enmesh you in my concerns


If you achieved some larger context the sub-development had traces of inside-out beauty. The template construction and subtle personal deformities could pop. The problem with the subdivision is that the houses were miles apart. This proved inconvenient and lead to brigandry. Also, as an enclave of the airport, the subdivision proved difficult for goods, services, and first responders to reach. This is why no one was surprised by the following.

House 221 was deep inside the enclave.

Pamela was doing laundry in the manner of a pioneer woman, hanging austere linens to dry in the airport breezes. She was middle-aged but still sexy. She downplayed the sexiness and in fact was not actually constantly appraising her own value as a sexual object but the sex value was irrepressible, it kept expressing itself to the others, who blamed Pamela for this.

The strangers materialized out of the horizon between flaps of a blinding white bedsheet. They were approaching the house with paramilitary caution. Spread into a loose net of consequence, prepared to douse nearly any version of reality the house could cough up. They lacked the bald pride of legal invaders. Their shirts did not say who they were. They did not have walkie talkies. They wore no-iron knit shirts in mostly quiet tones and their jeans were too casual for all but the least consequential office work. They walked with purpose but not as good guys. They delivered menace but not in a clinical way. Two of them were a little fat.

All the trouble the house could offer was Pamela. She was hanging out the washing on a tired clothesline dried out twine. Kevin the beagle was sunning himself on the small concrete patio. He glanced at the visitors but did not get up. None of what followed would compel Kevin to stand up. He was a fine companion but in recent years he had started to smell like serious earwax.

Pamela unfurled a twin-sized sheet in the mellow exhalations of the day. There would be a few more hours of sunlight to dry out the washing. Her dryer was ailing. It seemed to suffer from some respiratory sickness. Clothes somethings barely dried at all, other times they were scorched into aridity. Make the dryer more magic.

She snapped out the sheet and saw the six of them. They had brown hair. She exhaled in frustration.

“Who are you?”

“We’re student loans.” The answer came from behind her. She wheeled around to see that there were six more approaching from the other side. None of them were fat but they all had brown hair.

She did not respond immediately. The visitors glowered in an attempt at menace. This only deepened her confusion.

“Like, student loan officers?”

“No,” said a pudgy brown-haired man at the center of the group approaching from behind.

“So … are you selling student loans?”


“We’re actually student loans. Personified.” This was a second man, a the other fat one.

Another unappreciative silence followed.

“I guess I am confused. I wasn’t expecting anyone. And now that you identify yourselves as student loans I guess I would have expected you to be sheaves of paper and neatly labeled file folders. If you were material at all. Just sort of gently throbbing clip art was more what I expected, if I had been expecting.”

“Cut the shit lady. Do you have the money?

“What money?”

“GOD DAMMIT I said cut the shit, not extend the shit additionally. One hundred fifty nine dollars and fifty six shitting cents.”

“I think there’s been some confusion. I don’t have any student loans.”

“DOLLAR SIGN ONE FIVE NINE PERIOD FIVE SIX,” the first pudgy brown-haired man roared. His roar was alarming but not impressive.

“I think you have the wrong house,” Pamela said. She stood up straight and puffed herself out to seem assertive.

One of the men shrieked. It was unclear if this was meant to intimidate or merely express anguish at the non-forthcoming payment. As the breeze carried his shout away, the other 11 men spoke as one.


“But I don’t have any student loans.”


“I went to college on a scholarship.”


“My grandparents tucked some money away in a mutual fund and that’s how I paid for my books and apartment.”


“I had a job waitressing too.”


“Are you sure you have the right house?”


“Maybe you guys should leave?”


“Stop saying numbers please, it’s upsetting me.”


She looked around in exasperation.

“Maybe you don’t have loans but your kid probably does.” This was the pudgier of the two pudgy brown-haired men. The other ten men also had brown hair, but most of them had acceptable or even admirable BMIs.

“I don’t have any children.”

“Oh you do. It’s your kid. I can tell when people lie,” the pudgier pudgy man shrieked. The eleven other men resumed the chant.

“Why would I lie about not having children?”

“No children?” The shrieker shrieked again. He flapped his arms as if to propel himself away from her statement.

“We’ll take your kids if you don’t pay,” the less pudgy of the two pudgier men hissed.

The chant sped up a tick.

“Why are you here? How did you even find this house? I don’t owe you anything. I’ve never taken out a loan in my life. I am not sure you all aren’t menacing me on my own property.”

The chant had devolved to just “DOLLAR.”

“I could probably gun all of you down under one of those stand your ground laws.”

“Do you even own guns?” the pudgiest man asked.

“Not enough to occlude all twelve of us in one gesture, one macromolecular gesture.” The pudgy but not pudgiest man was now jogging in place, his extra flesh trailing behind his bones and muscles

“That isn’t how guns work,” Pamela said. “It is more about the number of bullets I would have.”

“But do you even have guns, bro?”

“Why should I answer that?”

“Do you have enough guns for us to borrow? Each of us would like a gun.”

She looked back at Kevin the beagle.

“We would like the guns to be the same gun or at least look like the same gun.”

“I only have six guns.”

“Aren’t there six of us in some sense?”

“There are twelve of you.”

“Your point being.”

“Are you going to use the guns here or bring them back?”

“Can we decide later?” one of the skinnier men, not the shrieking arm flapper, said.

A second skinnier non-shrieker stepped forward. He smelled nice.”I feel like asking what we’re going to do with the guns is rude. Either you can help or you can’t.”

“Yeah even imposing the roughest of conditions on our guns tarnishes your brand.”

“Well, I feel like having my personal brand threatened by guests is as least as bad as not having enough guns for people who didn’t call ahead and also wanting to know how my guns, if I have six guns, will be used.”

“We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

“Can I tell you all something? I feel close to you. I’ve been taking courses at night. I’m paying cash though. Out of my savings.”

A dozen different versions of “No” went off like flashbulbs.

“Never do that,” the pudgiest man said.

“You guys aren’t even real student loans. You’re just regular loans.”

One of the non-pudgy men bellowed like a cow witnessing an atrocity. What would even upset a cow that much.

“Can we do work around the house?” “Do you have anything to eat”

“What do you all eat?”


“My doctor said I should eat six small meals instead of three regular sized meals.”

“Define small.”

“He or she said $159.56 was the one true portion size.”

“Please lady it has been so long.”

“I don’t understand. When you wake up in the morning as a student loan, what darkness does it feel like you have returned from?

“That’s not really how it works.”

“We’re not like you.”

“The fuck we aren’t,” the arm-flapping shrieker said.

“How long have you lived here?” another skinny man asked.

“Is it paid for?” the pudgy not pudgiest man asked.

“Are you paid for?” Pamela snapped back.

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prisoners are returned with contagious diseases

(c) David Harriman

(c) David Harriman

more fiction in progress:

Deserter #11 was a bag of rich planting soil.
Deserter #12 was the father of our farmer’s market. He had strong opinions about apples. His burden and his gift was to have these murderously intense views about this one kind of fruit. He was not a natural organizer. The social dimension, which really is what made the farmer’s market such a huge success (apart from the apples) was the work of Deserter #13.
Everyone agreed that having a food desert in the middle of the war was a prime example of the old bad ways. The war would go much better if we were all eating well, eating healthy, living sustainability. I don’t know if this is what drove #12 to create the market. He left a rich enough documentary history that experts have conclude that his real motivation was apples. Specifically he was convinced that an apple a day kept the doctor away, and that doctor-less days could be stockpiled. That if he ate dozens of apples he could ensure health for as many days as he did not require a doctor. He overlooked the legalistic possibility that once you die, you no long require a doctor. By the end he was more of a greedy alchemist than a fruitmonger. There were a lot of questions to answer about his theories, and he set about answering them as best he could. Do all apples keep doctors away at the same 1:1 gear? Do different kinds of apples keep away different kinds of doctors? Are the doctors working to subvert their applephobia? What about nurse practitioners, midwifes, doulas, holistic healers. Our ideas of what constitutes an apple is also heavily mediated. Driven and derided by these complications, #12’s expertise drilled deeper and deeper into the groundwater of the soul. He understood and appreciated apple horticulture in a way that loudly and permanently alienated him from his peer group.
The whole reason for the farmer’s market was that there was a signup sheet, and nearly everyone had to visit it several times a week if not every day. And we were all hungry. And there were really no healthy options around the signup sheet. Later on we went to a web-based form but at the time of the apple incidents we had a paper form, with a ballpoint pen taped to a piece of twine (pretty neatly, not slipshod). When we used a pencil people would erase each other’s names to fit their friends in or to excuse themselves or just to fuck with people. Yes it was a war but being a dick is a separate thing from war status. So we put the pen there and most of the short-term unhappinesses stemming from signup sheet malfeasance quietly receded into the undergrowth for a time.
So #12 brooded over his apples and #13 promoted the market. The war had become a place where people came in and killed each other and went home, spending their money and cultural capital in suburban wars or even worse at home, individual servings of war. It robbed the greater war of what we call leisure hostility.

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contempt of the winged for the terrestial

(c) thomas prior

Deserter 1 wandered off during the rainstorm that ended the battle. He had fought enough for himself but not enough for his immediate supervisors. They found him sleeping under a stately elm, his phone on his chest. Lullabies streamed brightly from the device despite the small speakers and weak reception. They hung him from the shade tree. Later, as busy work, the interns chopped down the tree. After a succession of education processes, the tree was a stack of treated lumber. A different set of interns used the lumber to built a coffin for Deserter 1.

Deserter 2 was a computer programmer. He would have rather done something more active, less brainy and indoors, but his angels were sedentary angels, and they did not wish to chase him around the world. He was a reliable programmer, prone to moral panics about his incremental assistance to the military-industrial complex. The nature of his employment was not the angels’ responsibility. Choices led to other choices led to programming military drones. He only qualified as a deserter just barely.

Deserter 3 was only on base to use a relative’s purchasing privileges at the dispensary PX. One of the security wraiths denatured him. Fight or flight reflexes.

Deserter 4 was a security wraith. She grew up in a stable and loving home but over time developed persistent and debilitating deficit of self-love. She walked off the job. They found her in the mailbox of a vacant farmhouse two counties over. They dropped the mailbox in a car shredder.

Deserter 5 stole a car. He drove fast and straight enough to transcend earthly justice. At present writing he lives on an asteroid, one of the shitty ones. Extradition treaties with the space bacteria are a work in progress.

Deserter 6 was an asteroid.

Deserters 7 through 1,001 TK

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not just a drugstore but a family

A Harpooned Whale 1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851


—Hey man.

—Muggy today

—Sure is. Fall’s coming though. When it collapses it collapses on me.

—You are a big one for self-reprehension.

—You are the spider that lives in my driver’s side mirror.

—You are the pale mutant god that steers the world.

I extended my hand in the gentlest way I knew, making a pincer of forefinger and thumb.

He extended a leg.

redshotWe didn’t fit together. I left my hand a few microns from him and he tapped me. I think we both had some cultural ideas about the relative hygiene of the other.



—Charlemagne, huh.

—Yeah my mom was a medievalist. Which you know in hindsight maybe a medievalist would go for a less obvious name from that chapter of the world’s diary.

—I dunno at a certain remove significance dries up and crumbles. Only the really big bland sturdy meanings survive history’s malignant neglect.

—I don’t disagree. And there is some context for Charlemagne as a family name. But it just never felt like me, you know. Something percussive and more Anglo-Saxon like Scott would have suited me. I dunno. I’m not mad about it. Why stress over it? I’m gonna be here for a lifetime, my version of infinity, long enough to drop my baggage off.

—I hear that. Well I’m headed to the coffee place, do you want anything?

—Can you bring me some fruit flies?

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behind the gourd


wrote a piece for Scene on the celebrity of Jonathan Football Esq.

While ESPN is the bell cow of national sports media in obsessing over Manziel, Cleveland’s press corps has energetically contributed to the turd-hurricane of hype in their own doofy way. But, of course, in Northeast Ohio, the Browns garner intemperate amounts of attention year-round regardless of their prospects. Remember when we talked ourselves into Brady Quinn?

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note for later


This poem was posted at the odd, wonderful Orange Show in Houston, TX. I like it a lot.

when i was a boy
farmers used scarecrows
in their orange crows
many timid birds
on seeing the scarecrow
would fly away
now and then
a wise old bird
would come down
and enjoy a good fiest [sic]
using the scarecrow
as a perch
between meals
this had little significance
to me at that time
but when i got tired
of being a fool
i came to the realization
the fears of life
are nothing
but scarecrows
–vass young

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things I rode over on my bike, summer 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 2.09.16 PM

1. extremely flattened squirrel (i think it had been a squirrel previously, anyway)
2. loose slices of ham
3. carpal-tunnel wrist brace

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descriptions of skies, running catalog

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 2.00.32 PM

Under midwestern clouds like great gray brains
—Denis Johnson

Clouds like headless sheep
—Margaret Atwood

Then a blood red cloud line appeared along the horizon, and grey clouds resembling cement castles with turrets, rested upon it. Yellow clouds rolled above the castles, like immense butterflies unable to find a bush upon which to light.

In a short time all turned scarlet, then purple black, then mauve. At last dark shadows crept over the earth, and all colours merged into blue, through which the stars shone.
—Jim Tully

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
—T.S. Eliot

The sun has the attenuated autumn quality of seeming to be behind several panes of glass.—David Foster Wallace (h/t to M.M.)

(…) pilot-light blue—also David Foster Wallace

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Not the straightforward bites of an honest man


More sentences/near-sentences from the sentence ritual, as previously highlighted

  • My plan was to be a sinner, not for the sin itself but to smoke God out, to show me where he was shooting from, providing he or she or it or them was actually here and not on another plane or just a story.
  • I don’t think I have any edges, and I can’t tell if I am supposed to have any.
  • Whenever someone makes me uncomfortable, I try to economically exclude them from my life​.
  • I learned the basic chords of sexuality from the swimsuit issue.
  • The kind of story that’s just philosophical possibilities extruding from some kind of soul-machine, filmed from every angle in uncomfortably high resolution, the possibilities still slimy from whatever it is that happened inside that big machine.
  • I feel like a discoloration on a sash showing where a merit badge has been ripped off.
  • Dog-paddling on dry land.
  • His voice was so deep it felt like a small ghost tumbling in my inner ear.
  • Money and used bandages feel the same.
  • Crystalline weeds of lesser churches grew at the base of the invisible cathedral; the most perfect of those crystal spears was dedicated to closely observing the natural laws of money.
  • The old fat bull lowed, his voice battered by five decades of grilled meat and light beer.
  • ​Liberty is a fuzzy idea, but it’s “pursuit of happiness” that’s the real weasel phrase.
  • The comprehension was ravenous, like locusts, sucking up knowledge and leaving behind despair.
  • ​Some people just have a special gland for lying; normals can die of dishonesty, but the elect possess a node that eats sin.​
  • I raised a herd of middle-class families, and I live by brokering their tax revenue to the authorities.
  • From the slight elevation of the off-ramp, the sprawling city looked like the work of either a distracted god or a very busy people.
  • The road was a ghost river, only to be traversed in special cladding, and only at certain speeds.
  • The screech of interplanar distortion isn’t a dealbreaker, a lot of people work closely with ghosts on an everyday basis.
  • There is a glitch in the coding of males, regarding the sentiment “if you don’t like it, then tough luck,” and its deployment in hyper-inappropriate contexts.
  • Bohemian entrepreneurs invaded, wearing the disparate lifestyles of the past 50 years all at once like a costume.
  • I was still in the habit of treating money like rain, like an act of god that I could neither cause nor prevent, but felt I could propitiate with right thinking.


  • The lake sulks on the edge of the city, their relationship soured in the rich ways only available to those trapped together.
  • The sky looked like it had been mopped with dirty water, its only life a reflected creamsicle prairie of light pollution.
  • ​The fruit trees were turned inside out, their branches pulled earthward, deformed by their own productivity.​
  • On W 45th street, there is an art gallery exhibiting pictures of a fictional serial killer; on E 45th Street there’s a regular, single-serving, non-fictional murder.
  • The “business” of business school had started as a euphemism for the getting of money, but like many a load-bearing euphemism, heat and time had dappled the word with unexpected meanings and ritual.
  • We didn’t have a real priest to consecrate the host, so we put two AA batteries into a bowl of tortilla chips and sprayed holy water on the compound.
  • Some nostalgia is actually misfiled disappointment about how the present turned out.
  • One of those one dudes so old that they start to smell faintly of fried chicken.
  • We started out doomed; the trial was more just like double-checking that fate said what it said.
  • Beatles lyrics are mostly agreeable but not actually psychodynamic laws.
  • Honest self-dealing left in the fridge overnight to set into depression.
  • Trash on fire smells better than trash not on fire.
  • I will cluck my tongue so hard it’ll stop your heart, mister.
  • The economics of being a ghost are not so different from those of the living.
  • The old man died serenely in his rocking chair but not before thinking to himself “Thank God I abandoned my pursuit of sexual alchemy.”
  • His #1 concern, both as a baseball ghost and a regular ghost, was that this contract for reincarnation would just lead to more dying.
  • You can’t build a world around yourself, although you are allowed to try.
  • Try to rip pages out of your life like a notebook and you just wind up hurting yourself.
  • Fate is wrong at least half the time.​
  • The spirits that animate Meaning are kind enough to know when they need to punch someone in the dick.
  • Most things happens without intent.
  • Selfhood–beyond the literal temporal constraints of the particles of a brain–is a very perishable thing.
  • His teeth, more than regular teeth, looked like the crude wind instrument/weapon made of bones that they were.
  • She felt like cold water on a wound.
  • At first she seemed like one of those girls who was forever on the verge of tears; I later learned that there was something wrong with my eyes.
  • I didn’t say what the cup was going to overflow with.​
  • Bottom-shelf cabinetry has a habit of expressing the unsettled desperation of the lives that people with bottom-shelf cabinetry tend to have.
  • Ignore most problems and they go away; this extends to the problem of being alive.
  • Jury duty smells like cheap soap and feels like stale obligation
  • No one here is debating the artistic potential inherent in demolition derby; the issue has always been one of liability.​
  • Cars are drugs that you sit inside, instilling feelings of immortality while often providing the exact opposite.
  • The yaw between calmly letting the world go to shit and furtively speeding up that process.
  • I don’t think I’m asking all that much when I suggest that you annihilate the past and future.
  • ​Midsize Carnivore #1’s story​ has been lost to history, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Midsize Carnivore #2.
  • Stories are a good way of swapping time-acreage for postcard images of different lives, more satisfying and less annoyingly real.
  • ​The final version of his will stipulated a complex solar-powered harness that would keep his interred corpse rotating at a rate of one revolution every 24 hours.
  • The opposite of resurrection.
  • ​What are you supposed to wear when you set out to rob people as an act of moral theater?​
  • Houseplants are the sole and mute witnesses to some of the saddest shit imaginable.
  • Even the fruit in the endowed fruit bowl looked corporate and sullen.
  • Can’t two shitty, opposite things exist and have friction, without our living in the friction?
  • I don’t want to be your dog, I want to be any dog.
  • My resentments are more resilient than the shit they make space shuttles out of.
  • Clutching a bodega coffee, draped in the kind of suit they sell buy-one-get-one, earnestly deaf to a lot of life’s shittier nuances.
  • It is the nature of adult friendships to be slightly relieved when you are done hanging out with someone.
  • Injustice seemed more palatable before the invention of video cameras.
  • Sometimes I wonder which is more troublesome: the stuff between our ears, or all the other stuff.
  • Human decency is a cyclical trend, like hairstyles or polygamy
  • Catalog the insecurities, assign them in thematic bunchings to people around you, use these people as septic tanks for your fears.
  • I spend most of my time stroking my possessions to make sure they’re real.
  • I have processed all outstanding emotions and am prepared to briefly focus on imaginary people’s interior lives.
  • Home is a computer screen, mostly.
  • Sometimes I detest meaning.
  • I mistook a pile of irregular cardboard shards for a puzzle.
  • The great lie of detective fiction is that nearly every crime wants to be solved.
  • His everything felt like it had been left outside all night–clammy, its atoms drunk on sleep.
  • The fates transformed me into a garbage can to teach me some lesson but mostly life is the same.
  • I painted the word MESSINESS on my mind’s equivalent of a murder wall to help me remember.
  • Grotesque impatience is a hobby of mine.
  • There are truths that go beyond difficulty into a kind of active avoidance of comprehension; they not only bounce off your eyes but use them for a kick-turn.
  • Emotions have half-lives, and anybody who tells you otherwise is probably trouble.
  • Terry looked like a carnie, which is to say he gave the impression of being made entirely of neck muscles.
  • As a species, one of our main hobbies is lying to another, sometimes for profit, sometimes just to pass the time.
  • A penis never develops a thick skin, no matter how much you use it.
  • Dust to dust, but in that middle part we are also still dust.
  • The sound of an entire civilization staring at itself in the mirror, checking its hair, cringing at its own recorded voice.
  • Drag my soul kicking and screaming away from the well it likes to stare down.
  • In lieu of health insurance, employees will be provided with drugs that induce a mild sensation of immortality.
  • The absence of resistance is a poison.
  • Trust has to be watered and fed more than you think.


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Signs on telephone poles, Cleveland summer 2014



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