Monday, April 30, 2012


Gorge and disgorge, viscera and evisceration, inside to outside, frontwards, backwards, sideways and then, stillness. He clutches the cool porcelain, dripping sweat into the congealed mess a foot below his face, teeth exposed between quivering lips. He peers out of slit eyes into a chunky miasma, his body asserting itself against his buzzing brain. He hovers for a still second.

Retching resumes. The front of his bent body is the locus for both its gravity and sensitivity; he stubs a splayed toe against the tub but the pain flitters away, washed out of the psychic gulag by a thick and acidic flow. Is that a tooth? No—softer, organic. A legume, maybe. Peanuts had been served in the near past. Oh God. Another heave, this one sputtering.

He rests, panting in great sucking gasps, eyes clenched, the butt of his right hand supporting his head. No more contents to void; the rest is in his bloodstream, accounting for the impossibility of fixing his spinning mind in place.

Blood from a puffed lip dots the front of his chambray shirt. He rises from the toilet as from bowed prayer, looks out the window, and sees a bird. Head cocked in profile, it peers at him through a black bead. A bird that is blue is a... bluebird?

Turning to face the window, he raises a weak middle finger and chuckles darkly. "Screw you, Healthy." But the blue bird jerks its head at him; its movement sends his brain whirling back and he throws himself into a dry retch. When he looks up the bird has flown, its branch swaying, bare against a shrill sky. Resting his butt on a shoe, he sits himself up and exhales with pronounced restraint.

Sweat drips to the tip of his nose and jiggles; the tickle triggers a sneeze, the sneeze yanks him into a half-flip and his forehead whacks the radiator; he lands on his back with a clatter across the linoleum, holding his face. He applies his palms to his watery eyes until sleep spreads over him.

Hours later, a headache wakes him to suggest that his brain is ripping itself into a black hole. He snorts, rocks himself forward, places his arms around his knees. The world throbs, compressing him.

A memory; he looks above the tub. A camera's red light pierces him from its precarious placement atop a soap shelf over the basin. He reaches for it, grabs it, brings it to himself, and presses the large button. The light ceases.

With a click, the tape comes out of its 90s plastic berth and lands in his grubby palm. He fingers it around and finds the words "stop drinking" written in sharpie on a piece of affixed masking tape. "Crap," he mumbles, looking around on the floor, "crap." He repeats the word as the hand holding the tape bobs up and down. With a final glance down at the toilet and back up, he flings the tape in the bowl, and has taken a step towards the door before he hears the faint splash. "Crap," he whispers. He grabs the handle and timidly eases into a dank hallway, where he stumbles to his bedroom. Tomorrow is a new day—so he consoles himself as his ratty mattress cushions his forward fall.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Here's something from a while back, based on a true story.


He sprints, wild-eyed, cuts a jagged line through the parallel rows and falls face first into a trough of freshly upturned earth, picks himself up spitting dirt, trudges with muddy streaks running down his front - only the top half of his ragged white shirt remains, below his chest pockets it's just him down to his boots, above which the tops of his socks poke out to receive the blood from his legs - he continues to will himself forward, the experience is akin to swimming but the images, smells, tastes and sounds are more real than any water he ever touched or drank. Every little bit of his surroundings urgently forces itself into him, piercing the vanishing point of him, but against this now he is all body and will and perspiration and the need to step inside his drafty creaky wooden home again, it's sufficient for happiness in a way it never has been and the promise of his contentment wells up in him like an enormous swell upon the most distant surface of the most abyssal ocean.

The house is still distant, its roof plates shine like overlaid swords and the wooden siding quivers like a movie mirage, one quivering figure is outside but goes inside, he stumbles again into a tightly cut channel of soft dirt face first hands below his knees and behind up in the air. He remains for a moment, the cool darkness on his face and steady sticky heat on his back and legs, feels planted there like a monument to life itself, chews a root that has forced its way between his yellow teeth and violently expels his breath with attendant detritus from the earth that will someday open to receive him - but it is apparently not today, it is emphatically not today, praise Jesus Christ it was never meant to be today. He falls to his side and looks back through the frame of his bloody knees to the hulking machine that ripped his overalls off his body and would have pulled the body too were it not for the timid stitching on his overalls, and those overalls lie in a blue puddle next to the form of the thresher at a hundred and twenty yards or so, their own monument to the monolithic void that revealed itself and its constitutive absence to him in the moment of his overalls, one of his only pairs of overalls getting caught in the mechanism, recommending to him a reconsideration of his life up to that moment in which his overalls gave themselves for him that he might live. He wants to go back and drink up that blue puddle of the image of his overalls at a hundred and twenty yards, make them a part of himself, an invincible skin to protect him forever.

Now the precise retort of a rifle yanks his head up, he lifts his hands from the crook of his gathered knees and grasps at the easily-giving dirt, pulls himself forward towards the mirage house and squints at the image that is his son. His son quivers on the porch holding an unsteady gun, it was his gift to his son, he shoots again and a jumping flash eulogizes a tin can.

He, the revealed man, stands, looks at the house. His shoulders square up, he is intent on the image of his son but he braces against his awareness of every other one of the phenomena in this life-world, each has exceeded all intentional awareness he has had of anything but sex for years. He tugs out the knots of his thin laces, pulls off his boots and bloody socks to stand reverentially bare-footed on the holy firmament. He looks up to the sky, his first self-conscious moment for how it reminds him of the gesture of a character from a fiction book, he breathes to gather the humid air like eggs as he looks at a cloud and feels as though he has taken it inside of himself, he exhales a thick invisible fog. He looks down from the painful shining expanse, spins around, sees things that he has never seen before through spots of green and black, things that hid up till now behind his sedimented perceptions - all things are new, he wants to invent a new language to pay homage to his new world. The dirt turns beneath his corkscrewing feet, works its way up between his toes and under his nails, he touches a stone and grasps it with his right foot, lifts it to his hand, takes it, and throws it as hard as he can at the sky above his shrinking dizzy head. It lands with a soft pat in the receptive gentle soil below. He is alive.