My First Publication Credit

Posted: March 6, 2014 in Publications

After shopping around several of my stories and novels, I finally received an acceptance instead of a rejection.  I am proud to say that my work has been published by Mobius Magazine.  Please check out my story Me and Loretta here: http://mobiusmagazine.com/archives/25.1.html.

Object Writing: The Office

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Object Writing

What is object writing?  I could say “writing about an object”.  That answer would be both incredibly sarcastic and completely true.  Object writing is a writing exercise.  The goal is to write for five minutes about a simple noun–and to delve as deeply as possible into the realm of senses and sense memory.  The following was written in five minutes and has not been edited:

The Office

The office is a mausoleum.  The walls are the color of smooth ivory, but it’s a peeling wallpaper, not cool stone.  The cubicles are like coffins, smelling of minty pine and tasting of earth.  On several desks, there are decaying flowers.  The scent the enclosed air holds is one of death, but it’s sweet, like macadamia nuts and apples that have turned brown.  They’re like the flowers people bring to gravesites, forgotten until the next visit, always making the visitor guilty at the wilt and the rot and the brown and the smell of them, the reminders of how long it’s been since the last visit.  We always throw them aside in disgust and replace them with fresh flowers, tell ourselves we’ll visit more often, but we never do.  It’s hard to visit with a dead person, really.  They’re not the best conversationalists, as I discover when I venture to talk to the corpses bobbing around the coffeemaker in the break room.  The longer you work for the county, the more you resemble a corpse.  The bloat is only the most obvious symptom.  You also carry a smell, so strong on some you can almost taste it in the back of your throat.  A rotting of the soul.  You hear them moan, these Monday Mourners, cracking their backs and releasing the tiniest sound of wind in high trees over well-manicured lawns concealing rows upon rows of decomposing bodies.  Sometimes I imagine they’re putting spoonfuls of cremation ash in their coffee, because that’s what it smells like on their breaths.  The office smells sterile, but in those situations where the strongest disinfectant is required, you can always smell the stench of whatever it is the industrial grade cleaner is trying to mask just below the surface.  It haunts your nasal passages, making everything you eat and drink and breathe taste like death and rot and sweet decay of daisies and freshly mowed grass and freshly shoveled earth and grandma in her last days and the stuffy church with all the people unfamiliar with the motions, unable to comprehend the Latin, doing the best they can to follow along and people pretending to remember the old woman in the box and people actually remembering the old woman in the box and people eating finger sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off and people making speeches and little kids writing out the Serenity Prayer in calligraphy because grandma was a drunk and that’s the closest she ever came to God or religion or anything meaningful.  You smell all that just below the bleach and harsh chemicals and the smell of disinfectant, the smell of covering up, of perfume, of makeup, of something unreal.

Object Writing: Lamp

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Object Writing
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What is object writing?  I could say “writing about an object”.  That answer would be both incredibly sarcastic and completely true.  Object writing is a writing exercise.  The goal is to write for five minutes about a simple noun–and to delve as deeply as possible into the realm of senses and sense memory.  The following was written in five minutes and has not been edited:

Lamp

Old lamp, you belonged to my great grandmother, my mother’s grandmother, and we were told to never touch you.  But I did.  And you felt like chalky glass, a thin sheet of it covered in paint that only remains because of the disuse of the lamp’s actual function.  Your wick hasn’t been lit since I was born.  You are the color of earth and gold, like the banks of some California river in the days of forty-nine, the banks of some river dreamed up by all who sojourned to your golden coast, the banks of some river that may never have existed.  You have two glass bulbs, one on top and one on the bottom, and inside is the wick and the lamp oil that smells like barbeques and gas stations and tiki torches and I can almost taste castor in the back of my throat when I lean in close.  You have two purple flowers painted on you.  I don’t know the names.  My mom never taught me the names of flowers, and even to this day I see the colors and shapes but my mind can’t really comprehend the bouquet because I don’t have a name for each fragrant blossom.  When I scrape my fingernails against you–softly, mind you; I wouldn’t want to scratch your surface because if anything happens to you my mom will kill me–you make a sort of whispering sound and I can almost pretend like you’re talking to me.  Once when I was rough-housing with my brother, we almost knocked you over.  You teetered on the edge of the varnished table but my brother caught you just in time.  Before, though, I saw you fall, saw you shatter, your delicate glass breaking into a million pieces, your wick pulled from you like a vestigial organ, what little fuel remaining in your lower bulb spilling out like oil in the Gulf of Mexico, skimming across the water in rainbow patterns and choking the life out of the plethora of organisms beneath your the glassy surface.  You are from another time, lamp, a time of black soot and the smell of burning leaves in fall, a time of parlors and gatherings and rooms full of smoke and flickering light that casts shadows across the faces the likes of which we only see now when the power dies.  You are from a different century, your glass melting so slowly that to my eyes you look the same as you did to my great grandmother’s eyes when she was my age.  You are an heirloom, the only one we have, and you’re probably not worth much to begin with.  But mom has kept you safe, even with two boys in the house, and someday who knows?  Maybe you’ll be worth something.  No, fuck that.  You’re already worth more than any dollar signs or green pieces of diseased paper.  You are something important to my family, and that transcends money and ideology and everything else.  When I see the nameless flowers someone hand-painted on you, when I smell the oil of your wick, when I touch the chalkboard curve of your upper bulb, when I hear the words you whisper when I scrape my fingernail across your surface, when I taste all the dinners I ate while staring at you, when all of that emotion and history comes bubbling up like tar from an ancient pit, that’s when I know what you mean, lamp.  You are a piece of my grandmother, an urn without ashes, and the cold dark silence of your wick is a testament to the hundred years she lived and the many millions she has been and will be dead.  Your limp wick is a reminder of our own mortality, encased in glass.  We are told to be careful, never to break it.

Object Writing: Dandelion

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Object Writing
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What is object writing?  I could say “writing about an object”.  That answer would be both incredibly sarcastic and completely true.  Object writing is a writing exercise.  The goal is to write for five minutes about a simple noun–and to delve as deeply as possible into the realm of senses and sense memory.  The following was written in five minutes and has not been edited:

Dandelion

Dandelion, you have many names throughout the world.  We call you the lion’s tooth, and it comes from French, but most people don’t know that.  If anything, we think of a dandy lion, a sort of foppish, man-in-a-lion-suit headed for Oz.  You are white or yellow and you have false cousins.  Your stalk is soft and green and when you snap it open you release a viscous substance like semen that stains my hands and dries there making the skin tight.  You smell sour, like raw greens, and people used to eat you as a delicacy.  Your entire flower and stem is edible, and can be used to make dandelion wine and caffeine free dandelion coffee.  Your semen tastes bitter.  Mom told me that the white stuff that comes out of you is blood, that you’re bleeding when I snap you in half.  You have little white parachutes that and I love to pick you and blow your head and watch them drift down like leaves in the last days of autumn.  My brother and I wander through the overgrown baseball field after the game, while everyone is still milling around, and it smells like fresh cut grass and dirt and boy sweat and the smoke from dad’s cigarette wafting in, a noxious but comfortable smell.  We watch out for bees, because I’ll never forget when I stepped on a dead one in Pennsylvania.  Even the dead ones can sting you.  I hear the bees buzzing and the sound of the street not too far off, the sound of people packing up their gear and headed home or for the pizza place with a gang of young and hungry boys.  Bending down to pick the dandelions I feel tight in the backs of my legs, in my lower back, from the exertion of the game.  I feel sweat on my brow, tasting as sour as the juice from the dandelion stalk.  My young body moans like it’s old.  I imagine the dandelions at night, all closed up with their green blankets pulled up right to their chins, swaying in the gentle breeze in the light of the moon that looks like a big droplet of dandelion blood in the sky.  You smell like floral grass standing a few inches high and stretching your closed parachutes to the sun.  You feel fuzzy, like my memories of crouching in the baseball field picking you with the friends I no longer have, those childhood specters who are now drifting through their own lives, unwilling protagonists, bearing witness and not participating.  What is like you, dandelion?  Time, certainly, little clustered parachutes of it holding tight against a wind that will undoubtedly disperse them.  Maybe you’re also like a marriage, tight but easily unraveled, easily scattered to the wind.  I was told not to use trite and clichéd metaphors anymore.  I wonder what else you’re like, sweet dandelion.  Childhood wishes.  Childhood itself.  A milky center that bleeds.