Tag Archives: Elvis

fiction flashscapes and the carnival is postponed

Yeh, I haven’t blogged in a long time. Why? Because I didn’t feel like blogging. To blog when you don’t feel like blogging is Bad Faith. Am I a broken necklace of vowels? Am I a mechanical plug of radishes? No. Also I’ve spent too many weekends in hotels. Too many weekends eating vegetable burgers from BK since most other fast food outlets will not offer a veggie burger, the bastards. Backyard Burger in Mississippi had a good veggie burger, but that’s was it. BK. BK. Chili’s has one, but that’s not fast food, it’s just shitty food. The best veggie burger was in St. Jospeh, Michigan, right alongside the beach and the carousel and the hard, cold rain. I forget the name of the place. But it was good. In New Orleans I didn’t eat veggie burgers. I ate shrimp and fried green tomatoes and oysters and tuna and octopus and vodka and hot sauce.

Did I mention someone put a giant shark in my glass of vodka?

The first few days the hamburgers only grew. But eventually they became a new sort of thing. They were small statues of people and then these people were equipped with weapons. Handguns, rifles, lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows and even tiny daggers. Then the tiny people began to grow real flesh. It looked painful. They all writhed and twisted, but eventually the flesh was grown. In the days after, they continued to tremble and eventually began to weep and I ascertained that they had grown tear ducts. And probably other organs. Hearts, lungs, spleens, kidneys and any of the other necessary organs.

-Brandi Wells.

Damn, check out this new James Salter interview!

But now I’m back in fucking Indiana. Here‘s an Indiana poem for you by Jeffrey Bean. BTW, Indiana looks like this:

Anyway, I did write a prose poem about supermodels for xTx. She is having a “Supermodel Summer.” XtX is ALWAYS up to something, as you know. I met xTx at a dance once and she was very nice and said, “I’m xTx” but I still don’t believe that was xTx. Not at all. I think xTx is a mystical force and most likely only takes human form when convenient. Xtx might  also be a flower, a barn, a bathroom mirror or a hornet. The walls shook. Music. There were so many Internet writer people at this dance that I can’t believe the ceiling didn’t collapse and kill us all. That would have been a good day. A good day indeed.

I’ve give this prose poem of mine a solid 4. While it’s instructive formally, I also feel it’s forced and in need of revision. It is scarcely larger than a muskrat. It reminds me of irrelevance and hitting a large nail with a lawnmower. And while obviously many of my later poems bring us all up against self enclosure of some variety, the lines here resemble a plate of overcooked spaghetti locked inside a can of flat Dr. Pepper thrown off a cliff into the sea. Then again, you have to know when to maintain control and when to lose it, correct? Ever seen a cloud? Well, there you go.

Hey, here’s a better one. This is flash I wrote and sent to elimae. Thank you very little.

Anyway I was in a hotel, a Super 8 a few days ago. It was awful, awful. It smelled like a crypt. It smelled like a crime scene, a ragged spleen, like something moist but then coated in a layer of smashed fireflies, a goo, a yellow goo, and then a tint of bird bones, some paste, no not bird bones, fuck all that poetic blar, I mean it smelled badly, like above (minus the bird bones) but maybe add a lump of Play-Dough like when you mold Play-Dough around a light bulb as a kid and then your dad says, “Get the fucking Play-Dough off the light bulb!” and you get a wet rag and SHOCK! Bad idea the wet rag. I stuck a nail in a light socket once and it threw me across the room! I of course grabbed onto an electric fence. Teeth! I forget the other times I have known electricity. It makes me sleepy.

Is that even how you spell Play-Dough? I have no idea and I’m not going to look it up. Sometimes you have to not look it up. I’m not a shadow over here. I move, the shadow moves. I have a higher ratio of window in my life than of walls, I think. I’m still standing. So I’m not looking it up.

Hours later, maybe days, we will wake to ribbons of melted wax, the room still except for breath. In those small morning seconds, everything is realized in stone. There is patched clothing in the closet, the dented radiators, the faded curtains, the cracks in the wall. Then there is the stink of the dumpster outside, only masked by lingering sex.

-Elysia Smith

The Super 8 I’m saying. There was an empty indoor swimming pool. No water. That’s a metaphor. Expectations unrealized. The uselessness of a giant empty pool. It rained. Could the kids swim in the pool? They could not. They could leap in or fall in and die there, but no cannonballs, no look-how-long-I-can-hold-my-breath, no I’m Michael Phelps! etc–no JOY. Just an empty swimming pool, a giant sore, a toothless mouth, a stink of nothing.

“Fitness Center” is one hell of a word for a tiny glass cube with one broken stair climber, once broken bike/bird looking thing, one functional set of weights. No TV, no water, no towels, no nothing. I pushed some weights about, did some crunches. The floor stuck to me.

The bathroom had scratched painted walls. The shower wouldn’t drain, so you stood there in several inches of wretched memory water. The memories in that water, the hair and hope cells and vomit and blood and razorblades and screams and devil semen and GOD KNOWS WHAT of that fucking Super 8 hotel bathtub water. I complained and they fixed the drain while I was out eating perch. The tub was the color of knuckles.

They had this lonely basketball goal, but see below the goal was a giant puddle of water. You can’t play basketball in water. The ball will not bounce, see? No bounce, no basketball.

The room has a spider and a giant can of Coors Lite behind the bed. A crypt, I’m telling you. This was the Super 8 in Stevensville, Michigan. A SUPER crypt. A sad, bad place. I felt like a failure to have even brought myself, myself and my family, to such a wretched den of fools, a back-road to hell, hulking, hollow tree leaning so precipitously over our heads and souls. For awhile I thought we all might be murdered. Why not just throw my life into a volcano? Sleep was jagged, a crossed knife and fork, a tangle of thin sheets and barbed wire. I had mad dreams. The eyes of spiders, blue forests, I felt lost in a corridor of pure black bone marrow, some shaky cage, a carnival ride night of screeches and tumbles, sounds of trucks farting in the parking lot, children screaming, blickers of light and darkness, some great, wounded bird falling like an unhinged jet engine onto the roof…also the coffee sucked.

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Hey, here are some flash fictions I enjoyed today:

1. Seamus Heaney by Nicolle Elizabeth.

I like stalking. Ever read the lovely Stalking Dave Eggers by Elizabeth Ellen? You really should.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth airport bookstore I hold up Dave’s book, show his picture to my six-year-old daughter.

“This is mommy’s new boyfriend,” I tell her. She glances momentarily at the picture but doesn’t say anything. She is clearly not impressed.

“Isn’t he cute?” I say. “Look at his hair. Isn’t that cute hair?”

Ah, now I’m getting sidetracked. Way leads onto way, Frost told us, the gorgeous fart. Fart is a word not often used in literature. It’s a silly word, isn’t it? A few weeks ago, I dropped into a poetry workshop and the instructor (the most glow Kathleen Rooney) gave us a big-ass poetry prompt and you had to put a word into your poem not often seen in poetry. I used the word fart.

Can I say something about Dave Eggers? Once, on my birthday, I drank a lot of sake and yelled out to Dave Eggers, WHERE IS TOPH?! He stopped his reading and said, “What is this, an insurrection? Toph is fine. He’s in the coast guard.”

I recently had a student faint while discussing Dave Eggers. Not a great situation, though it worked out fine, in the end.

I shit you not.

Can I say something about writing prompts? Yes, yes I can. It’s my fucking blog. I always thought prompts were bullshit. I think now I was wrong. All of the prompts I used for that poetry workshop worked out just fine. I actually wrote several decent poems. In fact, I went out and bought the very book containing the earlier prompt. The book is The Practice of Poetry, by Chase Twichell (have no idea who that is) and Robin Behn (Robin is a wonderful poet and was one of my MFA professors at Alabama.)

So I might try some more prompts. Or the book might just sit there like a muskrat eating an apple. If I was a muskrat I would secretly move through your backyard, leaving long meandering trails in the grass. The next morning you would see these odd trails and think, “What is that?” I’d be hiding in the nearby tall weeds and I’d giggle and think, “It’s a muskrat!” I would then go home and listen to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, over and over and over…My record player would be made of a boulder and my record needle would be a pine needle…I think.

“Trauma, Trau-ma. The sessions were like a cocktail party every night—people everywhere. We ended up staying in these weird hospital rooms … and of course John and me were not exactly the best of friends.”

—Christine McVie, on the emotional strain when making Rumours in Sausalito

Ok, back to the flash fiction by Nicolle Elizabeth. It’s creepy. No, it’s eerie. I like eerie. Whispers in the night, clammy things, the weight of dreams, etc. This flash is a great example of control of tone. With tone, in a brief work, you need to stay consistent. This is a process of accumulation. A dune of sand is really just many individual flecks of sand. One day you go, “Damn, that’s a dune.” Note how Elizabeth ‘stacks’ certain sounds, images to control tone. Very technical, and reminded me of another master of tone, Robert Bly.

Snowbanks North of the House

Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six
feet from the house …
Thoughts that go so far.
The boy gets out of high school and reads no more
books;
the son stops calling home.
The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no
more bread.
And the wife looks at her husband one night at a
party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls
leaving the church.
It will not come closer
the one inside moves back, and the hands touch
nothing, and are safe.

The father grieves for his son, and will not leave the
room where the coffin stands.
He turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.

And the sea lifts and falls all night, the moon goes on
through the unattached heavens alone.

The toe of the shoe pivots
in the dust …
And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back
down the hill.
No one knows why he came, or why he turned away,
and did not climb the hill.

2. The second flash fiction I admire today is by Arron Teel, capturing that odd moment (that seems like years [or is?], that odd age of transition, from kid to adult, all of the odd stirrings, the painful misunderstandings and painful understandings…the wonder of life. And what a final line! Ending lines always matter, but with less words, you really need to zap out, like a poem, like a poem…Glow dat. Here, Teel catches the blue, he contains it and compresses the blur. Like a poem.

Did I ever tell you about when I was like 14 and shot bottle rockets up into a bee hive? Yeh, it set the entire forest on fire. Smoldering hive of bees. That was a bad day. Later I would shoot out a giant, glass door with a slingshot. Not sure what I was thinking back then.

3. Monic Ductan has a memorable name and writes about Wal-Mart.

The thing about Wal-Mart is you don’t want to be there, really ever, and then you find yourself in Wal-Mart. Everyone I know hates Wal-Mart but we don’t really do anything about it. There’s a lot of things that way. It makes me feel pretty empty sometimes.

Hand reaches across breast, elbow to nipple.
Oh my god! Excuse me, m’am.
It’s just a titty, sir, whispered between painted lips.
Excellent flash, and really contains some of the chaos of family, relationships, the things that just happen, the things we can’t always communicate clearly about…It’s a strong work, and structurally inevitable, the lines cascading to the end.
I’ve pretty much enjoyed all Catherine Lacey. Personally, I’m in the “No one knows what they are doing” camp, and, like anyone, I enjoy reading literature that validates my view. Lacey really mines the terrain of confusion. Confusion. Confusion.
5. Amelia Fucking Earhart is a great title.
This is the first I’ve read of Angela Allen. It’s an odd one, wonderfully odd little tale, leaning to metaphor, twisting and snapping, moving us along–over here, over there–always grooving the imagination. The imagination is hope, isn’t it? I don’t know. I enjoy the cliffs of tension. This piece made me smile.
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Ok, so there you go, I blogged, in my own way. I said to the world: I AM NOT A TARRED TELEPHONE POLE!! I’d like to end today with a muskrat dream and some advice to AVOID Super 8 Stevensville, MI, and, here, a little poem for you:
I title it INTIMATE ROTEL DIP
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Velveeta is our long yellow jig
All day we hop
with a wobble impossible by night
kissing one another
like a single pepper
under the blank melting
grease knows where to find grease
bubbles reach for bubbles
we suck the bowl’s familiar curl
and vanish
deep into shrieking stomachs
delivered from the emptiness
of a dip half-eaten
of having to learn
that difficult, cold hardening pause
without a chip at all.
*
And, finally for today, I write about a box of Velveeta for Banango Street.
S

wigleaf Spencer Dew all Elvis all Billy Mays all Time to Submit Words

I just ran 15.5 miles. I actually feel pretty good but have a case of the yawns. I sweated like a knife tucked into a bra.

The long run is so essential to the marathon, physically and physiologically. Your body’s glycogen (fuel from your muscles, obtained from food) stores can actually be increased by gradually elevating mileage. Then your body starts learning how to burn fat. Next, your heart’s stroke volume increases; your heart muscle gets stronger. This is important. The heart is a pump delivering good stuff to the muscles in the blood, then shuttling away bad stuff as the muscles undergo stress.

My resting pulse is around 40, basically bradycardia, not unusual for a distance runner. (This is why every time I go to the doctor, they take my vital signs, pause and think a moment, and then go, “Are you a runner?” And I say, yep. And they answer, “OK. Good.”

The heart doesn’t work harder or faster; it works better. (Now if I would care for the rest of my body a bit more…)

Not to mention the long run is mental. I said mental. Mental. Mental I said. Did I say something? Mental. What was that?

run

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Was Billy Mays actually Elvis? Valium, hyrocodone, oxycodone, Xanax, tramadol, and just a smidgen of cocaine…OK. Many of these were prescribed, but, as your friendly RN, can I say that taking them all together with a G & T (he also had alcohol in his system) might be a little problem. It is interesting that the cocaine made the headlines, as opposed to the others. I guess cocaine is one of the last drugs that has any chance of freaking people out. It seems a rich topic for writing, American’s JUST SAY NO vs the amazing proclivity for “legal” drugs taken daily, to, uh, make it through the day (for example, I am on caffeine right now and it’s 8 in the morning).

Here is an Elvis flash for you. I write Elvis flashes, as many of you may know (right):

It was snowing the night they say I lost my mind, and I never shot no damn TV. It was too much Budweiser on top of codeine on top of Valium on top of methaqualone and an argument with Sonny West about him cheating in racquetball that afternoon. Really it was just about me losing to a man so grossly out of shape, about self-image. I just looked in the mirror and something snapped. I tore the mirror from the wall and jumped on the bed until the bottom fell out and opened my big window and hurled all of this and one hell of a hi-fi set into the frozen swimming pool below (we never did get the cover on that year). Then I tossed a big blue lamp—some kind of glass sculpture thing—followed by a silver serving tray and a chair made to look like a leopard standing on its hind legs (given to me by Zambia’s Tourism Minister, Frederick Mwanawasa). It was all fine until I found my revolver. They’d removed the bullets (wrapped them in duct tape and hidden them in the downstairs freezer I found out later). I ranted and raved—“Where’s my ammo!” They held me down, until I passed out. The next afternoon, after I woke up on my bedroom carpet, I gave them all hell, my voice thick as cough syrup.

“Where’d my life go?” I demanded.

“In the swimming pool,” Sonny said, the rest of them nodding along.

“Oh.” I thought a moment. “Well, go get it.”

—-

back

Subaru trunk, April 2009

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Almost submissions season, people (autumn). Get your stuff tight and your envelopes Lolly and your email all 72.3 degrees. I suggest you revise THEN send, not the other way.

A few contests you might wanna slay soon. I am biased to Flash Fiction so will show that bias here:

Second Annual Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.

Newport Review Fourth Annual Flash Fiction Contest.

The Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest.

*

Moving on.

Like many of us, I remember Sept 11 2001 clearly, and not. I was awoken by a phone call, this right after the second jet, etc. I called my dad (a federal employee, to ensure he wasn’t going into work. He was not.). I did go into work, at a local organic/health food store. I had two bosses, a couple formerly married who now still ran the business together. There was a grainy TV set in the office with all the horror and misinformation and general dread of the day.

Boss One (up in my face, very intense): “See? See? This is what happens when all these people get on the internet!!”

(This was an odd thing to say, but this was a very, very odd and anxious day. Though I didn’t agree with this general idea, I certainly understood the urge to just yell out things.)

Boss Two was concerned about the tiny American flags we had stuck into the flower pots outside. We were the only location in the entire city for anyone Middle Eastern (or any other foreigners in this Alabama locale) to purchase anything near to the food items necessary for an authentic meal. Would the flags somehow keep them from shopping? Would they be hesitant to enter the store? Again, an odd argument (the flags stayed; and the customers arrived as usual), but not so unusual on a day like that one.

I remember three other things, one ugly, one just weird, the other sad.

Ugly: A woman shopping in the store that afternoon approached the cashiers. She was clearly angry. She pointed at my nose and shouted out, “Is that terrorist music?!”

Like many organic food stores, we also sold “New Age” books and art and items from many countries and so on and we had literally thousands of CD’s from across the world we played on the speakers. These were popular with customers, from Zydeco to Moroccan flute, etc. These were not “terrorists music” as far as we knew, whatever that is.  The music the woman was yelling about was from Japan. The lamest part is that our boss switched out the CD.

Weird: You could look at our floor-to-ceiling windows and see the gas station across the street. Cars snaked out of the lot and down the street. Honking, engines roaring. People stood outside their cars with jugs and gas cans. This frightened me, the visual. I remember my heart kicking up; I remember saying, “Why are people buying gas? Why is that the response?”

Sad: The clearest thought I recollect is this; “We are now going to enter into perpetual war.” That thought settling on me in a low, cold cloud. That’s all I could think. And, well, here we are.

We should read Spencer Dew’s “Some Themes of the Second Bush Administration.”

It is in wigleaf’s Top 50, first pubbed in Pindeldyboz, and is an example of fiction bringing truth. I found it captivating. I found it made me think of the long day I describe above. So then I had to revisit some of my feelings. I found myself reading Dew’s piece more than once.

I haven’t seen so too many solid short fictions from that time. (There are several book-length works, DeLillo to Updike to JS Froer. And M. Amis did write the one controversial short story from the POV of an actual hijacker [a hell of a story, period]). From that day and all its residue (still with us). I like Dew’s approach. As a writer, he dives in from a slant. He turns the stone in the light. He tosses the stone in the air (it falls back and strikes us in the head). He hops about, close to, afar from the sting–he juxtaposes while mourning. He shows us something,while the something is sliding into, sliding away…Obviously, his milieu here is memory, its kin, trauma.

I said I can remember 9/11/2001, and can not. What? But pieces are missing from that day. My mind did something, maybe shut down? I couldn’t tell you one fact past noon, several hours after the actual event. It’s like a lost echo. A dream where you wake and grasp at curling wisps in the air, crackles…

My thoughts on Spencer Dew’s fine fiction went like this:

I first saw this title and thought, “Oh boy, here we go.” Heavy-handed. Didactic. I was, as is often, wrong. The title is one of three disruptions of our expectations, all colliding in the opening:

1.) Essay-like title [with an expectation of some persuasive argument against easy target Mr. Bush].

2.) A brief anecdote about a news item concerning a Cleveland man wedging his car into the side of a mosque, the man found sobbing and babbling into a phone. (actual news story here)

3.) A note on how the narrator’s girlfriend, Kathryn, “at the time” was translating Sanskrit, specifically the tale of a demon masquerading itself to kill a god by placing sharp teeth around its vagina and seducing the god into having sex. (actual myth here)

A lot of information here, in different forms, data, symbol, thought; mythology with journalistic accounts, rhetoric with character (Kathryn will act as thread to hold this fiction together, and spin it apart). It is an effective and fair beginning to this text. This is that day, that time, the one you dis-remember even now. Can’t quite grasp. Can’t understand, not really. But–in one way or another, you were present.

How did you/I/we respond? Not respond (a response itself)?

The characters seek oblivion: “What I wanted was to drive my car into something solid, a hate crime against myself. I wanted to feel that final smash and puncture, then a clammy blackness, an end. What my girlfriend wanted – she said as much, after she read the thing aloud, her translated passage, straddling me, freshly shaven – was for me to do her that way. If I could make her blackout, that was a plus, she said, just no marks that people could see when she was wearing clothes.”

Then…”October came…”

We move on, don’t we? Uh, no. Nothing moves on, ever. Remember how “Everything is going to change.” Uh, no. Remember how we were told we would no longer hold celebrity and commerce as our own seductive gods, how suddenly the new religion of “reality shows” would fade, shows about reality shows would fade, shows about shows about reality shows would…oh man (of course, we ended up gorging ourselves on more of them, and still do). We were going to be serious America now. Right?

So, October came.

Let me give you the following text as a poem, jump-cuts. Let things accumulate. Let things join and split apart.

chap stick, apple festival, flags

excess of hugging

home gyms, kitchen gadgets, so drunk or stoned

dining

clubbing

coffee drinks, centipedes

On and on. Dew captures it, doesn’t he? He’s grabbing those little wisps of smoke in the air and he’s tying them in knots (for an instant) and they are strumming and licking and he’s weaving them and he’s got his fingers all caught up together and he’s tangled and who-has-who now? And he’s trying for the impossible: memory. Memory. What does it mean?

“Kathryn and I had centipedes at the place we were living, which was her family’s place, massive and nice enough, with views of things that we thought might get blown up next, depending. We had antique furniture, Egyptian cotton sheets, seven shower heads, and centipedes scuttling across the walls or crouched up along the tuck-pointing. We’d see their shadows scurry across the floor. Twice I found them on our bed, running across a pillow, dashing under the sheets.”

Sometimes I write too much of metaphor. I am not going to write too much of metaphor here. I want you to sit with the above passage. I want you to get out a blank sheet of paper and make a note of ever centipede you felt and have felt and will feel about that day.

Time is a lost thing in these words, a skittering gasp.

Before the attacks…

We never visited campus anymore…

She called last week…

There is so much here. I don’t want to discuss it all; I want you to read it all. I think a good fiction is equal to, or maybe more, than a good essay (and maybe the title is coy here, in a smart way). A good fiction, in an infinite variety of methods, styles, ways, brings a feeling, yes, but then an argument and inquiry to the page, an in-depth look at something not fully known. It shakes me, this text, because it makes me think. I still don’t know the answers of that day, but I know more answers. And I don’t mean facts. Oh, facts. I mean fiction, as in human, as in it did happen; as in true.

S




Bankers Never Sleep Well. Tao Lin Interview. Cocaine.

I have a 5 day rule about any epic event, say AWP Chicago. I stop recording. I think nostalgia creeps in, colors things wrong. I just park the event in my memory vault (of course, to bring up later and view–while huddled in some rainy tent in Colorado, some hospital bed in Arkansas while my broken bones heal, some platinum/dried manure rocking chair years from now in Bangkok). I left Chicago 5 days ago, and so this will be my last photo or post posted (post posted? Redundant?) about those lost (the good lost–where you stumble into Shangri-La, free cold, cold beer, devout Buddhists who also do Indy Lit readings and want to play you in disc golf, or sushi tossing, etc.) shredded days of broad shoulders, the shrugs.

dsc00384

John Wang offers a refreshing LIT. I say, No, I will not accept your refreshing LIT. I will take 3.

A truly cool guy. Good heart all the way, I felt. Good vibe. Hope to meet him down the road and we drink for freedom, or for Amphibians, or for that space right before the both (true conversation).

*

The Urban Elitist interviews Tao Lin about how to make money as a writer. With so many writers giving books away at AWP, I think some of you need to realize you should make money with your writing. There is no shame. Why do people feel shame? This from a guy who writes book reviews for NewPages where they pay you in the very book you review.

My next mortgage payment I am going to send the bank a book. I am going to send them a book with a note that reads, “Here. Here is my payment. Read this. Maybe you will grow, alongside your throbbing gallbladder, a dollop of integrity, or a soul.”

*

I was about to read at Quickies and I glance up and there is Robert Olen Butler, at a table….

Do you have any celebrity stories? I remember once years ago in Memphis Andre Agassi bought me a glass of wine. At the Peabody Hotel. He said, “Man, you look like you need a glass of wine.” Then he walked away. That was a good day. Later, on the taxi ride home, the cabbie insisted he take me to a strip club. I guess he was getting kickbacks from the clubs or something. I detest strip clubs. But he kept insisting and insisting, like I was a chump, like I was going to let a cabbie destinize me, mind-jack me of my free will, my existential birthright. I forget the rest of the evening.

*

tennis0ag

This photo is for Emma.

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From the Chicago Literary Scene Examiner, concerning the off-site AWP RUI reading: “Sean Lovelace (who’s RUI quickie last night on guns, cocaine and action figures won the crowd)…”

Word on that.

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Here’s more AWP photos, notes. To follow the rules you have yourself made is an illness.

The final Chi-town AWP 2009 photo I will release to the public. This is me with two big-time short-list Pulitzer writers (one is vomiting into the garbage can, so I cropped her PhotoShop  in the interest of discretion, but that’s cool–the writing life is torture, all that paperwork, adoring fans, etc.). We went to the Joyce Carol Oates after party and they wanted to return to my hotel for drinks. Fine with me, ladies.

chi2

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“Never play poker with a tattooed lady.”         –My dad.

(why dad?)

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“Sean, why do you have to use that F word in your blog?”       –My mom.

(Fuck, I don’t know why, mom)

*

I drink oily coffee and write words at the kitchen table and look outside, at my boccie balls buried in the snow, an odd juxtaposition. When I think of boccie I see sunshine, green and golden hues, and sweet, sweating 16 ounce gas station beers; Tuscaloosa, Alabama and my friends heaving the boccie balls around a sprawling grassy field, a city park, a jagged stone ruin of a Civil War era courthouse. We called this “modified boccie,” or as we would tell others, “We don’t really play the game like you’re sposed to.” Stuart (an athletic madman/freak [in the good way of freak]) hurling the heavy clay balls into the sky, moon-shots rising, rising, then arching down with ferocious intent, into mortar walls, brick stair steps, ricocheting off crumbling cornice edges. Stuart actually split boccie balls in half while playing; we all did, I shit you not. Maybe except for Will, who preferred to open his hand and drop the ball nearby, plunk. Will and his titanic gin and tonics (this was a man who would order triple straight gins at restaurants, served in a tall water glass, to the rim). Myself, the others–Charlie, Mark, T.J., Don–our little demented clique, sipping beers, sprawling on the grass, talking shit and tossing boccie balls. Metallic taste of canned beer. Rustling breeze. Silk-blue sky. A crystallized moment, Georgian idyll. Fuck. I do miss it. I do. You turn your head one day, look back, and find your friends scattered, your boccie balls scattered, your mind, well…I guess some things are obvious, and here:

dsc003941

*

S

Santa is a Whore. I love you. Nachos for Holidays?

dsc002071

I am not being “ironic” or “cool” or “caring what people think of me,” or any of that shit that destroys the early years/imagination in all of us.

It is Christmas Eve and I would like to thank my mom for all the traditions: making homemade cookies, drinking only 10 ounce Cokes (hard to find now), driving past Elvis’s house (this in Memphis, TN) to see the lights of Graceland. In my stupidity, I thought all of this was “corny” for years. Now I know it was more valuable than heroin. It was my brain, the inlaying memories of my synapses, dendrites–it was the highway capillaries of my life, the sparks I remember of those holidays. It was myrrh and glow.

It is Christmas Eve. And why did Einstein need to tell us Time is relative? Do you remember how LONG it took Christmas to arrive? That’s why you have kids, maybe. I don’t want to lose my excitement over Christmas Eve. I don’t. If I lose my excitement over Christmas I feel it would be like losing my arm. Sure, I’d go on, but not really. Later tonight I’ll set up a Play Station for my 5 year old. I’ll inflate some toast. I’ll have my Christmas, damn you!! Then again, I’m a little drunk and with a big-ass mortgage. But still. We try.

It is Christmas Eve and I really want to say: I would like to thank all the blogger/writers. I read you, your work, and it makes my life better. Glimmer in the morning. I feel like part of a community, though I have only blogged since summer. I don’t “know” these people, but I “know” them; and mostly admire them, and certainly their work. They pass my test: I would quaff a beer with all of them.

Shout out to KGM!

(I would drink 14 beers with her)

Shout out to “Tao Lin” (note the Tao Lin quotes)

Shout out to Poker Grub.

(Wow. I vote him Most Honest Blog. Gamblers usually inflate wins, minimize losses in conversation. There is a whole level of bullshit involved in gambler talk. Poker Grub just drops the straight dope, and it’s so bad it’s good, like gas station coffee.)

And naturally the insomniac blur of publishing goat of bolt/oar.

(He can write. He’s kinda clever. Etc. BUT. Seems like he has a good heart. I can “feel” this. I have a good-inside radar. Really, in the larger picture, that’s all that matters, to me. I have read a lot and learned a lot and thought a lot, because of Blake.)

I can’t believe he wrote a running text!!! Damn him! I am going to write a running text next! I fucking KNOW running. You want some, Blake? You want to race?

But I digress…

Thank you all (and other bloggers/writers)  for making me less existentially alone. Maybe one purpose of the internet, or a byproduct?

I remember a story about how BEFORE the internet, this guy from Nebraska collected Barf Bags from every airline possible, all his flights, any contacts he had (every airline had a unique Barf Bag–its own logo, etc.). Why in the hell would a human do such a thing? Weird, right? No one could understand–a guy that collects vomit bags from airline flights? HE felt so very, very alone. He felt weird. BUT, then the internet came along. You know what happened? That guy got online. And guess what he found out? He wasn’t weird, he was human.

Sam collects Barf bags, too.

There is even a museum.

Buy this Venezuelan bag right now for $20.

Etc

The internet opened the throat of the world. The voice. WE ARE ALL WEIRD.

*

Tonight, I can not complain. I won $60 bucks at the horse track. I ran 5 decent miles. I walked my dog. I met a guy named, “Sam the Beer Man.”  He sold me beer. I began an essay on Road Head. I can’t believe nobody has written a good Road Head essay yet. I guess I’ll just do it.

I edited a story today.

Here is an excerpt from my story:

14. The Best Weekend: We smoked anchovies and laid garments on a counter and slipped our arms through pineapples (not made of pine, not apples) and drove to stay the night at the exact place the sea and the sky embrace.

15. Another One: Bad drugs done in the library stacks.

16. Another One: Also words, puckered red and ugly; drunken Ebaying; drywall wounds in the form of clouds.

17. Massive Debt: She told me that we abdicate our own free will, act in bad faith, when we avoid difficult, honest decisions, when we make excuses to deny conflict, etc.

18. Co-Workers: I respect a man who can read a river.

19. Co-workers: Ask me how the grant is going one more time, I fucking dare you.

I took a bath while drinking beer and reading a novel. There is something about drinking and bathing and reading I really enjoy. Maybe it’s the way I can do three things at once?

I wish more people in the world were faster. I am a fast walker, big-time. I blow by people, I weave and stutter and plan routes several yards ahead of my walking. Jesus I can’t stand slow-walkers. But that’s just me.

*

I spent the night in a Comfort Inn that REALLY would make a person re-think Comfort Inn. It was 121 years old. This was Warren, Ohio. Here it is, and please note my Baby-Baby Subaru in the foreground. This car purrs like Ativan or a table saw.

hotel

*

What the fuck am I going to eat while way up here in New York??

It spleens me.

Oh, then the in-laws bought me tortillas, cheese, black olives, jalapenos. They heard something about my diet, apparently.

nachos

Holy shit I love nachos.

Happy holidays, all.

Seriously.

Tattoo Highway. The Vols Are Putrid. Elvis. Toni Morrison. Methaqualone.

My Tattoo Highway prose poem is up. They had a contest. You looked at this photo:

Then you wrote a poem. My poem I give a 4. It feels like a 4.

**

My favorite team in the megaverse is the Tennessee Vols. They are The Big Orange. They play and look and stroll upside down through light bulbs of loss like this:

They spleen me.

**

HERE ARE FOUR OPENING LINES I ADMIRE…

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984

They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise

If you don’t write great opening lines, please start. I want your opening line to have tension and trouble and knife-play and fleeing rivers and daguerreotypes bleeding bramble berries into my skull.

Example…

I just reviewed a flash collection, In the Land of the Free by Geofrrey Forsyth.

Complete New Pages review here.

Here a few of his opening lines:

“Molly McGovern and I were making out in the student parking lot…”

“First day back at public school and Maureen Groff pulls a knife on me.”

“My girlfriend’s mother is insane.”

“I was born onto a cutting board in my mother’s kitchen.”

ETC.

Listen: I am Your Typical Reader. I don’t have to read your story. I am at the dentist. I am talking on the yelephone. I am watching a show where C level models compete with each other to see if they are/are not scared to eat horse intestines. I like to set small fires and inhale them. My smile is frozen. I’m drunk. I’m medicated. I would rather go get my car washed and I am not the type who carries a literary magazine in my car in case of emergencies. I refresh cleavage. I have debt and three ex-husbands. One of them is on my roof, with a bludgeoning yawp. I’m not sure of life purpose. I am wishing I could start over at age 19. I am vomiting on my steering wheel. I am taking airplane bottles of vodka into the theater. I am wondering if I did it enough times when I had all those opportunities. I am aging now. I keep secret letters from a girl in Africa. I am busy with kids. Always busy with kids. I need to sweep the ceiling and vacuum the aquarium. I am working two jobs, one with poodles that claw and scratch. The other I stack oranges. My head doesn’t clunk right. I am boring, mostly boring. I didn’t ask for your story, but now I found it…

YOU MUST CLUTCH ME WITH YOUR OPENING LINE!!

or forget it.

***

I feel like this today: