The Elephant

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     Try to think of something else

     Easier said

     Spiral slide at hand

The sun! The glorious sun!

Stand at the window’s warmth

     There are those that—

     STOP IT

     —are kept in base—

     I SAID STOP

Go for a walk and count the steps

Touch the street signs in passing

Talk about the weather with a stranger

     How many people can’t—

     KNOCK IT OFF

     The flashlight can’t reach the bottom

     The spiral slide is too deep

     IGNORE IT

Do a pencil sketch of a tree

The leaves are backlit stained glass

In mother nature’s cathedral 

There is hope in a child’s laughter

     The color red and purple’s blossom

     Tear trails on dirty faces

     The door is too far for her

     FOCUS ON LIGHT

Roof over head

Food in belly

Decent paying job

Family that loves—

     Not all families love

     Refrigerator box

     Days without a meal

     Dead end jobs

     YOU CAN’T HELP EVERYONE 

Watch a two hour movie

Entertain guests

Read a book

Write a poem…

Penny wise…pound foolish

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Imagine..if you will

A razor sharp melon baller 

Glowing white with heat

And you scoop a perfect little ball

From the inside of your thigh

The wound cauterized instantly

The smell of bacon permeating the air

The admin, at your place of work

Holds the jar’s lid open for you to deposit 

That perfect little ball-of-you

The price you pay for your paycheck 

But you continue on

Filling your tech pocket

With an iPhone X

Wrist covered in a 2nd gen iPhone watch

All so you look less like a golf ball 

And more like, well…everyone else

Now we could certainly discuss

The scoop value of your gaming PC

The loss of blood was so great

Getting that goddamn Lexus 

You had to pay in installments 

But we give of ourselves in many ways 

When your partner drags you out

To the company clambake 

And you’d rather just read a book

The decision to compromise 

Is certainly worth a scoop

Don’t you think?

The day you threw away 

That copy of US News and World Report’s

Ranking of the best colleges 

Your fingers worn smooth

Running across Iowa’s Writers Workshop 

So you could sign mortgage documents 

Sliding five little you-spheres

(The first of many)

Across the mahogany desk

The banker immediately fashions into

One of those kinetic desk sculptures 

He pulls two orbs-o’-you back

They swing, hitting with a soft

Wet

Sound

But the middle ovoid sits still

The fourth and fifth spheroids 

Taking up the trajectory 

You suddenly realize

That all these times

You’d given up

Parts of you

You’d given up

Mass and subsequently 

Force and inertia

Soon there’ll be

No more

Pushing

Back

At

All

LinkedIn feed writing prompt: remote controlled brains

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[The following paragraph showed up in my LinkedIn feed. It has such insidious implications that I thought it could be a great writing prompt. I won’t say much more, as I’d actually like to see your take on it.  Please don’t hesitate to leave your idea(s) in the comments.]

Here it is:

Feeding medicine directly to your brain: Researchers at MIT have developed a hair-thin device that can be implanted deep into people’s brains and distribute medicines via remote control, a potential game-changer for patients suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s or depression. The implants can bypass the blood-brain barrier — which can sometimes block medicines from reaching their intended destination — and limit the potential for undesirable side effects. The researchers aim to connect the implant to medication pumps that will sit beneath a patient’s skin, which can hold more than one kind of medicine and be refilled with a simple injection. • Share your thoughts: #DrugDeliveryBrain

Figments of a Mania – Henna Sjöblom. If art is supposed to make you feel uneasy…Henna is a true artist. Another spectacular poem found at Sudden Denouement!

I saw her in the dark of my eye stretched out on a polyester blanket, puffed-up cheeks and threads of pink bubblegum stuck to her hair the /maggot-eaten/ stockings barely covering up the /cigarette burns/ along her legs riffles trough the pages of the /holy/ bible, decides she doesn’t have time patient may sometimes […]

via Figments of a Mania – Henna Sjöblom — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

A tour de force by The Wandering Armadillo! Great imagery and wonderfully visceral!

if i arch my back, just so you will hear the gutteral crack of ribs splaying and thunder peal confined to a distant canyon observe the blood rivulet flow tinted crimson from rhodonite glow did you think of yourself as some indelible mark on my being? how easily I’ve erased your ochred pigments […]

via Retract — The Wandering Armadillo

This is the latest from a writer I admire, for her dark sensibilities in all that she writes. Check out: fitfulfearfulphantasmal!

“Is it working?” The squealy reverb of Frank Wahlbinker’s own voice came from the nearby television and radio sets. It startled him. The channels were both tuned in to the premiere international news stations. He switched them off then continued speaking into the live microphone. “You’re all probably wondering who cut in to your programs […]

via Musophobia — Fitful, Fearful, Phantasmal

The Game

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I’m finally alone.  I rest my hands on the cool, metal surface of the table and quickly take inventory of all the old scars and fresh wounds that mar my once nimble hands.  Band saw, tig welder, claw-hammer, drilling, milling, lathe, tapping and the list goes on.  Three of my fingernails are black, most have dents, and all are grooved with little vertical lines that I feel as I scratch my thumbnail across them.  I feel strangely detached, like my life is not my own, but rather a movie I’m caught up in.  My hands flip over palm-side up, like a couple dying fish kept out of the water too long, and the callouses and the dirt and grime that never seemed to come out reminds me of a wasted life.  These hands once flitted about the keys of a word processor, composing sonnets and short stories.  There used to be so much potential in these hands.  Clenched tightly, a scabbed cut on one of the knuckles breaks open and begins to trickle.

The detective enters the room, places a tape recorder on the table, slides a pack of smokes across the table and takes his seat.  He clears his throat.

“Okay, from the top,” and the record button is pressed.

***

I still hadn’t gotten used to third shift hours and the 45 minute ride home was treacherous, but I was thankful to have a job; college loans were coming due, even if I didn’t get a diploma.  I felt the heaviness of my eyelids and a moment later the baradadadada of the rumble strips snapped me to—they were my newfound guardian angels.  Rubbing my eye with a hooked index finger and the immediate sting of salty tears penetrating a gouge was felt.  I glanced up and noticed a pair of headlights following closely behind.  The headlight housings looked square and my stomach sank as I imagined red and blue lights strobing on the roof.  My car was four months late on the inspection.

I could immediately feel my pulse throbbing in my carotid, my breathing became shallow and my eyes had better focus than they did in months.  Razor-like attention was placed on keeping the car between the lines long enough to make it to the next turn-off.  My hands gripped the wheel and the headlights in the rearview seemed to get even closer.  There was a turn-off in about an eighth mile.

“Jeez-jeez-jeez, come on…I got this. Jeez-um,” I muttered.

The turn-off was just ahead, so I put on the signal, slowed to make a comfortable turn and a moment before turning the wheel the car behind put their signal on to go in the same direction.  My chest went tight and I involuntarily tapped the accelerator, causing the Monte to lurch forward, but just as quickly I let off.  I couldn’t afford a ticket for no inspection AND a speeding ticket.  I had to make another turn, but this was a road that I’d never taken and so was unfamiliar.  A resume the state limit of 55 miles per hour sign became visible.  At that speed it would be even more difficult to make a turn on a strange road.  I slowly eased the accelerator down, but before hitting 45, I saw the green reflective glow of a street sign on the left and immediately put on the turn signal.  The car behind was so close now, that the headlights couldn’t be seen…just a glow from behind the bumper. Slowing to make the turn I squinted to see if the tail was going to follow me further, but the proximity made it too difficult to tell.  I held my breath and made the turn.  They kept straight and roared off into the darkness.

I breathed a sigh of relief and after going a safe distance pulled over onto the shoulder.  I laughed at the situation and at my reaction to it, swung the door open and puked all over the blacktop.  I wiped my mouth with my sleeve and clicked on the radio.  Tom Petty was belting out American Girl and I was immediately reminded of The Silence of the Lambs.  I shivered.

There was no problem staying awake the rest of the ride home and the adrenaline dump coincided with my head hitting the pillow, so I was asleep within seconds.  I slept better that night than I could remember ever sleeping.

***

My record was four and that night I’d nearly came in my pants.  Four turns and the car was still behind me!  Now I’m no idiot, I’d figured out a while ago that they were all different cars by the shapes of their headlights, but this was The Game.  I quickly graduated from a police officer needing to fill a quota following me, to a hitman sent by some jilted ex-girlfriend—to ramp it up.  Four…darn…turns!  I bet I wouldn’t ever be able to top it.

***

I hadn’t gotten better than a two in weeks.  Sleeping sucked ass and I felt like a zombie all the time.  Color was draining from my world.  Sleepwalking…that’s what life had become.  I found myself getting lippy with co-workers, like even getting my ass beat by some fucker with hands the size of canned hams would be better than this.  Wake up!

***

The back roads were becoming my friends—every curve, straight-away, and hill had become intimately familiar, like the landscape of a mistress’ skin.  I’d painted the Monte with flat, black primer two weeks earlier and on nights like this I would turn the headlights off and cruise like a ghost, disturbing only the freshly fallen leaves along the roadside.  The waxing moon gave just enough illumination to keep my nerves steady.  I spotted what looked like an old man walking a small terrier along the ditch.  I let off the gas to come in silent and cloaked in darkness…close enough to blow the old man’s baseball cap off and then hit the accelerator to continue on the hunt.

When being followed stopped getting the job done, I began to imagine myself as the hitman…paid by some loan shark looking for the ultimate settle-up.  I was the tail and followed for as many turns as I could.  The smell of their fear drifted into my open window and filled my nose like a lover’s perfume.  I imagined the panic in their eyes, the panic that was once mine, and my muscles flexed in anticipation of the envisioned wet-work ahead.  Unfortunately, four had become a curse.  Inevitably the car would turn into a driveway after the fourth turn-off, usually sooner, and so four was quickly losing its luster.  Sometimes, like tonight, I would come upon a car while my headlights were still off and I would get really close before turning them on and watch with a smile as the car in front of me would swerve as if startled by my sudden existence.  Then The Game was on.

***

The red of the tail light’s glow, like those ahead, had become my favorite color.  My right hand slid into a cardboard box that sat in the passenger seat.  I felt the stickiness of the side of the roll of duct tape, the cool hardness of the crowbar, the ridges of the blade release on the box cutter and the roundness of the recently purchased ball gag.  Had I gone too far in picking up the ball gag?  The day I went into Adult World to pick one out I felt like a sexual deviant, as if I wasn’t careful I’d find myself buying a rubber suit and nipple-clips…that’s how these things progressed and I was no sideshow freak.  The multiple-pierced, checkout girl gave me a knowing smile.  She was cute even with all the hardware.  But it was the untraceable .357 tucked in my belt that had me feeling the wonderfully familiar on-edge sensation.  Ramping up.  Turn two.

Turn three and my cock was straining against the inside of my jeans.  Turn four, throbbing, I knew it was just a matter of time before a driveway would swallow the prey in safety; safety…what a weird concept.  I let off…four car-lengths ought to do it.  The car turned into its driveway.  I slowed to see the number on the mailbox and hit the accelerator.  Around the next bend I double-backed, headlights off.  I let off the gas and coasted to a stop.  The mailbox.  I cupped my hands around a cigarette, lit it and drew in deep.  A smile crept across my face.

***

I put the cigarette out in the little round, glass ashtray in the center of the cool, metal table and exhaled, “…the Game,” and I think how if I hadn’t throat-punched that asshole in the quad, treating his girlfriend like trash, I would’ve never came up with The Game.  Maybe these hands weren’t so useless afterall.

The detective shut off the tape recorder and began sorting through his paperwork.  I looked down at the length of chain tethering me to this bolted down chair and judged just how deep I could get my thumb into his right eye.  My cell might be six by eight, but I’m gonna sleep like a baby.