Replicants nonexistent before Time
Big bang pow wow wow
A sentient suicide machine
There was one of them inside all of us
A sun flower of arcadia that never dies
Wilting towards oblivion
A failure of evolution
We're failures of evolution
Before Time there was nothing
Nothing was a very good thing
Oceans never viewed
Dolphins birthing out of the water
Orange and red light sinking into the horizon
Before Time there was
After Time there will be
A belief in the afterlife
is holding onto a railing with desperation
when you're about to fall into a deep red canyon.
But you're going to be forced to let go eventually.
Randomly tossed into an ocean,
Tristan remarked that life
was an odd thing to experience.
Recently, I stopped breathing.
The major consequence
of this was my death.
I found myself nonexistent.
How I'm recording this experience,
I don't know.
After dying, answers lose meaning.
You begin to float with the questions
rising from your buried casket like a stench.
Into where? Into where?
Into where? I don't care.
I don't care. I don't care.
The other nonexistent
people I've met seem to agree
existing was nice, if difficult.
The worst part about existing,
we've come to agree, is that you've no idea
when you'll stop doing so.
But, that's life.
shaved and twirling on a cumstained
pole for scientists.
if they jerked their feet
out of the cement.
But they just gawk
at the sun and the clouds,
insides on view,
and allow us to dissect
"after reading the Dada manifesto by Tristen Tzara from 1918"
headless in our garden
there was a gnome
eloquently with abandon abandon abandon
lobsters meeting for lunch with the gnome who pays for it meagerly
with his life
worthless but anyway anyhow anywho anywhere anyway
there was a man schifffffffffff fffffffff fffffff ffffffffffff
those are the sounds of the screams of the birds
smashed under volcanic tears
falling from the widowed left eye
a gnome glanced up and saw nothing
NOTHING is a rather small thing
the size of Alaska
"Daniil Kharms impression"
Randomly tossed into an ocean, Tristan remarked that life was an odd thing to experience. Of course, he died. We expect this of people, that they die. It'd be extremely surprising if someone didn't die. My Uncle Martin once told me about a man that lived until he was 800 or something. He's liar, that's what my Mom says.
There are certain songs that make you feel you're going somewhere--gonna do something real big--with their bang on the table and scream real loud choruses enormous tidal waves of crescendoes that crash onto your dry, parched shores. And there are certain times when songs like these need to be played.
I am speeding down 376 into Pittsburgh on a windows down, hand out the window summer day in a used Ford I just bought down at a used car place. The wind sings through the windows its rapid melody of a blank future.
Two hours ago I landed here with one duffel bag full of my entire life. I took a taxi from the airport to the nearest used car place and drove off.
I don't know anybody in Pittsburgh. I knew people in Sampson, out in Wisconsin, but I don't want to know them anywhere. Pittsburgh! Home!
Stealing the money wasn't that hard. My parents were never home, and they hid their money underneath Dad's collared shirts, so I just slowly took it, evaporating their pile. They were stupid enough not to know. That's why I left Sampson. It's town full of stupid people with stupid plans. Got my license, got the hell out.
This is euphoria, my friends. And the radio, the radio tuned to 91.3, plays a divineness little known to man, the ecstasies that are pure sound emotions as I am spirited into a tunnel by the wind, into alternating orange and white light as the angels of sound float higher and higher and I drive faster, a canvas of light expanding in front of me until I burst through it and see the entire future planned out into a city in front of me. Heights and rivers! Concrete and glass! Bridges and boats! I am home! I am home!
I don't remember most of my childhood, but I remember the woods around Uncle Nat's house.
I was seven or eight. We, my parents and me, were staying at his place for a week in the summer. Their house was far into the woods in western Massachusetts.
When we drove up to the house, Uncle Nat was outside chopping wood. Evening was coming and the sun was lazily shining orange light onto one side of his sweating face. He had peppered stubble on his lightly flabby cheeks. All our car windows were down, and we could feel the heat too. When he heard our car coming, he stopped with the wood and went to the house. He opened the screen door and screamed, "They're here."
By then we had parked and were getting out the car. Uncle Nat leaned on his axe and wiped his forehead. Dad opened the trunk where our three bags were. Dad stood there staring at Uncle Nat with his face expectant. "You gonna help with these?" Dad said.
Uncle Nat dropped the axe and came down off the porch. "You should let Calvin do it," he said, grabbing a bag and putting it down beside him.
"He couldn't lift one of these," Dad said.
"I could.” I walked up to them and stood between my dad and Uncle Nat.
"You're gonna hurt yourself if you try and lift one." Mom said.
I took hold of the handle on the bag. They all watched me. I began to lift, but it was nailed to the ground. They started laughing and Dad said, "See, I told you." I tried to drag it forward and felt the distance between my arm and shoulder increasing. I leaned forward, still holding onto the bag, and let my legs go slack. I let go and fell to the dirt.
"I assume the drive was awful," Uncle Nat said.
"It wasn't that bad," Mom said.
Uncle Nat grabbed the other bag out of the car and took the two of them to the porch. He set them down, looked into the house and yelled, "I SAID THEY'RE HERE."
"It was a pretty bad drive," Dad said, shutting the trunk.
"I don't know," mom said.
"What'd you think? Hey! Boy!" Uncle Nat said.
"What?" I said. Still on the ground, I had been staring at some black birds swaying up and down on a branch high up in one of the tall trees that surrounded the house. I got up and looked at Uncle Nat.
"Was the car ride shit?"
"Nat!" Dad said.
"We're trying not to use...those words in front of him." Mom said.
I hadn't really thought about whether the trip was good or not so it was good that right then Aunt Marley busted out of the house saying, “Hello! Hello!” in a voice like a squealing cat. She had a brownish drink in her hand that was swaying back and forth, the liquid almost spilling out like it was rehearsed. She sped down the porch and began hugging my parents and loudly kissing their cheeks.
Joyce and Max, my two cousins, walked out of the house. “Hi,” Max said, looking at me. He walked to the edge of the porch and leaned on the rail. He was a year older than I was, and we had been brought up together here and there across school breaks and vacations and summers. We’d gone to the ocean and we’d gone to Disneyland. We’d also gone to museums and historic battlefield grounds because my mom read in a book that educational trips were good for children.
“Hey,” I said to Max. I looked at Joyce and smiled. She leaned back against the house and started playing with her long blond hair. Aunt Marley grabbed and squished me, her angular body wrapping itself around me, a tight bow. Her drink spilled a bit on my back. It felt cool slowly kissing my skin. She let go and looked into my face, a smile stretched across her face making her bright red lips thin like a mouth drawn by a child with crayon.
“You are the picture of youth,” she said.
“He looks like I did,” Dad said, walking over to me and putting his arm on my shoulder.
“You were uglier as a kid,” Uncle Nat said. Aunt Marley walked over to where he was and bent her face towards him. He didn’t look at her. She hit him on the shoulder with a parody of a punch meant to be quirky but just drunkenly awkward. He looked her way. She pouted her lips and made a fish face.
IF someone asked me to make a series of paintings of that moment, of that day, I could. It’s tattooed itself on my mind. Joyce was standing with a loose leg bringing one shoulder down so she looked like a rag doll standing next to the door on the porch. Max was leaning on the railing with his head peaking out from underneath the porch’s roof, the diving sun splashing some light onto his baby-fat face. Aunt Marley was laughing about something in a floral print dress that hugged her like she hugged us, her body all revealed by a thinness and tautness of cloth. Uncle Nat was walking over to Dad, his face even more sweaty even though he wasn’t cutting wood anymore, and explaining how he had really come up with the design of the house himself, that the architect, the builders, they all were just following his plan, and isn’t that impressive. Dad was listening and saying yes, yes, that is impressive while rubbing his hairy hand against the beginnings of a beard that were showing on his square face, and then going to lock the car even though Uncle Nat was saying as he did it that he didn’t need to. Mom was saying it’s safer that way while pulling the edge of her white tank-top down, and then walking over to Uncle Nat and saying you want to show us our rooms. Me, standing taller than I ever had before because of a growth spurt and still getting used to the new perspective, walking into the house with everybody else and closing the door on the hole in the forest the house occupied, on the red twilight that comes just before night.
During dinner, the parents talked about what they were going to do over the week, Joyce kept silent, and Max kept talking to me about the clubhouse he and his dad built earlier in the summer. He said, “It’s for my exploring club. You can be a member.” He picked up his cheeseburger and took a bite. “Some nights, Mom and Dad let me sleep in there.”
“You think we can do that tonight,” I said, eating a salad because my mom wanted me to eat well.
“That’d be awesome. We should! I’ll go ask my mom. Ask yours too.”
I got out of my seat and went over to my mom who was on the other end of the long wooden table Uncle Nat had built. “Mom, Max has a clubhouse, and Uncle Nat and Aunt Marley let him sleep in it sometimes, and we want to sleep it tonight. Can we? Please?”
She finished eating a piece of her salad, and put her fork down in the bowl. “That sounds dangerous, Calvin.”
“Max’s parents let him do it sometimes by himself!”
“I don’t know.”
Dad noticed we were talking. “What’s he want to do?” Dad said.
“He wants to sleep in Max’s clubhouse.”
“Max has a clubhouse?” He turned to Uncle Nat. “Nat, did you build Max a clubhouse?”
“No. We both did it, me and Max. It was great, working in the sun on the weekends with him.” Nat took a bite of his cheeseburger. “It turned out good, I think.”
“How long did it take?” Dad said.
“Couple of weekends. Not in a row, but over time. Maybe like five or six weekends.”
“Pretty impressive…You let Max sleep in there?”
“Yeah. It’s safe. Me and him built it. He’s slept in there a bunch of times. They want to do that together?”
Max leaned forward onto the table and said, “Yeah. Come on, please.”
Uncle Nat said, “Why not?”
“Is it close?” Dad said.
“Yeah. Right in the forest.”
“Ok…” Dad turned back to Mom. “Let’s just let them do it. I think it’ll be fine.”
After dinner we went into the woods.
We held sleeping bags under arms. Max led the way through a big clump group of bushes. The bushes surrounded the woods in a ring. There was one opening on the far side of the field away from us, but Max just took me through some bushes near the house. “It’s not that far into here,” Max turned to me and said, pushing his legs hard through branches and leaves. I was wearing shorts, so the branches were scratching my legs. I stopped while going through and looked down. There were red lines on my skin. Max turned to me. “Come on.” so I pushed myself through.
The trees became tighter as we went in farther, knotting together, meaning we couldn’t walk side by side, so I walked behind him. He hummed an unrecognizable song. I would have asked him what it was, but I was looking up at those tall trees all clumped together, forest skyscrapers.
It all reminded me of this one time when, late at night, I heard a cat meowing outside my window. It sounded like crying, so I got out of bed. Underneath my window, there was a cat flopped on concrete, moaning. I opened the window. It was cold out and I was in pajamas, but I climbed out my window anyways. It was middle-of-the night dark. The streetlamps were either off or not doing anything. The alleyway next to my house was confusingly tight and tall. I knelt down to the cat, who was still whining with confusion, and began to pet it. Its gray fur was thick and matted. It purred and purred and stopped wailing. “Where’s your family?” I whispered into its small ear, close enough to lick it like its mother. It looked at me with large yellow eyes. I put my hands underneath its thin sides and picked it up, bringing it to the warmth of my chest. I held it, and hummed. Then I pushed it through my window. This left me alone in the corridor between the buildings.
“It’s right up here,” Max said. “You’re gonna love it.”
That’s when I saw it. “Max, wait…Max.”
“What? I’m right here.”
I pointed at it. “What’s that?”
“What?” He went over and knelt in front of it.
I went over and knelt next to him. “Do you know what it is?”
“Maybe?” He leaned in. Then came up and faced me. “…I’m taking a science class right now, and I think it’s a heart.”
“That’s not what a heart looks like.” It looked like it had been swallowed and thrown up. It was covered in a brown green something that looked thick and hardened.
“No. It is. We saw pictures.”
“Yeah. It was in a movie we watched in class about how the body works.” He looked at the heart again, then he stood up. “I’m gonna get my dad.”
I stood up too. “Yeah…Let’s go.”
“No. I’m just gonna go get him myself. You wait here.”
“I don’ wanna wait here. There’s a heart on the ground.”
“We gotta show it to him! He’ll know what it is, I mean what to do.”
“I’ll go back. You wait here.”
“I live here! I know the way. You’ll just get lost.”
So I waited, stuck next to a heart in the empty forest. I turned away from it. But I could hear it beating next to me, thumping loudly up and down on the forest floor. It got harder and louder, then began pounding, filling the forest with its percussive bangs.
I turned to it. It was still on the ground. I stared at it, knelt to it. It didn’t smell like anything. I poked its brown green hard exterior. It wasn’t thick at all, but fleshy, giving to my finger, a dead thing wanting to embrace me. I wiped my finger on my shorts, dragging a vomitous streak onto them. I sat down next to the heart. I said to it, “I think it’s going to be ok, alright?”
An owl hooted somewhere near us. I picked it up. It wasn’t heavy at all, but it did sag in my cupped hands. I brought it to my warm chest. I cradled it, close, humming a made-up song to it. Then I put it back down. My shirt was stained with the brown green. I heard the owl’s wings rise and it take off.
When I started to cry, I don’t know, but I know that when Uncle Nat arrived carrying a flashlight, he kneeled in front of me, and said “Buck up, kid. Wipe your face.”
Max stood behind him. I stood up and wiped my face. Uncle Nat kneeled down in front of the heart and shone his flashlight onto it. It made it so clinical. He stood like that for a moment, a detective and a scientist all in one. He moved the flashlight around the forest. Off to the left, the light found some other organs. I don’t know which. They had the same brown green color.
Uncle Nat stood up and looked at us, the light still on but fallen onto his side, illuminating his dirty jean shorts and tan brown work boots. He said, “Well, I think a hunter probably came here, shoot and killed a deer.” He motioned for us to start walking back, so we did, back to a warm, orange home. He followed behind us, using his flashlight to show the way. He continued, “He probably just took apart the deer here so that he could stuff it and stuff later. Those are the deer’s parts.” He stopped talking and the sound of our feet hitting the ground filled the forest. His big work boots made the loudest noise, a thunderous wallop.
When we got to the edge of the forest, he said, “It’s nothing big. Happens all the time.” He took the lead through the bushes. We followed. In the house, Uncle Nat explained what had happened to Mom and Aunt Marley. Mom hugged me, her whole form surrounding me so I was in a cavern with a little lake that had waves swaying back and forth with a comfortable sound. She let go and said, “Why’s your shirt like that?”
“I don’t know.”
She opened her eyes wide. “I’ll start up the hot water.”
“A bath? Sounds good.”
Mom brought me upstairs, turned on the hot water, and helped me undress. It was nice being held up in the cupped hands of someone else. I went into the bath.
“Does that feel better?” Mom said, sitting on the cover of the toilet.
I used the soap to try to wash. “That deer’s dead.”
“Yes,” Mom sighed, “That’s what dead means.”
I put shampoo in my hair, tangling my fingers into the sun-blonde mess. I said, “Do we die too?” and dunked my head into the tub’s soapy water. I opened my eyes and couldn’t see anything. They started to sting, so I closed them. I could hear my heart beating in depths of my ears, near the brain. I brought my head back into bathroom. Mom was looking at me, her blue eyes anchored on mine. Then she looked away.
She said, “Yes, we do.”
“I knew it.”
I got out of the tub, and she wiped down. I went to the guest room, put on pajamas, and went to bed.
I was in the forest again. It wasn’t night anymore. It was early morning. Instead of hunters and deer, there were just people around me lying on the floor of the woods. Their whole torsos, stomach and ribs, were slashed across, bloody, and dripping with organs, heart, intestines, lungs—sacks of flesh leaking life. I walked through the bodies.
An owl came down and sat on my shoulder. It turned to me, precise eyes in mine, and said, “You think this is pretty bad, don’t you?”
“I guess so.”
“Expected it. I expected it.”
“Don’t be sorry. Anyway, It’s not your fault. You haven’t seen the half of it.”