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