Tag Archives: short fiction

The Manufactured Spirit of the Rat Race

Let’s say that you actually have a good idea.
In this era of capitalism you go find yourself
some investors that believe in it
enough to begin laying the groundwork
for a production line.

You have a business model, financial plan
design specs; all the groundwork plus
manufacturing equipment
ready to start pumping out units
and a workforce trained to operate them.

If all things go as forecasted
as they’re planned on paper
you will start to see revenue
within the second quarter.

You take that money
increase capitol
invest in infrastructure
hire more workers
expand your base of operation
now with some finances to throw at marketing
you can eventually launch new sites in other countries
until everyone knows your brand
until you are Sony, Walmart, Mcdonald’s.

But of course as soon as you
publicize your patent by launching product
all of your competition will
reverse-engineer your concept
and build better models at cheaper costs
so unless you have patented air or water
you will have to reinvent the wheel
or launch a new line of features
stick a vacuum in a van
alter the happy meal so that it better reflects the countries
growing concerns about obesity
start a clothing line once you get an album out
jump the gun before the other guy gets his hands on it
keep pushing and growing and expanding into new markets
put out books on how to put out books
get celebrities to endorse your organic farm
pump out more units per hour
in more facilities utilizing cheaper resources
until your bottom line is in top form
and then…what?

When do you say that enough is enough?
The reason that I’m asking this is because
we are surrounded by factories and surrounded
by transport trucks
shipping products in and out
people are building more things faster
finding new markets new ways
to get that dollar
and so far nobody
and I mean nobody
has been able to answer that
one simple question.

And yet we just keep going
until it’s all that matters
until our air is filled with smog
and our earth is gutted
as the tree lines diminish
until all of our landscapes
are filled with factories
badly contrived parking lots
and big-box stores
where there is no art or culture anymore
because all that matters is economy and
the manufactured spirit of the rat race
and nobody looks up from their phones
long enough to raise the question
of why.

It is rather funny
how people are so convinced
in the importance of who they are and what they do
when they’re all really doing the same thing.

Ever get the feeling that you’re surrounded by utter fools
who are casually destroying everything
in order to blindly push product?

Because I most certainly do
on the drive to work everyday
wondering why.

Everything is Out to Get You While You Sleep

You are most vulnerable while you are sleeping and it is for this reason that I give my bedroom a thorough inspection before I am satisfied with my surroundings enough to lay down to rest and this is after the routine perimeter check of the household to ensure that all possible entrances are firmly secured:

I will turn over the pillows
to make sure there is nothing living under there
check under the bed with a flashlight
for God knows what
open the closet doors quickly
in order to surprise what may be lurking inside
and also look behind the drapes
because you just never know.

They say that you grow out of things.
That’s a lie
although granted maybe some things you should
but my imagination
has never been my friend
and it begins to question me as soon as the lights go out
as to whether
something might crawl into my ear
to lay eggs in my brain
at some point during the night
or whether I would open my eyes in the midst of sleep
to find myself
staring into the harrowing face
of a dead child
or entombed under a blanket of frenzied spiders
perhaps buried alive in a wooden coffin
in some field nobody goes to anymore
or duct-taped to a wooden chair
slowly regaining consciousness
to the sound of a maniac’s chainsaw.

Late at night
these become valid questions

and I believe that my methods
may have proven effective thus far
as I have never awakened to find myself
strapped to a metallic table with
aliens clinically examining my genitals

with missing limbs
or fully encased in Jell-O

and so every morning once I realize
that I am intact and unmolested
I will go about my routine
like an absolute hero
knowing that I am safe for another day
as nothing horrifying had happened to me
in my most vulnerable state of sleep.

Not yet.

Poetry at Work

I’m on the Clock:
As sure as a running clock or a car running over your dog
people have a bad habit of coming up to my desk at work
everyday
and talking to me about all kinds of
crazy horseshit
because there is a large neon sign positioned directly
above my monitor that reads:
“I have absolutely nothing better to do!”
And I’m the only one that can’t see it.

They complain about their boss:
“You know what he looks like when he walks around like that? A T-rex holding a lunchbox!”
Disgruntled employee #17 always had a fun new way to describe the man in charge.
Yesterday it was ‘Satan’s battleaxe’
and from there he would always launch into the same routine:
“One of these days I’m gonna taser that Megalomaniac Fuck in the back of the neck,
throw him in the trunk of my car
and drive to Niagara Falls.”
It was always Niagara Falls that he would drive to, boss in trunk.
I was never sure why.
Yes, I was.

I said, “Make sure you spit in his face before you close the trunk.”
“Yeah…yeah…spit in his face.”
It was all fun and games but I’m telling you now
I won’t be surprised if that demented fucker
showed up for work one day
wearing a clown suit and sporting a shotgun.

They complain about their wives:
“She’s crazy. She’s a psychotic bitch. I finally killed her and buried her beneath the shed!”
“Well, did you spit in her face first?”

The weather:
“It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too lukewarm.”
“I just want to spit in your face right now.”

Horrible Smelling Women:
My good friend will tell me how much
his date last night stunk
down there.
The aggravating stench that this
woman had was apparently so bad
that he tried to pour vodka into her vagina
when she wasn’t looking
in order to somehow alleviate it
but she was looking:

“What are you doing?” She shouted.
“It looked thirsty!”

Now he was absolutely convinced
that every single woman smelled
down there.
That’s right, they all let themselves go.
It was a Goddamn national conspiracy
that was sure to end up on the evening news
any day now.

He even busted out some charts and graphs
and continued describing every minute detail
to the point where it was no longer a conversation
as I now felt as though I were attending
a workshop on the subject.

Their lunch:
“Hey man, somebody keeps stealing my lunch.
Have you seen anyone taking shit that’s not theirs out the office fridge lately?”
“No man, sorry.” I replied and continued typing away on a blank screen.
He eyed me suspiciously then left.
He was onto me. I might have to lay low for a while.
I’ll decide when I see what he brings in tomorrow.

You’re Too Happy So You Must Die:
And of course there is always the one person
who was just way too happy and chipper to be sane.
It was almost like they were throwing their rampant insanity in your face
and it pissed me off
but if that’s not the case than that would mean
that they had a rarely blessed life
and that would piss me off even more because
if you’re here then you should have to
suffer just like the rest of us

I’m Here All Week (Fuck Off):
I’m not even scratching the surface
of what people are like in the workplace
I could go on and on
as to what a twisted zoo of lost souls it really is.

In fact, I probably will
just not today
because obviously I’m up to my ears
in their crazy bullshit
and it’s really aggravating
because they’re doing it right now
and I haven’t been able to get anything done
for an hour.

I mean,
Jesus, people!
Can’t you leave me in peace?
Can’t you see that I’m trying to
write this poem
about you?

How to Kill a Ginger

Vickers was a fire-breathing ginger capable of mass-destruction
even in the unlikeliest of places and therefore had to be kept under
constant supervision lest he destroy your peace of mind, soul and your
five-year relationship while going to the fridge to get a beer.

I had spent the last half-hour trying to kill him with my mind.

It wasn’t working (one day) so I offered him a cigarette.
On our way out to the patio I checked my coat pocket
for the blade I had coated in ant poison that my good buddy
at the shelter assured me would work on gingers. It was still there but the
patio had too many witnesses so I attempted to lure him into the back alley
under the false pretense that there were hot naked women doing yoga and
handing out free bags of cocaine.

He looked suspicious. I would have to try again later when he wasn’t as sober.

This wasn’t the first time I had tried to kill a ginger. Actually this one, specifically,
I have been trying to kill for years. He was my best friend so there was plenty of opportunity
but I had been so clumsy in the past and now had hoped to rectify that and finally rid the world
of one less gleefully frothing maniac that for all I know could be the next Napoleon
and didn’t Hitler start off as an artist?

In the past I have pushed him off a balcony, down a flight of stairs, into an elevator shaft, off of the CN Tower and to no avail as each time he had been so drunk and his body so relaxed by booze that Vickers nimbly bounced off whatever surface he landed on just to come back and demand more beer.

There were also the times when I had laced his weed with all kinds of shit and enough of it that it should have caused permanent brain damage if not an immediate and painful death but it inexplicably did not and I can only conclude that his tolerance was too high having been built from years of self-abuse and personal neglect.

And long has it been since I had given up on switching his beverages for ones saturated with all kinds of toilet cleaners, rodent poisons, industrial chemicals and even stuff that I picked up on the black market that looked like it belonged on an episode of X-files and you could even hear whispering if you placed your ear close enough to it. It was just too bad that Sonny (a.k.a F-DUP) had gotten arrested trying to bring some high-grade shit in from Japan (that glowed, yes, glowed) because I am sure that would have taken care of it like nobody’s business.

I can even recall the one time the depraved libertine had discovered my stockpile of mixed death-toxins meant to be introduced into his system nightly by injection and had guzzled all of the jugs at once leaving a mess in the shed all because he was out of alcohol and low on cash. Vickers had seemed to have caught a mild buzz off of it but little else and most certainly not the death for which it was intended and to my chagrin it was at this time that I had begun to realize the extent of his ginger constitution was not going to allow for such solutions to work therefore I need to reassess, focus and expand my base of operations until the devilish red rogue no longer remained a threat to humanity.

I do not think that he entirely suspects me so I will have my day. I have labs down south, a training facility up north, a weapons factory to the west and a team on standby in the east. It’s going to happen, all a matter of timing and finesse. I am even considering going undercover as a ginger myself to gain more intel on their devious ways and possible weaknesses. Hell, If I need to I will even deploy sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads.

I am going to post this on his wall because they say that the best place to hide your intention is in plain sight. Yes, I have read Machiavelli. It’s working. Gingercide is near.

I will sack me a ginger yet and it will make for a fine day.

Yes, a fine day indeed.

Good Ol’ Tommy

I saw an old college buddy at the grocery store.
I haven’t seen him in years so I waved at him excitedly with both hands
with all the subtlety of the Kool-aid Man crashing through a wall.
Oh Yeah!

“Hey Fucker!” I shouted gleefully across
the frozen produce section.

I waited for him to register who I was.
That’s right. Take your time…Dipshit.

Finally, “Oh, hey man!” He returned.
“Hey!” I repeated, came up to him and looked him over.
“Christ, you’re fat!” I said.
“I’m married.” He shrugged.
“Yeah, I can see that it’s done wonders for you.”
“Are you married?” He asked.
“Now don’t you start with that crazy talk!”

I saw him signal something to a woman
lumbering around the organics section
scaring children and
sensuously eying the cucumbers.

She almost sucked up an avocado just by breathing.

“Is that your wife over there?” I asked.
“Yes.” His eyes glowed so they must be newlyweds because
he didn’t absolutely despise or fear her yet.

“Good God! What happened to you?” I inquired,
“You used to be so slick
always picking girls off the club floor
like apples from a tree
now you’re perusing the tomatoes
you look like an eggplant
and your wife’s Godzilla!”

“Would you like to meet her?”

“Whatever, I gotta run.
Just looking at you two makes me
want to buy a steak
(I gave him a look)
before they’re all gone.
Cheers.”

I turned away and wheeled my cart
over to the next aisle
chuckling to myself.

Good ol’ Tommy.
Such a nice guy,
therefore we all rode him
like a cheap virgin hooker
on a Saturday night
all the way through college.

And something’s never change.

There is a Growing Sickness on the Web

I’m always at a party somewhere
and it’s killing me
but the alcohol eases the pain
of being around other people
like my friend
who shoves his phone in my face
and says, “Hey Man, you GOTTA see THIS!”
as he starts a video
and although I probably didn’t want to see
whatever he had to show me
it was too late
because now I was watching it already
I was locked in
and what I was soon looking at
was some guy
having a really bad day.

It was a sunny afternoon.
It was a bad dive off a dock
and his face connected
with a concrete ledge
twenty feet down.

I am sure that he didn’t mean for it
to turn out like that.

You could hear the dull whack of
flesh on cement
and groans from those spectating.

Everyone there knew that it was bad
but they didn’t really know how bad
until the man surfaced
and floated face-down
in a growing pool of blood
as people around him
shouted in confusion.

A woman cried, “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
She started sobbing.

Things have such an eerie quality
to it when they’re real
even on a small screen.

The video cut to that man lying unconscious
on a hospital bed
with a large tube feeding him air.
The doctor holding his face together
pressing in with his hands
suddenly let go
and the entire thing split open
so that you could see all the way
to the back of his head
where his teeth now were.

His skull was halved like an apple
but somehow he was still alive
though you knew that he would
never be the same again
if he even survived the operation.

Now, I’m no expert
but I’m pretty sure that if you get certain things
shoved in your face all of the time that
you will eventually become numb to it
so this had got me thinking about how desensitized
we must be to find entertainment
in somebody’s life getting destroyed,
somebody with a family
with sisters and brothers
wives and children
and I could not help but think
that this was just a little
cold and sadistic
because it horrified me
to consider all of the pain
that man must now endure
as they attempted to reconstruct his face
and all of the surgeries that would follow,
the extensive hours in the hospital,
the bills and
what it was going to be like when he
looked in the mirror next or
every time for the rest of his life
if he wasn’t dead or a vegetable.

And now here we all are
with our faces still intact
cackling like demented hounds
watching it
again and again
passing the phone around the room:
“Hey! Come check THIS out!”
“Oh Dude, I gotta see THAT again!”

“Bahahaha…Fucker got it good!”

There is a growing sickness on the web
and in ourselves and
maybe it’s always been
a part of us
this interest to see others suffer
spectacularly
to watch them become humiliated
while seriously injuring themselves or others.

This is what happens when people
lose respect for human life
but just because they have
and just because it’s out there
(one mouse-click away)
doesn’t mean that I have to subscribe to it.

So the next time somebody
shoves a smartphone in my face
and shouts, “Hey Man, you GOTTA see this!”
I’m going to do the smart thing
and look away
because there are brutal things that
happen out there
and these things have a tendency to remain
with me once seen.

But it’s always good for a laugh, right?
As long as it doesn’t
happen to you
or anyone that you care about…

right?

She is Leaving You (Welcome to Canada)

She is made out of
steel and concrete.

She will snatch away your seeds
and then scratch out your sky.

She will yank out your heart
like a weed from her garden.

She will not come for you
at the airport
or anywhere else.

She will leave you.
She is leaving you.

She is already gone.
She has already brushed you off her shoulders…

and has started over.

She has forgotten about you
before she even had a chance to tell you:

“Welcome to Canada.”

Everything is Breaking Down Around Me (Fuck Everything)

Phone’s dead.
Internet’s down.
Car’s a smokin’.
Toaster’s fucked.
Computer’s fried like eggs.
The television went for a shit
and never came back.
Girlfriend’s not working
        -she’s limp and unresponsive.
The drapes are ripped (you’re welcome).
The goldfish are floating upside down
        –and I don’t even own goldfish.
The cats are scheming and duplicitous.
The light bulbs have flashed-out and now they’re gone.
        -Yeah, all of them.
        -Yeah, all at once.

The neighbours are out on their front lawn
wearing cow costumes again,
barking at passing cars.

Stompin’ Tom is dead.
Somebody ate all the meatloaf.

My stomach has rotted out to Hell.
I’m almost forty so I’m fucked
and the bottle’s starting to win.
There’s a deranged monkey on my back.
It keeps winking at me
like some sort of damned pervert.
I answer the phone
        -it’s a dick-punch from God
and my face is a pile of shit.

Everything is breaking down around me,

even me.

(shrugs) So fuck everything, I guess…

even you.

Problem Solved

I had no interest in her at first
because everybody liked her
even the girls
and all I heard about was her..her…HER!
And I was under the mindset that
if everyone all really liked something
than it couldn’t have been very good.

I had recently started working
at a textile factory
watching fabric spin around
all day.
It was great
if you were inept at doing
anything else.

In the break room
late October
when it was just the two of us
and we had not even spoken yet
I really looked at this girl
the one that everyone adored
(when she wasn’t looking)
and for the first time
I could see what all the commotion was about.

I have never seen a woman look so much like a
porcelain doll
in her tattered Ozzy shirt and track pants
in this godforsaken shed out behind the factory
in this godforsaken town
and I thought to myself,
What the Hell are you doing here?

I got lost somewhere in staring at her
when I noticed that she was looking back at me.
So much for stealth or finesse or…(drinks scotch)
“How are you?” She asked.
I tried to compose myself
but found it rather difficult.
“Good?” I returned.
“Is that a question?”
“Um…no?”
She laughed. “I’m Anne.”
“I’m truly honoured.”

At the time I was dating a girl from England
She had a great ass and horrible teeth.
She was rich, spoiled
and acted like it
everywhere we went.

She was so pretentious that she
called me from England after her second day visiting
and spoke to me in an English accent
that she never had before.
I couldn’t believe that she was that stupid
or thought that I was.

During that time
I had gotten to know Anne
and I started singing the same tune as everybody else.
(Anne…Anne…ANNE!)

I went over there with two friends from work
one who in desperation to impress her had brought over a 40 of vodka
that he dropped on her doorstep to smash all over the floor and I almost
didn’t laugh.

There was something different about Anne
when she answered the door
she wore a dress, had on makeup
had put down her hair
and when my friends left
she wanted me to stay.

I stayed.

We sat down.
She started to say something,
then stopped
and then started again…

“I’ve got feelings for you.” She shrugged.

My response was to kiss her
immediately as I did not want to
waste any more time.

Soft, slow, lingering…

“I’ve been wanting to do that since I first looked at you.
I mean, really looked at you.
Inside and out.” I said
as we pulled apart.

It was true.
She was a uniquely beautifully brilliant treasure.

And in response to that
Anne grabbed me and kissed me back.
Oh god! Did she ever!
It was delicious and beautiful and glorious and just perfect until
“Wait,” She said, “we can’t do this. I mean, I can’t do this.
You’re in a relationship and I’m not that kind of girl.”

Really? Because I thought that…well, after you just…but…nevermind.

“Okay, alright…” I said, “I know you’re a good person
and I would not put you in that kind of unfortunate situation
so here is what I’m going to do.
Pass me your phone.”

I called my girlfriend up.
She answered all happy to hear from me.
“Listen,” I said, “I’ve been thinking about our problems lately.”
“What? What problems? What are you talking about?”
“I’m glad to hear that you’ve been doing the same,” I continued,
“because I think it’s time we went our separate ways.”
“What’s going on? I don’t understand.” I could hear anger in her voice.
I bet she would be fuming about this for a spell.
“Yeah, well I’m glad that you understand.
It’s over between us.
Have a good night.” I said softly.

I hung up
threw the phone on the other couch
and put my arm back around Anne.

“Problem solved.” I said.

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Isabeta

I was on a military base
just south of the Brazilian border
and had just returned from
hanging out at a bar
inside of a grocery store.

My aunt had called me out
to the front yard
to meet a teacher that lived
across the neighbourhood.

Her name was Isabeta
and she was spoiled with hair.
There was so much of it that
you could get completely lost in it.

It greatly complimented her angelic visage
and immediately I wanted to
take her places
and show her things.
I wanted her to laugh in my arms
kiss me slowly
and tell me secrets.

I wanted her.
It was rather sudden and powerful.

I must have stood there
repeating her name
over and over
like an invalid
because my aunt shoved me away
and told me to go sit against the house.
Mortified, I obeyed.

I was young and impressionable
and she was a prominent force to be dealt with.

All too quickly,
Isabeta smiled, waved
and left.

I waved back
and welcomed the sorrow
of her departure.

I continued to sit there and stare
at the spot that I last seen her
even long after she was gone
leaning against the wall in the shade
absently throwing grass between thoughts.

It was cloudless.
It was Hell hot in the sun.
Dirt from the roads
pulled up by passing cars
lingered in the air to
drift across everything
like low-bearing clouds.

My aunt threw more dresses
over the clothes line
and shook her head at me
here and there.
Que cosa!
What a thing!

Finally, she said:
“She wants to meet with you.
Tonight.
You need to go downtown at ten.
Dress nice.”

I sprang from the wall
like a frog,
“Are you kidding me?”

She looked like she was not kidding me.

“Where? When? How? Isabeta! Isabeta!”
I was actually buoyantly bouncing
around the lawn
and didn’t even realize it.

My aunt looked at me
like I was an ill-conceived child
grabbed her empty basket
and briskly walked back
into the house.

“Supper’s at seven.” She said.

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