Fragmented Speech

/How can I form you, myself/

The Tenth Judgment [collection excerpt]

ttj

The waiting room was white. There were twelve chairs. They were white plastic, all one piece bent like C’s, and lined up in four rows, but only one person ever sat in that room at a time. There were small square tables of similar design next to the gaps in between each row. You might have expected to find some magazines or at least pamphlets on them, but they were just as bare as the walls. One corner of the room was cut diagonally. In the middle of that wall was a big plastic window, behind which was an office just as blank white as its exterior. The window had a grey plastic speaker at its center with a wire running down and out of sight.

Outside that office, where the diagonal met the wall, there was a bright orange door with a panic push bar. There was a metallic plate that sat just about where a chicken wire glass window ought to have been. The plate was engraved with a phrase, “There is no appraisal greater than one’s own, in themselves for themselves, but for their father’s own. Est’d 89.”

In the blank office sat a woman. She, like the bright orange door, contrasted herself from the environment. The bright pink of her blouse diffused itself onto the chair she sat in, and the desk she leaned on. She wore a name plate that read, “Rosewater”. She was smiling at a child across the room, whom sat as far away from her as possible. Amidst her smile, Rosewater wondered if it was an intended offence or just nerves.

The boy wore a soft powder blue button up. It spread its color to his chair just as Rosewater’s blouse had. The boy was anxious. He swung his feet back and forth. He couldn’t keep his fingers still. Rosewater continued to stare. Her smile grew as she convinced herself the boy meant no offence.

The boy looked up for a moment. His eyes met Rosewater’s. He looked away immediately. As he looked at his white laced sneakers, a crackling static echoed across the room followed by Rosewater’s awkward voice.

“Nerves, sw–”

The static got louder and the voice cut out as sharp feedback loop formed, then with a bang, her voice continued, “sweetie?”. The boy could only nod his head.

***

The sunlight through the window woke the young boy before his alarm could have. He sat up and walked to his closet. Only two hangers hung from the beam inside of the white double doors. One hanger wore a powder blue button up and the other dangled a pair of white khakis. He gently took both. As he removed each, the hangers were conveyed into a hole in the wall of the closet, after which, the white double doors closed slowly. He held both articles in his arms and his alarm went off. He struggled over to stop it, dropping his pants.

One kind and muffled voice echoed up the stairs, “Derren–breakfast.”

Derren said nothing, got dressed, and headed down stairs. He sat at a bright beige dining table. In front of him was a white plate with two roast florets of broccoli, a delicate pile of scrambled eggs topped with diced tomato, and one pale sausage. His mother stood over the sink, washing a bowl. Still turned away she spoke.

“How are you feeling today?”

Derren split his sausage in half with a fork.

“Fine.”

His mother turned around, still holding the bowl, drying it with a cloth. She walked closer.

“You know honey, there’s really nothing to be worried about.”

Derren looked up from the singed floret that his fork had skewered.

“I already have one I like good. I’m not worried. I’m just really going to really miss you.”  

His mother set the bowl down on the far end of the table as she walked over to Derren. She held his head tight to her stomach.

“I’m really going to really miss you too.”

***

“Derren, not now!”, said a long man in a red robe sat in a longer chair, pulling a book away from his face. His glasses slid down his nose as he glared.

“But, aren’t we supposed to be like hanging out? There’s only like two days left and we haven’t done anything.”

“Derren, go away to your play area now. I won’t tell you again.”

Derren continued, “I’m so bored of that thing. I want to be around you. I like books too!”

The long man threateningly leaned forward and glared once more. That silenced Derren completely. The long man hid his face in his book. Derren kept staring. After a moment or so the long man looked to Derren again, sighed, and stood up, gently putting his book down. Derren was giddy with excitement. He was going to finally get to have some fun. That whole week had been a bore for him so far. Derren was ready to ask a question once the long man got close enough. He’d been running it over in his mind, each step the man took. “What are we going to do?”, he thought–and again–It repeated. The long man was close enough. As Derren opened his mouth, all that came out was a loud tubular echo. Then his face began to sting horrifically on one side. Tears came from his eyes from the sting alone. Derren didn’t know what had happened. He saw the long man’s hand lowering. Derren’s questions turned to answers.

“He just hit me”, he thought–and again–It repeated.

Derren’s tears then came all at once. These were tears of anger, confusion, and sorrow.  He ran from the room and headed down a long hall to a much smaller room–the play area. It was all bare, but for a small white rectangular prism at its center with a tiny olive tinted screen. He walked over and sat down in front of it. The screen lighted up and numbers and letters spooled in rows downwards until all that was left was a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. It stayed for a moment then vanished as two equidistant dots dissolved up from the emptiness. In unison they moved right, then left, and then back center, as if they were looking at Derren.

The machine began to hum like a refrigerator as a friendly voice trickled from tiny holes on top of it. “I can see that you are in tears DERREN. Why are you in tears?”

Derren said nothing, he simply leaned forward and hugged the machine.

It spoke once more. “There, there. It is all going to be okay.”

***

Green grass bent under a stocky bearded man’s toes along a wooded dirt path. Derren followed him. Derren couldn’t remember the last time he had been outside and barefoot at the same time. It felt good in the summertime. He really had missed it. They stopped at a small opening in the trees that lead to a small landing on a pond. The man held one fishing pole, gripping it and its line, tugging a barb that desperately grasped the hook holder.

The stocky man spoke as he squatted to Derren’s eye level.

“I’ve got a job for you.”

Derren nodded with attention.

“Go back a little bit up the trail, but before the bend, so I can still see you. Along the path I want you to find sturdy stick. One that’s shaped like the letter Y. Can you do that for us?”

Derren nodded once more and was off. The man opened up of the boxes he had swung around his shoulder. He heard some snapping of twigs and looked over to see Derren crouching and hopping along as he scanned the path. The man smiled. He took out a red and white bobber and latched it to his line. He then took out a little duck faced split shot and closed its beak a bit, slid it just blow the bobber, and opened its beak back up wide to secure it. He strung a few bright orange balls of bait on his hook and proceeded to make a perfect cast.

He held the rod as Derren got back with a few options for him. The man chose an off kilter beach tree branch in favor of the various thoughtful, but flimsy pine twigs.

“Great work, buddy. Take it and stick it in the sand just over there, right by the water.”

The man walked over and sat the pole down.

“Now we wait and relax.”

Derren asked, “How do we got it?”

The man put a hand on Derren’s shoulder and pointed to the water. “Look out there, you see that floating red ball? The hook is dangling below that. Once that bobber goes down a little, and that line there is getting tugged, I’ll start reeling, and once I’ve got that fish half way home, I’ll hand it over to you, and you’ll start reeling, and you’ll land it.”

“And then what?”, Derren asked.

“We’ll throw it back and do it all again.” He continued, “hey, buddy, are you hungry? I brought peanut butter & honey sandwiches, and some cheese crackers.”

Derren laid back onto where the grass met the sand. He took a deep clean breath in and looked at the great big clouds in the sky. He thought one looked a little like a cow.

“Moo!”, Derren said. “I’ll take some cheese crackers! The sky demands it!”

The man couldn’t have stopped himself from laughing and smiling.

“Well, here you go then, little buddy.”

***

In a blank room stood a man in a white jacket. He was bald with a scrunched face. He paced along the front of a few chairs.

“You have come to a point now–ten years, infact, from when you first started your journey of service for this great country, raising our future men, and now it’s their time to move on. Ten weeks away from you, the first time in ten years, after which you will be relieved of your duties.”

Derren sat uncomfortably next to his mother as the scrunch-faced man continued.

“Right now you are being passed your council room numbers. After we end here, you will head down the hall where you came from and find your respective rooms. You will leave your boy to meet each candidates. Do not speak them–or your boy, just leave. You’ll be contacted in ten weeks time to pick him back up. Remember, head right to your council now. That is all.”

Derren’s mother grabbed him by the hand. Derren saw other boys being grabbed by the wrist. He looked up to his mother with a question.

“Mom, why don’t you grab my wrist?”

“Because the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.”

Derren looked down at the ground as they walked in silence. Others gave her looks. They headed out down the hall. They got to a door and Derren’s mother held up her slip and matched the numbers. She pushed it open.

The room was just as blank as the other and the hall. In the distance towered ten white wooden podiums, at each sat a different older man. Derren looked along them in a row. The first seemed stocky and balding, but he smiled. The second was very long and had glasses, he had a serious look about him. The third was quite young looking with a crew cut. The fourth had on a hat and a silly jacket. The fifth, sixth, and seventh looked almost identical: short well combed brown hair and high cheekbones. The eighth looked much like the second, but his glasses were thicker and he was smiling. The ninth was very short and had a bright purple tie on. The tenth had the longest nose Derren had ever seen. Derren’s mother let go of his hand and left.

***

“Aren’t you excited, Becky? This opportunity is once in a lifetime.”

Rebecca replied, “First of all this isn’t an opportunity, we have to do it or we go to jail. Second of all, you can literally do it as many times as you want until you die.”

“You’re so pessimistic. They talk about girls like you in the videos in class. Haven’t you seen them?”

Rebecca replied, “I’ve seen them. They are disgusting.”

“NEXT”, called out a voice from up the line. Everyone shifted one step forward.

“Becky, don’t you want to have a little boy to dress and take care of. How is that like not a dream of yours?”

“Laura, I do–I really do, but not–” she lowered her voice, “not for only ten years. If I have a son, I want him to be my son. You know that we used to raise them with fath–”

Laura stopped her, “La la la–I’m not listening, that shit is straight up propaganda–quite down or we are both gonna’ get thrown the hell out of here.”

Rebecca sighed heavily.

“NEXT”, called out a voice again from up the line. Everyone shifted one more step.

“Look, Becky, if you really want to raise your child for longer than ten years, you can do that after this first one, just with a girl next time. Maybe if you went to class more you’d know that you get them for sixteen years each.”

“NEXT”, a voice called once more.

***

The orange door with the panic push bar squeaked open. In it stood a short bald man with a scrunched up face. Derren thought he’d seen him somewhere before. The man motioned him over with very little patience. Crackling static echoed through the air. “Good luck!”.

Derren looked over to the woman through the window giving him a big thumbs up and a smile. He saw that her name tag that said “Rosewater”.

“Thank you, Misses Rosewater.”

“She taught you so well, didn’t she now.”

The scrunch-faced man rolled his eyes and grabbed the boys wrist and pulled him through the door.

In a blank room sat ten men all staring at Derren. The scrunch-faced man left, closing the door behind him. Derren looked through the men and found the stocky man who he really adored. His eyes unfortunately met those of the long man too. The long man sat at the center of all the men.

He spoke. “Alright, don’t be shy, come closer, we all know you. Sit down, right there.” He pointed to a chair in the center of the room.

The long man continued. “So, you and mister DeMayo seem to have taken a liking to each other? Is that correct?”

The stocky man waved to Derren and smiled. Derren nodded his head.

“Please answer the question, Derren.”, the long man demanded.

Derren cleared his throat nervously and spoke.

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright then, shall we proceed?”

No one spoke. Mister DeMayo left his chair and walked next to where Derren sat. He put his hand on his shoulder.

The long man spoke, “Okay, let’s take the vote. A show of hand for those who believe DeMayo will be the best father for Derren”

The three identical men raised their hands, glaring at the long man. No others did. Mister DeMayo looked devastated. Tears came from his eyes as he shook his head. Derren had no clue what was happening.

He looked up to DeMayo, “What’s going on? Why are you crying?”

“No talking while we are in session!”, yelled the long man.

DeMayo whispered, “I’m sorry, kid.” He walked back to his seat.

“So, now, who’s the second up for vote? Oh yes, me.”

The long man got up from his seat. It screeched against the floor. Derren looked furious.

“What?”, he shouted.

The long man put his finger to his lips to quiet Derren as he walked over to him. Derren shook and tears fell. He felt like hitting his own head over and over. He was so frustrated.

The long man spoke, “The vote–show of hand for those who believe I will be the best father for Derren.”

DeMayo and the three identical men were the only ones who did not raise their hands in favor of the long man.

“Well, that settles it.”

Derren leaned back in his chair and looked up to the ceiling. It was blank.

“Come on my son, let’s go–right now. I won’t ask you again.”

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Book Release

Hey, I wrote a book of surreal experimental personal poetry about the structure of reality and memory because my dad died. Please read it, thanks.

[you can buy it on Amazon here]

 

REVISIT TO THE COGNITION OF ISAK

It is so easy for me to feel close to Isak

he is expected to know what he is supposed to do

and how he is supposed to act at his age

 

but how?

 

he’s a doctor

he’s supposed to be so smart and wise

and a doctor for fifty years too?

but what does that have to do with how our hearts work?

i feel for him and us–humans–I really do

i fear that idea of loneliness for us–humans– too

it doesn’t matter how many people surround you

 

you can still be alone.

 

because being alone is not about having nobody around you

it’s about having nobody around you that understands you

it doesn’t matter what you amount to in life

or how much you may regret past actions

it’s important to never obsess over painful memories

and never obsess over who you were

 

and the most important grudge to give up

is one on yourself.  

Fog Machine

 

front

It was night and she shut the window. The door had been shut for hours. Music came from the walls. It was so soft. A plucked bass-line vibrates the floor. Smooth-like, the closet doors open. The potted plant is dancing to the cold slow beats. A large gray plastic vacuum like machine rolls in a straight line from the depths of the closet. It begins to release thick gray fog from its ovular vents. First it covers the floors, then it rises. Ferns sprout from the burgundy carpet, tropical trees in each corner. “The transformation is almost complete”, she thinks. “I am here”, she thinks. She opens the door–the jungle is fucking thick. The machine rolls back into its closet, the doors close smooth-like. The bass line is still shaking each leaf.

The music stops and the fog settles as a second gray plastic machine slides out from under the bed and opens the window. It zips over to the door, extending its long crane. Adorned with a human-like hand it turns the knob swinging open the door. It zips over to the bed and grabs her, pulling her to the floor violently. It drags her under the bed. The sound of a garbage disposal is heard.

Not much time before a man walks in the room. He leaves the door open. Once he steps in he is greeted with clicks that emanate from the ceiling.

The clicks ask him: “What tune would you like to be played?”

“Give me the smoothest you got, pal.”

Clicks screech: “Before song selection proceeds, the door must be closed and locked”.

He walks over, closes and locks the door.

“Give me the–” Clicks screech, indicating “the smoothest they got” had been selected.

He shuffled over, sat on the bed, and sighed. He picked up the bright orange plastic rotary phone and dialed fifteen digits.

“Yes, I’m here.”

“Yes” He nods.

“Alright…okay” He stops nodding.

“Yeah–yes, I’m in the room”

“Okay, Bye” He hangs up.

He lays on the bed. Clicks intrude his thoughts: “Close the window at any time–” In his voice “PAL”.

He takes a little rest. In his dream he is free. He crawls. He remembers what it was like. He wakes up. It has started to rain. The carpet is wet. The potted plant loves that. A gray plastic machine is attached to the building, outside, above the window. It is spraying water inside. It is not raining.

Clicks: “Say ‘ENCOURAGEMENT’ at any time if you need motivation to close the window”.

“Encouragement”.

Clicks: “Say ‘ONE’ for forceful, say ‘TWO’ for subtle, say ‘THREE’ for polite”.

“Two”.

It stops raining. There is a mechanical turning sound followed by a beep. The rain starts again.

“Encouragement”.

Clicks: “Say ‘ONE’ for–”

“Three”.

The rain stops. Smooth-like the closet opens. The gray plastic machine comes out. It emits the king’s english: “Would you mind closing the window dear, it’s a bit chilly, if it’s not any trouble”. The machine wheeled back into the closet and the doors closed smooth-like with it.

“Encouragement”.

Clicks: “Say ‘ONE’–”

“One”.

The window slams shut. He runs over to it, trying to lift it open. The smooth bassline starts. Saxophone attempts to sooth him. The potted plant is giddy. A heavy bass pluck hits him in the gut and the closet doors open smooth-like. The kindly gray plastic machine rolls out straight from the jazzy depths. It begins to release it’s thick gray fog. The plant dances as it fades, others sprout beyond. He lays on the bed in acceptance. The jungle engulfs the room.

Music stops, closet doors close smooth-like, wheels zip, a door unlocking, a window opening, then: Metallic meat shredding from under the bed.

The orange phone rings. Nobody is there to pick up. A gray plastic machine lowers from the ceiling and extends its arm to a red plastic phone sitting on another nightstand at the other side of the bed. A sign on the wall above it reads: “HOTEL PHONE LINE”.

The hand at the end of the arm grabs the phone and uses its pinky to dial zero. Another gray plastic machine lowers from the ceiling on the other side of the bed and picks up the orange phone. The two hands bring the phones together and the right hand reverses the red phone. Speak to receiver, receiver to speaker.

“Hotel management, who might I be speaking to?”

A raspy echoed voice calls out “I don’t know, I’m–I’m in the walls today, fella”.

“How may I assist you today?”.

“I’m–I’m bleeding pretty bad, pal”.

“Where are you calling from?”.

A woman steps into the room. Violent indistinguishable clicks slam her temples as the gray plastic robots smash their arms up through the ceiling the second her high heel hits the carpet. There are now orange and red phone lines struggling to hold up their dangling bodies. She pays no mind, closes the door, closes the window, and lays on the bed.

Clicks: “What tune would you like–”

“I don’t give a shit.”

She closes her eyes: The sound of fog filling the room; Then: Metal grinding and squishy tearing.

Well I Suppose It Was A Jungle. (unedited)

Well I suppose it was a jungle. It was thick with ferns and flowers bloomed. It was darker though. Something in the jungle wasn’t too right. Robert B. Mahogany was his name and he lived in the jungle. This was on a planet we used to call Mars. It is not Mars anymore folks. It’s called Earth and it’s where we live. We are here just for a little bit while we clean up what is not called Mars. We ruined mars. Mars is full of great piles of garbage and there isn’t too much water either now. We will fix that. We always fix that.

Now about the not too right jungle. There’s one town inside the jungle. This town is called New Seaview Park Valley. Now I don’t know why they really felt like it needed such a name, but I suppose it calmed plenty knowing they were members of the great New Seaview Park Valley. I don’t suppose any of them really cared that it wasn’t really much of a park, or that it for sure was not in a valley. I don’t think much of them really cared about reality, when they could care about what they were a part of.

At the center of that town was a large metal building. That was the town hall. It didn’t have any entrances for people, because people always seemed to muck everything up when you put them in charge. Nobody really knew what went on in the Town Hall, but they knew that whatever it was, that’s what kept the jungle and them separate. Now that was just a whole made up idea whether they liked it or not. If any one outside that town came there, they knew, because they experienced it, and came from it, the jungle, the whole town was smack dab right in the middle of the jungle. That jungle, like I said, had something not too right about it. That something was, in fact, New Seaview Park Valley, and in particular, that large metal building known as the Town Hall.

Each house in the town was owned by a family. Owned is very different word than we used to know. Own has nothing to do with something that’s yours. Own kinda just means something that you’re near a lot nowadays. Control is a better word for the operation of the homes of each family. Although the houses ran themselves and the only thing families really did was open tell doors to open and tell screens to turn on. The rest was all handled. They knew it was time to get up when they were already in the middle of being bathed. They knew it was time to work when the finished their breakfast. All those in betweens were skipped over. To them, things just were and there wasn’t much doing.

Now by now you might say well that’s why that jungle isn’t too right. You would be very wrong because that is the least of the problem. Let take a look at Robert B. Mahogany’s day. Robert B Mahogany, in addition to living in New Seaview Park Valley, was also the Mayor of the town. The Mayor’s job was to act as the intermediate between the way the town was operated and the families. Robert B. Mahogany was the only one who had ever seen the inside of the Town Hall. Robert had seen what was not too right in the jungle. Robert played along as best as he could knowing that the town was sick, knowing the jungle was not too right.

The families lived happily not knowing. The families did not move in. The families were placed. That goes back to that idea of owning things. The ones in charge, up in what I imagine as a bigger Town Hall somewhere in space between Mars and Earth, find an empty spot for families from Mars and put them in a place on Earth automatically and randomly. When those families are gone a new spot opens up and the cycle repeats itself.

Now Mayor Robert B. Mahogany didn’t know none of that stuff. What Mister Mahogany knew was the facts of what he kept seeing every day when he reported to the Town Hall. Since there were no doors for humans the only way to get Robert in was too turn him into a liquid with a special machine the Town Hall had and pump him inside and resolidify him on the inside. Robert B. Mahogany never much cared to be liquid. That only added to the whole not too rightness of the jungle.

Once The Mayor was inside the Town Hall at the end of every day he never ceased to be horrified. The inside of the Town Hall looked much like the outside. The same shiny metal. The sound of Machines overwhelmed the air though they gave off no emission. The air was so very clean as a matter of fact. Mechanized arms moved every witch way in and out of double doors along tracks on the ceiling. Due to the process of turning him to liquid whenever the Mayor was inside the Town Hall he was always completely naked. This too added to the not too rightness. It didn’t matter that he was completely naked though because there was never any sort of being on the inside. No cameras. No screens. He could do anything he wanted. He didn’t know that though. Every time it was the same. He woke up in a tube and got out. He stood on a mat that  dried him off. A light was red until it was green and he’d walk to the information transfer station.

Every time he walked through the same rooms. These rooms are what made him understand the sickness. The first room wasn’t too bad. Plants were grown, harvested, made up into mash and pumped to the next room. The next room was very unpleasant to the Mayor. A conveyor belt rolled in deceased bodies and fed them into a machine which then turn them right into mash, just like the plants. The bodies weren’t just humans, it was all kinds, which disgusted the Mayor even more somehow. Alligators, birds, snakes, monkeys, humans, all together with peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, you name it. The next room was the oven room. That’s where the Mayor knows the origin of the not too rightness is. Loud machines press the cooking meat into square patties that are carried through tubes and distributed to the food storage banks of each and every house. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you own a home, it has you covered.

The Mayor walked into the final room in the row of rooms that leads to the information transfer room. There were through other rows of rooms each besides the one he went down at the end of every single day. God only knows what’s in those other rooms, but god was dead. The Mayor walked up to the information transfer station which was a blank box jutting from the far end of the wall in the room. In front of the box were black foot shapes placed in a way that you might wanna stand there because you were supposed to. A buzzer would sound and a light above would glow green. The Mayor was never actually told what to do, but the Mayor has always kinda just figured that he should say everything that happened that day and they would base what needed to be done in the town on what he said. They took what he said and converted it into something a machine could understand and that information was carried  on to one of the next rooms over where a whole bunch of other machines deliberated on what was to be made of the statements. That’s what the Mayor kinda figured at least.

One day after the Mayor spoke into the box on the wall and the light flashed red once he stepped away he decided to visit the other rooms. He was sick and tired of what was going on. he was sick and tired of the not too right jungle. He wanted the best for the families of the town. As soon as he stepped into one of the other rooms he instantly found himself unconscious. He woke up in his living room. He was naked like he woulda been if you left via liquid. Something was different. His hands were colder than the rest of his body. They were covered in ripe blood. His little dog lay dead in front of him all disfigured like. He wondered if he could really commit such an act as brutal and unjust as murdering his own little dog which he loved with his bare hands. It wasn’t normal. He remembered going to the Town Hall and now didn’t remember what happened inside other than his deliberation with the white box. He forgot about the not-too-rightness of the jungle. He forgot that he regularly ate homestyle grandparents and alligator mash. He send off he dog to the Town Hall like you did with all things you found dead.

     

     

Blackend Wretches Wretch

befall upon you that old cold black stagnent steel

creaking creeping wretches wretch and squeal

increasing noise of death is tolled

counting up from numbers old

stealing life/leaving cold

the spines of silk rotting mold

carving skulls with dead ones bones

tearing through all absent moans

knowing the destruction

of creating anticreation

your soul is sold

and your husk drifts into the masses

uncontrolled but controlled

our New-

( a Tribute to E. E. Cummings’ in Just-) 

our New-

summer       causes the roads to boil-

over like ancient

old tarpits

that flow so gently

to daveythenmikey so

they can’t draw with

chalk but hot

summer

gives us the nice wise-winds

and hot

little tarpits that

flow so gently

to momthendad who now

know safe-roads from bad-roads in

hot

summer

on

    our

 luke-warm

tarPits           that

flow

so

gently