A stranger approached me at a bar one night and invited me downstairs. The only furniture in the room was a chair and a table. I sat on the table. “Take off your shirt,” he said, and I did, but it wasn’t enough. There was another room and another chair and table. I spied a wall of books, thick volumes of fiction and myth. Somewhere between Cyrano and Decameron there was an empty space the width of a novel. I slipped my finger between the spines and peered into what looked to be another room, this one with no floor or ceiling, circular in shape. Shelves carved into the walls. They looked to be filled with books, but like oil-slick rainbows the volumes vanished with a tilt of the head. I was at the bar and a stranger invited me upstairs. There was a rope and a ladder and a periscope. I saw animals in the air and plants unmoored by crumbling sediment. I closed my eyes and fell into a corner and when I woke up I was surrounded by strange figures on whose dime I’d tempted fate, all black with black faces and mittens. The sound of human fingers scratching away inside those paws made me dizzy and that’s how I wound up here.
Once upon a time I looked for exit signs like fixating on burn marks to learn how to stoke a fire.
I stopped writing when I caught sight of an end leering at me from the mountains. When I raise my eyes to those spooky vistas and feel, not passion burning, but dread — that’s when I’ll know it’s safe for the story to begin.
and more web stuff
I wrote an article for The Toolbox on how web accessibility — i.e., the extent to which anybody can use the Internet, a term typically used in the context of people with disabilities — is a great thing for the Internet overall.
If you’re interested, you can take a gander here: Why Web Accessibility For Everyone Is Vital For Business.
I might try—hard—if you asked me to describe it.
You’re a new kind of familiar, first, and second you’re just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I inverted my magic bag to show you all the nothing that’s there. One more look from you and I’d confess I started with nothing, never added to it. No tricks up my sleeve—no needles in my haystack. No cat, all bag. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Didn’t you do that because you already knew that? Ask me to describe these things, I mean. Because you knew what might happen if you found the words.
I wrote a note for a love song and in a pinch I disappeared, matching the sudden ecstasy of something new with the protracted ecstasy of realizing that it was all you. So I sprang from your fingers and I slipped back in a pinch. I’m a new kind of familiar, first, and second I’m just new, and third, I’ve run out of tricks. I’m still here spinning tales with my toes like walking in circles to describe it, I’m waiting for the story to whip its lash at my feet again.
command piece VIII
Imagine for me
A basement. Its only light source illuminates a thickness of dust on the walls. It needs to be cleaned. You resign yourself to scrubbing the ceiling, polishing the walls and furniture, mopping the floor. It’ll take a while. On the main floor they’re having fun without you.
You see the opening to a trap door at the ceiling’s right hand corner, just large enough for a man to fit through, but not so large he’d hit his head on the beams. You secretly hope that someone from upstairs will fall through.
After a while you tire of cleaning and decide to play a trick on the guests. You rise through the trap door with your body draped in a white sheet. Instead of appearing in the living room, however, you find yourself in a different space altogether. It’s much larger than that room; its ceilings are twice as high. It seems to extend at least four times as far lengthwise as did the room of the house you were in beforehand, but since you can’t see the end, you can’t be certain of it. You’re not in your white sheet anymore.
Wooden thrones line the walls of this room and a red carpet bisects it lengthwise. This carpet is so narrow that two people couldn’t fit side-by-side on it. A clock reading four hangs from the ceiling. You begin to follow the carpet with the intention of finding the end of the room.
In a matter of time, you pass another clock showing six. “A long carpet,” you think to yourself, and keep walking.
And after some more time, another. Seven. “A very long carpet,” you think. You wonder how many more clocks you’ll pass before you find the end. Eight comes without incident; nine and ten make you anxious.
At twelve, you find the biggest throne: the building’s end. A king in ermine furs reclines into it in such a way that you have a difficult time discerning where the chair’s upholstery ends and the king begins. Before you introduce yourself, the king says
We brought you here because you’re a knight
we have a mission for you.
Ask the king where where you are?
Introduce yourself by your proper name?
Shoot the king?
Presume the living room’s taken on a particularly good decoration?
"I don’t know what the nature of the universe is, but I have a good ear."
all of my songs
in a logical order
in downloadable form.
She told me the story of my first kiss.
A chessboard, mostly free of pieces except for a few pawns that towered over our heads, a fallen bishop. I on the queen’s spot at one end and he on the king’s at the other. We were worried we’d fall over the edge. The air was warm but I was shivering.
He crosses the chessboard, stepping only on the white squares to deliver it. I closed my eyes when I knew and I fell, couldn’t stop myself. I opened my eyes and had to wonder whether it really happened. My anticipation might have made it so that I couldn’t tell the difference. Since there’s no way of knowing, I figured, I’d assume it to be true. I closed my eyes again.
A chessboard, mostly free of pieces but a few fat rooks that seemed to take up more space than was afforded them by their square. My hands fastened behind my back to a ball and chain that looped around the base of the centermost rook. He was perched on top of it like a gargoyle and jumped down to deliver the kiss, but he twisted his ankle in the process. So I dragged my ball and chain over to where he lay, unable to walk, brushed a lock of hair from his forehead and placed it there.
A chessboard, mostly free of pieces but a knight and a pawn that were mismatched in shape and design. I folded the game board and replaced it in its box and put the box in the closet, but in just a few moments I became restless and removed it. This set is full of mispaired pieces. He is on the pawn’s square one left from the diagonal of the bishop and his face is expressionless, as one might imagine a pawn would look if they were human.
This kiss I can’t remember, exactly, only that it thawed his expression and we woke up out of the kiss-state on our backs in the middle of the board with most of the pieces toppled over. That’s how I know it happened. He of the sloping eyes and thick tongue and fingers made more pliable by my affection.
I wrote it after she told me the story to make sure his fingers stay supple, so he can hold these words and the page before him to remember the story. To make sure the blood flows.