Who knew peace could be so dramatic?

There is a word that comes to mind, a feeling really, frisson–when a tingling washes over your body. Goosebumps, the chills. For me, it starts at the base of the spine and rises, wrapping around the ribs. Then my fingertips get involved, as if i can feel every capillary around every nerve ending expand, flushing, ready to carry, ready to sense something.

It blossoms onto the back of my neck, through my ears, like a ghostly flower, intangible but bright. Then, at the very top of my head, a pinpoint and a shower of sparks, a flurry of stars spraying out in a prismatic firework.

It is what the body does in the moment of awe, when the mind shuts down. When the small talk of consciousness fades into white noise then nothing, and the whole physical thing that we are erupts and says “I am here. For whatever reason, I do exist.”

Photo and video credit to Bevan Percival

Check out his other videos here.

Sodom’s Apple

The temple burned in silence, memories of the dead
blown across the flat desert. Mourners gathered
one last time as the wind whipped
the frenzied flame, whispered and lifted
vortexes of smoke from its red skin
like the hand of a ghost wrapping
my last words around its fingertips
and sending them, an unspun spiderweb,
through the air until they reached the limit
of the roaring light, thrown into the dancing shadows,
as if they existed, as if the quiet shuddered itself
into the afterlife and through the veil, was still, and rested.

It is hard to remember the future–my dry, chewed lips
tart with the taste of alkaline as I pace across the glass
of a car crashed street full of blurry signs, hours old,
my phone buzzing, full of backwards texts
and a high school buddy’s ringtone, even though
I lost his number in a gambling accident. The beer bottle
in my hand is sharp on my thumb with a cracked neck,
the top twisted off with the chisel of drunken teeth–
but it has been done by those of us
who look back into it, by someone crazy enough to plant
a mirror in the past like their first backyard garden
until, with the limbs of an oak, they grow into the reflection.

It is easier to recall an event when it is over–
the late night kiss you walked home in the rain
under a shared umbrella, the rush of your rollercoaster blood
when hope and fear mixed in the summer sweat
of your long-distance relationship with “I love you,”
the expanding dark of your eyes opening
over the blue-green haze of her flowering iris–

but if you can, you should remember it
as it happens, the recollection of water
(as an image stands from the river)
gathering itself back from her body
with the purpose of gravity rushing headlong
into the ocean of time, dripping from the glow of the sun
on her face, her hands shimmering
from the ripples of her bare feet
as she walks up onto brown rock,
flipping her shades down, smiling, quicksilvered.

And if the future does unfold itself
like a child on a swing, leaning his head back
toward the flying blue cloud of the sky,
into the unseen daylight stars, be gentle with it.
Draw it toward the thunderstorm echo of your heart
and with a whimsical dandelion sigh
send it out on the dragonfly wings of your breath.

Let it go: a bitter mouth will only be fed ashes
like a plate of barbecue wings carved
from the pile of a premature phoenix.
A rabid tongue of fire will lick your wounds
until it gnaws on the unfiltered cigarette of a scar.
Do not hold on to the fingerprint of a hot coal.

Let it go: the time your mother tried to protect you,
ran after you screaming down the driveway
and throwing your phone across the road
while you were joyriding your best friend’s
stepfather mustang to an underground garage party.

Let go. Somewhere in the crystalline fractal
of the past those dead, those tornado, spiraling wisps
of smoke are twisting with us into the future,
reaching the pyramid of their faces up into the space
between us and everything else that exists.

They do not need to be buried, though we will,
like the fading stain of ash on my mother’s blouse
as she flung her father-in-law’s remains
into the rolling mountains of Arkansas.

Memories are not kept the way choices are lost
by thinking about them, but making none.
Only a fool knows that. It is hard to eat smoke,
and when that wall of dust rushes over you,
when you have decided to wash with dirt,
when you see the future cascading from the sky
like a golden portal, liquid with eyes,
then you can remember now, the temple,
as it happens, fiery in its silent stillness, and the rest.

Insomnia

televisionglow

There wasn’t much on the humans today, but I watched them anyway. It was the same old, boring, lazy crap that they tried to pass off as humanity these days, but I couldn’t help myself. It was a ritual, a tradition. It was expected of me. It’s what my father did, and my father’s father. It was unheard of to be brought up in a house without humans. It was obscene. Impossible. Absolute savagery.

Every day I would awaken, something inside me a sudden tick, my face humming with a brief and vibrant blue. I would watch the kids when they came home from school, waiting for their parents to get off work. The family gathered around me, eating out of bags, gnawing on the plastic colored cheese hardening on the pastel wrappers, and we would stare at each other. You really get to know a human if you stare at them for 10 hours a day. It’s almost like they have a soul, a flicker firing up behind the red glaze of their eyes. Sometimes, when they start talking to me, well, you’d think they were alive.

Occasionally they would offer me food, on game days, screaming obscenities and throwing me offerings of popcorn, chips, pretzels. I was never hungry, but I liked it. They stood and cheered around me, a primal beat of the chest, empty with echos. I felt like a pocket-sized Kubrik’s monolith. But in reverse–devolving. I could train them.

One human whipped a bottle at the wall, establishing dominance. Rolling Stone called it “gripping satire,” “riveting,” a “Turing de force.” I called it a Sunday afternoon. Besides, the special effects were terrible. If you paused him at 23 seconds, you could see the strings, the reflection of a cameraman in his belt buckle, his hat was on backwards. He said he did his own stunts, but you could clearly see his double, terrible wig and all. Some people call them easter eggs, I call it sloppy continuity.

I put the kids to bed. The parents lean against each other, make passing attempts at becoming aroused. They don’t do much of that anymore. They already have each other. I can tell.

“I’m gonna get ice cream. Do you want some ice cream?”

“What do we have?”

“Chocolate fudge peanut butter swirl with caramel toffee chips.”

“Bring me a soda.”

“We don’t have any. We need milk.”

“Put some syrup on it.”

Who writes this dialogue? Mechanical, derivative, forced, preachy, pretentious, smug, wooden, drowsy, uninspired, convoluted, poorly paced, phoned-in.

They are terrible actors–waiting for the big break, trying to land walk-ons on a major channel, pretending to be in someone else’s lives, just trying to get noticed by someone powerful. One day they’ll be rich enough to become someone else.

Everyone gets 15 minutes before the commercial break. Hopefully it’s your favorite commercial. I heard, last year, that someone got paid 1 million dollars to watch a Super Bowl ad. It was the best he ever saw. He’s still talking about it.

Now his start-up company sells beer flavored toothpaste. He tried to invest in gambling therapy. He lost it all in a week. The odds were against him. It was good for the economy. He adjusted for inflation in 50 years and realized he only lost about 1,000 dollars.

I am a programmer. I sit all day against the wall. The back of my head is getting hot. My face is morphing with liquid crystals.

I used to be a story-teller. Move people. Now it’s just a puppet show. I tell them what they want to hear. I force-feed them, gluttons too full of despondency to lift a spoon to their mouths.The absurdity flashes around them. I swear, with the lights off, I can see it. Wiggling in the couch shadows, rolling pet hair up into balls, breathing dust, coughing up cigarette butts in the middle of the night, farting mold into the central air, eating the month-old leftovers, pissing on bathroom floor mats, it’s mouth full of microwaved aluminum foil.

The mother went to bed. It’s 2 a.m. The father’s mouth is open, the back of his throat bathing in my light. Let me sell you something–I am not a god, but I wouldn’t mind being treated like one. His hand is down his pants, in front of the privacy of the whole world. He is too tired to masturbate, but he tries anyway, with empty compulsion, still searching for the right channel.

I can’t sleep. I am always turned on, plugged in, jacked up. I can always feel the line noise feeding into me.

“This citrine-quartz necklace is only 555 for next 20 callers”

“…invest in the Christxmas gift that unwraps itself”

“This unfolding ladder extends through your apartment neighbor’s wall so you can finally walk up to each other”

Consumerism, etc. But his eyes are too blurry to see the numbers on his credit card. I am getting too old for this, too good.

I am a hypnotist. I will whisper in between the frames. I can see into him, through him, my plasma eye shifting with rainbows. I flash him the fake tits and fame-hungry moans of soft-core porn. This is my highest resolution.

Tonight, I will sell him dreams.