DIVINITY - barry graham
We would levitate when the teachers were out of the classroom or late, when the overhead florescent lights were dimmed and our breaths reeked of fresh onions and Snapple and girls wore sweaty bras that stuck to their t-shirts like an ethereal mosaic, and everything smelled of tanned flesh in the springtime, fresh cut grass, raging hormones, breathless pubescent seventh graders just wanting to lift one of us off the purple polyester carpet, touch the face of god.
Something happened, and I felt it, feel it, lifted that body weightless with pinkies and nothing more, six or seven of us around this levitating ghost of tomorrow, a corpse for a moment, while we follow dreams and nipples. I know it seems impossible, but we fucking lifted that shit and held it, everything so perfect and tight and seeing as the teacher was God knows where and the chorus room was empty and darkened and we were bewitched by Darwinism--no need for Darrin, recess, or Samantha--but give me some tits and ass and a silent erection and a Snickers bar around two o´clock and the afternoon is coming. Walking on water wasn´t built in a day.
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
My motorcycle has church-groups for wheels and runs on children’s sunburns!
Is this thing on?
So the first thing you’ll want to know, inevitably, is how I got these sweet kicks. Or these sweet kicks or these sweet kicks because I have literally closets full of them. You can tell a lot about a man – where he’s gone, if there are dogs there, how much he plays outside, etc. I’d have to say my favorites are my Nike Honeymelons. Only about 100 or these were made, 50 pairs, and I own two of them, two pairs.
Old MacDonald had a farm
On this farm he had some bones
On these bones he’d grown some skin
Old MacDonald, it was him.
If only to have, for just one hour I’ve always said, one of those giant twirling balls on the end of a chain that makes grieving widows of the wives of the men it meets, and orphans of their children. Doling out dents and party favors, weeping with laughter, smearing the walls, spelling the word "cocktease" in bloody handprints.
What do you call it – don’t everyone shout at once – when you’ve grown too cynical for sex?
THE BEST TIME TO THROW A LIT MATCH INTO SOMEONE'S MOUTH IS WHEN THEY'RE LAUGHING
It has come down to mechanics: Pump and tire. We fuck. You pump. I fill up. You are far from full but at least you are pump and foot pedal where I am empty, tread upon, I am baggy and slack. Oxidized around the rim. Who hasn’t been left in the rain? Turn the wheel. Motion is a comfort; I inflate, I plump with air. A YES song rises from a radio. Cars idle at traffic lights. In summer windows stay open.
Listen: we advertise a squeaky wheeze. I hold my breath, bite my lip, I smother my face into a pillow for your fuck but darling – I am expanding. Soon there won’t be room. You don’t notice; you keep pumping until maybe I will explode. I will splatter like a stroller wheel shot, leaving messy black strips, bits to sift through, a fist to repair. Or maybe my mouth is a nub, and in the place of your pump someday I will simply tie off, I will float away.
She’s turned invisible and leaves a trail of post it notes telling me that she is in the room with me. OVER HERE. Maybe she is not invisible. Maybe she is five minutes ahead of me.PICK UP MORE CAT FOOD. Or maybe I am five minutes behind her. She wrote a note in kitchen above the sink. It read HERE I AM. I spread out my hands and tried to find her, but the air was empty. She splashed water on the floor of the bathroom from the tub. SORRY, I DID THAT. I sometimes wake up naked in the mornings. WE FUCKED. I tried to drink more caffeine, thinking that if I sped up my body I could catch up to her. Maybe she is not invisible. Maybe we’ve split into separate dimensions. I LOVE YOU. I leave to drive to work. On the steering wheel, DRIVE TO THE OCEAN. I do so. Later that day after I’ve figured that I’ve lost my job and the ocean hasn’t done anything to bring her back into view I sit on the beach. ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL? Yes, it is. I write in the sand.
Dear Dead Person
"... to a rubber room near you." That's what she'd always said to me when we were giggling in the dark hours of the night. I would always reply back, "when in Rome," and then I would kiss her nose and her mouth because she'd have stopped breathing. That's when our situation would change. She'd say that the death rate was down, and I would have to throw water on her as if she were a stricken reactor. It wasn't always like this. My memories of her were often like remembering days in ancient cities, when we were two idiots gone mad on lethal drugs and street fashion. Other days it was Russian roulette over lunch with a serial killer, and still others, it was cherry blossom festival magic. The sky wasn't always falling, and love wasn't always a blood money deal, but that was before ... before we could get what we wanted ... before we ever felt the need to use a word like "situation."
Cheryl Anne Gardner
Never Let Me Go
The textbook tells you chimpanzees go for fingers and toes first. Pressure, a snap. Ten snaps, muted gunshots. The little effort it would take. With every loss, your bones running from you. And afterward, the book reads that they plunge for the ribs, which is only strange for their centrality: one spoked shell, the few needles kept from sewing you shut. And from there—the ears, which is too specific to be true, you think. But it is true. The book suggests someone come find you then. That someone shoot the bastard just above its flat cherub nose—precision, or the risk of further damage. You look at your hands, think of your mother’s. How little they could hold, the stumped uselessness were this ever to happen to you. The final page holds in it one photograph: a little girl, searching for plantains in frayed pajamas, smiling at a mandrill’s iridescent nostrils.
When he thought he'd lost eyes for the world like he'd wanted to, and he'd finally sunk fully into the shit and ghost of the alleyway – sitting there at the window, looking down to where men ate mice, and men slid needles, and women tore muscle, and women pieced scraps, and thinking the whole glob of it divine, and thinking that whatever the world could be, or should be, it already was, right here, right now, in the alleyway, perfect and pure and right – only then did he believe he’d actually accomplished his madness, only then did he believe he could die detached, die free, but his madness was imagination, and when he died he wanted change and despised memory and feared death, which was fine.
The House of Breath
“Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me,” until my grandpa confessed his favorite song was always “Burning Love.”
His vote of approval made the King worthy of admiration ... even if Public Enemy called the sucker simple and plain.
I never listened to his music, but liked what he stood for – fried banana sandwiches – though the thought of dying on the toilet made me uncomfortable.
It reminded me of my most recent recurring dream – sitting in a glass stall, forced to shit in front of a crowd.
40 lbs of compacted feces in his colon, I imagine Elvis lived a similar nightmare.
Fame must’ve wreaked havoc on his digestive track.
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People
We're way, way up north, with logging roads and retired train tracks mowed through empty lands both public and private. We've come up here for a while from the life we have in the gut of the state.
Last night, in a tavern called Wits End, we dropped quarters into a console, sized and shaped like an old TV. The beers were so cold the roof of your mouth felt like a cave.
Jon won, then I won, then Jon, then me.
The bartender brought his towel over, moved his eyes to us. Said: "Gentlemen, you've been over-served." We'd only had two each, didn't take the hint and plugged in several more wins.
Like in unison, the entire bar lifted off their stools. Wits' people put shammy leather over our eyes, shaped our arms with winch rope, and locked us into crates for Labs in a pick-up bed.
The roads here are lost places, absolute secrets. They pulled off, threw us in the marsh, wetting our clothes. Then they drove away.
Jon and I inspected each other under the x-ray moon as the open miles got sucked into the truck's exhaust pipe and muted it.
Cassie’s family is the first in her neighborhood to get cable TV, which comes in the form of a little black box displaying 32 buttons. Instantly she’s a fan of MTV: the vee-jays, the man on the moon. Her stepdad, however, prefers the Playboy channel. Cassie knows this because when she comes down in the morning the channel is still set to it.
The first time this happens she recoils from the television with a sharp exhale. But then she moves close to the glass, wide-eyed as a naked man and woman frolic around on shag carpet. After twenty minutes her Wheaties have become soggy lumps floating in sour milk. The bus that carries her to second grade will be coming soon. Cassie goes back upstairs, stretches out on her bed. Stares at the ceiling.
One night soon after, she sits in the basement with her cousin Scott, watching a movie on the Playboy channel. At one point Scott locks himself in the bathroom. He’s in there a long time. Heat scalds Cassie’s cheeks even as her legs become frozen to the plaid couch. When Scott slips back into the recliner she stares quietly at the TV. Her cousin doesn’t look at her.
After he leaves Cassie flips to MTV, relieved to see the man on the moon, the smiling vee-jays. But then she goes back to the Playboy channel, where a black-toothed pirate is pinning a knife to a woman’s throat as he plunges into her.
Fucking cunt, breathes Cassie, hand sliding to the puddle moistening her Wonder Woman Underoos. You fucking deserve it, you cunt cunt cunt.
A Visit from the Goon Squad
I went through a serious MANOWAR phase as a kid. The only thing I can remember about them now is that I was once a young guitar tech for a local bar band that opened for them—I was well under age, but employed and privy.
It was a moderately sized club gig. The band had all this martial arts sparring equipment backstage—the body bags, the gloves, the footpads—piled everywhere, unused.
I was trying to untie my stomach when the bass player stood up and told me he needed to leave for a bit. He said that if anything was moved or missing when he got back, he was kicking my ass.
The needle scraped hard across the record in my brain. These hulky gods of metal, who brought holy war and death to false practitioners of the art were, in reality, just four queeny, preeny dudes with neatly manicured chest hair sitting backstage making muscles into mirrors—complaining about everything.
There is a loss in this sort of understanding; it isn’t anything that anyone can tell you. I didn't say a word in return—and I don't think I ever listened to another MANOWAR record after that.
an ISLAND of FIFTY
You were hysterical, so I jumped out and found it glowing red in the taillights, dead as hell, everything facing the wrong way. That’s when you got out, too, and I thought our day would be ruined if you saw. We still had an hour before we were even close.
So I kicked the dog under the car. Then I ran to the ditch and acted like I watched it run away. I was like, “Damn, tough little bastard. Not even a limp.”
You believed me, not knowing it was right by your feet. When you calmed down, we got back in, and I thought, “If I pull this off, I swear I’ll tell the truth someday."
Right about then, the back tire rolled over its head.
If you knew, you gave no clue.
I was gonna write a story about it, get it off my chest, but it would be my first story ever, and you’d know something was up.
David James Keaton
Her eulogy was a glowing one, but my eyes were on the photograph, from her thirties I guessed. They had chosen a good one. Just that she looked prettier in person.
Tonight, my sky will look different, even those stars, every star once a life on Earth, mortal. I'll soon be that star, a pinhole of light in the mammoth darkness, softening, diffusing, becoming the name that somebody else will draw a circle around.
I meet my grandmother every Sunday on the beach. There are lots of people there, mostly tourists. I come between everyone, the tourists, no one cares, really. Tourists move out of my way. I come between this one boy, who's cute, drunk. He's not really interested in me, though, stares at the pier floor. I do something to my face with make up, very 80s, everyone ignores me.
My grandmother waves, "Over here."
I get hungry, know my grandmother will hold me.
I support this fish sandwich with both hands, open my mouth, look at my grandmother looking at me.
My grandmother says, "Saigon."
I think about Saigon, my grandmother. I think that somehow I wanted the war to come out different. We watch a strong man on the beach flex his muscles. My grandmother says she hasn't had sex in six years.
She takes my sandwich.
How The Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space