Guy Hundere
2004

Impasse

 

Robert Kotchen
2003

from Morning Pictures, 1

 

Robert Kotchen
2003

from Morning Pictures, 2

 

My mother and President Bill Clinton had been making out in the kitchen before the trailer and the zebra (aka: God-fearing, kidnapped zoo creature) went crashing through Hoyt Bartholemew’s living room wall. I’ll admit, it was as disgusting a thought as I’d ever conjured up — not even considering the fact that my mother’s a Republican — but disgusting or not it was true. And my repulsion at presidential tonsil hockey was minor compared to the “you’re going to die” vibe I had shooting up my spine like a bottle rocket.

Why was I standing in the back of a Jeep being driven at high speeds through previously well-manicured lawns? I’d been asking myself that question over and over for the past forty seconds. I know that might not sound like a long time to you, but until you find yourself doing donuts around the houses of your mother’s neighbors, keep your own perceptions of the nature of time to your own goddamn self. Need I say more?

Ah yes, the box of cereal. The infamous box of cereal. You remember that immortalized box of Wheaties with Bruce Jenner’s picture and endorsement on it? Well, this was an entirely different box of cereal. Not only because of the picture on the outside, but due also to the actual cereal product within. You see, Wheaties has no raisins. This cereal had raisins. Boy, did it.

My friend Roach worked at the packaging plant for Piggly Wiggly grocers. He hated his job, which primarily consisted of dealing with raisins. More specifically, making sure that the proper amount of raisins made it into each box of the generic, “knock-off” Raisin Bran cereal Piggly Wiggly produced for its stores. The cereal itself was awful, but a lot of kids ate it. The fact that it was $1.09 a box compared to $5.79 for the real deal probably made a difference. The parents who never ate it seemed to love the stuff.

So Roach fucked up. That’s about the bluntest way I know to put it. Is bluntest a word? Well, he was in the back room trying to conduct a meeting of the Doomsday Improv Troupe he’d founded with some co-workers when the raisin-regulating machine he supervised went haywire and created a box of cereal that contained a 95 to 5% ratio of raisins to bran. Roach was in the midst of trying to define a set of by-laws and membership requirements for the lackluster “spontaneous creative entity” he’d founded near the cigarette machine in the break room at the Piggly Wiggly packaging plant. This entity was one his co-workers hadn’t exactly agreed to join and one Roach was clearly not qualified to establish. Yet he’d decided to establish the troupe so that A) he could land a guest shot on a talk show if one of his co-workers ever became famous and B) he could land a guest shot on a talk show if Doomsday ever arrived. So it would be safe to say that Roach was distracted in general and generally distracted at the time this particular cereal box drifted by on the conveyor belt. By the time Roach returned to his post the box was already sealed and on a palette in the back of a semi tractor trailer truck headed for Omaha.

Fucking Omaha. Can you believe it?

Who would have thought that the President of the United States, one William Jefferson Clinton, would be having breakfast a few days later at the Omaha Hilton where, though they certainly pretend to serve the finest breakfast foods, they actually serve Piggly Wiggly brand “Bran ‘N Raisins” cereal flakes. A bowl was poured for the President and actually made it all the way to the poison tester (the Secret Service agent who pre-tastes all of the President’s food to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with) before the hideous raisin accident was noticed. Bosko Briggs, the Secret Service agent testing the President’s food that morning, ate a large spoonful of the raisins, thinking perhaps the President had a new penchant for raisins and milk for breakfast. “Maybe,” Bosko thought, “the President’s bowels have not been moving well lately. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop the President’s bowels from moving properly.” So he ate the raisins and milk.

Have you ever seen a man eat a spoonful of raisins and milk? Have you ever seen a man eat a spoonful of raisins? Or a spoonful of milk? I’d be willing to wager you haven’t. And I’d bet the farm you never saw Bosko Briggs eat a spoonful of the two combined. If you had you certainly wouldn’t have forgotten it, if you had lived to tell about it, that is. You see, Bosko Briggs had an extremely rare medical condition even he wasn’t aware of.

At some point during the days of the great and holy Roman Empire, a distant relative of Bosko Briggs had done a silly thing. Well, I call getting tanked at an orgy and accidentally nailing your first cousin a silly thing. To each his own. Regardless of the vernacular, bad shit went down. Some genes got crossed. I’m not sure about the specific DNA particulars, nor am I expert enough to relate said particulars to you in a way that we both might understand. Suffice it to say that the genes in question created a physical condition called Pariodophipolous. If you’re unlucky enough to fall into the .0000000000000113% of the population effected by this condition (who all happen to be genetic offspring of the Roman with poor judgment), eating a spoonful of raisins and milk would not be recommended. It’s precisely what made Bosko Briggs’ body explode like a pea soup piñata and sent the rest of the President’s protectors into a stage of high alert. Convinced there was a terrorist threat at hand, they moved the President into the safest, most random, Terrorist-free location they could locate in the space of four minutes. And that Kentucky Fried Chicken at the corner of Locksley and Ash Crack was where President Bill Clinton and my mother shared an order of biscuits they’d not soon forget.

Did I mention Roach and I had stolen a zebra?

 

I knew the trailer was going to come loose, it was just a matter of time. The trailer would come loose and send that poor, whinnying creature through someone’s living room. How else could this thing possibly turn out?

So we crashed through another chain link fence. The Bartholemew’s. God, how proud Hoyt Bartholemew had been twenty-five years ago when he finally saved up enough to erect the barrier that renewed the neighborhood’s interest in property lines, borders and “pedestrian flow control”. I couldn’t count the times in twenty-five years I’d scraped off some valuable skin hopping that fence to retrieve an ill-guided Frisbee or whiffle ball, and here we were crashing through it and shitting all over Hoyt Bartholemew’s personal brand of immigration control in one quick second.

The fence clunked off of the hood of the Jeep and whizzed over our heads, nearly decapitating Roach and me (Lucille, being shorter than the two of us, was not in any immediate danger). The trailer hitch groaned as Roach sent the zebra fishtailing around another corner and carving more deep ruts in Mr. Willis’ formerly prize-winning lawn. I did mention we were circling my mother’s house at high speed in a convertible Jeep pulling a trailer containing a stolen zebra, right? And that my mother and President Bill Clinton were inside the house scared out of their wits? And that this was happening partially because I’d thrown a box of cereal away? I know. It makes us look silly and pathetic. We’d have been proud to wear those adjectives on our sweaters just a year previous, but now it was too abstract to even think about (because I was barreling through manicured lawns at high speed at the mercy of a madman pulling a God-fearing, kidnapped zoo creature).

“For the love of Pete!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, quickly realizing I should’ve gotten straight to the point. “Slow d...”

The trailer hitch and the better part of the rear bumper broke free from the Jeep and, just as I’d predicted a few mental paragraphs previous, the trailer took on a new trajectory and was propelled through Hoyt Bartholemew’s living room wall — zebra and all. You see, as I’ve realized in all the time I’ve had to reflect on this incident, gravity is neither picky nor choosy (if you think that sounds redundant, trust that it isn’t and that that education will arrive in due time). Gravity simply follows a set of mathematical rules and sets the new parameters. Thus, gravity doesn’t care whether a water balloon explodes in one’s hands, or upon hitting the intended victim. Gravity just wants to set all of that water free as soon as the math adds up. And so the zebra and trailer crashed through Hoyt Bartholemew’s living room wall. Because the numbers were there.

[Author’s note: Though I’d like to describe the events that took place in Hoyt Bartholemew’s living room as the zebra and trailer crashed through the wall, I wasn’t there. I was still standing in the back of a Jeep holding on for dear life at the mercy of a madman who had, up until then, been pulling a God-fearing, kidnapped zoo creature in a trailer. Thus, I’d have to dig through court records or make a telephone call or write a letter to someone to find out, and I’m far too lazy to do that. So let’s assume he was in his underwear watching a really stupid television show when it happened, and that it made him crap himself. Ha ha... Back to reality.]

“For the love of Pete, we lost the ze...” I was knocked off my feet as one of the tires discovered a concrete storm drain and we bounced into Mr. Willis’ yard again. Roach laughed maniacally, his brown hair blowing beneath a yellow sweatband he’d looped across his forehead in an act of anti-fashion. Lucille gripped the frame of the windshield with one hand and raised a bottle of Everclear with the other. She’d never been one to fool around with alcohol. There was no scenic route to a good drunk. Pick two points on a map and connect the dots with a straight line. In Lucille’s atlas, the quickest way from the suburbs of Sobriety Hills to the big city skylines of Blottoville was an expressway called Everclear. And it was a good thing she didn’t smoke, because an open flame near this girl could’ve resulted in spontaneous human combustion.

I regained my footing and looked back to see Mr. Willis rummaging frantically through his garage. I assumed he was looking for a gun, which meant we had at least a few more minutes before all hell would inevitably break loose. This few minutes was attributed to the fact that Mr. Willis had Alzheimer’s disease, which meant the gun might not be in the garage — or that he might not own a gun at all. But someone in the neighborhood surely did. And if not, the local fuzz would be here soon enough.

God damn, how did we get here?
Well, I suppose I’ll tell you. Else I’d be a real sonofabitch, wouldn’t I?

Guess that makes me a real sonofabitch. Maybe next year.

 

Alamo & Costello
2001

from Scribble Drawings

 

Alamo & Costello
2001

January 15, 1994 1:15pm

Working in studio, it’s about 40˚ in here. Cold. The paint just wants to freeze. Hard.

Spoke with Ed today. He said he will have my grad letter in the mail this week.
Still much to do.

I had a nice dream last night about a beautiful woman who works at the East Bank Club.
She works at the front desk.

I need some courage.


William Sidney Parker
2000

So what if I’m this tree walking down the street. See, that’s the problem. I’m not a tree so how could I be walking down the street? Or, to put it another way, I’m walking down the street so how could I be a tree? So, I could not be a tree or I could not be me or I could not be walking down the street. Or, I could be me but be mistaken about walking down the street—or about being a tree.

Of course, there could be traffic. So, to simplify matters, let’s just say that I’m walking down the sidewalk.

Change all the words “street” to “sidewalk.”

God, it’s a beautiful night.

I don’t think I’m a tree. But they sure are pretty out there.

See, that’s the problem: I’m not walking down the street.


Sara Morrow
2000

The sadness of the violins
sass of a French horn
rolls of timpani that can no longer be ignored
crashing drama of the cymbals
symbols, the breath spoken through woodwinds
a journey begins from memory

tempted to fling myself about the hard wood floors
be the ballerina I was at seven
the one my mother shrined in black and white
photos that still make me wonder
what place it was I forgot
to dance like that. The place
Where remnants surface within my body
the girl who still likes to play dress up and point her toes
twirl for endless moments, collapse in bliss
echoes of voices --
Every little girl remembers her recital!--
why can’t I
know this because I feel it inside
and I miss pink leotards
tights that were always too long
or short on a girl with overgrown legs
in-between costume sizes and flat feet
graceful, skinny limbs lacking a definition yet to come
moving back and forth, defining
still today.

And you
a priest and a composer
your arms moving wildly about as I follow along
I hold on to the bar
stretch arms and legs as far as they will reach
look into mirrors, they surround
she looks back, the princess
with wild blue feathers and sequins catching light

a ballerina doesn’t cry
she moves through sounds of another
and out of sight lines, creates for you
a fantasy, a movement, a place to call I remember when
they make sounds with hands
express adoration from a comfortable seat…

imagination that has, or once had
those hands that are strong and steady
not old, like mine.

She spins fast and alone, a race
between body and mind there is again you
setting the speed of the music
a race between woman and child
the process as fascinating as it is tragic and
beautiful, life new and old alike
Today she follows my every move
in reflection, she always has
applauds my lanky presence
the swell of resting soul that rises with newfound grace.

I miss her and she is strangely enough
always inside me. And I hear her--
Ok, you’re a tree--
and I stretch arms and legs as far as they will reach.
Salute the days to come
when the sights and sounds and dreams combine
so vivid, so powerful
when emancipated ladies dance and men hold them close
catch them from midair with strong and softened hands
and the great conductor again waves his arms about
bringing yet even more light.

 

ashley davy donayre
2000

Last night on the pillows I turned to a swirl of pale
yellow and sunk deep into a soft light where you
and I together willingly submitted to the darkening cobalt
and purple asphalt of Norman Place full of you a milky hum

above the crickets and muffled televisions and I told you
with a twist of my chin that I had had cocktails with Pegasus
and you were not impressed but amused my forehead up
between your palms smooth and steady you kissed it and

I said why didn't we come here sooner? Together we picked
up all those words we said three years ago, wrapped them in
a black plastic bag on the street for someone else to find and
I told you I dreamed of being a green moon, you told me you

dreamed of being a catfish twisting up and out in a mossy flush
and each moment felt so loud and bright between us
that nothing, not even the rising August sun, could outshine
the wet light we had recovered and now carried with such

earnest and you said why did we ever leave? I've discovered
that breath is more forgiving than voices that question
who you are now floating in and out of an evening and
what were you then a peach maybe or fleshy pear I fed off

of for three dry years and what words connected and what
words wandered to the wayside lost without my knowing to
know them, hold them close, for this unexpected now a tactile
invention that swells at night that I share not with you but

with myself or are you there now pulsating with me
in a rhythm only this dreaming can decipher.
There is a force in the universe that tempers vibrancy,
but there are things a body refuses to forget no matter

how memory encourages it again as another night
on the pillows my head twists in all directions to find us
together on Norman Place or anyplace but each morning
comes in with the calico's strides across the comforter

through the buzzing and colors shift to the take-out glued
thick and amber to the carpeting with yesterday's nylons
and paper cups and scattered change and you, who are
always never here beside me, tell me, what washes us all away?

 

Doug Sadler
2000

Just the other day in that moment when night finally wins over day I was driving a new old truck (which I’ve christened Green Bear in honor of Lab Bears I’ve known). In that moment I was driving toward a sliver of moon, and the light had all fled save for a touch on a low, long, flat cloud bank easing across the sky at an angle, about 30 degrees off the horizon, and this cloud bank was that deep gone gray and the sky held just on the blue side of black and that for just a moment more. And (feel the need to work for a few periods in here), headlights bouncing over single lane patch and washboard pavement (farmland on both sides), I got that alive aware breath which the Lab has helped me give a home to. And I flashed over moments of dark and peace and moonlight and people. And things opened outward the way they will when given their rein, opened outward from there, mind and awareness broadening until I thought I might see a deer and wonder who knew more.

But you grasp hold of something and watch it slip away, and there it went. You breathe, you meditate, you drink, you smoke, you love on somebody (on instead of with – see there!) and it all comes and goes. And you forget to bless everything from breasts to fountain pens and the blinders strap back on and you find yourself putting stamps on bills with too-fierce focus. But now once a year (and much more often than that as you age some) you get brought home. And in spite of schedules, and letters and who’s mailing what to whom (and here I pause to apologize for my (and Dan’s) distinct lapse this year), in spite of all this you collect once a year in some fashion with a band of woodsprites on the lamb. And (the last, I promise) so thanks to you all for being there, holding that tattered banner of Eliot’s up, for all the conversations and the candlelight and food and moonlight and fire, and for, every so often, popping up to bring me back home.

 

Guy Hundere
1999

Angry Buddha

 

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