Monthly Archives: March 2011

Up There With Jesus

At funerals you always hear: I bet he’s up there with Jesus, bowling, or knitting, or whatever it was the person enjoyed doing. Jesus must be up there busy entertaining. I imagine Jesus Christ as the Martha Stewart of the afterlife.

Angel:  Jesus, your three o’clock’s here.

Jesus:  What am I doing with this one?

Angel:  Baking brownies.

Jesus:  Pot brownies?

Angel:  Regular brownies.

Jesus:  Jesus H. me on a stick! I’m sick of brownies!

It just doesn’t seem fair to Jesus. It’s heaven for Jesus, too, isn’t it? But, I guess heaven is a kind of a working hell for Jesus. Hell would be more a heaven for Jesus, more of a vacation; he could get a lot more time for himself, cause all the people there would ignore him.

“Hey, what’s up, Jesus?”

“How’s it hanging, Napoleon?” Jesus would walk past, his sandals never breaking stride, heading straight for Baskin Robbins. Sure, there’s ice cream in hell, problem is, there’s only one Baskin Robbins, so, the lineup takes eternity. Jesus, being Jesus can walk on the line, right to the front and get the ice cream any time he wants. He could never pull that shit in heaven.

What the Doctor Said

Mary reached to hug her husband, excited to share what her doctor had told her. Charles held her back by the shoulders.

“What?” she asked. He walked to the other side of the couch. Mary could see that there was something deeply troubling him. She forgot about her trip to the doctor’s and thought of his. “What happened at the doctor’s?” She waited. Charles dropped his eyes to the floor. “Charles!” He looked up at her. Mary had never seen this look on her husband’s face the two years she’d known and loved him. It was a strange mix of guilt, fear, disgust, sadness, even hatred. Mary overcame her fear enough to ask, “Charles, tell me, please, what did the doctor say?”

“He wasn’t even looking for it and he found it! We’ve been staring at it in the face and we couldn’t see! We’re insane! Do you know? We are insane!” Charles walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured himself a beer stein’s worth of bourbon. He shot half of it back, paused to take a breath, then polished off the other half with another shot.

“Charles, you’re scaring me, please, tell me what the doctor said.”

“You don’t want to know, really, Mary. Let me, let me know and trust what I’m doing is right for both of us when I tell you I’m moving out today, into a hotel and we should never see each other again.”

What?” Mary knew her husband well enough to know he wasn’t joking.

“Really, Mary, it’s best for both of us. Let me do what’s best. And what’s best is having one more stein of bourbon and then getting in the car and driving far far away.”

“Charles! For the love of God, please! Tell me what’s wrong, what did the doctor say?”

Charles didn’t look up from pouring his second stein of bourbon. “Don’t ask that question. You can never ask that question. You can’t ask why I’m leaving.”

“Why are you leaving? Does it have to do with the doctor?”

“Hm hm,” Charles hmmed as he got drunk on the drink he drank.

“Are you sick? Charles? Are you sick? What’s…?” Mary waited til Charles finished his stein of bourbon. He looked at his wife through drunk, depressed eyes.

“I’m going to be sick, yes,” Charles said, then proved it by throwing up in the trash can. Even drunk and delirious, Charles still managed to find the most appropriate place to throw up. 

“Honey! My God, are you alright?” Mary feared the worst. She had no idea how bad the worst was.

Charles stood before his wife could lay a hand on him. “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch! We can never touch again!”

Now Mary felt like throwing up. She held it back, screaming, “WOULD YOU BLOODY WELL TELL ME WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID!”

The volume penetrated Charles. He knew he had to tell her. He also knew it would make him sick a second time to actually say the words.

“We’re related.”

“Of course we’re related, we’re married,” wife reminded husband.

“We’re twins.”


“We’re twins.”

“How is that possible? I don’t have a twin. I was an only child, adopted, like you.”

“Exactly. We’re twins.”

“That can’t be.”

“It’s in our genes. Of course we’d be attracted to… oh my God!” Charles dry heaved into the trash can.

Mary stood, completely frozen. “Twins,” was all she could say. It was the same news she had for him. She knew she still loved him, but, all sexual appetite died like the time she learned how much rat shit is in chocolate; she’d never been hungry for chocolate since. She felt nauseous. She wasn’t sure if it was from his news or her morning sickness.

Trigger Finger

Jake hated being a video game character. Jake hated being so two dimensional; he hated being so violent; but, most of all, he hated having no control over his body. Jake was constantly in the hands of anyone from, a psychopathic seven year old, or, some stoned fifty year old playing video games in his mother’s basement.

Jake wished it was the other way around and he had those lives at his command. The first thing he would do would be to have them all put down their guns and missle launchers. He’d keep flying the jets, but, without the bombs. Instead, he’d take them all on scenic tours of the country side. The animators had done an excellent job with the landscape, detailing the desert, and oasis on level five, in more graphic detail than Google Mapquest.

When no one was causing him to shoot up a band of bedouins, Jake would find solace in that oasis, reading books on history. Jake loved reading about peace treaties getting signed. It gave Jake hope, as someone else’s fingers triggered him to shoot his best friend in the back.

“Ah! What’d you do that for, you dick!”

“Gotcha!” the killer squealed. 

Jake’s thoughts scrolled across the bottom of the screen, ‘Kills our best friend for a joke? It’s not a joke to me! You just made me kill my best friend, Gunner!’

“Shit, man, did you type that?”

“No. Did you?” The killer was curious.

“No. How did that get there?”

“It must be a stock answer any time you shoot your best friend in the back,” the killer guessed.

“But, how do they know we’re best friends?”

“It didn’t say we‘re best friends.”


“And we’re not best friends. Jose’s my best friend, you’re second. Come on, reload, I wanna kill you again,” the killer giggled.

“You’re getting it this time, man!” The victim hit replay only to get shot again by his friend. “Let me get set up, man!”

Jake couldn’t take it. ‘Stop making me kill him! You asshole! I’m not over killing him the first time, and already I’m killing him again! Stop making me kill my best friend! Just because you’re a sadistic psycho, doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings! Fuck!’

“Woa! Man! Did you set it up to swear?” The victim pointed at the screen that had scrolled Jake’s thoughts at the bottom, below the image of the victim dead on the ground with a gaping shotgun hole where his chest used to be, making him look like a bloody doughnut.

“Holy shit, it said, ‘fuck!’ No, I didn’t do that. I’ve never seen it do that. Did you set that up?”

“No, wasn’t me. I wouldn’t know how. It’s funny, though.”

“K, come on, get back on line.”

“You’ll just shoot me again.”

“I won’t, not this time, let’s go.”

“Don’t shoot me. Seriously. Joke’s over.” The victim pleaded for his life.

“Ok, let’s play,” the killer grinned. And as soon his friend, the victim, was logged back on, the killer shot him through the head with a bazooka.


“You broke it,” the victim told his killer.

“I didn’t do anything.”

“You killed me too many times. It’s on to you.”

“Log on, let’s play.”

“I can’t play, you keep shooting me in the head with a bazooka.”

“I’ll stop.”

“Please, stop. I wanna play. This is getting stupid.”

“Ok, ok,” the killer said, though, true to his character, he clicked to kill his friend. This time his character, Jake, lay his gun on the ground and walked off screen, straight for the oasis on level five.

The Dirtiest Word

Fuck didn’t feel like a dirty word. Fuck had showered and put on clean clothes. Fuck was only perverted in someone else’s mouth. Fuck never cursed itself. To Fuck, Fuck was simply I or me, depending if Fuck was subject or object in the sentence.

Fuck hated that his name was the second most offensive word in the English language. Fuck was jealous of Nigger. Fuck thought if he had to be considered a dirty word, at least he could stand out as the dirtiest word. Being second sucked. Fuck knew enough about language and culture to know yelling ‘Fuck’ in a crowded theater would get you dirty looks, while yelling, ‘Nigger!’ could get you killed. Fuck thought, if he had to be a ‘bad’ word, he might as well be the worst. Second worst didn’t have the same ring to it.

Fuck heard himself used in vain all the time. It broke Fuck’s heart, though, there was fuck all he could do about it. Fuck hated the term: fuck all. Just like people named Peter never use their name as a verb; you never hear people named Peter say they are, ‘petering out;’ Fuck never said, ‘fuck all’.

Fuck wished people would either make him the Nigger of the language, or, never use him again. Fuck hated the sound of his name in the dirty mouths of strangers.

“Fuck this!”

“Fuck that!”

“Fuck you!”

Fuck heard all the time. It was getting too much to bear. Fuck considered changing his name.

‘Maybe I could change my name to something beautiful, like, ‘Flower’, or, ‘Aurora Borealis,’ he thought, before he reconsidered. ‘No, then they’d start saying them as dirty words.’ Fuck imagined a world where people cursed each other by the name of the Northern Lights.

“Aurora Borealis you, buddy!” He could hear them screaming at each other.

Fuck was everywhere. He was more places than he wanted to be. He heard himself in the voice of four year olds; it was getting to be too much to take.

“Puck you!” He was reincarnated in the mouth of a four year old Korean girl, greeting an American man with the only English word she knew. Fuck blamed the Hollywood machine for pimping out his name so many times that it became as universal as, Ok. Fuck wished for nirvana where he would never return.

‘I’m powerless. I can’t control who and how many use my name in vain. If I did, I’d stop everyone from using my name, except to call me for dinner. “Fuck, dinner!” That I could take. But, I’d give it all up to give it all up. It’s too painful, hearing myself scratched on the backs of throats and eardrums. I’m ugly. The sound of me is ugly, yet, my soul…’

Fuck decided the fastest way to nirvana and nothingness was practising it right here on earth, and for every one who cursed his name, Fuck held his breath and forgave them. Fuck learned to block out his very existence in the sentences of others. Once Fuck learned to block out all sound, he could meditate on the sound of Om and become numb and dumb to the world.

One night after many years, Fuck was gone, only the hollow shell of his name remained. Those who cursed his name, found the sound tasteless. Soon, people found another four letter word to spit at each other. That word was, ‘duck’.

I Smell Burnt Toast

I gave the toast at my niece’s wedding tonight. It went like this:

Jessica invited me to give the toast on marriage and I am a good choice, cause I’m thirty-six and single. I respect the institution too much to enter it. I am sure if I ever set foot in it, they would throw me out, because I have never met someone like they’ve found each other. Tagore said: Each new baby proves that God has not lost faith in humanity. And each new marriage proves humanity hasn’t lost faith in love. A toast to the bride and groom and love. To love!

Then I drank alone, wondering why the wedding suddenly tasted like a funeral.

I Drink Therefore I Write

Sometimes poetry slips into a coma and it can only be conscious in dreams I’ll never remember. I know I know this, but I have no idea how I know I know this. Some things you just know you know and others you think you know. And others, still, you don’t know you know, until you’re drunk and you know you know you’re sounding more and more like Donald Rumsfeld.

But, you know nothing, the wisdom of Socrates, til waking sober to remember nothing of anything you thought you knew. Your only trace to the subconcious is drool on the pillow. Thank God you wrote it all down.

Like the wisdom of W.C. Fields walking into the bar and asking the bartender: “Excuse me, bartender, did you see me come in here last night and put down $20 and drink $2o worth of alcohol?”

Bartender:  Yes sir.

W.C. Fields:  Whew! What a relief! I thought I lost it!

This state, more, this nation of inebriation, emancipates me to write from the depths of this beer-soaked brain, where corpses of dead love float to the surface like the Ganges River, so holy, yet, so dirty. But, like they told me in Varanasi: “If your mind is clean, the river is clean. If your mind is dirty, the river is dirty.”  I must have a very dirty mind, cause, that river looked filthy.

So, where are we? Here, sharing this sentence. Hi! Come here often? It’s my first time in this sentence, too.

Ecstasy and the Chemistry of Love

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“So, what’s it going to be?” The nurse asked him.

Mike had hoped the choice would be clear as soon as he was offered The Cure. It wasn’t, not for Mike, who stood humming the national anthem. The nurse had seen all sorts of reactions to the question. As a professional healthcare provider, Nancy was well-versed in human behaviour, both physical and emotional. Nancy had seen more than one grab The Cure and throw it against the wall. She had had one girl grab her by the throat and try and choke her to death. Good thing Nancy had taken judo classes, and the girl had been the size of a garden gnome.

This boy simply seemed stunned. Nancy got into healthcare because she had compassion. Still, after over twenty years handing out The Cure to thousands of eighteen year olds, her patience frayed.

“Come on, kid, what’s it gonna be? Cure or no Cure? You’ve had your whole life to prepare for this and you still don’t know?”

“I’m waiting for a sign,” Mike mumbled.

“A sign? Here’s a sign: hurry up and do the first thing that pops into your mind.”

The first thing into Mike’s mind was a short story he’d written about this very moment. He had written himself being so much more confident in the story. In the story he had gone for The Cure.

“No cure,” he said.

“Ok, so why are you here?”

“Maybe I want it,” Mike hedged his bets.

“Maybe I want it,” Nancy mimicked. She was a pretty good mimic, she got the tone of his  confusion mixed with fear, with an air of teenage apathy.

Mike, loathe to be mimicked, stepped up and made a decision: “Give me The Cure!” He said with more than a smack of false bravado. He knew he was giving up the chance at being an artist.

“You sure? Maybe you wanna change your mind a couple more times before the people behind you in line come up and strangle you?” Whatever empathy that led Nancy into the field of healthcare, died with every mealy mouthed slacker that came to make the biggest decision of their life without having thought it through. Nancy heard herself snapping at the boy, and thought it best to take a little Empathy to calm down. Nancy punched the prescription up on her wrist-unit, that popped out a pill Nancy then popped into her mouth, and suddenly the kid needed her help. “Are you comfortable with this decision? You should understand The Cure is irreversible. Once taken, you will be Cured forever, or for 150 years, whatever comes first, usually the 150 years.”

Mike had seen her take the pill. “You Cured, right?”

“I did, and I want to help you make the right choice.”

“Are you glad you Cured?”

Having had her imagination scorched by The Cure, Nancy couldn’t imagine any other way. “Yes, I am glad,” she answered automatically.

“Really? You’d recommend it?”

The Empathy was starting to wear off. Nancy, always a professional, popped another hit. “Of course I’d recommend it. You’ll never feel bad again, unless you want to. There’s Bad. There’s Rotten. There’s even Evil, if you want to be Evil, just punch in the prescription on your wrist and, hello! You’re on Evil. You’d be surprised how popular it is.”

Mike wasn’t into Evil. “What about Love?”

Nancy clapped her hands. “A romantic! Of course there’s Love! I’m on Love for so many people all the time. Love is one of the best drugs. Only thing better than Love is Fame. In fact, I’m going to pop some Love for you right now, how bout that? You want Commitment? I could take some of that, too.” Then Nancy swallowed two more pills, Love and Commitment. “Now I’m committed to loving you and everyone else I choose to take these drugs for.” It sold Mike on The Cure.

“Cure me, please,” Mike asked.

“Absolutely,” said nurse Nancy, before handing Mike a tiny white pill. Once in Mike’s hand, he didn’t hesitate to toss it in his mouth.

Mike could feel his brain melt. It was completely painless, though, he could feel every brain cell fizzle and die. A minute later the fizzling stopped. Exhausted, Mike wanted to go to sleep.

“You’re exhausted and you want to go to sleep?” Nancy asked.


“Order up an emotion on your wrist-unit.”


“Any emotion that makes you feel any way you want to feel.”

“I don’t know how I want to feel. I don’t feel anything. I know I should feel confusion, fear, excitement, but all I feel is tired. I can see the mathematical equations that lead me to deduce these are the emotions I should be feeling, but, because I can see them in mathematical terms, I understand them, I don’t feel them.”

“What you’re experiencing is perfectly normal. Let me suggest for your first emotional pill, Acceptance. It’ll make this whole thing easier to accept. You’ll see, go on.”

“I can’t imagine any thing,” Mike said, holding his head in his hands and squeezing. Not a drop of imagination came out.

“You don’t need to imagine any thing,” Nancy tried to soothe, “just take a pill, and let the pill do the work. That’s why those that Cure are never sad. They once made Sad, but, do know how quickly that went off the market? Who popped Sad? Or, they used to make Calvin Klein’s Depression For Men. Do you know how fast that line was discontinued? Who’s going to spray on Depression? No, stick with Happy, and Acceptance, and if you are celebrating, Ecstasy, if you want to go big.”

Mike punched, ‘Acceptance’ into his wrist unit. He threw back the pill and instantly the fatigue gave way to a feeling that everything was just as it should be. All fears of being an artist were airbrushed, like putting lipstick on the Mona Lisa.

Building the Great Wall of China

Xingping loved the mountains, the clouds, the trees, the breeze. The only thing Xingping didn’t love was all the work. Xingping was a man who appreciated that he was alive, so, he looked at life as a benefit, no matter what it brought, but, he didn’t love the work. He merely liked it. He appreciated how strong the work made him, carrying all of those stones up up up the mountain, then run back down to get more more more stones. Xingping loved running, but, this running up and down with rocks was different. There was a different kind of pressure. When running for love, Xingping could feel the air enter and exit his lungs like lovers; but, when it came time to work, the air felt rough and congested.

Still, work was good enough to keep a smile on his face. His coworkers hated him. They thought Xingping was either an asshole or an idiot to be smiling all the time. No one smiles all the time unless they’re a moron. 

Xingping wasn’t a moron, at least not in my eyes. I’m just the writer, so what do I know? Xingping was clever, though, often naive. Sure, Xingping was a top student in every school he entered, but, he would also ask the teacher if there was a war, and his parents were killed, would the teacher be his daddy?

All of Xingping’s academic accolades almost got him killed when his people were taken over by the Huns. The Huns always killed the intellectuals, so, Xingping was smart enough to play it stupid during his time under Hun occupation.

Xingping managed to get his wife and three kids out of Hun occupation, and make it east, to where the Kingdom’s Emperor had begun construction on a wall that was supposed to keep out the Huns. Xingping settled in and quickly found work as a serf carrying rocks from one pile up the mountain and adding them to another pile.

Xingping went from working twenty hours a day, to twenty-two. They had to work harder, the Huns were coming. They were just two provinces away. The increase was just too much for certain serfs, who collapsed and died from exhaustion. Xingping looked at the increased workload as an opportunity to get the wall up and armed in time. Without a wall the size of the one they were building, there was no hope of repelling the Huns. Xingping had already seen their deadly power. He knew they were capable of anything.

A week later and the Huns had overtaken the neighboring province. The wall was close to battle-ready, but it was missing all the cannons. Without the cannons, the Huns could just climb over the wall.  

A week later the wall had all its rocks in place, but, the cannons had still not arrived. The men were armed with nothing more than the arms God gave them. It would be hand to heavy artillery battle with the mighty Huns. Xingping didn’t like the odds. For the first time in his life, he experienced pessimism. It tasted bitter, like sipping coffee without sugar.

Xingping shuddered at the thought of his family being raped and killed by Huns. Xingping couldn’t see a single good thing in that event, and the pessimism grew fangs and bit him in the jugular, sucking out the last of the optimism.

‘I should get home and kill my family, save them from the brutal hands of the Huns,’ Xingping thought, weeping.

Before he could take a single step, Xingping was stopped by Fanfan, who had wonderful news. “The Huns are going around, they’re not coming here.”

“What?” Xingping, who had only seconds before contemplated murdering his entire family, wasn’t sure he’d heard Fanfan right.

“The Huns heard about the wall, think we have cannons and oil, and are going south. We don’t have to fight.”

Xingping knew he’d been spared by a generous God, who taught that sometimes the shadow of the wall is bigger than the wall itself.

The Sound of Three Hands Clapping

“It’s a match.”

“How can you be sure?” Max challenged.

“DNA don’t lie,” Carol smiled. She was doing her best not to give away too much of the excitement bubbling inside her. She felt pregnant.

“But, we can’t be sure it’s his. It could be any one’s.”

“I thought you were my partner here.”

“I was. I am. I’m just shocked that it’s his.”

“We’ve already spent months on this. You said you’d respect the results. It’s time to take the next step.”

“As a Christian…”

“I’m Christian, too, Catholic, so, but, I’m ok with this. Not only am I ok with this, I want to do it.”

“That could mean hell on earth.”

“You were going by a textbook, now you’re going by the Bible?”

“You’re right, you’re right, Carol, I know, but, forgive me, I’m a bit nervous, cause this will be more than our life’s work, this will be everyone’s life’s work, and to hell with false modesty, this could be the most significant work ever, so… forgive me my slight terror at the thought that we are about to set to work cloning God.”

“Let’s get to work.”

Three years later.

“That’s the best you can do?” Carol criticized her co-worker, first laying eyes on his work.

Max had grown immune to Carol’s faults and cracks. It was the very reason he’d suggested splitting the DNA, to work on it separately. It was easier to take her put-downs in phone calls and emails. He respected her enough as a scientist to forgive her obvious need to dominate every moment of every day. He let her have her God Complex. Max learned long ago that it’s easier to let people think they are leading.

“Did you do better?” He asked.

“It looks just like a bonsai tree!” She said incredulously.

“That’s what the DNA is, a bonsai tree.”

“It is God.”

“That’s the DNA that was there.”

“Are you telling me God is a bonsai tree?”

“That’s what the DNA is saying. Didn’t you get a tree?”


“What’d you get?”

“A platypus.”

“Really? God’s a platypus to you?”

“Makes a hell of a lot more sense than a tree.”

“Sure it does. I don’t know what you’re yelling at me for, we worked off the same DNA strand. We got two completely different things. What does that tell you?”

“Nothing! Why does God look like a bonsai tree and a platypus?!” Carol shouted in vain.

Max shrugged. “I don’t know, but, I know I just became a Taoist.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were working on a tree?”

“You never said you were working on a platypus. We agreed not to influence each other.”

“Maybe we should put the tree and the platypus together and see if we get God,” Carol suggested hopefully.

“You want to cross a tree with a platypus?”

“Maybe a tree crossed with a playpus is the secret to life, how do we know?”

“I have a pretty good idea,” Max laughed. This made Carol more determined.

“I’m taking a strand of the tree and a strand from the platypus and I don’t care about you, I’m getting to work!”

“Ok, well, good luck with that. Let’s see how much funding you get for that!”  

“All will be answered with the right question,” Carol said, turning her back on him and tearing a branch off the bonsai tree.

Three years later, Max would be living in an ashram, Carol would have finished cloning a puddle, and the original bonsai tree would be dead.