Tend

flagstaff protected night sky nasa fin tend 2 cmpr

Nothing much has changed since you’ve been gone.

We’ve still been unable to locate the source of that relentless banging and drilling noise. Current theories in the Moonlight Bar, the place from whence all theories emanate, are that it’s a collective hallucination or a broadcast from some ubiquitous and invisible truck or car from out of town or outer space.

As usual the move from one speculation to another causes some kind of spooky resonance that makes all prior speculation seem true so by the time speculation begins to look like explanation what prompted the speculation in the first place is so far removed as to be unrecognizable.

Tourists still come ashore and shuffle glumly to the mounds where they think the temples were. They complain about the heat as if we created it and they want to chastise us for poor climate design, or, more like, for living in a place where they think it’s too hot for better sorts of persons such as themselves to live.

Still, sometimes some one of them will flourish in our climate and will stay behind, belonging here as we do because they don’t belong anywhere else–like you did when you loved us, if you ever really loved us. If you did.

Shortly after you left, the factory shut down, the company’s buildings and our fields were still smoldering as they sailed away. Perhaps they feared we’d somehow fashion ourselves into rivals with the sticks and broken rakes they left behind. Now we tend weeds and water stones, so even though the baas is gone, the baas is still here.

Last week the bishop manifested in our little town to tell us that we bring our troubles on ourselves, that our current sad state is some kind of delayed aftermath of original sin and a multitude of subsequent transgressions and maybe even more recent transgressions yet to be brought to light.

Late at night when everyone’s asleep so deep you cannot even see them in their beds, I wander the beach. Out there alone, I am my own continent, I lie down on the sand and look up, and imagine I am some amorphous massless creature wandering forever through cold space, yearning for another lonely creature, maybe a mate.

We looked for you everywhere, how could you leave us everyone said, surely you’d never leave us, you must have drowned in the sea, you must have been snatched up and carried away by some fearsome beast from the forest, you must have been abducted by the aliens. I’m the only one who knows you took your clothes and my cash.

Don’t think even for a minute that I can’t sleep without you or that I still wonder where you are or that I wonder if wherever you are you look up at night and see the same stars I see.

I don’t.

_________________________
image: small detail from Astronomy Photo of the Day 06 April 2008: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080416.html.

Mind-the-Blanks 1

. . . a story to play with–the story emerges from what the reader’s mind does with the blanks when the reader is reading. No rules–it’s playtime.

The Couple

Two people, time, places, words, police . . .

Even before they were seated at __________, they started __________. They __________ about __________, but they both knew that what they were really __________ about was __________.

As usual, __________ claimed that __________, was __________. Then __________ claimed that that claim was totally __________ because __________ had actually __________.

“Don’t start,” __________ said and added, as usual, “Why do you always __________.”

And __________, as usual, responded by pointing out that __________ was the one who always __________. (And __________ never could resist adding that __________ was also __________.)

As usual, they were getting __________, and people nearby were __________. But what did they care? As far as they were concerned, they were __________, and other people were just __________. They never thought of themselves separately or together as __________ which, of course, was part of the problem whenever they __________.

The year before __________ had been in __________ for __________. During that time, __________ had __________, and __________ had never forgiven __________ for __________. In fact, __________ thought that __________ could not be __________ enough for __________ and started __________ every time they __________.

“Don’t think you can go on __________,” __________ said almost daily.

And __________ usually responded by saying, “I wish I were still __________ so you would just __________ about this and let me __________.”

And then __________ usually, sometimes rather too __________, said, “__________   __________.”

And so they had reached a kind of __________ when __________ found out that __________ had __________. The thought of this was so __________ that __________ could not __________ and instead of __________ proceeded to __________ at every opportunity, and such opportunities abounded because __________ simply refused to __________.

At night, __________ often dreamed that __________ and awoke to discover that __________. Of course, __________ thought that __________ was responsible for __________. But what bothered __________ the most was __________ failure to __________ when the opportunity arose.

For months, early (too early) every morning, __________ sat in the __________ looking at __________ and thinking __________had really __________ things up this time.

And so it was that things got so __________ that __________ began to devise __________ plans to __________ with __________ even though, as any sensible person would know, __________ would never __________ and any attempt to __________ would only __________ the __________.

Later on (but probably not later enough), when __________ was being __________ by the police in a rather __________ manner, __________ would put on a __________ face and assert that __________ was in fact __________ and had been attempting to __________ the __________ when it __________. Of course, __________ didn’t believe that __________ had __________, but played along with __________ hoping for __________ that was never __________.

And never would be.

Orfeo

mod detail Camille Corot Orpheus

You walk, she follows. You worry that she’s not following you.
Then you worry that she is.

This is the part where you go to get her back, you can’t live without her, you feel somehow guilty she’s gone.

You are looking for a place and a man not exactly a man–a man who’s a place, a place that’s a man. He has her, but what he really cares about is that you don’t have her.

He’s untouched by the supplications of the grieving, rather enjoys it as a matter of fact. He’s casual about it, sends a pale messenger up to pose palms out, nothing to hide, nothing to blame, the thing is done. Ooh, he tells you the one time he returns your call, a whole lotta fetchin’ women in the world for a good-lookin’ guy like you, a musician to boot, count your blessings, do your charm thing.

Nobody’s going to tell you go, don’t go, no one ever tells you anything when your heart is broken and everybody knows that worse is on its way. No one but the oracle, of course, who tells and doesn’t tell, says: find your way up to find your way down. Continue reading

It occurred to us as we were driving away

It occurred to us as we were driving away that _______ never had
_______. Had _______ just forgotten, or was it part of _______?
Maybe it was just _______ way of _______, but if so, what the
_______ were we _______, and where did we think we _______?
Thus, in a perfectly _______ day, we managed to _______ our
_______ by _______ the absent _______ into our _______, and
all our _______ was gone.

Blowback

You discover that space is flat
but you prefer a surface more like
an interface, or something that if turned
on its side would go straight to the bottom.

You want to turn your face to the sun,
you want gravity. Everybody else
will sit around eating and joking
all the way up to the end.

Names and other things have curves
where secrets hide or can be planted
to blow things up later. Unlike the
rolling boundaries of the things
you care about.

So you track it down.
There’s an improved experiment.
Before there was nothing there wasn’t
something. Your last refuge not to
beg the attribution.

The brute–it was all underwater but
like sadness it wasn’t an even thing–
more like a cryptic note or rather
a partial note. Acquiesce, it said.
a mean overseer with a whip.

Did it say “depth” or “death”?
Another way of saying it’s not true,
probably not true that you’ll be anxious
now in any scene set on a spacecraft
with the short guy in the tight coat.

That blowback from the future is such
an absolute affliction you wonder
how it is that something that’s
over hasn’t surfaced yet.

The god who lives in a shack always
leans a chair up against the nearest
outside wall to sit in the sun.
Everything he says is so crafted it’s
like clothing. Each day we wait to hear
from you. Are you there?

 

 

 

Never Can Tell

Natl Archv Ranger Daughter Axe mod 3

A man with an axe and a girl, a forest ranger and his daughter, he seems focused on the axe, she’s looking on in that polite but hanging-back-in-your-mind way that kids look on when adults are making you look at something and never telling you why they want you to or why you have to sit there and be still until whatever it is they’re not really explaining to you is over, I just came out here because Mama wants me to ask if he wants coffee in a thermos, those tadpoles down in the creek yesterday hope they’re still there wonder if they’re frogs yet, maybe he’s working his way around to saying something about me scaring the bejesus out of Yaya last night, really shouldn’t have done that, wood feels good on my feet, warm, smooth, why is he all closed up over that thing like he’s glued to it or like it might fly off on its own if he doesn’t wrangle it down or something?

He’s working on the axe in an acting-ordinary kind of way, but he’s a little wound up, he’s trying to figure out how to say what he has to tell her, but every way he runs it by in his head it’s just too Continue reading

we alight

we alight
a branch, a pencil
someone’s hand
imagined home

our submarine, our coast
our delight, our new skin
our body bag

our moon, our outer space
our buddy the robot
roved out of orbit
equipment
left behind
is reprimand

the power hand
a lie, a command
a storied put-together
duct tape, spite
spit, static

our mystery scene
our screen seen
our camera that
shaky trope
disappeared
our all again

This is the part where you think you don’t

medieval burning%20(2)

This is the part where, you think, you don’t know anything, for surely if you knew something, you would feel compelled to say something, unlike, you think, the other part when you knew something and didn’t say anything—that past part, the long part, the part eating up your life, the part you tell yourself you’re not in now. Tell and tell.

This is the part where you try to act like life is the same but you can’t because it’s not.

Always behind any surface that you show, it’s like you’re some cartoon character who—running away from some danger—has sawed a hole in the floor only to fall through it a long, long time and end up on the opposite side of the world. But no matter where you are, run away and it will keep you running. You think. You think that, but you don’t believe it.

Then one day you know this part you seem to have fallen into is really going nowhere—it’s static, it’s like waiting but not waiting for anything in particular, or maybe forgetting what you’re waiting for—but it’s just the waiting part, a part without the usual parts of waiting like being patient or impatient, like checking and checking the time, like daydreaming at a stop light or idly flipping through a magazine in some waiting room. It’s not that kind of waiting.

It’s waiting that’s a kind of absolute stillness in which you’ve stopped trying to know anything because there are so many things you know that you wish you didn’t. The phone bills, the messages—endearments, pleas—not meant for you but written nonetheless in searing letters in the front of your mind.

Maybe you were waiting to know but when you knew, the waiting didn’t stop. Maybe you gave up on knowing—so much transportation, so many ways to get to the wrong place. All those other things you didn’t think about then or didn’t do—doors you opened when you should have been locking them, things you looked into when you really should have run away. Now there’s no not knowing.

And now you know what part this is. This is the part where you keep in deep silence the other’s secret, the secret that is also the secret of how you’ve been wounded, the burden of it, this part where all that’s left of you is where the secret is, the part where the other’s secret is all you have left of him.

 

 

 

 

Supernatural

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

Mind You Don’t

zinnia htmp 1

“Mind you don’t trip on Mina,” she said but I would never not see Mina the cat, if she was a cat as big as me she would hold me on her furry lap and hug me and I would hug her back not like all those people I can’t touch who won’t touch me. Ever won’t touch, or hug. No, I would not mind Mina. Mina is in my mind whenever I see her or sometimes just feel her on her way to me, and we have the same stomach, always wanting more but our paws swatted down until we try to be in the mind of those others: please give us more, more, more. “Now, Lucy, don’t get agitated,” she will say or he will say or someone and I wrap my skin up tight like a bandage around me and my head is big and round and hot and burns inside like my hand on the stove. “I told you not! I told you not!” everyone all my life has been saying: not, not, not. Not, not, not. Not, not, not, not, not. No. But I love the work that makes us sit together like stringing and snapping beans they just keep coming into the bowl as soon as they leave until they are all gone. “Don’t eat too many of those, Lucy,” she says and I want to tell her that I am not eating them they are just suddenly in my mouth. But like always my words won’t come out except the first ones that huff with spit all around them: “I . . . I . . . I . . .” is all even though the others are lined up behind my mouth pushing and shoving to get to the front to say what I forgot. Sometimes one perfect one comes out yesterday or forever ago the zinnias in the garden so stiff and stemmed like okra hard to cut but then in the evening in the dark vase like the picture so happy, so “pretty,” I say and “yes they are” she says but I don’t know if she is my mother or my brother’s wife but she smiles and I would hug but not, not, not, you hug too hard. Now that she is sick there is always water rushing through my chest like a spring flood and when I see my brother’s face or hers or my mirror face my head is full of thunder so much can’t they hear? I want to roar at night tears knife my face I step back inside my body to get away from my eyes but they won’t stop I put the pillow over my head. Not, not, not, not, not. I try to help I burn things on the stove and cut my fingers. “It’s all right,” she says and her cool hand rises and falls on the quilt. “Just sit still here with me,” she says, “and everything will be fine. I just need to rest.” Maybe she is my sister, all her words are soft and she sleeps and I watch and that is what I do best to watch and make it safe to sleep so there won’t be any more not knowing what to do but I can’t watch all the time. Mina comes with me come here Mina and we sit on the side porch where shade is at noon and afternoon and there are old books there I saw her reading one time what are those she told me “food for thought” and when I see them I feel the sharp bellyache of the raw beans that got in my mouth so I had to eat them but it’s worse than that now there’s something like death in those books I am glad I can’t read I don’t know what they might do. Others have died and smelled like lilies or like ice milk and people bring flowers that already smell like the dead and close them up forever but these books smell like ashes. She will not die I will not let her and not to let her while she sleeps I sit here penning blue ink in every O in all these books so the words behind them can’t get out and they will make a fence around us so we stay inside until we can sit together with big bowls on our laps full of things to do and listen for him coming back from the fields or the mill. “Oh, oh, oh,” I heard her say once and bent to see the cutworms in the ear of corn and it is bad and they are endless but as long as I am doing death is not happening. As I fill them in they are black and I am blue and sometimes I wash up onto the lip of them like hot water in a pan I carry from the sink to the stove or carried or will carry the water swinging from one side to the other it just has to stop. But it is cool now and almost so dark I cannot see. I can feel Mina’s sleep in her head and now it’s in mine I can’t stop it drifting in from the sick room the fever of sleep she will not I will not let her. And dark washes up to the lip of the world and pours over everything I have done all the mouths I have closed and their ears through which they would suck our breath out if we spoke to them but we won’t say anything now we’ll just wait and see.

This story was published in The Altar Collective Volume V: Lullaby, Aug. 2014: 12-14.

Alas the captain

Alas the captain
the last late asteroid flies past
that swarm of clicking drives us.
Anything to save the herd. He says.
If the core overheats.
Bypass the vessel and all its vessel-like,
retrofit the avatars.
We do the future.
We made Mars.
Our ray guns light up
while the reptoids.
An enormous hole on deck five.
But our outfits more stylish than.
We are the partial humans,
We have names, we weld,
we meld, we hang out in wormholes
and hotels. We love tubed nutrients,
our plasma bomb.
Inside outsiders
we’re an underground.
Not lightning on the horizon.
Phosphorescent
antennae anomalies, warheads
and pranks, institutions
and airy boats the size of
dinosaurs blocking out.
Breathing up.
Separated we guess
the other’s mind. The engineer
has moved the plate,
our window not a window
but a gate.

Anywhere Anyway

 

way home sky crp

just you, just passing by which you are always only doing anyway

Looking out over the bay, black water and shimmy of lights on the freeway, the hills on one side, the city on the other, like some impossible place, I was struck with a thought the certainty of which was so intense that it was exhilarating: you could be unhappy anywhere. I said it aloud and laughed. I might not be happy anywhere, but I could be unhappy anywhere. I didn’t owe it to a place or a person to try to be happy, and all that trying always only means that happy is always not happening.

But if you could be unhappy anywhere, anywhere would do, any series of anywheres would do, no need to confine oneself to the imaginary places of cities or tick-tock suburbs or the don’t-imagine place of trailer parks, although perhaps some indefinitely prolonged tenure in one of those pull-in-here- we-got-a-pool places where tired dads finally give up the wheel and there’s a lounge of some kind nearby with those knobby teardrop candle holders the ones waitresses light by holding the safe end of a match between two fingers, lucky if it lights the first time you’re always going to burn a finger now you’ve done it.

Some guy shows up, you thought he was already dead, and there’s this faraway low bank of godforsaken hills like denuded things, something about them that you really shouldn’t be seeing like that time you saw your boss in an unlikely place actually sitting no shit at the feet of her boss with the mooney look of worship on her mean face, don’t look now but then you can’t undo seeing, and the lowlands stretching out to the horizon like a, like a I-don’t-know-what, and you’re alone in the pool at night, floating in a sky where you can’t land on anything. There might be something to that, or nothing.

Or you could just be on a plank road headed down into something hard to get out of or in a boat stitching into little ports along the southern coast of some island, some world. Or a little sticky place above some small-town shop the walls the color of old newspapers out in the sun, always smelling like newspaper, too, or cold toast, the window up there open, the sound of the typewriter reaching across the road up there, no one else awake, just you, just passing by which you are always only doing anyway, just wondering what someone is typing on a manual typewriter, maybe someone just a tad mad or just some forlorn someone wording and rewording something for someone who will never love them, the words barely holding off knowledge of the kind that cuts a lonely space around you that will never go away or that you always carry with you like something you can’t put down, you can’t let go, the thing you arrive at the party or the port with and no one anywhere knows where to put it, not even you, jackrabbit.

Anywhere, at least not some place where it’s winter almost all the time, but somewhat textured weather, maybe even occasional hail and a tornado or two, but mostly warm now that all the sexy parts of you have melted not that anybody anyway, nobody phoning up for you or mailing you a letter, like you care, but you don’t, you know, what a relief that finally you really don’t anyway. In some anywhere where you could be unhappy all that could just be over with, then maybe you or someone could say come over to my place, don’t have to be happy unhappy, don’t have to do anything say anything, don’t have to anything, just be.