Wed/Thurs, April 17-18, 2019
Jesus Christ. I’ve been drinking beer. Ate at a spicy Korean restaurant earlier today. Really, it was a place owned and operated by Vietnamese personae. They throw things right onto the floor here. Cockroaches, dirty napkins, bottle caps, empty bottles, etc. There’s something strange, a very weird feeling, when you’re the only person of your kind in a room. But I’ve been used to that my whole stupid life. Big eyes, testicles.
My girlfriend had wanted to eat something spicy after the beach where I swam in the heavy waves, in and out, weaving my innards into spinach some hours after getting out and eating and then sitting on this couch to work on some writing shit. (Hadn’t submitted much since I started traveling back in October/November. Submitted to three different places within the last 24 hours.)
Creativity is a sonofabitch.
I just wrote five poems, one page each. And before that, I edited a 25-page document of insanity I wrote in a small red notebook at the end of 2017. Before that, (last night) I edited some (long) poems I wrote from South Philly last May.
No more South Philly. We’re in Da Nang. I’ll probably never go back there. In fact, I hope it rots in hell. Aldous Huxley said that. This planet could be another planet’s hell.
Right now, I’m deep in the philosophy that life is what you make of it. And what is America making of the rest of the world?
One thing I’ve learned, hardcore, over these past six or seven months (or whatever the fuck—a phrase my girlfriend detests!) is that executives really set the stage for the rest of us. CEOs, heads of state, ping pong champions, beer stalwarts, podcasts, building inspectors, what?
This is the 10th issue of a magazine I publish myself, digitally.
While (half) drunk.
What I’m getting at, is this.
That everything we are taught is false. The more I write for this fucking thing the more I realize that it’s true. I mean, take a look at anyone. It’s not that hard to see.
And I’m not exactly hard tonight. Soft. It’s hot. Just like last night. And the night before that…
she sings and butterflies out of her mouth, they fly
we painted a tapestry 1,000 years old in the back
she had thick
as long as the scent was like ambrosia
and soft silk
in the early, morning-lit dew
I didn’t care, I didn’t care for rats asses
and silk was something
out while working for
she sang and butterflies came out of her mouth
and the strangest thing about it
wasn’t, she was beautiful
she’d never atrophy
her legs tan
her arms balanced above her mind
she was a therapist in thought
and I had attached myself to her
because I was helpless and lying to myself, endlessly
oh, she was beautiful
I saw yellow butterflies swarming outta her bosom
with 10,000 lights
and the floorboards moaned beneath
SHITTY PRESIDENTS IN A WORLD DRAPED WITH FEAR
I went over to Harry’s place to get away from it all. I hated to call him that but the beer was getting to me so let’s just switch tenses and leave it at that. Harry lived in the woods. I was a journalist in a darkening world and I had a medium-sized cock.
Harry usually left the door open for me. He read my stories when he could but most of the time he was working. Working on himself. Chopping wood. Digging his garden. His girlfriend lived there too and they had a baby together. The baby started as Harry’s sperm. Then it fertilized one of Henrietta’s eggs. (Jesus. I’m calling Harry’s girlfriend Henrietta. He’d kill me if he knew I was calling her that in this story. Literally.) Harry and Henrietta had a child named Halfpipe. Don’t ask me why.
“Listen, Halfpipe,” I told her one time when I was watching her taking a nap as Henry and Harriet were out changing their names, “you just have to live in this world. It doesn’t matter who the president is. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be a shitty president. Whether it’s a woman or a man, a Democrat or a Republican. A labor leader or a fat cat sent down from the higher-ups. You gotta live. You gotta dig your heels in, kid. And it if feels right. That’s what matters. That’s all there is.”
She’d laugh and giggle, rising from her tender little sleep.
I got into the cabin. I put my bag onto the floor which was mostly dirt and sand. There were footprints everywhere.
Jack and John and James and Jesus, what the hell was his name, were all there.
“Oh, shit, look who it is. That Hunter Thompson wannabe.”
Jack was vicious.
“Yeah,” John spoke, “except that fucker never has any money.”
James went on. “Do you even have a bank account?”
“What does that even have to do with anything?” I asked them, sparsing my conversation for some answers. That’s all I was ever really looking for.
“What’s the matter?” Jesus asked me. “Can’t find a job?”
“A real job!” James beckoned, grabbing his nuts.
Henry walked into the cabin. He was barefoot, no shirt. Dreadlocks. Thick pants that puffed out at his shins and ankles. He looked like a goddamn cartoon figure except there had never been any cartoons about dudes who wore dreadlocks and fished and had their own garden.
“You guys are apes. You’re gonna wake what’s her name.”
We all laughed. When Henry couldn’t remember his own daughter’s name, that meant he was high on mushrooms.
“Why do you want us to call you Henry, anyway?” I asked him as he went over to the stove and started piling up mounds of cod liver oil, peanuts, dirty red peppers, lettuce, onions (purple), and green tomatoes.
“Because, our world is fucked. What does it matter what my name is anyway? I mean, who gives a shit?” He piled the shit on the counter, yes, and then he rubbed the thick dreads from his nose and face. He was sweating. The weather was getting hotter and hotter. It was summer. He smelled. His pecks glistened.
“Dude,” James said aloud, “did you really just write that down into your notebook?”
I looked up, the notepad on my thigh. Halfpipe was crawling over to me. She was in a diaper that was fresh. I’d just changed her while Jesus, James and what’s his name were in the other room getting stoned on a three-foot bong Harry (not his real name) kept in the floorboards.
“So, how’s living life after a CIA agent?”
“What the fuck?”
“Who said that?”
Suddenly, they were all around us. Guys in SWAT outfits, policemen, ATF, FBI, DoD stooges—private contractors. You know, to save a few nickels and dimes for Uncle Sam.
“You sons of bitches!” I watched them cuffing Henry.
They had Jesus, too. He’d tried to sneak out the back window but his long gray and brown dress had got stuck on a nail sticking out of the side of a panel that hadn’t been fixed in 2,000 years.
“Let me go!” he cried.
Then he was in the front room. The President of the United States of America!
“We heard it all,” he said with a mad sense of self-satisfaction. He was dressed in a well-tailored suit. Slick black shoes, shining in the dirt reflections of the fan circling at the end of the cabin, plugged into the wall like a dead and toothless nobody. “We know what’s going on out here, these are the beginning throes of a future rebellion. Our algorithms caught it before all of you could sit around the coffee table, talking about it. We know how that goes. You peons love coffee tables. And we won’t even mention the fire pit out back. Fire pits are Homeland Security’s worst nightmare. That’s where all kinds of terroristic activity get started.”
“What the fuck?” James whined, handcuffed in the corner by two stooges in head-to-toe kevlar.
“Hey,” John said, getting handcuffed by two other supermen with their faces covered with black bandanas, “what do you call these outfits, anyway?”
“They’re running outta money,” Henry said. “That’s why they come here every month. They can’t stand Will’s blog.”
“Will’s what?” Jesus asked, lifting his chin.
We were all wearing black, from head to toe. Except for Jesus.
“Can’t you see how stupid this all is?” Henry spoke. Oh, yeah. He wasn’t wearing black either. He didn’t believe in that sorta thing. Symbolism wasn’t his teabag.
“Why are they all wearing black, Sarge?” I heard a voice. An actual human voice! From one of the thugs.
“Because,” the President said, “they knew we were coming.”
“You heard me.”
He came up to me, grabbing me by the chin. He was stupid in that black suit, white pinstripes. Dumb American flag pinned to his lapel.
“This here journalist is with the Resistance.”
All the cops and private security contractors and military muscle began laughing.
I went to kick the President in the nuts, my black outfit making me sweat more than usual. But I got tased before I could defy Newton’s sense of gravity. Standing on the shoulders of giants, I thought before falling backward into the dirt and sand.
Halfpipe was sitting there, her hands near her mouth. Worried and full of wonder, she couldn’t understand it. Who were these assholes? These apes.
“Dumb!” she yelled. “The President is DUMB!”
They took us all in for questioning. I had nothing to say. To me, it was all a repeat of previous performances. After all the wars, it wasn’t a big thing. To get arrested. That was commonplace. Even to have the President showing up at your house. What the hell did that even mean anymore? The entire country was a stinking pit of war. Nuclear. The titles didn’t mean as much as they had, previously. And the black uniforms? We wore them to blend in with all the other cops and private security that peppered the scenery, from coast to coast. Miles and miles of black hills, smoking. The earth was one big scar. And the President, each one since then, was entirely full of shit. What did he care about fighting the enemy? Who was the enemy? I’d been a journalist for 13 years. Before and after the war. The wars. It seemed like each time one ended, another one began.
“I told you,” I said inside of the holding cell, pure white walls. Egg white. One solitary camera in there with me sitting at a white table with a silver metal chair. I had a cigarette in my mouth, dangling. I took my hand to my mouth, dragged on the cigarette, inhaled, blew out a cloud of smoke.
“We want to know why you went to Agent Henry’s cabin after you published your article on the President’s new fallout shelter under the White House.”
“The White House?” I echoed, laughing.
Jesus, I thought. Like that place mattered anymore.
“How did you get that information?” a cold voice reverberated throughout the room.
I stared into the camera. I knew where it was. I’d been there before. My long nose, hair in front of my big ears and eyes. I was born to be observant. I had these sensitive political instincts.
What they really wanted to know was how good of a relationship I had with Halfpipe.
“Look,” I told them, staring straight at the camera, “she’ll be old enough one day to know that every President is full of shit.”
They didn’t like that very much.
A door opened. It was a very unfriendly sound.
Three of them were upon me.
Why had they called her Halfpipe, I wondered. As they swung their batons at my ribs and skull.
These fucking assholes.
They had no creativity.
you’ll start somewhere in
your mother’s womb—you won’t be
about Princeton scientific papers about
how the universe
is one big figure-8—eternal
you’ll live your life for many years
what you should do
sipping coffee in your most mundane moments
a blank stare
you can’t tell
you’ll live through your own mistakes
that become repetitive
you’ll make a move, say, when you’re
about 15 or 25, tired of yourself and all
your friends, you’ll want to get
you’ll act like the birds sing a better symphony
and it won’t be
until 10 years later
that you figure out it’s bullshit
you might even write a poem one day
“with that that stuttering kid you used
but you won’t feel it, you’ll still feel like
lost on the streets without
your barefoot summers
like your mother calling you home
on a phone
she bought for you
to keep track of
you’ll begin when you leave her gaze
and she won’t be looking for you
she’ll go to her job, worried—and that won’t help
either, it never does
and what will?
you’ll begin when you turn off the TV
and dress yourself in clumps of leaves
you’ll begin when you drink 50 beers a week
you’ll begin when everybody around you nods
to the beat of your own
kick drum, that beat you were given at birth
what’re you supposed to be doing
with your life, anyway?
and the clouds
will drift along
in their serene silence
cool, rising up from the edge
of some place
See previous issues: