30 June 2006


Prodigy: Part 5

Toybels Illtot was hungry and cold. He huddled against a mossy rock. A humming sound pervaded the air above him. He looked up but saw only a blurry sky. His throat tightened. He wanted air, but none would enter his lungs. Toybels’s vision went watery and pain shot through his eyes. The world grew darker. The humming sound got louder. Toybels watched the sky slip off its moorings and descend to his body and wrap him up. It was cold and spongy. Toybels pushed his hand against the sky until he tore through and felt warmth on the other side.


29 June 2006


Prodigy: Part 4

Toybels Illtot heard the voice of his mother one night. He tried crying out to her, but his own voice would not carry. His mother called his name. Her voice faded as she passed by without seeing him. The fairies told him he was not ready to return to the world of his parents. We have stolen children for many years, said the fairies. We know what we are doing. Toybels felt blind fury. One night he escaped into the forest. Creatures tried to carry him off and eat him. Toybels fought them off with the hatred in his heart.


28 June 2006


Prodigy: Part 3

Toybels Illtot did get better, although it took a long time. The fairies worked to make his skin a better fit. They walked on it with their little fairy feet, massaging and stretching it to a handsome texture. Toybels’s bones returned to their proper shape and proportions. The fairies told him that they often took children away from terrible situations to make them better. Toybels listened but did not understand. He assumed that the fairies were the same as he was. He loved their fairy skin and their fairy wings. He grew up, but so slowly that he hardly noticed.


27 June 2006


Prodigy: Part 2

Toybels Illtot spent days curled up and immobile. The skin tightened around him. His bones deformed into bent claws and bowed arms and legs. This was no way to live. Toybels would most likely have died had not a herd of fairies chanced upon him. They took pity on his situation and lifted him away from ordinary existence and took him to a safe place in the forest, near a brook suffused with soft yellow light. That first night they all slept near him. Toybels’s eyes were glossy with fear and incomprehension. The fairies told him that would get better.


26 June 2006


Prodigy: Part 1

Toybels Illtot arrived in the world completely naked. Someone with a hidden face handed him a brand new suit of skin. Toybels put the suit on before he realized it was much too small for him. He looked around for another, but found none. The anonymous person had disappeared too. Toybels decided he would have to make the best of things. He tried pushing his fingers into the glove of skin on the end of the arm. The fit was impossible. Toybels curled up into as small a space as possible. No one saw him. No one heard his cries.


25 June 2006



Roundtrip Clawmark hated the word quintessential. It made him queasy to hear or see it. Roundtrip made it his life’s work to eradicate the word from the world. He wrote hundreds of letters to the United Nations, detailing the grave risk to world stability that the continuing use of quintessential represented. Whenever Roundtrip found quintessential in print, he would black it out with a marker pen which he carried for the purpose. Roundtrip stood on street corners and denigrated quintessential until someone slapped him in the face. Roundtrip came to his senses, had a beer, and kept his mouth shut.

24 June 2006


Fibrous Tissue

Dustjacket Watermark pulled the moon out of the sky and put it on a chain around his neck. His friends told him there was a scar in the sky where the moon had been. Dustjacket looked up. I don’t see it, he said. Keep looking, said his friends. Dustjacket looked up until the sun slid into view and left spots in his eyes. Dustjacket was dumbfounded. There isn’t one scar, he said, there’s dozens. He put the moon back. The spots in his eyes soon disappeared. The burn on his chest, where the moon had rested, remained until he died.

23 June 2006


Remap is Smooth

Our city was mad for Kafka. Don’t ask why. It isn’t relevant. To show our respect for his work, we proclaimed his birthday to be a civic holiday. On that day each year the citizenry was encouraged to wear cockroach suits. Most did. We walked around town with carapace backs and feelers stuck on our scalps. We greeted each other by touching foreheads. We remembered Kafka’s story, how the guy didn’t use his wings, so we kept ours folded up and tucked away. The sky hung over us, empty and old. Our hearts thumped wildly. We rejected all easy freedoms.

22 June 2006


Still Life by Zeno

Mothball Onionskin shot an arrow from her bow towards a deer. The arrow had to get to the deer, but before that it had to get halfway to the deer. And before that it had to get a quarter of the way to the deer. And before that it had to get an eighth of the way to the deer. And so on. The deer saw the arrow on Mothball’s bow. The deer began to run to a nearby creek. Before the deer could get to the creek, it had to get halfway to the creek. And so on. Forever.

21 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Etched Into the Border Encircling a Labyrinth Installed Near the Site of a Future Hydroelectric Dam

You see the curling before you, sound of rushing water following an ancient course. You step on the path. One way in. Infinity of folding. Then one way out. Like rivers carving channels in the ground and evaporating then tumbling back upon themselves. The sound is there, but silence descends to awareness. The walk meets itself. Is there power in repetition? You know the drowning when you begin to hear your own blood flowing in your ears. Resist the urge to confusion. Embrace the new paradigm, forged from the desire for life. You carve new trails. You follow ancient paths.


20 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Inked in Tattoos on Several Hundred People, One Word Per Person

You built a house without windows. Cheaper, you said, but without light you were no different than a blind mole scampering around in dark tunnels. You said you liked the cozy feeling. We brought you glass. Offered to punch holes in the walls. The structure has an integrity all its own, you said. Don’t destroy anything on a whim, you said. We were perplexed. Kindness kept us from telling the truth: madness unchecked will proliferate. We sat with you in the dark. Invented flickers of light somewhere. You passed us cheese and crackers. We reached for them, feeling only trust.


19 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Composed By Stacking a Large Assortment of Children’s Wooden Blocks

You blockheads, you make your alphabets from wood and paint, don’t you? And think that is sufficient. Where do you all come from? You see haystacks and apartment buildings, toppled empires and wreckage, all to mark the passing. None of it is your fault but all of it is your doing, spread out on the carpet to trap the unwary. The world up there is a tiny desire, telescoped power hung on ether and raised like a cup. You see the throats vibrating, the lips chattering. You know how it will all turn out. You bide your time and wait.


18 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Translated From an Invented Language That Uses Only the Four Letters C, A, T, and G, the Nucleotides of DNA

You fly because your ancestors flew. You crawl because your ancestors crawled. You eat because your ancestors ate. You die because your ancestors died. You cry because your ancestors cried. You bruise because your ancestors bruised. You sleep because your ancestors slept. You love because your ancestors loved. You plant seeds because your ancestors planted seeds. You kiss because your ancestors kissed. You drink because your ancestors drank. You kill because your ancestors killed. You walk because your ancestors walked. You sing songs because your ancestors sang songs. You doubt because your ancestors doubted. You heal because your ancestors healed.


17 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Placed Under a Windshield Wiper Blade

I almost hit your car and thought you might want to know how close you came to some serious inconvenience. I’m hoping this knowledge will give you the joy of dodging a bullet. See, I had to swerve to avoid a car which had drifted into my lane. In taking that action, I almost side swiped your car. Almost. Instantly I felt a kinship with your vehicle. It was like we had been through a battle together, your car and me. I stopped to write this note. If your car seems just a little jumpy today, now you’ll know why.


16 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work That Will Never Be Written

Your letter arrived yesterday. The page was blank. No return address, but I knew it was from you. The paper was so thin it was transparent. It slipped out of my hand and floated to the floor, where I had a hard time finding it. What was the point? I got a blank sheet of my own paper. Not transparent, but blank. I sealed it in an envelope. Put a stamp on it. I didn’t write your address on the envelope. Instead I thought about where you live when I placed it in the mail box. Hello? You still there?


15 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Chiseled Into Rock

You arrived long after the cooling events. So late to the party, most of the revelers gone, now all you see is the stilled flesh before you. You’ll cut into it, just to tell people you were here. Isn’t that a little too much? Who are you? Others have been here without the need for cutting. All they left were footprints. Ghost impressions of their hooves, claws, and feet. Sometimes that was more than enough. And now you. Etching the spirits. Grinding the stilled magma. Hoping to take some of the life with you. Dust in your deep, lonely pockets.


14 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Found in the Rubble After the Demolition at the Headquarters of the Bureau of Surrealistic Research

You asked for a love note. The giraffes gave me a script for love talking. We sang songs of forests burning in purple flames. The world has been been destroyed so many times and has rebuilt itself each time. We dig in the ground for artifacts. Find combs and broken hearts. No one expects this to continue, and yet it does, forever. The rain is red. The wine is dust. We plant seeds from meteorites and do not recognize the plants that grow. Which is love? The not knowing or the accepting? They will be here soon with wrecking ball.


13 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Found in a Corked Bottle While Beachcombing on the Edge of The Pacific Ocean

The sand here has gotten into our clocks and ground the gears to a halt. If you have picked this up you now know we don’t know where we are or how long we’ve been here. Picture a classic cartoon. One palm tree. The sun high overhead. Crates of shoes broken open on the shore. Power factions vying for control. Our island demarcated with lines in the sand. Election promises. People wearing rags. Many speeches concerning a bright future. Dire warnings of bad news. A call for foreign aid to help us over the difficult transition. Secret plans for communication.


12 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work to be Translated Into Several Languages

Come to our town. We want to see you. We have all kinds of things for you to do. You can hit us if you want. We will let you. You can steal from us. Yes, it is true. We want you to do all of these things. Our clocks are all stuck at five past one. Do not ask why. It is one of our quirks which you will tell your friends when you speak of our town. The sea is here. You may put trash in it. We love you. Come see us. Come see us now, please.


11 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Intended For New Parents

The name you give your child is temporary. Babies will find their own true names, given time. Do not be fooled by their unintelligible yammering. Baby talk is a net they deploy in the air to snag their one true name. Once they catch it and recognize it for what it is, they will hold fast to it forever. Many will forget, as they grow, this name they found in the ether. But towards the end of a long life, the name will come back. Their last gift, their first memory returned, the syllables like the beat of the earth


10 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work That Was Lost When the Author’s House Caught Fire

You chipped at the rock, removing it one jagged piece at a time. Later you dug channels in the dirt to bury the pieces. You tripped over a berm, twisting your foot. You walked with a limp, and the world changed. Now it was skewed far more than you were comfortable with. You tilted your head to compensate. The roar of the stars changed pitch. The darkness covered everything and you stumbled again, then waited. Stood with your own breath. The moon behind you, tapping your shoulder. Hello. You again? Why aren’t you asleep? Why can’t you find your rest?


09 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Purportedly Written by a Dog But Probably Ghostwritten by a Human

You can’t know the joy of running after a ball, over and over again. Or the fun of chomping on sticks. You who ride around in cars (which are fun to chase, by the way) and watch football on television and tell each other that it is time to put down the dog because the vet bill is too high, you can’t know the joy. You can’t see how much we live for the bounce. And the long walks. Those are good too. Let them live. Kick them out of the house if you need to, but let them live.


08 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work to be Shipped With Machines That Automatically Paint Portraits of Your Ancestors Based on Your General Body Characteristics

Do not be alarmed by the confines of the portrait chamber. It may look too small, but even those suffering from acute claustrophobia have successfully remained in the zone for the required five minute scan. During this time you will be asked to display certain facial expressions and flex certain muscles. The portrait machine works best if you exaggerate these as much as possible. It also helps to shave your head. And clear your mind of thoughts. The portrait machine works best with a clean slate. Above all, do not be alarmed. There is absolutely no danger. We guarantee it.


06 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Intended to Be Read After Death

Butterflies won’t help you here. Chasing them, catching them, pinning them to display boards and so on. We have come to accept this reality. Probably best if you do so as well. The absence of pain is disconcerting at first, but you get used to it. There’s nothing to injure, so don’t worry about it. Sensation was always problematic anyway. Wasn’t it? We offer advice. You don’t have to take it. Please make noise. It helps everyone. There is the question of haunting. The temptation is always there. Resist it. You’ll make more friends that way. Welcome to our world.


05 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work to be Printed on Red Pages

All of life, and everything we do in it, is a recipe. Mix the dyes. Apply to shirt. Let dry. You should use materials that don’t require heavy lifting. Even if you are strong. Backs give out. You consume more than you produce. Does this trouble you? If it doesn’t it may mean you need to examine your activities carefully. Don’t blame the stars. They don’t know about you, and if they did, they still wouldn’t care enough to help you with your dyes. Wear the shirt with pride. You made it. It’s your art. Don’t drown yourself. Glub glub.


04 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work Found on the Sidewalk Next to a Tattered Photograph of Someone’s Pet Dog

You excel at manifestoes, even ones you do not believe in. The one about animals biding their time, waiting for us to go. That took some imagination and work. It was interesting. Made me see things differently. But you forgot one thing. We don’t want to go. That other one, where you outlined a map of cognitive functions that included telepathic black holes. That was something. Real crazy person ranting on a street corner stuff. I could see it on a cardboard sign. Don’t take that as criticism. It’s praise, really. Just look at it. You’ll see what I mean.


03 June 2006


An Excerpt From a Work No Longer In Progress

The ants crawled up your arm. A long row of them. They stopped at your tattoo. The red one of the tree. You remember it? It grew there for a while, hidden next to your elbow. You were fascinated by it, even though you usually didn’t see it. But the ants did. They gathered around the base of it, where the trunk meets the grass. A red tree. Nuts. The ants clustered there. Tickling a little. You talked to them about it. What’s up ants? you said. You like my tree? Remember? What’s up ants? Funny. You made them laugh.


02 June 2006


Passing Qu**n

Our sad king put it as a law. Our population must not allow incursions in any form of a particular glyph known by a particular tag. It was not always so. Past annual durations had this glyph with no controls. But our king wants to control our thoughts in trivial ways to dull his agony from his consort’s passing. His population must not say or think a part of that word that hurts him so. Not now. Not tomorrow. Or any duration following that. Our minds must think again what our mouths say. Our sorrow grows with our crazy king.

01 June 2006



Openpit Dryweight fixed cars. She also fixed clocks. And computers, telephones, refrigerators, lawn mowers, and air conditioners. Openpit was so good at fixing things that she didn’t do much of anything else. She fixed meals, hydroelectric dams, clouds, and faucets. Openpit fixed blinds. She fixed jewelry, shoes, bones, and spaceships. Openpit fixed picture frames, the gravitational constant, railroad ties, kinetic sculptures, and mirrors. Openpit received a medal for her fixing talents, which was broken, and which she fixed. Then she fixed nitrogen, the economy, some broken hearts, and her own chipped tooth. Later Openpit smashed a vase with a hammer.

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