Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Found on a flash drive...

 

“a Reading of tea Leaves in a china cup”

Weaved into a pile of oak leaves
A 50-caliber machine gun plays hide-n-seek
Mounted on a desert stained Toyota truck

Patriots, rebels, terrorists, or what have you,
Hoot, holler, spin the turret about
Spitting fire at this–n–that

She wears a flying bandanna-scarf
Red against blue–black
Her face twists into churning contorted emotions

Moldy leaves camouflage against the dirt
Raked into a decaying heap near the mulch machine
On the last day of fall

---William James, 2/13/2006


 
 
 
 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cow Shit ---Mmmmm Good, Tastes Good, Is Good

 

       Our immediate neighbor, the next house to the south, belonged to the Aswald’s. Mr. Aswald’s favorite hobby was watching his lawn grow. He was always fussing with it. It seemed like he watered it daily— sometimes even in the rain—and mowed it on an average of two-point-three times each week during spring, summer, and fall. His wife enjoyed gardening too, and had the prettiest roses on Rowell Creek Road. I never did see her ride around on her husband’s mower.
       The Smith’s—a Mormon family engendering five little monsters—lived in the next house down from the Aswald’s. Mr. Smith was the Vice Principle of Willamina High School as well as the varsity football coach. His oldest son Strang Jr. was 9, Samson was a year older than I was, Samuel was two years younger, Sophia was three, and Simon an infant.
       In 1974, I entered first grade at Willamina Grade School. Many times while waiting for the bus at Doug Gipson’s residence, one-quarter mile north of our place, Strang and Samson would tease me about the shape of my eyes. They called me Gook, Jap, Chink, and Nigger. I contested by pointing out that I clearly couldn’t be a Nigger, because I was as white as they were. They responded with a look that said you dummy then with renewed glee doubled their name calling efforts.
       I don’t like snakes or any creature that doesn’t have legs. One day Samson made this discovery. We were playing kick the can walking down near Phillip McCracken’s residence a third mile away on the corner over looking Roy Zimmer’s driveway. The can tumbled into a patch of knee-high grass for eight year olds. While Samson was searching for it, he instead found a long black snake. I recoiled as he advanced forward to show it off to me. When he noticed the terror on my face he seized this opportunity to see how much he could wind me up. As this drama unfolded, Willamina high school’s vocation education vehicle, called the Lo-Speed Logger bus, whipped around the corner and came within inches of my backside. For a brief moment I saw Samson’s face go dead white and felt a swift breeze. The bus skidded to a halt and the driver jumped out to look me over when satisfied that I was unharmed he went after Samson with the snake still wriggling around his wrist. Samson never pulled a stunt like that again. That was my first brush with death, but not the last with my associations with the Smith’s.
       In the summer between first and second grade I broke my left wrist in our front lawn. Mr. Aswald had this six-foot pile of bark dust—used for mulching tomato plants and his wife’s flower beds—in the northeast corner of his property adjacent to our front yard. Also, near that corner was a magnificent 100-foot old-growth fir tree. The cedar bark dust was piled in a box constructed of two sheets of saggy oil stained plywood lodged in the corner of his fence. It was four strands of mesh wire about four feet tall and topped with a single strand of barbed wire. Strang, Samson, and a few other boys from Rowell Creek road were using the heap of bark dust as a launching point to jump over the fence. They would land on our property and run back over to the Aswald’s to do it again. Each time they’d jump they would hoot-n-holler as they flew through the air. Occasionally one would land hard and roll out of it; mostly they’d land running. I was very shy as a child, but I watched on listening to their glee. Samson came over to where I was sitting and urged me to give it a go. If we were older he would have used the “P” word, but I didn’t need any special gender related urging. I wanted to join in on the fun and they had invited me to join them. That was all I needed. I scaled the pile and stood on the now flattened peak, for a few seconds, over looking the fence before launching myself off it. As I flew my left foot snagged the barbed wire causing me to careen headfirst to the ground. Instinctively, I threw my hands forward in protection. I wore a cast for three weeks. Luckily, young bones heal fast, but not fast enough for eight-year-olds. I missed an eternity of swimming that summer. No one ever jumped that fence again.
       In rural living fences are integral to everyone’s life. Occasionally, in town one would see a white picket fence, but hardly ever out in the country. Few people, anywhere, live on property without physical boundaries. I learned at an early age, how to scale or worm my way through fences of all styles when playing, hiking or hunting through the timberlands that surrounded our beautiful neighborhood. The most common was barbed wire, followed by the electric fence, and then strand galvanized mesh wire. Ranch style wooden fences or cyclones were not so common. Dick Zimmer had a white washed cedar fence to house two horses. My father used a combination of mesh and electric wire to keep in the goats we raised. It didn’t work for all of them. One goat in particular was more obstinate and less docile than others.
       The southern border of the Smith’s property sloped abruptly down twenty feet; the extreme southwestern edge was marked by an electric fence. Growing in that space was a half-acre thicket—between fifty and seventy feet wide—of deciduous trees we coined the woods. A babbling brook threaded its way in and out of the woods before finding its way into Rowell Creek. A few years later, when I was ten, several Rowell Creek boys engaged in another contest to prove who was the toughest. The name of this game was electro-shock therapy. Participants would grasp the wire to see how many two Joule – eight volt shocks they could handle. Sampson grasped the wire and absorbed six or seven jolts before letting go. I hung on for five shocks, but when I let go was called a pussy. Strang dared me to piss on it. I did it because I wanted to show them that I wasn’t the weakling they pegged me to be. Every few seconds I shuddered as a powerful jolt of electric current cruised through my body. Nobody expected that to happen. Strang never did take the electrotherapy test.
       On another day that year, I rode my black BMX bike down a steep path into those woods long before the world ever heard of downhill bike racing. At the bottom of the hill the path veered to the right in a near 90 degree turn. I flew down the dusty path much faster than Strang and Samson had. At the bend in the path, my front tire struck a big rock that jutted out of the sun baked earth. The bike slipped out from under me as I tumbled over the handle bars. Luckily, a hidden strand of barbed wire stopped me from entering into a patch of blackberry thorns. It took some doing for Strang and Samson to untangle that rusty old wire from about body. Apparently, I had taken our a few decaying post as well. My mother rushed me to the McMinnville hospital to get stitches and a Tetanus shot. My neck looked like I had been attacked by a rouge vampire.
       Mr. Smith and his boys had built a tree fort between a few of the larger alders about fifteen feet off the ground. It was nothing more than a rickety platform eight by five feet wide, but still it was thrilling to sit so high off the ground. In my early teenage years, I hid tattered Playboy’s and Penthouse’s magazines in a box on the fort confiscated from the outhouse at my father’s business S&C Lumber Company. David Rosenberg and I would read the stories and compare the busty women on the glossy pages to the few girls in our neighborhood – there was none.
       The Smith’s taught me how to play football; because I couldn’t catch the ball they always played me as center. This was also the position I played for three years in Little Guy Football and for two years at Willamina Junior High. I never played in high school. By that time I was filled with too much attitude. I believed, for years, that I was never played in games because I had the wrong last name. However, when I examine those times from the vantage point of adulthood, I played the bench, because I was too timid and possessed zero athletic skill.
       In one particular game at the Smith’s, I believe I was in the third grade, one week after Super bowl Sunday, Mark and Jeff Gipson, Dennis Zimmer, and I gathered for a game of—what was supposed to be touch—football. Mark was my age, Jeff was two years older and Dennis was four years older than me. I was on Mark and Jeff’s team, because we went to the same church and Dennis played on Strang and Samson’s team. I ran over to block Strang but he smashed into me so hard I flipped in the air and flew about ten feet back only to land flat on my back. While struggling to regain my breath, Dennis ran over the top of me to score a touch down. He stepped down hard on my stomach. I can still feel, to this day, his cleats digging into my gut.
       One vivid memory I have of the Smith’s is going to Mormon Tabernacle with them. The boy’s always bawled when kneeling and reflecting at the altar railing. I always assumed they felt remorse for being bullies. My mother thought they were Free Methodists. When she found out that they were Mormons she put a stop to me attending their church. That suited me just fine; I always had ill feelings about their place of worship. On the Sabbath before my last visit to the Mormon Church, Strang and Samson tied me up to an overturned stump in the pasture behind their house. Samson offered me cow shit on a stick for my freedom. When I refused, Strang would slap me across my face then slug me in the midsection. Between beatings they managed to force a little cow shit into my mouth. It was dark green still warm and had the consistency of cream of wheat. They stopped their laughter after I sprayed both of them with vomit. I don’t remember how I got into that predicament nor do I recall how I gained my freedom. It is possible we enacting an episode of “Batman and Robin.” I guess I got to play the caped crusader that time. I believe Mrs. Smith saw the commotion out her kitchen window and put a stop to their boy’s torture session.

 

───William J Lindberg, 02/24/2006

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Found on a flash drive...

 

Don’t Bother Me

It is busy down here on Easy Street
With my slippers propped up on my desk
Reading the daily blurbs.

“Boy! Get my coffee, answer that phone, freshen my spittoon
WHERE’S THAT COFFEE YOU LAZY COB!!!”

Dam, my stock went down two bits
“You’re Fired Boy,
Hit the road.”


 

---William James, 2/1/2007

 
 
 
 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eye of Odilon Redon by Purple Mark

 
 

The eye, like a strange balloon, moves towards the infinite.
The pupil of the eye gazes heavenward, a halo of eyelashes or the
rays of illumination burst forth as though of some Zodiacal light.

Beneath it on a platter, a severed head is transported as its
lone passenger unseeing above the marshland grasses.
This Icon of Dream is Surrealism Incarnate:

It is a message from the Id to provoke the Ego to action
within the eye of the viewer. It sails through the sky reflecting
on the Divine above, bound for the Tower Hills in the West.

Within the tallest of the three white towers, which gives these hills
that name, a Seeing-Stone gazes only at far off Aman. It is looking
beyond the horizon to the beginning of the sea.

No one has returned to tell what is seen there, but the Seeing-Stone
gives glimpses of what might be or maybe only what was. The Eye floats
by uncaring both seeing and unseeing what could be.

Do we truly see what is there before us? Or are we so focused
like the Eye on some insubstantial goal we cannot hope to reach it?
E.A. Poe would’ve loved this had he survived his cooping demise.


---Purple Mark, 021112

 
 

Prompts:                                                                         

  1. Charcoal Drawing, Odilon Redon c. 1865. pg. 42. of Redon by Michael Gibson, Taschen Press 2011.
  2. The eye, like a strange balloon, moves towards the infinite.” Odilon Redon pg. 46 of Redon ibid.
  3. Tower Hills: a high range of hills in Eriador, to the west of the Shire. The hills are crowned by three white towers that give them their name. A Palantír or Seeing-stone was once kept in the tallest tower; but while the other Palantiri were invaluable for watching distant events in all of Middle Earth, the stone of the Tower Hills gazed only at far-off Aman.” from J.R.R. Tolkien by way of The Dictionary Of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi, Harcourt Brace 1980, 1987.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Found on a flash drive...

 

A disastrous Craigslist Personal Ad

My name is Stanley Tweedle and I’m looking for a dirty little love slave. As captain of the Lexx, I get kind of bored with only a robot head and dead man for company. The Lexx is only the most powerful weapon in the two universes however; Stan the man has a stinger too.

So, what I am seeking is a sexy girl who likes to get wet playing beach games. As, you know the ocean—on the little blue planet—is wrought with many dangers. If you step on a prickly little sea creature or get stung by a jellyfish one has to act quickly to put out the fire of the sting.

Lets pretend that you are swimming along a deserted beach and get a face (chest or ass) full of Jellyfish. I’ll swoop down from the stars in my moth and swing into action as doctor Stanley Tweedle with a full tank of fuel and hose ready to douse your infected parts with the only remedy available. Then later, back on board the Lexx…

Fill in the rest of the story. I want to read—before we play—the thoughts of your dirty little filth starved mind.


William James, October 4, 2006

 
 
 
 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lion Around by Purple Mark

 

 
The Lion sunned himself on the slab of stone,
the weather was warm for an early February day.
He watched the visitors who mostly ignored him
busy with whatever the non-cats did, bundled up
in their faux furs and not having a fabulous mane
with which to claim the kingship of all he surveyed.
Here he need do nothing, not even to take care
of the two cubs which batted an old wooden ball
around through the returning grasses still mostly
brown, but eagerly turning green with plenty of rain
and lengthening days and now glorious sunshine.
 
 
 
The veldt was a distant memory for him today,
more like a dream when he he had roamed
the savannah and hunted the zebra and impala.
Now, although he could occasionally smell them,
he couldn’t reach them through the metal barriers,
nor could he see them still or bounding through
this place which wasn’t anything like Africa.
It was an odd life being free, yet not free and all
too often his days were spent just like this:
sunning on this rock and watching the creatures
that paraded in front of him with their incessant
noise-making and their pushing of things with
round little legs for their young and old which
couldn’t walk on their own. At least he could walk.

 

---Purple Mark, 02042012

 
 
 
 

Prompts:                                                                         

  1. Couldn’t walk on their own. At least he could walk. Pages 11 & 12 illustrations 51 & 54 from Animals: 1419 Copyright-Free Illustrations Of Mammals, Birds, Fish, Insects, Etc.: A Pictorial Archive From Nineteenth Century Sources selected by Jim Harter, Dover Publications 1979.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Written on the Job at Seattle Door and Window


Maw of Tomorrow

I don’t know what this new sun will bring Brad

I can’t read these tealeaves in my cup
They are scatter-shot up to the rim to that place
Where hot lips join smooth porcelain

“The future is not the fate we make
the future is the past
the past is now the now
the now just is…” Brad asserts

I’m living on the ledge smiling into the gaping maw of tomorrow

I can hear a trickle in the distance

It is dark

I drink



Dated Friday, February 12, 2010. This poem was composed on the Job at Seattle Door and Window in the morning around the time I got the news that the business owner had quit and we all had lost are jobs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Transparent Secrets By Carla Blaschka

 

       "You sent it on?" said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower.

       It was my favorite place, why I bought the house after I become Director of Medical Research at SnoDaiz. I had fixed up the shed as my office. Granddad came to hear about my adventures in medical research every Saturday. Why he thought mine were exciting, I don’t know. He had been in the protest that took over the BIA Building in Washington, D.C. He told me that one old Grandfather, a victim of the BIA throughout his life, took a fire ax, jumped up on the BIA commissioner's big mahogany desk and split it in two!

       I didn’t have much to report this week. It had snowed and kept a number of our researchers at home. The ones that came in were the more gung-ho types like Tom, who wanted to be invisible. He was already waiting when I arrived on Wednesday.

       "Ready to roll?" Tom, covered with snow, was halfway in the front door. "Got a box ready?" He had set up the experiment the day before and I felt the need to be there. I didn’t want him to go off half-cocked and do something stupid, like try his formula on himself.

       He was supposed to use a rat. That was the plan. The rat’s name was Jenny and I was rather fond of her. He covered her head with a little hood and shook up his mixture in its aerosol can, the balls rattling around like a precursor to graffiti. He was prepared to spray when Leslie, our resident Drama Queen slammed open the door and shouted -

       “He’s dead!”

       and started to sob.

       Startled, Tom turned halfway around and his finger jerked on the trigger. He was very apologetic about it later but the blast caught me full in the face and I breathed it in. I started to cough, Leslie was sobbing and Tom was in distress. He tried to wipe me down but that merely spread the liquid more evenly on my skin.

       By the time Leslie came out from behind her hands and looked up, I was a goner. She looked shocked. “Where are your feet, your shoulders, hands, complexion, Your - all of you? Why not transform me also? She appealed to Tom. “How can I live if you’re all gone? She started to sob again.

       “Who are you talking about?” shouted Tom.

       “Dick,” she said.

       “Who?”

       “I don’t know, maybe it’s Harry, I can’t keep track, they keep changing.” At Tom’s still baffled face she shouted, “Our receptionist! Our receptionist! The guy at the front desk! He was in an accident, and his mother called to tell me he wasn’t coming into work. He’s in the hospital - he may not even live!” She wailed and started to sob again.

       “Hmmm, excuse me!? Can I get some help here?” I was transparently annoyed about their lack of concern and rather see-through as well. Both pairs of eyes looked right through me, like I wasn’t even there.

       “Where are you?” they chorused.

       I had moved over to the desk in the corner and sat down. “I’m right here.” I tilted back. Their heads swiveled. “I’m sorry about Harry, remind me when you see me to send flowers.” I addressed that to Leslie, and then asked Tom. “Do you have any idea when this will wear off, if ever?”

       After a clearing of the throat and an “er, well” he admitted he wasn’t sure but assured me it should be soon. So while we waited we played poker. I won, since they couldn’t see me when I leaned over and looked at their cards. I figured Tom owed me the $10 bucks.

       It did wear off after an hour or so, but gradually, with bones showing first and then the muscles and veins. There was much ooh’ing and aah’ing and pointing of fingers until my skin covered it all. After we feed Jenny and put her back with her own kind we each headed to our own burrows. I left a note about Harry on my admin’s computer.

       Back at my home desk in the tower I read over my weekly report.

       “It is clear that the small blood vessels of diabetics are subject to accelerated degeneration.” Crystal really, maybe the invisibility spray should be used to show people the damage a poor diet and lack of exercise will do. I nibbled on a chip, my drug of choice in times of stress.

       Should I send it on? Would admitting to being invisible hurt my career or make it? Would it help patients or brand me a crazy? Human trials were years away. Could I hide my transparency? Should I?

       What would you do?


 
---By Carla Blaschka, 1/14/12. Written at Richard Hugo House alongside PurpleMark Wirth,
    Jennifer Reed, and Liza. Performed at Richard Hugo House’s Open Mic 2/7/12

 
 

Prompts:                                                                         

  1. "Where are your feet, your shoulders, hands, complexion, Your - all of you? Why not transform me also?" P. Ovidius Naso translated by Rolfe Humfries. Perseus In Metamorphosis. (Indiana U Press, 1983)
  2. "'You sent it on?' said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower." Terry Pratchett. Going Postal. (HarperCollins, 2004)
  3. "It is clear that the small blood vessels of diabetics are subject to accelerated degeneration." Jimmy Gutman. Glutathione: Your Key to Health. (kudo.ca, 2008)
  4. "One old Grandfather, a victim of the BIA throughout his life, took a fire ax, jumped up on the BIA commissioner's big mahogany desk and split it in two!" Leonard Peltier. Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance (St Martin's Griffin, 1999)
  5. "'Ready to roll?' Tom, covered with snow, was halfway in the front door. 'Got a box ready?'" Diane Mott Davidson. Tough Cookie. (Bantam Books, 2000)
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chinese New Year: The Year Of The Dragon

 

A suggestion was made to take in the Chinese New Year Celebration as part of our writing group instead of the usual Hugo writing room. I was up for it and so was John, so we planned to meet at noon at the Panama Hotel as our beginning point. Phillip had bowed out, even though it had been his idea to attend the Lunar New Year Food Walk. I had thought of it as an excuse to investigate some of the places I had walked by before, but had never gone into.

The Panama Hotel was an out-of-the-way Tea House whose already harried crew dealt with a line which were here for the Mochi Mini-cupcakes and green-tea maple leaf-shaped shortbread cookies and the tiny stamp on their cards in order collect at least four stamps and win some no doubt fabulous prize when all these cards were collected and a winner chosen. While in line I spotted a trained bamboo that was half My Favorite Martian and half vegetative antler rack. Larry who had mentioned he might show up, did. Waiting for him, we saw that in the windows were a line of Luck Cats on either side who had their left hands raised except for one who bravely had raised it’s right hand in defiance.

The Sugar Bear Bakery was our next stop and it was fairly deserted and unlike most bakeries it had none of the smells associated with the baking of their goods. Here we got 3-ham Vietnamese sandwiches, which only had, 1-ham as far as I could tell along with mayo, cabbage, carrots cucumbers and a slightly sweet and peppery sauce on a baguette wrapped in white paper and held together with a rubber band. It was okay, but somewhat uninspired and rather too filling, but a good deal for 2 bucks.

By this time the hordes had descended and every place had a lengthy line waiting for their chicken wings or whatever little tidbit that was being offered up in order to get another stamp on their cards. After trying to get into 2 more places, Larry left us and we decided that getting another two stamps was a silly pursuit in the face of hordes. So we sought out the places which weren’t part of the Stampede, only to find that every table was full or waiting to be filled all over the International District.

Walking around I saw lots of tots in their Chinese Best in colorful silk costumes and wearing animal hats. The surprising thing was the amount of mixed races of their parents who herded or more usually carried these kids. There was a Dragon false alert with firecrackers and a cloud of smoke which drifted in along with percussive groups whose intent was to get enough people to stand and block any late-comer from seeing what everyone was gathered for in seemingly random locations to witness.

After I grabbed some shots, we found that we had walked completely around the Old Uwajimaya building and found a table at Henry’s Taiwan beside the North side of the Dragon Gate. Taiwanese was a cuisine that hadn’t tried before, so. It was a very small place, but the mirrored wall made it seem that there was more space than a place about the same size as my living room. It was close enough Chinese that I thought I knew what I was ordering, but it was odd stuff indeed. We got an odd flan-like thing, which couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to be a dessert or a strange savory. What I ordered turned out to be sort of an Asian burrito in reverse. In the plastic wrap was a mix of mostly white rice with a few grains of purple rice around a crispy egg-roll with hard-boiled egg yokes and an odd curry mix in there. Our second choice of soup: the Shanghai Wonton instead of the Oyster with Ginger came in huge bowls with chrysanthemum stems in it as well as cilantro, scallions, pork-filed wontons, squares of Nori seaweed and so much clear broth that I couldn’t finish the soup. We paid up and John went off to catch his #73.

I went to Uwajimaya’s to get some purple rice, ginger tea and chili sauce with garlic while something had burned and filled the whole store with a smoky starchy miasma which made me wish to get what I needed and get out of there. I managed to catch part of the Dance of the Dragons though once again it was difficult to see and this time photograph. By this time the drizzle was beginning to fall and I took the tunnel bus back to the Convention Center stop and walked back home from there to capture in words the various impressions of the day upon the page.


 

---Purple Mark 01/28/12

 
 
 
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Disastrous Cutup Poem

 
I Made This—

We know about the power of
space in time
smashing
your rubber soul.

Those stories you’ve heard,
about the myth
of the impossible,
they’re true.
Who knew?
A possible mission
behind the saint and
thirteen topless dancers
was
a pregnancy?

Well, pimps
we’re all puffed up now.
Eat, drink, smile, keep partying —
the cows aren’t coming home.

We want to join with you in
the ocular concern.
The giant
at the end of the world,
it was the best thing I ever
saw!

—sort of

 

---William James, 01/22/2012