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Early Friday morning, Officer Ollie Bilge reported the remains of local author, Todd Hunt, devoured by an alligator in the mud pits between West Ashley park and The Oasis housing development. Said Bilge, "I was really surprised to see a gator that big out of the zoo. I wasn't
nearly as surprised to see that Mr. Hunt managed to get himself halfway eaten. It wasn't my first encounter with Mr. Hunt. Just last week I saw him walking on the sidewalk in the Oasis development. I told him it was against the law to walk on the sidewalk or the grass. I told
him he could walk in the street, and he obliged. It's my general opinion that gullible cotton balls like him should be eaten alive by crocodilians."
Authorities agreed.
Professor Kerry Falkirk, Biology Professor at Charleston Southern, mused on the alligator: "Its size, 15 feet, was amazing. The scientific community owes much to Mr. Hunt for walking in the swamp at night, for we have never witnessed such a specimen. The gator's facial expression was one of true distaste and regret. I assume the giant was anticipating a treat like a Pomeranian or French Poodle. How could he have expected such a bitter meal? As for Mr. Hunt's expression–well, he just looked rather confused."
Asked about the fate of the gator's remains, Mr. Falkirk replied: "We will most assuredly have him stuffed and presented for display at the Biology Museum. Such grandeur cannot go wasted."
As for the remains of the late Mr. Hunt, Ruth Geberhadt, Dean of English at Charleston Southern, comments: "A fine idea would be to also have Mr. Hunt stuffed, and put on display at the Charleston Library during Banned Books Week. Banned for being really, really bad. But I
expect individuals, probably related by blood, would possibly object to the idea."
Mr. Hunt was the writer of several lurid short stories. "Mr. Hunt," said Geberhadt, "Was not even a minor writer. He can be compared to a dead planet that NASA has yet to discover."
His only survivor in Charleston, brother Godfrey, was given his shoes. The shoes had holes in them. Police speculated that the alligator ripped open the shoes, but Godfrey Hunt commented: "No, they were old shoes. He was too cheap to buy new shoes."
Lowcountry conservationists will hold a Candlelit Wake for the alligator. The alligator has come to be affectionately known as Mr. Bumpy. Professor Falkirk says to Mr. Hunt's survivors: "We in the scientific community give our heartfelt thanks for producing such a stupid young man without whom we would have never discovered Mr. Bumpy."

In This Room of Unenchantment

In This Room of Unenchantment

I thought that the panoramic windows overlooking the other world had been painted over. Or, even worse, the concrete walls of a banal existence grew together like steel kudzu, forever hiding the Wonder from me.
And so, locked within this blurry room of Unenchantment, the captain of my ambition and hope, the steel of my spine, was swallowed by ennui and anchored by lethargy. The kudzu overwhelmed the window because the captain peered out less and less; his eyes were perusing dank corners where rot is infectious. Where lazy amblers crowd and fill the air with the stink of stasis, where streams are brackish and all decay of the fruits of the imagination lead to no new growth.
Thus, my imagination, my raging captain so aware of that window began to fall away. He fell out of my head, plummeted from my shoulders, slipped from my arms and legs to splash on the floor in this room of Unenchantment. We became two, the corpse ambling on incomplete, refracted journeys, connected at the feet with the two-dimensional captain, puddled on the floor, mimicking the corpse like a shadow in the retreating light of Wonder.
But it was the recognition of that shadow on the floor by this aimless husk which lit an ice-encased flame within my blank outline. How can I see this shadow in the complete absence of light? How can I recognize my dissolving captain if the panoramic window has been completely overwhelmed? Guided by the frozen fire, I see that there is still an aperture of light steeling its way into this room. Slender, yes, but I can also see flickers of shapes moving in that other world! So I rush over to the aperture and grasp the closing edges with hands made strong with automatic labor. They are the edges of shutters, and the shutters give, just barely, but they do give. Although my vision is poor, I can see birds with wings that stretch eons beyond and I feel a presence in my ankles which I haven’t felt in too long a time. The captain has started to climb back inside the husk! I try to push the shutters back some more, but I am out of breath. I’ll have to push them open an inch at a time. I know I’ll get stronger, though; I’ll be able move them more than an inch very soon.
And I’ll open them until I am once again surrounded by the panoramic window, bathed in that brilliance, where the captain’s eyes are behind my eyes.
And all shadows are washed away.

Uncle Cleveland

Uncle Cleveland liked the long, black cigars. Hand-rolled. He could care less if it actually came from Havana. I have several memories of my dear Uncle hanging from a miniature replica of his Mohammed Bridge in the greenhouse, cigar crunched between his simian teeth, while he growled, "I can get just as good a cigar from some pretty bitch in Ybor City than I can from Fidel's purgatory."
He inhaled then exhaled the heavy smoke from his flat, forward nostrils. I saw the beginnings of tar buildup in his ever-present mucus.
"Boy, pour me another glass of Sanity and Reason."
I left my respectful distance, crouching and brushing through ferns and flowers so dense with color, they painted my face with lush residue. Approaching Uncle Cleveland, the stench of refuse, human shit, animal sweat, cigar smoke and alcohol enveloped me. I did not gag because I loved and respected my Uncle.
A liter bottle of Banana Likker stood on a glass table beneath the replica, shadowed by my Uncle's swaying burden. The neck of the bottle towered over a carefully manicured banzai tree in the center of the table. I unscrewed the cap of the Likker and raised it to him.
Uncle Cleveland hung from one of the main girders of the miniature bridge by his left hand. The muscles and tendons in his arm throbbed. As usual, he wore rust-covered overalls and an old Yankees cap. "Never the Giants," he had once said. "They play a devolutionary game." I stepped a little to the right to better reach his left arm, dodging the huge drums of shit and garbage he clasped in each foot. The bottom of the plastic drums brushed vegetation sprouting from the greenhouse floor. His breathing was tight with exertion, but controlled.
Grinning at me, Uncle Cleveland lowered his pint glass and I filled it with the Banana Likker. "Always the left hand to hold the Sanity and Reason, cause it's the same hand I use to wipe my arse." Glass full, he lifted and emptied it in a few seconds, subsequently placing the glass above him on the bridge replica. He glanced down at me for a moment, at my smooth face so different from his rough and pocked and hairy. His brown eyes moistened, but not from the Likker.
In a fury, he shook and jolted below his replica, testing its strength. I heard a whimper from the construction after his tantrum, but didn't say anything.
He spat out his cigar.
"This bridge won't break," Uncle Cleveland sobbed. "No one's too heavy for it. No one."

Dream - Diaspora Doorway

Dream August 5, 2011 Diaspora Doorway

I should have written this earlier, because it has faded.

I was standing on a barren beach, my head thick with memories of having walked for days and nights without rest. My knees made rending and cracking noises. Ahead, high on the beach near colossal sand dunes, was a small service station. The building was constructed of searing white concrete blocks and was bathed in fluorescent light whose source was nowhere to be seen.

A slender dark hand rose up from the sand at the side of the station, waving at me, then it vanished. Stepping closer, I discovered that the station had no doors, and the hand had emerged from a deep stairwell plunging deep into the sand. I descended the stairs and came out on a vast platform glowing with that mysterious light, a wide corridor ending in a glass wall that faced an indigo expanse bristling with stars.

“Where Earth and Heaven meet,” a voice said. A beautiful woman of African descent appeared before me. She grabbed my hand and led me through a threshold to the left. “I need your help.”

On the other side of the door, I was struck by the vision of mountain peaks thrusting up into the black of space through the glass, a column that seemed to stretch into infinity.

The woman faced me. Her features were mobile, shifting from one facial landscape to another, settling into hers for a few moments and changing again. She gestured to the wall opposite the glass. It was a bland, plaster surface; a small square with a burned out light bulb was centered low on the wall.

“Will you change the bulb?” she asked.

“Of course,” I said. From my shirt pocket, I pulled out an incandescent light bulb. I changed the bulbs. Once I screwed in the new bulb, it flashed on, a radiance that burned my hand. Its light was like the sun, and I had to turn away from the brilliance.

Something was growing from below the glass at an alarming rate and I stared in awe. Fifteen enormous chutes, or curved tracks, unfurled beyond the glass to the right of the mountain peaks. They stretched out straight for thousands of feet, then curved gently until the tracks were completely vertical, ending a few thousand feet into the abyss of space.

“Thank you,” a man’s voice said. A very pale man with red hair stood where the woman had been. He approached me and each millisecond a new form emerged from his body, human and otherwise. These life forms rapidly populated the station, milling about, then descended a wide stairwell that opened in the door, leading out to the chutes.

The pale man extended his hand and I shook it. “My name is D. D. Wilkinson,” he said. “Your assistance has been invaluable.”

He turned away to position himself before a control podium that had risen from the floor before the glass. His body drained familiar, but more strange, beings each moment. One of those forms was a professor of mine from Graduate School. She saw me and waved, smiling.

She said to me, “We’re ready to go,” and indicated two ghostlike women who had also fell out of Wilkinson.

I gaped. “You’ve known about this for how long?” I said.

One of the women, who favored Winona Ryder with too much makeup, said, “I’ve been visiting her room since I was a seed.”

They laughed and went down the stairs.

Outside the glass, the chutes were filling up with transparent bullet-like ships, packed with humans and alien life forms. Wilkinson pulled a lever and the first row of ships fired down the track and up into the inky black of space to homes beyond the scope of my understanding. After that initial departure, Wilkinson captained a continual succession of those ships into space, their coronas of atmospheric burning reflecting off the peaks of the mountain.

“I didn’t know that light bulb was in my pocket,” I said.

Wilkinson didn’t turn around. “I didn’t either.”

“What does the D. D. stand for?”

“Diaspora Doorway.”

Dream Over

The Irony Diet

On one of many rambles through the telepathic experiment we call the INTERNET, I came across a fairly recent approach to eating called the Paleolithic diet. I suppose it’s not that recent, some 2.5 million years old. However, most of humanity have long abandoned that menu. So, an old fad that found purchase again in the 1970s, like the future rabid fame of Vanilla Ice on Planet Badrap year 6500.

Endorsed by a gastroenterologist with a name almost as difficult as his career title, the diet is a reflection of what Paleolithic humans ate, the hunter-gatherer meal plan prior to the advent of the agricultural revolution (I always imagine corn and wheat and rye forcibly TAKING OVER). Choice foods include meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables. If you eat grains, legumes, sugar, SALT, dairy, potatoes and alcohol, Slarbar the ascetic caveman will clomp you.


Of course, this meat rich collection is very high in iron. It’s irony. But it’s also full of irony.

Can you climb a palm tree and find a degree at the center of a coconut? Is it possible to learn how to create a written language from the heart of the elk you’ve just slain for dinner? While spending all day searching the woods for tasty roots and mushrooms, is there any time to reflect and measure your strengths and weaknesses and imagine what you want to be when you grow up? And without salt, brother, you’re forced to hunt again in a few days or your family will starve.

Scientists discovered the fossils and other traces of Paleolithic Man, not by reading the detailed journals of prehistoric humanity, but by inheriting the gift of expendable time made possible by civilization. Scientists revealed what Paleolithic humans ate at the peaks of mountains of history, peaks thinly supported by years of personal study and experience and time, but deeper and wider down by the written thoughts of countless predecessors encapsulated in ponderings which take time, time, time.

And from where does this bountiful time to think and build cities and schools and universities and hospitals come? Shaping the focus of the anthropologist?

The farmer is the base of the mountain, and the foods he plants are its deep roots. The barley, wheat, rye, corn, lentils, peas, beans and potatoes. The milk from the sheep, goats and cows. The salt to cure the back of the pig so the family can have bacon for days and days. Beer from the barley to enjoy and alter the experience of men.

The farmer and his crops froze time for humanity. These foods that the Paleolithic diet denies are the benefactors of modern civilization, science and specialization.

It's the Irony Diet.

I am laughing.

Modern mathematics did not arrive in a vacuum of constant hunger and the efforts of every individual to locate food. It emerged from a store of grain, olive oil, wine and sausages cured with salt.

Effectively, here’s an equation for the Paleolithic diet:

-1 + 1 = 0.

Libraries, Harry Potter, Lord of the Flies and Censoring Evilmother

I worked in a children's and YA library for a year, and picked up lots of those books and read the first few pages. So many placate the reader as if placating an abysmally stupid little person. "Let's Junie B Jones them to death."

I recall several parents strictly forbade their children to open "the dark covers of Harry Potter." Because witches are evil and evil is contagious as influenza in a warm, wet climate. One homeschooling mother would bring in her child weekly. His legs and arms were shackled and pinioned by chains woven out of misinterpreted verses from the Old Testament. Kid made a racket coming into the library and up the stairs. His mother had a pale, stern face that promoted sterility and fear. In her spare time she tortured question marks.

One day while Mother was distracted by a fanciful picture of an alien, the kid drudged his way to the YA shelf where I was putting away paperbacks. He asked for a good story. I picked out Lord of the Flies and told him it was about a bunch of schoolboys his age who wash up on an island and then proceed to gradually go wackball nuts.

As soon as he touched the book, his Mother's question mark alarm went off. The poor kid's chains turned molten red, and he gibbered in pain, dropping Mr. Golding's wonder as he collapsed to the floor. A black shell like chitin emerged from a pore in the back of his neck and cocooned his entire head while he jerked on the floor like an epileptic cockroach.

His Mother glided over to us like a Sith Lord. She hooked a silver leash onto a loop on the cocoon and dragged the boy past me, down the stairs. She left an absence of curiosity in her wake. All of my good ideas were singed away like sweat in a frying pan.

Digression aside, I agree with what you wrote, Gary. Although I haven't read Twilight, I have read Rowling's stuff, and I'm guessing that it isn't just that Meyer's characters may have weak motivation, Rowling is probably just a better, more inventive writer. The Harry Potter books have tons of references and descriptions of humdrum high school moments, but Rowling's shining feat is weaving an original wind to revive that humdrum and make it quite, quite wonderful.

The best writers resuscitate.

Dream: Beck Interview

Had a dream that I interviewed the musician Beck while in a car which was driven by two chaps who had no idea who he was. Their idea of good music was discs one buys at the dentist. Beck was Beck in the dream, but he resembled the British actor Martin Freeman. I talked to Beck about the polarization of his music, how many of his songs trawl through a beautiful despair while others are light and ridiculous. He was reluctant to talk about himself; he briefly told me how he got his start in Libya, then put a Peter Gabriel CD in that had a Rolling Stones label.

New Yark – Tuesday – Part One of a Real Trip Mixed with Astonishing Bullshit

Drove to Manhattan with my brother Zachary last week. Along the way, we passed buildings and fields and people with frozen heads.

In West Virginia, we were chased by a coal monster for 89 miles. Zach silently screamed.

From ubiquitous signs in Maryland, we learned that deer and bears are mortal enemies. The bear and deer feud has been going on for thousands of years. Both of us said a prayer that one day the deer and bears will love each other and have a vegetarian picnic.

I don’t like Eastern New Jersey very much. I’m sorry, New Jersey. Perhaps I’m wrong.

Driving in Manhattan sucks, even with GPS. I ran over sixteen people and they dissolved into the concrete of Sixth Avenue. You better not tell anybody!

Zach and I stayed at the Eastgate Tower Hotel on E. 39th Street. It was clean and utilitarian and CAVERNOUS. Every closet had a descending stairwell to an alternate world. We knew this because the songs of the vendors floated up the stairs in alien script, permanently staining the air. But screw those other worlds! We were there to see NY. I locked those doors.

One of the reasons we were in the city was to visit our cousin Paul, who attends graduate school at Fordham University in the Bronx. He is very smart and he walks very fast. We had dinner with him Tuesday night at the Pig and Whistle in Times Square.

Times Square has lots of artificial light. People stop too much in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures of an imagined wonder. Vampires are afraid of Times Square because the light makes tourists think they own the universe. Everyone knows vampires own the universe.

We learned that The Pig and Whistle in Times Square is a fa├žade. The menu is like a casserole of what everybody expects to see in an Irish pub, with several Italians being pushed into the baking dish by administrative assistants wearing invisible capes. Falling, the Italians cursed in Gaelic about such a preposterous composition. Pasta is a strange shadow in Dublin!

Believe it or not, the day became over! That night, cold and wet enveloped the city while I dreamed of New Amsterdam applying for a credit card in Rotterdam.

Hey Soup!

It's dark. The nocturnal animals are probably eating or fornicating or defecating.

I am making soup. Red clam chowder. A bit made from pigs that grow up from somewhere. And shellfish.

I do not feel guilty, because incomprehensibly small alive bits will devour my flesh after I breathe for the last time.

A square meal is a fair meal.

10 Things Not to Say to a Girl on the First Date

10 things not to say to a girl on a first date.

1. Gaww, you eat pretty fast! You got any pictures of your Mom?
2. The lights in this restaurant are more flattering to you than the streetlamps outside your bedroom window.
3. You know, I bet that blouse would look REALLY good on me!
4. Sure, I loved Slingblade. Doyle was awesome! He reminds me of Dad.
5. So I told him , ‘Listen! I'd rather die alone than settle for some sloppy reject from the woman factory!' You know?
6. My first wedding? Who knows? It was a blur, I was WASTED!
7. What do you think about prosthetic genitals?
8. Yeah, I dream in color. The blood is always red.
9. When Jeff showed me your picture, I was like, no way, but this is like the hundredth time I've been wrong about some ugly picture!
10. People with multiple STDs have feelings, too. I just think that everyone deserves a chance at love, right?

What Not to Say to Friend After She's Showed You Pictures of Her Baby.

1. He looks too much like your stupid husband.
2. Have you called a biologist? Is that even chordata?
3. How much vodka did you drink daily?
4. Why did you open the basket?
5. What was the stork's name?
6. No, she doesn't look like you. You're a lot prettier.
7. Well, he has your husband's chin, but my eyes.

The Title is Always Changing

The title is always changing. Marching for the horizon, looking at the sun that is goozing all over the electric monkeypeople.

Do you feel no shame? You walk around the world as if you can take off your flesh like a dirty suit. And you love her because the stains of murder have made her face beautiful. Cavort. Cavort. Your footsteps together are interlaced chains, forming a thick circle around a deep hole of grief from out of which you cannot climb.

Blood in the paint on her face. So gorgeous, she.

A dead demon put that shimmer in her hair.

How many identical versions of myself have fallen from the tree? And where did they fall? Some are surely rotten.

I am sucked into the right angles.

He cannot be in the army because of the spikes on his ankles. Also, he shot out the sun warming the planet on which he was born.

Our heads are connected by cables we cannot see. And there are clusters that want to crush joy and genius.

Music is God’s voice, and it doesn’t need to vocalize the humanmonkey words for God.

Dream: Forgotten friends, megafauna and Mickey Mouse

Dream 1-24-2011

I found myself in a convenience store, dressed in fieldworkgarb, helping the Virginia District Manager install equipment. The manager and the food manager constantly bickered over the placement of the food warmer. Our guy and the employees wanted it to block the food manager from customers, because he was unbearably gross and hurt appetites.
He had a routine of going into the back and returning to the front, face and hands and arms coated and dripping with off-color bodily fluids and solids. Once up front, he would proceed to make sandwiches, while the female employees gagged and vomited.

I began to grow weary of all this, so I took off my belt and gave it to the manager, as I no longer needed it. I left the store, carrying along two Playstation controllers. When I emerged outside, I was surprised to find myself in Paris, KY, my hometown.

I passed a bench in front of the FIRST!!!! Baptist Church and two girls shouted , “There he is! There he is!”

Yes I is.

Instead of going around town to get home, I crossed through the Church parking lot and then through the grounds of Paris Elementary and High School. From afar, the campus looked barren, but hundreds of students suddenly appeared once I stepped on the sidewalk. My legs stiffened, turned to marble, so I had to drop the video game controllers and manually lift and drop my legs to progress along. All the while, shrieking elementary kids pushed and ridiculed me.

I turned a corner, escaping the horde and bumped into an old friend.

“You think you’re better than me,” he said. “You never visit me and my girlfriend.”

“I’m sorry. I just like being alone.”

“Whatever. Go that way,” he said, staring at the grass and pointing ahead to what looked like a corral.

I wanted to go home, but I had no idea how to get there. So I went in his pointed direction, walking through the corral under a low doorway into a darkened kitchen. The kitchen staff all had long beards like ZZ Top. I passed through into a brightly lit alley that ran between low buildings and emptied into a vast meadow. In the meadow, an immense roar startled me.

The brother of a fellow student from high school rode up on the back of a gigantic alligator. He stopped the monstrous animal a few feet from me; its curved teeth towered over my head. He looked at me and yelled, taking his hat off and waving it in the air.

I had no response.

The ground shook and his brother approached from the opposite direction on the fin of a tremendous shark. The shark was even more huge than the alligator and glided on the ground as if it was ice. He called out my name and I saw that he was regressing in age by the moment until he was as I remembered from pre-school. Then he took his hat off and turned into Mickey Mouse.

“Hello Todd! It’s Mickey Mouse!”

Dream Over