About sz

Writes fiction and poetry. And occasionally other things, whatever they are.


dover fairy crop grainy midtn 2 tint 2

It started, as all such things purportedly start, on an otherwise ordinary day several weeks ago when someone’s border collie transformed—without warning—into a moderately good-looking man with whom that someone began spending all her time all over the house engaged in what the local paper referred to as “questionable activities” until someone discovered what was going on when she didn’t show up for work three days in a row (like, why did it take three days to start wondering) and a relative of hers who is a policeman was convinced, probably without very much encouragement, to kick open her locked back door and inspect the premises.

Then an encampment of demons—membranous wings and leathery codpieces and brassieres, the whole bit—suddenly sprang up in the fields and pastures just outside town, alarming farmers who attempted to spray them away with huge hoses and failing in that took up their pitchforks—yes, pitchforks—and other rustic implements and attempted to no avail to chase them Continue reading


We await a more capacious state
of being, less trembling in our stirrups,
kindness, perhaps, or just some not quite hope
to hedge the aftermath. Something loud is
about to happen, air rushing away
from us already, clearing a future

space for itself. For us, no place but the
verge and the dreamy underside of things
we thought we knew–it’s just as well the cure
has emptied memory of everything
but moiré landscapes seen from rapid trains.
Still, there’s something not like sadness that

we almost feel, though we mostly want
to break a lot of things. We don’t know if
this monstrous skin is transformation or
revelation, only that forever is over
and this human heart cannot compass
even the slightest human thing.

Nail the Tale

Seven Parts: I. How About a Smaller Weapon; II. That Intermittent Rewards Thing; III. The Badness of the Aftermath of Badness; IV. How About Some Women in a Cave; V. A Spy from the Man Tribe; VI. How About some Men in a Boat; VII. Evil Men-Like Creatures in Caves.
Seven characters in search of a story: Art, Bert, Cris, Dave, Eddie, Frankie, Greta. Plus one guy who texts through Part I and departs in Part II, and one totally absent character: Mikey, who may or may not be bringing lunch.
Around a table. Talking. Cross-talking. Talking over. They’ve been at this awhile. They’re getting hungry.

Part I: How About a Smaller Weapon?

Art: We can’t have a kid killing his mother with a machine gun.

Bert: OK. How about a smaller weapon?

Cris: I don’t think the weapon is what’s bothering him.

Bert: What? The mother part bugs you?

Dave: How about somebody else’s mother?

Eddie: Or an evil step-parent?

Frankie: An evil supernatural step-parent.

Eddie: Or maybe another relative? An evil supernatural cousin.

Frankie: Or an evil supernatural twin.

Greta: Or an accident?

Bert: Accidental killing. Dogs him around, makes him do things. Drinking, smoking, compensating.

Art: Nothing involving a machine gun is accidental.

Cris: Increasingly desperate and fucked-up compensating.

Eddie: Oooh. Same flashbacks over and over.

Greta: And over… What? I didn’t really say anything, I’m just writing down whatever you guys say.

Dave: What if flashbacks changed in slightly different ways until they became the story and the present ceased to exist because it was in the future?

Greta: Are you high? Continue reading

How the water

How the water was the water
And the sky the sky.
How not itself was anything,
How truth be told was lie.
When the weather was the weather
Mild, torrential, chilly, high–
Fog like aspic, rain like needles,
Storms your hazel eyes.
How the marvel was the marvel
That we loved from side to side,
That we carried when we carried
Soft or sharp or still or wry.
How we suffered when we suffered
The cramped room of rhyme.
How we metamorphosed then
And thought we outran time.
How the secret was the secret
Of the plow and lullaby–
How you loved me and I loved you,
How we thought we’d never die.


4:00 am not the train not even
the usual freeway in your bedroom
then in your head yanking sleep up
off you your heart rushing to
catch up to that stacked staccato
monster gnawing the neighborhood
or totally brass every car alarm in
earshot hollering endless relay
sucking the air out of everywhere
wake up
those long smooth calculations
your mind makes when there’s
some sudden bad
you’ve got to get out of bad being
the only place since you got back
like home
flipping through the sound index
until you know it’s not a city
crying out for deliverance
not gunfire: it’s geese
not flying over like always on their way
somewhere else but
knotted up in one place located
two houses down
where the loud people live
the relentless loud people
women with prison eyebrows men who
come out only late at night and stand
out in the street and holler fuckyou
nofuckyou no fuck you arwr arwr arwr

then glass breaking
feet running down the street
or first the feet and then the glass
and then their cars screaming past
or sliding slowly by
bass jacked up so crushing loud
you feel it in your teeth
even their cars say fuckyounofuckyou
but right now
in this particular morning
the loud people are just crazy pissed off
to find themselves suddenly
low-bottomed and feathered and
craving worms
and no matter how long or how often
they try to holler louder than each other
all that comes out over and over
is honk honkhonkhonkhonk
honk honk

honk honk



who knew

rock on ice lhl bw

where was the lord when the grinding began
the rock rolled then, the torture was going
badly–no common language, we heard things
drifting, dissipating, what was left, a
few furs and old money, a persimmon
seed, dust in every groove, an empty
bottle or two, a brass chain, where were they
living, who knew the last war would be so
invigorating, so short on supplies
and hallucinogens, our offerings,
insensate, so deeply felt and cheap, so
ephemeral, what were we doing in
the hideout when the boy shipped in, we had
drinks, we had cornbread and pot liquor in
the shed, had fried snake and old potatoes,
it startled us, all that steam and bother.

Up All Night

up all night, when day comes one doesn’t
belong to it somehow, having traveled
great distance to arrive in a place
materializing for the first time,

or discovering the world has gone on
without you and you’re something of a ghost,
still, there’s a peace in it, the morning with
its birds and garbage trucks, and the usual

sensory disturbances, meteors,
distant fireworks, and that damned noise always
in your head like a world full of June bugs, the
sound of those swamps along the Pascagoula,

like places people have never been or
should not go into, all that ochre mud
and oppressive moss and cypress trees,
you don’t remember fishing, just that

someone caught a gar, but you remember
the boat low and slow and being afraid
to dip your hand in, all those prehistoric
things under that muddy water and on

the banks tiny creatures popping up from
the mud like strange flowers blossoming,
unless you’ve conflated that with another
time and place, South Carolina coast

a host of small crabs erect and waving
as if telling you to go away, the
things one’s mind returns to, though when you get
down to it, you don’t have a memory

for fine detail and suspect other people
invent that lavishment they recall,
while you recollect only flashing
images and feelings words can only

sneak up on and stall the revelation,
now this morning sky and you’re thinking how
you’d like to spend the day just watching clouds,
just watching the way they do, without

thinking they look like anything else,
just trying to look through seeing,
to get clear of seeing, that magnetic
pull to make the world cohere, though of course

one is clear of all of it soon enough,
that wash of feeling one could have been
anywhere but here one is, till letting go
comes upon you more stringently than

hanging on to what anyway—dreams and
expectations, things that seem to have
continuity because they don’t exist–
how panic can feel like exhilaration

as if one has things still to experience
that bring joy, not mere release from sorrow
but something that busts up into the room
with its own kind of glad, how to get

the past to let go of you, you have to
relinquish what it has taken that’s gone,
how now I know you talk to the cats when
you think nobody else is awake.


They make you think you are dead. When you enter a room, nothing is happening, you speak and suddenly everyone lives in a world without sound. It’s almost corny like those movies in which ghosts don’t know they’re dead, daily life goes on, but people see right through you, you can holler or stamp your feet or try to flag somebody down, it doesn’t matter. Nothing can compensate for that, not even walking through walls, not such a neat trick when there’s nobody who will see you do it.

Other things seem smaller but take so much more doing—rattling things, opening cabinets, moving stuff around, all to no avail. Who’d have thought a tomb could be made from someone’s disregard. It somehow binds you to a spot—you’re not there, but you belong to the place, you don’t exist, but there you are, and there’s no place else for you.

You make a little chaos, but by now you’re frantic and pissed off—maybe you don’t, in fact, exist–and a little chaos isn’t as fulfilling as bringing the house down would be. You think. You will never be like the wind, known by its effects, though you could possibly be mistaken for the wind when you blow through a room. Someone can stand on top of you, but all you do is make them cold. Something you’d never expect in life, this shunning, this banishment, this invisibility.

On the other side of things, perhaps it’s hard to do, to pretend someone else doesn’t exist until you believe it or feel justified in believing it. But pretend absence inscribes a presence, the ghost you make goes with you wherever you go, even if you are always turning the petrified side of your heart toward it, it drains something of your life away. Thus this shunning becomes a kind of deathly binding.

You seek places where you won’t have to feel invisible–what a relief finally to occupy places where no one lingers: under beds, in closets, cupboards, attics. Living this underside kind of life does have its peaceful appeal. Still, it’s probably not as tricky as that implacable hostility that can deny what it is simply by making you disappear. All that spectral tapping while you are screaming I am here I’m alive I’m alive.


Future Past

There’s always something from the past–
perhaps unnoticed then, perhaps not even
from a past in which you were alive–
there it is: lurking in a nearby future,
waiting with its duct tape and its cable ties,
its boat idling in an unmapped cove,
a lashed-palm lean-to on the deck where
the weary torturer takes off his plastic shoes
to take his naps. If later comes, you will recall
you knew they had you when you knew
you’d seen it all before—the implements
and makeshift generators, the manager’s
motto taped on the wall to motivate
your captors, those who do and
those who merely watch: be the cross.


the disappearance explained mod 1

When death stopped by the room was ready–
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.

image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/