Promo for “Soft Orbit” a gig poster for the Laundry Gods
Promo for “Soft Orbit” a gig poster for the Laundry Gods
I’m working on a new novel about a group of artists, programmers and drug addicts who live and work in this house. The working title is Mezacht, which is the name of their text based online game (their only profitable product) and their development company.
happened real fast
built on stilts over virgin inlets, tribes of wrappers, packages, cut boxes broken down into flat planes over warm human asphalt
Spent it on rides, stayed up late, came eight times total to your crude vibrations, rigged my own touch to the fabrics in your palate, loose and calm like deflated clouds of cigarette smoke
We hid it behind explanations, coarse like the clay court waltz of our drifting caste (who learned the bird calls, who hung out on the lazy river with the cell out). And I snapped her bra like a tragic hero might, over artichoke dip and the crunching hallelujahs of praise and worship karaoke
Introduced it like a PM option, whatever bruised you like an apple, Vatican gold turned brown, ill and conscious of tomorrow’s promises
We played it close. We disguised our arguments as limited edition fast food toys and collected them, wound them up and watched them shake and fret and scream at the end of a short meal
Came to terms with 99%, pursued an ambitious high before my 9 o clock shift. Tried to cut a shade of love into the way I ignored your calls and I felt the same warmth from your own dial tones, and when they came, from your clean words, as varied and beautiful as the days of summer
In the Camps of Vargus album artwork done by Kate Worthen (drawing/coloring) and myself (layout). The first track is below.
This is the first song off my mini-album I made a couple of weeks ago. I decided not to use any real instruments (because I can’t play any (except drums)) or any real-sounding samples so the end result was 80esque techno with a lot of reverb. The album is about a tribe of interstellar barbarians that travel to upstate New York circa 1987 to party. This song is about an undercover CIA agent sent to disrupt their activities. She is given LSD and eventually confesses her true purpose. This story is barely evident in the lyrics.
This is the cover of my book Soft Orbit, which is soon to be available for purchase
The driveway is empty when Shana arrives.
She pulls the emergency brake and steps out of her Nissan into a soft crush of lawnmowers and cicadas, crosses the back porch of her mother’s house.
Cody is on the couch with his laptop open.
“Where’s your car?” Shana asks him, hanging her purse on a rocking chair.
“I flew in, caught a taxi.”
“Were you going to tell me you were in town?” Shana asks.
They find some vodka on top of the refrigerator and drink screwdrivers on the back porch while the afternoon collapses around them. Shana tells Cody that she just broke off another engagement and Cody says she should start saying no at the scene of the proposal. But Trevor had proposed to her at Lake Jocassee under a veil of abandoned fishing line. And before that Eric had proposed to her outside his BMW on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the mountains fading behind him through shades of denim.
“What you should do,” Cody says, “is move somewhere else.”
“I probably will,” Shana says, though she hasn’t even considered it.
“Let’s grab some sushi,” Cody says.
“Mom wanted us to wait for her to eat.”
“Well then lets get coffee.”
“Are you really going to wear that shirt?”
“It’s an undershirt, I can see your nipples.”
“We can’t both look good at the same time Shana,” he starts walking towards her car, “today can be your day.”
Shana says something to Cody as he stirs the heat out of his coffee and thinks about video games.
Shana repeats herself:
“Mr. Carter is over there.”
And it’s true that their old substitute teacher Mr. Carter is working on a crossword at the table between the restrooms. Shana clearly wants to approach him, Cody can tell by the way she stares at his head, but she starts humming something instead: “Something something something something microwave ovens.” Then she’s back on Cody, her mint eyes scanning her twin’s distracted expression. “Mom said you went to New York.”
“I told you I was going to New York.”
“To see Liessa.”
“Is she the girl you’re dating?”
“Who is she?”
“She studies cancer, she’s 31.”
“When did you start making friends like that?”
Cody recognizes a man outside, he’s someone’s father. The man is talking on his cell phone (in circles) and Cody thinks he runs some local branch of a national bank. He can remember playing in the man’s garage with the man’s son.
“All the coffee here tastes like hazelnut,” Shana says, “I think they use the same grinder for flavored coffee.” Cody taps his fingers on the table, he’s thinking about a game called “Dungeon Quest Omega” wherein his wizard recently gained the ability to summon an Iron Golem. More than eat, or talk to Shana, right now he wants to go home and summon an Iron Golem.
Mr. Carter is on the way out but Shana pauses him with a wave.
“Do you remember us?” Shana asks him.
“Brendt?” He asks Cody.
“Cody and Shana Booth,” Cody tells him.
“I taught a lot of different kids over the years,” he smiles down at them, no accountability, all lopsided bowtie. “What are you kids up to?”
“Following our hearts,” Shana says, “What are you doing these days?”
“I got a second job at Home Depot,” He tells her.
“That’s great,” she says and Mr. Carter nods at her and continues out, holding the door for someone’s Dad.
The twins prowl twilight strip malls looking for sushi.
When they find Maki Maki is closed Cody says: “We should go to Fuji Roll,” and Shana takes a right at an orange light. Cody complains about the broken speakers in Shana’s car, he can’t turn the song up above a whisper, just loud enough to hear a sprinkle of tinny cymbals.
“Something something something color TVs”
Cody cups his hands around his face against the Fuji Roll window (there are no tables inside, just a roll of painter’s tape and some boxes).
“It’s closed,” Cody says.
So Shana sits on the curb while Cody smokes. She says: “I think it might have moved. I can almost remember seeing it somewhere else.”
Cody walks along a long crack.
“What happened with Trevor?”
“I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Where was he from?”
“He’s from here Cody, he was one year behind us in school.”
“What did he look like?”
“He had that bowl cut for a long time.”
“Did he give you a ring?”
“Of course he gave me a ring.”
“Is he an older guy?”
“I just told you he was a year behind us in school.”
Cody walks back along the long crack.
“What did you do in NY with the 31 year old?” Shana asks him.
“Sort of weird story actually,” Cody says, “So after communist Poland collapsed in 1991, the industries were all privatized. And just like most Eastern Bloc countries post-communism, the central industries fell to the same few powerful families.”
“So imagine these proto-capitalists, these few clans trying to promote a sense of nationalism in Poland. They needed a unified image for the country; they needed a credible new culture to match their fresh western government. So they supported the arts. They glorified polish writers, musicians, philosophers and painters. So Liessa’s Dad, as it happens, is a polish painter named Zajac. They loved Zajac; they bought his work (it’s very dark oils, people look like smears, sometimes standing on water or floating into the sky (the faintest glimmer of the surrealism of Magritte)). That’s how Liessa’s family got to America. It was more than just simple funding though, these benefactors brought Zajac into their circle and made him part of the Polish elite.”
Cody paces back and forth in front of the vacant Fuji Roll.
“So one family has a penthouse on the Upper East Side and Liessa’s family watches it for them while they’re out of town (90% of the time).”
“Yeah, she told me about the apartment at the airport. She said she couldn’t describe the view and that it would shatter my expectations but I was just thinking of sequels, like Home Alone 2, Homeward Bound 2, Short Circuit 2, all the movies where shit gets lost in the city. You know what struck me the most about Manhattan?”
“The amount of gum on the sidewalks, I mean they are studded with gum, just the initial impression, I mean, so much gum. She parked her car and we walked into the high rise. I accidentally got in the same compartment as Liessa in the revolving door (so I looked like an idiot, you know, right off the bat). We got hassled by the door guy but Liessa showed him the key and he apologized. The place was nice; it had original Mondrians in the lobby, a crystal chandelier (just a crystal cylinder really) and marble floors.”
“Does Liessa like live there when the family’s not in town?”
“No she’s got an apartment in Jersey by her lab. She just uses the penthouse when she wants to spend time in the city.”
“So we got up to the top and she opened the door and there’s New York, fully spoken for, an urban delta as far as I could see. After that settled in, and it took a while, I noticed some shit was off. The DVD player was pulled out. Liessa was standing with her purse in her hand, looking down at a coffee table that already had a purse on it. At first Liessa said we should just go but then she changed her mind and decided (since her family was responsible for the place) that she should look around. She opened the bedroom door and there were two people having sex on a king sized bed. Liessa closed the door and stepped back into the living room. The girl came out wearing a shirt and felt pants. She spoke in polish to Liessa and they talked for a long time. Then Liessa took out the key and offered it to the girl in the felt. The girl in the felt didn’t want it; she shook her head and waved her hand. So Liessa and me left.”
“Who was the girl in felt?”
“She said she was the polish family’s son’s fiancé but Liessa was skeptical.”
“Maybe she was a Polish sculptor’s daughter.”
Cody looks out over the empty parking lots to the distant line of the foothills.
“As Liessa and the girl in felt were talking in polish I saw one of Zajac’s paintings hanging on the wall across from the view of Manhattan. The painting was sort of a reflection of the city only darker, painted with heavy strokes. The buildings (thousands of them) rose up from a primordial sludge (green and black oils). Above the city, in the light pollution, a girl floated with her back out, facing into the canvas.”
Driving back to mom’s house and everything’s dark but the white sides of the road, the oncoming dotted line and the road sign palate, the full world dark behind bright simple replacements.
Shana thinks about maybe calling Colin Reynolds. She heard he got a job at Weiss-Monroe. It’s easy with the boys from high school; the nostalgia makes the sex more real than it ever could be with a stranger, with someone she didn’t already know.
Cody thinks about his Iron Golem. It looks like a suit of armor, follows his wizard around and attacks monsters with a huge axe. The full utility of the construct has yet to be determined but Cody is optimistic.
“What time is it?” Shana looks at him.
“It’s just 10.” He says.
She stares straight ahead, one hand at 6 and one out the window.
Rings of Vegas
(first published in Straight Teeth Zine)
A face ruined by some sadistic ratio, eyes too close together, too far from tip of nose, mouth overextended (and full of English muffin).
Who’s doing this new thing? She wants to know. Who’s coming along? Danny, the sole heir of a disposable utensil guru, cheers because he’s down and every time anyone asks him what to do with the ___________ he says “throw it away”. It’s more than some forks and knives it’s an ethos.
Who else is doing this new thing? She needs to know. Aileen isn’t sure yet.
Jessie swallows the English muffin.
I’m going. I say. I’m positive. My only condition is that we leave right now.
And since I was really young- pre birth- a smear of oily congealing flesh in a womb- traced on the wall of some uterus- I was the coolest mother fucker on God’s earth. Back when I had braces and high tops. Back when my crayons were melting in the backseat of mom-mom’s minivan. Cool as fuck, drawing outer space with sidewalk chalk in the road.
I’m still cool. I grew up with it. I can moonwalk. I can change a flat tire. I can undo a bra with two fingers while I blow smoke rings.
The diner door says pull but we push it and it STILL OPENS.
Jessie puts the top down and directs her ratio right at heaven. Her body though, let me tell you, she has “Amen” tattooed right where her bush would be and it’s there for a reason.
I’m the cool kid that parents like but then when they turn around I’m giving out cigarettes like Joe Camel. They’re out of town and I’m in their bed with little ______________. Throwing that shit away.
And Jessie never plans to drive drunk but it does seem to happen a lot and it doesn’t help that she has NASCAR in her blood.
She mostly grew up in a doublewide from what I understand, summers sitting alone in an inflatable kiddie pool, rocks poking up through the bottom. A Tweety Bird one piece from Wal Mart. Then hey, puberty showed up, hormones activated. Almost like they were triggered remotely like from a cave in the Mojave desert. Legs like hers can pretty much just walk out of a trailer park and into a ’09 Mercedes convertible.
And Aileen still doesn’t know where we’re going or if she wants to go. She’s wearing a bikini top and a jean skirt, legs crossed with flip flops, hair up in a long dirty pony tail, flickering in the wind like a Zippo, warm with nostalgia, just about to speak.
Being cool opened a lot of doors for me. For instance: I wake up to blow jobs on a pretty regular basis. It’s the best. Some people prefer sex but for me it’s all about waking up, looking down over my abs and seeing some new ratio on my dick.
And we are on one of the state highways that circle the city, in the rings of Vegas, the sky is sort of pale gold with flat pancake clouds on the horizon. There are motels on every block, vacancy, cable, pool, continental breakfast, washed out by veils of moving dust.
And sweet God, I never took my time with anything and it always ended up stellar, tops, A+, write home about it, tattoo it on your sternum and never look back. And Danny is singing something now in the backseat with words eroded by violent wind, ripping them apart at their apostrophes and their soft F’s and Th’s. Round and round, ears buzzing like maybe I’ve finally been awake too long.
Or it might be the _______ or the ________ or the _________ because I have not been sober since I was 11 years old, sucking down Capri suns at the half time of a little league soccer game. Grass stains all up and down, feeling cool air on my skinned knees, gasping for breath.
And Vegas is still right there to the left, rising out of strata of heat, gauzy pollution and fog and we are right here and part of it, closely associated, like little electrons in orbit, zap, bang, keeping it moving, doing that new thing. Aileen opens the door before the car comes to a complete stop.
Alternate cover for Soft Orbit with corresponding alternate title.
Also important to note that picture was taken by Jamie Hester and not myself. All I did was write my name and the tile of my book underneath it.