ohninesevennine asked: What are your ancient hopes?
That the pyramids would be built without the use of human slaves.
ohninesevennine asked: What are your ancient hopes?
That the pyramids would be built without the use of human slaves.
It rained for several days straight in the valley, and everyone he asked couldn’t give him a straight answer as to how many days it had actually been. All anybody knew was that since it started, strange and terrible things began to happen and you believed in fate a bit more when they started to happen in tangled succession, one after the other and sometimes beforehand as if you had a clue already and you were just waiting for the action, the motions falling into a void—let’s not say like dominoes, let’s say like banging wind chimes. It felt more clustered than in order, and he was trying to set it right in his head the way it felt natural to do, but nothing felt natural anymore.
“Rain always,” he said. “It’ll never let up. The dining room flooded Saturday with the windows closed and a cat was struck to death by lightening in the garden.”
“When will it stop?” the girl asked just like you’re thinking she did.
“Valley storms get trapped for weeks sometimes, so you never know. The thing about them is that they’re deceptive. How many times this week have you seen the campus flame up with a hot sticky sun and then go right back to driving rain and darkness and then flame up again?”
“At least three times a day.”
“And you feel it don’t you?”
“Yes, I feel deceived,” she said.
They watched over the kibbutz grounds from a black bench on the top of a hill. He was allowed one day off a month and he took it then at the end of the workweek. Inside of him, a depression had been accumulating because he always got depressed when it rained, and he was barely hanging on after working the first four days of the week in that weather. As they watched the Hoopoes take cover in the branches, squawking at each other, a trail of people with black umbrellas made their way into the dining hall for lunch. The girl remarked that it looked like a funeral procession and the boy replied, in the state he was in, that we were always walking to a funeral.
“That’s so depressing to say, don’t depress me just because you’re depressed.”
“Aren’t you depressed too?”
“It’s not a depression, just the empty feeling you get when you have to move on. We’ve diluted that term now, so that it doesn’t mean the same thing it used to just like the word ‘love’. I know you’re depressed in the actual sense of the word, but these people, these kibbutzniks, when they talk about the rain and the upsetting things that are happening—they aren’t depressed. That’s just called sadness, and there’s a difference.”
“Why do you have to leave?” he said just like you’re thinking he did.
“Well, didn’t you hear what happened to Gila? They said they couldn’t do much about her work situation. That because this other guy who works with her was born here, he has priority. I wasn’t born here, I wasn’t raised here either. I’m from outside. At least she knew the system beforehand because she was raised in a different commune. But it’s tearing her apart because she loves those kids. So what are my chances now that they’ve told her ‘tough shit’ basically?”
“You’re not the same person. She handled it that way and you’re going to handle it another way.”
“I just can’t help but question my purpose now.”
“Stop that. She’s going through a crisis and now you’re thinking up ways to sculpt your own out of hers, like a bad potter who shaves off clay from another’s wheel because he feels there must be some magical difference between the two clays that makes the other’s work true and his own concocted. But there’s no difference in the clay, there’s just the desperation of wanting something to exist that isn’t really there.”
“Can we go back and think of all the things that have happened since the rain started?” she said, ignoring his pretentious comparison.
“Well, last week, I told Gila how I felt and she’s been looking at me with dread the past few days like she’s afraid I might hurt her; the little kitten that Tina adopted ran off at night and was eaten by a stray dog in the kid’s lounge; and, well, you heard about Christian and how he tried to hang himself—he thought that no one would be coming up to the volunteers’ houses in that gusty rain on Sunday but I found him and had to hold him up against the door until lunch was over and Kyjin came home soaking wet to help me; and then everything almost fell apart with you and Tim when he got nasty and tried to set Tomer’s house on fire during that dry lull between storms on Monday—it was a very good thing that all the wood was too wet to carry it out; of course there’s the rumor about Gil the factory manager and those two fifteen-year-old girls that started circulating on Tuesday. He fessed up to it yesterday.”
“What did they say he did?”
“Raped them in the cowsheds during that big thunderstorm when it was hard to hear anything.”
The girl looked away toward the monastery that was shrouded in a blanket of gray mist. She always felt comforted in the mornings when she could see it—white and dome-shaped under the pregnant moon and the purple bruise of the sky. Sitting wedged into the top of the green, curved mountain like a bare nipple, she thought, with the cypress trees and little Spanish-looking houses dotting the junior mountain in front of it. Now that she hadn’t seen it for so many days, she thought it was best to just move on and quit her job and not wait for it to appear again to trap her into an invisible security.
“Did you get what you wanted from being here?” she asked him.
“I don’t know. Some things I think I can only know for sure in retrospect.”
“Well what about this thing?”
“I can tell you in a few days when I get back to America.”
She looked at him as if he had already gone back. A part of him was. He would be landing in Newark two days before Christmas so that his mind was busy running into the old bars, old girls, old friends, the old knocking of the subway, the old city noise that would eat away at the little valley quiet like a troop of silkworms on mulberry leaves. That valley quiet was keeping him inside his head too long, and if it kept raining into next week she was afraid something terrible might then happen to him. She knew it was for the best, and that he needed to go. And now that everyone was leaving, she would be alone without knowing her purpose and, worse, without knowing when the rain would finally stop. The sun flared up again, but she knew the trick now and even the birds that came down from the branches to curiously stomp around the mud for a while knew it wouldn’t last either. Nothing lasted. Not the sun and not the rain and not the terrible things or the sadness of the events that happened or were about to happen. The only thing that lasted for sure was loss and she thought that she better accept it, and not only should she accept it but even embrace it or else it might crush her. Attack the world or it will attack you, she had heard someone say before. In the days before the rain, the people who should have been together were together and now they weren’t and the plans crippled at the edges like paper in a bonfire until the whole thing crippled into itself. Big things didn’t last. There was no such thing as freedom or justice or fairness—just that you would lose these and gain them back only at the expense of another lost thing. It was sunny again in the park, but the same blanket of gray chopped off the head of the mountain.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said to him.
“What do you feel like doing?”
“I feel like dying.”
“Not dying. Just quitting on living for a while. Living gets me all stuffed up in the chest and makes burning blue holes in my stomach. My skin hurts. I have feet but they have no use for anything except to just be there.”
“Maybe you’re depressed,” he said. “Like me.”
“I’m not depressed,” she said. “I’m empty, and there’s a difference.”
The hourly bell clanged from the unseen monastery, the sound ringing over the valley, and she lifted her head only once it had stopped. She peered into the thick fog and smiled at everything she knew was there but couldn’t see.
this was one of two of my first published stories. I used to have the journal in print that they were published in but they’re all lost.
Everybody is alive in Philadelphia tonight
I had myself a dream. It was loud and it made me nervous. They were loud. They were there for me. I ordered a whiskey, took it to the bathroom and puked. Then I drank the whiskey in sips, letting it rest on the urinal when I heaved. Sam walked in. I didn’t look but it was him for sure.
“Sam, I thought you said this was a good idea. I’m not so sure.”
I was sweating. I was shit. My forearm above the urinal.
“Come on, come on. They want to hear you read. Don’t fuck me on this, you said you would do me a favor. I published you once, remember?”
“Yeah, you asshole,” I said. “And don’t pull that guilt-tripping bullshit on me.”
Sam was a graduate student at one of the colleges here. He put together the reading. He wanted to impress the English department so they’d give him professorship. I was sending stories to literary magazines a few winters back and he picked mine up. I don’t know why. I didn’t like him but he liked my writing. Besides, I was getting $100 and my drinks paid for me. He promised me women too. I doubted this.
“You got 5 minutes,” he said. “What will you read first?”
“Get the fuck out of the bathroom, please.”
I puked again.
I walked out to the din. Stage lights, the bar creatures. It was too dark. The noise grew more vicious through the mob. I heard a mug break and a fist fly.
“Alright, alright let’s just calm down now.”
Sam tapped the microphone twice. It shrieked back at the audience and they gave him hell. He walked down the steps where I was and said, “Good luck.” I ascended the wood steps slowly. Not for dramatics but because I was drunk. I was hardly known, hidden. I looked out at their red faces and put the pages on the table.
“Can we get started already?” I said into the microphone.
They all cheered. I suddenly did not need to puke. One of the front-rowers leaned across the divide with a cigarette and matches. I accepted, lighted, smoked. Sam ran up with a bottle of whiskey. They booed him hard.
“Slipped this from the bar,” he said winking.
He ran off. Maybe he wasn’t so bad.
And like a flame turned low the crowd simmered. And I began.
I got my good ones in first, the ones they’d read or heard about before. The neighbor and her exceptional blowjob. And the one about my first time drinking. There were the sad ones, too, about loneliness and the one or two women that I based all my writing about women on. I loaned them a piece of me with every one.
Between applause or a fight or the end of a good line I would work on the whiskey. I wanted to keep the nerves from coming back. The men looked less affected, their faces loose and red. Some of the women were crying. I saw one smiling. I saw brown doe eyes in the dark. She was beautiful and if I moved suddenly, she would flee. She heard everything, all my life in the void, and if it wasn’t scaring her to shit, she was a dangerous woman. She was keeping up. She fixed her lips. She drank her beer. I kept reading and thought I might be hallucinating again. I hadn’t slept in days and maybe for that, I earned this cruel mirage.
“…and they should tell the children that they can’t be anything. Save them the let down and they will save themselves. Because once you realize there’s no way out, it will never start and it will never fucking end.”
They swelled up and cheered, standing, clapping wildly. And 3 mugs broke to the closing lines. I thought they were good. I finished all but a few hits of the whiskey and felt accomplished. Everybody was alive in Philadelphia tonight.
I headed straight for the bar, handing my last bit of whiskey to some poor soul on the way. Lots of the college guys and their playful girls filtered out. To drink. To fuck. To have their way. Most of the bar people hung around and came up to me to talk. To complement. To drink with me. To mess up my perfect lines that were their favorites. But it was all right with me. I felt better among the crazed.
“Hey, uh, great job out there! Jesus fucking Christ did you hear ‘em?”
I didn’t have to look.
Sam ran up to the bar with a white envelope. It had a $100 bill in it.
“You know, I figure that if you can somehow get up here once or twice a week you’ll be making more than that.”
“I don’t really do this for the money, Sam. I’m sure you know that by now.”
He stared at his beer and turned to me.
“I had this professor once, one of my freshmen classes, and you know what he told me?”
I looked at him.
“He called it ‘Fuck-You’ money.”
“Hmm?” I kept drinking.
“It’s when you get to earning enough money that you can tell your boss ‘Fuck you, I quit’. That’s Fuck-You money. You buy another house, invest a little. Don’t you want that?”
“I want to live and be comfortable and write. That’s all.”
And then I saw those doe eyes. I picked up my drink.
“Sam, I really appreciate all this tonight. I’ve got a flight in the morning. Where’s the hotel key?
“Right here.” He took a silver key out of his pocket.
“You’re a mother-fucker Sam, I hope they give you that job.”
We shook hands and I went to chase after her, losing her, pushing through the smelly cigarette mob, pushing through the backdoor, pushing through the cold night in the alley. I lost her. Fuck. I stumbled out to the long road that went to City Hall. A black coat and black hair sat huddled on the curb. It’s as if she knew to wait for I was slow. Taxis rode by. I went up to her.
“You wouldn’t have an extra cigarette for me, would you?”
Her head turned. Those doe eyes opened.
“Yes, I do. Here.”
We lit each other’s cigarettes and breathed in and out with all of downtown. We were quiet and then she leaned to me real close.
“I liked your stories. They’re so foul and raw but then again, isn’t life that way too?”
“I’m waving down a taxi,” I told her.
“You’re leaving me? Don’t you want to talk?”
“We can go to my room at the hotel. I have wine and some beer in the fridge.”
“Well, alright.” She smiled entirely with her eyes.
I waved a yellow cab down to the curb, got in with her, told him the address. As we drove down toward City Hall, I looked at the world beyond the windows. Orange streetlight fell across us then darkness. She curled her arm through mine. The colleges, the meat markets, the fountains, the bums. We passed them all, passing the time, passing through the fire of our one and only life.
A black sheet of clouds followed me from Tarshiha and on up into the valley. The bus dropped me at the entrance gate of the village and as I walked up the winding mile-long drive to Gil’s house, the fingers of black clouds to my left seemed to claw over the mountain ridge. At that vantage point, I could have easily mistaken it for the smoke of a fire I couldn’t see on the other side. A vicious wind tore through the orange groves at the top of the hill and they fell in scattered thumping sounds so that when I closed my eyes the weather, the frightened barking of dogs outside, and the dropping oranges reminded me of the sound of a busy subway back in Philadelphia where I had met Lilly for the first time.
She was wearing black and holding a slim volume by Neruda in her skeletoned hand, a tattoo of a peacock wrapping her thigh. Never dressed brightly, as if in constant mourning. But her hair was blonde and her crisp irises were two Granny Smiths—all of which betrayed her character. Back then I was still making the stupid mistake of falling for someone exactly like me—self-conscious, self-centered, a bit nuts, and overfeeling. She didn’t teach me anything new. And we spent all of our time getting high and walking around the city so that every time I’ve been to Philadelphia since then, each block carries a memory and a punishment at the same time. There was the small, wooden information hut in Rittenhouse Square where I always liked to think we conceived the child. She was of the opinion that it happened in the basement of the First Unitarian in a bathroom stall during a hardcore show. We were two jackrabbits in love—fucking everywhere and leaving nothing sealed off. I did learn some things in retrospect, like everybody tends to do. And one was to keep some things for yourself. Not to give everything away. To smile inwardly at your dark secrets knowing they’ll never see the light of day by exiting through your unreliable tongue.
I left Tel Aviv that afternoon to arrive at Hosen with more emptiness than when I left. But the emptiness wasn’t bad. In me I heard the draining sound of a failed test. I had fiddled with a theory that I would try to be around other people and see if maybe there was something common that was worth attaching myself to. But I was wrong and I was happy to be wrong. I was validated. Alone again. Good, I said to myself, everyone is fighting for his own interests. Everyone is alone. There is too much pain and too much to figure out in the immediate skin to be worried about somebody else’s.
Anonymous asked: Hi, really big fan of your writing. Just curious though, about how old you are. Sometimes it's seems like I'm reading the writing of an old ass man and other times, a boy just starting out in life.
Good question to ask. I’m approaching 23. Sometimes I feel like an old ass man. They say I have an old soul. Other times, I’m just a boy who is starting out his life.
Anonymous asked: Can you narrow down the object of your love and affection to just one person? Are you committed to this person?
I don’t think I can. From time to time someone from my past slips in like an uninvited bug, but I stop myself and remember that I liked the idea of them way more than the actual thing. There are a few women I will always look upon with fondness, but as of right now my affections are with prose.
I was on my eighth. A good, cold number 8. Some golden voice on the radio tells me she was born in the wrong era; she is the old beauty, the old soul. After awhile, I tossed in bed. The heater made me sweat, and I listened to the report of her divorce. 2 years was all it lasted and all the averages said it would last. “It’s amicable and mutual”. She sang then, on the radio, dropping out with the soft and rainy jazz. The cymbals sizzled quietly. The Christmas lights around the bed fuzzed in and out. Amber whiskey. Yellow joints. I dreamed of sleep but night beat me awake. I stared out there and felt small in the fucked up world. Others were feeling smaller. Mikey watched things fall apart in Brooklyn, when she ran to France, the South of it, for accuracy’s sake. I was always apart so it wasn’t so hard for me to cope. But it doesn’t get any lonelier than this. Linds was on the phone again and again. She married a Navy man and lived in Annapolis and called me crying. I climbed off and slipped out onto the fire escape. Scraped across the brick were names with old dates. Years when I was 6, and 8, and 11. I took a weak drag on a cigarette and made a pact with the universe. Let’s not be so cruel. I hoped Aly was doing well. Ballerina on the cold stage with hot lights. I was young and didn’t mean some things Aly, you know. I got a long-distance call once each summer. Ella was way down in Miami. Little Havana, spicy food, condominiums all cocaine white. Pink and purple neon and sleek boats. She was by far the most beautiful. And crippling and dangerous. Lying there in the room like a still-life, toes curled in. Sivan was now in her third or fourth year of college I think. I kept more in touch with her roommate than her. She put her head in my lap at the Greyhound station and shivered in the cold weather of Cleveland. There was a neighbor from my old home and she lived in this same city now, but I never talked to her. It was wrong from the start.
ohninesevennine asked: Tell me about your username please.
Accept Loss Forever is #19 on Jack Kerouac’s Belief and Technique for Modern Prose list. My interpretation of this maxim is that we should be aware of loss and embrace it as gracefully as we can. It will happen often. Better get used to it. Better to accept it. It will sometimes be severe, like a death, but sometimes it will be fleeting, like falling in love with someone for 2 minutes on a subway and then they get up and leave. I have experienced both, and many of these scenes of loss make their way into my writing. I feel that as writers, we’re always trying to reconcile loss by putting it down on paper. Something that has gone away. Something that we try to immortalize because our memories aren’t always as reliable as we’d like. Coincidentally, I began writing seriously at the age of 19.
…stumbled on what I consider my first short story while doing some file clean-up. This was likely around the winter of 2010
I felt it. Goddamn did I feel it.
I rolled over. 1:30 p.m. The puke began to swell. At least she looked good. Navy panties and round tits and wavy black hair that shed all over the pillow. The sun flared inside the room.
I got up and headed to the bathroom. There was one body, two bodies in the hall. For fucks sake, I thought. I let the water run in the tub. I puked. Flushed. Puked in the sink, shit in the toilet. Flushed.
I heard her fall into the wall. A body groaned.
“WATCH OUT FOR THE PEOPLE! THESE DRUNK FUCKS!” I yelled over the monsooning tub. I never knew who any of these people were.
My whole body ached. Sore as ever, stiff as every drink I’ve ever had. I slipped into the tub and lit a cigarette. The door was wide open. She came stumbling in front of it and bent herself this way and that, tits perky and bouncing. She rubbed her eyes, rubbed all the cruds out. She took her foot and slowly peeled the panties off her waist. Then she opened her magnificent eyes, smiled, and splashed alongside me and held me.
I dried off. I dried her off. Black hair lay all through the water. The drain tried to suck it down without success. I stepped over one body. Two bodies. I held her hand. We fell on the mattress naked. She mounted me and worked. Good morning! Good Holy Saturday, the day of rest. And I needed mine. I felt like I had been fucked by John Jameson himself. If he was up there, he was roaring.
2 glorious years in the books. 2 more to go.
I watched her wiggle her legs and ass into jeans. I stared. My hands shook. I thought about ripping them off. All that leg, disappearing into denim like a treat taken away.
We went downstairs, creaking and kissing.
I said, “Baby, make coffee.”
Then I said, “Jesus fuck.”
The place was torn to shit! The little Pittsburgh home took a beating!
Spaghetti and sauce clung to the plaster walls, cigarettes were spread and buried in the carpet, razorblades on the table, it all stank of piss. The shelves, the couches. And beer and whiskey and sweat. Someone had broken the TV stand. It leaned to one side, holding the weight but barely, pushing out splintering wood like broken bone through flesh. Bottles, bags, joints. Coke on the table. I knew it was Geoff’s. He liked to fuck his women on coke. He told me laughing that sometimes it was hard to get it up, like the picture of the soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
I dropped my head against my fingers. Throbbing. Another wave. The Second Coming.
But I shook and shrugged and smelled coffee. Rich and beautifully deep. She didn’t bother to put a shirt on and the sun barreled all over the cream color in her body, in her tits, as she danced on the linoleum. She was laughing.
“Hey, come on in here! We’ll clean later!”
She exposed a pornographic smile and buried her blueberry eyes into my heart.
What assurance. What practicality.
There was a hole in the kitchen wall with broken up plaster. I reached in up to my elbow and retrieved half a fifth of whiskey. The vultures would’ve cleaned it off without even firing a synapse. She poured two cups. I took mine black. I poured some whiskey in. Cream and sugar for her.
“They really fucked the place up didn’t they?” she started.
“It’s alright. It’s like this every time.”
“You should kick the shit out of them all.”
“And what would that do?”
“Make you feel better?”
“I already feel better. It’s all over and they were blacked out anyway.”
“We’ll clean up,” I said.
She was thinking, “What assurance. What practicality”.That’s what I hoped at least. I couldn’t stop talking to her. Couldn’t stop looking at her either. She was pressed against me and I didn’t dare budge. So the mug got cold with ¾ still in there. I pressed the button on the microwave to unlatch the door. It came swinging at me.
Toilet paper and spaghetti and fuck knows what else came spilling out.
Who in the hell knew?
I threw it all on the stove, which already had too much on it. I didn’t even want the damn coffee by now, but I had poured whiskey in it. And you never waste whiskey.
“Sit babe,” she said. She tapped her hand on the chair. “Sit.”
A large cellophane bag with big, sweet-smelling buds lay on the table, sparkling, with her round tits hanging over them like beautiful guillotines. She was precious.
She nipped at the bag, taking finger-fulls of the stuff and rolling it in her hands until it crumbled. Everything about her movements was too perfect for this world. She spread it all into a dry, gutted cigar and looked up at me as she licked and licked. Tighter and together.
She smiled without showing her teeth and held up her evil little gift.
“You are one hell of a woman,” I said.
All the way down the hall I heard the door slam and people leaving, talking. The two bodies from upstairs. Good riddance, I thought.
I grabbed her around the ass and kissed her. Then the phone rang and she frowned. I walked over to the stove and picked it up.
“Is this Roy —-?”
“I’m calling from the Bursar’s Office. You owe us $5,573.18 in tuition money.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
“Listen, I’m telling you, I have the loan documents. It covers.”
“It doesn’t cover according to our records. You’ll have to pay by the 12th.”
Fuck this, fuck this, fuck this. Sucking me dry. College. Like marriage. Zero-sum.
I hung up the phone. I know I didn’t have enough to cover but I didn’t want to pay it anyway. I turned to her.
“They’re sucking me dry, sweetheart. Too much money, all wasted.”
“It’s okay, don’t worry too much about it.”
We walked outside, sat on the porch, and smoked. Passing and passing. Things got spacey; I was being lifted with the thin smoke. I always enjoyed the comedown from these parties. The day after. I could breathe outdoors, I could relax.
We finished and rubbed the cigar out on the steps. She played with her legs, crossing them and un-crossing them. She turned to me, smiled, and bashfully raised her head in the direction of my room. Let’s go.
So we finished, dressed, and she got all her things together. Nail polish, sweater, book of poetry, purse. She kissed me on the cheek.
“You’re nice, I had a good time,” she said.
“Don’t kid yourself, I’m a grade-A asshole and you know it.”
She smiled softly, turned, walked down the steps and out the door.
She left her cigarettes but I didn’t say anything. After a while, I took one and sat out on the porch in a leather chair. I puffed and puffed and hoped she would come back for them. I eased back against the brick and I thought about the room. And her smell. And her laugh. And how we have a tendency to lose one another in the big world.
The clouds were starting to roll in and I knew I was alone again. Then thunder. Some lightning. It began to rain heavily in thick sheets. Pour. I think that’s the only thing the Oakland clouds can do anymore. I saw a flash of lightning spreading through the gray sky like spider webs.
The bugs were coming out.
Mosquito, beetle, housefly, gnat.
Every lonely thing in the planet clung to me.
I looked at this world.
I looked at this porch.
I looked at this cigarette in my hand.
And then I burned it down to the bitter end.