Monday, December 27, 2010

Disembodied, Backwards

More backwards! The idea is to take a small work and reverse the sentence order. The story I've used this time is Disembodied, another from Thinly Sliced Raw Fish, found here.

The new "backwards" version:

Fractured formulas of identity.  Why.  Where.  How.  Memories of rain on flowers and the cold steel of buildings under construction.  I’m thinking in hazy.  I’m floating in nebulous.  I’m here but don’t know where.

The original version:

I’m here but don’t know where.  I’m floating in nebulous, I’m thinking in hazy.  Memories of rain on flowers and the cold steel of buildings under construction.  How Where. Why.  Fractured formulas of identity.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leviathan: A Dream Fragment

Extra Casolaro related material. This is not directly related to the 64 stories, but represents the beginning of a second chapter after those stories. 

Dr. Erik Vondeer, acclaimed marine biologist, known for his seminal papers on distribution of sea kraits on the Great Barrier Reef and the evolution of chondrophores in the Indian Ocean among other works, hunter of deep sea creatures, surly lonely old man that some were now calling kook landlocked at a mid-sized midwestern college known more for basketball feats than what its grizzled old professors are conjuring up with their stale labyrinthine minds, woke from his recurring dream, ready to bounce from his lonesome bed over to his bedroom desk and write notes in his journal, as he’s been doing for years now, the “journal” itself not just one book but a collection of them, the ever-expanding library of what has been his life’s thoughts and dreams.  His recurring dream was as such: he’s on an expedition boat somewhere in the seas, the landscape changing from, in no particular recurring order, the icy cliffs of Antarctica, the sunny smooth surface of the south Pacific, the raging cold waters of the North Sea with oil platforms the statues of modern civilizations off in the distance, the green and rocky Grecian coastlines with the ancient crumbling buildings and monuments secluded on hilltops or partially hidden by untamed green growth and some of the residue of dead civilizations still lurking beneath the waters, the Galapagos Islands a litter of rocks like a mouth of broken teeth, generic night time waters that could be anywhere, a full moon illuminating eerily still waters that suddenly erupt into tossing storms, the very stability of the ship called into question, the craft itself on the verge of being shattered into thousands of shards and scattered in the waters.  He’s the captain of the ship, and he’s surrounded by dozens in his crew, the faces constantly changing; and in some iterations of the dream, the crew are not providing physical boat assistance but rather are reading passages from the Book of Job, may those who curse days curse that day…can you fill his hide with harpoons…here is the ocean vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind…and Melville’s tome, the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, from hell’s heart I stab at thee, all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain.  Eventually bodies go flying off the deck into the sea; voices say, where is the great—don’t say it, he’ll scream, catching a mouth of salt water, don’t say the word, and then what will appear to be a land mass springing from the ocean’s floor, bursting through the water’s plane will become the thing he has long sought, the thing that has many appearances, many faces.  A massive shark, a prehistoric megalodon launching itself in the air with a cave for a mouth; a kraken with dozens of tentacles that are whipping in the air, snagging hapless crew members and tossing them about, itself posing for an early nineteenth century type of drawing that would be used in a natural history treatise; a sea serpent, a serpentine dragon with evil red eyes that rises high above the ship’s mast.  A unique, gigantic prehistoric monster that has managed to survive eons in the depths, or a mythological creature that is real and is an eternal dweller in the seas, or a variation of a presently existing marine apex predator that is afflicted with some sort of gigantism, or a heretofore unknown species that, despite being one of the largest creatures on the face of the earth, has escaped detection for centuries.  The thing that he has been searching for his entire life now, both in his academic work and mind, and that he believes must be out there in the world’s seas somewhere lurking in its darkest depths, the vast terrain not yet explored.  This iteration of the dream presented something new; whereas usually he stands on the ship’s deck, frozen in awe of the emerged creature and waits as if a sacrificial virgin to be destroyed by the attacking beast and waking just before it happens, here he waited and the beast spoke, saying in a roaring metal-grinding growl, “I’ve been searching for you,” just before he woke. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gravity Gone, Backwards

Backwards! The idea is to take a small work and reverse the sentence order. The story I've used this time is Gravity Gone, another from Thinly Sliced Raw Fish, found here.

The new "backwards" version:

She rests her forehead on the window, inhales.  Between them there are stories, there are years. He wants to say, what are you thinking, but he can’t. They’re looking out an 18th floor window. He stops, thinks about unbound bodies floating upward, colliding with rising cars, street lights and wires, stuff.  If gravity were gone, she said, the world would be a better place.

The original:

If gravity were gone, she said, the world would be a better place.  He stops, thinks about unbound bodies floating upward, colliding with rising cars, street lights and wires, stuff.  They’re looking out an 18th floor window.  He wants to say, what are you thinking, but he can’t.  Between them there are stories, there are years.  She rests her forehead on the window, inhales.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eggplant

This presentation is a warning on eggplants.  Travel world cuisine and you will see eggplant prevalence: ratatouille, eggplant parmigiana, moussaka.  Delicious meals, surely, but eggplant, as a nightshade plant (like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) can cause various health problems.  Stomach lining irritation, gastritis.  Worsening of arthritis.  Consider that some weigh two pounds, large enough to cause head trauma, or other parts of the body if grouped in blankets and used as beating instruments.  Have I mentioned that this presentation has been funded by the Citizens with Concerns About Eggplants, a public advocacy nonprofit?  Visit their website and you will see photos of Indians, such as these, doubled over in the streets of Calcutta, eggplant victims, their arthritic wrists at their sides unable to support their weight.  You will see people in your country, facing similar fates in hospital waiting rooms, further burdening our overtaxed health care system.  You’ll see head trauma injuries, apparent accident victims, their heads suspiciously looking as if they’ve been clobbered with eggplants.  Have I mentioned I’m an eggplant victim?  Debilitating arthritis, after years of an eggplant-a-day diet?  I can barely stand here, support myself at this lectern, click the button for this slide presentation.  My advice to you?  Please avoid the deadly eggplant.  Don’t become a statistic.  Thank you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Clam Bake

Car breaks down on a road near the Chesapeake Bay.  Looking for help, the driver hears distant voices, walks through a corn field and some trees to a beach.  Sees people gathered around a crackling beach fire, the smell of corn, seafood cooking.  He approaches the crowd—long-haired bearded men, women with long hair, some with bandanas holding their hair back.  Several look at him, wave.  My car broke down out on the road, he says.  A shirtless man, leathered chest, gray hair in ponytail, stands.  Come, have a bite to eat.  I just want to be on my way.  Get this man a plate of food, someone says.  Soon after, a young male in red shorts approaches with fractured crabs, potatoes, oysters, corn.  He shrugs it off, but the guy is persistent, standing before him unblinking.  He eats the food, feeling as if everyone’s watching him do so.  About my car, he said.  Why don’t you join us, the shirtless man says, forget that car.  He doesn’t answer, realizes no one there will help.  Looks to the sky. Realizes dusk is coming.  What happened to the time?  Our cars broke down a long time ago, shirtless says, followed by laughter.  You should join us, he hears again, walking away, night coming.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Watching the House Burn, Backwards

The return of backwards fun! See previous entries here.

The idea is to take a small work and reverse the sentence order. This story I've done this with this time is Watching the House Burn, another from Thinly Sliced Raw Fish, found here.

So, here’s the new “backwards” story:

You clutch my hand, won’t let us leave. We don’t believe in this stuff. We’ve come here since childhood, stealing kisses in the shadows. I stare, transfixed, think I see silhouettes, black snakes of smoke moving uphill through bare trees.  We watched the flames, screaming demons eating oxygen.  The house sat on the grounds of either a prison cemetery, a typhoid-ravaged boarding school, or an abandoned psychiatric hospital.  Every other family moves in, stays awhile, abruptly leaves.   A psycho father kills his family, hangs himself.   For years we talked about its history.  We watched the house burn, holding hands.

The original:

We watched the house burn, holding hands. For years we talked about its history.  A psycho father kills his family, hangs himself.  Every other family moves in, stays awhile, abruptly leaves.  The house sat on the grounds of either a prison cemetery, a typhoid-ravaged boarding school, or an abandoned psychiatric hospital.  We watched the flames, screaming demons eating oxygen.  I stare, transfixed, think I see silhouettes, black snakes of smoke moving uphill through bare trees.  We’ve come here since childhood, stealing kisses in the shadows. We don’t believe in this stuff. You clutch my hand, won’t let us leave.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blue Cotton Candy

Standing at her kitchen window, she drowns in the sky and ocean’s blue. His favorite color, the world bursting with it. No escape, not even the islands. Blue lollipops, cotton candy, popsicles—anything that painted his tongue blue. Whatever it was, however unnatural, his little fingers wanted it in blue.

She had recurring dreams of their last day together. Walking through carnival gates. Calliope music, game barkers. A collection of rickety rides plopped down on once green grass turned yellow. The roller coaster creaking as it rumbled over the track’s highest part, fears of it collapsing into a scrap heap. The next day’s real life nightmare: a thumping knock, the long faces of officers who must be fathers. Falling to her knees.

The village nearby full of kids, their eyes a painful reminder. This tropical paradise, water so clear you could see the sand. Fluorescent fish swim in lazy schools. Gentle breezes, the caws of bright-colored birds, the horns of departing cruise ships. Her house, painted in coral pink and teal with spotless floors, a museum of his pictures, memories.

In the distance a ship moves patiently through time. She imagines him standing on the deck, looking to shore, his lips smeared in blue confection. She waves, hopes maybe he can see.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Avocado

Appearing previously in the Fall 2007 edition of JMWW, here.

I’m not a ripe avocado, H told L, I won’t yield to pressure if you squeeze me in your hand.  No, said L, I didn’t think you were.  Avocadoes are fatty and you aren’t so in any way, he thought.  But he didn’t say it.  I am a mean guacamole, she once said, after a glass of wine, but meant she could make a mean guacamole.  They laughed about this, and he often called her a mean guacamole for giggles, but sometimes, late at night, it wasn’t funny, and she wasn’t ripe.  She looked at him funny, her eyes slicing deep.  Time to stop squeezing me, her eyes said.  You don’t know what’s inside.  He thought of it as her mean guacamole look.  But he didn’t say it.  Once, while they were drinking tea on a Friday evening drenched in storm, he rubbing her socked feet, he said, do you know that domestic animals can die if they eat avocado?  She looked at him funny.  She, the mean guacamole.  Was this squeezing, he thought, was this pressure?  She was thinking, how does he know, has he killed an animal by avocado?  He was thinking, I’m not an animal killer, if that’s what you’re thinking, you mean guacamole.  But he didn’t say it. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wish You Were Here!

Clear sky, foamy surf, untouched beach.  An obnoxious relative, likely drunk, is bragging about how the sand burns your soles, how laidback each day is, how margaritas magically appear before you wherever you are.  Meanwhile, here, it’s -34 degrees and snowing eighteen inches per hour.  Mom says, nope, don’t wish we there, striking this relative’s name from the Christmas list.