a year in stories::fifteen

Keep forgetting to post things in here. I have three film reviews and one essay about North Korea so I’ll just post them here without saying much about it.

Jurassic ParkTo the Wonder, and The Place Beyond the Pines all up over at Manarchy Magazine. I especially really like that one about Jurassic Park, which is more like an essay about my childhood and dinosaurs than it is a film review, but it’s one of my favorite essays I’ve written.

And then there’s an essay about not so recent events in North Korea now. It’s about all that business like a month ago when everyone thought we were going to war with North Korea. Essay is here.

This story came to me all at once when I was eating mashed potatoes about an hour ago. Just that title: All my Heroes are Russian Folksingers. No idea where that came from but I really like this one, an alternate history book about art and revolution in the 20th century.

All my Heroes are Russian Folksingers

 

Never does a boy forget his first love and never does a girl remember, but I do.

His name was Alyosha Dragunov and he died before I was born but his songs crept over decades and across an ocean to find me in my car that Saturday night when my elder sister’s boyfriend’s brother was driving us who cares where. My sister’s boyfriend was Russian, or his parents’ were. He spoke it too and I could tell him and his brother were singing along but I was in the backseat, pushing my head further back until all I could hear was music, the noise of my sister and her friends drowning out or me escaping far away.

It was a terrible recording, kind of like Woody Guthrie Bsides, but the basement was Siberian, or that’s what I imagined then. For me then, Russian was sort of a white wasteland of winter, and while I know that’s not true, whenever I hear Alyosha, I’m brought back there in tears of overwhelming nostalgia for beauty I never knew. That scratchy recording, turned scratchier by the volume we listened at, but through the static and lofi came this voice, so tender and ravaged by love and loss, or at least that’s what it sounded like. I didn’t know the words but they knew me and they danced their way into me.

There were only five songs and the Russian boys know them all by heart but only I was crying when we stopped the car. We were somewhere, a party maybe, and we were being dropped off because the brother was just the driver and I was along for who knows what reason.

My sister and I are twins but we’re the kind that don’t get on well. If all twin pairs are psychically linked it’d make sense for us, because anytime I think of Kristine I get pissed. I love her and whatever but I sort of really hate her.

But there I was crying. Not bawling or anything but just crying. My sister and her boyfriend left me there with the brother after she said something obnoxious and rude. He was sixteen and I was thirteen but those three years are lifetimes at that age.

Why do you cry, little bird?

Who was that singing?

Ah, Dragunov?

When he said that his accent was thick and I couldn’t really tell where the consonants or vowels in the word were but then he switched back to normal unaccented English and he told me all about Alyosha, about how his parents died before he was grown and he grew in an orphanage, how he never got over the pain of his parents’ departure till he met a woman, a beautiful aspiring ballerina who brought him from the sullen edges to the brightest suns and then cast him back into darkness when the revolution came and swallowed her whole as the countryside turned iron. From there came his songs and his politics grew with the revolution but turned sour when the trees were exchanged for factories and the fresh air for smoke as he was more Whitman than Lenin and he wrote of a land of beauty and love lost forever to the hands of man. At different times he was a fugitive and a friend of the state and very nearly a prisoner but for some harrowing escapes and he continued making his songs underground, in attics, and the records were handed off from person to person across the countryside and it would be many years till many knew Alyosha’s name but all those first thousands who heard him picked up a guitar and remade Alyosha’s songs and spread them like wildfire along with their own words. And so it was at the height of Stalin’s reign that Sovietism collapsed because of music and words and a man who never wanted to be famous, who just wanted love, who finally found it as he stood in St Peter’s square for the first time before a crowd, for the first time face to face with all those who had loved him, who found hope in him, and he wept so long that he couldn’t play or speak and so others took up his words, took up his chords, took up his songs and there he died, his very soul in the mouths of millions and millions of Russians, finally free.

Is all of that true, I said.

Why not? he smiled and ejected the CD and handed it to me, told me he had more and that he’d give me more when it was time for us to be picked up. Go on, he said, Join your friends. Sing and be happy, for tonight you might die, with only your words to remember you.

When I went home that night I had a little CD case full of Russian folksingers from the 20th century and I didn’t sleep that night, crying into my pillow, headphones stuck to my eardrums, blowing them out.

Alyosha was my first love but not my favorite. He may be the most influential Russian to have lived in the 20th century, the man who accidentally toppled a totalitarian state with just his voice trapped in bedroom recordings, but he’s certainly not the best. It’s often said, though, that could the Nobel Peace prize be given to the dead, he would top the list every year since. It’s hard to know what Stalin would’ve done had his regime lived on, but they say the dissolution of the Soviet state stopped the Fascist Wars from becoming a world war as Alyosha’s message spread west and Adolf Hitler’s grab for power fell apart under the Russian Jewish singer, Tsilia Zaslavsky, who took up Alyosha’s words and message and carried them into the heart of Berlin in 1935, during the rearmament. She sowed dissent and peace and clarity in a time of fanaticism and racial bigotry that’s so easy to forget all these years later, but Germany in the 30s was not the Germany of the 40s that we’ve come to know so well. By the time Hitler moved for Danzig his empire was already collapsing from within. Tsilia was the most wanted person in all of Germany, and also the most beloved. By 1940, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and even Germany itself were already ousting Hitler. It’s said that in his old age even he listened nightly to Tsilia’s recordings, bemoaning all he had lost because of the beautiful Jewess from Minsk.

Tsilia, another important artist, but still not my favorite. I find her, actually, quite shrill, though the lyrics are beyond what anyone has written in any language, poets and novelists included. The way she so simply stated what we had always known but never seen. To listen to her words is to understand yourself, your friends, and your loves for perhaps the first time.

But these two were enough to turn my heart always eastern, always watching Russian, always cheering them on as their folkartists turned towards Maoist China, already in it’s sixtieth year with Chairman Mao so old it was hard to believe it was yet him living. But Ivaanjav crawled through the spiderweb of totalitarian China in the late 90s and by Mao’s death in 2002,we were seeing a free China for the first time, I guess, technically ever. There were elections and Ivaanjav, who’s actually ethnically Mongolian though raised in a small farm area just north of China’s Russian border. He spent his youth wandering by rails all over Russia, collecting songs and styles from the many masters then singing and playing. Unlike many Russian folksingers, he didn’t play guitar but rather a morin khuur, adapting the freeplucking style of Leon Trostky’s grandaughter, Sofia–herself an accomplished artist and leading political figure–to the morin khuur. He broadly expanded and united the many different styles of Russian folkmusic by forcing it to adapt to him and his Mongolian heritage rather than forcing himself to adapt to its constraints, and, still, there are many who don’t consider him a proper Russian folkartist, despite everything he’s done in that tradition.

I would like to say that it was the message of peace and promise of beautiful days ahead that caused me to study Russian and guitar but it was really Aleksandr Z, my absolute favorite of them all. Unlike most, he had no political affiliation or outlook. He was a return to Alyosha’s early days of nostalgia, which was peculiar to hear in a man so young. I thought then, that first night, when I was still thirteen, that I’d marry him one day, since he was only nineteen then and that wasn’t so old. He was every bit as beautiful as Alyosha, and though the recordings were more polished his voice sounded more fragile, more on the precipice of disaster. It took me so long to learn what the words meant but he broke my heart every time. Born so long after Alyosha, but in many ways, his true successor, his was an aesthetic so pure and simple that it captured everything of Alyosha’s early years but transcended them, connected them to the modern world, and then cracked this hypertech world apart, letting flowers and sunshine through.

I saw him for the first time on youtube, playing alone in his hotel room in Iceland when volcanic ash smothered the sky. It was his first song to be sung in English and I was watching it live.

Hello, he said, his voice thick with Russian spilling over the Anglosounds. My name is Aleksandr and this is my first time speaking English in public but I hope you like it. It’s called Iceland at the End of the World.

He was beautiful, frail and thin like a teenage girl, with long blonde hair spilling over his face. But his arms were so strong, so in control of his instrument as his fingers danced, plucking his twelvestring, his voice careening in a way so perfect, in a way never captured yet by him on his recordings. I felt the world ending and those eight minutes disappeared into me and I kept watching it for the rest of the night, memorising the words, the hand movements, the chords till I could play it maybe half as well, which was a huge accomplishment for me.

I turned the camera back on me and sang it back to him, as if he was on the other end, but I sang it in Russian, because if he could sing it for me in my language, I could do it for him in his.

The hits piled on and the comments rolled in, many of them negative, as always, but even more positive, with most of the positive ones written in Russian.

And then there was a message from him and a response video and when I learnt his new song I played it for him again, and he responded, but this time asked me to write for him. He asked it in Russian, believing, maybe, that I was and i cried through hours of smiles as I frantically tried to write a song for him, anything that would make him smile, make him proud of me. Millions of views on each video, but none of those people mattered to me. No, there was only Aleksandr, and I longed to touch him but knew I couldn’t write about that.

And then the crows cawed outside my window. Twelve of them hanging out in an oak tree, and one idea became ten words became a stanza became a melody became a song. My first song. My first song for him and my first song for me. So nervous, especially to sing it in Russian, which I decided I would.

I turn on the camera, my hands so sweaty I don’t know if I’ll be able to play, my face hot, and my feet wet from their instant sweat. I cleared my throat.

Hello, Aleksandr . . . and everyone else, I guess. This, um, I did what you asked. This song is for you. I wrote it in Russian. I hope you love it.

One deep breath in, then out. I wipe the sweat from my eyes, smile, and pluck that first chord.

a year in stories::fourteen

Another story for the year. Gradually catching up. I think I’m only a few behind now, which is nice. I’ve had very little time this week to do much, it seems. I was going to write a review of Oblivion but have decided against it. It’s a solid film but nothing too special and sort of with a lot of logical leaps and potential gaps, but enjoyable.

Anyrate, here’s the new story. It’s about dying.

I wanted to remember

You’re going to die. You’re dying now. That’s what you’re feeling.

I can’t feel anything.

Look at me and just listen. I won’t lie to you, not now. You’re dying. There was an explosion. You’re losing a lot of blood. You lost a leg.

Which leg?

Your left one.

Oh.

It’s okay. I want you to know that. Everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to die.

Why do you keep saying that?

I don’t want to lie to you like they do in movies. You’re going to die.

Is there anyone else around? I think I want someone to lie to me.

Uh, yeah. Just, um. Just hold on.

Are you all right?

That guy told me I was dying.

He told me too.

Is he a doctor?

He doesn’t look like one but I don’t know.

Can you ask him?

Hey. Hey, man. You a doctor?

What’d he say?

He just, like, shrugged.

WIll you tell me the truth?

I don’t know, man.

Can you see my leg?

Which one?

The one not attached.

What does it look like?

Just like the one attached.

I don’t know, man. It’s real smoky here. Can you see it?

I think I’m blind.

Really? How many fingers am I holding up?

Listen, buddy. Where am I bleeding from?

Uh, sort of all over. Your leg especially but it looks like there’s, like, shrapnel or whatever all through you. Do you feel all right?

I don’t know. I can’t really feel anything.

Can you move?

Is it moving?

What? Yes, yeah, your fingers.

Not paralysed then.

Guess not, man.

Do you think I’ll live?

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You’re gonna be fine. Doctors will probably even give you a better leg. A new one. Titanium or whatever. You’ll be good as new. Hey, man, you okay.

I thought that’d make me feel better.

Want me to hold your hand?

It’s worth a shot.

You’re gonna be okay.

It’s weird.

What?

I–I don’t know. Will you let go? I think it’d work if you were a woman. Are there any women around?

I guess. I mean, yeah, but, like, people are busy.

Am I keeping you?

No–not, I mean. I’m just here to help.

I think you’re doing a good job.

Thanks, man.

But would you find that first guy again? The mean one?

Uh, yeah, man. You gonna be okay here alone?

Are there more bombs?

Was it a bomb?

I think the other guy said it was.

I don’t know.

You wanna just get him? Or maybe a woman.

Yeah, sure.

Are you okay?

I’m dying.

You’ll be okay.

Your hands are very warm.

What’s your name?

Nathan. Nathan Wei.

You’re gonna be fine, Nathan.

You smell very nice.

Uh, thanks. Does this help?

What did you do?

I made a tourniquet around your leg to stop the bleeding.

Why didn’t the others do that?

It’s done now. I’m gonna get you out of here, okay? Nathan, look at me.

I can’t see.

Then just listen to my voice. I’m going to be right back with someone to help you, okay?

No–please. Will you just stay. Tell me your name.

Valentine.

Shut up. Are you serious?

You look really pale. You need a doctor right away.

No one’s name is actually Valentine.

Mine is.

No, no, come on. I’m gonna die, just tell me your real name.

Nathan, shut up. I need to find someone who can carry you out of here.

The other guy told me I’d die.

You will if i don’t get someone.

It’s okay. Will you just hold my hand. Please? Yeah, like that. I can’t see anything or feel much. It’s like my body’s far away from me. I don’t feel tired, even. Your skin’s so soft but it’s dirty. Everything’s covered with dust, huh? No, please. Valentine. Don’t talk or leave. Just hold me. Can I ask you something?

Yes.

It’s kind of awkward.

It’s okay.

Two questions, actually.

Okay, Nathan.

Will you–I’m embarrassed.

It’s okay. Just stay with me.

Will you put my head in your lap? And, like, stroke my hair?

Like this?

Yeah. Thank you.

It’s weirdly quiet.

I bet it’s always like that after explosions.

Maybe.

Can I ask you the second thing?

Yes.

When I die and shit myself, will you move me so I don’t have to lie in my own shit for long.

Um, sure.

Please?

Okay, Nathan. Okay.

a year in stories::thirteen

Another new story, second post of the day. It’s pretty short and I might steal this idea and make a novel when I get a chance because I really like the concepts I touch upon here, briefly as I do. I think there’s lot of potential for expansion. Anyrate, it’s a story about nanotechnology.

Hopefully I find something interesting to do with my night now since I’ve been so productive today.

My Body is a Witch

Am I still alive?

Yeah, sure. Of course you’re alive.

I hugged him, my brother, his skin of polyethylene.

My brother wasn’t crying but I think he wanted to. It’s not that he couldn’t, but that he didn’t. There was a time when this would never have been possible and it’s still pretty strange, but no longer inconceivable, though who knows what it means. About a hundred years ago scientists built a cube beneath the south pole to collect neutrinos. A hundred years before that neutrinos weren’t a thing people knew about. We thought nothing got smaller than an atom and then things got quantum and the twentieth century turned upside down. In the twenty first this big cube under ice collected all this data on neutrinos and quantum turned almost magic. M-theory wasn’t just a theory but an actuality and so much science fiction turned into life. I’m no expert but neutrinos were like this key to everything we almost knew but couldn’t, and when we made sense of them it toppled all these barriers in science and technology.

This is about nanotechnology. Nanobots.

My mother died having my brother, which simply doesn’t happen. I was just a kid then but I knew it was pretty unusual. People dying is strange enough, but dying for life–that was nonsense. Pretwentieth century hysteria and superstition.

Turns out mom was allergic or something to nanobots and so when they went in things changed in her body. She wasn’t always allergic or I wouldn’t be here but something between my brother and me turned her blood riotous against NBs and so when they flooded her to ensure safety, they ended up killing her. Her body reacted against them and they turned on her, literally turning her into something else. Realigning DNA, ripping up RNA, seeing her humanness as antiquated, maybe. I don’t know. No one really knows, or at least no one ever told me what happened and why and that level of tech is above me. The main point is that NBs killed my mom and got into my brother real early. Probably too early.

I guess when this happened it was big news and my dad had to be investigated and stuff. They thought he was a biotech terrorist or worse: a Naturalist. We call them Greeners and Fungies but you don’t really hear about them anymore. That was more elementary school stuff.

I remember watching the news at school when I was ten or so and the image of the World Bank overgrown with vegetation, people scrambling from the building with branches and flowers growing out of their skin until it ate them alive. The city streets were covered with these swallowed human bodies made into lemontrees or bushes or gardens or whatever. It was a weird time, but that’s all gone.

Anyway, they thought my dad was one of them, maybe, and he was using my mom’s death as a symbol or something to show the evils of NT, but that wasn’t dad and it wore him down hard. What kind of monster does that to their children’s mother? But it happened and my dad was cleared but it was global news: the first NT death. The Government didn’t want it to be news, of course, but these things have a way of getting out. Even so, most of the details never made it public, like how they didn’t just kill my mom but made her something else.

After all the attention and scrutiny of my dad, we moved out of the city proper and settled down nearer the fringe. He wanted to disappear and leave all that pain behind. I don’t blame him, but I’ve always dreamt of heading back in there, to the city. Maybe for university. My levels are pretty high so teachers tell me I have a chance, and with the sort of fame I accidentally possess, I have a lot of hope of a bright future in biotech and nanotechnology. But, anyway.

Life’s been pretty quiet for the last five years. We went to school like other kids and all sorts of other things. I’ve dated, lost my virginity to a boy then a girl, got drunk did drugs, joined a cult, joined a revolutionary group, left both, tried suicide, found it to be too much work, got philosophical about immortality sprouting around us, how people would soon be older than trees, but, these days, I’m pretty normal. My brother’s younger and would still be in primary school but most of the time things were normal. It wasn’t until a few years ago that profound differences began to emerge.

As far as we or anyone else knows, my brother’s one of a kind, for now. It’s possible Government has others like him, which keeps my dad protective and thinking about leaving the city entirely, risking all of us for my brother because once you leave the city you’re gone: Green or worse.

But my brother began showing signs really early, though we didn’t know then. He walked at six months, talked at nine, started doing math when he was five. Not addition or anything, but quantum magic. We were proud, my dad especially. The boy who almost died because of tech was going to change the world with his little brain, make the next breakthroughs in science and stuff.

A prodigy. The word sounded like hope. We watched lectures at night from universities across the world, all of them over my head and probably over dad’s too, and my brother started speaking Arabic, French, Russian, Finnish: anything spoken around him. He was picking up languages as fast as he was picking up numbers. The lectures bored him and he never paid attention but he grabbed their languages and made them his own. Within a year he built his own language, called it Dragon and started writing books. While the other kids his age were learning to read and write, he was inventing new ways to think and talk and understand reality.

That’s when my dad pulled him out of his school and taught him about secrets. It’s also when his skin began to change, or at least when we noticed. It felt like skin but it had no scent. Even his hair was scentless, though it felt right. His eyes were always black like mom’s but when we looked in them then we started to understand something more about their color. Things happened inside him and when he got hurt he didn’t stay hurt. Cuts closed, he ate enormous amounts for a human of any age or size, and he seemed to just know things, to see things we couldn’t. I remember watching him stare at the sun for an hour. I told him he’d go blind and he laughed at me. When he turned away from the light, he ran inside and filled up a notebook with calculations I don’t think anyone would be able to understand. Before we could even say the words we most feared about him he told us that he wasn’t human, like everyone else.

My dad tried to console him but he wasn’t looking for sympathy. He was looking for answers, for a reason, for a purpose.

You’re my son, dad said and we all just left it at that.

I hold my brother now. I feel his pulse, hear his breathing, but I know he’s not like me or maybe anyone else. If we leave the city, everything I’ve dreamt of disappears, but if we stay he might.

How do you know, he says.

If you’re not alive, then neither am I. None of us are.

Do you think they killed mom when she started to turn like me?

We watch birds and squirrels outside. Leaves falling. I hold my brother and try not to think about everything happening inside him or what he’ll one day become. I just hold him.

a week in review

It’s not been a good week. Bombings, shootouts, manhunts, gun bills, internet privacy, insider trading: everyone lost this week.

Let’s begin with the bombing: two Chechen brothers set off two bombs during the Boston marathon. Terrorism is being offered, and it is, surely, an act of terrorism, but that word has taken on such a particular meaning here in america that I think it should be looked at a bit closer. The news was immediately declaring this an act of darkskinned islamic fundamentalists, even falsely reporting several times that the criminal was a Saudi national. Terrorism, in america, has taken on a very racist connotation, and you can disagree with that, but if you look at most of the domestic acts of terror in recent years, they’re by white fundamentalist christian men, but these people are rarely, if ever, referred to or remembered as terrorists. No, one must be brown and muslim to count! And so now the news is desperately seeking a way to connect these boys to fundamentalist islamic sects around the world.This, I would say, is unlikely. The older one–now dead–may very well have been a fundamental, as it looks like, but I’m pretty confident these two men were working alone, under no direction from foreign powers. This, of course, may end up not being true, but I think there’s a true and nefarious desire amongst americans to make this act of violence more understandable by labelling it under the enemy we already know. It doesn’t help that these kids are white, however.

The Boston marathon, as has been stressed, is really not just an american event. Yeah, it happens here, but there are participants from almost 100 nations. Yes, this happened domestically, but I wouldn’t consider it so much an act of domestic terrorism, in that the focus of the attack was on an international event. What their motivation or purpose was isn’t for me to say, and probably there’s no good reason, but is there ever? The surviving Tsarnaev brother will probably die before he can say or he’ll be tortured into telling pure untruths, connecting himself to a rebel faction in Chechnya that now needs american bombs to stop the terror from spreading. There are talks of him being a tool or some part of a conspiratorial plot, but I find this sort of absurd, for many reasons. My dad fits in this camp, believing that it now sets a precedent for the militarization and shutting down of an entire city, which, truly, was a pretty shocking and frightening thing to see. Whether it was right or wrong, correct or incorrect, isn’t for me to say, but it was alarming to know that people’s houses were being searched warrantlessly across a metro area. But I don’t see the conspiracy angle because they don’t need it. The government does this and can do this and that’s why it was so easy for it to happen. If homeland security suspects you of anything, your rights and privacy disappear. This has been in effect for years, though this is the first widescale demonstration of it. And so, no, I don’t think our government had anything to do with these two men because they didn’t need these two men to make this normal.

There’s the troubling fact, too, about the suspension of the Miranda Rights for the young Tsarnaev. Glenn Greenwald talks about that here and says it much better than I can. But it’s alarming and wholly odious. If we believe in justice, in equality, than we believe in it for everyone, not only those we agree with. Part of what defines our First Amendment rights is a case of neonazis marching through a city. The courts decided this fell within their rights, as citizens, to stage a peaceful demonstration, no matter how reprehensible. If you believe that you have the right to say whatever you want and that should be protected, then even those you find to be the worst humans imaginable have that same right. Believing in justice doesn’t only apply when it’s easy: it applies to everyone, in all circumstances, regardless of your feelings about the individual. If murder is wrong, state sanctioned murder is just as wrong, even if applied to a murderer. If you believe torture is a violation of human rights, then it is always a violation, not only when it happens to people you like/agree with. The suspension of the Miranda rights has already been in practice for a few years, but that doesn’t mean it should continue to be that way. If the young Tsarnaev has no rights, then no one deserves rights. He is a human. This isn’t about him being Chechen, american, islamic, or any other thing: he is a human, no matter how violent and reprehensible his actions and beliefs. If one human deserves rights, all humans deserve rights. You don’t pick and choose with justice.

The Boston bombing wasn’t the only bombing this week. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia all faced such disasters, not to mention Syria, which has been in a state of domestic warfare for almost a year now, yes? These are all horrible and, actually, with much higher death tolls and costs to safety. I mention this not to diminish what’s happened here, but to show that this happens in many places, and often because of things we have done or continue to do. I don’t want to link these events too closely to american involvement because I simply don’t know all the facts, but things we have done historically in these places continue to have great costs on humans who live there. There is a link to us and our government and it’s important not to forget that.

Now, I saw a lot of posts this week that seemed intended to trivialise the Boston bombing, which I find pretty absurd. Yes, this happens everywhere, and I understand that people doing this are trying to point out a hypocrisy, but I find the tactic sort of stupid in this case. Like justice, empathy applies to all cases. If one bombing of civilians is bad, all bombings of civilians are bad. You don’t get to pick and choose which humans are worthy of your empathy. Yes, this is our country so it’s easier to feel it for people here, and that’s appropriate. When a great act of violence happens thousands of miles away it will always be less real than the one that happens to someone who could be you. That’s humanity. No one should apologise or be made to feel bad because they post more about the Boston bombing than they did about the Baghdad bombing that happened, if I’m not mistaken, the same day. So feel high and mighty and righteous, but it doesn’t give you moral superiority because you’re aware of something other people are not. And trust me, I understand the frustration of a country so insular that it’s blissfully and wilfully unaware of our own acts of terrorist literally spread across the globe, but maybe this isn’t the best time to tell people that you care more than them, yes?

But let’s talk about something else that’s happening here, or, not here, but by us, here: Guantanamo. Almost every inmate there is on a hunger strike, subject to forced feeding, which is tantamount to torture. Many of these people have been there for a decade or more without any charges, and many of them are cleared for release or transfer, yet they remain. They have been subjected to the worst humiliations, the worst tortures, incredible indecencies and inhumane situations, and now, with the only thing that they have control over, their ingestion of food, they stage a strike, a protest to try and make the world aware of them, or maybe just to die with the last shreds of dignity possible. And we are torturing them by force feeding. If you don’t know what force feeding is, let me explain. A person is strapped down until they are unable to move their body. A hose is then inserted in through their nose and pushed into their stomach. This is a very painful process as the inmate struggles with the only muscles available to him/her, which are in the throat. The food is forced down in this most painful and humiliating way, and then, after the food is in, they are not released from their bindings, but strapped there for an additional two hours–sometimes more–until they are let go. These inmates are not allowed to see their lawyers, their families: anyone. The Obama administration with impunity continues to keep these inmates concealed and in the dark, buried alive, without crime, without justice.

In addition to this, a bipartisan research task force has unequivocally denounced the Bush administration on crimes against humanity. This investigation was led by Asa Hutchinson, NRA consultant and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. The report concludes that never before in U.S. history had there been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” While the report focused largely on the Bush administration after 9/11, it also criticizes a lack of transparency under Obama. This is a task force that President Obama did not want and did not call for, that he in fact decided not to make. Barack Obama continues the Bush administrations calls for secrecy and disruption of justice by making no attempts to investigate these violations of human rights, these crimes against humanity, but simply brushing over them. And still, these men, George Bush included, will never face their crimes in court, while whistleblowers, those who simply tell the world about these abuses, are being prosecuted by the Obama administration to the full extent of the law. Bradley Manning has been in custody for over 1,000 days not without trial–the maximum limit is 120 days before a person is required to be released–for releasing information about crimes against humanity in the Iraq and Afghan wars. This attack on whistleblowers is really an attack on investigative journalism, making them afraid to do their jobs in case they be prosecuted as spies, which leads them to expensive court cases in which they may be tried for their life. Michael DeKort, Thomas Drake, Franz Gayl, and Thomas Tamm are, along with Bradley Manning, the whistelblowers attacked by this administration. I don’t have time to explain who they are because each one probably deserves a book that I’m unable to write. But google them and learn what led them to be tried as spies and have their lives taken apart and ruined by their government, that they served.

The gun bills did not pass through the Senate. Not a single measure has been taken to make guns more strictly regulated, which is something that desperately needs to happen. There is no logic behind fearing the taking away of arms. There are more arms held by private citizens currently in america than could possibly ever be seized by our government. I actually don’t have much to say about gun safety. I think guns are stupid and no one should have them, but that’s me–a cityboy. I understand that many people in the country have a much different relationship to guns, and so while I think no one should own any guns, I don’t think legislation to remove them is necessary. What is necessary, however, is that they be harder to obtain. This should be obvious.

CISPA also passed as did a bill that essentially allows senators and representatives to legally practice insider trading. These are things I also have little to say about because of how obviously horrible they are. CISPA privatises the internet which takes away any shred of privacy you thought or believe you have. Anything that you’ve ever done on the internet, on your phone, or via email is now theirs, and this can and often is traded to the government. The age of downloading and freesharing is going to disappear unless we do something about it. If nothing else, be sure to know how your senators voted, and then make sure they’re moved out of congress. The insider trading bill is also obviously so horrible that it’s barely worth discussing. Essentially what it means is that members of the senate and house can vote on regulations for companies that they own stock in and similar such activities. This allows them to know market value before the market does. By voting on what technologies are to be subsidised or regulated, they can hedge their bets, if you will, and make an enormous profit.

What else happened this week? Maybe I’ll remember later.

But there’s also a line of thinking that will connect all of these things together. While some of them are clearly more linked such as CISPA, insider trading, gun bill because they ensure that those who have power retain their power while gaining more, there are most certainly not related to Boston, for example–though I’d argue that CISPA is pretty related to Guantanamo and whistleblowers. While the mayhem in Boston and Texas–which I forgot to mention–they are most likely unrelated for at least one huge reason: they didn’t need to be. The senate didn’t need you to be distracted to enact these laws or make sure the gun laws never happened. They did this all fair and legal, easy peasy lemon squeezey. They did it right in front of us, against their constituents feelings and desires, but what do they care? They got what they wanted, what the lobbyists wanted for their parent companies. There’s a reason why our government has such a shockingly low approval rating, and it’s not a conspiracy. It’s open knowledge: these people are not in it for you.

And so the links between the Tsarnaevs and the senate or Obama administration are pure fabrication and conspiracy mongering. If they needed a distraction to pass these, they could have distracted you with an abortion or gay marriage debate. There was no sum gain on Boston or Texas for the US government, unless you think that the militarisation of Boston was part of their plan, though, as I said above, I find this unnecessary for a few big reasons.

But, yes: this is the week as I saw it.

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a year in stories::twelve

A lot’s been going on and I want to talk about it but I’ve no time. I’ve decided, though, to discuss more here, like I used to. Or, you know, post more regularly. I guess I never posted much about me here. I’ll probably be dumping all thoughts political here, though. That’s where my head usually is and has been for the last couple years. Anycase, a new story. Just wrote it real quick, in about half an hour. The whole thing came to me while I brushed my teeth. Hopefully you dig it. Pretty short this time.

There was a cat with a face

 

Today a cat fell from the sky, which isn’t so weird, but it looked just like my sister. Hard to say how far it fell from but it definitely had my sister’s face. The thing wasn’t hurt by the fall, just sort of bounced off the sidewalk, rolled around, then curled up and licked its paw. This all happened right in front of me, so close in front of me, in face, that I dropped the book I was holding, which, incidentally, was sort of about cats the way all Murakami is sort of about cats.

It just, like, stared at me and so I stared back. When I say it looked like my sister I don’t mean it reminded me of her. I mean it had a human face–my sister’s human face. It had cat ears and a cat body, cat legs and cat tail, but its face–not its head–was my sister’s. I got lost staring at it and found myself sitting on the sidewalk of 5th Avenue staring at this weird cat until some girl asked me what I was doing. What are you doing, she said and I said Just looking at this cat, and she said Why, and I said Because it looks like my sister, and she said my sister must be pretty. She asked if it was mine and I said no and stood up.

She was pretty, the girl, probably a few years younger than me, so I asked her to coffee and she walked with me. As we walked I tried to forget about the cat with my sister’s face by talking about other things, like how all the birds in the city are dying or how pollution makes the sky prettier or about how football is racist or how true liberty exists on a beach in the middle of the night. I couldn’t tell if any of this was interesting to her so I kept talking, switching topics, and then she noticed the cat with my sister’s face was following us and I pretending like it didn’t matter but she asked again if it was mine so I asked her what she thought would happen if the moon broke in half and on and on, talking faster, and even when the bombs went off and everyone ran in all directions and she took my hand or I took hers, I kept wondering if she liked me, if this was a good first impression when the second and third bombs went off.

Trained as a first responder, she ran into the dust and smoke kicked up by the explosions and I followed her. She tore her skirt to make tourniquets and bandages and she took my shirt which made me selfconcious about my muffintop and pale skin but she could barely see me. I wanted to ask her about movies and music but there was so much screaming and pain that I just watched her, tried to help. Kids were missing limbs and I knew they wouldn’t make it through the night but I carried them as fast as I could back into daylight, away from the cloud of debris. I lost the girl for a while when I saw the cat watching me while it drifted from injured person to injured person, spreading a calming, a relief. Hours disappeared in this way, my pants cut to shorts for bandages, my shirt gone, and my skin coated in dust and dirt and smoke. Gasping by an ambulance where an EMT gave me oxygen, I saw her again and waved with just my fingers. She ran and threw herself into my arms.

She lived nearby and we went to her apartment to clean up. Barely clothed now, she was way too pretty for me and I knew I had no business being there with her but I couldn’t just walk away. When we reached the door of her apartment she told me the cat was still following me and we went inside before it got to us.

She let me shower first but quickly joined. I can’t say what it was, but probably the chaos and the adrenaline and the fear of mortality caused her to fall in love with me if only for a little while. Love works like that, I guess. She didn’t have any men’s clothes so I wore a robe and then she collapsed into bed and fell asleep almost right away.

The moon was missing from the sky but there’s never any moon or stars in the city but I still think about it a lot. Down on the street, the cat watched me and I heard it meowing even through glass and across fifty or a hundred feet.

The girl snored and whens he rolled over she farted but I still thought–no, knew: she was the most beautiful woman to ever touch me. I left a note with my number on her side table then taped it to her door, then her bathroom mirror, then put it back on her bedside table and left in the robe. The note said I’d return it but I thought this was a one time only deal, because life doesn’t give you a gift and let you enjoy it forever, but maybe it’s sexist to think of a woman as being a gift.

The draft tore through me as I walked home in her bathrobe. The cat followed about a half block behind me the whole way home but I let it inside anyway. I’d never seen a cat in an elevator but it didn’t seem to mind. Really, the cat only seemed to care about me. Staring and staring and never looking away.

It was late when I got inside but everyone was still awake. My mother ran to me and held me, her tears wetting my shirt, wanting to know why I didn’t call or answer the phone and I realised I lost my phone somewhere. Dad hugged me too and my sister cried a little. We all heard the meow and I opened up the door to let the cat with my sister’s face inside.

Where’d you get that, they asked and I said it fell from the sky. None of them cared much about the cat, probably because we’re dog people, but I asked my mother if she thought the cat looked weird and she said like what and I said like your daughter but my dad started laughing because he thought it was a joke and my sister told me to shut up. Picking up the cat I held it right in my sister’s face and asked her if it was like looking in a mirror but she just took the cat from me and told me to go to hell.

Held in my sister’s arms, the cat stared at me and my sister stared at me and I guess I passed out or something because I opened my eyes and was on the floor, the cat with my sister’s face licking my cheek while my mother hungup on the doctor or nurse or whoever. Thank god said dad and they lay me in bed and the cat jumped in too. Before my dad closed the door he asked about the robe.

I met a girl, I said.

He laughed so hard he choked and then just closed the door.

The cat with my sister’s face keeps staring at me and I keep pretending to be asleep already.

a year in stories::eleven

Because of Bart’s advice, I’ve changed the background of my page. Hopefully it’s easier to read now.

I’m really happy with this story I’ve just completed. Hopefully it’s good. It’s the longest short story I’ve written in several years so hopefully it deserves its length. Anyrate, any and all criticism/thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

I write about dust a lot and so I guess this is me treading familiar ground. It’s sort of unedited so, um, yeah. Be careful maybe. It’s about dust and life after the end of the world and motherhood and fatherhood and childhood. It’s about 4,200 words and weirdly autobiographical.

Old Skin Dust

 

Dust collects beneath my bed.

Today through tears my mother told me she doesn’t have cancer. I held her when she threw her arms around me and told her how I love her and how happy I am. She told me that she loves me and kept holding me while she wept.

I remembered dad and thought I was where he should be. Maybe even who he should be. He would’ve made a drink so I made two. Half empty bottle of vodka in the freezer mixed with flat gingerale. It tasted horrible but she didn’t care, too happy and relieved to notice.

To your health, I said and she said I was too young but smiled so big I drank anyway. My eyes watered for it was a truly foul drink but I drank it just so we could have the moment.

I sat with my mother for the rest of the evening and into the night. It snowed. She was happy and I was happy to be there with her, ensuring her memory of beating cancer be coupled with the memory of us together. Make it all look and feel like family. I remembered dad some more, couldn’t stop remembering him, how I was filling in for those big empty boots he left in the hall. Heavy. Every time I see them I pick them up but never put them on. Ten years of this but it sounds like longer but feels shorter. I remember him not as a distant memory but as a ghost, following us around, creaking the floor and doors, getting drunk and singing songs he swore were Prussian.

My mother went to sleep and I brought her water, kissed her forehead, told her I love her. She was drunk and now she snores down the hall while I keep remembering my dad while snow keeps tumbling on down while the vodka disappears while the cold seeps through our faded glass windows.

My mother survived cancer but I didn’t even know. Monday she went to the hospital and spent hours there but was home by the time school ended. She didn’t say a word all week and it’s midnight and school’s in the morning and she’s alive, will keep on being so, but I feel cheated and all day with her I wanted to ask her why she didn’t tell me, why she did it all alone for these last seventy two hours and I know it’d be different if dad were here still but maybe that would be worse.

My mother didn’t have cancer but she survived it. Probably you don’t count as a survivor unless you get chemo and a briefcase full of drugs, but she feels like she survived. She prayed, I guess, all week but never asked me to pray too. She taught me the power of prayer, how praying together makes it doubly powerful, but she prayed alone, in the dark, away from me. Dad prayed. He used to pray all the time, even when he fell apart. But me, I guess it’s never felt right. Always feels like I’m talking to myself in a room full of people. And something about priests makes me nervous, the same way cops startle.

My mother didn’t die and she was never going to but we celebrated like she averted certain disaster and maybe it was the prayer but I feel like a spectator, like this celebration used my body but not anything inside it. She survived and I watched, unaware of the danger, unsure how to respond to the happiness.

For as long as I remember the dust’s been beneath my bed. In kindergarten, I brought an entire jar full of dust for showandtell. So excited, the night before, after my bath, I whispered my question beneath my bed and the dust agreed so I collected as much as I could into an empty jam jar made of glass. It had to be glass the dust told me because it’d get stuck to the plastic and never be able to get out for thousands of years. It sounded terrible so I washed out the jam and filled it with dust. Scrapes on my knees and elbows from crawling around on the uneven and busted woodfloor of our apartment but I didn’t care. Curled up in bed holding the jar in my arms, hearing it move and sing the way dust does, I couldn’t wait to show my teacher, my friends.

I woke up before mother and dad but found dad passed out skeletal on the couch, his breath uneven and sharp. I stood before him for what seemed forever then looking into the large nostrils of his big sharp nose. His dirty shirt draped over him reminded me of dinosaur exhibits from the way his hips and ribs poked at the fabric. His shoulders and elbows had edges like blades. I asked the dust about him but it sang sadly, whispered softly.

Even then I knew it wouldn’t last. The chipped and scorched floor, the disintegrating wallpaper, the almost dying dad. His breath stank and snore screeched but I put my hand over his mouth to make sure it still came. His thin skin almost invisible over bone and sinew, he was my dad and I kissed his calloused hand and ran to the door, opened and closed it quiet as I could.

It snowed then too. It always snows here. Childhood was punctuated by sunshine but defined by the snow. My mother told me that’s what caused my dad to obliterate the way he did: he remembered sunshine, seasons, warmth. It was a different world then, I guess, but it’s one I never made sense of though one I fell in love with. Films from only decades ago when fields of grass, of crops, children wearing short pants, short sleeves. Days without hoods and hats, mittens and coats: they call it the past but it sounded worlds away. The kind of place people of earth would dream of.

But it snowed and I skipped on to school, too excited to keep the jar of dust in my bag so I held it in my hands the whole way. Before the sun rose I was at school and it was dark as we huddled together between spaceheaters and Ms Janovitch led us in song and dance. Childhood was meant for that, for life to be full of gaiety and coloring and stories read. My favorite stories were about animals that acted like people because people acting like people is a waste of breath. She didn’t teach us how to read that year but I figured it out from watching her and staring at books, at all those tiny little words made of tiny little letters. Ink and paper transformed to sound and meaning: that was magic. Real magic.

Showandtell came and the others all brought out their toys: halfcenturyold stuffed animals, building blocks, favorite books and movies, combs, money from before winter, pressed flowers, and even seedlings of forgotten plants. Sitting in a circle bundled up for warmth against the leaking windows, the thinning walls, the broken ceilings, every nose red, every breath visible, they waited for me to reveal an explanation for the jar I never let go of since showing up early.

My turn and I walked to the center of the circle smiling openmouthed, my secret visible for the first time. This, I said holding up the jar above my head, Is dust. It came from under my bed. It’s been there since I first slept there. Since my first memory.

Standing there, holding the jar so high like the greatest treasure, I waited for the response, the shock and awe, the cheer and applause but nothing came. Ms Janovitch asked me what was special about the dust and I told her everything was special about it and that it came from under my bed.

It was then that the looks started. That lingering embarrassment I saw in their faces. The awkward stares. Even then I saw that the world had shifted on me and I was no longer one of them. In one moment, I became other to them. I was proud of my dust and it turned them against me.

Years go by but the dust remains. I stopped talking about it twelve years ago. That day in school was the only time but I still didn’t understand. Maybe I still don’t. I’ve spoken to the dust since I first talked and even before.

My mother tells me I didn’t talk for a long time. She and my dad were worried I was retarded or something, that my brain broke somewhere in the womb or maybe leaving it. For four years they coaxed me every chance they could to say something, to just speak. I guess that’s when he first started crumbling. With every month that went by his cheeks hollowed more, his hair receded, his eyebrows fell out, his gums greyed, and his skin tightened. My mother says it was so gradual she didn’t know for years what was happening to him but looking at pictures makes a different scene. The passage of time ravaged his body. As a young man when first I was born he was tall and handsome, physically strong, muscular with a thick neck, but by the time I got my first communion he had shrivelled into a hairless man with paper for skin and skull in place of a normal head.

The dust told me.

My dad carried a blackhole inside him born from me. When I entered the world I took from him a center and in that place left only absence and that absence sucked him in until he disappeared. As he disappeared into that nothing inside him, dust multiplied.

My memories of the distant past are photographs burnt at the edges flipped through too fast. Lying in bed alone for maybe the first time and hearing the whisper. There was a moon that night, fractured yet swollen, spreading shadows and lights into my bedroom. Creeping from beneath the threadbare blanket I still use, my barefeet against the frigid floor, I dropped to my knees and stared into the blackness. I didn’t say anything because maybe I couldn’t yet but there was a question in me and it was answered by the dust. My questions continued and the dust responded and I learnt from it.

Dust doesn’t speak or sing the way we do. It’s something else beyond words.

When we’re children we know so much more. We hold the world in our eyes and hands and it’s impossibly new for something billions of years old. Communication between the world and us isn’t modulated or refracted by language or custom or culture. We are one with it, in it. We are not above or separate from nature, but a curious scientist wandering through as it sloshes in around and through us. As we investigate the world, it investigates us.

My oldest memories are all dust. Dust flowing, flying, singing, dancing, teaching. I sat in the dark with the dust and it showed me who I am. What dust is but when asked to explain it all falls apart. That’s what happened that day in class. I was dust and dust was me but then language broke in: humanity trampled upon its own legacy.

What is special about dust? Why did you bring that here?

The disturbed dreams of a deranged boy in a deserted world. That’s what their looks told me then, what their gossip and stares still teach me. Probably I am different than most but not because of my choosing. They say I never grew up and I hear only compliments in their contempt.

Growing up is the violent act of severing oneself from earth and tying oneself to the simulated reality of language and custom.

I can no longer speak to the dust as I once did, but use words. I have forgotten how to speak in learning how to talk.

My mother and dad were so happy when first I said words. They were afraid so long about the bills of special needs care, about what would become of me in this wintry world, and it was almost time to send me to school. The secret of their defective combined genetics would soon be public knowledge and shame would be all they had to show for my birth. But finally I spoke a few months shy of my fifth birthday. The funny thing is that none of us remembered what I said and probably it didn’t matter. Probably it was nothing at all. Our first and last words never matter, only the ones in between. I was smothered with hugs, kisses, tears. I learnt then to do things for other people because happiness matters.

I learnt sacrifice the day I found I could no longer speak to the dust as I once had. I cried violently. Thrashing and screaming, afraid I had lost myself, cutoff from the dust. My mother tried to console me and eventually I ran out of tears, my throat raw, my eyes puffy. Dad was drunk staring at the snow’s reflection in the television listening to a song about a snake who shucks off its skin to become new and whole again over the internet and I remember him crying but I don’t know if that part’s true.

Ragged and hopeless, my mother lay me down, turned off the light, closed the door and left. Moonless, the darkness absolute, I heard my mother and dad talking. He blamed me for something. I remember the sentiment but not the words but that was far away as it turned to yelling. I rolled from my bed and crawled beneath it, my cheeks still wet from tears. Dust collected on my skin, not only on the trails of tears but everywhere. It surrounded me and covered me. Then it vibrated until I was dry and warm. It sang to me and with every breath I took it swelled inside me.

I woke with my mother yanking me out from under my bed and wiping the dust from my tired body while I cried, watching it flit through the air while my mother complained of the mess.

My mother sleeps still. Chubby yet malnourished, she subsists on cheap liquor and handouts from strange men. There are photographs of her on a beach barely clothed, her feet in waves and the sun bloated and red behind her. Beautiful and happy and young. Beside her is another girl whose name I don’t know but I know she was my aunt. She died when winter came. A lot of people did. A lot of people still do. All the pictures of the person my mother is were taken before my birth.

I almost killed her. Something my dad told me often. I know he loved me but I think he resented me. My mother never regained her figure or the brightness of summer. Even after winter started, when my parents married, she carried summer with her.

That’s what they all say, anyway. I’ve seen the pictures and she’s beautiful. In the videos she dances and sings in ways I’ve never seen or heard. To me she’s always been my mother, barely real but the only real thing. Homely and careless, she no longer resembles who she is and probably this pains her even more than what happened to my dad.

But when I was born I almost killed her. If I was born in another time, according to my dad, we’d both be dead. It’s hard to imagine someone dying from giving birth but summer’s children are always a mix of nostalgia and fear. Those of us born in winter have no fond memories of a bright and energetic world. There is only the wonder of snow, the transcendence of temporary warmth, and the sublime feeling when there’s enough food for everyone. It makes me drunk even thinking about it. To be full.

I was too large, to put it a certain way, for my mother. So tiny, my mother, holding me inside her, reluctant to enter the world and leave her. I suppose I’ve never really left her. Physically, yes, but emotionally, never. But I was too large, or my head was, and it was too late to cut me out so she had to force me out. Over the course of nineteen hours, I found the world beyond her womb and she survived.

The trauma I caused that day led to the cancer scare of this one.

I almost killed her twice but have never been aware or conscious of either threat. She was beautiful and happy before my birth. She had a man she loved, had looks and intelligence and a future of promise, and then I came, swallowed her light, swallowed her man, swallowed her life. Closing the door, she snores through the walls but I could stick my finger through the wall if I tried. The neighbors sleep now too and the snow falls. In my room I lie down beside my bed and cry, asking the dust.

My dad believed himself to be Prussian in a world where authenticity died, where nations and borders fell beneath meters of snow and ice.

He grew up in a world divided arbitrarily and he chose his ancestry from a book his father gave him about their geneology. He found his name as a footnote on a page near the back. It was the first time he saw his name written in a book and it made a powerful impression. Though the nation he belonged to called itself Mexico, he called himself Prussian and spent his life resurrecting a dead language. His father spoke German and his father’s father came from a nation called Germany but my dad didn’t want German: he wanted Prussian. He studied languages and found other Prussians, language builders who spoke Prussian and rebuilt it into a workable language. My dad found a dream that was his whole life and he helped bring back the dead. By the age of twenty he was not only fluent in a language he and a few others reconstructed from the phoneme up, but he was a public figure for the things he wrote and the things he did.

Then winter came and he met my mother. The dreams of that world were not for snow. He kept it alive and taught it to me but when he met my mother his life took on new hues of light. Though all was lost he found her and with her, the dismal outlook evaporated. My mother tells me how desperate he was in those days. The bouts of drinking and casual suiciding and all the anger and fear that was in him. She taught him how to live again. He was a man always looking backwards, devoted to the dead and his past, but she turned him around, showed him the beauty of shadows and night and snow.

He lived again for her but his past tortured him bitterly. All is ice and snow and he fell apart. Disintegrating until he simply ceased to be.

I never found his body. No one did. He grew frail as the years wore on. By the time I was twelve he could no longer walk without aid, could barely hold his head up. He never looked old, only dead. And he looked deader and deader until life left him.

But still the dust remains.

The rhythm and harmony: dust.

There was a girl I once loved or believed I did. I love her still, or imagine I do. The dust is quiet on this matter but when I listened first to her heart beat against my ear I heard that familiar whispering song. Not in her heart but between the beats, maybe in the blood or in the lungs.

I’ve learnt that my first love is like every other first love. I feel light and hear music when she’s around. She saves me from the otherness of my ostracised life. In truth, her eyes see me. They see me not with contempt or fear but like I’m human too.

She was there the day I brought dust to school. She’s been there for every school moment of these long ten years. Gawky as a child, she aged into her beauty. Thin and dark, her blackness shined against the snow the way the night stands out against the whitened earth. Lisping even as an almost adult, she spoke to me as friend first a few years after my dust induced isolation. My first and only friend but always in secret. We dug in snow, made militias of men. Soldiers we saw in movies made in the old world. She amazed me. Her hand against snow was not like mine. I piled it or threw it together, but she wove it, created it. I made men of snowballs but she sculpted men from snow. While most of us added to create image, hers was one of deletion. Even when only ten, she had a different relationship to the world around us. She saw between the cracks of this world, saw the beauty in the dying husks of the carried over civilisation.

If we’re to have a future, she said, We need to stop remembering how the world once was and modelling life on it. We live in a fundamentally altered state and so we must adapt at a fundamental level. Every building we live in crumbles away and falls apart because we create things for a world that no longer exists. If humans are to survive, we must stop bemoaning the world we live in and adapt to it. I hear always how you, our teachers, our parents, our leaders decry winter. You long for summer but summer is gone. As are spring and fall. My generation only understands these words abstractly. The world you want to return to is one we don’t understand and one that no longer exists. It may never exist again. You are handicapped by memory and if you want that world now dead, then die along with it, but at least be kind enough to move out of the way so we may build a new life for this new world.

That was the last day I saw her. She spoke at the general assembly only a month ago and now she is being raised as an architect for the future. Word spreads fast and her short statement spread over the world live and then was rebroadcast for days.

That night she whispered to me that she loved me and I told her to listen. We lay in bed, my bed, and the dust drifted from beneath. In the moonlight it created a haze and as our bodies spoke it sang in whispers electric against the base of my spine.

Do you think I can do it, she said and I kissed her. You can do anything. You will make this world ours.

She snuck out the way she came: through my window, down the fire escape. I never asked her about the dust and she didn’t say anything about the way it surrounded us that night.

The dust listens to my tears and sticks to me once more. This is ritual. This is worlds colliding.

The snow transitions to hail and my mother wakes, stumbles to the toilet and I hear her gasp against the coldness and then the sound of her urinating. The neighbors cough and start the water heater. Morning already. Another sleepless night. An important night for my family, such as it is.

Today we begin again. My mother is alive and will continue to live. She made promises to change, to be better, to stop crying about the way the world has fallen apart in her lifetime. She will pray for the future instead of waiting for the apocalypse.

I waited my whole life for the apocalypse, she said, but when it came it didn’t end.

On my computer they’re rebroadcasting her short speech in preparation for her first statement since stepping into public life. They call her the Architect and my heart slips through the floor to rest deeper than the snow. The dust rises and swirls around the glow of the screen, dancing, singing. I stand and it hurricanes around me in the faint electric light, not touching me but warming me, promising me, answering questions I’m afraid to ask and tears burst from me and when I inhale it rushes in.

I know, I say putting on dad’s boots. I know.

And I open the window and start running.

zen_wallpaper_by_christafan.jpg

a year in stories::ten

Another story for the year, catching my way up. There’s snow everywhere and it’s horrible and this week is strange and sort of horrible. So it goes.

Here’s a picture of Totoro and a new story.

Into the Air

Dulled heart.

She sleeps alone beneath the blanket. Open the window. Cool breeze but needed. Remember her tongue, the fun, the days she said words falling like rain to cover skin, your skin–my skin: ours. Those days connected. When I was inside and you surrounded. An egg, a yolk and shell: eternal. Feeling godlike, so full of you, so deep in you–love: those hands were mine. Those traces of you flutter yet through air, blown by winds wintry: snow will wash these streets by morning. Call it grace.

Still the words: breathe slow. Broken eyelids cannot hold. The tears collect but hold them back: my dreams were yours but not my tears.

My cheek to hers, lying in bed, I put the gun to my temple and we escape through the window, into the air, into the night, into the coming falling snow. These hands hold, find grip, blood receding from our ghost, from our lives, and we enter this night, this world colliding with celestial sensation, with evanescent existence: ghosting across sky.

You stop, we stop.

I feel new, you say and laughter rises, soars and we’re together in this sound, in this song we made after violence: after tears–laughter.

Do you remember, I say but she doesn’t care, takes my hand that slides through mine and into my chest: hot. fiery–light. Bursting from in me, your light, our merging into one fulminates against surrounding night. This skin erodes: permeable. I dive into you and we ignite, a star born from earth launching towards sky: past it.

And so: one. Finally. All the years, furies, broken words, rotted promises. Remember: I remember. I remember you. I longed for you, even when we were yet together. After all the heartaches, broken burnt bridges between us. A life together corroded: dim and worn–tattered. But now: beauty.

Now light.

You and I: our bodies lost. Boundaries blurred: gone. We are one, at long last.

And I put the gun back in the drawer. Close the window. Stare at you, sleeping. And I remember and hope we get back there, to that brightness.

a year in stories::nine

First story written on my new chromebook, which is amazing to play with. Still figuring it all out. Or, rather: not figuring it out but discovering new things to do with it every day. Also, applied to go back to school for computer programming. Yeah, life is throwing me around.

Anyrate, in a weird place, I guess, because these stories are coming out strange. Maybe it’s because I listened to Tyler, the Creator all day along with lectures on physics. Some weird headpsace going on. Anyway–watch Tyler dance:

Howl

 

The boy curls alone naked. Light but cut in half dabs skin walls. Beams filled with dust curling air. Tossing arms fling stretch yawn eyes wipe curls knees to chest. The boy pushes his hands between knees squeezes but sleep fills every corner of the room.

 

Fire–

               fire !

                                   Fire–

Riot run streets rake rob rampage ravage running streets riotous youth vomit catatonic kaleidoscope slitting throat howl at the shore’s edge up lighthouse toppling into waves into sand into dust and ocean swirls back swallows spits frothing blood of a thousand thousand lives at sea and the youth carene crash laugh hipster falls blood in his throat now on chest and knives in their hands howling curdling moonbright light.

Children, says Priest, What is this?

Father father

                          fire !

                                       whiplashing to music unheard, thirteen girls thrashing, cackling, blood on their hands, in their mouths, black in their eyes spreading out through skin as snakes slithering over and into their bodies.

Children, says Priest reaching to help but thirteen girls become wolves and stab Priest and burn down the chapel and eat his flesh and call him no god.

 

Eyes flicker fan whirs light eyes bat cries rolls over pulls blanket with him. Flies fly battering dust through stale air. Thirteen girls dance over his eyelids rubs away reaches in his pants adjusts unicorns neighing from his pants down his legs up his chest scratch its nose and he sits up gasping. Left right spider spinning down stops stares and the boy falls back into his bed into pillow into beyond.

 

Thirteen girls dive through the ocean screaming till lungs fill and they sink sink sink clawing at chest but not drowning, now gills open and feet connect to fin on through water and mermaids grow teeth sharpened numbered twenty six on each jaw and the thirteen girls take thirteen fish in their jaws and shred.

Swimming breathing through bloody water thick with fish death and they rush to the surface fast as they can, faster than they turned, faster and faster, bursting through surface, catching air with their finned hands fanned out wider till fins begin wings and wings pump and beat at the air until they rise high enough to catch air and fly off into shadows cast by moon.

 

Lips chap fissures grow creek break and blood touches gums then tongue and swallow. Smacking lips dry desert caustic in his mouth hairy on his tongue and he coughs, the boy coughs, he coughs again and again to the blood in his hand, But not mine? he says touching the burning in his lip with his tongue tasting blood and he falls back into bed but doesn’t fall through but stares at the ceiling watching the spider’s slow descent. Opening his mouth, the boy waits for the spider and when it gets close the sun shines bright through the windows and he throws his face into the spider hanging and swallows.

 

Air fills their lungs but not their wings when they kick away their tailfin touch ground and keep running, thirteen girls howling onto four legs and wolves, they are wolves, and they surround his house then climb the walls and stand on the sill, thirteen wolves watching the boy stare at the blood in his hands running from his mouth as he coughs and coughs and coughs.

howling–