted least to do in this world. The day will come when the Lord returns in glory, flames of gold cushioning his naked soles, sparrows carrying a pot of tea, his eyeglasses of purest rose, and I will be forced

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventy

skull was cleaned of its evil evil brain by tidy good samaritan magpies. The end! And its eyes, too. Plucked right out of their little bowls, like ordurves. The end!” The magpie bursts into a series of screeches, which, only after it stops and eyes you from its perch on the cash register, do you recognize as magpie laughter. The magpie turns its back on you with one hop, preens its breast, lifting a wing to probe under it, and dropping a turd on the boardwalk, which lands on older black turds centered in splashes of white. The magpie looks

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Nine

and a tongue covered with spines. That’s an end for you! So you gonna get something to drink or what? Ain’t ya thirsty? I’d be thirsty come all that way over the moors, wind blowing in my monkey face, hot sun poking in my eyes like a stick. We got sodas and juices and waters in variety. We got teas and tinctures, tisanes and elixirs. No? I can tell you a story. That’ll parch ya. Once upon a time. Once upon a time there was a cat! And the cat got run down by a car and then its split-open

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Eight

the blue ticket, and you smile nervously. “Cat! Always there’s a cat that’s at the bottom of things! You go on. You go on to the end of the world. It’s just down the way. Yes, yes. You go on to the end of the world and you’ll find a cat, I’ll bet you a dollar and a quarter. You go on to the end of the world and you’ll find a big fat ugly vicious cat sinking its nasty claws into the world’s tender, innocent flesh, and drawing the world to its cavernous mouth filled with needles and knives

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Seven

a leprechaun’s jacket. “How ever did you get that clean in the first place?” asks a magpie, which you notice for the first time. The youth dips the green rag in a bowl of suds, wrings it out, then hangs it from a blunt red hook. “Did you want something? Hell! Oh! Hello, you, did you want something? Something to drink? We also have biscotti and bags of potato chips and cheese twirls and rubbery candies. Pheh! What does anybody see in that gunk? Cat got yer tongue?” You realize the magpie is talking to you. Your hands close around

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Six

taking your hand, helping you up, “You have arrived! Would you like a complimentary beverage?” You glance down at the blue drink ticket she’s slipped you. Her smile does not waver as you contemplate her existence, which seems persistent and likely. You are thirsty, so you go on down the boardwalk to the drink stand before which are three unoccupied tables with umbrellas. At a fourth an older man holds an unlit cigarette, and a clear plastic cup with nothing in it but ice sweats on the table. The youth at the drink stand is wiping down the counter with

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Five

place. Tears begin to hurt in your eyes. One escapes, rushing down your nose and flinging itself toward the earth. It strikes the toe of your left shoe with an audible tump. You cross your arms over your chest and walk bent over. Your stomach twists. Are you hungry or are you ill? A ringing in your ears, you feel dizzy. “Hello, my name is Liz! Welcome to the End of the World!” A young woman with a polite smile, bright eyes, and a uniform jacket, knee-length skirt, black leather shoes with buckles, beckons from a boardwalk. “Yes,” she says,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Four

little hungry, aren’t you? Yes. Tired, too. How funny that your feet have gotten heavy; pushing them forward is like kicking a medicine ball. Earlier it was as though no foot even existed! The world flitted by while you turned your head to admire it. There’s an ache in your side. This breathing business is getting to be trouble. It was better when you forgot it, right? You pass a hand over your face and find it’s bunched up, so you massage your cheeks, your forehead. That smile seems to have stretched things beyond their ability to settle back into

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Three

the rock and lose the view, you are surrounded by the blond stone for a moment, and in the shadow it feels cool, almost chill. There’s rubble in the path and you stumble, put your hand against the big rock to keep from falling. This isn’t the way you came. Must have been all that spinning around. Well, what’s the difference? When you were at your highest, you weren’t very high. If you follow the rock around to the right, there! The path is relatively smooth and it’s downhill all the way. You’re walking again, which feels good. You’re a

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-Two

You spin, slowly, once more. You close your eyes to do it. You breathe consciously to keep yourself steady. You keep your head up, your arms out for balance, your feet feeling the way on the uneven surface of the rock. When you open your eyes you can see it in your peripheral vision. It’s still there. And it’s not roaring toward you. It’s not some great machine, belching smoke and spinning belts, lubricated and powered up. It’s just there. Waiting, maybe. Indifferent, maybe. It expects you, you think. It won’t take long to get there. You step down from

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty-One

were approaching it but it that came for us. There, the speed! There, the power! Every way forward had been filled by the body of this terrific mechanism. There was nothing for us to do. Run? Crawl? Stand! The future this prophet’s rage-honed finger pointed out was too great, too complete, too damnably thrilling to avoid. There was nowhere to go. We could not even fall back. What was behind us was past, we couldn’t go there. The future in full reverse, its engines screaming at the insult, pressed every iota of its power into the mission. Crush the present.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixty

to end? Hard to say. But now that you see it, what else could it be? And it’s so close. So close. Really! From this little rock you can see the end of the world! Oh yes. It makes perfect sense. How close you are to the end! Move your feet. That’s all it will take to get you there. You remember to breathe. So much to remember this close to the end. Prophets have declared the imminence of the world’s end, declared it and described it, raised a righteous finger and pointed as though it were not we who

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Nine

and old oaks standing in loose groups, and the wind making the grasses and wildflowers shake and bow. The path you took to get here is a scar but a faded scar. If you’re not looking for it you don’t see it. You turn around and around, not at all afraid of getting dizzy. The world could go on like this forever. But then you see it. The end. The end of the world. What set your feet in this direction. Would you have said it was the end of the world if you hadn’t been looking for the world

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Eight

let it get as big and freaky as it wants. The wind is playing with your ears; are those the songs you last heard in bed, a tear in your eye? You feel like dancing! When was the last time? You touch your lip with a finger and feel the quiver there of a word you said once that gave such joy the vibrations have been rocking back through you ever since. You step off the path onto rock. It’s a big rock so you have to crouch and use your hands to get to the top. Meadows and marshes

Friday, October 08, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Seven

insubstantial fly; a few follow you and get in your hair. You step faster, waving your hands in front of your face. But that’s kind of it. The weather’s nice. The sun feels good; a bit of a nip in the air. You took off that sweater on the last rise, tied the sleeves across your chest. After the marsh and the stinky blossom you thought it would get worse, but the wind is blowing fresh and clean, and it makes you giddy, frankly. The smile on your face, it doesn’t quite fit it’s so grand but what the heck

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Six

stop paying attention to the way. There are flowers here that are remarkably ugly, probably live nowhere else. What bee would bother tiptoeing through that hairy blue-green splatter of petals? Would a butterfly want to unroll her long tongue into those tiny black dead-looking knuckles? The one you lean over to sniff has the air of a fart too fat and lazy even to let the wind carry it. Maybe the bugs that pollinate the plants at the end of the world don’t have anywhere else to go, take what they can get. You pass a wispy column of some

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Five

research and development. You hear about the end of the world. It’s nearby, people say. You ask for directions. The man is selling a map. It’s expensive. You talk him down to three dollars. He wanted six! But once you’re stumbling down the path, the map doesn’t seem to correspond to anything. The fork that takes off over the hill, is it even drawn on this thing? There’s the marsh and the path seems to skirt it. But where’s the bridge? Ahead. Is that it? No, it’s a sunken rowboat. You finally fold the map (a feat in itself) and

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Four

the skunk is a white animal with flair for the bold black gesture and those who argued that the skunk is a black animal who knows how to accentuate its blackness with a bolt or two of white were given skittish skunks to take home so they could investigate their theories further. Although through his fourth term President Lincoln presided over a nation at peace, unified and prosperous, which demonstrated to the entire world a system of liberty and social justice to envy and emulate, Lincoln is also and more darkly known for beginning the U.S.’s fascination with chemical weapons

Monday, October 04, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Three

Congress to replace the eagle as the official animal emblem of the United States. Senators Revels of Mississippi and Passions of New South Florida introduced the legislation so the first black man and first white woman elected to that august body would reinforce the symbolism provided by a national animal that united both black and white. With the post-war exposure of the South’s system of death camps in which life depended upon the relative whiteness of one’s musical scale, few disagreed that the relative proportions of the black and the white on the skunk was appropriate. Those who argued that

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-Two

was in love with life, then in despair over it, hating it, wishing it would leave him, then LOVE!!! again, but what Abe now found was profound, he realized. He was in love with a skunk. For this skunk, he leaned over and began stroking its triangular head, he would move mountains, divert rivers, make the world safe for skunkkind, and weave a thousand daisy chains. The skunk considered making a threatening noise, but it had already shot its cloud, might as well give itself up to fate. So it was, after thrashing the American South properly, Abraham Lincoln asked

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty-One

black eyes at Abe as he approached. Abe was a real nature boy. Soon’s he set one long-toed foot in the woods, some fern tickling his ankle, as he wanted to strip off every stitch and feel the breezes feeling him up, the low shrubs nipping at his knees, the tassled grasses brushing their beards against his foreskin. The skunk lay there, pressed flat by a collapsed angel and its own exhaustion, and stared up at all that future-presidential nakedness. The skunk didn’t know it but Abe was in love. Not just with life, for like many a depressive Abe

Friday, October 01, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifty

out from under all that angel. Young Abe covered his mouth but couldn’t hold in his barking laugh. The skunk, frightened anew by this sudden sound, redoubled its efforts, but the flailing only brought more tatters of leaf and mold and dust into its face. Shortly the skunk’s head was completely covered up. Exhausted panting made the forest floor fluff flutter until the breath caught and the fresh mound exploded with a sneeze, exposing a skunk face, usually so sleek with its black and white stripes, sadly speckled and dimmed. So tired was it that the skunk only rolled its

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Nine

an angel’s wing is probably this: it will transform a skunk’s weapon into a gift of love. Let’s back up a moment. Remember Abraham Lincoln? One day while walking in the forest the young Abe came upon an angel who had fallen from a tree onto a skunk. The angel was insensible, but Abe could see the skunk was conscious and desperate. The golden heap had dropped upon the woodland creature’s brilliant tail, and its forepaws scrabbled now at the loose scurf, panicked squeals alternating with frantic grunts, as it failed to gain the purchase it needed to pull itself

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Eight

at the tips rise to the ceiling, the big white wings rippling away below, taking up much of the room. Then with a light toss of the head the dog brings the wings down and they scoop up the air that had been waiting to be moved. The congressmember and the youth hit the floor. The black bailiff in gold chain crouches behind the scimitar’s broad blade. The injured bailiff licks his own blood from the porcelain shard, gets hair on his tongue. The first wave of skunk odor hits all of them at once. What you don’t know about

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Seven

That would be what a conductor does. Not a train conductor, because when you punch a ticket you’re using a small grasping motion with an even-less-dramatic-than-blunt-nosed-scissors hole punch in your hand. Not a copper wire, for, although a copper wire is a good conductor, it can be charged with thousands of electrons and pretty much remain inert. The conductor before the symphony orchestra. That guy. A slim white baton in one hand, reaching with both arms into the music to raise it, to lower it, to rush it forth, to pull it back. Like that. The wings. The long feathers

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Six

known and loved throughout the world, in pool rooms, and among the cognoscenti. The dog dips its head, fitting its muzzle into a loop at its chest. One tug unfurls the angel wings, which are far larger than one might have supposed seeing them tucked against the dog’s back. Once the wings are raised, seemingly ready to lift the dog into a sky full of noon and floss, the dog need merely nod, a gesture gentle and assured, and the wings beat. Beat. Perhaps that is the wrong word, as it suggests a mindless pounding away at the air. Conduct.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Five

a teetering stack of colored blocks. A brown dog trussed up in a set of fluffy angel wings staggers in behind the congressmember. The dog, clearly, is as drunk as a skunk, which fact need hardly be contested as a skunk carrying a bottle of whiskey takes two steps into the room, raises a foot to take another step, loses its balance and quicksteps backward, which exit is punctuated by the thump of the bottle striking the skunk’s head as the head hits the floor and the meandering into the room of the essence for which skunk is so well

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Four

goes, “Whatever for? Whatever for?” A second bailiff enters. She is wearing a toga as a turban and, like the first bailiff, is largely naked. Her main accoutrement is a fine gold chain which, every few inches, has been glued to her skin so that the chain hangs in scallops around her body, creating from a distance a perception of scales. When she sees her colleague bleeding she draws a sharp breath and yanks from the coat rack a scimitar gleaming with fury and one prominent nick. “Give ‘im what for! Give ‘im what for!” the purple crow croaks from

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Three

(one especially sharp piece wet with his blood), glares at the congressmember and his young friend. “And what would you say you are?” The congressmember directs this haughty query at the bailiff who is naked except for a row of peacock plumes which make a colorful and swaying crest down the center of his back. The congressmember adjusts his Groucho goggles, the black caterpillar of a moustache rippling in his huffs. A purple crow, having been released from the prison of the vase by its shatter, toddles groggily across the lime green and apple green malachite tiles, croaking as it

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Two

toga and singing alive alive O! A bailiff enters wearing a hat. The hat falls from his head. He stoops to pick it up. While the bailiff stoops a shot rings out, the bullet shattering a vase on a mantle just behind where the bailiff’s head had been. Ow! cries the bailiff as a substantial chunk of vase bounces off his skull. A congressmember enters through the door open at the opposite side of the room. He is bearing a pistol. “Just like that your honor,” the youth says at his side. The bailiff, shards of porcelain in his hand

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-One

a fire hydrant, while the nearest house, having long burned to see the hydrant spew, listens to the internal combustion engine with a wistful wall. Somebody needs to count higher. A version of the bill was settled in committee then reverberated throughout the halls of Congress with rubber-ball-like boings. Sincerity leaps. We who have stood the test of time sit down as midnight approaches. We raise a toast to legs, strong, steady legs. A nuance was left on the road. Falls compel us to succumb to the treble compare. What you watch consists of what you sacrifice toward wearing a

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty

a long time! Emily considers the prospect of being a kid for a long time. It’s like a prison sentence, isn’t it? “Schools look just like prisons.” When Emily said that Ti Ti passed her a plate of cake and ice cream and said, “I am going to be Jesus when I grow up.” Emily said something through a mouth full of cake and ice cream. Ti Ti turned on the make-up mirror and began experimenting with mascara. Strudel poked her wet black nose out from under the bed and licked Emily’s bare ankle. A newspaper truck idles next to

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Nine

for kids. And people think that’s reasonable! There’s always some category of person that’s disallowed equality, that it seems perfectly natural to discriminate against, any other way of organizing society so unthinkable bringing it up is a total joke. Everybody knows children can’t be allowed to make decisions for themselves, or decisions of any sort! Women! Blacks! Indians! They were denied their rights as autonomous persons because, everybody knew, they were as good as children! How ridiculous is that! I mean, isn’t that the most ridiculous part? There’s nobody who wasn’t a kid once. And for a long time! For

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Eight

roads run out, you can get on a boat or a plane or a helicopter or even an elephant or a camel and go on farther. There’s always somewhere else. But grown-ups won’t let kids just go wherever they want. No, it’s like when you get a certain height you’re given permission to poke into the business of everybody shorter than you. You could pretend you’re a midget, Ti Ti would say, Ti Ti who never let there not be a solution, no matter how ridiculous. I bet an old dwarf would rat you out, thought Emily. Freedom is not

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Hundred Thirty-Seven

you watch what they do and try to figure it out and no matter what some of it just stays dumb. Or boring. But you have to be so old in order to drive and Emily wants to drive because when you can drive you go where you want to go, not where somebody else thinks you ought to go. There are highways to everywhere, and if the road runs out, and it’s hard to imagine the roads ever running out because there’s always just another one you can turn onto which will take you someplace else, but if the

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Six

jab you in the mouth. Ti Ti says it makes your mouth red, like you’re bleeding. We could pretend we’re vampires, Emily says, letting some of the red red liquid drip out of the corner of her mouth. But right now, Emily is finishing off her surreptitious champagne, and wondering where they hid all that fun. It tastes nasty. She narrows her eyes at her mother and Polly. But she refills their glasses, while they both laugh laugh laugh about something stupid. Shoes or something. You’re going to end up a grown-up someday, and for a really long time, so

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Five

bottle was big. The bottle was slippery, and, even as it gave up glass after glass, it was heavy. Mother didn’t notice when Emily splashed some into her own waxy cup. She imagined how wonderful it would taste, the delights of every birthday party condensed into a water, all the cries of pleasure and giggles of joy injected as a gas into that water. It smelled kind of funny. Funny. Ha ha. With the liquid fun’s first touch to her tongue Emily’s mouth puckered. She was drinking punch, sweet red punch, she reminded herself. Nobody chokes on punch. Punch doesn’t

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Four

at Emily as she said this. I hope you choke, Emily thought at the time. This she does not remember. In fact, she remembers herself a most gracious host. Perhaps the champagne glass in front of “Aunt Lolly” repeatedly emptying, its scum of foam replaced by an amber swirl and the tiny bubbles rushing to get out of the liquid before it slipped past Lolly’s gleaming lips, distracted Emily from her less friendly thoughts. For she was the one who tipped the heavy green bottle to make sure Aunt Lolly (and her own mother) did not want for celebration. The

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Three

from a party that was supposed to be a surprise but the guest of honor flew to Europe on short notice and the party didn’t happen. So it was a disappointment party, that’s what Emily called it. A few of Mother’s friends came to commiserate. And ate half the cake. Mother made like they were doing her a big favor because there was no way she was going to let the girls eat that much cake. “Terrible! So much fat and sugar!” Mother’s best friend said, shoveling a second big piece into her maw. She had the audacity to wink

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Two

anything, Emily remembers thinking. She remembers thinking this so fiercely she doesn’t remember what her mother said. She vaguely remembers Eula crying. Maybe she was crying about something else. Eula is the cryingest! Working the apple around in her mouth without spilling it, or choking on it, takes Emily’s concentration for a moment. She holds her hand up in case she has to push something back in. Two drops of juice and saliva slip from the corner of her mouth. She dabs at the escape with a red napkin. The napkin has party balloons on it and is left over

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-One

asked. Emily pushes the rest of the apple slice into her mouth. It’s a little too big, and makes her cheeks bulge. When Emily was at Ti Ti’s house that morning the TV news interrupted Tom & Jerry with special alert news bulletins about the flash flood that ripped through the campground and the twenty or more people who were missing. One body had been found dead in a tree. So Emily wondered what Mother was going to say. Maybe if we had a television, you wouldn’t have to tell us everything like you’re the only one who can know

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty

gives him ideas sometimes. Sometimes, though, it steals and feeds on them. A body’s gotta eat. Emily raises a slice of apple to her lips and sucks on it. She closes her eyes. Once she saw a tiny copper fish in the shallows of river. The fish nibbled on her ankle, which made her giggle. The next day, her mother said, a flash flood took out the campground where they’d pitched a tent. Emily nibbles the apple. Tiny flecks of white flesh on her tongue. She presses them against the roof of her mouth. “Did anybody get wet?” her sister

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Nine

fisher gnome, scoots, but there’s no place to scoot to. It quivers in its last shallow. Into the puddle the fisher gnome slides his hand, water pouring into a bowl in the middle of his hand. The little copper fish is heartened to see all that darkness suddenly available and rushes to hide his shiny body in it. The fisher gnome leans over his palm and breathes on the water, ripples dancing its surface. Then he snorts it all up. Just like that! This is how a fish came to be in the back of the fisher gnome’s mind. It

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Eight

In the back of the fisher gnome’s mind there’s a fish. Once the gnome came upon a puddle in which a tiny copper fish was circling. The puddle had been abandoned when a sudden flood almost as suddenly went back to bed, its dreams calling it. There were puddles left after the flood and the one in which the tiny copper fish was warming did not happen to be one of the bigger. The sun shaved the skin off the puddles with a blade so sharp the water didn’t notice. The tiny fish startled at the shadow cast by the

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

One Hundred Twenty-Seven

unnoticed, “I know. I know. Leper’s gone. Leper’s gone. Gone, leper, gone. I know, I know. One less. Count ‘em all up. And you get one less. I know I know. Why I know? Why why? I’ve got a reason. A reason reason. I know, you know. Do you know? Who but me knows the reason reason? Who who?” This went on rather longer than it ought to have, frankly, the counting leprechaun investigating an uncountable series of minor discomforts, the fisher gnome burbling on and on about some special knowledge, the Lazarusing leprechaun hung up by a power cord.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Six

his chin, picked his nose and nibbled the finger, pinched his lip on which a ragged nail caught and blood welled at the wound, scratched his ear with a knife, squatted and rubbed his lower back against a broken chair, spat a tooth, and yanked thirteen hairs from his left brow in a precise exercise of hunt down and root out, no one of the thirteen to be suffered, only surprising they had survived to now. The fisher gnome watched this set of behaviors with flared nostrils and a quivering lip, muttering softly, though not so softly as to go

Monday, September 06, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Five

gnome. He saw in them something distant and misshapen. He squinted. Yes, there was something in them that was coming soon. On its head a city fixed in place with silver screws housed a nation of refugees from a plague that had burned through mountains and avenues. The counting leprechaun yawned again, which gave the fisher gnome a good view of what of the leprechaun’s last meal lingered in the festering pockets of his gums. There was a new sound from the reviving body. It could have been, was it?, a whimper. The counting leprechaun tilted his head and rubbed

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Four

bank (leprechaun), and a gnawed shrub crossed with a toothless beaver stuffed in a thrift shop pillow case (gnome, natch), the leprechaun’s fingers can bend backwards at every joint. “I know what you’re counting for. There’s one missing, in there? There’s a leprechaun be gone, eh? There’s a leper abroad. Eh? I’m right, eh?” The fisher gnome’s self-satisfied chuckle was overdubbed by a whooping gasp and a violent blat of a fart. The dead leprechaun was not, it seemed, dead in the manner one expects of the dead. The counting leprechaun looked at last into the eyes of the fisher

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Three

floor, let’s shake some leaf, let’s let’s.” The body is silent but some drool falls from the mouth and the joints begin to quiver. The counting leprechaun yawns. Ah, wah wah, he says. He rubs his eyes which the yawn made water. “I know, I know,” says the fisher gnome standing right beside him. They are both small creatures, this gnome comes up to the counting leprechaun’s shoulder, the gnome’s nose is bigger both in length and width, neither would make you think of a child, more a cat mixed with a crow and rolled out on a clay river

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Two

for feet for dancing. Head good. Especially you have pointy head like me, heh heh. Spin like a top. Like a top!” From the leprechaun into which life may or may not have been returning, a new sound, a groan, or a creak. Which becomes a snore-like snort. “I like the songs of trees. They need the wind so maybe it’s the wind that’s playing the trees like they big instruments. The creak like that. The long groan as the big limb swing, the wind taking they arm, the wind saying, let’s dance, you me, let’s take it to the

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-One

that sidled into a whistle which rose and rose in pitch until stopping abruptly. “Fish good drummers too. Good singers, you know. If you know fish, not just eat but get to know, you know. Not all fish same, you know that. Silly to think else. All birds same? All four-footy beasts? Ha! And Ha! Crawdads not much into music. Except dancing. Crawdad like to dance, you know. Somebody else gotta set the tune? Maybe. They got rhythm in the head maybe, or the tail maybe. All those feet. Many feet. Better for dancing to have more feet, eh? Good

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty

and the eyes bulged, staring, lightless. “Yep, yep,” said a voice behind the counting leprechaun. “Doing good so far.” A deep, reverberant moan from the hanging body. “I bet he could carry a tune,” the voice continued. “I have some sticks. You could knock on the empty noggin. Bone makes good drum. Notes, not just percussion. It’s the crystalline nature of the structure. There are probably bones lying around here, too. You lepers got not much covering you bones either. You could bang on him with that bony arm of your.” Another sound from the body, this one a hiss

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Nineteen

The leprechaun listened to the sound of the fisher gnome’s skin, his meat and skin. Plap plap. Plap. But he watched the work the breath he’d given was taking on. It was not easy work. The chest heaved, the belly poked out, pulled in. A sickly yellow-green, the color of a healing bruise, began to underlie the ashy blue. The nostrils twitched, the tongue jerked. The eyelids had once settled neatly over the eyes, but the eyes had sunk into the head, and the lids had remained in position, stiff, bloodless, and ajar. But now the lids fluttered, snapped open,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eighteen

After giving it a head start, the counting leprechaun warmed another lungful, leaned forward, put his fist under the other’s chin to lessen the slack mouth’s gape, and covered it with his own. The second breath he forced in with a sudden whoosh. Then (as long as we’re counting) he sent a third, a fourth, and, after a pause, a fifth, though this last was slow slow, and finished up what lingered deep in the counting leprechaun’s doughy belly. As he stepped back, someone nearby applauded languidly. That dull slap of hand against hand could only be the fisher gnome.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seventeen

his head just under the nose, so the upper lip curled back and the pointy nose jutted out, then from a picture hook strung him up. The counting leprechaun looked at the teeth the curled lip hid no more. They were quite nice. Capped with gold. Even and clean. Dazzled, the counting leprechaun leaned close and tapped a tooth with his cracked fingernail. He smiled a Mona Lisa smile and into the mouth of the blue, unbreathing leprechaun he let a warm wayward breath find its way. This breath knew what to do; he felt it orient, begin to probe.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Sixteen

familiar faces drinking turpentine and less familiar faces drinking turpentine with cream. Thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five. Number thirty-six was an ashy blue and displayed no familiarity with breath. The counting leprechaun rolled this one over and kicked the empty tequila bottle thus revealed. With a slow yawn, which exposed black and yellow teeth chummy as headstones in a pioneer cemetery, the counting leprechaun pissed into the tequila dregs. He grabbed the blue leprechaun by his matted scalp and poured the piss-tequila mixture down his cold throat, then he shook him and pounded him against the wall, tied a power cord around

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fifteen

snoring in a pool of green vomit, his beard wrapped three times around his neck, cold vodka dripping from a cracked vase onto his chest. Number two hung by a toe twisted into the beads of a chandelier. Numbers three and four were squeezing hallucinogenic pus from the sores of number five who had been tied to a fireplace grating. The blue slick fingers were then lapped at by whichever tongue happened to be closest. Though tempted, the counting leprechaun only paused for a connoisseur’s sniff before moving on to the flooded bedrooms. The hours passed as he checked old

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Fourteen

to a wall or toadstool and slump, sigh, drool a little, sniffle, rub his eyes, one of which had invariably wandered away from its brow and had to be nudged back, then pinch his cheeks until the red in them gleamed like apples slapped with a strop. Taking courage from a swallow of fermented aphid juice and a chaser of deoxygenated brown recluse venom, the leprechaun would rub his nipples absently, squint at least one of his unsteady eyes, and return to the scene of the count. A square-tipped finger picked out the first of his fellow leprechauns, this one

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirteen

kind of whimsy an office manager would enjoy, or a VP in charge of marketing, not a five-year-old. The daughter sniffed the turtle’s diaper (smelled clean) then returned to the kitchen. Meanwhile among the leprechauns one of the least inebriated began counting noses. He had done this a few times and each time had come up with a number. Just when he grew confident that he had the right number, the next count, a count merely to confirm, a count to make sure there was no mistake, would turn out slightly different. The leprechaun would slap his forehead, stagger over

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twelve

could not restrain herself from the most elaborate and various whims. They ranged from elephants made of cotton candy to water in anatomically correct globes that do-si-do’d with smoke armadillos. Even if none of this lasted more than a few minutes it still sounded dangerous. Disruptive anyway. How did multiplication tables get memorized? Besides, didn’t this seem more whimsy than whim? And everyone knows that whimsy doesn’t come on until middle age. A child’s whim is more along the lines of smearing eyebrows with lipstick or pouring lemonade on the dog. A ballerina made completely of paper clips was the

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eleven

mobile into a spin, tossing off a comet that hasn’t yet been reattached. Later, she learned, her baby was merely going through a rock dove mood. They do that. Moods, phases, whims. The mood is of relatively short duration, usually passing within an afternoon. If the turtle was a phase it could last weeks. Infants typically don’t experience whims. Whims are too sophisticated. Whims tend to come on sometime around 30 months. The daughter’s cousin, a school teacher, once had a student whose whims had to be separately housed, with attendants. It wasn’t that they lasted long, but the child

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Ten

check on the baby who usually woke from its nap at about this time. In the crib instead of a baby a dusty brown turtle was burrowing under the fuzzy blanket. The daughter pushed the blanket aside and lifted the turtle to her shoulder. She patted its shell gently. A month ago the daughter had gone to the nursery and found a rock dove nestled under the blanket, its head neatly tucked under one wing. She had screamed, which caused the dove to burst into flight. It rushed about the room, brushing knick-knacks off the bookcase and sending the star

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Nine

ablution team at the World Ablution Championships, an event that comes around every six and a half years. Cheering for spiritual cleanliness seemed to have a greater social import after the bloody unrest. Or so she thought aloud, while washing the baby’s bottles, her left hand smarting from a speckling of freshly boiled water. When she shook the bottles out and leaned them in the dish drainer, she turned to her father, and found he’d left the room. The daughter sighed, pushed behind an ear a few strands of auburn hair that had been tickling her nose, and went to

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Eight

also was a pleasant spring with lots of flowers on the hedges, the Truth Commission hearings were winding down (the ratings for which had hit a nadir), and the new Red vice president (the former rebel commander) and the Blue president (the previous administration’s minister of argument) had been seen at state dinners civilly passing a basket of sourdough. The farmer’s summons likely involved jury duty, ceremonial guard duty at one of the nation’s monuments, museums, or sacred cenotes, or drinking. None of these, the daughter reasoned, was high risk at present, what with the recent victory of the national

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Seven

you were a Red this did not necessarily mean you got your old house back, as someone might be living in it who now considered it their house and the government wasn’t interested in pushing people around, but it did mean you could apply for compensation from a special fund created by an additional tax on the importation of milk, milk being a product the country just held its own on producing, which meant as supply fluctuated money would move into the fund, though not as much as was needed to cover all claims or even very many claims. It

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Six

The very next day the sheep farmer received a summons. His service was requested on behalf of the City of Reds and Blues. The farmer’s daughter tried to look on the bright side. The civil unrest had recently been decided in favor of power sharing. The army of the Reds having been demobilized and disarmed, their followers were allowed to reclaim the homes and property that had been stolen from them when the head general of the Blues went bad in the head and sent his soldiers on a killing and looting spree that no one could have predicted. If

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Five

mix had been the first one to the ewe, the lamb she was birthing still stretching out the wet birthsack. The dlgs mix grabbed the lamb by one hind leg, while his buddy got hold of the other, and, not wanting to share, each pulled in his own direction. The ewe wailed. The farmer was on watch as he knew the ewe was sure to drop any day. He’d even patrolled the fence, but the feral dogs found a hole hidden under a shrub, and the farmer came running too late to save the lamb who hadn’t opened one eye.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Four

seemed impossible to the dlgs mix, yet you could not deny that all around there were trees. Packs of them. And that appealed to the social animal. A forest is the most faithful of packs. Only in death does your neighbor abandon you. The dog imagined a tree doesn’t feel the pangs of hunger the way a dog does. A dog feels the pangs of hunger pretty darn pangily, let me tell you. So it was both dogs were given opportunity to cash in their karma on a new go-round by a sheep farmer and the sheep farmer’s shotgun. The

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Three

a deep admiration for patience, not having much himself. There were dogs with patience, he knew, dogs who could wait hours, even days, for the beloved to return, and wait without complaint, patiently, gazing off into a future so assured nothing made them nervous. The dlgs mix knew he could never be like that. A tree, however, was patience. It was essential tree nature. No matter the species, if it was a tree it was patient. A tree planned for the long term, reaching deep for the resources that stayed put, spreading wide to catch the resources more fleeting. That

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Two

pal, a doberman-labrador-greyhound-schnauzer mix, liked the idea of tree, having peed on many a tree during his time, pee for a dog being no insult but rather a prime component of the communication repertoire. Dogs have real respect for trees. The dlgs mix was also tired of having to run around all day, sniffing, biting, scratching. It’s not that there weren’t satisfactions to a good gnaw or to the tingle in the nose brought on by a whiff of dog butt gland, indeed, it was hard to imagine a life that didn’t include such wonders, but the dlgs mix had

Friday, August 13, 2010


“Thousand” has just exceeded 10,000 words. Seems like that should call for a party. Anybody want to set up a surprise party for me?

Thousand: One Hundred One

available), a gnat (brief turnaround time could be an advantage), a basilisk (tempting for the vengeful but may not actually exist), a tree (you are not allowed to specify a species), or a Catholic. The dog, upon its death, chose Catholic. The child did not know he had been a dog in a previous life, although during communion a priest did get bitten. The Catholic position rotates with Hindu, Muslim, Animist, and Zoroastrian. Many dogs go for gnat. Gnat is not as low a rung on the karma wheel as you may think. Plus, there’s little waiting. The dog’s best

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred

up the tomato beds. And biting off all the squash blossoms. This was not a good beginning to the dog’s story. However, after it was dropped off at the crossroads in the middle of the night, the dog learned the ways of the country dogs, which was to chase sheep, tear open the hutches of tame rabbits in order to eat them, and steal food from the bowls of cowering poodles, that and rack up karma points for their next lifetime when they would be (and here they were given a choice) wolves (a very limited number of wolf slots

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Nine

drink order the bartender reaches up and plucks from the tree’s branches one of its fine fat fruits. The bartender puts the plum to her mouth and bites. Plum juice sluices down her chin and, as she chews and bites and bites and chews, working her way through the slippery, softening plum, the juice drips from her chin, and the juice runs down her bare arm to the elbow where sweet golden drops gather and fall. “I’ll have what they’re having,” says the tree. Once upon a time there was a dog. The dog had begun its story by digging

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Eight

An elm, a citrus fir, and a summer plum walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The elm says, “Water.” “OK,” says the bartender. “Water it is.” Then, turning to the citrus fir, the bartender asks the same question, “What will you have?” The citrus fir thinks for a moment as though it hadn’t anticipated having to answer exactly that question. “Water,” after due consideration the citrus fir says. “Great!” says the bartender. “We have very fine water here.” Now it’s the turn of the summer plum. But before the plum has a chance to place its

Monday, August 09, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Seven

that might be the better choice, really, considering the unappetizing sway of dried kidneys on a string. A dilapidated cottage in dark woods or that distant thing that might be something. The wear of the paths suggests a preference. Although it could be more travelers than not are lost and a house of that sort encourages one to keep going. Not to say the less traveled path comes to a stop at the stoop. It goes on beyond, too. Above your head evergreens drag needled crowns in a fog. Down in the bushes birds rustle and mice build toothpick houses.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Six

to breathe, although, frankly, not everyone would. The other road leads to the beginning of something. It will get there eventually, which is why this road is used. The way, however, is roundabout. It wanders, its destination is its determination not to get any particular where any particular soon, and it’s pretty good about making that destination in good time. There are those who like that. Maybe more than like to be healed or who think they are ailing, alone in the woods, with the option of an ugly old woman to save them, or going forward toward the place

Saturday, August 07, 2010

no nod

Got the news about the second batch of haiku I sent out at the end of July. (Fast turnaround!) “Though there are some interesting observations here,” said the editor, leading with the positive, “they tend to tell all and thus leave the reader little to discover.” Then she recommends an essay on contemporary poetry, the same one linked from the haiku magazine’s website, so, yeah, I done read it, right. Whatever.

Having read & written haiku off & on over the last 25 years I’m not going to claim I have nothing to learn – there’s always something to learn, isn’t there – but my process is for my purposes. Not pleasing the editors of haiku magazines, while disappointing, is a matter of incidental importance. 20 years ago I subscribed to Modern Haiku and sent work to the editor who was friendly and tried to be helpful. It was then I learned how fussy the idea of haiku can be. Still, I’ve read a lot of haiku I’ve loved. I don’t know that the proportion of haiku loved to haiku bored by is greater than the proportion of other contemporary poetry loved/bored by, but the haiku goes by faster.

Thousand: Ninety-Five

indifferent drummer just off the altiplano. There are so many ways to go. Perhaps you should let a coin choose your path. The road less traveled, though not much less traveled, really, as neither’s been traveled much at all to judge by the grass growth, presents the attraction of being a shortcut to the ancient healer in the woods, a hag of withered countenance and prominent physiognomy, with two cats of dubious manufacture, a haint, as well as several organs and oranges drying on strings next to the gleaming ropes of peppers on her verandah. You are bleeding. You continue

Friday, August 06, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Four

What metal could prove itself, clean as mercury, toothsome as gold? What joy has been cut to accentuate its facets? But just then, the heroic anthem strikes up and a banner unfurls over a castle just stormed. The rain is falling on a drought-stricken postage stamp. And the sinecure provided an aged actuary proves just slightly inadequate such that he must downgrade his trip to the French Rivera to a trip to the Balkan Riviera, Montenegro’s Adriatic which, he tells his youthful protégé, Elizabeth Taylor thought was worth an afternoon or two. Meanwhile, you hear a different drummer chasing an

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Three

of fate until it hits the sun, sweeps just shy of the heel and touches venus’ mount, before turning back up the life. Oh, what a tickle! And it so knows you. This little bead has bobbed about your ankle and cycled up and down the inside of your nose. This little bead’s been squeezed through the left ventricle of your twisting heart and lingered in a lung to exchange some gases. It knows your prefrontal lobe and your middle frontal gyrus. And, yes, it’s helped warm your hairy genitals. This bead knows you. What gem could be so intimate?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-Two

setting in the silver dust, untie from the stone the ready pink thread, and begin to add to it the beads of your inner darkness, one by one, to make a necklace? Are you a do-it-yourself type who would snag a curl of cloud and twist it between your fingers into the thread that would pass through the needle’s hungry eye? What better spine for the bead of secrets? You catch one of these ruby beads as it drops from your arm. You roll it around in your palm. It scurries over your girdle of venus then follows the line

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thousand: Ninety-One

you prick your thumb? A trail of blood leads down to your elbow from which two drops have already leapt the gap between your flesh and the earth. It was the rose you fondled. So pretty. It was as though the world, swaddled in its soft red petals, were a sleepy bee. That’s when the thorn gets you, dips its fang into your sap, and draws the poison out. The darkness is drawn to the beckoning needle of the rose. It emerges in beads. You forgot the thread. Thread? Do you lean over now and pluck the stone from its

Monday, August 02, 2010

seeking the nod

Of the two batches of haiku I sent out this past week, I got a response to the one sent Saturday. Two days ago. The response was NO. “While your work is engaging,” said the editor kindly, “it does not quite meet all of our criteria …” Ah, haiku criteria. Yes. The haiku purists have a pile of criteria that have to be met in order for a little poem to be a haiku. Some Japanese are quite contemptuous of Western versions of haiku. The editor did suggest I try again next reading period. If he’d thought me totally off track surely he would have defended himself against further time wasting by fending me off more brusquely!

So I might. If I stick to my haiku-writing regimen I’ll have scads of rejectables seeking someone to say NO to them.

Thousand: Ninety

from his foot, had offered in exchange a limp. Around your feet are the bread crumbs that lead off to the left. Tied to a stone is a pink thread that zigzags away over the rubble, circles a tree, then disappears into a hole. The stars, as usual, have been aligned into a northward pointing arrow. There is an envelope pinned to your collar. Breathe, remember? It’s not the sort of thing one remembers. Breathing. If one were to remember every breath the memory would have room for what else? The action. Breathing. That’s what you have to remember. Did

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Nine

Sighs? “You hurt me,” said the man who traveled across stones hot as tears, who had beaten his camels with a switch cut from a tree that all the time weeps, its sobs shaking it to the hollow. They would not go faster. They would scream, raising their ululations to the camel god who seemed to be taking a mercy fast. “I didn’t hurt you,” you want to say, but where is he? He limped off into the maze, leaning on a silver crutch that had a toe of sore flesh, the hurt man’s own toe, the one that, torn

Saturday, July 31, 2010

which continues

I got two batches of haiku off by email this week. Just making the reading period for one magazine, smack in the middle of the reading period for another. I said to Kent, “OK. I’ve set myself up for disappointment.”

I don’t think I’m a great haiku poet. I think I’m better with wild, twisting sentences that gulp at the world and battle with their insides. But haiku has been good for me as a practice this spring/summer. Whenever I have trouble writing one I remind myself that it’s only about the present moment, the here & now. If my brain won’t break into blossom, I just have to look out at the world’s existing blossoms, even if they happen merely to be a pile of socks or the cracks in paint. I put down a few words. A few words is all a haiku can consist of. They’re never terrible. At worst, they’re just blah. Just a note about my environs, maybe my emotion of the moment, maybe the writing.

“Thousand” is a practice. The haiku and “Thousand” help keep me steady, I think, help distract me from difficult things that are going on right now. Maybe they help me deal with them. I’m not sure. I think they do. When I consider not doing them, it makes me nervous. They’ve become a structure for me, and, of course, I end up with something, a created thing, art, which continues.

Thousand: Eighty-Eight

is nearby, after all. Should you reach out a hand? What if a monster bites it off? The Slave’s voice. Remember its landscapes? You begin to seek them. Weren’t they all face? Your feet carry you lightly, no problem. You’ve shed your last gravity. But weren’t you sitting among crazy kids and their dancing and performative nudity, a drug barging through your system, breaking things? You had a box of spectacles of the finest rose. You would offer them to whoever came to the gate. They always looked sad. Who else would wish to enter through the Gate of Heavenly

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thousand explained, 4

Damn. I was so tired last night when I wrote 87 that instead of posting it I reposted 86, which, evidently, was still on the computer clipboard. I saved 86 twice in my master document, it turns out. And I erased the 87 I wrote last night. So just now I heaved a couple sobs for my lost hundred words.

Rather than try to recreate them I incorporated the loss into the narrative, as you can quickly divine if you read 87, which is the new 87, not the repeat 86 that I posted last night.

"Thousand" is a real struggle sometimes. If I'd assigned myself more than a hundred words each day, even 200 words, I bet I'd not still be doing this. The years it will take to get to the goal -- 100,000 words -- seem daunting? Yes and no. I mean, yes, it hits me that I've been banging away at this project for about three months and I'm not even 10% of the way through it. But hard as the hundred words has been at times, it's still just one hundred words. It doesn't take long to write one hundred words. If it's painful, I push ahead, and that's about all it takes -- a push or two. Maybe I'll write a few words, then play a computer game or poke around the internet; when I get back the hundred word goal is in reach. And it's over for the day.

This little rumination, knocked out to relieve some stress, clocks in at 260 words.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Seven

letting go of the breath that is moving into you. There’s a long moment where what happened, you realize, has been destroyed. Something was here. You were making something or something was being made for you. It’s gone. It was something that took a lot of effort. You were tired, you didn’t really want to do it, but the effort produced something, and, you remember, it wasn’t too bad. It was worth it. You look around. But something closed. Yes, your eyes are closed. You are just noticing that your eyes are closed. Perhaps here in the dark the thing

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Six

forget to breathe. It’s an intricate process, requiring vast attention. The sky, again, is vast, though day after day, with its coin-sized star and it’s battered button of a moon, it can seem small as a leaky boat. There are some things that take too much attention, that would best ignored. The smell from the leaf is heady. You blink and gasp. The pipe’s warm mouth touches your own and you begin to suck from it. What comes at first is harsh, even bitter, and you want to cough it out, but your lips tighten on the brass piece, not

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Five

skin. You look back at your childhood, which you haven’t thought about lately. Where is it? No, it’s okay. It’s okay that you don’t remember where you last saw it. You were carrying something, something important?, or you had to make a call, and there was your childhood, crystallized in a pure nostalgia. You put it aside in order to take care of that thing, the call or the broken cup, whatever. You could retrace your steps. One of the art students breaks a stiff shining leaf and rubs it between his fingers, his hand curving under your nose. Don’t

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Four

curvy as a girl, glints from the middle of a blue carpet, its pipes slinking out to soft young mouths, including yours. You feel young again, if you ever felt young. You feel young in a way you never felt young, you just know it’s new and young and fresh and innocent, naïve, immortal. There are stars in your eyes, comets even. There are bangles and coins rolling on the carpet, catching the light and letting it go, playing with it, tossing it from concave to convex to concentrate on the dimple of her cheek, his chin, the hookah’s polished

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Three

superhighway of his gaze is empty, isn’t it? Or is there something traveling it? There’s a. There’s a. A shadow? Is it him, his caravan, the camels with tasseled blankets over their humps, bells strapped to their knees, cavorting ivy leaguers and kids charging toward their bliss? Is that what is resolving from the mystery of his distance? You blink. He is offering a muffin, a dark muffin studded with raisins and dried cranberries. Then there is the black coffee sweetened to the depths of its ground. You are sitting on a round cushion. When did that happen? A hookah,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-Two

dust stirred by its edge, by the movement of the body hidden behind its swirl. The Slave is speaking. It’s not that his mouth moves and nothing comes out. If that were the case you’d just be amused or confused, instead of seeing things, landscapes, the transport of bodies, the tearing of the heavens, a new hurt or comfort. A Harvard grad turns a somersault. It’s cute. An art student strips off her shirt and another fills in the color of her dragon’s eye tattoo. What is he saying? You look at him again, the Salve of your pain. The

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thousand: Eighty-One

myrrh. His lips are moving and they remind you of the shapes of clouds at sunset, the way the last colors give them strange dimension. You think of light lingering on a lake, the earth gone dark, stars pricking out their patterns one by one. You think of sheep-cropped knolls, hills pocked by ancient rock recently exposed, and the dawn still cold. You might be looking down on rivers that have cut their own routes, that will cut new ones, entirely new, when they’ve tired of their beds. Or perhaps it is the hem of a dress you see, the

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thousand: Eighty

and shrubs, gnarled, with bitter black berries (from which is made a sacred tea), have twined their roots through those cracks for time out of mind. There is much here out of mind, sharp and blunt objects, sour fruits and slow syrups, the lost eye, the wandering knuckle. The Slave taps his staff and a parrot you hadn’t noticed squawks from the carved lintel above your head. The Slave speaks. “Have you have hurt me?” he says. You look down the interstate of his gaze. I would soothe you with sweet unguents. Somebody famous said that? The Salve smells of

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Nine

with good luck, bad choices, and adobe bricks. A comet has been hanging in the midnight sky for weeks. Who will climb the Tree of Divine Convention to tickle the comet’s tail? A white plume from that tail would make a nice accoutrement to a tall helmet. The sun must be walking, too, in no hurry to cross a sky bleached sand white. Perhaps the stars have been smeared together. Night will show. Night hides so many things, until it’s ready, itself prime among them. How many years have dripped down these walls? There are cracks ancient as the bricks

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Eight

at the Gate of Heavenly Aches. Allow to pass only those who fit. Look yonder, lo!, approaching, a caravan of Harvard graduates and art students led by a bold slave, black as Denver, his glasses smoked blue, his staff of office twined with crepe serpents and capped by fleur-de-lis. He wearies, his tread thickened by the flour of age, his wisdom clear even across mirages, his camels bound by ancient contracts to this road of ice and tubers. A divine spirit tugs him by the nose, and the educated children of privilege bounce behind him, even beneath their packs bulging

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Seven

and heart-stopping heights. Are you roused? Is the blood within you surging? Good. Pretty good. Pretty fairly good in a nice fashion. Terrif! Splendi! Perfec! Whatever is new is new is now newer is no. The old no. Good. The old no. Good as gold gravy. Good as golly. Good as gone. Good as the way through the wild wood by the old fair path. Good as a foot. You are the measure. The two fingers of whiskey in the glass. The rain gauge making inches out of water the sky’s done with. Stand up for the rain! Stand sentry

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Six

loose and bound for glory, glorioski, rounded with an O! Do not flinch from your duty, nor ask not, nor sasquatch that joint, my friend, nor end where end and commencement bend to mend, but sally forth, rally, excelsior! Take on the next take with the true zest of grit! Expound, propound, and make the hills resound! Draw your word from your sword as a blade from a sheaf of pleats and brandish its might with meat and main, for foe nor feckless friend may stay the frightful will from its progress, in deed, in derring-do, in delights and nights

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Five

as a Winchester, the frantic immigration control official raves over the market rates. A night, then another night. Two abut. A third lingers somewhat near but a fragrant day intervenes, brief and bare, but not to be denied. It has denial written all over it. NO stitched among its stars. Not one of its thous shalt. All for naught, all for naught. Do not ask for room for the bell’s bowls, they nestle, one outside, one within, then within, then further in. Do not howl for the tongue, it’s wrung for free, all its speeches free, lost and fast and

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Four

gives oneself up to the gods, who poke around the piles of human souls like heaps of fruit at the harvest fair. Another sanctuary burned to the ground and out of the ashes phoenix flowers bloomed, burned like sterno cans. What city was situated at the mouths of two rivers, at the feet of two mountains, at the elbows of two kings, and at the ass end of the universe? The rain-wet boy helps The Tomato down from the biplane while lightning sways her serpentine dance and thunder his big bronze gong bangs. Some soaked seed bursts its coat. Wild

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thousand: Seventy-Three

born of fragility and wine. A theater of excellence engages the rabble in a dialectic of forms. A house of pencils rubs wrong the testy fabulist of fate. A husky youngster lugging lug nuts to the pizza place wears on his fair face an expression usually fit to the margins of a dog. Goofy? Or melancholy? Which day will see the end of the rain? In her younger days the grandmother was known as “The Tomato.” Once upon a time there was a dog. It had to be disclosed, that secret. Her buddies still, joshingly, call her “The Tomato.” One