their souls still shaped like their bodies

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Deserter 20 realized the four of them had stopped walking. The three goblins were staring at him.

“20,” said Red Dave in an apologetic tone. “We need to talk.”

“Yeah I’d actually been meaning to ask you guys when you thought we might get out of here anyway. Been a long day for me. Shot in the head and heart before noon, reborn in these woods. Haven’t eaten since breakfast. I haven’t seen you guys eat either. We should get something to eat!”

“That’s sort of what we wanted to talk about,” said Thomas.

“Oh OK, so this is like all of you want to talk to me. Not just Red Dave.”

“Yeah this is like a conversation between the goblin community and the human community as represented here.”



Confused cries rose out of the trapped civilians as they winced against wave after wave of swirling moneygarbage. They still clutched wildly through their tears at the passing greenbacks. I could see them all, cowering together in a lump, between the scissoring legs of the circling joggers. Their eyes were wild with a mix of fright and greed.

too many secret developments


Deserter 36 transcended electricity. “I’m sick of all this lurid and tawdry convenience,” read a message written in charcoal on a strip of tree bark and posted to his publicist’s account on a popular social networking site.

An account registered to a man who appeared to be a main boss of the army commented on the post shortly after its initial appearance. “YOU HAVE TO USE IT,” he said in regular old typed letters.

The next day, a second photo of tree bark appeared.

“No, fuck you guys, being a dick in this way is permitted,” the faint charcoal lettering spelled.

the smaller god

graven image ep

“Man do we wish we had a pizza.”

The chorus was singing again. Their intonation of the name of the small self-sacrificing god itself spread an awareness of mutual hollownesses in all those present–35, his betrothed, the chorus themselves.

“But we’re skint,” added the chorus of friends.

“Well, I ripped all my money to pieces on purpose,” 35 barked. “It was pissing me off. Fuck those pieces of paper and their attempt to be a decisive part of my life.”

“Fuckin’ A, yeah,” the chorus replied. A few confused looks were exchanged among the singers.

“Destroying it made me feel like a future king of war,” 35 barked. He barked everything he said.

“Fuckin’ A, definitely,” the chorus reiterated, with a hint of tranquilized formality. “But a pizza would be perfect right now. It would satisfy every bodily shortcoming we feel. Hunger. Sensory impoverishment. The understanding of ourselves as people who get to have pizza when the lust for the small god visits. Even our faith in folk notions of when the small god will come, what devotions spur him toward us.”

They all agreed on the desire, and that they lacked the cash required for fulfillment, save one dissenter. The betrothed possessed a line of credit with local merchants. An argument ensued. The disagreement quickly became about more than pizza.

all kings is mostly rapscallions

Such urgency was an ugly thing to perceive. The wheels of the hansom cab had set off a hundred miniature thunderclaps, one from every paving stone. The coachman’s face was smeared with contempt for everything that was not greater speed. Even the horses seemed dissatisfied by the cab’s progress through the busy market street. From the window of my garret, I watched the conveyance snort and shove its way through filthy urchins offering squash, melons, puppies. The smells of the fares on offer filled my senses but today was not a day for leisurely commerce, if this was the man I was expecting.

The hansom barreled toward the entrance to the inn, and a man leapt out. A cloud of coins flew over his shoulder as he disappeared from my view. Just seconds later I could make out his crazed footsteps below, climbing the four steep flights of stairs to my room. With each successive THWONK the end drew closer. I turned from the window and awaited the aftermath of this awful crescendo.

The panting messenger, the whites of his eyes flashing like a blade, gasped for air. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his greatcoat, and unburdened himself at last.

“Sometimes,” he snarled, “I change my passwords on websites just to get an e-mail from someone.”

huck finn’s theory of assholes

It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds.  But I never said nothing, never let on; kept it to myself; it’s the best way; then you don’t have no quarrels, and don’t get into no trouble.  If they wanted us to call them kings and dukes, I hadn’t no objections, ‘long as it would keep peace in the family; and it warn’t no use to tell Jim, so I didn’t tell him.  If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.



He wants to become a cake


For the first 33 years of my life I was an account rep for an office equipment firm. Yes even as an infant. I have no regrets about those years. It was honest work and the money after an apprenticeship and some increase in seriousness—I increased, not the money. Money is never less than perfectly serious. So yeah I was an adult human, just barely real enough to sponsor one lower-middle-class family existence or rather I was eligible to sponsor. So my biological existence, I never questioned that. I loved my wife, my progeny, some of my acquaintances. I fed on that love. I suspect in their own human cosmologies, in which they were necessarily the world-spider at the center, they all did the same thing. The love was flies trapped and eaten. Prayers were prayed for the fly community to prosper and deliver a steady supply of victims for our replenishment. That is a gruesome metaphor but life is a gruesome metaphor. I received and gave. I was also flies. The processes of loving and being loved, of belonging to something, they were all dashboard indicators, a reassuring if possibly evil set of lights. Evil only in the sense that whatever it was in those devices that could look into a person’s living soul and comprehend it. And then convert that mechanical understanding into little yellow lights.

I’m not mad at the yellow lights anymore, that’s something I have worked hard to put behind me. So far that I can’t even see it anymore. I’m not sure, if I were confronted with the lights again, that I would make better decisions. But I do know that I refuse to see the lights. I get all the feedback I need about the condition of my soul from a set of vintage 19th century instruments that I illegally installed inside me. The point is my history of conflict with data about love and the inability of the golden lights to distinguish agape and eros. Please stop asking me about the yellow lights. I feel like you’re specifically attempt to capture me in some agitated state, to give your account some texture, some sense of what I am like and not merely what I am. I agreed to appear on your program to talk about my personal makeover. No I would be happy to get back on track. Just out of curiosity why is there a yellow light on your camera. Oh OK that just means it’s turned on, sure, OK. It’s not the other kind of yellow. No I mean it doesn’t even really look like those problematic lights, now that I have taken a few moments to consider. Yes, I will, I will proceed.

So at age 34 I decided I wanted to become a German chocolate cake. One specific German chocolate cake, sold at a nice local vaguely upscale mini-chain grocery. The store even had a German-sounding name, which was nice. This would have been the early 1990s probably, the time of this one specific cake. Yes a grocery store cake, baked by strangers. Not by grandmothers, no. The way I prefer to understand that origin is that everywhere is someone’s home or at least a corporate extension of home. So there is no way that a corporation, especially a small local corporation, could have made the human decisions that typically go into the existence of a German chocolate cake. Some human somewhere down the assembly line came up with that recipe. Imagine if you will a legal concept walking around its kitchen, an apron tied around its vast invisible waist. The alarming, floating oval of the apron’s string wobbles at eye level above the counter (corporations are very tall, descended from a race of invisible giants)

So where did the fictional invisible giant get this recipe? On a stained greasy many-times-scotch-tape-mummified recipe card with floral decorations in the upper left, passed down, this invisible fictional oversized recipe card from an invisible fictional oversized grandmother—what? Oh sure I’m sorry I didn’t realize that the mic would come off if I stood up. Sure yeah I’ll keep myself seated for the rest of the segment.

<cut to commercial, cue HE WANTS TO BE A CAKE chyron>

Yes there was at least one really challenging moment. A really good friend of mine—we were out for drinks—says to me, you shouldn’t be a cake. Make cakes instead. Don’t transform yourself into a cake. Become anything but a cake. Become a steak, a rake, a snake, hell, become a box of crackers. Cakes are the worst, she told me. Think about how caught up in themselves cakes are, how insular and low-stakes the cake community is. Who, they asked, wants to exist in that catty little world, existing only as mounds of ingredients and them being summoned together and sitting there in a pan and becoming this hot goop, going through the vaguely sexual transformation of blossoming from a tub of glop into this terrible and almost uterine thing and then they paint you like a cheap rotten god? My friend actually says all of this to me in the middle of a bar downtown. She says, don’t get caught up in cake life. I nodded like I was hearing her, taking her points as points and not mean slashes at my only meaningful desire.

When we come back from commercial I will tell you about how my family felt about this, about what it feels like to get eaten. Yes we can discuss my current projects, my thoughts on the news of the day.

rabid tush patrol


A publication once said or printed anyway that Deserter 27 was a future king of war. Back then Deserter 27 was tall and whip-strong and probably immortal. The experts who evaluated new soldiers had looked at him and carefully noted attributes shared by many young people who went on to become kings or queens. His hands and feet were too big for his frame, like a puppy. So was his ass, waiting patiently to be grown into.

The king analysts had hammered their centuries of shared wisdom into a rough system of understanding. It was not a science because it lacked laws. But just often enough the king experts were correct about who would and would not, and that gave them an authority. The authority gave them the confidence to continue carrying their traditional divining rods.

Once the rods, or one of the rods, were at the center of a scandal. A rod was left on a bus, an airport bus if memory serves. The man who found the road announced via a newspaper advertisement that he would make kings or queens or lesser but still noble creatures of anyone who offered him a sufficiently voluminous honorarium.

The king experts, fearing the loss of face, felt obliged to take out a larger ad in response explaining that the power of the rods was non-transferable. The capacity for turning base humanity into chieftain-and-higher level executives was not in the rod. That power was only inside the humans. And furthermore, what powers of understanding the rods did contain were whispered to the rod’s operator in an ancient and secret language. Unsurprisingly this language was only interpreted by the king experts, by drawing on a correspondingly ancient and secret body of data and lore.

Of course the experts knew that the rods were purely symbolic and always had been. They had not been concerned that the man who found the lost rod would flood the world with unlicensed monarchs, thus debasing the nature of authority. But they still felt obliged to protect and honor the rods. Even though majesty could not be created and could only be understood, the rods were still a part of their family.

It was not many years after the misplaced rod issue danced away in the wind that the experts began to appear in television, thanks to their own instinct for self-promotion and the good offices of a publicist blessed with foresight about changes in the media landscape. The suits the king experts wore for their television segments were blocky, shiny and stiff. Underneath their special conical hats, the glistening gray fabrics looked like some strange conservative sect of exotic dancer.

Before the airport bus incident and the newspaper ad salvoes and the offscreen detente leading to the return of the missing rod, before television, the king experts met in sad sullen rooms. They gummed expensive, shitty cigars in filthy office warrens. The walls and furniture and occupants were browned by smoke. These chambers were flophouses for wayward ideas.  In one such dropceilinged brownness, about two generations ago, depending on how you count generations or whether generations even exist, the old unhealthy king experts, the ones born before the splitting of the atom (retaining a certain molecular innocence and weariness) pronounced that Deserter 27 (who of course had a different number then) was a future king of war.

The information was put into an annually circulated list of future kings, bound and stapled and retailed across the nations of the alliance. The list came out as a special issue of WAR TODAY magazine—the NEW KINGS issue,  celebrated and sanctified by a special push by the ad reps. It was read and memorized and informally archived on the tables of strip-mall barbershops, where young boys might peruse for months and months to come, tearing themselves away from the infinite embrace of mirrored walls to see themselves in these future kings instead.

WAR TODAY long ago went out of business, having lost its advertising base to the televisions and the websites. Every so often one of its longer pieces, seeming stylized but really just warped by the passage of time, is revived and circulated by adepts of vanished transient information.

So 27 was a future king of war. This status was meant more to suggest that pending proper development he could be a possible future king; nothing was guaranteed, not by the experts anyway. In those days the market for analog graven images had not yet collapsed. This was before the big gravening firms spun off their print devisions to satisfy stockholders.

These were also the days of a new season of war. There was to be a desert campaign, and fans keened for preemptive memorabilia. Trading cards were printed. Deserter 27 had his own card. In patriotic colors and playful type beneath 27’s old name was FUTURE KING. If this was still only a possibility and not a promise, no one could convince his eyes.

[to be finished/whatevered/otherwised]

their wide hips gave off the odor of the sea and of milk

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.03.04 AMThe first time Deserter 28 witnessed the permanent transmission of lethal force his bones turned to gas. Only the bones and some of their confidants understood this. Some of the confidants worried to excess that this meant 28 was fucked. In fact because of the high engineering standards to which we hold our bones and bone accessories, gasbone is not an immediate threat to safe use of a deserter. But what the bones and deserters still do not readily understand is that gasbone is a serious and lifelong medical condition that has to be understood and coaxed along, fretted over to a sufficient volume. Swallowing jagged life or even unimportant gang tackles for mediocre football teams incurs a risk of puncture. We might live with a leak, just like we might live on after a failed love affair in which it turns out we both only ever hated ourselves and that was enough to draw us together in a photonegative of desire. In both cases there is a slow trickle inside you. At first you don’t know, at second you don’t mind, at integers greater than or equal to three you can taste your own bones on your breath. They disappear into a wind that hardly cares what those bones ever meant to you. Not because the wind is a dick, but because there aren’t enough hours in the day to not be a dick in every way to everyone.

the gold didn’t believe in him


“Hello is this this gambling problem hotline?”
“Yes it is we are listening in a sensitive and non-judgmental way, please tell us what your gambling problem is.”
“So OK my gambling problem is that the CAVEMAN KENO machine next to my video poker has this pterodactyl animation that flies over the screen and makes a super unpleasant screech. I don’t want to move to a different video poker, I have sunk a lot of spiritual and actual capital into this DOUBLE BONUS POKER. You know the machine I’m talking about. The one that is fairly glowing with its intent to cough up a jackpot in this lunar cycle. Right by the escalator up to the buffet area. When this was a department store, before the casino awoke from its thousand-year slumber, this was the perfume counter. This video poker machine has always been here. I’ve never gone up the escalator because of specific fears of what lurks above.”
“Sir or ma’am you are not supposed to call this number for this kind of problem. For pterodactyl problems you have to call the manufacturer.”
“Do you mean the manufacturer of CAVEMAN KENO or the manufacturer of the pterodactyl?
“Actually we mean the manufacturer of you. So God as you understand him her or it.”