"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Take to the deep

This started as something bigger - and perhaps it will end up bigger at some point - but for now it is an interesting little 50-word doohickey. If you want to see more great 50-word stories, head over to 50 to 1.

The saltwater frothed slightly at my waist as I turned in circles, as if I expected to start a whirlpool and go spinning around into orbit in the middle of the Atlantic. I stopped rotating and started thrashing back and forth. "Spin cycle," I muttered. "I'm a goddam washing machine."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Third Eye Blind, Anything

Monday, March 29, 2010

When everything else is gone

The match lit in a flash of sulfur and red phosphorous, and Andy held it to the cigar in his lips for only a moment before throwing it haphazardly toward the pile of dead sticks and cardboard boxes amassed at his feet. The heap quickly combusted, throwing a grotesque shadow of Andy onto the wall behind him. He stepped back and enjoyed the situation for just a moment, taking a deep drag of the cigar and feeling the steady heat of the flames.

He exhaled a long cloud of smoke and limped out of his living room, past the bedroom where he and his wife used to make love and past his daughter's room. He stopped at the back door and turned to face back down the hallway, puffing steadily on the cigar as he ran his hands down the wallpaper he had installed when he and Sheila had moved in here.

Andy shook his mind clean and left the house, shivering at the transition from warm house to cold winter air. He stepped out on the concrete landing and turned to close the door. His hand grasped the doorknob, but refused to push the portal shut.

Andy's mind went berserk at his sudden hesitation, and he gritted his teeth and fought with all his strength to regain control of himself and force his arm forward. He looked up into the house and saw the orange glow of the growing conflagration leaping down the hallway toward him in bursts of furious hunger, lapping up the crown molding at the base of the ceiling and the picture frames hanging from the walls.

He flashed back to the wreck, the ambulance crew carting away their mangled bodies in zipper bags like leftovers. They picked him up, body perfectly still, and placed him on a stretcher to be taken to the hospital. He remembered feeling the signals, the abnormal spark-up coursing toward him like a shark sensing blood in the water, and then he remembered waking up full of holes, hospital administered and otherwise, and crying for two days.

Andy's parents washed and dressed him the morning of his court date, his father basically carrying him to and from the car before his mother got the wheelchair out of the trunk. They took away his license and sentenced him, though he didn't comprehend it until he could walk again three months later.

Andy wrenched himself back to consciousness like the paramedics had yanked shards of sheet metal out of his body, and it hurt almost as much. The flames were bursting out the windows now, and he could feel the warmth billowing down the hallway toward him in waves. He spat out the cigar.

He turned and looked toward the garage behind him. He could almost see the wreck sitting there, shredded metal and plastic spiraling in controlled insanity at deadly angles. Blood was everywhere, dripping from the car's broken pillars and pooling with shards of glass on the asphalt.

A particularly scalding blast of air hit him in the back, almost knocking him over, and then he heard and felt the explosion as the gas stove blew, catapulting wood splinters and drywall remnants in every direction.

He stared at the flames gathering in the hallway before him, and his hand finally relaxed and came off the doorknob. He stepped back into the house and walked straight through the flames. They tore at his clothes and hair as though there was nothing else combustible in the house. He stopped into the living room and stared at the ceiling. He wondered when the house would start collapsing in on itself.

He decided to wait and find out.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Incubus, Nebula

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Add up what they subtracted

When I awoke on Thursday morning I wrapped the world in cellophane, desperate to preserve what was left of its dignity. I had to swing the meager plastic sheet around six times because The Empire State Building kept poking holes in my progress.

I peered through the mass of stretchy material. My view was slightly muddled by the multiple layers' clashing wrinkles, but I could still clearly make out crowds of people gathering in squares, schools emptying into playgrounds and freeways jammed with traffic as people gathered in the first-ever worldwide rubbernecking event.

The news media went wild. Glenn Beck warned America that this was the result of the spread of Progressi-facism, a new hybrid ideology he had created in the shower this morning. Jon Stewart made fun of me and had his design team create a graphic that showed me as a middle-aged woman browsing the paper products aisle in ShopRite.

I stared at humanity's loud confusion and listened to its wide-eyed misunderstandings of the situation.

"It's the apocalypse!" shouted fanatics across the globe.

"Shut up, it's probably some really weird science thing we haven't discovered yet," skeptics replied.

They argued for days. They theorized for weeks. They mourned the end of the world for months. They did it all, and they did it loudly.

I turned on my sound machine, careened into bed and waited for them to run out of air.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Modest Mouse, The World At Large

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reading tomorrow!

- The Broad Set Writing Collective @ The Inkwell Coffee House, 665 Second Ave, Long Branch NJ
- Starts at 7:30 & ends at 9:00.
- Come out and experience emerging authors reading fiction, poetry & prose. Partake in our world famous grab bag! Take home a magazine. Enjoy some good food and meet Andrew Kaspereen in person.

Should be an exciting time, with readings by most of The Broad Set crew, if my memory serves me correctly. Hope to see a lot of people there!

Chatham Station: A Tunnel

It's every morning, I said
over breakfast, tossed and turned.
Platform littered with humanity
dragging by suitcases, briefcases,
head cases. You're one of them,
you know, nose upturned and
fork mid-dredge in eggs,
yolk runny like soaking sunlight,
I told myself. I was right.
bound for
Heard horns,
saw but
couldn't reach
a blue hand
out to her.
Wanted to
spring up,
but glue
held strong.
Settled for the words' consolation,
theme park ride for those
who couldn't get off their surface,
dance to love. Stuck rigid instead.
Wanted to dive, roll down cylinders
after her, broad portals held open to
bring me somewhere new.
Sighed and threw a line to fish
for something bright, the lustrous way off.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Eagles, New York Minute

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chatham Station: Words

Last night I decided I would do something I've never tried before: writing a poem series (that is, tell a story through a series of poems). The series is going to be called "Chatham Station," and this is the first installment, "Words."

I spilled down the inside curve
Waited for the edge to catch me
Hopped off and upward
Leapt from pillar to pillar to peak
Slid across icy flatness
To columns almost silent
Tipped the spike and landed
Tumbling into 13, the valley.

Struggled then to the hiss sound
Mitigated on the roads' surfaces
Despite the barbed obstruction
Impending like pinnacle through clouds
Stepped the single notch
Lurched off the bow of the earth
Barely grasped the last ledge end.

But still,
she remained unacquainted
with my fervor.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Brand New, The Archers Bows Have Broken

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Enjoying the vantage?
They say the fall
kills before you even hit the ground,
and I imagine
the plunge from the ivory tower
is no different,
just a thousand times

Previously you worked for it,
a motive
almost visible from space.
A red trail burned in,
dug deep and burrowed,
wide swath.
Sherman to Savannah
or a dead broom
paths on the spotty linoleum.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Grizzly Bear, Ready, Able (craaaaazy video)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Clear the accounts

The view outside my window is
nothing. Raylessness.
Vague and lifeless like
that pitch-black happy feeling you get
halfway down
a glass of your favorite liquor
the moment after.
Lights on my side of the pane
halogen-high making it
impossible to see through.
Can't seek solace
in reflective glass, empty
or full.
Just your world standing rapt
mid-dance in tiny twists
like backyard fencing.
Inorganic nonsense inside
a beautiful redundancy
sparkly-clean and empty
to make you sick.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Nas, Can't Forget About You

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grab your things

"A man once made a hypothesis," I told my friend Randy. "He said that humanity can never be allowed to discover the meaning of life, or else life as we know it would end."

Randy scratched the back of his head, evidently deep in thought.

"Think about it," I said. "If you suddenly discovered the reason why you are here, and you aren't particularly pleased with that reason, what do you think would happen?"

Randy's hand moved from the back of his hand to his chin, and he looked up at my living room ceiling philosophically.

"Well," he said, "I suppose gun sales would skyrocket."

I squinted my left eye and looked at him skeptically.

"Uh huh. And why do you suppose that would happen?"

Randy didn't answer. He continued staring upward, stroking the spot on his chin where his goatee used to be. He had shaved it off for a job interview.

I inspected the ceiling, attempting to discern where exactly he was looking. I saw a bump in the plaster underneath the blatantly gray paint. I saw the spot where I had smashed a bug many months ago and left a dark brown streak. I saw beams of sunlight angled into wavering lines through my window.

"What are you looking at, Randy?"

"I'm not looking, I'm thinking."

I directed my gaze back down to him.

"Okay, well did you hear what I asked you?"

He stopped stroking his chin and stood up from the couch. He began pacing back and forth in front of the television. Tiny flares of static electricity erupted from the carpet with confusingly resounding crackling sounds. Randy constantly dragged his feet when he walked, so any time he took his shoes off it was inadvisable to go anywhere near him.

"It seems pretty simple to me," he said. "We're here for whoever comes after us. Our ancestors worked to make life better for us, and the purpose of our lives is to make life better for our children and grandchildren and so on."

I had never seen Randy in such an intellectual fervor before, so I leaned back into the sofa cushions, slightly wide-eyed, and let him do his thing.

"And you might wonder, then why isn't everyone employed as a scientist or a doctor or whatever? And the answer to that is simple, too. Support staff. So really, pretty much everyone plays a part, no matter how small."

He stopped pacing and turned to look at me.

"Makes sense, doesn't it?"

I thought about it for a moment. It did make a lot of sense. I wondered if anyone had ever come up with that explanation before. It seemed way too "common sense" for any of those religious wackjobs to have originated it. Could it be that we had actually discovered the meaning of life? I stood up and held up my hands.

"It makes a little too much sense, Randy," I said. "We need to keep this to ourselves. If the rest of the world finds out, who knows what could happen!"

As it turns out, Randy didn't take my advice. With the sweet adrenaline of discovery pumping through his veins like acid-laced jet fuel, he rushed out of my apartment before I could stop him and hopped on the subway to the Fox News building on 6th Ave.

Gun sales skyrocketed.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Arcade Fire, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

Friday, March 19, 2010

For safekeeping

This is a poem I wrote on the train home from a reading in NYC one weekend. For some reason I decided it would be interesting to trace the outline of my ticket and then write a poem inside the box it made. This is what I came up with:

Whittle it away,
stacked in piles of shavings
and carried to just the right spot;
barely visible. But:
it gleams like a July-girl’s smile
refracted to distortion
through rocking horse windows

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Paul Simon, You Can Call Me Al


...I appear to have a blog of my own all of a sudden! It's almost like I've spent the last two hours in front of my computer putting it together and formatting it and making sure it doesn't look terrible! Weird, huh?

I'll have something to put up here for the official first post tomorrow, and yes that is a promise. Write it in stone, engrave it in crystal, tell Bill O'Reilly, whatever.

Stay tuned!