i am nineteen we are eating peaches timothy, an expert in such things, suggests
a walk that will lead us to ourselves as we really are we are reluctant too young
for belief too young to know we don’t believe so we give him this acceptance his elation
he says it will be beautiful and we will learn something
when he takes us to a hill bare but for moonlight and for us we are laid on our
backs watching the sky watching us sucking juice from our fingers before he says to stop
and listen already it is this sky he says will send visitors to translate that watching
in ways as we can picture clearly to me it sounds a bit like bullshit when
he uses the word spirit animal
because no one believes in animals anymore and besides
it doesn’t work right instead i become i am i am a cloud of flies i wear many oil opal
wings see through a million eyes smell our bodies the human bodies hands peach
and dirt under our fingernails shit on our shoes dark moulderings, the day’s sweat drying
sugar salt onto our skins sick and delicious
and damn if timothy doesn’t already know it
note: The title’s a work in progress. I’m open to suggestions for better ones.
In the last few pages of Allan Moore’s Watchmen
the Smartest Man asks a question of the Smartest Thing
That Was Once A Man: I did the right thing, didn’t I? It
all worked out in the end. As if the Smartest Thing
would know, although of course he doesn’t.
No thing, man or other, can know an end unless
he’s been there. Going to find it, that
is a permanent thing, and permanent things
are scary in the way that perfection is scary,
in the way that Lex Luthor fears Superman as the man
no man can be. Or the way that we are
supposed to fear God, or anyone willing to kill three
million New Yorkers because when you think about it,
three million is a very
Most of us will never know three million people.
There simply isn’t enough time in
a single human life to get there.
You’d have to be superhuman
to even try. And even then
it takes an effort
to care about something so large and so different from yourself
as another person, a squirming and endlessly
biological effort, twisting outward what small
tentacles we have into the world on the off-chance
that someone is willing to grab one and hold
on, until the oncoming wave of change
forces us to face the fact that
even without our permission,
nothing ends, Adrien,
nothing ever ends.
it is only at two or three in the morning
that I can tune into a burst of static
on a random television channel
and through it hear
what space is like
small enough to fit into a tube of pills
large enough to split a skull
shut tight since infancy
of an entire universe staggering beautiful,
becoming the only thing that can fit
inside this reason I am awake
and watching television
in the first place
all the love I bear for my mother
all the hate it is possible to feel
for a tube of pills
that make it
impossible to sleep until I know that
And I have spoken in quiet voices
to the small witchling assurance
that two or three in the morning is only
that it is in fact already over,
that time is not really time
but a small white burst of something
that we will both get over
given our endurance
and all right-dreaming.
i am writing this poem drunk
so that i can understand the
geometry of fishes that swim into
the mouths of sharks their home
a forest of killer edges
and leftover brothers once and former
life that they swallow
and i swallow
and we follow
weaving lines of red and
My face is getting redder from
the irish blood i guess
although i don’t know much
about Ireland except that everyone
seems to be from there
even my black
not to mention anyone
who wants to write
poetry drunk and have
an answer for everything
why are we all so angry
about not being special
and why a fish alone is chum
and why when i knock over the bottle
i feel like describing the puddle
as blood on
hardwood but it’s not
because i’m drinking white wine
which isn’t white but yellowgreen
like bad water
that would cause any fish
that breathes to rot
and never swim in straight
although that won’t matter because god
aren’t those teeth just
Yes, I’ve been sporadic. Yes, it’s because I’m busy (Writing a grant proposal and an application into the Master Writing classes at the same time, as well as studying for both Biostats, Microbiology and of all things SPANISH). This is no excuse. I apologize. There will be more updates, if only once or twice a week.
Now, to the subject of those upcoming posts…This is primarily a writing blog, as people by now may have noticed. As such, more and more posts are going to focus on writing-posting old and new projects, starting new segments, maybe even posting some tips and prompts that I’ve found useful.
SO! We’re gonna break things up a bit into some sections, and debuting tonight are two new ones that are gonna come up a lot! The names are corny, yes, but they work for now, and help explain things and make the tags a little more consistent.
1. Stuff From the Notebox: This section’s going to be fairly temporary in its current incarnation: A couple of times a week, I’m going to post an old piece that I’ve been keeping in my notes. Some of them, people have seen since I tended to use Facebook Notes as a catch-all a few years back; others, will be items from my own notebooks, whether it be a nice line, an observation, some sketches, even an old poem or draft idea. It’s a good way to transfer all my work into one place, and (for those who are interested) get a peek at some of my process. Once in a while, there will even be works in here people haven’t seen!
2. Prompt Night: Earlier tonight my friend Sarah and I were discussing how hard it is to get going when the inspiration doesn’t strike, and I mentioned how a lot of my best work has come as a result of prompts either from other people or classes or other books. So, in order to keep us both sharp, we’re going to start a weekly project where we give each other writing prompts to work on! I’ll post the results, both hers and mine, for you guys to read, pick apart, whatever. It should be good fun, and if anyone else is interested, feel free to follow the prompts yourselves. They’ll be posted too!
Westboro Baptist Church Rep Margie J Phelps tweets that they will be picketing the funeral of Steve Jobs.
Tweets from her iPhone.
Gab: The irony. It is delicious.
SO DELICIOUS. Mr. Jobs, you will be missed.
And Khepi, head of the Anwyn from Gillittie forest (it’s a thing from my comic).
IF I HAD A MAGIC GRANDMA SHE WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS. TOM, WHY DID YOU NOT SHOW US HER IN THE ACTUAL COMIC SHE IS WONDERFUL AND THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF HER.
You gotta know why you’re doing it. When it becomes just another rule you feel like you have to follow because that’s what everybody’s been telling you - well, then, that can be easily uprooted.
But when you understand everything about that choice. Why God calls us to it and why it’s important to…
Point 1: PLEASE CLICK SEE FULL POST FOR THE GOOD BIT.
Point 2: Yes, I’m back. Yes, I have not posted all summer. Yes, for those who care, I have my reasons, and stories. I will get to those soon. However, this tumblr seems to be evolving mainly into a place for me to store and present my creative work, so it probably won’t be too long.
Point 3: This is the first horror story that I’ve found myself actually able to complete to some level of satisfaction. It is far from a finished work, but I am pleased with it so far, and would appreciate feedback. It’s the expansion of a recent experience of mine that spiraled into some really disturbing territory involving the influence of a mother/child relationship when one of both of the people involved are…well, not all there. (for the record, the piece spiraled, NOT the experience. Love you Mom!) If you don’t like it, think it’s stupid and tasteless or wrong, let me know. I’m up for admitting my errors and learning for the sake of this piece.
Point 4: It is also the point where I realize that rats are becoming a major leitmotif in my college writing. No idea why. Frankly, it bothers me probably more than anyone else reading this.
And now on to the Good Bit!
Folding your umbrella, you are greeted inside the Union Square platform with a sign written in red neon. 5 TO CROWN HEIGHTS-UTICA, 6 MINUTES. God. Six minutes have a tendency to stretch out into forever, especially in bad weather. When the rain outside has slicked your shoes and soaked your socks and your books and turned you into one of the city’s 3 million drowned-rat lookalikes. Or four million. Maybe even as many as six. One never knew just how many New Yorkers did not carry umbrellas on cloudy days, it’s not like anyone counted them. Or the rats. Certainly you don’t count those, although your mother thinks you should.
Watch out for city rats, dear. They’re such nasty little monsters, she said when you called during visiting hours last night. Oh, and make sure to carry an umbrella with you, you never know when the weather will turn.
And you said Yes, Mother, and hung up with a sigh and the next morning took your iPod in your bag instead of the umbrella. And now it is raining, hard, and you have to take the train home instead of walking. At least you have your tunes to pass the time. The Mars Volta don’t stop for rain.
You stand at the edge of the platform, lean out, and look into the tunnel as if looking will make it arrive now instead of in SIX-NOW-FIVE-MINUTES. It does not work. You stare into the dark empty hole the whole time and it remains empty except for the rails. No light inside. None. Not even work lights for the train drivers. Just a dark so dark it makes shapes behind your eyes when you look at it too long.
Then, 5 TO CROWN HEIGHTS-UTICA, 0 MINUTES. When the train arrives it seems to pour itself out of nothing, a great gaping gasping empty nothing into the station. And yet even coming out of nothing the train is full when the doors open. Wonderful. It’s Rush hour even down here. Your mother would have a heart attack if she saw. You can almost picture it—the way her hand clamps over her mouth, her eyes so wide you can see the tiny veins in her corneas. Her other hand flutters over her chest, and the fluorescent lights of her room make the white scars on her wrist gleam a little.
Don’t use the train during rush, darling. You see the stories about what people do down there, bodies pressed together underground like…oh, goodness, what are those little fish called—
You’re thinking of sardines, Mother.
Exactly. It’s so indecent. It’s not safe. Anything could do anything down there. Promise me?
Mom’s a worrier, to the point where most people would use the word paranoid. She means well—most of her advice is good—but now and again it is peppered with things that, now that you are no longer six, make you uneasy. Between them and the way she looks at you when you’re home, as if she’s not seeing you but a future corpse that used to be you and she’s already grieving, it’s all rather unnerving. The nurse says that she’s taken marvelous strides lately, though, so it doesn’t hurt to let her go on.
Don’t ever go anywhere without an umbrella. Avoid night classes if you can—convicts take night classes, you know. Always check your pockets before you leave the house. Keep your eyes open for rats so they don’t gnaw your ankles, they’ll bite your feet off if you give them a chance. If you’re ever attacked, use your keys like claws and aim for the eyes.
And promise me, dearest, don’t use the subways.
You get onto the train.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
The car’s hospital-fluorescent lighting makes your eyes hurt. Immediately you aim for a seat near the door that someone just vacated. Despite a bit of a fight getting past a couple of fat business-suit-guys, you manage to get it before it is gone. Lucky lucky. You turn up the sound in your headphones, close your eyes and lean back into the plastic seat back. Now if that girl with the orange New Jersey tan gives you a death glare you can pretend not to notice, just like any other sane, not-paranoid New Yorker. You do not have to stand in your wet jeans and still-squishing socks and wait to get grabbed by unnamed hands like she does. You will not get grabbed here. No sir, Mom, not you. The Mars Volta album bumps over into a new track and you lean in the other direction. The scream of the guitar is comforting, it’s the only thing that really blocks out the train-noise. For a few songs you are able to zone out, and ignore the clunks and clanks and creaks that make you nervous despite yourself, still. You don’t like feeling nervous, it is too familiar.
Those trains are all so old, and they all run on the same tracks. Things wear down, day after day after day. One mistake, one malfunction on the wrong day, and BAM. You never know what’s coming, dear.
That one had gotten to you—in her way, in her hard pleading little voice, she made it sound plausible. But you had looked it up, if only to shut both her and your brain up about that one. The BAM has never happened. The worst, the closest you get are the inevitable delays. The ones where the trains slow to a crawl, or stop entirely.
Speaking of which.
You suddenly notice that the Express 5 to Crown Heights-Utica has stopped.
You also realize that you are alone, which is not normal for four in the afternoon on the express 5. Not normal. Where were the fat business-suit guys? Where was Jersey Orange Girl?
The neon letters above your head NEXT AND LAST STOP BOROUGH HALL DUE TO TRAFFIC. You check the map, then your phone. There are no bars, but according to the clock the train would have passed Borough Hall five minutes ago. Everyone must have gotten off there and transferred. Not one of them had thought to tap you on the shoulder, let you know everyone off, you gotta go. Sons of bitches. Mom was right when she said New Yorkers were selfish.
But see, that’s what you get when you don’t listen to me, dear. You miss things. You even miss yourself, you get lost, dear, and after that you just don’t know—
Know what, Mother?
But Mother’s in McLean, not here. And these things turn right around once the tracks get arranged. Simple matter of sitting and waiting for it to get moving again. You sit back down and think about replaying the last track again, but somehow without other people in the car to ignore there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to it. You pull the earphones away; they leave your ears feeling cold and empty, like the tiny holes in the sides of your head that they are.
You are in a hole right now, you remember. That dark emptiness that gave up the train at the station and took it up again with you inside, that’s where you are. The train is neon-lit to keep it at bay but it is there, just outside of the window, a black oppressive thing. People, all people, brought by the trains, are unwelcome tourists here. The only things that live down here are rats.
Such nasty little monsters.
Ten minutes pass. Then twenty. Maybe more.
You begin to wonder if the train’s going to get turned around at all. How long can switching the tracks take, after all? Is there some problem, some reason the crew would stop between stops and just…never start up again? After all, one mistake, one malfunction, and then…
But no. That is a stupid thought. It’s only been twenty minutes, and besides, you are not that paranoid. You are not that. You are not in McLean. You are not your mother.
Maybe you’ll be down here all night.
Maybe you should put the music back on. It would at least be a distraction.
You sit another six minutes.
Maybe you should make your way up to the front car to where the train operator is. Knock on the door and ask hey, when are we gonna move again? I’ve got to get home before the rats begin to gnaw at my ankles, please. It’d be hard to walk without feet. But asking would require you to go between cars, and the doors are marked with big red letters that say not to. DO NOT TRAVEL BETWEEN CARS EXCEPT IN AN EMERGENCY.
And besides, you’ll let them in.
You are not in an emergency. Instead, you slide into a corner seat, and take a deep breath.
The lights flicker.
You jerk in your seat, the iPod falling forgotten to the floor. The lights turn steady again in a moment, but they don’t seem as bright. Not hospital lights, not nearly anything like hospital lights, and they make the handhold bars cast long shadows on the seats. The neon sign turns back on but doesn’t display the full message like before. Instead it only says NEXT AND LAST STOP.
Last stop where? You suppress an insane giggle. Next And Last Stop Nowhere. Express Train to Nowhere, 6 Minutes. Everyone get aboard, Stand Clear of the Closing Dark, please!
The joke’s not that funny.
You press your hand to your chest. Your heart is hammering fast, a hard staccato drumbeat. It takes a minute to slow, and in the meantime all you hear is your own breathing.
And then the lights flicker again.
The door between the train cars takes some work to jimmy open. The cool air rushes in over you and sticks in your jeans, which are still damp, and makes you shiver. There is a short walk between cars. Only a couple steps, but it’s barely too long to hold one open while you reach for the other. You have to let go and let the door behind you close. You have to let yourself be out in the tunnel while you open the other car. Out in the cold thick dark.
If only you had brought your umbrella. It would have made a great doorstopper.
That’s what you get when you don’t listen to me, dear.
You are about to tell Mother to shut up when the lights go out entirely.
You hear yourself shriek as you throw your body at the door between cars, fighting with the handle. It sticks, refusing to turn, and for one icy horrifying moment you think that the cars weren’t meant to open from the outside, that you won’t be able to get in again and you’ll be stuck out here, and that any second now the rats will hear you trying and come, they’ll come and oh, God, your ankles—
And they won’t stop there—
There is a click. Thehandle turns. The door slides open.
You all but fall into the next car, and let go of the door to let it slam shut. Your ears are ringing, your breath coming in great ragged sobs, your heart about spiraling out of your chest, but you’re inside the next car at least, and they are outside and after a few moments the lights flicker back on again and shove the dark outside too. You are safe, and so are your ankles.
But you are still not in the front car where the operator is. You will have to go again.
The thought seems almost unbearable.
For all you know, there’s no point to going at all. Perhaps the operator is almost finished switching the tracks, and doesn’t need you to run between cars in a bizarre, stupid quest to make him do so. Maybe if you don’t move, you’ll get going and arrive in Borough Hall in a few minutes.
Or maybe he’s not there at all. Maybe he got out and left for the night, not knowing there was still someone on the train that he was leaving here, alone and more scared by the minute.
Or maybe he does know. Maybe you are a sacrifice. New Yorkers are selfish, after all. Sons of bitches, right?
Or maybe you’re just nuts.
You never know, child of mine.
Something scratches at the other side of the door. You skitter away from it, gripping at the pole in the center of the car, looking around you for something you can use. Don’t you remember reading something about subway trains having an emergency system on them somewhere? Don’t you remember seeing a button last time you got on one of these damned things? Some button you can press when horrible things happen and you need help? Would it work on the threat of rats, small furry monsters waiting for the dark to creep back in and swallow you?
No. No, it would not. Most people do not consider such things, things like subway rodents and creeping blackness, a threat at all. If people could hear it at all, they wouldn’t come because they wouldn’t be worried at all. Most likely, even the operator would think you were making it up. Only people like Mother, earnest unnerving paranoid Mother, Mother who was in Massachusetts, locked safe in her room at McLean, knew the dangers behind such things. People like Mother had to find other ways to defend themselves, or lose themselves.
Remember, dear. Keys between the fingers like claws. And aim for the eyes.
You fish in your pockets and draw out your keys, all looped together on an old stuffed-animal keychain. You clench the animal in your fist, arranging your apartment keys, your mailkey and the key to the gym lock, all just so, teeth facing out. The shine of their little silver teeth is almost comforting. Your other hand returns to your chest, feeling your heart thud heavily, and smile. Just let the little bastards in here now. The first bite you feel, you’ll bite right the fuck back.
You hear the scratching again at the door, louder now. More little paws, arriving to help the first. The door is made of metal but rats, rats are smart, once they figure that out they’ll find a way in.
The lights go out again. This time you know they will not return.
Except you are partially wrong. With a faint, insectish buzz, the stop notice on the ceiling blinks back to life. You would be relieved for the light, but the light is all wrong, not hospital-white but red, one large block of bright hectic red like blood in your eyes. It is not light at all, but merely darkness in a different shape. This shape lets it press at you, stick in your eyes lungs and suck at the air, while still showing the little monsters inside it everything they need to see. It blinks at the door and the scratching stops there; it blinks at the windows of the car, and they start there. The windows are closed, they can’t get in, but
You never know when the weather will turn
things wear down and before too long you hear something. It could be a click, it could be the crick of cracking glass, but you hear it and you know that they have found their way.
The red light blinks. The strobe effect makes it hard to see clearly, you cannot see where the breach is, you cannot see the long sleek black rodent shapes seeping inwards towards you, you can’t see ANYTHING clear, and you can only wait, wait for the brush of sharp teeth against your shoes and
They can bite it clean off if you give them the chance
Dammit, where ARE they! You turn furiously to the stop notice, intending to break it, punch it through with your key-hand, anything to stop the light and give you a chance to see, to prove they’re in there with you so you can do something, fight like any sane New Yorker would in your place, and—
The notice flashes one more time, then turns black, leaving only the crimson letters:
NEXT AND LAST STOP
MCLEAN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
You scream, loud and high, but only once.
The train moves two minutes later, uptown towards Borough Hall. When it stops and the door opens, the people boarding find you lying on the floor, half-curled around the center pole, still gripping your keys in white-knuckled hands. You are bleeding heavily from both ankles, as well as your face. It takes three people to get you out of the car and call an ambulance to take you to Bellevue. Afterwards, no one can bring themselves to ride that particular car—at least until staff arrives to wash out the stain.
The official doctor’s report will state that the injuries on your legs were self-inflicted, most likely with the keys. The damage is extensive—the Achilles tendon is severed on one side—and it will be over a year and a lot of therapy before you can walk again. The facial damage, while quite close to the eyes, is more superficial. The doctors will comment that it is a miracle that you did not blind yourself.
The report will not mention rat bites at all.
This matters little. They never know. Anything can do anything down there.
They will give you a wheelchair. You will promise to make an appointment with a therapist at the hospital, but you won’t actually do it. You know exactly what will happen if you do. Another permanent resident of McLean. Instead, you will call Mother and tell her you love her, but you won’t be able to make visitation this month. Then you will go to a drugstore and buy a nightlight for your bedroom, a miniature flashlight, and a compact umbrella. As you wheel yourself back home you keep one hand in your pocket, next to your keys. You will also take two months to memorize every bus route in the city, and figure out routes that will no longer require you to take a train. Once the scars on your legs fully heal you will never speak of the incident again.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
And they might stop being your enemies.
Ok, so I’m exaggerating. Enemy’s far too strong a word in this case. But it’s so biblically appropriate.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
I’d say it’s odd how it crops up at odd moments in my life, but then again…I’ve had to struggle with putting this verse to work in my life. I’m the kind of person where I’ll be loyal to my friends, for a long, LONG time, but that same kind of steadfastness makes me really stubborn when I get into an argument. I fight, I don’t give ground, I hold grudges. I refuse to forgive, and I refuse to give out kindness unless it’s to make the other person feel like a jerk.
However, on rare occasion, I find myself compelled to act against my character, and follow God’s advice. I’ll hear that little voice I’m sure everyone has when they’re alone in a quiet place, saying “Relax. Forgive, and be kind. The other person—and they ARE A PERSON—is probably just as hurt as you are. Forgive them. Show a little love.” It’s when I follow that advice, that things always seem to work out. I could cite several times in the past where once I cooled down, swallowed my pride and followed that Voice’s instructions, someone I was sure would hate me forever ended up a friend.
And I might have recently added one more to that particular number. I wasn’t even expecting that to happen today…or EVER. The patch of bitterness it involved is YEARS old, and I thought it would last forever. A lot of mean things were said to make it…and it turns out all we needed to start bridging the gap was for one person to make that choice first. It’s hard not to consider it a small miracle now, and wonder why I only SOMETIMES listen to that Voice…