Category Archives: Prose

I Take You Everywhere

“Hey Thomas,
haven’t seen you in a while
and when I have
you’ve been really distant.”

Thomas gazed across the park
at an empty playground.
“Yeah…” He said.

“I know it’s been hard for you
since Michelle left,
but it’s been awhile now.”

Thomas envisioned Michelle on the swings,
long legs white in the sunlight,
soaring through the air.
A stubborn angel with her
hair back, laughing.
“I’m over it,” he said.

“Great, so come out and see your friends.”

Thomas watched as Michelle
lay back on blanket,
those ridiculously over-sized sunglasses
he always hated
gracing her Elvin face.
“I will,” he said.

“OK, so…when?”

Michelle was calling Thomas over.
There was an empty space
on the blanket
beside her.
“Soon,” Thomas said.

She had on his favorite
summer dress. The one that still
hung in the closet like a ghost.
The only thing she left
as though on purpose.

“Soon.”

The Intervention

Mother stood up first.

“I know the divorce and your father’s passing has been difficult for you and you have your ways to cope…but we feel that we are losing you. You’re the only son I have and I pray everyday that you stop hurting yourself and that you find Jesus.”

She sat down.

Yeah, I found Jesus, Mother. He was hiding underneath my fucking bed right beside the crack pipe.

My uncle stood up next.

“This is all up to you, Peter. If you say (like you said before) that you are done then we’re all behind you. But you have to really be done this time. You have to. Nobody else can do it for you.”

Whatever, put down the doughnut.

After a couple more verbal lashings from the family, Cousin Timmy got up last. This ought to be good.

“You’re a fucking asshole.” He said. There were tears in his eyes.

He sat back down.

As adept as always in handling these kind of situations, Timmy, as adept as always.

I looked around the Tim Horton’s. Everyone was looking at me. I thought I was just coming here for a fucking coffee and a wrap.

That was Monday.

Friday back at it again. The beast needed feeding.

Dan rolled up in his Benz. He held up a bag of pills.

“Wanna get high with me and my girl?” Tina looked over. Smiled.

We made out last time. Felt her up. So hot.

Dan doesn’t know or he knows and doesn’t give a fuck.

“Hell yeah I do.” I got in the car.

MAN IN A HOTEL ROOM WITH A GUN

Taking it all in
one long moment

sitting there
on the edge of the bed
with a gun in your hand
blood on the sheets
a brunette laying across them

naked
pale
stiff
like a mannequin

you don’t recognize the gun
the room
her
your clothes

You don’t know how you got there
at all

so you lie back
upon the bed
your head close
to her hip

taking it all in
one long moment

staring at the ceiling fan
spinning
a quiet shadow
across everything

before you close
your eyes

and try to wake up.

THE LIFE COACH

You’re terrified of death because you don’t really know what it is, what it’s like, what comes after. You’ve spent your whole life building things up but all that will be gone in an instant and you are deeply troubled by the idea that there is nothing afterwards; that you just extinguish like a light, forever. Most people cannot bear the thought of it. That’s why we have drowned ourselves in religion for thousands of years.

“Talk dirty to me.”

The universe is apathetic to your condition. Throughout the centuries humanity is made to suffer; built to sing, to bleed, to create vast landscapes of art, music and poetry based on all that experience and in the end will receive nothing in return because even with our sentient intelligence, resilience, cultural and technological advancements –your life has no more value than that of an insects. That you thought it would be any different is nothing short of comedic.

“You’re a nasty piece of work. I like it.”

You all want to think that you’ll go to Heaven, that you’ll get some kind of reward for living or that you’ll return again somehow in someway, but you won’t and there is nothing after. You will die and your energy will return to the cosmos. It will most likely be distributed between a number of various elements such as comet dust, fungi on Mars, running water or part fucking dog fart.

“You’re gonna get it sideways.”

But I can tell you that nobody ever makes it off this planet. Not a chance. We are too greedy, selfish and weak to ever unite and conquer our own environment, never mind outer space, so all of these great inventions and discoveries are fuck all and nothing is worth a shit. We will perish with no understanding of the universe and with not having met any other intergalactic species that is how pathetic and insignificant we all are. In the end life is nothing more than senseless detritus wasting away on a floating cemetery filled with a bunch of fucking nobodies.”

“I gotta go. You’re getting it next time for sure.”

 

LATER, TALKING TO HARRY…

“Hey, how’s dating your life coach going?”

“Same. Think she knows everything. We all die. Nothing’s after. No point of anything. I’m a dog-fart.”

“Shit, doesn’t it get to you? I mean, this is all just so weird, Man. And you’re weird. I know she’s fucking weird….”

“Sure. Well, we can have these great in-depth discussions but honestly sometimes I feel like we’re just so disconnected. I mean, I keep trying to get with her but all I get back is that we’re all a bunch of losers that are going to die for nothing. It’s frustrating. Maybe it’s my approach but I don’t really get why it’s not working.”

“You gonna move on?”

“Nah. She’s still…interesting…and besides, my previous life coach makes her seem like a fucking optimist.”

“Well then, what can I say? Keep going. Sometimes you have to eat shit in order to see the sunlight.”

Dogs

Sometimes our dogs eat better than us
are better than us
can be much more spiritually profound
can show us the way.

They are definitely happier
far more expressive
defiantly loyal
unbreakable in friendship
will die protecting you
and can bring such joy into
the hearts and minds of both young and old.

But for this simple reason alone I prefer cats:
They don’t give a shit
and will leave me the fuck alone.

They also leave dead mice on the floor that’s
always a plus.

The War Veteran

Johnny had his face in his iPhone.
He didn’t see the crippled old war veteran
lying like litter on the sidewalk
in a beaten parka begging for change.

“Get out of my way, you filthy bum!”
Johnny was disgusted. The city should do a better job
of keeping this scum out of his sight.

As Johnny went to kick the man’s legs
to teach him a lesson
the old man’s hand reached out
and seized Johnny by the ankle
for while this particular veteran had lost everything
along the way he had obtained a very special gift
and today it would be Johnny who was the one
receiving the lesson
of a lifetime.

Everything went dark and quiet but for only a moment.
Johnny opened his eyes but didn’t remember closing them.

He wasn’t downtown anymore.
Instead Johnny was in a rice field and his ankles were all wet
the air was stifling hot with no breeze
large insects buzzed all around him and he could
smell his own sweat along with cow shit
but he didn’t have time to feel disgusted again.

A large boom displaced the air all around him as
further up the way
the entire tree line disappeared beneath
a wall of mushrooming fire
as jets roared past overhead.

Johnny’s eyes widened as the heat hit him and as
dozens of men came running out towards him screaming
all completely covered in crawling flames.

Johnny could smell their skin burning
when the barrage of endless bullets began
whipping right past his head and
cutting down the men Johnny realized
where all around him
scared just like him –men that
he went to basic training with
that he played cards with
men that were like his brothers.

The way that his best friend’s body
twitched as it was riddled with bullets
made him look like a dancing puppet
and it might have been funny as Hell
if it didn’t break Johnny’s heart.

Bombs exploded dirt high into the sky
that came raining back down all around him.
Then another hit…and another
closer and closer each time.

Johnny turned his head to look behind him.
A boy, must have been only seventeen
a new recruit that Johnny knew well
was seated on the ground trying to hold his guts in
screaming for his momma.

Men in straw hats came running out of the forest
fire spouted in rapid succession from the barrels of their guns.
They were all around him coming in fast.
Johnny was paralyzed with fear
his bladder let go inside of his pants when
the sergeant –a large shirtless man wearing a cowboy hat
calmly smoking a cigar
came up to Johnny and slapped him:

“Don’t you dare wet yourself on my field, soldier. You worthless piece of wet chicken shit I’ll hand you over to Charlie myself and you’ll get ass-banged all the way to Goddamn China if you don’t get a grip on your gun and DO WHAT YOU”RE TRAINED TO DO!! We’ve got to take this damned village or we’ll all be sucking bamboo dicks for the next ten years so get your Sally-ass shit together and make yourself GOD-DAMN USEFUL! GET TO KILL’N SOME COMMUNISTS! YOU WANT TO MAKE IT HOME SOME DAY THEN START MOVING! THE ONLY WAY OUT IS FORWARD AND THROUGH THESE SHITBAGS!”

The sergeant was the scariest person Johnny had ever seen
he was obviously completely insane
and made Johnny want to run into the fire just to escape his presence.
Instead the sergeant pushed Johnny forward and at that moment
Johnny somehow knew that he had spent over a year
in this Hell and there was no respite from it
not day or night
it would just continue on and on.

Johnny’s Mom wasn’t going to be able to
bail him out of this there was no one
there was nothing but him and his gun and
he was going to die or go mad in this man-made Hell
where everything was burning and filthy and all covered in
grease and blood and where everyone wanted you dead
and the only thing worse than the insects was the heat
and the constant endless stream of enemies.

This was a reality that he had never had to feel
or know was real and Johnny just couldn’t handle it.
Johnny just wanted to go home and hide under his bed.

Johnny leaned over and vomited
then vomited some more
as the sounds of passing cars and people
laughing returned and Johnny opened his eyes
realizing that he was in the middle of the sidewalk
crying, having wet his pants and now
retching his insides out in front of a
group of Japanese tourists.

Johnny ducked into a nearby alley
and leaned back against the cold brick wall
shivering and still crying.

The last thig he remembered before all this was
the man…the old man…
The war veteran.

The old man climbed up into his wheelchair and
quietly rolled himself down towards the harbor.

He had found some bread to feed the gulls with.

It was getting late and the view of the water
at sunset always made him feel at peace.

Games The Dead Play

Jackson with the long blonde hair
Hollywood smile
badass black leather jacket and slim frame
gracing the kitchen at a party

I was watching him
from the living room
making some beautiful girl laugh
playing it all up smooth as
silk rippling in a fine french wind
but that was Jackson
last I remember
the thing about this was
that he’s been dead
for fourteen years

Don’t tell me that I’m
crazy or mistaken
it was him all right
the way he moved and tilted his head
when he laughed and looked away

Hell, I could see the scar on his right cheek
from here
I gave it to him when we were sixteen
with a bowie knife
that was supposed to hit a tree

Best days of my youth were
spent that last summer
before his funeral when
we were all seventeen and
all we did was skateboard
drink whiskey
get high

He got all the girls’ numbers
every single one of them
you had to hate a guy like that
if you didn’t like him so much
because Jackson had all the charisma
that the rest of us didn’t he was as pleasing
as a Beatles melody
with his laughter his calm eyes his lack of caring

He was one of those guys that would never die
but then one day he did

I remember well
the way his mother cried at his
open casket
his ashen gray face with the
lips sewn together

When you see someone you know
in such a manner
with all the light gone
their dormant body
just looks like a
cheap rubber suit

Now here we are and
there he is
glancing at me all nonchalant

This even isn’t the first time
I’ve seen him
yeah, he’s been here and there at
parties, festivals, bake sales

I put it all together a while back
that he’s been watching me
following me
but for what?

It appeared there was a game afoot
which rules I did not fully understand

Well, having had enough of this
it was finally time to find out
and get some answers from the
dead man himself
so I set my glass down
and made my way towards the kitchen

Jackson lit a smoke as I approached
now that he was alone
leaning up against the fridge

For a moment he just looked at me
and I felt that I must be losing
all my marbles and that
it wasn’t him at all
but then

flashing that signature Hollywood smile

“What took you so long?” He said.

The Harrowing Descent of Mr. Hand Puppet

It started innocently enough
he constructed a hand puppet
named ‘Willy Nilly’
to entertain his girlfriend’s young son
and together they put up clips
on YouTube.

“Hey-Hey-Hey! Duuuh! Howdy, Mr. Rabbit!”

The shows started getting longer
he made up more characters
–more puppets.

A shelving unit was built in the bedroom closet
where they would be carefully stored
when not in use.

His girlfriend joined in
she was a sassy little pink bunny
named ‘Boo!’

It was all in good fun
for a while…

Then something changed
the shows became angry
political and
at times bizarre and
uncomfortable to watch.

It was no longer for the son.
He started filming just himself
in the basement and
spending more and more time
with the puppets.

When it got to the point where he
was always in character
we knew that there would soon
be big mean trouble.

Mr. Hand Puppet
was what everybody called him
by now.

He would take the puppets for walks
downtown
talking to himself
in the voice of whatever puppet
he had on
at the time.

Then one day he just disappeared
but other people
started disappearing too soon after
from the homeless shelter
downtown.
The police would find strange scraps of
fuzzy bright material
at the crime scene.

They didn’t know what was going on
but I did
deep down I knew exactly that.

It was a week later
that I got the afternoon phone call
that would put it all to an end:

“Hey-Hey-Hey! Duuuh! Howdy Mr. Rabbit!”
Mr. Hand puppet
sounded peculiar perhaps because
he was far too happy
to be sane.
“What are you up to today? Hee-hee-hee!”

“Just tell me where you are.” I almost whispered,
by now ready for just about everything
but not this:

The front door of the house was
wide open and I
rushed upstairs
to find Mr. Hand Puppet
in the bedroom
lying face-down in a pool of
growing blood.

I froze.

My mind was racing with possibilities
and none of them good
even the fact that I was now standing in
the middle of a crime scene
was also not good

but those thoughts
were suddenly swept away
as from behind me I heard
the closet door
slowly being opened
and a voice say:

“Howdy Mr. Rabbit…

would you like to know a secret?”

Jenny Says Hi

Johnny got drunk
behind the wheel again and
smashed his car into a tree.

Jenny wasn’t wearing a seatbelt
and died on the way to the hospital.

That was twenty years ago
and the only reason Johnny
had recalled it right there and then
as he left the party that night
was that across the road
parked right under the
lone streetlight
was a 1983 mustang GT
5-litre V8
blue finish with cobra rims.

Johnny froze
and dropped his keys.
Jesus.

It wasn’t just any mustang GT
sitting there as though shipped in fresh
from outer space
It wasn’t just any car
It was the car
the one Jenny had died in
the one with the rear left panel replaced
by a slightly deeper shade
the one with long yellow scuff marks
all across the front bumper
and worn dark tints
missing patches here and there

and of course the
silly smiley-face sticker on the side bumper
where Jenny had put it.

Johnny couldn’t breathe
as he approached the car as
inside the shifter sported a chrome skull
on a center console painted black and white.

He did that
twenty years ago
when Jenny was still alive.

Oh God.
This wasn’t happening to Johnny
There must have been some answer to this.
Some strange coincidence.

He decided to wait across the street
on the curb
sobering up –half falling asleep
until when near dusk some kid came
strolling along
cigarette in his hand.

Weird-looking kid
-strange eyes
nobody walked like that.

Kid went up to the car
and stuck his keys in.

“Hey!” Johnny approached.
“Where’d you get the car?”
“What’s it to you?” The kid asked.
“Where’d you get it?” Johnny’s voice grew louder.
“Piss off, man. I don’t answer to you.”

Johnny went to grab him but
the slippery bugger dodged it
shouting:
“Get off me! I’ll charge you!
You can’t just run around grabbing at people!”

Johnny managed to catch him by the shoulder and
spun him around against the car
the kid grinned
his breath smelled like rotten eggs.

“WHERE DID YOU GET THE CAR!?” Johnny slammed his
hand down on the roof
right next to the bastard kid’s head.

The kid shrugged. “Alright. Uncle gave it to me, man.
Some old trash job he touched up. He’s a
mechanic. We good?”

Johnny turned away. Was it possible?
Johnny supposed it was. It had to be.
“Alright, never mind.” He said.

The kid picked up his cigarette.
“You need help, man. Cut down on the booze or something.”

Johnny walked away and heard
the car door slam behind him
and the engine started with that familiar
deep rumbling that he had always loved.

The car started off…
but stopped.

Johnny turned around to face the
red tail lights loudly flashing.

The kid leaned out the window
and looked back.
“Oh, Mister -and one more thing…

With a calm smile he said:
“Jenny says Hi.”

The Laughing

I must have been twelve
the first time I heard it
deep in the woods
-the laughing.

Sometimes it was a woman’s laughter
sometimes it was a man’s
sometimes an old voice
and sometimes young

but there was something about
the laughing
unlike anything you’ve
heard before.

Deep in your bones
you knew that it was not
like you or me
or the forest or the
cars on the street
grown or made by man
or in any way
natural.

Nobody knew what it really was
why it was there or
how it came to be.

Nobody talked about it
but everybody knew.

When you heard it from your room
late at night you knew
that harrowing echo
wasn’t a teenager by the bonfire
a drunk in an alley
a coyote or another night
animal
this was different
there was something about
the laughing
that made you want to
crawl deep inside your bed
and stay there.

When it came
even the animals appeared
from the trees out
onto the streets
startled
eyes wide in terror.

You would wonder what it might
look like
but you never wanted to find out

of course,
unless you were a kid
on a dare.

Steven was sixteen
when he went into the forest night
through the trail then off into the woods
after it
following it
looking for it
because we had dared him
egged him on

we did not fear much
then

but that had changed

because we all heard
what it sounded like
when he had found it
or it him.

Even after the search party we never
told what really happened
that night.

We never caved
in fear that they would send us out next.

Even to this day
we don’t even mention it to each other
anymore
like we had forgotten
but none of us had.

Some nights still
the room drops in temperature
the blood stops running in my veins and
I become gripped by an old fear
when I hear it
because it knows
that I know that

thirty years later
what was out there
in the barren darkened wilderness
really wasn’t
young Steven…

laughing.