I’ll admit, I had to read this several times. First–I found the words so very interesting, and Second–I found the images bizarre and captivating, and Third–it was just a cool and wonderful read….
A quote about Street Lab Specimens:
I love how your poems are lyric photographs of people and places and simple humanity that are not cliche in any way. These are not love poems, and yet they are in love with the simplicity of everyday humanity. Every vignette makes me a little bit more at peace with being a human. Thank you for that.
From the wonderfully talented Gwenyth. Thank you.
Phrases Found Fluttering by Interstates and Overpasses
I’ll Do You if You Do Me (2012)
Touch hard, and rule my smile
Laugh electric, and impulse my heart
Knife blades pierce too inhuman low
Guns are the incompetent’s false bravado
Bombs, only the worst jackals use
Teeth, in contrast, they incise deep my anima
Bite true, with tools grown of need,
and you’ll bleed me healthy
Free from earthly animus degrading,
we’ll live beyond the concrete wreck
I’ll chew you, if you chew me
Searching O. Hunt
“Come have at us, we are strong.”
Water-carving sea serpent.
If the two, accidentally entwined during teleportation, say …
What function from this form, unintended, would come?
Would we fear?
Would we worship?
Elephant and Seal,
Subatomic particles mingling meaning and purpose,
To foster atoms and cells,
In splitting become …
O. Hunt has vanished
Screen date on last post,
June 8, 2008.
The infamous photon from Vienna has become a human,
Or just a test group of adventurous forward-thinkers departing June 8, 2008.
Ofelia, are you river floating
Just below the surface,
In a staged pool of light?
From a prince’s abusive madness?
From a controlling, pestering, word-slayer of a father?
Or experimental teleportation?
On the stage.
Every exit …
Candlelight through a scrim …
Is this what we are?
Photon to photon,
Cell to cell,
Information of Ofelia, superluminal, sent to the starry night,
But never sure she’s the same.
How much is held, of us,
In a thing so small?
A river dell?
“Elephant seals negate the tactile universe.”
‘Tis true enough in words, and
As I tap,
Through her pages,
Her posts reveal
Her information has moved beyond atoms and cells,
Mingled with photons, and
Straddled the space of no time.
O. Hunt births still,
She breathes as I breathe
The images come,
Their phenotypes revealed in,
Post after post.
Their truths mutable like her titled Elephant seal,
A saltation in species,
A form beyond a copy,
With function multi-compatible,
Tactile without being touched.
Yet, at the end of the day,
Ofelia is gone.
That single photo,
Staring from her profile page,
A closeup of one eye,
Deep seismic shards of amber,
This is the remainder.
No more than a hint of O. Hunt,
Visible beyond the image border,
Confined in a nutshell.
That single tabular eye,
Always makes me feel, like …
O. Hunt’s Bloodless Coup Realized
are no longer robbed by strangers
while dressed as nuns,
or in masks of dead presidents.
Capers and getaway cars
are now online auction items,
resold at garage sales;
round yellow stickers peeling up
in St. Louis.
all reshaped forms,
blood and marrow,
forget them where they lie.
you don’t need a monocle
banks are robbed
from on high.
And all things with
have an equal
runs a small daycare
in Boise, Idaho.
This is the
from the aether.
floating in white wispy dress
caring for toddlers.
in a devilish profile blurb
at Bear Parade.
A false statement,
if ever one was read in the light,
reveals more than it conceals.
a true statement,
read with a false heart…
Oh, I never wonder anymore –
In St. Louis,
there’s a Safeway store
with perfectly parked
in this case,
And the perfectly parked
“Because one baby is like any other baby”.
mother’s talk about
while polishing their
And those babies
move from the
just to find…
and in find-
of aether and
“runs a small
in Boise, Idaho.”
Then the jest
and leaving an
empty version of
in the bounds of
“How much longer, man, for this Earth? I take some comfort in a dying world.” —Eels, Gone Man
At the place where neighborhoods become countryside and paved city streets disappear into gravel roads our car — stretching spaghetti-like past fields of wheat and grass — lost power and glided to an awkward stop.
Ada’s dad, our frustrated driver and three-time regional MMA champion of Douglas county, grunted while turning the now useless key in the equally useless ignition only to firmly establish, once and for all, that a Ford Mercury does not run on the sun’s energy, unlike the shinny sea of wheat swimming around us.
Three of four doors opened in unison. Heat and a dull dusty breeze met our faces and bare arms. Ada’s pupils dilated as her eyes popped wide open with the excitement of an unexpected moment. She flew from the backseat, feet not fully touching ground, so light and sharp, like a samurai’s blade, to jump and sprint into the field.
Ada’s dad, Thompson, still grunting and mumbling words of annoyed regret for not stopping at the last station, plopped both grown man’s feet hard and flat onto the toasty road surface with the biggest unspoken curse the world has felt since Sir John Lennon saw that fatal muzzle flash in 1981.
I know, time — and writers — often lie.
Thompson’s thin frame did not reach its full potential height as he stood slouching next to his car, pausing for a moment in reluctant harmony with the summer, its heat, and the wheat field’s brave open sense of achievement and continuity. What a waste, he thought, reaching for his phone.
Looking much a miniature Thompson, Quinn, Ada’s younger brother, stepped around next to his dad, shaded his eyes with one lanky white hand, and pronounced Ada the biggest geek in the universe for cartwheeling up clouds of dust.
It was Quinn’s eleventh birthday. And he hadn’t planned on wasting it stuck at the side of the road. Things were to be done. Fun had. Goats and chickens chased. Cakes baked and eaten. And there was a giant, spooky house waiting to be explored. What a waste.
From mid hop, a leap of pure solar energy, Ada laughed dashing and carving through the golden wheat.
“Foster,” she cried. “It’s the best feeling ever. You must touch the wheat.”
“Dad, you didn’t even open Foster’s door. I must push him to the wheat. Heat and wheat,” she peeled.
The man and his smaller reflection, however, remained slouching against the car. One tuned to his voicemail, the other tuned to his usual selective hearing.
“And breezy grass sounds,” Ada made the syllables last forever. “Dad!” She scolded again.
Thompson clapped his phone shut, walked around the Mercury as Ada popped open my door—the rear right passenger side—where I had been waiting patiently. Then, using the key to loose the heavy-sounding trunk lid, I heard him heft my chair and plop it onto the gravel.
The too familiar metallic sounds of folding and locking, like items of utility living our dream of convenience.
And then, with a devilish smile, Ada appeared pushing it right up to my open door. Thompson and Quinn gently lifted me onto the padded seat, in the way of veteran actors preforming a curtain call at a long-running Broadway show—all of the muscle memory and only a quarter of the enthusiasm.
Tow trucks, by ability and name, haul cars that can’t go on their own. Also, if one thinks it through as I have, they could cruise, advertise, start relationships, run errands, drop off kids at school, plus late at night they could sometimes run down the occasional unsuspecting pedestrian after shots at the local bar and, in our case, deliver much needed gas—my imagination flipped these scenarios through my brain like lit up buildings briefly seen from the highway fast lane.
And so our tow hero arrived, dominating the same little road that had conquered the Mercury, and trailed by a tail of living dust, it was a harbinger of my machine phobia, and my machine love affair, so old and firmly routed in the ideal of form from function, it was a perfect beast—to broken cars, what a sheep dog was to scattered sheep.
Its door swung open, steel hinges and the weight of industry. Then, as metal to a magnet, a giant steel-toed visage. Earth-colored boots, mostly concealed by thick canvas trousers the grey hue of lead fishing weights, made contact with the ground reporting a sort of vacuum sealed sound.
Propelled into orbit around Europa, my universal gaze saw:
Ada on the Mercury’s hood, as if in the crow’s nest of a great seafaring ship, striking a watchman’s pose. Thompson back in the driver’s seat, phone pressed to ear. Quinn up the road aways examining a rabbit’s road-killed corpse, poking it with a stick. The tow truck driver emptying a plastic gas can into the Mercury’s tank, eyes sharp and gleaming.
How much longer for this Earth? It is a question I like to think the first pair of curious eyes generated in the first curious mind as they peered at the dark sky above. How much longer before we tear each other apart? It’s legitimate inquiry. There’s the things we all need divided by the fear we all have that someone else’s need is greater than ours and will prove the stronger.
“That’s it. Three gallons,” the tow truck driver said to Ada’s dad. “Get you to Winter’s Hill and back into town for a fill up. Shouldn’t think you’d want to go anywhere else, though, before getting more gas. The Mercury isn’t a light drinker.”
Nor would Ada’s dad be that night. He needed the whiskey. The thought was reflected on his face and in his gaze as Thompson stepped out of the driver’s seat, extending himself to full height this time. Even the tow truck driver could read it clearly. And he smirked slightly, filling the dead air as a few crumpled bills changed hands.
Ada’s breezy wheat grass sounds had stopped. Momentarily. Heat and wheat. Empty breath.
Her watchman’s gaze was distant atop the hood, knees locked back, body tilted forward into the blustery sea air buffeting the ship. Salty lips. Sea of wheat or sea of deep ocean waters, during a self possessing fantasy moment, they are one in the same.
Ada knew fantasy; her world was more of it than actuality. And their thin violet dividing line like a parallax was often only a horizontal figment of brightest shimmer between her eyelashes. Blink twice and she could slip through it. The smell of gasoline fumes and a great vibration from the sudden ignition of the Mercury’s engine and her salty sea with its one-woman ship receded as the tide of reality came in.
Part Two will Appear Soon, Hopefully
The Martyring of Emily Glenn Pt. 1
The neighborhood watch of greater Bull’s End housing development swore that the house was haunted. Their darkling mindset, clearly appealing to a greater mystical power, settled in about the neighborhood.
One resident spoke to another—people talk, who can say why. The details grew with each mouth-to-ear leap, until their spook-and-horror-filled narrative had gained enough energy to transcend alleyways, empty lots, and the other dead places in their sprawling suburban landscape.
Curious folk, who walked by or briefly laid hands on the raw-timber fence surrounding the supposed “first house” of the area, absorbed its menace. Their mutual fear germinated shockwaves of anticipation that spread throughout the conjoined living spaces, condos and apartment homes.
It was at this point, Mr. Goodly Boring—captain of the neighborhood watch—called a mandatory emergency meeting. He had admitted to himself what the others living on his block were attempting to rationalize: Evil had embedded itself in that old house, and so it was up to him to eradicate it.
“My earnest neighbors,” Mr. Boring bellowed, “we are the front line!”
In the community building’s main room, he then waited for everyone to settle down on the hastily placed metal chairs.
Most had skipped dinner to rush over. Sensing this, Mr. Boring had raised both arms, palms down, in the universal gesture of silence. He was a tragedian at heart, or so his ex-wife liked to say at dinner parties. Secretly, he knew it was true. Plus, he took great pleasure in being so.
“Bardic skills,” Boring’s grandmother had told him, were rooted in the necessary twin evils of showmanship and fear mongering.
“We are the front line of this coming war on horror,” he began again, “and possibly our community’s best hope of evading eternal darkness and despair.”
On hearing his words there was a communal jump in blood pressure. Every bit of attention now focused on Boring. The quivering room was his to command.
He continued, “Think first of our children and of future generations of Bull’s End. It is to them we owe our concern. If we fail at this, they will suffer and many will surely die.”
“But what shall be done?” called one indistinguishable voice from the crowd. “Yes, Goodly, what can we do? Tell us.” others of the same ilk joined in.
There was a general resettling of the room, chairs adjusted and looks exchanged.
“Ghouls are at the gates,” Boring replied. “We have precious little time, my fellows, so I’m breaking you into two groups.” And then he ordered, “Group Alpha will be our engagement force. The remainder will fortify the area outside the house.”
Fear-propelled replies of “What’s this?” and “How’s that?” ricocheted as Mr. Goodly Boring stubbornly set about arranging his neighbors into groups. They didn’t need to like or even understand his orders to follow them, and they would follow them, no matter what.
Here ends part one
The Martyring of Emily Glenn Pt. 2
A glistening, blood-tinted moon had risen above the towering house, affirming its haunted status to the forces of the neighborhood watch. Mr. Goodly Boring tensed his stoically firm ocular muscles, and the moon burst into shards of brilliance in response to his gaze.
It was not there to aid them, he thought. It was only lingering to mock them with its deception of light. He knew it was nothing more than a cosmically dark ball of dead earth, its kinship with life exhausted.
The moon, stars and planets held nothing for him, and he said so aloud:
“These orbiting bodies hold nothing for us. Dark or light, we fight until the last man can no longer drag his blood-covered, limbless corpse into the breach!”
Shockwaves of fear and excitement caused intense chatter.
Then, above the din of everyone, Boring roared, “Engage now to defend our streets and homes from the poltergeists within!” He raised his arms defiantly, stampeding his juiced neighbors toward the house, as the Visigoths did to Rome.
The front door to this quiet, unaware and unguarded house opened as Boring’s phalanx broke violently over the threshold of its porch. There stood the awestruck Mrs. Emily Glenn, an 89-year-old housebound widow, who was about to let her cats inside for the night.
Even as Mr. Goodly Boring saw the horrifying light of his mistake, neighbor after neighbor punched, kicked and tore at Mrs. Glenn in the fashion of civilized people who are overcome by group-rage.
Glenn’s weakness, and the fact that she did not fight back, only spurred the vengeful mob deeper into bloodlust and frenzy. Limbs, blood, and innards of this one small human body spurted and gushed, exponentially increasing as one neighbor began to tear at the next until it resembled a child’s game of backyard tag gone horribly wrong.
Statue-like, off to one side, Boring stared with hollow, droopy eyes no longer stoic or firm. What he must have been thinking or would have said at the next neighborhood watch meeting, none can report. His comatose body resides in the overgrown shrubs.
And now, as the shades of blood, brain, and viscera still tattoo the bones of the decaying porch and door, even the rumors seem to swallow themselves up whole for not a single person walked away from the haunted house that night. Nor has any brave soul dared approach it since. It stands as a monument to the ugliness of conformity and to one dearly departed Emily Glenn, founder of Bull’s End. RIP.