Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

171. Nightscript no. } III.



Jessica Phelps’ second effort in my fiction workshop was a draft of “The Witch House”—I knew, with little work, her story was publishable. Phelps’ voice is full of wit—“My aunt is a witch. Well, she was. Now she’s just dead.” What’s wholly unexpected is just how upsetting the story becomes.

Read it in Nightscript, the journal that proved me right. “The Witch House” is the second short story Phelps ever wrote and the first she’s published. I hope best ofs take note, and editors, too—she’s working on stories three, four, and etc.—call for them now! I only hope to ride the coattails of my protégé. And, indeed—

a story of mine, “The Beasts Are Sleep,” appears in the same issue. My story introduces a character, Laura, who features in the novel I’m currently—slowly—writing. The story’s a slasher—teenagers, woods, ridiculous amounts of murder. I’m not sure how it fits in with the issue, but I’m glad editor C. M. Muller found a place for it.

Nightscript no. 3—or III, as it’s styled—includes a bunch of authors who’ve written stories I like. Clint Smith, John Howard, and David Surface; there’s quite a few authors I didn’t know. I’m impressed with Rebecca J. Allred’s tale “When Dark-Eyed Ophelia Sings.” It’s fantasy (a romance), and I don’t particularly like fantasy, but it’s really good. Vivid. Unresolved. I dig it.

Okay. So. Nightscript is a great looking annual journal with a Munch fetish “featuring tales by some of the finest contemporary scribes.” What’s not to like?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

169. Ever dream of a life } of romantic adventure?





With a tiny brush, I am filling in every dimple on the office wall with black paint. And I’m listening to Escape, a CBS radio drama broadcast between 1947 – ‘54. Among the episodes are weird gems. 

This Halloween, when you come home from work, take off your hat, step out of your loafers, mix yourself a dark and stormy and listen to the following until you either a) are eaten by piranha, b) asphyxiated by a boa constrictor, or c) swarmed over by thousands of rats:

“Pollock and the Porroh Man”; based on the story by H.G. Wells, about a cursed racist.

“Casting the Runes”; based on the story by M. R. James. About the importance of properly filing your paperwork.

“How Love Came to Professor Guilda”; based on the story by Robert Hitchens. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. A Catholic priest and an atheist become fast friends—a story set-up I love. The horror in the tale reminds me slightly of “The Thing On the Fourble Board”—maybe the greatest episode of Quiet, Please, a series broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System from ’47 – ’49. But it’s quite different. Vanishing Point, a Canadian radio series, also did an excellent production of “How Love Came…” in 1984.

“The Grove of Ashtaroth”; based on a story by John Buchan. An ancient goddess meets proper Scottish Christians in an Edenic, South American grove.

“Three Skeleton Key”; based on a story by George G. Toudouze. Lighthouse keeping is not easy. First adapted for Escape, then for the radio series Suspense.

“Evening Primrose”; based on a story by John Collier. There’s a terrific New York Review of Books edition of Collier’s stories I’d recommend—Fancies and Goodnights (although the glue that bound my copy failed, the stories hold up).

“Blood Bath”; written by David Poe for the series. It is what it is, man—everybody gets eaten alive.

“The Dark Wall”; written by Katherine Hite. The titular wall as a structure in the mind—a house in the middle of nowhere.

“The Birds”; based on a story by Daphne Du Murier. Maybe you know this one. But maybe not. Du Murier’s story is very different from Hitchcock’s (wonderful) film; Escape’s production hews close to the original.

Once I finish painting the office wall black, I intend to step through it. Anywhere but here, friend.

Monday, October 16, 2017

168. Bunny & } Bear.


Bunny: Why are you not talking to me?
Bear: Baby sisters.
Bunny: Look, they’re [inaudible].
Bear: She’s yelling for her baby sisters!
Bunny: Sisters! Come back here!
Bear: I’m holding them for a very long time.
Bunny: That’s my cat!
Bear: Maybe you should [inaudible].
Bunny: I want to have a toy. I want to hug you.
Bear: No. That’s Bear’s.
Bunny: I see my bunny rabbits! Come here! on the slide!



[ composed circa Feb. 2010 w/ the eldest. ]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

167. Fire walk } with me.


Blue &—beneath—black patches shift. Ovoid small screen. “The glad hand.” No! Elle & me. At the Nickelodeon. She warned me— “Adam. I will let you down.” Elle told me about the bad memories her therapist reclaimed. A television set. Same as the televisions we watched at home.

While Elle turned a chrome clothes rack at Filene's Basement she asked me, “Do you know what we’re here for? I need to buy a dress. For tonight.” Elle was my date to the semi-formal dance.

On either side of the screen were dark curtains. “He’s getting to know me.” Every lost page made Elle tremble. We were alone in the theater & a man in the front row who wavered. “There are pages torn out that is real….” We were afraid.

Elle told me about her beautiful twin cousins. She didn’t want me to meet them because “Adam, you will fall in love with them.” Her cousins screamed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Quit trying to hold on so tight.” Elle’s older brother was a filmmaker. He recut, on video tapes, When A Stranger Calls (’79). What he left was all terror.

Behind the screen was a hall. The only light red “Exit.” Credits rolled & the man from the front row stood. Elle whispered, “My boyfriend is t-r-o-u-b-l-e.” He wasn't a warning, he was the truth. We couldn’t open the door to leave the theater.

We held each other. Elle put on the dress she bought with me earlier, she dressed in the bathroom at my high school. We stowed her street clothes in my locker where she would forget them. We danced in the gymnasium. No one knew Elle & no one spoke. “Are you my best friend?” She had to go home.

Our own houses frighten us. We walk warily through. Hide when we see our parents. My bedroom walls were pure white, lit white with fluorescent lights mounted on the walls. “I’m your friend always.” My dark suit over the back of my desk chair. Growled from my cassette deck: “the black dog runs at night / the black dog runs at night / the black dog runs at night.”

Elle was in a booth at her hometown Friendlies. She wore her new dress and the blue corsage I pinned above her breast. Her boyfriend arrived. He was a piece of shit. I climbed out my bedroom window & wandered my dumb empty town. Listened to the signal box click loud. Dark caught up in the leaves. Change from green to yellow to red.


[ Photo: Lottie doll blue velvet outfit set, courtesy of Lottie Dolls Outfits Pinterest page. ]

Monday, September 18, 2017

166. Klink prompt } Dec. 2003.


“Titles of the next five books of poetry you plan to read,” asked poet Joanna Klink (511 – 01 Special Topics: Description). I wrote,

Standing Wave by John Taggart; After Calculus by Craig Watson; School of Udhra by Nathaniel Mackey; maybe Eunoia by Christian Bok; maybe Watchfulness by Peter O’Leary; maybe My Life in the Nineties and/or The Fatalist by Lyn Hejinian and maybe Tis of Thee by Fanny Howe. Though talking about Cole Swenson whetted my appetite for Such Rich Hour, which has languished on my shelf for a couple years (in part because I fantasize reading it and Très Riches Heures simultaneously). I’m also interested in reading some more by Myung Mi Kim, who wrote the wonderful Dura. And then, there’s The Maximus Poems, Pound’s Cantos… all competing with fiction and non-fiction that MUST BE READ. 
Therefore, none of it will ever be read. By anyone.

I ask, has anyone read any of these books?

If I told you I read Standing WaveAfter CalculusEunoia, and Watchfulness—would you believe me? That School of Udhra is full of my notes, kept on a table in the basement where I read it when I fold laundry? Life, yes. Tis, no.That Such Rich Hour is the only book by Cole Swenson I haven’t read? Have I read more Myung Mi Kim? Is there The Maximus Poems? What about “…September is end of thunder / The hibernants go into their caves?” Would you believe me if I told you there’s no fiction or non-fiction that “must be read”?

Why should you?