Living in such a state          taTestaTesTaTe           etats a hcus ni gniviL
of mind in which time         sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA          emit hcihw ni dnim of
does not pass, space         STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE          ecaps ,ssap ton seod
does not exist, and         sTATeSt        oFOfOfo          dna ,tsixe ton seod
idea is not there.         STatEst          ofoFOFo          .ereht ton si aedi
Stuck in a place          staTEsT            OfOFofo           ecalp a ni kcutS
where movements           TATeSTa            foFofoF            stnemevom erehw
are impossible                              fOFoFOf              elbissopmi era
in all forms,                             UfOFofO                 ,smrof lla ni
physical and                            nbEifof                    dna lacisyhp
or mental -                           uNBeInO                       - latnem ro
your mind is                         UNbeinG                       si dnim rouy
focusing on a                       unBEING                       a no gnisucof
lone thing, or                      NBeINgu                      ro ,gniht enol
a lone nothing.                     bEinGUn                     .gnihton enol a
You are numb and                    EiNguNB                    dna bmun era ouY
unaware to events                                             stneve ot erawanu
taking place - not                   iSSUE                   ton - ecalp gnikat
knowing how or what                 10/31/99                tahw ro who gniwonk
to think. You are in              FiFTY-EiGHT              ni era uoY .kniht ot
a state of unbeing....                                   ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL by Kilgore Trout



by Kilgore Trout

It's Halloween 1999, and what am I doing? Putting together an e-zine. Not that I really mind, since I don't have a costume or anything, and I had pretty much planned on doing this anyway. The lights are all out, and although the dog is barking nonstop at anything that moves outside, I will not answer the door and give candy to small children. Greedy little bastards shouldn't trust a crazy like me. But that's okay. It's about 7:30 right now, and at midnight I'll be seeing the uncut version of Peter Jackson's Dead-Alive down at the Dobie. Nothing like a soupy zombie movie to make a great start for November 1st.

Naturally, all of the cable TV stations are showing their 'scary' movies that they show all year anyway, but now they're in one big block for one ultimate chunk of crap. Right now, The Running Man is on mute on my TV. It's not a pretty sight. At times, in between editing pieces, I have been known to spontaneously make up dialogue to certain scenes of movies I watch on mute. A sample:

     Arnold S.:  Weren't you disemboweled by an alien?
 Yaphet Khotto:  Yes.  You've disemboweled aliens yourself.
     Arnold S.:  And you've been disemboweled in this movie.  Is this your
 Yaphet Khotto:  Not all the time, but while we're out here running, future
                 governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura is honing his acting
                 skills with Family Feud guy Richard Dawson.
     Arnold S.:  It was said what happened to his successor, Ray Combs.
 Yaphet Khotto:  Yeah, and since he killed himself, the new host of Family
                 Feud is now Louie Anderson.
     Arnold S.:  Ugh.
 Yaphet Khotto:  At least I get to die. [dies]
     Arnold S.:  Lucky bahstahd.
See all of the exciting fun I have while I administer my editorial powers upon my writers? You might be wondering what else I do while creating the mass of text you are reading right now. I drank a coke, scratched this one spot on my back that itches numerous times, played with my dog and gave her one doggie treat, changed out cds in my stereo, fixed some sandwiches, adjusted the speed of my fan, and constantly checked my email for last minute submissions. Expect the action-packed movie translation this Christmas.

We've got some new writers this issue and some pissy email (which I really do adore) wondering where we've been. It's always nice getting mail for not doing anything at all. In other news, we are now down to nine white t-shirts and 2 'disheveled' black ones. So, get em while you can. Who knows when we'll decide to print up a new batch of t-shirts? And, since it's my birthday on Wednesday, I expect lots of submissions really early this month. Then I will be thankful on Thanksgiving and not just morose at the annual family gathering that centers around the death of a turkey.

So, boo, and shit like that, and if you're in Austin, you have about three hours to get to the Dobie in Austin and see Dead-Alive. 300 gallons of fake blood can't be wrong.



From: Matt Robertson
Subject: Re: State of unBeing #57 -- not just western heritage but
center of the earth heritage as well.

        please remove me from your mailing list.  the issues take too long to 
download. Thanks though.   Some of the stuff was pretty good

[well, see, you took yourself off too soon, since this issue is easily more downloadable than the last few. we have installed special packet compression technology in this issue to ease download times AND make reading it go by four times as fast. there are even context-sensitive pop-up windows will pop up when you have missed important subtext or are misinterpreting the author's intent. we reside at the forefront of zine-technology. if your computer cannot handle these new features, an ascii version will be substituted.]

From: Ken
Subject: State of Unbeing Tshirts

So your site is starting to get a following, but you are paying for it out of
your pocket, or your budget is slim.........  

NDI Graphics is here to help.  A great way to raise revenue is to sell shirts
from your site, therefore promoting your site while you make money.  Behind
software, apparel is the most purchased item on the internet because  shirts
are cheap enough to be impulse.  Your loyal fans will have something to
associate with your e-zine back in the real world and every time they wear
their cool new shirt they advertise for your site.   We even offer four hours
of design time at no cost, so your shirts look professional and dare I    If you don't believe me, follow the corresponding link and
check out our artists' capabilities:

We can provide you custom designed shirts for a complete cost as low as $6.06
apiece, with minimums as low as 24 shirts.    These are shirts that you can
viably turn and sell for up to $16.00 apiece or use as promotional items,
contest prizes, etc.   Our lead time is artwork to finished product in ten
working days.  

If your interested in finding out how we can help you fund your site, or you
would simply like a firm quote, contact me and I will get you what you need
within a days time.  

Best of luck with your site.

Ken Birge
NDI Graphics 

[you know, it would be nice if spammers would actually read the websites they spam to, but i guess that will never happen. because, as ken birge obviously failed to recognize, we already sell our own damn t-shirts. we've also been known to give them away for free. $16 bucks for a t-shirt? what do we look like, a high-profile rock and roll band? we put out t-shirts cuz we thought it would be cool, not to raise revenue. i mean, most of the shirts that we do sell are sold at below cost. and i think we still have a few left (mostly white larges), so if you want one of these puppies, email clockwork and see what he's got left.]

From: Terra Parker
Subject: Did you die again?

Withdrawl is a painful thing.  ~sniffle~
It's been at least two months, and I've sat here patiently, waiting, hoping 
that a new issue would appear suddenly in my mailbox; praying for the excuse 
to ignore my chemistry labs and indulge in something I enjoy. I've awaited 
any excuse from another faked death to alien abduction to a heartfelt 
apology, but still nothing comes.  For comfort, I've sought out the back 
issues, rereading old articles and savoring old stories, but I will restrain 
myself no longer....
     I WANT MY SoB!!!!
I miss it.  Please send another.
(Hello, my name is Terra, and I'm an addict...)

[no, i have not died again. well, only in my dreams, but that's not too real. it is, however, rather interesting to see the pickup of SoB related mail in my box when an issue doesn't come out as opposed to the relatively quiet trickle of stuff until the last few days of the month. i don't know if they have rates at charter for e-zine addiction, but then again, i'm think you probably don't want to be rehabilitated anyway. after all, rehabilitation is no longer the american way of doing things. you just have to choose who indoctrinates you carefully. we're happy to disinstill your dogma.]

From: John Souza []
Subject: I'll keep it short

"Bill Bonita was a huge Negroe,standing 6'6 point six on the rictor
scale,two hundred 'n fifty pounds.He was my dad's best chum back in the
crazy Sixtie's(which,of course,is why that dreaded word "Negroe "keeps
rearing it's beastly head-it's keeping in time with the times--no racial
predjeduce intended!)He used to be a race car driver,Bill Bonita,tried
out for professinol football,and in the blood bath of WWII he proved him
self valiantly...But now he was ,just like my Pop,a good for nothing
bum;two drunken petty thieves who couldin't hold a job to save thier
miserable lives!(Just like the author in subsequent years!)...Bill
Bonita had this long,sucking scar running down his left cheek.He'd went
into the Dangerous Combat Zone one night in the Fortie's to pick up a
hooker.Well,he sure found one.Sometime during the night he awoke to
discover that the broad was going thru his pants pockets,draped over a
chair. "Bitch--whatchoo doin'?"he snarled.
He tried to stumble outa bed but the booze and the blankets were in
cahoots against him.He got tangeled up and came crashing down in a
magnificent heap.
Still he tried to grab that ho.
But that ho,non-plussed,whips out a britzva(Check the terminology of A
Clock-Work Orange for that one,bucko),and slashes old Bill across the
face. Blood splattered in his eyes and the broad escaped out the door
with poor Bill stumbeling around naked,bloodied, snarling... Well,Bill
Bonita is still alive and well I hear.
But that long,sucking scar on his face ultimately came to terms with
it's birth trauma and now lives in Stockholm,seling Jerry Garcia ties
and turning quite a fucking profit....

[sometimes i just get really strange stuff. the joys of being a zine editor. and i don't want to generalize about webtv users, but... well... yeah.]

From: Aureliano Buendia
Subject: left empty due to lack of imagination (subscription request


Is there a chance that I can be subscribed to SoB, or is it a
privilege someone has yet to deserve?

Anyway, I feel SoB doesn't have that many Russian subscribers ;)



P.S. I admire your ASCii formatting skills. Really. No kidding. In the
age of HTML this is even more important to stick to pure standards and
unspoiled beauty. This is mainly why I am requesting subscription -- I
could well pick fresh issues on the web, but they are (IMO) desecrated
(wow, what a word) by <tags>. -- A.B.

[everybody deserves the privilege of being subscribed to SoB; however, only a few hundred souls in the world have been wise enough to seek out and obtain the privilege that is so rightly theirs. you have now joined the esteemed ranks of the zine's official readership, and we'd offer you lots of prizes and candy and coupons if we had them. and no, we don't have many russian subscribers. well, except for godzilla, but i think he was an expatriate from japan, so that doesn't really count. we'd like more russian subscribers, so get a t-shirt or something and advertise. then SoB will have the chance to become a superpower, dominate the world, and bring peace and love to the world through a literary iron fist of chaos penetration. and isn't that what everybody really wants? well, besides a friday new york times crossword puzzle that is actually completable by normal humans....]

From: MIKA
Subject: test

[um, you fail.]

From: Zedess
Subject: But could a Texan swallow carry a coconut?

Sr. Trout and esteemed SoB Staff:
Last night I was watching Monty Python and the Quest
for the Holy Grail.  It occured to me that the only
group of folks I could imagine making movies as fine
as the Monty Python classics was the ambiguous entity
known to most of the world only as the "SoB staff."  
  Fantastic magazine, and if you ever get together and
produce a movie keep us informed.  I wonder what it
would be rated.  
Respectfully full of it,

[actually, there was a student film made of my short story "unpronounced," but unfortunately i still have not seen it. i'm convinced that the metareality/sci-fi/occult genre still has not been fully realized on film, and even with such attempts as the fifth element and, more successfully, pi, the area still cries out for a masterpiece. will we be the ones to produce it? who knows. of course, we'll have to make the subject matter extremely obscure, so even bloated armchair magickians who know every minute detail of dee and kelly will be surprised. if you know of crazy financial backers who have more money than they know what to do with, let us know. oh yeah. blessed are the cheesemakers.]

From: Bixenta Moonchild
Subject: (no subject)

I think I'll start with a very simple message to get my point across quickly 
and effectively:

NO NEW SOB???  Grrrrrrrrr!!!!   Grrrrrrr!!!!!  Grrrrrrr!!!!!

You are making your poor, disappointed readers turn into poor, anxious 
readers as they are plagued by worries of whether you and your SOB staff have 
or have not run off to Vegas to become showgirls/boys in a sleazy 2nd-rate 
cabaret house.
Publishing SOB is good for YOUR OWN well-being, so, you see, I'm calling out 
for you through the jungle of the unknown to bring you back to a HEALTHY 
endeavor.  As your mother possibly used to say, "I'm doing this for your own 
good!"  We'll let the past month or two slide--I'm in a forgiving mood today.
If you're in need of an adequate number of submissions, I'm working on 
something.  It's a contraption which you can hook up directly to the slimy 
creativity glands of the brains of 8 people maximum (not too many, or it 
overheats and sizzles the adjoining sections of the hippocampus which control 
the salivatory functions, and then I end up with a pack of uncontrollably 
drooling monkey-faces) and it sucks out and adds together the juices of 
creation just like gettin' a jug of milk from Miss Bessie's tired udders.
But don't count on it too soon.  May be a few dozen years 'till it reaches 
perfection.  So far, the brain waves of different individuals have been 
quarreling with each other incessantly and haven't been able to produce one 
darned thing.  They spend all their time barking at each other like a pack of 
territorial dingos in a cage together, and they don't produce anything!!!  
But the keyword is YET.  I will succeed, with the Ghost of Frankenstein as my 
Well, enough about my failures.  I hope to see some of your successes very 
soon.  Literary successes are what I had in mind, although performing as a 
showgirl/boy with Wayne Newton is certainly nothing to stick your nose up at, 
and could be considered quite a big success, depending on how you want to 
look at it, or taste it, whichever sensory experience you prefer.
Viva Las Cualmoguerros!!!  Long Live King Arthur!!!
Expectantly and Awfully Sincerely,
    Ol' Bixenta "the Banshee" Moonchild

[danke schoen! the stage show in vegas got cancelled, unfortunately, due to horrible reviews of our extravaganza entitled "wayne newton duels william shakespeare and ben jonson (not the runner) in a song and dance decathlon on the banks of fascist italy, 1943." so we've returned to texas, reopened the offices, and are now once again publishing. and, believe you me, playing ben jonson and having to sing 'jesus christ superstar' as subtle the alchemist is a lot harder than it might sound. e-zines are a piece of cake now. well, only yellow cake with chocolate icing. that's what i like, anyway. of course, people think i'm picky about food since i don't like cookies, but what do they know? ask wayne newton. he has horses. does he eat them? no. he rides them. and people call me strange. riding horses. bah. next thing he'll be trying to resurrect the corpse of don ho so he can cover 'tiny bubbles.' wayne newton is a freak. i should know. i've danced with him, and he never closes his eyes.]



Kilgore Trout

Crux Ansata
Duane Locke
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Kilgore Trout
Simone Magus

Aureliano Buendia
Ken Birge
Bixenta Moonchild
John Souza
Matt Robertson
Terra Parker

Oxyde de Carbone

Curve, "Chinese Burn" single
Drugstore, White Magic for Lovers
Futura, Spontaneous Compositions 2: Live at Fringeware
Macha, See It Another Way
Meg Lee Chin, Piece and Love


[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

by Clockwork

I have dreams of smoking. Occasionally. Not recurring at all, no repetitive dilemmas involving past habits -- not like the winding clay pebbled walkway to the grocery store of another dimension, not like horizontal stripes, strange wooded suburban areas located in a Maine-like region, because I've never been to Maine and could not say it was Maine, or for that matter even Maine-like and am not completely sure why I describe it as such. Different situations. One in which I'm aware I have a cigarette once every few days and this does not cause any problems, no guilt, no bother, no cough, already in a smoky place, only natural to smoke in a smoky place, and to drink this to the tune of smoking, with you other smokers, leaving immediately after. One in which I break down after a long-stayed distance from doing such -- smoking not breaking down -- having one and flipping into insurmountable guilt and filth afterwards, self-loathing, stench of failure, I don't know if any of these were first person or third or non-persona. One in which there is only a small puff, drag (I don't really know how one could not sound scathingly hip and sweet and cool when saying the word 'drag' when used in the slang sense related to smoking as used prior to this interjection), suctiony sucking taken, followed by a cough, followed by disgusting mouth shapes, followed by purging commentary -- no wonder I quit, thankfully I quit, what was I thinking, what am I doing, what will they think of me now, they're all going to laugh at me, I'm shorter than them, I do it to myself, what will be remembered, there's no reason for this, why, why.

I do not know what it means. I will not say it means nothing or anything, with nothing meaning nothing, and everything meaning something or nothing, depending on whether the coin is double-sided or not. I'm surrounded by friends, people, others who smoke, sit in places clouded with smoke, smell of smoke, walk by people coming into a sealed building smelling of stale, embedded smoke, speak to those people raised to smoke. The conclusion is simple: I should not dwell on the topic. I am not sixteen, and this should not fascinate me. But to say this -- am I now the snubbing 20-something who says things like "I am not sixteen," and am I not quickly becoming the 20-something who identifies the pain and misunderstanding of a sixteen-year-old, quickly to be mistaken as the other 20-something who may still spend hours at their high school, knowing another 20-something who spends those hours remembering high school, discussing high school with other 20-somethings as they sit six blocks away from their high school.

This is not smoking that is being discussed -- discussion of course defined as a conversation with one's self, disguised as a conversation between one's self and an unknown reader, further disguised as a personal confession privately revealed to the reader known and understood by the author -- this is a poorly disguised discussion of the psyche, my psyche, if I can boldly stake possession, implying the psyche that is deemed as mine is in fact unique, or ownership can be proven by some characteristic signifying such. I own the title to my psyche. The results of such uniqueness perhaps being the nullification of archetypes, my own psyche single-handedly denouncing Jungian concepts. And this surely could not be correct or accurate, taken the end result of a coup of Jung.

I have no craving, no desire for cigarettes. This is reassuring. Nor have I gained the weight that quitters fear gaining -- because quitters never win. I suddenly feel like the overportrayed private investigator, wearing the brown trench coat and hat, walking down a dark, swirling alley to my office with the translucent glass door, and alcohol in the top drawer of the filing cabinet, talking in that voice as unpaid bills pile up. I don't think those people exist. This decision made because I am not those people. It is a bit sad feeling like a stereotyped private investigator. They are never in open areas, always in enclosed, dusty, dim rooms -- they can only see a few feet ahead of them, the rest lost in this permanent fog. Obviously an incredibly complex metaphor for the shallowness and murkiness of existence, overlooked by the common mystery lover, but often discussed behind closed symposium doors.

I do not know what it means. Me feeling like Sparky Malone or Dick Tracy or Franky Hollywood or Jupiter or the Hardy Boys or a horribly portrayed satire made by another set of brothers with a camera. I don't think the Hardy Boys were alcoholic private eyes, but I never read many of their tales. Never read one of their tales. Much more interested by the Three Investigators, who somehow attained the sponsoring of Alfred Hitchcock -- Alfred Hitchcock's Three Investigators. I have not a clue what that was about. What it means. There are several environmental factors bringing me to the feelings of becoming a private detective, most of which lie with the music in the background, or apparently the foreground if I am affected by it so much -- simple associations with the mood, tone, instrument, notes, bringing me to strange pictures in my mind of a man with a moustache who was once on the television. You can delve further, I guess, if you knew I had a desire to become a private investigator as a young boy, though this is perhaps common among young boys -- or perhaps not, I do not really know, have no studies to cite, no lengthy conversations with other boys my age showing one way or the other. Only that trend of interest into the unknown and mysterious and why and how and whatever locked secrets lay behind me, which are perhaps unlocked by now, though I can not say. I keep track of Mulder, and if you've read the articles that came in the years before this, you know the tale.


"If Sartre's right and the history of every person is the story of failure, then something's outta whack here."

--Le Roy la Paz, Robotech: The Sentinels, book 4, "World Killers"


[Prev | Next]

by Clockwork

Not that I have ill-thoughts towards the reader -- the multiple layered paragraph before of disguising conversations with one's self as personal confessions to an understood reader could be read as such, as anything could be read as such, and in my ever-expansive quest -- desire, I think, not quite a need, I do not feel it to be a need, but I'm biased and clouded and could well be incorrect -- for the world to love me, I could not let such a thing lie.

And I could go into that infinite looping discussion on why writers write, why a writer, my writer, would write, as has been written about before, lied about and evaded and confessed and belittled before. Of course I will not because of the aforementioned sentence, the sentence beginning with the 'could' instead of the 'will.' Every once in a while I realize I do not explain myself, explain situations, thoughts, environments, actions, why character 14 is saying the phrase 'Barnaby likes the ball.' There is often a lack of communication, ineffective communication, actually. A propensity to drive on and forward from word to word with no afterthoughts on the content, grammar, overlying concepts and imagery conveyed to one who might read this. This is quite sad. Sad that this occurs, sad that I do not realize this occurs, sad I do not have corrections to the occurrence.

If there should be corrections. I am quite sure many could walk up to me at the moment and outline the evolution of literature through the lands of literary criticism, bulking the world into postcolonial modern deconstructionist prestructural influential late romantics and aesthetics of the 20th century. And I am quite sure there are numerous professors and papers and graduate students dressed for academia that can tell me why there should be corrections, and why there should be corrections and why whatever I may see is eternally wrong and always counterable. There is no need for them to counter, though, as I will easily be intimidated by their opening sentence comprised of no words less than six syllables, and will plain and simply fall to the ground and curl into a ball.

One must know their audience, I guess, as was told sometime in elementary school, perhaps. Or afterwards. This is true, I guess, perhaps, could be true, but now we go back to the twirling reasons why writers write, if they write for an audience, or for themselves, or for money, recognition, fame, uprising, and that whole realm of things that I have already stated I will not enter. The logic, perhaps, is that I do not take into consideration who my audience is, perhaps do not believe there is an audience, an unknown audience, and therefore write for myself by default. Default to myself. Much in the same way if I were talking to myself, thinking aloud, and say 'Where are you going to go tonight? You going to the place?' I would know what 'the place' was. Whereas a strange limping man passing by would not. And if I wanted the strange limping man to know what 'the place' was, I would provide the actual name of the place, directions, street address, GPS coordinates, etc. However, it seems to be what I normally do is dance around the strange limping man, repeating the phrase 'the place,' as though he should know what 'the place' was, and if he didn't know, he just didn't know. I am sure this is another trait that can be categorized.

There is no woolen blanket answer as to how I, speaking alone, should write each and every time, how I should explain, how I should have a template of the threshold of non-explanation for any words put down that may in fact be read by anyone. Or, maybe there is and I do not realize it. I'd like to realize it. I do not see why anyone would not want to realize anything, really. Realization seems to be a positive thing, even if what is realized may not seem to be wonderful.


"Tis an old saying, the Devil lurks behind the cross. All is not gold that glitters. From the tail of the plough, Bamba was made King of Spain; and from his silks and riches was Rodrigo cast to be devoured by the snakes."

--Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote


[Prev | Next]

by Clockwork

Not that the description of a strange limping man was intended to be a metaphor for the reader -- though there could have been some subconscious brewing at work, unbeknownst to me, now supporting Jungian concepts as perhaps an attempt to make up for the shot at the failed debunking earlier -- or a parallel or directed insult towards the reader, as it was only imagery popping into my head as I thought of walking down the street on which 'the place' resides. There seems to be an extraordinary number of strange limping men there.


[=- POETRiE -=]
"In the East poets are sometimes thrown in prison -- a sort of compliment, since it suggests the author has done something at least as real as theft or rape or revolution. Here poets are allowed to publish anything at all -- a sort of punishment in effect, prison without walls, without echoes, without palpable existence -- shadow-realm of print, or of abstract thought -- world without risk or eros."
--Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.


[Prev | Next]

by Duane Locke


Girl without name,
You come out from the sea oats,
Walk towards me.
Your hands bleed.
You have torn off the stiff dark green clothes.

Girl, now naked,
Still unnamed, prepare to be named.
Prepare to be named, become a poem.

You were foam,
A shape of water.
The earth's voices
Created my voice
To speak a bubble of water
Into a girl.
I saw the water, I spoke.
When born, you were born with clothes,
Clothes woven by ancient wisdom,
You stood apart from me.
You at first refused
To tear off your clothes
To be naked so I could name you
And turn you into a poem.
You ran away, but you returned with bloody hands.
You tore off the deceptions that were your clothes.

You became translucent
To magnify each sand grain
And the light in the center of the sand grain,
The light the color of the crow's voice.


Now that you are naked,
I must name you.
When I name you,
You will turn into a poem.

Shall I name you after one of Mallarme's mysterious sensuous women?
Shall I call you the daughter of Douve,
Or name you after one of Dupin's naked girls?
Perhaps Andre Breton's Nadja?
If the girls in Paul Delvaux's painting had names,
I could name you after one of them.
Delvaux painted the end of the world,
I could name you "The End of the World."
Eluard wrote a poem for Delvaux.
Eluard called the poem, "Exile."
I will name you "Exile."
For you will be exiled, as I, the poet, will be exiled.
When you are named and turn into a poem,
You will be exiled
To be turned as pages in other hands,
Hands that can never love you as my hands have,
My hands that touched before you were born.


Now named,
Girl you become a poem.
As a poem, you must depart from me forever.
When separated
We will find consolation
That we once walked hand in hand,
Saw the ghost crab
From his rush across white sand
To the shoreline where he could gaze upon his former home.
The ghost crab is another poem and another exile.
The ghost crab paused before us to let you and I touch his mystic back.
You say you do not want consolation,
That as poem you want to defy destiny, remain with me forever.


Since I named you,
Turned you into poem,
Girl whom I created out of water
When the things of this world gave me the words,
It is the design of this world,
We must be separated,
But we have the consolation
Of the intense moments we spent together
On the shoreline of the gulf.
We walked together,
Your hip touching my hip.
We stopped by barnacled black wood,
Watched the greens and the blues of the water
Become gold and pale brown with the backs
Of hundreds and hundreds of stingrays
That greeted us as one of them.
You cry, you say you do not want consolations,
Of what creating a poem can give,
But you want to stay with me forever.
But, as a poem, you can't.


Girl created from water
To become a poem,
Girl, since a poem,
You must depart from me.
We have the consolation
That we both now hate
The clothes and the words
That delayed the consummation of our love,
The old voices and their evil.
We have the consolation
We overcame the language given us,
The language that stays apart from things,
The language that destroys life.
Now you say you do not want consolations, you
Want us to stay together forever.
If as poem, you must depart,
You want to leap back through my side,
Stay unborn in my body.
Your want the water you were created from
To stay as blood in body,
Flow through me forever.
I want the same thing, but it cannot be.
Destiny has willed otherwise.


"You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.... It is in changing that things find repose."

--Heraclitus, fragments, 21, 23


[Prev | Next]

by Crux Ansata

Just out of range of the camera flutters in the night breeze a simple dress, rapidly pulled on and off. It's almost a pity it shimmers so beautifully in the pale light of the full moon, as it rests just beyond the boundary of the photograph available to us. Perhaps he took a moment to appreciate it in his solitude; perhaps he even chose to allow this beauty to slip away in the breeze, only for he and she to share. For it is likely she saw it during one of the moments her languid eyes were open. Who knows what went through his mind as he framed the shot?

All we can see, looking at this snapshot later, living in frozen retrospect, is her body. We know it is her; she was his only model in all the pictures we've found with this one, and we've come to appreciate her body. So, even though her face is obscured by her flowing hair and a shadow -- dark as a moon can manage -- cast by the tombstone at her head, we are confident her face was the one atop her throat; her breasts; her legs, one slightly raised; her almost carelessly placed arms.

We can only wonder what color was the stone on which she lies -- this photo is black and white. We don't much care, however. Presumably, the grave is still there, and we could find it, read the inscription, know whose still body decayed beneath her, whose silent name she probably quietly murmured, resting above him or her. But even then we would probably wonder more how the graven letters felt against her naked back, or how the polished surface moistened at her warmth.

For a fleeting, insane moment, we consider blowing up the photo -- again! again! -- to search for condensation.

How long did she lay there? What does she think? We hope she, too, thought of graven letters on her back, slowly blowing hair, the way the chill night air made taut her flesh. Then, for then we could cease to be spectators, voyeurs, and instead share the moment with her.

We would almost have preferred the damage of the image, had he written something on the back. A date, an anchor in time, since we can guess the where and the who. But then, we can reasonably guess the when, too. She was in and out of his life like a flash, like a glance from her, waiting, exposed to him, his camera, and their moon. Perhaps he could have left us with a note of his impressions. But that would not be like him; he no doubt knew how valuable we would find such a participation in their erotic dialectic, and did not so much deny us the experience as jealously guard it to himself, living it totally, using it up, and forcing -- allowing -- us to do the same.


[=- FiCTiON -=]


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by Simone Magus

I didn't bother to turn on the lights. Someone had opened the curtains earlier, and dim sodium light from four floors down softly outlined the room.

My eyes stung. I hadn't slept during the trip, or much the night before.

I showered in complete darkness, rinsing off the makeup and sweat, rubbing the strap marks on my ankles. There was no hot water, but the soft, white hotel towels made up for that.

Back in the room, I laid the room key on the dresser. My shadowy reflection stood naked in the mirror for a moment. The fabric of my nightgown crumpled silently as I slid it over my head. It swirled blackly around my head and down to my knees. I danced a few half-remembered ballet steps, and fell onto the bed.

Someone opened the door. I tucked myself under the heavy bedspread. The light came on in the bathroom. My hair was still damp.


"Oh, hey. What'cha doing in here, S.?"

"I got tired. Are they all still up?"

"Yep. Good thing that the rounds don't start early tomorrow." I could hear him splashing in the sink. Sitting half up in the bed, I watched his shadow. The light went out.

A moment later, J. dropped onto the bed beside me, in a t-shirt and drawstring pants. His blonde hair glimmered a little in the half light. I could smell him so close, soap and cigarettes and the bare cinnamon scent of his skin.

"Why are you sitting in the dark?"

"Trying to sleep?"

"Right. What are you brooding about S.?"

"Just that E. will freak when she realizes that you duct taped her makeup case shut."

J. just laughed. "What are you doing in here?"

"Well, I picked a key from the stack and this is the room it opened. Half the cast is in E.'s room, and I didn't want to sleep in there."

He leaned on his elbows and I could almost hear him finish that sentence: "...Even if she wants me to..."

I felt him watching me, with his blue eyes. In the darkness I blushed, suddenly desperately conscious of the fragility of my nightgown. My hands trembled a little. I hoped he could not see.

"Are you nervous about tomorrow?" J. sat up crosslegged in the middle of the bed.

"No. I don't know," I sighed. I rocked back and forth a little. "Are you?"

He snorted at me. "I'm more worried about E. doing something dumb. Why did that evil little diva get cast as the lead?" he sighed.

"Don't even start on that again. Anyways, I think it's funny." I threw one of the pillows at him.

"Yeah, it's funny cause you're not stuck with her." J. caught the pillow in midair and flung it back at me.

I swung the pillow at him. Laughing, we scuffled on the bed, trying to beat each other with the pillows and blankets. I forgot that I was just wearing my nightgown, and it tangled up in my thighs.

As I stretched out my arm, J. deftly grabbed my wrist. He twisted my arm tightly behind my back. I tried to kick out, but he moved behind me, pulling my arm up higher until I gasped. We sat like that for a moment, panting in the dark.

"Do you always sleep like that, S.?"

I froze. "Like what?" My lips were dry.

"It looks nice." I could feel his breath behind my ear.

He fingered the strap of my nightgown, pulling it down. I shivered when he pressed his lips to my shoulder.

I kept seeing the afternoon sky painted inside my eyelids. Brilliant blue with grey white clouding casting enormous shadows across the road.

His hands moved over my chest, slid down onto my legs.

We had laughed and thrown jelly beans across the aisle earlier.

My nightgown crumpled onto the floor. I lay back against the pillows. He watched me silently.

I was so sure it would never be anything like this.

He cupped my breasts, and they looked small in his hands. I breathed in and arched my back when he kneaded them, rubbing my nipples between his fingers.

It takes six hours to drive from here to there.

He smiled at me, as he moved his lips from my mouth to my cheek and down onto my throat. His teeth grazed over my skin.

D. brought a stereo and we argued over the music the entire trip. Someone always hated it.

Every time he touched me, I bit back a cry. It was more than I was ready for. I tangled my fingers in his hair, scraped them down his back, gripped his arms somewhere between desire and fear.

I felt the razor nicks behind my knees, as he spread my legs. My thighs trembled, and he smiled again. But it was dark and hard to tell.

J. licked my breasts, moving his tongue over my nipple in widening circles. My breath came faster.

I wonder what's in the name.

His mouth drifted lower. He stroked my legs, up almost inside my thighs. I shivered when he pressed his lips to my sex. I cried out. His tongue slipped between my lips, and inside me.

I remembered running through the windy afternoon.

My eyes were closed now. I could see the sky inside, and feel his teeth and tongue pressed into me. My entire body trembled now.

J. knelt between my legs. He looked at me, flushed and shaking underneath him. He took off his pants.

The clouds covered the roads, shadow patterns over the ground. We stopped at a station to buy sodas, and J. had slung me screaming over his shoulder. E. glared at my laughter, the wind blowing her pale hair across her eyes.

He laid against me, warm and still the same boy I watched earlier. His cheek pressed next to mine. He breathed raggedly in my ear again.

I think I was falling.

His hand covered my mouth. I moaned again louder as he pushed into me.

Deep inside my body, I felt him moving. Faster and faster he moved, rocking his body with mine. My arms wrapped around his shoulders.

I think I was crying.

With a muffled cry, he came inside me. The light turned inside out when I came. I wrapped my body around his, shaking and whimpering his name.

I do not know what I was thinking.

J. laid beside me. I laid my head down. His arm was around my waist.

"Are you alright?"

"Mmhmm." I pressed my face into his shoulder. He kissed the top of my head. I was falling asleep. Almost unconscious, I watched the clouds fade.

"Don't worry about tomorrow S.," he whispered into my hair.


"It sounds good if you say it fast."

--J. Alton Templin on the Chalcedonian Formula, which describes
the nature of Christ as being both 'fully God and fully man.'


[Prev | Next]

by August's "I Wish My Name Were Nathan"

Everybody said the dance would end. I didn't believe everybody when they said the dance would end; what was the meaning of such a thing? I gathered Kiva closer to my chest and begged her to explain. She said,

"The dance will end, in its due time."

I listened to the music, I followed the melody and rhythm, and struggled to understand what possible message it might be carrying to so convince the rest of the people that the dance would end. The notes were silent. I gnashed my teeth.

Kiva held me indifferently as we bobbed and swayed around the room. Bright lights were flashing hypnotically above. The drumbeat railed on. What end of this?

A shocking interruption. The music ended, plugs pulled. The overhead lights came on and drowned out the shadows. Police knocked down the door and flooded in.

I walk outside, dazed. Misty drizzle, puddles, orange streetlight reflections. Splash. I never dreamed.

Kiva brushes by me, I grab her and plead, "Let's keep on, for another song, please." She grimaces and pushes away from me,

"It's over. It's just... that's it, just, stop."

We're squashed together in the back seat with three of Jen's real friends, bumming a ride, wasting time. A lot of chatter, back and forth and over our heads. It swims over me and through me: I grimace in defense.

Kiva frowns to herself, turned away. I gaze into the transparent reflection of the back window and form unanswerable questions to myself, rubbing shapes into the condensation.

I am dropped off. I step slowly backwards from the car, asking Kiva why, with my expression of anguish. She stares steelily forward, appearing to propel herself forward, driving off, out of my life forever.


"The fundamentally romantic idea that the rock or the stone lives alone, while man lives in a collective, in close union with his equals, is not only wrong, but in its very essence quite the opposite of the truth. The rock lives in the close unison of its molecules. It is a kind of invisible unity of billions upon billions of parts that make up one whole. But the farther we go from the stone and the closer we get to man, the more clearly the necessary and immutable differentiation appears. How surprisingly alive are false ideas! They even have their own evolution. At first they are highfalutin "truths," then humdrum "laws," and finally superstitions. The concept of immortality belongs, too, to the class of superstitions. Who needs immortality? Who, having lost the ability to change himself, wants to prevent others from changing? Indeed, what is immortality? We are told that that which does not die is immortal. But precisely what in nature does not die? Only that which multiplies by dividing. The amoeba is immortal because it is halved when it multiplies, and thus, in a manner of speaking, it lives eternally. But we, who multiply through sex, die and cannot be immortal, because we do not divide."

--Nina Berberova


[Prev | Next]

by MadS

"Clutch, shift, gas," Jacob mumbled. "Clutch, shift, gas. Clutch, shift, gas."

The series always seemed to slip his mind.

His mind searched for a mnemonic. Coney iSland Gopher. Conjugal Sex Gauntlet. Confusing Sequential Gesture. Forget it. He sighed.

An intersection approached. The red eye of the stoplight stared down at him. He blinked back with the red eye of the Camel at his lips. The stoplight, intimidated by the inhalation of nicotine, reconsidered and turned green.

"Clutch, shift, gas."

It was nighttime, around February. The roads oozed a potpourri of sand, slush, salt and ice. Jacob hit a patch of ice, swore, and barely missed a blood pink-shit brown Toyota Corolla. Formalities were exchanged.

"Clutch, shift, gas."

Jacob soon reached his destination. He pulled into the parking lot, found a spot, and shifted the transmission into park. His car was an automatic.

"Clutch, shift, gas."

Jacob took a look at his destination. Destitute. Dank. But still a bar. It would do. A single window was filled with postings of bands without bassists, guitarists without bands, pianists looking to sell their pianos, revolutionaries looking for an angry mob, jalopies for sale, and assorted missing objects, including a trampoline. Along with these was a tarnished plaque hanging suicidally from its one remaining screw. The swinging nameplate proclaimed the building to be "Eddie Haskell's Pub Est. 1943." According to etched letters on the nameplate, you could call Carol for a good time at 739-5683, although Jacob doubted the sincerity of the offer. A couple drops of water hit Jacob's head. The gutter atop the building was badly broken. Most of the water landed on a hobo sitting against the wall of the building. The man seemed generally at peace; he smiled widely. Then his face contorted in unprecedented fury and he yelled, "Tomatoes of the World Unite!" Jacob dropped a coin in the man's cup and nodded as he went in. The bum grinned and shouted, "The Burgundy Chesterfield floats down Penny Lane!" The derelict's name was Sam. He was insane, yet harmless.

Jacob was nearly floored by a wall of smoke. His eyes watered, and he found that it didn't matter whether he was smoking or not. He stubbed out his cigarette and took in his surroundings. Patrons milled about, playing darts, shooting pool, chewing the fat. The bartender nodded towards Jacob. Jacob returned the gesture, and ordered a drink.

"Clutch, shift, gas."

Near the back of the bar Jacob saw the friend he was meeting here. Doctor Mongoose Huntingrouse, a distinguished looking man, waved Jacob over. As Jacob neared, he noticed that the Doctor had chosen to wear a brown suit coat instead of his white lab coat that he usually wore. A very nervous man was very animatedly talking to the Doctor as Jacob approached.

"So, um, it was on TV, right? And this guy, this, doctor or whatever, was saying that if you just couple something that causes a reaction, like... like"

"A steak."

The Doctor looked suitably bored.

"Right, a steak. And you just couple the steak, the steak which makes you hungry, you put together the steak with, with this thing that has absolutely no context, no meaning whatsoever, a total bullshit non-sequiter, like..."

"A bell."

"Yeah, a bell. So this, this doctor or whatever...It was on late, so I don't know if he was a doctor or what. But this guy, this quack said that, over time, I mean, it don't happen overnight right?"

Mongoose looked up to see the man staring at him. He smiled as he shot a look at Jacob. "No, it certainly does not."

"Yeah, well, over time, the non-sequiter, the context-less object, the bell, or whatever, actually replaces the meaning the first object, the steak, had. I mean, you would actually get, y'know, hungry at, at the sound of the bell."

"Right. That's classical conditioning."

"And that explains why ya feel hungry around dinnertime, even if ya weren't five minutes before, and why ya automatically feel tired when the lights turn off, and how phobias form, and all sorts of stuff! So, that's really true, Doc? There's actually some credence there?"

Mongoose nodded.

"Wow, that's freaky... Think of all the stuff we do that's just 'cause of repetition. How many habits we form... it's mind blowing."

The Doctor turned to Jacob, "Jacob, may I introduce you to Mr. Albert Dubinsky, a man I met earlier today. Mr. Dubinsky is an artist."

Albert smiled uneasily as Jacob shook his hand, "It's not much, really. I jus' look a'that blank canvas and jes' need t'cover it up. Keeps me sane."

Jacob just smiled back. He went to touch his mug to his lips, and Albert froze. Catching on, Jacob quickly drank, devouring the white head of his beer. Albert seemed to relax again.

"Clutch, shift, gas."

"Well," Mongoose said, "No need for us to lay about like a bunch of up-ended turtles. How about a game? Cards, perhaps? Albert, do you have a preference?"

"Well, I'm not much fer games, I guess. Cards, especially. I dunno, jus' something about the design a'them. Y'know, with the design in the middle like that? Always so centered. So much space around 'em. Kinda freaks me out, y'know? So stark, so... so empty, so, so..."

Jacob couldn't resist. "White?" Eyebrows raised.

Mongoose shot Jacob an accusatory look.

Albert stiffened. "Yeah," he let out.

There was silence around the table for awhile. Albert absentmindedly played with a matchstick. Mongoose whistled a tune then fell silent. Jacob drummed the table.

Albert sneezed.

"Clutch, shift, gas."


"Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra. Suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come."

--Matt Groening, Love is Hell


[Prev | Next]

by September's "I Wish My Name Were Nathan"

-= preface =-

I'm sitting, writing at my computer, several conflicting ideas rolling about in my mind, bumping into each other like bowling balls in the back seat. Slow, hulking, massive, irreducible.

Sexuality permeates many of these ideas, a personal sexual catalogue, my own mythology, played out entirely in the mind. Like great bowling balls, in the back seat, merely stored there, never used, but persistent, omni-present, bumping into each other with low pitched massiveness and high pitched overtones at every turn and sudden stop.

I wonder what kind of mythological creature I am. Or am I a mythical creature, biographed in the legends of my fantasy, passed down through the ages by projection onto the ghostlike forms of experience? It's always a good time to wonder which is more real, and how to apply the lessons from each to each other.

Perhaps I am Sisyphus, condemned to graduate from school with a hefty debt and be forced to pay it off through working. Driving to work a far distance, ending up in the high pressure land of software, playing out a recursive Sisyphusian myth on the job, crushed, driving back home, debts and cares slowly melting away. Gravity strikes at midnight, while it all starts to roll down on me again. Work, wince, repeat.

What if, once, while pushing his boulder steadily forward, upward, Sisyphus catches a glimpse of brightglowinglight from Artemis, stops, and laaaaughs....

-= enter =-

It's hot, humid, and suffocating outside tonight, but the air conditioning has been turned off so I won't be distracted. I've got both candles lit in front of me; they and the moon shining through the blue curtains provide the only light I see. The candles play with each other, bowing, dancing, twirling, and their light searches the carpet and the walls to peek behind and under the curtain. I wonder what they expect to find out there.

My meditation is not going as well as I had expected. I don't know why I bought these candles when I've never used candles before. I'd read about the exercise of peering into the flames in Demian and was amused by the campfire while I was stoned once with my sister in New Mexico, so I thought I could try this, but tonight it wasn't happening. I am only amused by pretending the candles are dancing, that they are somewhat human, that I could emphathize with them. I really need to get laid.

Banish these thoughts. Yeah, go away. I don't want you here. It's just me and the candles. Yes, your thoughts are me too, but go away. I want a little less me and a little more peace. If you don't mind.

I look at the dancing candles and start to breathe slower. The humidity seems to slow down the flames' eager dance, and they sway gently in deference to the irresistible beckoning of chaos. The flames, slow and weighty, draw me in. As my eyes train on their patterns, they become brighter and brighter, and (the afterimages will be haunting) suddenly the wax breaks and one of the wicks falls into the abyss of the fat candle. Pssssst!

"Shit," I mutter, more out of astonishment than annoyance. Damn cheap candles. They're hollow inside. Well, not that bad, really. I guess they needed to be burned in. I stand up, the light trance broken, and search for the box of matches. I return, sit down heavily with a sigh, and light the dashed candle again, blowing out its partner in spite. I wait again for something to happen.

This is the green candle. Deep forest green, making me fantasize about some ancient cultural artifact, like a bowl of leaves, with something burning in the center, some fiery existence, some kind of living fire, burning in the living leaves. An artifact, or an offering, or some concrete metaphor, what would it --

the flamefalls extinguished psssssst! moonlight onlyremaining howling

My hairs stand on end. For a moment I am trapped in a dark world where somethings are howling, screaming, the moonlight offering only subtle brushing comfort while I wait for my heartbeat to taper off.

As I sit in wonder the howling and crying resolves into a cacophony of tiny scampering dog sounds, an army of chihuahuas, fighting with each other, set off by some unknown event. I listen, briefly annoyed by the fact that someone would herd several small dogs like that, all together, and --

"Helllllp!" I hear, an older boy's voice.

And continued howling and screaming. Not of the boy, but of the dogs. I wonder what's going on. Things seem to be innocuous, really, but --

"Hellllp!" I hear again.

I am out of my trance. I stand bolt upright in the dark and scamper over to the door in the dark without finding my shoes. I pull open the door and thrust my head outside and look. There, across the parking lot, a fence, and an expanse of unmown grass, the boy's shadow is writhing in a depression in the ground. I rush down the stairs, wondering futilely if I can even make the fence. I haven't climbed in years. It's chain-link, standard stuff, but I have no shoes. I stamp across the asphalt, feet meeting oil slicks and fresh bubblegum, tearing free with the fortune of rapid flight. The fence looms nearer and I jump upward, beckoned forth by the nerve-wracking storm sounds of the whining dogs, and I climb and scale it.

With a few awkwardly-placed footfalls on the opposite site of the fence, I find myself on the other side. Immediately I feel foolish. The dog sounds are behind me. The boy is ahead, in a concrete drainage ditch. He stands with his head cocked to one side, a gangly, skinny, hair-mopped silhouette. After a moment of silence, he steps onto a skateboard and starts riding around the perimeter of the ditch, then cries, again, "Helllllp!"

Fucker! I cock my head and glare at him. We can't see each other too well; I don't know if he sees my expression, or if he's looking at all. I can imagine he's smirking at my ludicrous concern, his successful trick. I turn around and head back toward the fence.

"Wait, mister!" calls the boy. Mister?

I wait, still facing away, fuming, immovable, listening only to the grinding of his wheels as he comes to a stop. I listen for footsteps behind me. None. At least the dogs are calming down. The moon casts my shadow over the still, drooping grass, and I wait, and feel an itchy sweat forming. I wait, perplexed, interested, drawn, but still angry, confused, and selfish.

"Are you hurt?" I snap at him, head turned over my shoulder. "Is there anything real going on here?"

In the quiet, I can hear the stunned silence. Satisfied, I continue toward the fence -- dontturnaround dontlookback -- glance back, and freeze. He's no longer there. He's not standing there, at least. My dark-adjusting eyes scan the moonlit grasses and I see the edge of the ditch beyond the brush and pace toward it, a bit of trepidation, countered by an underlying guilt. Maybe he does need help. I come across the ditch and found he had fallen in a heap on the ground.

I bend down over him and see that he is clutching the skateboard over his shoulder and head, cowering. The subdued light fools my brain; the board seems to dwarf him, and then it seems to be absurdly large instead. I can't see his face behind it to decide which is right.

"Hellllp!" he cries, shaking me to the roots. I can't stand it any longer. I throw up my hands, twirl around, sway from side and side in indecision, bend down and almost grab the skateboard, decide against it, step back and look again; what is this, what's happening, -- dontthinkoutsidepandorasbox -- does no one else hear any of this? Is this re--

The dogs start screaming and howling again; I twist in agony to face the moon glaring down at me. Wrenching back, I see the boy pull the skateboard away from his face, blissful, grinning, eye magnets. I can't breathe. I stare helplessly. He is beautiful. God, I need to get laid.

The boy bursts out into a laugh -- everything changes, the same. The chihuahuas are background noise. The moon lights up his face and twinkles deep in his eyes. I smile. He can help. That was what he was saying.

"Hello, mister," he says. Mister? The word appalls me. I frown and step back. I'm not old and he's not young. He can't say that. It seems like a devilish mind game -- like yelling "help" in the moonlight.

"Is anything wrong?" I stammer. He's got all these pads on his elbows and knees. My eyes flit between them and his face.

"Yes, there is," he says. "Why don't you show me what's wrong, and see if I agree?"

My meditation is not going as well as I had expected. Not at all. First the candles, then this extended fantasy.... I am pissed, usually the self-conscious thought brings me out of it, but I was still out in the grass with the skater boy.

"Wake up," I murmur to myself. "Wake... up....!"

"That won't work," the boy says. "Try this."

He stands up and gets on his board with the utmost seriousness. I watch, transfixed. He shoves off his with foot and starts on a quasicircular path around the ditch. He goes slowly, the humidity bringing out sweat from all corners. He makes big, wide, loud circles, foot shoving, body manuevering for balance, swaying gently in deference to the irresistible beckoning of gravity. The patterns, slow and weighty, draw me in. As my eyes train on his patterns, he becomes brighter and brighter, and lights up the private arena we're in.

Deep forest green leaves of grass surrounding his empty stage, an ancient cultural artifact, like a bowl, with him burning in the center. Everything dissolves from view except for him. I cannot look away. It becomes clearer, brighter. I see it. I see it. I see him, delicate laughing frame caught in a huge invisible spiderweb, slowly rhythmically moving, gyrating his arms and hips and legs while waiting for God -- he's coming, he's coming. I clench my eyes shut slap my hands over my ears and scream: "Hellllp!"

Try this, try this, try this.

-= exit =-


"JACQUES. Why, 'tis good to be sad and say nothing.
ROSALIND. Why then, 'tis good to be a post."

--Shakespeare, As You Like It (iV.i.8-9)


[Prev | Next]

by Kilgore Trout

He lights another cigarette.

"You shouldn't smoke," she says, sitting uncomfortably on the bumper of the old Ford. "Those things are gonna kill you."

"Be honest," he says. "Tell me the first thing that popped into your head on that day when you saw me, before we actually met."

"I can still see you up in the tree, that large Shakespeare book lying open upside-down on your lap, and I was wondering what kind of lunatic would climb that high."

"Is that really what you think of me now?"

"You aren't going anywhere."

"I'm directionless?"

"You have no center."

"That's not true. I have you."

"The only thing you focus on is yourself."

"That's not true. I have you."

"You have no center."

"I'm directionless?"

"You aren't going anywhere."

"Is that really what you think of me now?"

"I can still see you up in the tree, that large Shakespeare book lying open upside-down on your lap, and I was wondering what kind of lunatic would climb that high."

"Be honest," he says. "Tell me the first thing that popped into your head on that day when you saw me, before we actually met."

"You shouldn't smoke," she says, sitting uncomfortably on the bumper of the old Ford. "Those things are gonna kill you."

He lights another cigarette.


"You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world."

--Octave Mirbeau, The Torture Garden


[Prev | Footer]

by October's "I Wish My Name Were Nathan"

"Why, Jamie, I've never had a woman refer to me in such a way before," I said, simultaneously realizing I'd never known a woman who took the male spelling as a badge of honor either.

She had called me a "paradigm shift killer." Over the following weeks I crafted an interpretation of this which could be summed up in an anecdote like this:

I had led Jamie around the park during the night where I knew of some comfortable benches for some wink wink nudge nudge, and although I was a bit nervous myself, the reckless danger of the journey was exciting her into a frenzy of expectation. She was gradually convincing herself that I was not merely the meek, sensitive, words-only kind of guy she had been gradually convincing herself I was doomed to remain until our breakup in two weeks. The novelty of the situation and of her emergent reevaluation of my worthiness as a boyfriend was --

From the shadows leapt a figure dressed in a heavy cloak who held a tiny salad fork in my face and demanded either my money or my life. I started bawling and blubbered that I couldn't part with my money and I hadn't written a will yet and I'd never been laid unless you count the confidential romantic adventure I had with the seductress on the other end of the TCP link to (at least I think it was a woman; she claimed that "Jeremy" was a perfectly ordinary female name in some parts).

You know how the rest of the story goes. Jamie covers her eyes and groans, I hold out my hands, pleading to her and the hoodlum for some empathy, and the hoodlum walks away, laughing sardonically, asking that we not disclose his location to the next lucky couple. Jamie replies, "Sure thing, buddy. By the way, he claims he has a dick."

I have to admit, in my ruthless and brash self-confidence, I didn't pick up on these subtle clues pointing to the demise of our relationship until a few days ago. I was tired from a full day of work, took the bus to Jamie's apartment, and crashed on her sofa, reading the latest Anne Rice novel and munching on a bar of soap. She put her hand to her eyes, groaned, turned off the power, and left me in the dark. My glow-in-the-dark watch came in handy for emergency lighting, and added a touch a spooky sexiness to the dirty bits. Half an hour later, a loud, angry, and persistent knocking woke me from the slumbering dreamland of vampires into the wrath of a neighbor, grabbing me by the neck and demanding to know why I called security complaining about his intolerably loud felching. I had no explanation, and all he got out of me was some blood from my nose (I'm dreadfully unaccustomed to heights) and shrieking promises to either evacuate his reality or be his dog bitch. I'm not sure how we stand currently; he hasn't responded to any of my e-mail.

Needless to say, Jamie found the story refreshing and amusing, and I was happy that we were in agreement again. I have a special ability to read women, and when she put her hand over her eyes and groaned, I was sure I'd heard that "click" of things being all right again. This "click" marked off another round in the series of relationship-building exchanges, where the bumpy parts in the human-human interface are smoothed out through a competitive, coordinated effort of "sharing and comparing." (The personal use of the aforementioned phrase is limited by copyright law and is not in the public domain.) Put more aptly, the relationship smooths out through multiple instances of conflict, as when tenderizing a salami by whacking it against a cutting board.

Alas, if I'd had the genetics to attain female intuition! It came as quite a shock to realize that Jamie was not warming to me as quickly as I'd imagined. I didn't mind giving back the key to her apartment and finding a motel -- "a man's gotta do..." -- nor did I mind avoiding contact with her in public and, "if you must go on with this", becoming her "secret friend." I am open to all the new expressive sexual games of the nineties. But when she demanded today that I cease and desist in pronouncing her name, in looking at her, and in maintaining the neural network supporting the illusion of a reciprocal romantic interchange between us, I had to step back and ask for a clearer explication of the problem domain.

"You're a fucking paradigm shift killer," she said. Among other things. I made a motion indicating in our shared and special way that it was time for her to make me some coffee so we could discuss this in a more relaxed manner, but she cut me short and insisted on keeping me out of her apartment with quick, swift kicks to the stomach and short, tingly zaps with a short-circuiting curling iron. I begged that we take at least one last journey to the pond in the park so I could criticize the duck's swimming patterns, and there was a flash of hope! She put her hand over her eyes and groaned, and I was ecstatic. Click! Whack that salami!

She slammed the door in my face, audibly locked many bolts and chains, and left me a puzzle to chew on: "I'm calling 911." What did this mean? I analyzed the tokens and formed the parse tree, and evaluated it in the context of several similar situations, and could only deduce that she was having a "love emergency," a moment of such flusteringly radiant affection that she and I would only be overwhelmed by further comingling. I was prepared to wait. I will sit on her porch for as long as it takes -- an hour even -- to demonstrate that I will not be swayed by reason. Women love that.


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