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Dream: Trying to Leave the Spiral University

Dream December 16, 2010

I was walking along the inner radius of a spirally designed university at the center of which was an airport and space launching pad. The school was situated in the heart of a vast forest, and as I walked, I stared out at the trees. I was a few years younger and knew it, and the limp with which I had grown up was heavy on my heart and subtracted from my joy at being at the University.

Reaching into my pocket, I worried at the boarding passes there, then switched them to another pocket.

Elderly professors walked all along the cobbled path of the spiral, nodding and smiling at me. However, once I reached escalators that rose to the airport, the smiling faces were replaced by a clusterfuck of anxiety and confusion. Screams of children and sobs of forlorn women and growls of impatient men.

I rose on the escalator. Above was the airport, and above that was the interstellar launching pad. The airport gates were below a transparent dome of blue glass. I could see ships up there, amorphous forms taking solid shape at the hands of scientists.

A stranger whispered in my ear: “There she is, Todd. She won’t take her eyes off you. She’s lovely.” I turned on the rising stairway and saw a gorgeous young woman with blonde hair staring seductively at me. She reached for me, and I hesitated, then was forced onto the ticket platform. I fell down, and my boarding passes whistled out of my pocket and ripped and multiplied and ripped. A forceful wind tore through the platform, scattering the thousands of torn tickets around the gates. I scrambled to grab them, unsuccessful, while people pushed past me toward their gates, trampling on the passes, shredding them.

I looked up at the interstellar platform and saw a ship forming through the blue glass that I had not seen when at first entering the platform. Its hull bubbled out like an aluminum balloon, revealing portals and structures wonderful. A vessel meant for journey beyond this galaxy.

I had to get on that ship, and I realized that my multiplying tickets were akin to the loaves and fishes. It was a miracle for me to reach the heavens! I scurried around the platform, which was constructed like an M. C. Escher drawing, each corner an ouroboros. The stack of tickets in my hands became thick and heavy as I watched the vessel above me grow larger and closer to launching.

Through the knots of passengers I saw a man who talked to others as if he were in charge. He stared up at the vessel, then routinely checked a piece of paper he held in his hands.

With my collected tickets, I ran to him. “Captain,” I said. “Captain! Here are my tickets. I have to get on that ship. You have no idea where it can be going if only I am allowed to board!”

He looked up from his paper for a moment, looking at me and my bundle of tickets with derision.

“I’m not going to let you distract me,” he said, returning his attention to his document.

Frantic, I rushed over to a long queue in front of gate counter. An unknown amount of time passed, but I felt my hair grow and the skin of my face loosen and sag. An explosion above startled me, caused me to drop my tickets on floor. Looking up, I watched the wondrous vessel disconnect itself from the launching pad and rise into an oblivion. Gone.

A young woman in front of me turned around. I recognized that she was the same one from the escalator, but strange and different. Her face was not real, but rather an imagined idea of a beautiful woman separate from any chain of DNA we knew.

“It’s you,” she said. “You look old and tired, you know? Everything within you is used up. Have a safe trip.”

I thought to say that she looked different, too, but did not say.

She grabbed somebody’s hand and walked through the gate door.

Stranger in a Strange Land - A Turd with a Plastic Halo

Stranger in a Strange Land - A Turd with a Plastic Halo

Before I had any money to buy books, the library was my sanctuary. I especially loved to investigate the science fiction and fantasy shelves, marveling at the titles and covers. It was there I picked up Ray Bradbury's 100 Greatest Short Stories and many others.
Around this time, I checked out Robert Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset. I tried and tried to read it, but it was so awfully boring, I returned it. Twenty years later, with no Heinlein in between, I opened a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land a friend had given me. This novel won the Hugo; it's considered one of his best.

Nothing had changed. I had thought that maybe his fiction was at that time beyond my grasp, but having just finished the peripheral story of Valentine Michael Smith, I see that Heinlein failed twice by me to write a story that consistently compelled me to want to know what happens next.

Flaccid characterization and lack of immediate conflict are the novel's major flaws. 375 pages into the book, I realized that nothing of major import had really HAPPENED. Conflict does arise early, with Michael twisting people and objects into discorporation. I liked this. But Mike quickly becomes a dull character, with much of his actions told through Blah Blah Blah dialogue, interspersed with an over-preachy narrative style.

Granted Jubal Harshaw is an initially interesting character, but his sauciness becomes stock and repetitive, and he offers no surprises.

There are no surprises here.

The grokking and "Thou Art God" are definitely weighty ideas, but Heinlein fails to weave these ideas into gripping characters and a gripping story.

And the women. As Mike first views Jill and other women, they are difficult for him to distinguish from one another. Whereas Jubal has the most beautiful face he's ever seen. Well, all the women are good for GROKKING.

Michael's destruction at the end of the novel could have been lead heavy in a better writer's hands, but I had absolutely no invested care in what happened to Mike and what he did next.

Just altogther unremarkable. And even worse for the fact that the story offers promises that are never kept.

I grok schlock. No more Heinlein.

London scribble

July 18 2010

Flew into London with Dad and brothers. Spent a day rustling around this huge city, jumping on and off the Tube, drinking ale and eating food which hardens the arteries.
I really don’t think they noticed London. Too fast.
From London to Thornbury, staying in Edward Stafford’s Thornbury Castle. While at the castle, the BBC used it as a setting for the production of a comedy series entitled “Whites”, starring Alan Davies. We met a crazy lady named Lisa who wanted us to accompany her to a beer-soaked public named The Plough, where she would subsequently teach us Flamenco Dancing. I think she was riding some kind of narcotic lightning, for her toes splayed and unsplayed, as if in throes of some eternal spasm.
Left Thornbury to Eastbourne, stopping in Bath, Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. Stonehenge and the Salisbury Plains were as brilliantly mind-shadowing as I recall from seven years ago.
Did our British ancestors conceive of us? Some Bronze Age imagining of an Earth cluttered and drooling with homo-sapiens?
Salisbury Cathedral still so vast. Another structure making us seem like busy ants, but ants with some great power to suffuse mind and body for these minute beings to construct that hall of possible divinity.
And then Eastbourne, The Grand Hotel along the English Channel. Beachy Head, that chalk cliff breaking away into the salt water. Wow.
Now, Lomdon again. Reading Blood Meridian near Victoria Station, soon to grab a beer.

On a bench overlooking the Thames, I sat in melted Cadbury chocolate. I walked around London with Cadbury on my arse.

Big Truck Motherf***er

At the Piggly Wiggly, I parked my modest Volkswagen at the far end of the lot, in a sea of carless asphalt. When I finished shopping, I discovered some watermelonbrain moron had parked his gargantuan pickup truck in the space next to mine. The tires were right on the damn line, and the expansive body of the truck bulged outward, rearview mirror casting a shadow on the hood of my car. I had to squeeze between his door and mine, and could only open my door a fraction.
I was sincerely pissed off. I pictured the driver, wearing the visor which hung from the rearview, his expansive ass planted in the seat while his meat-red face munched on a hot dog that dripped ketchup and mustard on his polo-encased manboobs, rolling down the parking lot in a pickup with a bed that has never been used, listening to some numbf**k sing about his daddy’s old boat, while the truck’s cyclopean gastank burned and burned swimming pools of gasoline, the map of his imagination and perception never inspecting anything outside of his skin as he parks his micro-phallic instigated purchase directly beside my car, ignoring the ocean of empty spaces around.

I hope he gets caught naked in a deluge of tasmanian devils.

Consider my magic solution

Consider my magic solution.

Ever been to a Fairy Tale?

I have.

I walked around Snow White and her short friends. They were paper-thin. Every time I stopped, they began to move and play their games. When I moved, they just fluttered in the fairy-tale breeze like paper silhouettes thought up by some apathetic creator.

Rode a sailboat with Sleeping Beauty. She wasn't asleep; she was dead drunk from a pitcher of martinis. You ever seen somebody passed out from too much Grey Goose and olive juice? It isn't very beautiful. Doesn't even approach flattering.

The Prince was there pretending to be both the Captain and the bosun. I held the Book open for him. "Says here you're going to kiss her, wake her up and love her," I said.

The Prince just frowned and poked her snoring face with the end of the mop we used to clean the deck. She moved a little bit.

"I'm not going to kiss her," he said. "Stupid drunk bitch. She can't even afford Grey Goose."

Sometimes on the shores of the lakes and the rivers, blue people appear and smile. It doesn't happen as much as it used to. That fucker Disney invaded that world, made everybody wear white gloves and be happy all the time. He gave everybody the same script. "Do it this way and I'll have real people dress up like you in Florida and Anaheim. You'll be famous."

I guess it's not all his fault. Sure isn't my fault, though. When I visited, I gave chocolate to Goldilocks, so she wouldn't go to the Bear's House for fucking soup. I tried. She didn't like chocolate and got mauled anyway. Just for soup.

Nobody there likes to dream anymore. Too many folks getting hearing-aides to better hear what's going on in halls that smell like antiseptic and reality. Nobody likes to dream anymore. Yeah, I've been to a damn Fairy Tale.

I'm not going back.

Gandpa's Potage

Gandpa's potage.
1. I mean, this was back in the day, Patsy.

This was back when the only connection between serfs and waves were the cascades of rye flowing right by the shadows of the Black Forest. When the Lord came to take your best-looking daughter for a private Maypole party. Here's what the Lord said: "Hey you! Serf! Ganpa Serf! Fetch me some of that butter. Fetch me that plump daughter; she's a barleycornfed lass. She will fetch me some pleasure, then I will cast her aside for the scullions to enjoy at the Manor. Fetch me a ladle of that potage. What's this? Is this a chunk of hare in the potage? You thieving Gandpa! The Medieval Rules clearly say that lowly serfs like you can have none of my graceful rodents. Illegal pottage. Fetch me a sword with which to disembowel you. Now you are dead. You were a faithful serf."

Yeah, Patsy. This was back in the day. Before freedom. Count yourself lucky. You see, Dinty Moore never needed to explain the beef in his stew.

Fetch me some sense!

Editor's Rant

For 2.5 years or so, I've been editing for a self-publishing firm. Some of the books are good, some passable, but some are pure, rotting SHIT.

And this is shit that keeps on steaming, friends. Cause these good folks write books and stories, engorged with a passion for filling up the world with their lovely, broken-down ideas, cluttering bookshelves with pus, much like eight-legged frogs in Michigan and women's apparel made from pizza toppings and fucktours in graveyards.

However, I am an encouraging editor. I understand that Neil Young wants us all to keep on rockin in the fucking free world, and that includes all the Wombat McKenzies, Shortwit Joneses and Apple Oranges who want to see their stories and ideas in print. If I come across a vapid character, I politely suggest that the writer provide some dimension to make that character interesting. When a character suddenly sticks her head out, with no context, I don't write "Sticks her head out of what? What, is she a fucking turtle? If she's not a turtle, you must be one, cause you and turtles have about the same corn syrup ideas about writing a book!"

No. I am a professional.

I will not inform these writers that they put the "less" in hopeless. I will not tell them that they've turned creativity into a negative energy. I will not tell them that their books cannot even be helped by sewage treatment plants. I will not write, "John Lennon would laugh at you!" I do not ask them if I can use their vacant heads for storage next time I have to move. I will not even write, "So! YOU'RE the one who bought those new clothes from the Emperor!"

No. I am a professional.

A professional idiot.

Give me motley. Give me a cockscombe and I'll pull my rainbow wand from my ass, then dance and sing through your fucked February imagination. I have ascorbic acid for your scurvy sentences and prosthetics for your paraplegic paragraphs. Welcome to fucking first grade. Put that apple back in your pocket.

I fucking hate apples.

Achieving Polite Nirvana/ Room Wanted

Achieving Polite Nirvana/ Room Wanted

About an hour ago I sat down in front of the Bizarro Factory and plugged my iPod into my ears to listen to some mind-moving tunes. See, this usually drifts me one thousand doorways away where my flesh is gone, but I forgot to lock the doorway of my apartment.

A few moments into the drifting, I heard a thump during a song with no percussion. Pulling the headphones out of my ears, I swiveled around to see that a man and woman had entered my apartment. She was wrapped in black cellophane and wore a rainbow baseball cap. He was dressed in a fine silk suit, but it was on backwards. I could tell they were angry with one another, so I hesitated. It's important to be aware of others' feelings.

He switched on the corner lamp by the door and plunged an accusatory finger into her breastbone. "!regoR ni depparw eb ot tiaw ouY !thginot hguone ton si citsalP"

"Oh, that trick is getting old, Bob! The party's over! Stop talking backwards! I want nothing to do with Roger. He thinks he's an amphibian."

I spoke up. "Excuse me, can I he . . ."

The woman glared at me. "Can't you see we're having a discussion!"

Bob's stare returned me to my seat. "How rude!" he said. "Lock the door, Marjory, and come sit down on the couch." Marjory bolted shut my door and followed Bob to my amputated sofa. They squabbled for a bit, and I tried so hard to zone out their conversation, but it was loud and juicy and I caught things like "giraffe", "rubber-band ball", "scientific calculator" and "Peter Travers." Once the squabbling softened into polite discussion, I offered them some Halloween chocolate I never gave away.

"You want some chocolate? I don't like it myself."

Marjory looked at me like I was a BM that she'd forgotten to flush days ago. "Chocolate makes us agreeable. No thanks," she said. "Do you have any wine?"

"Of course! I have a nice Shiraz made in Wisconsin! Do you want glasses with or without stems?"

"With," said Marjory.

"Without," said Bob.

I poured the wine and gave them the bottle, then returned to the Bizarro Factory and pretended to be invisible. Not thirty minutes went by before they were sloshy and all over each other.

"Come on love, let's go to bed," said Marjory. "It's time to make a baby, and there's enough room here for a little one."

Bob sucked in a growl. "!yletulosbA" He rose and picked her up, carrying her backwards into my bedroom. The door slammed shut. There were whispers and low laughter for a few minutes, then the door opened.

"Excuse me," said Marjory. "I think you should go. You've been here long enough as it is."

"But all my clothes are in that room," I said.

She looked me up and down. "What you've got on now looks pretty warm." She shut the door.

Luckily I have another sweater on a chair out here. It is the season of giving, right?

And I really like to walk.

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/filamentroad/blog#ixzz0zYcAcWfH



“Something Good to Eat” THE FORTEAN BUREAU 2003
“Thinking of Diane” LULLABY HEARSE 2004
“The Picker’s Harvest” NOCTURNAL OOZE 2005
“Dr. Plato’s Surprise” BREATH AND SHADOW 2005
“The House Guest” DARK KRYPT 2005
“Auction” SINISTER TALES 2006
“What the Chickens Play Before Sunday” CHIMAERA SERIALS 2007
“The Old Ladies and their Beloved Children” ALIENSKIN MAGAZINE 2007
“Stuck” NEW GROWTH: RECENT KENTUCKY WRITINGS 2007 (2003 Honorable Mention Ray
Bradbury Writing Contest)
“No Travelcard” BREATH AND SHADOW 2007 (Nominated for Pushcart Prize)
“The Introduction of Phisto Realkind” ALIENSKIN MAGAZINE 2008
“Apparel for Hopelessness” SINISTER TALES 2008
“He Said Something” MORPHEUS TALES 1 2008
“A Confectionary Giant” ALIENSKIN MAGAZINE 2008
“The Benefits of Public Transportation” FANTASTICAL VISIONS IV 2009
“I gave her the wrong flowers.” IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT: MORE SIX-
“In a Community of Women” BARDS AND SAGES 2010
“At the Expense of Kings” MISSING PIECES 2010
“The Definition of a Line” SHADOWCAST AUDIO 2010
"Dirge in Alaska with an Organic Violin" BARDS AND SAGES QUARTERLY JULY 2011
“The Little Girl Who Cried in the Back Room” SPACE AND TIME MAGAZINE

Publishing News.

For those of you who like my stories, I thought I should create and update a list of upcoming publications which will include my fiction.


Please shut up, Voice Who Hates Me.


August 2010 - at GenCon - "At the Expense of Kings" - DragonRoots Magazine Anthology

2010 - "The Definition of a Line" - Disgustipated Contest Winner - ShadowCastAudio

Late 2010/Early 2011 - "The Little Girl Who Cried in the Back Room" - Space and Time Magazine


Again, shut up. Whitney Houston told me I should love myself.

More later, friends and volks.

Dream: The Mirror on the Balcony

Dream June 9, 2010

The Mirror on the Balcony

I looked over the railing of the balcony and saw a vast ocean roiling 5280 feet below. The balcony floated, unsupported by any building. Filling up the horizon was a sizzling yellow sun, large and crude, as if drawn by a god with special needs.

I was here for the mirror. The tall mirror adorning the door that wasn’t there. It reflected the sun, multiplying the light and heat. I reached for the mirror, and a little boy stepped through, wearing a tank top and shorts. Instead of a hat, his head was covered by a janitor’s broom brush. He didn’t see me, but rushed past a table over to the railing to gaze at the water.

I saw the LADY on the other side of the mirror, peering at me. She knew what I wanted to do. I realized that the mirror was her favorite physical object in the universe, carried from generation from generation through the dying eyes of the MOTHERS to the DAUGHTERS. But the only reason I was here being to break the mirror. To crack to smash it, the desire like a dehydrated burning thirst for water in my throat.

A brick was in my hand.

The LADY clutched her face in her hands as I struck the looking glass again and again, shattering and pulverizing its surface. When just shards remained, the LADY walked through the door that wasn’t there. She wept, her eyes melting down her cheeks.

“Why have you done this? This was my window to eternity; this was my divine heirloom.”

I had no reason within my head for what I had done, other than I thought it might create something new.

She picked up broken pieces, trying to recreate the mirror on the table. She managed to assemble a crude circle with the slivers, and immediately images were apparent inside.

A huge crush of people moved through and down the alleyways and concourses of what appeared to be an Eastern Bazaar. All the vendors and all the buyers were angry, teeth pushed out of their snarling mouths. All the people were tall and morbidly obese, which meant that nearly all the space between individuals was used up. And while each enormous body appeared to be flesh and blood, heads and necks were composed of cheap fabric, with bulbous eyes of painted burlap. Some of these angriest banged their wrathful, puppet heads together.
One small figure raced through the endangered openings, hurrying for something, someone. She was a little girl, and her regal face resembled the LADY’s.

The LADY was shrieking now, screaming at the little girl within the circle. Distracted, the girl looked, which caused her to bump into two gargantuan women yelling at a cloth vendor. Their burlap eyes found the girl, and they rotated toward her, slinging back pillar-sized arms to slap the girl, but she had already begun to run again.
The women missed the girl and slapped each other. Upon contact, they howled and their swollen eyes turned black and red. Each hunched over and scrabbled for the little girl. The small one tried to flee, but they grasped her tightly and shook her in the air above their horrid faces, holding her around the neck and squeezing, biting at her poor feet. They wrung her neck until her lovely little head popped off. Gouts of red yarn, instead of blood, exploded from her severed neck and head.

The LADY wailed. I turned away from the broken shards and saw that she had a long pole in her hand, at the end of which was a wicked hook. Her face was now dry; her eyes intact. With a quick, brutal motion, she pounded the boy on the head with the hook, piercing the broom-brush hat.
The boy turned away from the ocean, his face broken in surprise and horror. He removed the rectangular broom handle from his head. Trickles of blood came down from his scalp. The LADY tapped his head again. This time, the blood fountained. The boy cried quietly and somersaulted backward off the railing into the water.

I tried to close my eyes, to block away the broken mirror, to conceal from my mind what the LADY was now doing with the hook.

She stabbed the sun. Stabbed it and punctured it and gouged it until its moving insides fell out into the ocean below.

Dream Over


Claremont, North Carolina (Don't Go There) Part 1

One can discover the genuine roots of a town by walking its streets at night.

But in the morning, the sun shines. A light breeze that doesn't smell like death blows through the parking lot of Wilma's Barbecue Restaurant. It smells like nothing. Although it's early in the morning, the lot is full. Citizens will break their fast only at Wilma's. A cartoon pig on a sign benevolently looks down at the lot. This pig is gleaming happy and does not hold the knife and fork displayed by the Cannibalistic Barbecue Sign Pigs across the Southeast. This pig was drawn just before they told him the True Meaning of a Pig's Life.

Eggs and sausage and bacon and pancakes and delicious pan fried potatoes are eaten while laughter strikes around the dining room like vitamin C lightning. Nobody vomits. Laughter encouraged by coffee, but not addicted to it.

If the owner sees the scarecrow hanging from the ceiling fan, he should start playing poker.

Citizens walk in and citizens walk out. What a beautiful day. What a beautiful restaurant. What a beautiful town. Breakfast may be over at 9, but different parts of the surprised pig are served well after the horizon digests the sun.

But the night in Claremont treats the day like a favored but mentally-handicapped child. When it's bedtime, it's off to slumber for day in the dark folds of night to slobber in a pillow and dream about raindrops on the stove.

Wilma's is closed. Interstate 40 roars like the rush of blood in the ear.

In the darkness, it's time to walk.

Writing Assignment

ENG 101
Fall 3051

The genetic scientists sat around the conference table watching the vid displaying images from the colonized planet of Yartopia. Their eyes reflected the horrors that flashed by, and their mouths sagged open, struck witless by what the Banana Constable of Space and Some Drive-Ins had brought to them. They watched a native of Yartopia being beaten to death on a basketball court by three fishermen. The weapon, a frozen leg of lamb signed by Roald Dahl. An albino Duckman gleefully dropping cannonballs from the roof of the Ossified Bone Tower on unsuspecting civilians below. A woman, crying hysterically, strapped down to a table while three bald men dressed in Barberstripes shaved her head. A little boy with violet eyes holding up a Heroin Snack Bar with his magic pea-shooter, screeching, "Gimme smack, gimme smack, smack, smack, smack." A city exploding into nothing. All very bad things. The vid ended, and the Banana Constable stepped up onto the table wearing a very grave expression underneath his rainbow kerchief.
"You see, gentlemen and women, Yartopia is in chaos. It will soon be devoured in its own muck, unless you create the ultimate cyborg to send as an emissary and leader to assuage the sin of Yartopia. I cannot go, because I haven't had lunch, but you must put your minds together and come up with ten characteristics, four of which are super, with which to program the cyborg to save Yartopia. Good luck!" The Banana Constable danced the teapot dance and disappeared for lunch. The scientists are you. Get to it.



I walked south, sunshine piercing my eyes, encouraging growth to the young wrinkles at the corners. Ahead was a sprawling apartment complex shifting like shadows of trees along a traveled highway. I was looking for somebody, engorged with an angry happiness. I didn't know why I felt this way. Upon rising out of thought, I found myself surrounded by the complex. Screams of children, barks of turtles( I know that turtles don't bark, but the dream was master) thrummed within my ears. I smelled beef being cooked and didn't feel hungry.
The individual apartments weren't so strange. Balconies and sliding glass doors on each one, the bottom floor open, a stone path leading to each slab of cement. But trying to look at all of them simultaneously made me dizzy. They connected to each other in a mazelike fashion, spiraling around each other, several levels high, connected by rope bridges with wooden slats.
I went around a corner and singled out an apartment on the ground floor. It was that one! I knew it! Running onto the patio I yanked open the sliding glass door. The air inside was so cold, snow fell when it came in contact with the heat outside.
Inside, the TV was on. Three women sat side by side on a very small couch. One was a woman I worked with two years ago. I hadn't seen her in a year and a half, but she smiled at me as if that time was five minutes ago.
"Hey, Todd. How are you?"
"I'm good," I said, just standing there, obsessively hating these obligatory greetings uttered every day. "How are you?"
"I'm good. How are you?"
I didn't say anything. I knew if I did I would be there forever. Instead, I noticed that her daughter sat in the middle. She was a big, tall girl who smiled at me frozenly, as if by the air or by the enormity of her infatuation with me.
The woman on the right was grotesquely fat. I had never seen her before. Even in the sterile cold her unyielding stink offended me. The end of the wooden sofa on the left was an inch higher than her side. She ignored me.
I took all three of them in a glance, feeling sourly disappointed. I was not looking for these women.
"I have to go. Bye."
She tried to pull me into her circle again. "Bye, Todd. You have a good day." The last syllable rose in pitch, expecting a response. I shut the door. I began to curse, and the viciousness of my language wounded the air around my head. Blood pattered on my shoulders, my arms. I shrieked, terrified, and ran down an enclosed corridor summoned from thin air by my fear. A small ramp at the end halted at the cross-section of one of the bridges. My chest slammed into the wooden slats, and the bridge swayed lazily. I looked down. The tips of my boots protruded over a white abyss. The bridge stretched the length of it, for the width was insignificant.
Several loud barks startled me and I glanced up to see an enormous dog running ahead of four others on the other side of the gap. They ran through thick grass of an untended lawn, around several vehicles bereft of wheels. The lead dog was bigger than a donkey, and its teeth made its head seem shrunken. An old man sat on a concrete block, yelling, "Get that shitblister, Bucket! Get him for coming round here!"
I started to back up, but Bucket growled and leapt onto the bridge, sinking its teeth into my forearm.
"Oh, God! Let go of me! It hurts!"
My stomach began to ache from the pain, and the old man, laughed, farted, laughed, farted. "How's he taste, Bucket? He taste good enough for me?"
Bucket made a noise. The top half of his body hung over the rope railing. I forced myself to look at my arm and gasped. No blood. Bucket's teeth had sunk in the flesh clean, as if I was made of clay.
"Sir, please call your dog off. I didn't mean to come down this way. I'm just looking for somebody."
"Bucket, don't eat him all up. Save some for me!"
I would get no help from that guy.
Gritting my teeth, I jerked my arm down, causing Bucket to flip over the rope and fall into the gap. His tremendous weight threatened to pull me with it, but my arm ripped away and the abyss swallowed the dog. The other dogs barked and jumped after their leader.
My forearm was gone, but the stump was smooth and pink, as if a year had passed.
The old man screamed. "Bucket's gone! I can't walk around in his head no more! Gone!" He got up from the block and began to run toward me. Each step shook the ground, my body, like a train. I pirhouetted and bolted up the ramp through the corridor, emerging into wonderful sunlight. The shaking had stopped and immediately I felt safe from any danger. I stood in grass in some sort of courtyard. A parking lot was in the middle, hosting a single mustang covertible. In front of the parking lot was a couch. Sight of the couch coaxed out overwhelming exhaustion, and I sighed and ran, jumping on it, falling asleep at once.
The sound of women's throaty laughter and whistles woke me. Four gorgeous black women sat in the Mustang, staring at me with aggressive smiles. Still half-asleep, I raised my left hand and gave them one of the grins that work. They whistled louder and the car backed up and left the lot.
My right stub bristled with needles from having been slept on. I sat up and shook it. As the circulation energized, my forearm and hand coalesced before my eyes. To me, it was ordinary. Another cup of coffee, another blink.
My bones in a pawn shoppe
Overlooked by one who loved me
Because the marrow's gone.


Nightmare January 29, 2003

The nurse opened the door for me into the dark room. It was bright outside, but the light from the hallway was blunted fiercely by the inner darkness. I stepped into the room, unquestioning, and it was shut quietly behind me, manufacturing a quiet breeze against the nape of my neck.
In the dark, my shoes glowed, and my feet within them moved of their own accord. They led me to an aluminum folding chair. I sat down, and my left elbow smacked against the corner of the room. My shoes faded just as the front wall of the room was illuminated. The entire wall was covered by a white projector screen. The light allowed me to see that others were in the room with me. Clustered at the other side of the room, far away, were all the women I had been involved with in my life. They stared as one at the screen, feeding me only with their profiles. They were silent.
The screen flickered, and although I could see no projector, a slide came on. My heart jumped. It was me when I was six years old. I was small, with long, curly hair. A long-fingered hand held my arm. My mother’s. Another calloused hand rested on my shoulder, dwarfing me. My father’s. I was lying on a gurney and I looked terrified. Four brutish hands gripped the rails of my gurney.
My six-year old voice emerged from the still picture, freezing me. “Nooooo, nooooo,” it screamed.
The slide changed and I involuntarily jerked backward. My child-image was encased in two barbed platforms, stomach down, facing away from me. In an operation room. The image was three-dimensional, and my feet poked out into the dark viewing room. They spasmed. The four mean hands that had been holding the rails now all held sharp tools, which pressed into an unseen wound in my back. The picture moved crudely, hands stabbing, my body twitching in pain. My young voice continued to scream while the image unmercifully switched to a close-up of what the hands were doing to my back.
My spinal cord was open and four scalpels poked and jerked at the jell-like discs of my vertebrae. Amid my soft shrieks, I heard the doctors’ shadowy laughter. The image changed from the wound to me lying down to the tortured wound again. Back and forth first slowly, then the change quickened into a flash that bathed the viewing room in a wild light.
The pain became mine. I felt their cruel investigations chewing at my lower back and I bucked sideways, knocking over the chair and falling on the floor. I opened my mouth to scream and it emerged not as an adult’s, but the weary, horrified lament of a six-year old.
“Noooo, Noooo.” It said.
The screen blackened, and the agony left me. I sat up, disoriented, and another image arrived. I gasped. It was me, eight years old, staring directly at me. I don’t know how I recognized myself. The child’s hair was long, black, dirty and straight. His eyes were pinched, and underlined by thick stripes of coal exhaustion. He was starved, skin between his ribs like flesh runnels. Grotesque, ancient scars swallowed his entire upper body. He sat down, shoulders slumped. His attention on me was frozen, permanent.
Something moved at the four corners of the screen. Points emerging first, blades following, handles, then the wicked, gripping hands. Syrup’s progress, lazy but inevitable, coming for more.
I glanced to the right and noticed the women were staring at me. They opened their mouths in unison:
“So that’s why,” they said. “That’s why.”

Dream: Uninvited Refrigerator Cleaner

I woke up early this morning to the whining sounds of a baby crying. I opened my eyes and noticed commotion in the kitchen. The pretty neighbor who lives above me stood in the doorway to my bedroom, carrying a sack of what appeared to be black feed. She spilled a little bit on the floor in front of my bookshelf, then came to my bedside. One of my eyes was still glued shut by sleep, but I noticed she was dressed slick, pressed blouse and business skirt. She gave me a dazzling smile and said, “Remember that Francis account I was talking about once last month?”
And I was thinking, WTF? How did she get into my apartment? What the hell is she talking about as if I would know? But, the girl was very pretty. So I nodded, sitting up in bed. “Well,” she continued. “The deal went through, and now I can do anything I want. Come look.” I got out of bed and followed her into my livingroom. A well groomed dog sat on my reading chair, making that whining sound. My kitchen was brilliantly clean. My neighbor said, “Because you’re so nice, and never complain to the man about my baby crying, I decided to come down and clean out your refrigerator.” She made a sour face. “It was disgusting.” I opened the fridge and noticed it was unusually clean, but she had somehow switched the freezer section to the bottom. Also, the entire appliance was filled with individual bottles of Corona in wet paper bags. I shut the fridge. “I was wondering,” she said. “If you could watch my baby while I go to Citibank.” I turned to the chair and the dog had transformed into a chubby baby that looked like my nephew. She grabbed him and put him in my arms. “For how long?” I asked. “I’ll be gone for a few minutes.” Grabbing her purse, she stepped outside and got into her car, which had “EUROPE OR BUST” painted on the back.
The baby cried.
Dream Over.


There was a young lass from Manchester

She’d lift her skirts if ye asked her

For a penny or two

Her skivvies off too

And soon she’s in her second trimester


They were captains at war, listening to nothing but screams. Majordomo, majordomo! Each in a floatboat made of rubberfoam and painted with the blood of the favorite children in symbols understood only by those dead for a thousand years. Between them a mountain of salt water, obscuring their view of each other, raised up by a hesitant leviathan, unsure of itself, frozen by hunger, self-rebuke and indecision. All the soldiers were dead, but because war was their only recognizable business, each was recycled a hundred times to try out new strategies of murder devised by majordomo, majordomo. All the gold was used up, all the precious rocks and fat from the ground, but the captains whispered into the air new laws to ensure that murder was its own end. And so this bubble drifted away from the heart of God and scraped against the wall of the universe until it finally slipped through. To a cavern unbeknownst to language.

Broken Stone

Uncover the broken stone. Take not a basket of fruit to your enemies. Deceit drips most lively from a peach. They will tell you to look away from the broken stone. They will tell you to enjoy the juice of the peach with closed eyes. We are peach vampires and sunshine has lost its patience. The juice will run dry, and with vision shut, you will uncover a broken stone.