Tag Archives: Eat Velveeta

Notes on Revision

1.     Analogies are like lies.

2.     The hospital smelled like a sweaty, lost coin. No, like a broth of soggy jigsaw puzzle pieces. No…Oh, fuck it. Someone beeped something. My Nursing Instructor loomed above me. Giant, white crow, wings outstretched, talon pointing to my forehead: “When you give an injection, be absolute certain it’s right med, right dose, right time, right injection site, right patient. It’s like a bullet. You don’t ever get it back once you push the plunger. There is no do over.”

3.     James Thurber had a glass eye. (He lost his sight by playing “William Tell” with his brother.) In fact, he had many glass eyes, in a small case in his coat pocket. At cocktail parties, as the evening wore on, as he drank more and more, he would occasionally visit the bathroom and switch out his glass eye with another one more bloodshot.

4.     “The order said B.O. but I thought it said B.Q., so I made it barbecue, not black olive.”

My Pizza Hut Instructor’s head was in the shape of a luffa gourd. Long, stringy hair, like something clogged in a drain, etc. His name was Hassan Hassan. He smoked a lot of marijuana. He shrugged. He said, “Fuck it, man. Just eat it for lunch and make a new one.”

5.     Just as one is good, another is bad.

6.     Thurber would draw on cocktail napkins, to flirt with women. Most of these napkins were wadded up, tossed away.

7.     How do you think the backside of a mirror feels? Think about how lonely that is, to be the backside of a mirror. Or maybe not at all. Maybe it’s a relief. It must be such pressure to be the front of a mirror.

8.     They pitched watermelons off the truck, big, looping, spinning arcs of watermelon. This was in July, the afternoon sun. Big-ass Memphis sun, humidity all puckering. Sun like a fucking orangutan. It was hot. I was sixteen and very eager. There I am, below the truck. My hands all sweating. My job was to catch all of the watermelons.

“Everyone you drop comes out of your paycheck!” my Produce Store Instructor shouted.

9.     Thurber rewrote all of his New Yorker essays (he called them “Casuals”) a minimum of twenty-five drafts. (He eventually lost all his vision, and developed this process: think out the words, dictate them to a secretary, she types them and reads them back, he corrects the text out loud, she reads back his corrections and retypes them and says them aloud, he then…Oh, you get the idea. Maddening for the secretary, I’d bet.)

10.   I cannot stand when people say they have no regrets. “I’d do it all the same again…blah, blah, blar.” Well, fuck you.

11.   One time, rather hungover, I drove a forklift directly into a chemical containment pond. The forklift weighed 4,000 pounds. It suuunnnnnnkkkkkkk.

My DuPont Instructor said, “Now, how we going to get that forklift out of that pond?”

I said, “I don’t know.”

He smiled the smile of those full-time employees conditioned to working with dumbasses from summer help. “I do. Go and get the bigger forklift.”

So that day I got to forklift out my forklift with another forklift, a thing I enjoyed as meta. (The pond was illegal, so don’t pass on this story to anyone working with OSHA. Thanks.)

12.  ‘Nothing in excess,’ professed the ancient Greeks.

13.  Thurber would stand in his kitchen and think a moment and then run madly down the road after the retreating postman. Muttering, he’d lift his essay from the mailbag. Muttering all the way home into his study, muttering.

14.   “You can’t wall bricks worth a damn!” my Construction Instructor told me. A red-faced man named Chester. (We meanly called him Chester the Molester though we never witnessed him molest anything larger than a half pint bottle.)

“Want me to take them out and do them again?” I asked.

“No, I don’t.” He reached out and took off my hardhat. I felt small without my hardhat. I felt like a chipmunk or a cigarette butt. Something. He pointed a meaty finger at my Woody Allen safety glasses and my naked forehead. “I want you to get the fuck off my worksite. And don’t ever come back. You’re done.”

wigleaf Top 50 Shellie Zacharia…Herzog Being Shot.

In my dance through the cacti thorns and crocodiles and onions (floured, fried, sizzling) and silk black triangles and albino woodsmen of Wigleaf Top 50 we now meet Shellie Zacharia.

And her flash/prose poem thingy-thing: Scarlet.

It made me this happy to read, though the tone of this photo below is all wrong. Zacharia’s work here is not sunny or diving board (ok, a little plummeting) or amputated manikins in the background.


(happy happy mr. sean!)

OK, her flash does have a bit of amputated manikin in the background, but to that later. Aren’t we all–like the sports injury phrase “day to day”–basically amputated manikins?

So I keep reading online/offline flash and I keep seeing the words Shellie Zacharia and I keep pausing and re-reading and thinking, “Who is this author?”

(This last happened in my office at BSU. I FINALLY had a down moment and grabbed Keyhole‘s handwritten issue. Wow to the entire issue, BTW. I paused many times, and, yes, once again on Zacharia.)

(Others have probably known all along about Zacharia. I get that. Sometimes I am slow. Example, Chicago AWP, someone [I think it was Dave Clapper] asks me, “Have you read Mary Miller?” I say, “No.” Within days I would read ALL Mary Miller, have her book/chapbook, wish for more, and more, and bow down to her evil goddess-ness of bourbon and beer bottle glass and broken condom and ash.)

[I review Mary Miller here. Please read her book. PLEASE.]

So I feel about Zacharia that way. I can feel she’ll have a collection out soon, I can feel it. Or maybe she already does?  Couldn’t find it. Again, I’m slow. Anyway, I will read all Zacharia I can find.

And she seems to be a flash advocate, without remorse. As she says in Smokelong Q interview, “..my desire is to write flash and short stories…”


Can we get an authentic amen and tell the novel it is no doubt a great form, but, you know, the big-ass T Bone steak is a great cut of meat (I guess), and could a man get a light yet succulent tray of nachos. Or a shot of tequila. A whack analogy? I’m saying the tequila shot is a flash fiction, and just as valuable/verve-able, serotonin shiver-able as…oh hell never mind.

Let’s watch Werner Herzog get shot during an interview.

Ok, check that off the Life List. Moving on.

Scarlet is a great title. A certain hue of red: blood, entitled southern belle, Letter. But I digress. Strong title. ‘Nuff said. Let’s, as I said, move on.

I like my flash fiction like a suburban lawn, a-la David Lynch. Appearance vs. reality. Grass green, but what is beneath? Facade of house (one of three floor plans in the whole fucking neighborhood), but what lies behind those walls, the hairline crumbling facade?

And when do you not see the truth? Purposely, or naively?

Or–more interestingly–when do you see the truth and say Fuck it. I’ll go for the doomed ride.

Or maybe you see the truth of deception (not as large an oxymoron as you might think), see it again, see it again, and just embrace it. Some call this maturation. Or resignation. Some call it acceptance, or life. Some call it cynical, or you should parachute out of this sad day, my friend. Some search out the chaos. It’s called “going out” for the night. I like that term, Going Out. Leaving the self. Some don’t even know what I am saying right now.


“I want a boy with a red truck…” our story begins. So Dorothy Parker, so perfect rose. The Georgian moment, the idyll, the prelapsarian moment in the garden, before the fall.

Fall…Things         fall            apart.

red truck, black dog, flip flops…ahhh. A day in the wonderful life. But wait a moment, what’s that the “boy” (no boy at all) keeps on the front porch? Red wine on the table. Alcohol. Did I mention the suburbs earlier? Did I mention the ways we accept? The wine seems innocuous here, a crafty (as in use of craft) move by the author.

The boy smells like soap. And fire.

The boy has an old quilt in the car. Has a blanket. In the car. The boy drives the narrator to an overlook and keeps a blanket in his car. Sometimes repetition is used for emphasis. Blanket, he keeps one.

The idyll collapses. And the characters know any serious examination, serious conversation will bring the Rockwell painting tumbling off the wall. So they say nothing, or nothing really, as the narrator tells the “boy” she likes his truck, his dog, his___________.

A last line makes, or un-makes, or does not make a quality flash fiction.

Here, the last line the narrator says the truth. Let’s end on truth. Truth.

“It’s too late for that.”

Things do fall apart, and that must be revealed. One role of literature? Obviously. To unearth. To resist the sweeping away, the hidden. To show. I thank thee, Shellie Zacharia.



Corey has Famous Glasses. Academic Satire. How to Write Poetry.

This is really, really great stuff:


I worked with a LPN in a hospital once. His name was Sonny. He had switched from law enforcement to nursing. Why? Because he wrecked six police cars and killed three people in his short time as a Birmingham, Alabama police officer. This is how the world works.


Writers write about writing. Maybe because this is what they know. They also write about teaching. God knows universities are the Peggy Guggenheims of today. Funding writers. Letting them scribble indoors. Letting them read away from the gray rain.

Academia lit:

* Straight Man by Russo.

* Wonder Boys by Chabon.

* Lucky Jim by Amis


Most are satire. If you’ve worked in academia, you understand why.

Over at the Cipher, Herbatt Batt adds to the English Dept Lit genre. This one is rather good. The whole piece is filled with sad, comical scenes, as an American teaches literature at a Polish institute. Here our narrator meets one of his students outside:

· Feet slogged through the sleety puddle inside the Institute entrance.  Wisps of fog clung in the darkness to the corners of the building.

· Miss Woncior stood by the road in the milky-white fog. She wore a green ski jacket.  She had sat placidly amidst the maelstrom of her classmates’ rage.  “Hello,” I ventured.

· A calm smile lit her pale face, her cheeks pink from the cold.  “Oh, Dr. Lawrence!”

· We stood, wordless, a moment.  “What’s your literature paper about?”

· “Alice in Wonderland.”

· “Oh!”  I hadn’t expected that topic. “How did you pick that?”

· “I am interested in nonsense.”

· Well, this ought to be the right school for her. “How did you decide to come to this institute?” I asked.

· A pensive scowl flitted across her face. “I was registered to write the university entrance exams, but I got sick. The school year started. My father arranged for me to come here.”

· “Now that you’re here, how you like this institute?”

· “If you live with cripples you learn to limp.”


Take a foreign poem. And re-write it. But don’t translate, just rewrite it. Weirdly, this works.

April och Tystnad (Tomas Tranströmer)

Våren ligger öde.
Det sammetsmörka diket
krälar vid min sida
utan spegelbilder.

Det enda som lyser
är gula blommor.

Jag bärs i min skugga
som en fiol
i sin svarta låda.

Det enda jag vill säga
glimmar utom räckhåll
som silvret
hos pantlånaren.

April and Tenseness (Lucas Klein)

    Varnish beleaguers all.
    The summit-smoke dictates
    kraals with more disease
    than spiels and spell-builders

    The end sounds, lissome,
    are gurgling in bloom.

    I bare my scrubs:
    same as thievery
    without severed ardor.

    The end: I will sagas
    to glimmer about rack-halls
    with silver
    housed in leaden paint.