Sunday, December 14, 2008

Threnos of the Phoenix and Turtle Dove

Light arose over the field of desert sand yellowing in the whiteness of the light. The bird had the loudest song and could be heard singing in the open market place far off in the direction of the city, could be heard by the nomads swathed in cloth and their animals that stood drinking with ears perked in the shallow desert waters. Through the fronds of the Arabian tree the bird could be seen, shimmering colors in the intensity of light, throat open to herald the rising sun and continuing long after it was arisen. Her song was changed from the owl, who screeched and scowled over the city night, the foul stench of retched mice heavy in the breath of his flight, carrying the signs of death on his wingtips. In this land, for these people, birds were carriers, the eagle, the feathered king, ruled over all and so many messengers were burdened with the lamentations of coming funerals. The priests, the diviners, wrapped in white or black cloth would listen for the bird calls to determine the fortunes of great men or lesser. In the palace, swans would signal the coming of their own degeneration with a song unheard by any until this grand and eloquent moment. The crows, who mock the wind's life-giving breath, with their own commit the power to overtake it. They perched everywhere, covering the rawhide stall ceilings and the castle ramparts both, mimicking the mourners in their dark robes and heavy lids.

They sing an anthem:

That the love song of the Phoenix to the Turtle Dove, a cursed thing from start, shall in flame be and with the unnatural lovers, consumed. With every song against them they loved each other unspoken, the Phoenix every morning sang to the morning but changed the song lodged in her breast towards the Turtle Dove who in turn sang back to her in secret. The songs, though markedly different, in essence were the same lamentation of a love not consummated. Each distinctly different, the Phoenix had a lilting song, the Turtle Dove's was urgent and violently passionate. Yet together, all songs faded, they became one song sung together, a sound unlike any could be made by any living thing. Both the Phoenix and the Turtle Dove lived apart, until one day, the Turtle Dove peered into the branches of the tree and saw the Phoenix burning brightly between the palm fronds. From the sight of her the Turtle Dove became inextricable, they merged into one, defying all nature, the self of each dissolved into the self of the other; natures own chimeric conflagration. No longer the Phoenix and the Turtle Dove, though none could say exactly what it then became. Reason, logic, the laws of nature were thwarted as all turned out to hear the song so separate merge into one, as these beings so separate merged into one. Reason, logic, law, threw up their mighty hands and departed from the foot of the tree.

However, when these laws are breached, consequences spring up and the birds hunched around the ramparts, the merchants stalls, began to greedily shriek:

As the Turtle Dove and Phoenix came to consummate their love, as two merged into one, all shot up in flame. Their hearts were asunder, their beings caught up in a firefight. From the city, from the palace walls one could see the flaming pillar. All activity ceased. The animals raised up their heads from the drinking pond, the nomads grew fearful and watched the tall black column of smoke rise into the sky, blotting out the sun. They had defied all natural things, broken the call of reason and when the flames quieted all was left in ashes. Truth and beauty extract reason. They lay buried beneath the Arabian tree, ashed in a form that looks like the etching of a Phoenix and Turtle Dove, entwined, combined, and whatever is true, or fair, is left unknown. For these dead birds cried no lamentation. The owls quieted their voice, the crows flew over the fire site as the mourners pay their dues. The eagle presided. The priests only whispered a prayer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Birth of the Owl in Daylight

They stand on the edge of a forest raining with trees, trees that stand like dominoes against the pale background of the morning only they are without the black spots the white trunks of dominoes, they are taller and more crooked darker and leafier than any domino but the forest stretched out away from the horizon coming toward them growing taller and taller as they stood there at the base of the red bark the ground soft and loamy around their feet, this boy and this girl stood holding hands wondering up at the length of the sky and the shadows cast by the growing structures wondering at the safety of their crossing and the possible dangers that lurked in the depth and the darkness of the wood. The animals were silent in their perches, merely rustling in their dens. Any snakes that were in the forest lay in wait. They hid under logs, under bush, in the darkest places. There were so many snakes and such little food, they trained themselves to move together, as one solid mass pulling together from different directions, they slid out from their rocks to join in a circular sweep, like an amoeba, fanning out for the kill. It had been long since they loosed their venom and now their mouths were tight and their bellies empty.

Girl and boy made ready with a pack on each of their shoulders, this old red spotted handkerchief tied to a stick full of biscuits and cheese and the boy carried a skein of water upon his belt. They moved quickly into the beginning shadows and were suddenly swallowed by the excess of dark. As they walked the boy sang a song.

The owl, dark as peat, sat on a branch with his head cocked toward the music. Apart from a deer now and then, these were the largest creatures to enter the forest. He catapulted off his seating and flew above a clearing, circling the thin rays of light that penetrated where a tree had fallen off some time ago. The boy and girl continued their walk, the song in its lilts picked up the rustle from squirrels and the movement of wind almost still by the ground. The song was small and thin like the boy and girl, it seemed blond too almost, a pale wavering that hovered in the air before the boy wordless but full of melody. As they walked he sang and the animals listened.

This dark owl hardly moved but tightened his circle that had been so small to begin with. Like to being charmed the snakes slowly unfurled their
ruffleless skin and smoothed closer to the feeble rays of light pouring in. No birds but this owl and in the dim intensity of the light the snakes formed a gathering at the clearing, the light pouring down and giving depth like the inverse of a well-bottom and the boy and the girl walked on hand in hand their biscuits and cheese flapping along their shoulders as they traversed the forest.

In the village when the summer came pea pods dried up like the corn on their stalks. The roosters went sterile and cried dawn in the evening, the sweet milk from cows curdled, turned to
clabber on their lips and the grasses in the valley sickened and died. Behind the barn where the cows and chicks were kept the girl had lain in the grass the blue above her and the grass already yellowing below. Her skirts were blue and white, mimicry of the clouds, and perhaps that was why the heavens opened up on her, rained down their cunning rebellion against this poor shadow of themselves. For her hair was blond as the sun, her eyes and mouth too bright and her hands still soft for all her chores. She lay behind the barn in the grass and it itched her ankles and her calves, made its way to her thighs and the backs of her arms and they were red and blotchy but her face was radiant. The boy was kneeling in front of her, the fabric of his pants collapsed around his ankles. Perhaps that is why the blight of fields, perhaps that is why babies wept all night in their cradles and the milk turned to clabber in their mouths.

His song faded out as they approached the circle of light. What they saw struck them and they remained motionless in the shadows. Snakes moved so slow as if dancing, the floor was alive with them, light shifting off their backs, refracting into the trees and disappearing at the end of the circle. They didn't leave it. Boy and girl walked the edge, marveling, their hands sweaty and entwined but the girls mouth worked in a spasmodic smile gasping all the while at their glittering backs and the boy kept his song quiet in wonder. Snake bodies pushed against each other,
unwet but with some friction they glided smoothly in a tussle untagled and as the boy and girl tried to full circle they ran into the fallen log of the tree no longer standing.

It pushed them off to one side of clearing and they clambered on top of it, first the girl then the boy who had held her kerchief and who then handed it back to her. They sat watching the snakes entranced until she looked up and saw the single owl circling the daylight. His color was almost bleached out by the pale rays floating in. He screamed and plummeted. The boy pulled back and the girl cried out as he rose
fistfull of snakes in to the sky. They hurried off the fallen log, back into the deep shadows ran without thinking through the forest, droplets following them from the tops of the trees, a spattering of fresh blood almost purple in this streaming dimming light. They ran together until they came to the cover of a cave freshly matted with dew and they stopped in to rest and to think and to hide for a while from the owl.

The cave was dark and cold, strange for all the heat
emanating from the forest. The mushrooms growing on the soft loam outside halted their journey as the cave drew closer. It was bare outside. Inside was it was so still and so quiet the boy and the girl found themselves mute, unable to speak and they rationed out biscuits and cheese there in the darkness of the cave and they ate in the bleak silence. They knew they had to keep walking to get out of the forest before their food ran out. She was tired from running, not showing it but holding on to the boys hand with a tightness she could not conceal. They lay down to rest, his hand on her hair and her head crooked into his shoulder.

In her sleep the owl haunted her. He screeched and wheeled and flashed behind closed lids and startled the girl awake. Fistfull of snakes. The boy had turned away and was asleep on the rock floor. The girl was bathed in a light mattering from silk worms that swirled the cave. She gasped but she welcomed it-- it was warm and comforting and the white so brilliant in the dark she was grateful for it. This twisting silk, the silvery confection danced over the entrance, and she sitting in it, and he sleeping in it and the entrance covered up, a thick white mucus hanging like
starwax from the dark mouth. She watched it grow and grew warm and in her belly the stirring began and she sang a soft song to it and the boy woke and put his hand to it and they sat in the cave growing warm and grateful and the silk worms spread themselves against the mouth of the cave and when it was time to go they pushed and tore at the silk, the worms that fell to the ground withered like ash, and they stamped on some as they made their way out, trailing stardust on the bottoms of their feet.

They had been run out of the village. The boy held her hand as they made their way to the edge of the wood. Everything will be fine, he said and she had shielded her face in her hands and he could not look away. When her cheeks were flushed they were beautiful; when she sat still as stone as the villagers, her mother and her father threw sticks, as the children ran up to her and pulled her hair and the townsmen cried out at her, her skin was silent, it was muted by the lack of red, a dim tide of pale that washed her out. At night they fled. He put his hand in hers and she made kerchiefs and they ran out of the barn where she was kept and made it to the edge of the forest in the daytime.

It went unnoticed for months but the seedlings died early that summer and the roosters were struck with an impotence, the cows gave no milk and the corn roasted black on their stalks. If she were not the only thing flowering in the village the attribution would not go unnamed. She was guilty. She had sucked up the warmth of the sun, the life in the grass rubbed itself into her body and the boy was not exempt. So they ran and they hoped to cross the forest before too long. But they could not say how long was too. So they ran in the cover of night and woke up and ran again, shielded by dark and the glowing traces of silk rubbed off them as they fled.
A dark owl slept in the moorings of an old ship. Some of the snakes in his fists remained alive, dripping but flashing and their venom it coiled and was ready to spring. The owl did not sleep lightly. Boy and girl were traversing the forest, what they saw as a clearing was the end of the clearings and the beginning of the sea.

That night there was no moon and the water was dark. It shifted black and shapeless beyond the tree line. They ship stood stranded halfway up the shore. Its masts were ruddied brown, leaning in the direction of the wind, the way of the trees. Cracks drew up its sides and every time the wind pushed through it it breathed a heaving sigh. The whipcrack of the sails was peaceful.

Girl looked at boy and he smiled. They had made it out of the forest. What lay beyond was the ocean, and in the distance they could see hillsides and the dim sparkles of fire-- perhaps another village lay in the dark. The crossing would be difficult, but together with this old ship the boy felt certain they could manage a shanty raft that would carry them to the other side. Owl held snakes tight in his fist. The footsteps on the boards below did not rustle him, he remained suspended in the lookout his head slowly melting in with his shoulders as he dozed. The boy and girl laughed and sang as she danced on the deck imagining themselves pushing off and floating along this battered wood to the hills beyond the sea. But it was night, so they buried into a cabin and there they settled till morning.

In the daylight, the owl awoke. He looked like a broken stump against the light. His yellow eyes shot open and the black of them could be seen dilating. The snakes had died sometime in the night, their venom, once coiled and ready to spring now leaked out of their bodies bathing the deck below. With no more than an upheaval of his body the owl dropped off the perch and into the lap of the girl.
Fistfull of dead snakes.

She screamed and the boy came running. He pushed the owl, shouted, beat it with his fists but the owl clung to her skirts and she couldn't get up. She cried and screamed and they boy was red with fury but they could not unplant the owl. His talons scratched her thighs as he clung, the snakes whipped about and her legs began to gleam with poison. Slowly the girl and the boy realized that they needed to remain still. Like coming into the barn in the morning and finding a nest of scorpions, they had to quiet, still themselves until they could safely back out. The owl, once they had fully quieted, ruffled his feathers. He let the snakes loosely uncurl from his talons, settled them on her lap.

Terrified the boy reached for them and whipped them up into the air. They fell to the deck and shattered, splinters broke off and stuck into the skin of the boy, the girl and the owl. With the sun blinding above them the three sat on the deck unmoving, the owl so dark his figure looked carved out of basalt. Them so light they looked to be made of silk spun effigies. Venom had been loosed. Inside her stomach began a movement. The movement in her stomach grew louder as she sat there, unable to move and the boy could only hear the scratching helplessly. The scratching grew louder, her face was unable to contort, the floor of the ship was damp and loamy and the thing grew out of her, pushed its way through the glistening white silk and emerged, matted, and ruffling its feather took off into full rising light of morning.

Out of the forest, at the edge of the wood, there is a ship fast to the shore with the statue of a boy, a girl, and an owl so black as to be lost in the shadows.

On the other side of the ocean there is a village full of lights at night and dancing. The grass is green and plentiful and the cows are among the fattest ever known. They crop up out of the grass, black and white like dominoes and the villagers are red faced and happy and never go hungry.

There is a forest so thick with trees it is easy to lose place. There is a circular clearing, full round and lit up made from a tree that fell long ago.

As the boy and girl walked through the forest, they came upon the clearing. It was full of snakes. As they tried to circle they were entranced, the log stopped them and they were frightened by a dark owl. They ran. They ran to the edge of the forest and looked back on their village, the lights off in the distance; imagined that they built a ship to float on the dark water.

The New Hive of the Mind: The Workplace Revisited

The word “employee” has been used to replace human beings in work communities. In fact, a “work community” is a new development proposed and advertized by employers in the work space to recapture some essence of what it means to be human in the work environment. In policy, “employee” has been effective in separating “employee” from “person” a being that is physically present, tangible, and that is a form that can develop relationships and can connect to other “persons” in the work space. By cutting out the personal and condemning a person to employee status, all signs of life are therefore crushed. It now becomes easy to sever the “employee” because all personality has been drained out of the concept. The employee is a commodity, it can be shifted to a new department, its status can be raised or demoted, and the employee can be faxed around or emailed about, because while on paper, they are just an “employee” an eight letter word that is usually black on a white background. When a policy becomes effective, it has the potential to affect the employee. When the employee is not a real, tangible being, the policy is much more easily carried out. There are no sticky questions of whether or not the employee has been a good employee if the policy will have a negative effect, there is no feelings of remorse upon employee termination because who gets attached to black letters on a page? No one has to worry about human things like, “family and kids” or has to think that maybe the employee needs the money, or needs the job, or likes the job, or values the job. It becomes even easier to lump the employee into a category thus policies become rules that are generic and if the employee fits into a category their role becomes clear. Once the employee is categorized, the policy makes it clear what must be done with the employee. As an example, imagine that you are presented with an employee. They have black hair and a lopsided smile. This is an undesirable trait in your company because in the past one of the “higher ups” (not an employee this time but a manager or Chancellor, a title with just as little humanity but more power) had problems with dark haired individuals who showed too much tooth on the right side. When you now find yourself presented with an employee who retains these primitive and detrimental characteristics, the formula is spelled out for you in black and white, taking decision making out of the mind of “human resources” (an appropriate title when the shift from human to worker commodity has been implemented) and putting it into their hands, little things that can employ action but do not need to get caught up in any moral argument with themselves. This little black lump has shown to be effective in businesses all around the world. Racial discrimination, gender discrimination, discrimination against the disabled or elderly have had a hard time finding their way back into the workplace now the policies promoting discrimination have been smoothed over with white out or a paper shredder. However, the one standing policy: that members of the same family or close relation shall not work as employees together stands strong. This is good because it is known that people in families or in close personal relationships are more volatile than employees who only know each other on an employee to employee basis and not on a human level. Cementing the incontrovertible fact that policies are in place because they are good and right and are therefore able to be carried out blindly is this aforementioned example. Because case by case scenarios mean nothing in the workplace, it is good that a generalization remains that has been proven and proven again to be true. When one is a little too human, too real, something outside of “employee” the office becomes a dangerous place. Work is affected, moral plummets to an all time low and coffee is spilled at a much higher rate. In order to guard against the non-employee status uprising, all forms of its antithesis, the human, must be squashed. Protect yourself and remember: it’s not angry or volatile people with bad attitudes that make the work place uncomfortable, its people working together that know one another outside of the “employee.” And please, don’t question the black marks on this page. They are good and right and true.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Stalking of Platypus

The part of the self that wants crushing. Whatever could be added to could not be taken away from. But that's all wrong. Begin the beginning:

See a girl with fists in her eyes, a yellow bawling out in the school yard. Pleated grass and bushes forming tunnels, the blacktop, the white lines of a kickball field, monkey bars, jungle gym, swings, the metal bars for flipping that she lay under, bawling, crushing out her eyes, the pain in her forehead searing and the sun hanging light in the sky. Her age was unknown, guessed to be eight and probably right. The teachers stood around the field in strategic places, pillars of watchfulness but were really just regular. It is the children who are strange and out of place, unthinkable and different, not yet molded into imperfection and the realized fallacy of idolatry.
"Pick a hero and write a paper. We will share them in class tomorrow."
She chose the ants in her bedroom. She wrote about their courage, their indefatigable journey towards nowhere. How when she crushed her finger upon one the rest would rise him above and carry him safely homeward. The ants that for all their smallness were really larger than her, they crossed vast distances from her bedpost to the dresser the windowsill the crack beneath the door, and they formed a part of a whole, that there even was a whole and they moved together and unquestioningly obeyed the queen.

Part 1

The Ant Moll

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Leftover

yes, you are probably wondering why you are reading this right now but once you know how dark and black it really is you will want to try it your self... don't. A day after I did I knew that it really wasn't a dream, I was alone in my dreary little apartment. I was on my last roll of scotch tape and the chair still wouldn't stick to the ceiling (thats how bored I was). A thought struck me, what happens when the fridge is closed and you can see what is in there, does the soup sit up and sing? does the lettuce lay down and dance? I was so incoherent, and hallucinatory that such things went racing through my head, so I decided to test out my mentally unsound little plan. the fridge was there. I knew that I shouldn't. The fridge door shut behind me. that trip to the fridge changed my life. It was dark, I'd never seen so much darkness, it was so... black. It was the most black that I had seen in my life. It washed over me like a wave, and I was entering complete peace...... but then I noticed the cold. dear god I was cold, my brain decided to restart and reboot at the moment when I was contemplating getting the heck out of there. In that moment I was completely still then I heard the scream, it took me a minute to realize that it was my own throat that released the horrible howl. my eyes snapped shut as light spilled into my icy chamber. "thank the lord!!!!!" I shouted. "Good thing you came along Mr. Tiddles, I couldn't see any way to get out, can you believe that fridge locks from the inside"? "mrroowre"! came the reply as my cat slid out of the brilliant stream of light shining from the single lamp in my living room. never go into the fridge alone, always make sure your cat is standing by.

By Darin Cox

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Old Man and the Sea

A woman sat on her front doorstep sweeping pine needles into piles with a small handheld broom. Her eyes looked down at the copper piles, saw them blurry and unfocused. She looked up at the blue sky, a swatch of blue, of small white patterns of clouds. She was waiting. Her shoes needed mending. The brown tongue hung over the broken laces like a panting dog, it moved when she moved and she rocked back and forth. Humming.
When the piles were made she brought a hand full of berries and set them circular around the pine needles. Red ringed copper. Satisfied she moved off the stoop onto the dirt in front of her house, a little cabin at the edge of a wood and pushed herself upright. She was a large woman, bountiful, her wide skirts over wide hips and her apron hung snug at her middle. She had large breasts and a ruddy complexion. Her eyes were soft, unfocused, her hair was brown and smooth, reassuring. There was something peaceful about her, this woman who spent her days on the doorstep in simple hope and prolonged waiting.
"I've realized this has become a story," the woman said to the trees around her.
"I don't like stories," she said with her hands on her hips.
Her lips were berry red and warm.
"I won't sit on the doorstep today," she told the few birds perched in the trees.
"I've had enough of your judgements, I am not a character, I will not become a story, I will not wait, and I will not wait somewhere else."
She struck off southerly, down a dirty and overgrown path, watching the brown become shadowed as the trees became more dense. Humming was resolute, her large body cut a swath, trees trembled in her wake. Becoming red-faced, pounding along the dirt down the path into deeper darkness. The truth was that she hated waiting. She exuded calm, radiated peaceful satisfaction, but she was turbulent, her large stomach churned with more than indigestion. She was ravenous, unsettled, her eyes and their soft focus seemed to propel her, she was tunneled in by them, looking forward always to that thing that would happen, if only she knew what. It was waiting that made her anxious, though she never seemed so. Waiting made her irritable though she was placid; her face was becoming lined with the strain to relax her features, always working against the tension in her muscles. Poor woman.
She walked on, her big boots stamping through fallen leaves, over rocks and breaking branches. A deer lay at the side of the path, its carcass hollowed out. Briefly she raised her hand to wipe away the flies that came, attracted to her sweat. She passed countless trunks and as the leaves grew thicker, the branches lower, the sky grew dim and patchy, soon to be blotted out completely. After a long time walking she came to rest at a fallen log. Ants plodded on their path, shifting the trail to run over her large fingers, her heavy hands. Her stomach clenched so she buried her hands in her apron. Several ants came with them. She dug out some rolls and a pad of butter. Some ants stayed in the pocket. After eating, refreshed, angry, she stalked off further into the woods.
Was night falling, or was it the darkness from the trees? She couldn't tell, her anxiety had swept her off her feet and she continued to follow the path, muttering to herself.
"I've had enough of this story, I am not a fool. I am not inelegant, I don't have to listen to her. If I had my own way, I would not be sitting on the doorstep waiting. What am I waiting for? It leaves me dry, I have nothing more to say. I have nothing to do, this waiting. A thief. The best days of my life spent baking rolls and sweeping the pine needles and they just continue to fall. Nothing, nothing."
The squirrels thought she was nuts, animals gave her booming hooves a wide berth. She was fuming, raging, pushing branches out of her way as she moved on and on. After a time the woman reached a cave and its dark mouthlike entrance enticed her. Here she would rest before moving on. The cave smelled like lemons to her, it was pleasing and it made her hungry. She sat at the mouth of the cave and looked out. Just brown and trees and rocks here and there. As she ate more rolls with butter (how the ants made a pop in her mouth!) she brought pebbles that lay around her to her hip. They collected, little piles of silver and blue. When she finished her roll she swept the rocks from the back of the cave, from outside and brought them in. Eight piles stood at the mouth of cave, stacked like pyramids in the dark.
Thus stated, the woman fell asleep. The ground was hard and though leaves and twigs lined the path remaining quiet was easy. The man didn't need to step or break anything. His feet were rough and small, they were able to pick their way nimbly around any fallen objects to avoid a clatter. He swung his arms as he walked. By the time he came to the cave entrance he was aware of the bulky woman inside, her sonorous snores rose and multiplied from within, her mass heaved in dreams and in waking. He padded softly over. He noticed ants crawling around her chin, they hovered over her ears, seeming to sniff or feel out the hair around them. How now, fallen lady, he thought to himself. How easy it would be to fall at her feet, clutching. To make her rise and walk with him beyond the wood. It had been a long time since he last saw a woman, the woods remained lonely and uninviting, he had half turned feral but recognized the gentleness in her sleeping form. He came close and sniffed at her hair, fondled the brown strands in his thick hands, they were long nailed and white.
The woman groaned, woke up, startled screamed and reached her hand grabbed rocks and made a fist with them, pounded on his shoulders. Howled, jumped up, startled ran around the cave, pulled at his hair, grinned at her, jumped. She was stricken in his wild display.
"What are these acts?" she said. "He dances the fool, and I marvel at him. This is surely a plot device, I must surely be going mad. Or else he is."
The man thought to himself, no not mad, we are not mad, the woods are mad, this darkness, prevailing. Let us flee. He thought, and he ran.
She wondered, following tentatively and he stopped and beckoned her. After his shambling gate, his limping jumps, heavy sided, she followed her bulk shifting one way then the next as he swayed along the path.
After a time they came to a clearing. They moved beyond the woods, in to a dale, walked on till the sun rose again and all was yellow and warm. They walked on and on down a small hill, scaling an old worn path down a cliff. The ocean spread out before them. It was new, blue, they had neither of them seen an ocean before; the sprawling expanse of it, the glitter of it, the rushing sound it made, striding and purposeful. They walked on, into the blue and it was cold and it was wet but it was welcome and the woman laughed and the man cantered and they were swallowed up by the lips of it, and buried beneath the hands of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creation Myth

Once upon a time there was a man who was very old. He lived in dark brown house in the middle of a forest. Every morning he woke up and stepped outside. It was always shady. The old man would stand on his door step and stretch his crumpled back. His shirt was white and had blue pinstripes and his brown trousers were held up with suspenders. The suspenders had gold buckles. One morning, during his regular stretches, the old man looked up through the leafy canopy and noticed a flash of red. The red darted black and became green again as the leaves steadied once more into focus. The old man remained bent backward for a long while, staring up into the leaves until the outlines faded and all became a whirling mass of green and black. He bent down to do toe touches. On the ground he noticed a spot of gold. He brushed dust and fallen leaves from the glittering item and held it close to his eye. It was the hook from his suspender. The man looked down at his trouser; there was the loose suspender flopping against his thigh. The old man Harumphed and walked down the winding path deeper into the forest. His gate was ambling, every once in a while he stopped to smell a flower or pluck a twig from a tree. The woods were silent and he was used to the silence.

Something about the air told the man that this day was different. From far off sounded drums, a thin flute writhing up and down in an uncertain tune. The old man was startled; he began to run down the dark path deeper and deeper into the woods. He crunched through leaves, fell over a stray branch that had fallen, perhaps stuck down by lightning. The noises followed him, drums beating faster, mocking his own terrified heart. Suddenly deep throated bassoons sounded, bells tinkled far above the trees, and the man ran without looking back. Static formed far above the trees; a storm was at hand. He ran blindly trunk after trunk passing, brown, brown, darker, brown, dark, black, the branches twisted strangely above his head, the man ran on puffing his own breath coming out tattered the one long suspender flapping tail-like after him. The flutes began anew, starting low and trilling upwards and as the man took a heaving step into the mouth of a cave the rain unloosed itself from the angry sky.

The music drew to the cave mouth; the man stepped into the darkest recess, cowered. One of his polished brown shoes had broken a lace, the man leaned back and gasped into the damp air. Rain lashed at him, wind blew the hard drops through the mouth of the cave and he was soaked, drowning; each gasping breath drew moisture from the rain and suffocated him, formed a thick hymen in his throat, he called out but nothing could be heard. Tears mixed with rain, the flutes trilled gaily, the drums danced merrily about the cave mouth the rain and wind drew together like old lovers, sharing moments of spontaneous laughter. The angels came down from the sky prepared for combat. They swooped down, one by one, slowly, seeming suspended by wires, each one a magnificent array of colors.

One was a flurry of shimmering blue and black, another an opalescent pale so bright against the deep green the old man had to shield his eyes. Hundreds of them poured into the cave, wings batting against the old man as he struggled to fend them off, his thin arms waving wildly as they landed and fluttered close to his rough cheek. A huge one, red and black and furry beat right at his chest, rent the shirt open and pushed its elongated tongue into his chest. The old man cried out his fury but it was stoppered in his mouth. His voice traveled back down his throat, into his intestines, his stomach, wriggled through him like a parasitic worm and burst through the hole in his chest where the angel fed.

Sound and tongue entwined the horrid birth of a thing both alien and wonderful, this angel been given voice. But a screeching voice, a loud and thunderous voice, piercing. This red and black creature lifted into the air, pounded its heavy wings through the rain, spiraling upward, the sound of its cry a high wavering note on a violin. Or perhaps a fiddle; the sound so loud and clear the old man's dried body shivered and burst. The angels gathered around him, fluttering gently, close.

The rain calmed its lashing and thunder stole its booming call from the body of the man. The trees began to shake, a soft rustle could be heard, like the man's deep sleeping breath. Slowly, scuffling could be heard from the lowest branches. Squirrels leapt about, their soft chatter multiplying until a cacophony of sounds filled the air. Birds dove and screamed, monkeys yelled playfully and pushed each other about. From the ground where the body had lain sprung a dark pool, a rustling stream that gurgled and bubbled down the path all the way back to the old man's house.

The next morning, the old man awoke and went out to the doorstep. The early bird calls greeted him and he smiled, bent his crooked back and looked up at the shifting shapes in the trees.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sing This From The Rooftops, Praying

wrenched words out of his skull. spatter spatter. the streetlamp burns oil. he wore spats on the first date. kept the gun close to his closet, enter night. he ran a cord across the linoleum where the carpet had been cut. the streetlamp red sheen. poetry is murdered. he ran into the streets screaming. tearing out hair, butterballed eyes, to be served in silver dishes. little treats for the rich bourgeoise.


i can’t bring myself to say I hate poetry. do you hate the mother shoved in little puppies? shoved little puppies into the sauce pot. boil her skin into little balls of poppies. she’s dead. and again don’t say that you hate her. i can’t bring myself to say i love poetry. poetry is dead. there will be no flowers. his suspenders sag. Myanmar Burmese dead. honeycombs break apart after the flood. my tears dear Aunt Emily, are burnished. polished cheek bones. rouge in streaks, my tears dear Emily, are pink.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Were You Once A Sailor?

I want to post, but I don't want to post. My eyes are so tired they feel like they're going to bleed. But they feel like if they do, it will be dry blood.

Because they are so dry.

I flipflop a lot.

I like things and I don't; and I like to do things and I don't want to do them, and it's a confusing place to be.

I wrote a sestina because I hate sestinas. And I like my sestina.

Also, I was in the middle of writing another sestina, although I hate them, because I enjoyed writing the first one so much.

But I was interrupted. And haven't gotten back to it.

In high school they tell you not to use the word got, or variations thereof.

I say fuck them.

I love got.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If I Were Getting Paid For This, I'd Be Fired

I tired taking a nap in the grass today, but it my eyes weren't black enough. It was also very hot, very nice hot, but hot on my jeans which are the wrong pants to wear while basking in the sun. I tried to sleep with my arm over my eyes but I was so afraid that I would fall asleep and have a strange arm-over-face tan that it didn't work. When I rolled onto my stomach I was much more comfortable. My eyes weren't red, and it was cool on my tummy. With my face that close to the grass I could hear the all the snaps and shearing from the bugs crawling around. I didn't move although I felt them crawling over my arms. I was close to the grass. The grass smelled like wheat grass and I remembered the small plastic cups that Jamba Juice serve wheat grass shots in. I didn't fall asleep.

  • For the past three days Yahoo has had diet tips on the front page.
  • The guy sitting next to me is looking at pictures of food. He's looking at really well made pictures of food, and looks at them for a long time. And he coughs a lot. It's too hard to concentrate.
  • I had a chocolate croissant for breakfast.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This Sounds Like A Good Idea

I think I should be a tutor. I always have these near black-out moments when I fantasize about helping kids with homework. Not sexual fantasies...but those horrible ones that you have driving on the freeway where you can just picture the car smashing into the median and feel your face scraping along the concrete.

Note: My eyes are very quick to well up with tears. This is why I should be a tutor: I was reading the "Tutoring Notes" section on the's Tutoring Notes page, and when one person recounted a scene with a kid who was just not interested in his paper, and making use of a gramatically incorrect and run-on sentence, I will demonstrate the scene without finishing the intial clause:

The kid hands the tutor a balled up piece of paper, which makes the tutor sad, but they don't show it. He was writing on "All Quiet on the Western Front" and this is the sentence from the post that this kid wrote: "The soldiers made lifelong friendships that didn't last very long."

And the tutor said it was the best sentence they'd ever read, and I thought to myself, this is the best sentence I've ever read, and then I got all teary eyed.

I feel like I could do this with kids and I have tutored before, but elementary school math is different than high, junior high student dealing with 'horrible' English papers. So I get really excited about that, and when I get excited I get teary. And when I've witnessed, or am talking about some great feat of human kindnes...

One time there was a BMW commercial on tv. The car is driving around a dark and wet road bordered with orange cones, and behind each cone is a man in uniform. The BMW makes this elegant curve and then pulls up beside a cone. A man reaches down, tightens the air cap on the tire, and the Beamer resumes it's arcing race against the length of the commercial. My eyes welled. You see the problem.

So my greatest fear about tutoring then is that I'll be so damn motivational and brilliantly life-changing, that I'll be running around as a weepy young lady until pretty soon none of the kids will want to go near such a soggy, freaky tutor.
Maybe one day I'll have nice fantasies of living in a hermitage...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This May Not Be Interesting, But It's All True

1968 Spiegel Catalogue

it’s bare-armed to keep you cool
all summer long
bow and streamers in back
state size

The mom looks at the daughter looks

at the sister whose skirt comes just above the knees.

The mother looks at the daughter looks

at the dress and sees the flat curve where

breasts should be, at the flounce at the hip

where hips should be. Later that evening,

after the roast and the potatoes are scraped into the

trash, she will unpin her hair.

She will sit on their bed and kick off her white heels.

Hair unpinned she removes her dress, showered

with stay-in pleats, and picks up from the floor

her daughter’s dress, garden-full of flowers on a float

and slips it over her head. Shivers before the mirror

bare-armed, hand washable, her breasts push outward

her hips almost visible against the celanese,

fortel, polyester and avril rayon blend.

She swatches her bare thighs back

and forth, and closes her eyes a little.

It’s just a dance in this moment, it’s just a foil for the roast

and potatoes, it’s just a jackknife hammered into her heart.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Babies Eating Lighting Bolts In Flowered Dresses

A couple nights ago Cameron (Jackson) and Jack (Morgan) and I attended a reading at Pegasus books...for the sake of those present, I will not name names, or make any reference to characters ficticious or otherwise. Let's just say that there were some poems, some maybe happened to be interspersed with epistemological essays on lighting. Sometimes, as it happens, readings last about half an hour per person. So there were these essays, interspersed by essays, read as if reading a poem, for a good solid long ammount of time.

I'm taking a geography class this semester. We learned about lightning. This is what I learned. I made it into a poem :


Travels at speed of light (186,000 mi/sec)
Cloud to surface charges move downward in (approx.)
50-yard sections, producing a path along which a charge is deposited.
The circuit is complete when the charge reaches the surface.
Thunder is a result of lightning.
The air around the lightning bolt is heated to extremely high temperatures
(50,000°F). Pressure from the heat causes the air to expand (explosively), pushing (compressing) surrounding air and causing a shock wave (within first several feet)
then continues as sound waves.
Approximate speed of sound: 761 mph (at sea level).

Nothing of this nature should exceed 47 seconds.

The coolest part of the reading was how her dimples shuddered and trembled and grew more pronounced depending on the stretch of her mouth during words.
And the really cute cabbage patch baby.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Я довольно танцевал бы

It's twelve o'clock. And by 1:00 pm I need to have painted an exquisite array of hands. If we're talking in terms of realisitcally I don't think that's going to happen. Probably because I've decided to do this instead. So.

Let's talk about poetry, as it is the "Hallmark of Poetry Month." And let's talk about crap poetry, as it's easier than talking about good poetry.

Has anyone ever read a good sestina? I'm genuinely curious as I find it the most repugnant form for a poem. Worse than knowing your towel is moldy and taking a big streamlined whiffle full anyway. (You need to know good ol' southern-humid-towel-mold to fully appreciate the awfulness of the sestina). I have a feeling it's the general idea of it that makes them so bad, but perhaps it's just that every example of a sestina has just sounded like the writer is desperately trying to kill themselves via making the worst poem possible full of the stupidest ideas that (due to the form contraints) end up being repeated on and on for 39 lines. (Thus killing themselves through a cycle of deep depression, insecurites, reduced libido, headaches, nausea, blindess etc.)

I do like a good pantoum, however. There's this one: it's really good. I can't find it. I've spent a lot of time looking through, and it's not happening for me. It's in a book at home, and I'll find it, and fix this now dead post. I am committing the same suicide as the dillusional sestina writer...

Perhaps now I'll paint.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Music To Shed Skin To

What is the difference between listening to music surround sound with speakers, or through tiny earbud headphones? It would be easy to say that you're increasing the level of intimacy simply because speakers are external, earbuds are internal, sensuously little soft things sticking right inside of your ears. Music as an earfuck. Is it so hot because it's the closest thing to an outside brainfuck? =the consequence of sound...much different than words on the page. Even at they're most dynamic, they can't extend and make you feel as if some hot dry worm is actually wriggling around your ear. I like it. New fetish perhaps? Where people just listen to music all day long and get off on it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do You Want Cheese On That?

“Reliable Sex”

I am turning 21 soon
it would be nice to have a friend to celebrate that with.

On peut jouer en français &
can get down and funky too.

Not heavy druggie
sexually excited by confined spaces

Thursdays are not a requirement!

We find each other attractive and sexy
We follow each other around in the store and get closer as time goes on.
We start to pretend that we are a couple.. holding hands, being close and even maybe kissing.

How exciting.
in this naughty and innocent public encounter.

-by jessica jejacissa co-ox (I'm changing my name)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If I Had A Soundtrack It Would Announce My Return From A Place Of No Posting

Geography of Hope Conference: A Conference Between Myself

“He did was he said he was gonna do.” –Carl Brandt on Wallace Stegner

I was about five or six, and had begun braiding my hair in the hopes that it would look like Sacagawea’s. I very pointedly removed my shoes before running outside through the grass, though ours was a very yellow, very prickly variety. I’d hang in trees and sing to the flowers and never, ever pick them. As most children can, I talked to plants and animals and if I didn’t know what they were called, made up my own names for them. I was a little tree-hugger in the making.

Then, as the story goes, teenageism hit, and the pigtails got lost in the mess of trying to make my hair look like the girls in the magazines and my bare feet were covered by Converse All-Stars. But that little girl who held bake-sales to earn money for saving rainforests was still there somewhere. Gradually, that girl is rising again, bowling through the cement with tiny furious fists so that the grass can begin to poke through.

The Geography of Hope Conference in Point Reyes pulled me inextricably back to the call of the wild. Set in a town full of cows atop rolling hills, marshes and ocean, bookstores and feed barns, Point Reyes seemed like the perfect setting for discussions on conservation and writing. Under the soft motivation of Robert Hass, panel members recollected vivid memories of Wallace Stegner’s life and works. Being in the midst of so many good writers was enough to reduce me to a smiling bubble of jelly, but I was actually able to pay attention too. From the general panel discussions I learned more about culture, civilization, wilderness, and environmental concerns than I would have had I been in class all weekend.

Before coming to the conference I knew little about Stegner, less about Point Reyes and nothing about literary conferences at all. Because the stories the panel members told were about life, not just Stegner’s life, but life in general, giving hints and tips for how to live that life, so they were fun and interesting simply because we the listening were alive and would have to keep living (for a while at least).

Carl Brandt, Stegner’s literary agent, taught me something about life in the thinly veiled excuse of ‘the work ethic.’ “He would do what he said he was gonna do,” Brandt said. Stegner turned manuscripts in on time and in good shape, and carried that ‘Frontier Mentality’ where hard work paid off. The thing that Stegner was so concerned about was the Western Frontier. He was concerned that without the frontier the American man would go soft and the American culture would go soft. So he remained hard and strict in self-discipline to get those manuscripts in. And this reminds me of my father.

Most panel members at the conference said at one time or another, “and this reminded me of this,” though perhaps phrased otherwise. Hass said of Angle of Repose, “[it] taught me something about my family,” and other panelists recognized their family members in Stegner’s characters. What I saw in Stegner’s works was myself: that wild-girl child running barefoot in make-believe woods, writing poetry about all the little live things. My earliest poem is one that I look back on with mixed feelings. Imagine a horror-face along with this poem:

“I am thankfull
for all the animuls,
even the spyders and terrantulas and centipeds.”

Horror not for the content, because that is a nice sentiment, but because now I shudder to think of being thankful for spiders, oh horror! and am glad to have learned that Stegner was an adamant exterminator of pests (though I do feel for those poor gophers!).

After the last panel, which was held in the Point Reyes National Seashore Park, where deer sauntered in the background as the speaker spoke, Cameron, my boyfriend and I were talking to Hass. Hass said that what struck him, was that while “they” were out getting stoned and protesting the war, Stegner was out in San Francisco arguing with corporations. This is a bad rendition of what was said, but eloquence and memory are not my strongest points. The fact of the matter is, Stegner was a powerful force for ecological conservation and what remains important today is not attending rally’s that fail to achieve anything, but to get out there and do. And Stegner did. And now maybe I will too.