Popular Posts

No, I'm Not Your Mascot

No, I’m Not Your Mascot

Walking is a vital part of my life. It’s a source of exercise, hope, mental rejuvenation, and the act itself is inextricably entwined with my identity as a person and a writer. I was born with mild Cerebral Palsy and my parents were told by doctors that I would never walk. They were wrong, but I didn’t begin to walk until I was four years old. I was eventually sponsored by a Shriner, and received free operations and treatment at Shriner’s Hospital for Children until I was 21.

The subject of walking appeared in the first piece of writing for which I was paid at age 11. It was for a contest held by the local newspaper on Mother’s Day, titled I Love My Mom Because. I won first place and my letter was a giant print centered among the other entries. I don’t think I won necessarily because of my skill in writing, rather, like a savvy little skid mark, I exploited my problems with CP in the letter, and how my Mother persisted in finding me help until I could walk.

However, I wasn’t being manipulative, but honest. And it was an early lesson on the power of honesty in writing. Still, I think I had an edge that the other children did not, and to the editors who magnified my letter on that full page, I was probably an INSPIRATION. And this type of response to my presence, especially while walking, has occurred in my childhood and adult life often and often (not countless, I’m not a vampire). In the case of the contest, I’m glad I won, and I think it was fair because the letter to my Mother was unusual.

But comments from strangers that sound like Hallmark memes copied so many times the letters are wasting away like frogs in the Sahara have become an annoyance that stirs in me some quiet anger. I understand that most people are just being nice, but it gets old being a repository for banal observations which seem new and fresh within their incandescent bubble. Many people do not have sluice gates between their questionable brains and the yawning expanse of their mouths.

For instance: a few years ago I joined the Cooper River Bridge Run/Walk where I live in Charleston, SC. As I crested the slope of the bridge, a man in his sixties broke away from his wife and walked beside me for a few moments. He said, “You know, you’re an inspiration to all of us.” I think I grunted. I wanted to sound like the lower-level troll he imagined was straining against nature to join the normals in their normal pursuits. He smiled and went back to his wife; they both walked faster than I. Maybe I have a bad attitude, but I don’t want to be his inspiration. If he wants to fly higher than an eagle, then get on an airplane, or ask Bette Midler to switch places.

For instance: one day I was walking along the side road that leads to my apartment. A man in a truck called out to me as he was leaving the driveway of an office building. I went over and spoke with him for a few minutes. It was an odd exchange; I felt like I was being interviewed by a nervous fan. What’s your name? What do you do? Do you walk every day? He told me that everyone in his office sees me walking each day. He said that his eyes were bad and at night when he was leaving work, his colleagues told him, “Watch out and don’t hit the dude with the bad leg.” He said that everyone who worked at his software company thought of me as their mascot.

This guy was friendly and sincere, and I didn’t grunt. He drove away and I continued walking, musing on the encounter. In middle school, since I had always been a hopeless athlete where every sports-related instance of my life was another strata in the compounded mountain of humiliation, I tried to belong by becoming a manager for the football team and later the basketball team. Part of it was pressure from my parents to join a school-related activity. Everyone was nice to me, but I quickly felt a tool. I didn’t do anything, really, but hand out water and watch from the sidelines two sports that cultivated no interest or passion within me. When I “managed” the football team, at home games the announcer would blare my name and position with extra gusto, and I recall feeling embarrassed by this, knowing that it was really just empty horseshit. Perhaps well-meaning to boost my esteem, but I wasn’t a dumbass. I knew I was on the sidelines; I knew that, in that position, I was a marginal who didn’t care about the game and didn’t matter to the process other than to be there to make most everyone feel comfortable that I was not left out. I was a mascot. But I didn’t stay a manager long.

Because despite how my persistent walking within this body that lopes in a limp to the left fills you with an inspiration to do your best and rise and shine with King Kong thumps to the chest and a Willy Wonka twinkle in your eye . . .

I’m not your fucking mascot.

Daddy Poison

Daddy Poison

For a very short season, I had a friend in high school who gave me one of my first real-life glimpses into the bone deep reach of daddy poison.
I had just changed schools, and making friends was (and still is) difficult for me. He was a nice guy who befriended me in English class, funny, both of us shared a love for books, especially works by Stephen King. It was one of those friendships in which the dissolution was so gradual, I don’t remember exactly when we stopped communicating, but I remember some two or three years later seeing him in an arcade and recognizing the fierce dislike of me in his eyes.
About a couple of months after we had become friends, he started saying things that really bothered me. He had an older brother who had recently graduated from the school, and it was obvious that he worshipped him. From his stories and the collective gossip of other students, the brother had an unsavory reputation of being a proud racist. It was in the recollection of these stories that my friend began to say n****r, as if it was an accepted word on which we bonded. I saw something different in this new friend of mine; it was like a layer of cellophane pressing down on a genuinely kind young man, a layer that, when he delved into these brother narratives, dissolved into his skin and altered who he really was. It was mean and unthinking hatred that surprised me, confused me.
One story that will probably never drift away from my brain involved his brother and a teacher whom the brother hated. This teacher was a woman in her sixties whom doctors would describe as morbidly obese. The brother somehow procured keys to the high school and her classroom, and in the middle of the night, broke into her classroom and defiled all her walls with obscene references to her weight problem. My friend finished the story by laughing and telling me how the poor woman, when she entered the next day, broke down and blubbered. He grinned as he told me this, saying, “Isn’t that cool?”
I don’t remember what I said to him. I remember being shocked and silent and thinking HOLY SHIT THAT’S NOT COOL THAT’S FUCKING MEAN YOUR BROTHER IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE AND SO ARE YOU FOR LAUGHING ABOUT IT.
Another story involved his brother’s humiliation of a young black student at the school.The student was a young woman whom I thought was EXCEEDINGLY attractive, and it was through other friends I had made that he found out my attraction to her. He asked me about it; he was visibly pissed. I told him, yes, that I thought she was hot. It was after this that we went our separate ways. Luckily, I didn’t have any more classes with him after that. (My English teacher the following year was the one abused by his evil brother, and she was excellent.)
At some point during our brief friendship, I visited his home one afternoon, and discovered the origin of Evil Brother and gathering clouds forming over the kindness of my friend. Earlier that day, he had found one of those wallets with a long chain that attaches to a belt. His father returned home from work a few minutes after we got there. He introduced me to his Dad; I shook his hand, his Dad glanced at the chain wallet that his son wore and said, “Take that damn thing off. You look like a n****r.”
My friend tried to defend the wallet, and I distinctly remember the look on his face. He loved his Dad, but he was also embarrassed and ashamed. I saw that struggle - a young, shy and good-natured man fighting the daddy poison.
I can’t say if he ultimately lost the struggle, but he was certainly overwhelmed by it during that short season.
One fallacy shining in the loving eyes of sons is that Daddy is Super, Daddy is God.
But Daddy is not God. At best, Daddy is a loving, but flawed man, like everyone else, awash in the uncertainty of life. And at worst, Daddy is an ignorant asshole whose words are poison, poison, poison.

The ABC Wizard Duel

“Arpleeweepoo!” he shouted. But nothing happened. Carson the Supremely Magic magician walked back and forth on the edge of the rooftop, while a scattering of fans watched from 12 stories below. Disappointed, he looked across the street to the adjacent building, where his competitor and rival, Moosejuice Slingbad, laughed and danced on the top of the structure’s water tower. Every one of Slingbad’s fans were embedded in the windows of his building, their eyes turned to him in awe and adoration, but since he was out of sight, their eyes were rolled back in their heads. For the third time, Carson flourished his hands in the air, and tried another magic phrase, “Groping candylops!” Generelda, his number one encourager from Outer Space, slowly began to rise from the street like a bird with one wing. Her lovely form floated to the level of the roof, and Carson stared into her black eyes and winked. “I feel funny,” she said, then she opened her mouth and vomited a spray of bile into Carson’s face. Just then, dual apparitions of Slingbad appeared, one beside Carson, which wiped the vomit off his face with a violet hanky, and another in the air aside Generelda. Kissing and embracing her, Slingbad’s Other said, “I love you so much, even the taste of your vomit doesn’t bother me. You should be mine, deary.” Laying her head on Moosejuice’s shoulder, she stuck her tongue out at Carson. Moosejuice’s Other cackled, and squeezing her tight, they flew off, landing on his roof entwined. “Never, never try to best me, Carson,” said Slingbad’s Other Other. “Only I can command the forces that make the ladies shudder into butter. You’re as powerful as a Grandma’s eyelash. Maybe you should try cooking. I heard you’re good at that.”
Putting his hands together, the Other threw his hanky at Carson and vanished. “Quit?” Carson said. “Remember, Moosejuice, you’re an indolent talent, a lion in a hammock. Nobody loves magic as much as I.” Standing erect with his back to the sun, he pulled a magnifying glass from his pocket and directed a small beam of concentrated sunlight onto Slingbad’s vomit-soaked handkerchief. The circle of light quickly began to smoke, and soon a vine of black smoke twisted up from Moosejuice Slingbad, who grunted, then shrieked in agony as sunbeams of fire pricked out of his body in dozens. “Understand, Slingbad,” said Carson. “I am not a short-order cook, I mean, I am not to be mocked.” “Vote for me!” Slingbad yelled, before his body was consumed in a sphere of yellow fire, which promptly shrank to the size of an eyeball and rotated beside Generelda, who remained unscathed and still floating. Waves of applause came from his fans below, causing Carson to preen his hair and offer another magical flourish, causing Slingbad’s embedded fans to melt into butter and slide down the building. “Xenophobia is what inspired me to learn all of these tricks, master them, multiply them, and then kill everybody,” said Generelda. “You first,” she said to Carson, and the shining orb disappeared into her eye; she glared at Carson the now-Supremely Beshitted Magic Magician and a ragged line of lemon fire punched through his head, burned through the fans, raged through the world. Zero people survived, but all the domestic animals were spared, because Generelda loved cats.

Two Disassociates on the Blue Capped Internet Thought Tosser

"There is a backyard in my forest and the animals don't shit there."
"My Mother sang a song to the robins and they watched her, wormless."
"We never have time to crack walnuts on the freeway, and the radiovoice mocks us for it."
"I will eat alien plants."
"Uncle Lorry bought an el Camino and drove it through the preschool cafe. Nobody was in there."
" . . . "
"Nobody ever responds here. This place is nothing, like gathering nourishment from an O2 gel drip."

Brief Dream: Death in a Handbag

Dream 16 August 2013

Had a strange, horrifying nightmare, part of which took place at a party. Somebody I know was at the party, standing in the corner with a handbag which contained a gun. She threatened to take her own life. Her mother stood on the other side of the room, and she motioned to me. She whispered to me, "Just let her do it."

I said, "What?"

"Just let her do it. She's been carrying that gun around like a sundress, and I always knew that someday she'd wear that sundress.”

Her callousness traumatized my heart.

“Fuck that and fuck you, you open sore.”

I walked to the woman in the corner and embraced her, told her she was smart and funny and beautiful, that everyone loved her. She trembled in my arms and wept, and dropped the gun.

quimmy dont

quimmy likes burning the corn farmer
quimmy likes running over the kitties with big tire truck
quimmy likes blowing up the crableg shop
quimmy dont give a fuck.

quimmy wants to free the deadliest snakes
quimmy wants to poison all yer luck
quimmy wants to be queen of the spiders
quimmy dont give a fuck

quimmy wishes all the teachers had boils
quimmy wishes daddy’s organs turn to muck
quimmy wishes sissy’s eyeballs will explode
quimmy dont give a fuck

quimmy dont feel my breath on her cheek
quimmy dont hear my footsteps in the mud
quimmy dont see the sharp in my hand
quimmy dont know how much blood.

How to Be Cool Again

How to Be Cool Again

I put on a torn-up gray hoodie that looks like Bob Dylan found it in Minnesota when he was Zimmy and I check myself to make sure I’ve got a couple of legs that can take me walking, walking in January ( yeah, one of em’s turning to wood, but I’d rather be Long John Silver than Dandelion wine, I’m turning into Partial Pinocchio, but at least you know I’m not fucking lying) and in that January the Lowcountry afternoon sun is shining and warm and I take a trip on the piece of dirt separating me from Car Smash Todd dead and South Carolina Highway 61 Ashley River Road while I’m simultaneously washed by warm sunshine killing the ugliness of my winter eyes and the syncopated winds of automobile urgency, each beat underscoring Beck’s Guero in my ears, each breath I take making me bigger than I was one pace before, each car that passes so close by a bubble insect filled with prisoners staring out windshields and windows at my Reverse Parade, I’m turned inside out by sunshine soaking through bare deciduous limbs from a violet sky as the walking crank pushes me along the clogged artery of 61, so I feel that grin climb out of the shadow and spread itself on my face, the grin that goes with shining eyes and says to the windshields, “Yeah, it’s me.”
That’s cool.

Dream - Hangar in a Strange Land

Dream April 2013

This is a dream. It don’t make no sense. And I fill in the gaps.

I stood in an enormous hangar under a roof so high I knew was there only because I couldn’t see the sunlight directly above that was cascading through vast windows along the building. It was loud and boisterous in there, hundreds of people and vehicles and machines carrying weapons, food and supplies, crisscrossing layered paths to work, work, work towards something of which I was oblivious.

A horrible stench saturated the air, like a chocolate bar dipped in roadkill jelly.

A curtain door opened out into the daylight a few hundred meters ahead of me to the right, and I decided I had to exit. I stepped carefully over and around a scatter of abandoned, rusted horsecarts - trying to avoid staring at the source of the stench.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh - Ohhhhhhhhh - Gooooooooo!”

Two ancient women - one dark brown and one yellow - sat in one of the unhitched horsecarts. Each was naked except for the garment of greasy hair falling from the scalp and circling their bodies like a filthy cocoon. I couldn’t help gawking at the ebony woman on the right; her reddish eyes were unfocused on anything but a tremendous agony somewhere deep within. As I walked by, she paid me no attention - just rustled her arms beneath the hair and opened her mouth, empty of teeth and groaned in unison with the other woman.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh - Ohhhhhhhhhh - Goooooooooo!”

Their groans produced the horrendous smell, so I hurried past, holding my breath. Between them floated a grapefruit-sized sphere - pocked and scarred by dead canyons like a tiny satellite of some invisible planet. It BULGED - which scared the shit out of me - so I ran to the curtain door and into the daylight.

My foot caught on the line where light and shadow met, tripping me and I fell into about two feet of water - face first. I rose to my hands and knees in the water, coughing and spitting, and discovered that the hangar was gone and I was surrounded by two tractor trailers. The fronts of the truckless cargo trailers were beached on land that rose gently up into a huge field that stretched away to the edge of a tremendous forest.

I walked out of the water onto the beach when I heard the collaged neighing of a hundred horses, loud and deep and frightening. A speck emerged from the trees across the field, racing towards the beach and growing at a terrible rate.

Someone yelled to me from my right. A small figure stood high and alone in a stand of bleachers about half a football field away from me. He made frantic gestures with his hands, shouting, “Come here!” The bleachers were attached to the side of a mountain by roller coaster tracks, and the man was next to one of the cars.

The figure in the distance was joined by others, all of which multiplied in size as they crossed the field. I suddenly tasted my blood, the blood they wanted to spill. I sprinted to the right as the foremost figure coalesced into a form I could recognize - a man in robes upon a colossal black horse, holding a staff tipped with blue fire.

He pointed the staff at me - and like a typical fantasy RPG - spiraling blue spark bombs exploded from its tip. I dodged the fire and they hit the trailers and bounced back and forth while I ran to the bleachers and hopeful safety. The cliche dreamwizard paralleled my escape, continually shooting at me and missing. His horse was nightmarishly (yes) gigantic, its hooves leaving divots in the field the size of baseball diamonds.

Somehow I managed to outrun this creature.

At the base of the bleachers, the man who had called to me reached down with an arm like a giraffe’s neck and hauled me to the top.

“Good,” he said, and his arm retracted back into its socket to normal length. His face was a featureless gray oval, and he wore a red cap, shirt and shorts. His arms and legs were thick, gray lines.

The wizard and horse were small now. They looked up at me with little interest. The crowd from the forest had become a slow flood, passing the bleachers and heading to the hangar, which had reappeared beyond the shallow water. A tall woman stopped by the wizard, nodding her horned head toward the hangar. The horns ended in revolving satellites. Woman and horse and man left.

Grabbing my shoulder, the man behind me said, “The ride is starting, and I want to be in the front row. You can sit in any of the other seats.”

The roller-coaster car rumbled at the other end of the grandstand, situated on a track that rose up into a ragged hole in the mountain; serrated stalactites lined the mouth of the hole, uncomfortably close to the track.

“That doesn’t look safe,” I said.

“Of course it’s safe!” he said. “You wouldn’t see it if it wasn’t safe. Let’s go.”

He jumped into the front seat. Staring at the razor rocks, I climbed into the shuttle behind him. He rattled the safety bar in his lap and made ZOOOOOM! ZOOOOOM!

Something popped and the coaster trembled up the steep track into the hole. The stalactite was too low! Redhat continued zoooooooooming, oblivious of the sharp tongue of rock directly in front of his gray head. The coaster stopped for a moment, then jerked forward, and his head resisted the rock for a millisecond. In that tiny window, Redhat began to wail like a demonbaby abandoned on some holy mountain. Then the granite peninsula sheared through his oval chin, spraying whiteout everywhere. His head fell on the seat beside me and the wail continued as the car proceeded. I tried to duck down, but knew I would share his gruesome death. Just as my brow tapped against the stone, the track shifted down and to the right, leaving a clear passage that would save my skull.

The car ascended a small hill, emerging into a small station, then came to a stop by a railed landing where a young woman with blonde hair was yelling at a group of teenage boys. She came toward my car, looking over her shoulder, still shouting at the boys.

“You have nothing to worry about if you stay on the right square! Quit crying, Whimpledick!” She opened a gate in the railing and bent down to grab the body and head of my dead hero and tossed them into a corner piled with other bizarre corpses. Looking at me, she said, “Alright, then. Get out. Where is your staff?”

I got out and stood beside her. Her face was square, every corner too sharp for me to see its point.

“What staff?”

“You are another Whimpledick! You were supposed to pick up a staff at the beginning. They’re piled at the entrance!”

“I didn’t see any staffs.”

“Whatever. Follow me. Training is almost over, but there’s still time. Only step on the opaque squares. Obviously you’ll fall below if you step on the clear squares. Sometimes they switch.”

I looked down and felt dizzy. I stood on an opaque square about three feet by three, but the square before me was transparent, revealing a drop of several stories to a sandstone floor littered with exploded bodies and puddles of blood. Hideous beasts, with baboon heads, bodies of goats and cockroach legs ending in human hands darted about below, drinking from the pools of blood and gnawing on splattered remains. Occasionally they glanced upward in expectance.

Shuddering, I tiptoed onto a solid square diagonally adjacent, following the woman. One of the denizens ripped its muzzle from a carcass and watched my slow progress.

I made it to the group, which consisted of the woman and five chubby young men with terrible acne. The boys were sweating and horrified as the woman presented them with a fistful of straws. She looked at me. “Good, you made it. Training is over. Come over here and pick. Shortest straw has to offer and make the vialjuice.”


“Just pick. You first.”

I grabbed one of the straws and pulled. It grew from her clenched fingers like a magician’s scarf rope, finally ending at some foot and a half. The others made their choices, all of which were equally long except for the last. He was taller than his four companions; lean, and his facial features were obscured by cross-hatched scars.

“Why does it have to be me?” he said.

Ignoring him, the woman removed a small glass container from her clothes. She twisted off the cap and handed the vessel to me.

“Just hold it steady over the edge right by his face. Come on,” she said.

The boy was crying, and the tears caused his scars to glow red.

The woman clutched his hair in her fist and dragged him to the rim of an opaque square overlooking the pit. She dangled his body over the chasm while the monsters below shrieked in hunger. I held the container next to his weeping eyes.

The boy’s neck began to stretch, thinning at the center like taffy, until it snapped apart, and his body plummeted to the awaiting abominations. The woman dropped his head. Their riotous feasting produced an indigo fountain of blood and saliva that rose over our heads. I filled the vial in the collapsing plume and handed it to the woman. She put the cap back on and gave it to me.

“What is this for and why does it have to be me?”

“You’re not a teenager, so don’t ask that question. You’ll know when it’s time.” She pointed to the corner of the room at doors of an elevator, around which the other boys had gathered. “We are riding that elevator to heaven, and I’m worried that something will happen. Let’s go.”

Inside the elevator, the woman pushed the UP button and the carriage ascended. One wall was completely black and all of us faced this wall. After several minutes, the four teenagers and the woman froze, as if their bodies had been coated with a thin layer of transparent cement. I could see their eyelids pushing down, trying to close, but the shell forbade it. From around each of their left shoulders, the rim of a shadow appeared, growing like the thin line of red at dawn. The shadows bulged, ballooned into hideous shapes which overwhelmed their forms, slowly consuming them.

I took the vial from my pocket, opened it, and poured the liquid onto the boot of my shoe. Immediately, a horde of the loathsome creatures from the sandstone pit boiled out of the black wall and latched five to one on the possessed figures of my former companions. The noise was horrendous in the close space - overlapping growls and crunching and breaking and tearing sounds, along with wails of shredding ghosts. I closed my eyes and covered my eras until at last it was over.

The monsters were clumped together opposite me in the large elevator. Their eyes focused on me while they melted and merged, compounding and condensing until reaching the slender form of the woman. She looked revitalized and happy. Pointing at my shoe, she said, “You’ll have to get a new shoe.”

I looked down at my stained shoe. “I’ll probably get two.”

We went up.

Dream Over

My Excellent, Fabulous, Marblous Birta Feelter Kleeps me Smarmt

Read this article today by this man pointing out two problems with the Brita filter. First, he often forgets to refill the pitcher, and thus he rarely has a pitcher full of cold water. It takes too long to refill!!!!!!

Second, because it takes too long to refill, he often forgets that he has recently filled the well of the pitcher, and when he tries to pour a glass, the lid comes off and a great mass of wet, wet water splashes all over the place. He writes that this has happened several times (to him).

Lastly, though, he states that the Brita filter is a wonderful product which improves the taste of water and removes harmful contaminants like lead.

Therein is the funnneeee.

I don't think he's using the filter. Or it's broke. As I learned in the past, and as Ciro the Guide explained to us in Pompeii - scientists understand that the true decline of the Roman Empire can be blamed on lead poisoning from the water. Water was distributed in the Empire via lead-lined pipes. Lead poisoning causes saturnism and a gradual dilution of intelligence and sanity.

So, while he LOVES the Brita filter - it ain't filtering out something that's making him forget to use it right.

Too bad.

Soup for the (Evil?) King

Soup for the (Evil?) King

I love soup.

It was one of my favorite dishes my Mother made when I was a child, especially her chili, which I’d look forward to like it was Christmas. Sometime early in elementary school I checked out a picture book from the library titled Soup for the King by Leonard Kessler. The simple story burned its way onto my brain like a stove tattoo; I must’ve been starving when I read it the first time. I identified with the soup-loving monarch, and Kessler’s fable and the appetite for soup stayed with me through adulthood. I taught myself how to cook homemade soups and stews in college and afterward to stretch a very small budget.

I recently purchased this book out of nostalgia, something I haven’t seen for 30 years. I was surprised by how much I recalled. Yes, I must’ve skipped lunch. However, reading it as an adult revealed a morbid element invisible in my childhood reading.

Soup for the King goes like this - a king and his queen are sitting at their dining table. The King is a jolly-looking fellow. He says he wants soup for dinner. The Queen is sick of soup. She wants something else, but oh no, the King wants soup. Cratchedy and ratchedy, she starts to bother the royal cook about the next day’s soup, needs more salt, blah, blah, blah. Of course, the Cook is a proud imaginary jackass and he quits. The Queen is worried and scared. At dinner, she makes several suggestions to supplant soup - all of which he refuses. He don’t want any of that shit, Queen! “I want soup!” he says. Then she tells him the cook quit, and alongside a huge picture of the poor King weeping - the Queen says it’s time to find a new cook.

So, the King’s men arrange for a contest to find a new soup cook. Cooks from all over the kingdom line up outside the castle. Meanwhile, the story switches to a poor tailor and his family eating dinner. And what are they eating? PIZZA! No, soup. They are too poor to eat anything but soup, and the tailor? He fucking hates soup! His wife sends their boy to sell some soup at the market so they can buy some MEAT! Of course, the boy gets misidentified at the castle for a contestant. The King lines them all up and loves the boy’s soup, and sends for his family to live at the castle so the Mother can make his precious fucking soup EVERY DAY FOREVER! At the end, everybody is happy! The King gets soup and the poor tailor gets to eat every kind of meat and cheese that will give him a heart attack in a few months.

As a child, I LOVED the ending of the story. Everyone got what they wanted. Thinking back on it before I bought the book, I imagined the last page of the story - with the Tailor, his wife, the boy and the Queen sitting at a table piled high with every nonsoup food imaginable.
Seeing it again after three decades, I realize that I misremembered. The Queen is NOT sitting at the table. The Queen is NOT dining with the King as he gobbles his delicious new soup. The Queen does NOT help organize the contest.

After saying it’s time to find a new cook, the Queen vanishes from the story. No pictures of her, no dialogue or text about her. Gone, gone, gone.

What happened to the Queen?

Ohhh, the King was DEVASTATED by her news of the quitting cook. He wept and wept, and I see now why she was so worried, why the King ALWAYS got to pick what they had to eat. He is a filthy, filthy king. He is a King of Murder and Revenge!

“Ohhh, you ratchedy cratchedy woman, make me spill tears and I will spill your blood! The cook is gone, and the larder is thin like bad vichyssoise. Come here, my Queen, my precious darling Queen! I will hang your hocks in the smokehouse, dear and so lovely! I will pickle your sweetmeats and boil your marrowbones for the royal stock. Only so much time to wring those hands, dear and so lovely. Queensoup for the King! Queensoup for the King!”

This is possible. Don’t you think this is possible?

Wilfree Pepperduck

Wilfree Pepperduck was borned in the canteloupe antelope hotel. His eyes are dead seeds that willnt sprout no matter the number of times you say hello and kiss his outstretching hand. Them and those who kiss his outstretching hand must be dreaming dreams that fall off the planet, because their lips are burning forever with pulp acid. Now they stand on bone scaffolds way above the hotel, firemouths scorching his songs that rip through their heads like cabbagewire.

You dinna know what that is? Well, Ima Knot going to tell you. Why you look disappointed?


See, I told you Ima Knot going to tell you.

You keep on watching Wilfree Pepperduck. The petroleumfall winkles its coming in the dark part of his deadseed eyes. You got plenty to see.

Limerick bimmerick

There once was a drunkard named Charlie
Who tried to go swimming in barley
When he inhaled his first breath
Dumb bastard choked to death
And naught a soul in town is sorry

Rant of an Oilman's Son

Rant of an Oilman’s Son

My father is an oilman. I grew up in Texas, going out to the derricks with him. When I saw a puddle of that dark stuff ooze up from a newly-vacant cavity in the earth, I wanted to jump into its tarry center, to breathe it in, sucking all that ancient, ancient fat into my lungs until I was as dead as those animals from which the stuff comes.
You want me to repeat that? Yes, animals. Oil is a tangent shadow of faraway death. Ages ago, when smarter, murderous monkeys like my father hadn't yet stood up to shake their fists at God, a troglodyte died and began to decompose. Much later, an abandoned infant brachiasaurus collapsed from starvation in the same place, decomposition adding to the soup. The thick stew accumulated over eons until men like my father dug a hole and found it, sucking it out of an enormous cave to fuel trucks that shipped cancerous vegetables to people in South Carolina and South Korea, giving them stunted energy enough to fill up their own vehicles with old animal soup to buy more food to eat, shit and die.
But the hatred of my father didn't spawn from the discovery that he got rich on the world's reliance on the spoils of history. We are all babies suckling at the corpulent breasts of that which came before us, suckling with blind, feverish pleasure and need.
At some point, even babies must be sated and open their eyes.
I hate my father for not understanding that he continues to empty the cavities of the Earth. The world loves both the life and death of its children. Life moves upon the surface of the Earth like a smile or grimace upon the face of a loving mother, and when that life has ended, it sinks down to her heart, into hidden pockets of rich memories guarded and held secure. These are the memories of the physical world; she cannot pursue the future without this petroleum past.
My father steals the memories of the world in order to accelerate the movements of men, movements ridiculous and shameful in such a canyon of time. Soon, the caves of the world's remembrances will be hollow, as dry and abandoned as ice sifting forgotten through the far corners of the incomprehensible universe.
This hollowness, this world with an interior of devoured memories, cannot support the weight of men and women and children upon the surface.
Soon, the ground will collapse beneath my boots. I cannot convince my father that he is wrong. I cannot replenish the deposits of history.

Dream - Labrat Liver is Good for You/ Naked Trainstation

The student named Me sat high in the rear of the auditorium, looking down at his teachers as they performed a play about labrat liver pate and its superior nutrition. He was apart from and above the other pupils, peering at the action over the top of a stuffed rolling suitcase, which was crushing his lap.

Said Mr. Turrible, “By the time I am finished with this pile of delicious labrat liver, I will have so many more fingers with which to buy more labrat liver!”

Said, Mrs. Jinglebells, “All the little children on the world will see through extra eyes if they have more helpings!”

The entire faculty formed a circle around a small table upon which stood a plate of crackers with labrat liver pate. They held hands and sang while dancing round and round.

After two of their revolutions, the suitcase on Me’s lap exploded open, spewing out fountains of brightly-colored underwear and pants and socks and shirts. Me held tight to the luggage while the column of seatbacks directly in front of him lowered, creating a clear descent to the floor. An inordinate amount of blue silk pajamas fell from the air, covering the new path, molding tight onto the surface like melted cellophane.

The auditorium tilted forward, pitching Me and the suitcase into the clothing storm and down the silken hill. Me landed in the suitcase on the floor before the stage. He looked up at the audience. The boys and girls laughed at him without pause. Me glanced down and saw that he was naked from the waist down. He yelped and closed the lid against his chest to cover his dangledoo.

Mrs. Jinglebells, Mr. Turrible and a few other unimportant teachers jumped down and stood between him and the students.

“Do not worry,” said Mrs. Jinglebells, looking at his dangledoo. “We won’t let ANYONE see your dangledoo!”

Mr. Turrible said, “I think you will really like next week’s assignment.”

All the clothing in the air turned to water and splashed down, soaking everyone. A wet young woman descended the stairs at the other end of the auditorium, pointing at Me. “Follow me! I know where we can find your underwear!” She turned to the wall, which transformed into a thin pane of glass. The glass quickly slid up into the ceiling, revealing a train station platform. An infinite train powered through the station. The woman rushed onto the platform.

Me leaped out of the suitcase and ran after the woman, laughter at his back like gravel under the skin. He passed through into the station, and the wind from the train ballooned his shirt. The train was a constant streak of forest green. Me caught up with the woman, who had stopped beside a black button floating in the air close to the endless train. He tugged his shirt down to cover his dangledoo.

She pointed to the button. “Remember to push this if you fuck something up.” Turning, she ran a short distance to an empty ticket stand. Me followed. She opened a door to the office. “You will find your underwear in here.”

The train stopped and a door opened, out of which writhed an ethereal, forest green hand.

“Goodbye,” the woman said, and the hand jerked out and surrounded her, squeezing. The hand retracted back into the door, leaving only a clean skeleton standing before Me. The train resumed its eternal course, while the skeleton started to walk away. It tripped on a chocolate wrapper and smashed to the floor, breaking apart, and the hundreds of bones squirmed into the concrete and were still.

Me stared at the bone ridges for a moment until he heard the collective voice of thousands of people gain volume and near the empty station. People were coming! Frantic and horrifed, Me raced into the ticket office. A pair of shining boxers hung suspension above a glass vial on one of the desks. He quickly maneuvered around a counter, hearing the WHOOF and whimper before his heel crushed down on bone and flesh.

His brother’s Golden Retriever lay on the floor close to the counter; Me had smashed in her poor skull. Her Berenstain Bear legs pawed at the air in futile escape. He bent down and caressed her side. “Oh, shit. Shit. I’m so sorry.” Her head was cracked open, but it was strangely clean and dry. He remembered the button. Me ran back to the rushing train, sick in his throat. His brother loved the dear pup; how the hell would he tell him?

The ebony button responded to his nearness by flashing. It was shaped like a coconut. He pushed it and the train halted, then began to thunder in the opposite direction. As it moved backward, he watched ghostly images of him and the woman dance through the last few minutes in reverse. The coconut button flashed again, changing color to a blood red. Me pressed it again; the train stopped and resumed its original, furious journey.

Hopeful, he went back to the ticket office. The sounds of the impending crowd increased, intensified by the addition of two footsteps on stone for every voice. When he reached the office, he sobbed. The Retriever had stopped moving; her tongue was a moist black ribbon stretched across the floor. The dog’s head was now perfectly split like a blooming flowerbud. The brain had turned to mist and the brainmist rose and drifted back to the vial on the desk. His glowing underwear was gone. The brainmist caressed the vial and slowly filled it with a blue light, and once full, a shape began to emerge from the mouth of the vial. A head surfaced, blonde hair parted in the middle that continued as the being rose until its lengths ended plastered on the wet shoulders of the rising, naked woman. Her form billowed out into normal dimensions as she passed up through the neck of the vial.

The naked woman stepped out of the vial and dropped to the floor. She looked at Me, but she didn’t look at his dangledoo.

“You fucked up,” she said to Me. “But that’s normal.”

She walked out of the ticket office toward the train. The crowds had arrived, and they ambled hurriedly toward nowhere. The woman jostled through them in her nakedness, and each time one of the crowd looked at her, that person froze like Lot’s over-curious wife.

She looked over her shoulder at Me. “Follow me to find your underwear.”

So he followed.