30 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Blinks

When everyone started blinking constantly I became suspicious of the entire human race. It helped me immensely. Also, everyone got tired from all the blinking. Some of us suffered from sore eyelids. Many took to sleeping more to give their eyelids a rest. You would see people waiting for buses or standing in lines with their eyes closed. It was just easier. Some of my friends said all the blinking helped clear our vision. It was some kind of new age thing. We were on our way to a better world. I’m pleased to say I didn’t believe a word they said.


29 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Sprains

My company made canes for invalids. It wasn’t foresight, just blind luck. I did ok for several years, then sold the business just before the sprain epidemic passed. Again: pure luck. People called me a genius. I won awards from business groups, but I felt like a fraud. The worst part is after I unloaded the company I sprained my foot. Weird. Everyone else was done with that clumsiness and I twist my ankle on a broken sidewalk. Crazy. Hobbled around for weeks. But then I was always behind the times. Glad I got better and put that behind me.


28 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Sneezes

I always had tissues on hand. Everyone learned that pretty quickly. We didn’t want to sneeze in anyone’s face. At first it was disconcerting, all the noise. Then it got kind of soothing. It was like a peculiar species of music: a constant symphony of hushed explosions. And so cleansing. At the end of the day I felt I was my true self. I had discharged all the daily impurities I had encountered and taken in. It sounds odd to say it now. The sneezes ended so long ago. We have nothing to replace them. Only our minds and willpower.


25 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Bruises

You kids don’t remember what it was like back then. We were all just so clumsy. Ran into everything and anything about thirty eight times a day. Something wrong with our brains is what the scientists all said it was. Maybe they were right. All I know is I had bruises all over me all the time. Like I was some kind of vase with flowers stuck in me. I got pictures. You want to see? Yup. That’s what it was like. Before they put that stuff in the water to fix us good, we all looked just like this.


24 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Shrugs

We knew so little about the world in those days. Young people would constantly ask us questions. Why is the sky white? Where do babies go? Why is ice scream good for us? We didn’t know any answers and in response we were forced to raise our shoulders up toward our ears. This gesture replaced the shaking of hands, the smile, and the curt nod of the head. For a while it displaced hugs as a way for close friends to greet each other. The craze came to an end when the young people grew up and stopped asking questions.


23 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Scars

My friend said the dust came from the moon, it was so fine and sharp. On tv the talking heads all said it was old volcanic dust. In the end no one knew for sure, but when the dust came on clouds that appeared on the southern horizon, we all knew we needed to prepare for some rough times. The tiny shards cut many of us. Our faces were crisscrossed with scars for years, as were our arms and hands. We looked like painful roadmaps. We lowered our eyes whenever we met other people. It softened the pain a little.


22 April 2006


A Memoir From the Age of Tears

In those days we cried constantly from the sorrow of the world. We cried so much and so often that the ocean believed it had a relative living on dry land. She tried talking to our tears (as we learned later) but we were too busy producing the tears to understand the effect of our tears. The ocean swallowed up beaches and lapped at our feet, reaching, insistently, for something. We waded into her and kicked up salt spray. We were so happy. The tears stopped. The ocean, thinking it had lost something precious, slid back to its brooding indifference.


21 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Immortality

You will get bored, but you expect that and will cope by getting lots of sleep and really taking your time with every activity. After a while it won't be such a big deal. What's harder is dealing with the reality of everyone else dying on you. Before long all of humanity will be sparking flickers of light, brightening briefly, than fading before you can even know them. You won't want to make friends, much less love anyone. You will fill the world and the centuries, see it all, but will feel nothing. Thinner than faded dreams, you will hurt.


20 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Shapeshifting

You learn from birth to death how to navigate this ship through the waters of existence. Your onboard crew, working together like experienced sailors, know only this hull and this delicate rigging. Foreign vessels, however sturdy, are unwieldy attempts to disrupt what you know. Disaster awaits you if you board that odd deck and attempt to tack around those rocks waiting with no lighthouse you can possibly recognize. And don’t talk to us about retraining or reprogramming. If you tried it on the fly you would be done for. We don’t regret this. We accept it with thanks. Even gratitude.


19 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: X-Ray Vision

An army of skeletons arrayed around you. Who would not flinch at the sight of such an armada, visible wherever you once saw ordinary people? Mocking grins always there, cages of ribs like prison cells, floating in the air on grotesque pillars cracked at the knees. Then to realize such creatures, made of murky bone and floating in a gelatinous home, merely mimic the one housed inside you. You hold up your hand and see segmented pieces of the horrible thing, like warm worms waiting for the cocoon of your flesh to slip away so they can emerge, living free.


18 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Healing

Because life is selfish. Because you would become a resource. Because people do not have a history of caring for natural resources. Because suffering is ubiquitous. Because the line of ill people would stretch to infinity. Because your tendency to want to help would eventually drain you of everything. Because you would die of weariness. Because you cannot save everyone. Because choosing would break your heart. Because eventually people would bring you their sick dogs. Because they would prefer a well pet to a healed relative. Because all that suffering would hurt you. Because the hardest to heal is yourself.


17 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Telekinesis

That mountain would look so lovely over there, behind that grove of apple trees. Give me a second, I’ll just move it over to—there! That’s much better. But now that I see it there, maybe it needs to be closer, so we are in the foothills. Hold on, I’ll just—oh! Yes. Beautiful. Hmmm. You know what’s really wrong? The sun. It should be over a little. The angle is just wrong. Give me a sec— There. Isn’t that better? The shadow is so much more—what’s the word? Dramatic. Yes. I love it. Just love it. Don’t you?


16 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Precognition

First of all, clocks don’t run backwards, memory is not hope, and the future has its own foreign grammar. But forget all that and let’s cut to the chase: do you really want to know when and how you will die? Some knowledge wants to hide behind unbreachable walls. You attack them with sledge hammers. That bounce off. Try to burrow into them like termites, who don’t know much but know enough to spit out what they can’t digest. There is numbing knowledge that only hurts you. Saddens you before your time, blurred by what you should have left unseen.


15 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Flight

Molded by gravity and the curves of the earth, you would open your self to an onslaught of vertigo should you ever sprout wings. You wouldn’t know how to care for your feathers. Air traffic control is not in your nature. Looking up and down would be a matter of life or death. Your little brain, used to the pushing back of the planet, would know only how to spiral endlessly in the air. Where is the solid ground? Why does the wind insist on its own geography and how will you ever find your bearings in the invisible sea?


14 April 2006


Wishes You Don't Want Granted: Telepathy

It was our defensive response, eons ago, to turn it off. And now you want the cascade to tumble through you again? You want to hear the last thoughts of dying animals and the moans of injured trees? You don’t know the scratchy voices of rocks, scraping into our brains, was what made us inhumane creatures in the first place. Snuffing the burden of feeling was our necessary trick of evolution. We shriveled into ourselves to survive and came to this: animals blissfully unaware of the deaths of stars, fizzling into darkness and showering us with splashes of sad rays.


13 April 2006


The Fundamentals of Orphanage Hierarchy

The cute babies got all the attention. They became the darlings of their caretakers. The not so cute babies felt left out, so they got together and created a cute pill. Before taking it themselves they tried the pill out on some exceptionally scraggly cats. The cats quickly became pampered pets that people cooed over incessantly. The less than cute babies were electrified by this turn of events. They all took massive doses of the cute pills and were soon adopted by families who appreciated the power of cute. The not so cute babies never developed a liking for dolls.

12 April 2006



Our arms turned into tree branches. Our hands converted to broad green leaves. We reveled in the juicy process of photosynthesis. Our legs morphed into tree trunks. Our toes grew into roots and tunneled into the ground. We sucked moisture from the depths. The darkness sustained us. We didn’t say much. We found birds visited us more often if we remained silent. We started itching in the fall. The wind sent crackling waves through us. We imagined birth announcements and obituaries printed on our flesh. We closed our eyes. Pulled snow snug around our ankles. Said good bye to memories.

11 April 2006


Little Chicken

We found pieces of the sky floating in the river. Great sheets of blue material, as thin as paper. We snagged them with hooks and pulled them up on the riverbank. They felt like leather. They were so tough none of us could tear them. We looked up. We saw no holes in the sky but an old-timer told us such a thing had happened years ago. The mountains upstream scraped across the sky and tore off pieces that floated down the river. What did you do? we asked. Nothing, said the elder. The sky heals itself. Didn’t you know?

10 April 2006


And So On

We found an infinite tape measure and used it to draw up plans for an infinite house, which was endless fun. The infinite house required an infinite number of two by fours and infinite cans of paint. We requested an infinite limit on our credit card, got it forever, then used it to buy a never-ending supply of wood. This got old, even though it took a while. We abandoned the project half way through, thoroughly depressed, until someone told us half of forever is still forever. We were happy again and knew it would last for a long time.

09 April 2006


Temporal Kindness

The time master came to our house. We recognized him by his red and black cape. We asked him to leave, but he said he had official business. We asked him what business, but he evaded the question. We could do nothing to make him go away. He walked through our house, pausing briefly at each room, then left. That afternoon the clocks began running backwards. We ate our breakfast and felt instantly hungry. We woke from sleep so tired we could barely stand. The time master laughed. We could hear him there between our ears, deep in our skulls.

08 April 2006



We collected string from marionettes and rolled the strands into a giant ball. The puppeteers cursed us for our presumption. The marionettes found new lives imitating snakes. They started a cable channel which featured themselves reenacting popular movies with snakes in all the roles. We watched it a few times. We were sorry we took their string. They did their best but they seemed so helpless as the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz and the patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. One night we rolled the ball of string into their offices and crept away on tiptoes.

07 April 2006



We pulled up weeds with multicolored roots. We took the weeds to a botanist. She said the weed was so rare it had not yet been discovered. She showed us the page in her catalog of plants where it was going to be described. The page was blank. I think, she said, you should burn these weeds and never let on that you found them. When the world is ready, they will be discovered in the proper way. She looked so serious that we said we would do exactly that. The roots were lovely roasted with a little lime juice.

06 April 2006


Everything Else

The stamp collectors and the physicists were accidentally booked into the same convention hall at the same time. The organizers of both groups met and agreed to divide the hall in half and hold both meetings concurrently. It was not the best way to conduct their business but it seemed the only way to resolve the error. As the day wore on the stamp collectors were seduced by string theory. The physicists grew bored with quantum fluctuation effects and turned to the pleasant distraction of pretty stamps. They all adjourned for lunch together and discussed the taste of stamp adhesives.

05 April 2006


Taking a Chance

We constructed blank canvases, all four feet wide and seven feet tall, then took them to the street and asked people to douse themselves with paint then roll around on them. Surprisingly few agreed to this, even after we informed them of the two choices in life: do what you fear, or descend into depression. Those few who agreed to take part complained of getting paint in their hair and clothes. We told them it was water based. We sprayed them with a garden hose when they were finished. Later we went to their houses and ate all their food.

04 April 2006


Creation Myth

In our village we always loved the unicorns that lived on the nearby plains. Some years ago a neighboring village began to hunt them. They believed that by grinding up unicorn horns and eating the dust they would become smarter, braver, and more beautiful. Soon the unicorns had only a few surviving individuals. We asked if we could ride them to safety. They agreed. We abandoned our village and traveled on unicorn backs to the mountains. We have lived here ever since. The hunters sometimes come to the mountains. We hide from them. The unicorns study them with unblinking eyes.

03 April 2006



Ringfinger Fishtail was a trendsetter. One evening she wore a pink satin eyepatch to an art show opening in her neighborhood. Within a week most people in her town were wearing eyepatches. By month’s end the whole country was crazy about eyepatches. They were everywhere. By that time Ringfinger had moved on. Eyepatches no longer interested her, but everywhere she went she saw people with one eye covered by a patch. Do you know how silly that looks? said Ringfinger to passersby. She often heard the same retort: Two eyes good, one eye better. Ringfinger covered her ears and screamed.

02 April 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Will Say Sometime Around His Ninetieth Birthday

The newest place on Earth is always wherever a creature has just been born, warming the space around it with fresh exhalations and filling the air with expectations of the future. Where does the promise go as the world ages around the newly born, each moment dissolving into a choice made and a freedom lost like a spent coin? When the energy winds down to a senescent line of minimum motion, is there enough juice left at the end to look back, even for a second, to the beginning, when knowledge was hardly a concept, let alone an unwieldy torment.


01 April 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says While He's Going Through His Important Papers in Search of His Birth Certificate

Every spring we rolled marbles over melting ice, the sun turning the frozen ground to pudding. We couldn’t wait to start playing baseball so we skidded around on slick grass, scoring runs with mud-caked shoes. Snowbanks shrank slowly, many lingering through April to May. The drip of liberated moisture was a clock’s ticks marking the season’s passage. Sometimes a late snow covered everything with an inch or so of white fluff that disappeared by mid afternoon. The smell of the drying grass on those days made you think of animals coming out of the cave to break their hibernation fast.


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