The Slick

Posted: February 11, 2016 in Fiction

Kurt felt good and cool and simple in maple tree shade as the grass drooped whichever way the gentle breeze willed it too. His once blond dreadlocks were fading to silver. His arms and legs had only a little more girth than bone, resembling chopsticks with pink skin hanging off of them. And the whites of his eyes were as blond as his hair used to be, but only with thin, thread-like veins of red resting in their corners. Next to him, was a cooler full of iced beer.  “Did anyone ever tell you teenaged adolescent pukes about the Slick?” He said to the three neighborhood boys. “Of course you haven’t, you kids got no sense of culture. No sense of tradition.”

Rob opened the cooler and passed a beer to his two friends, Bill and Jason who were each sitting on their skateboards. Their elbows sat on top of scuffed up knees. Rob preferred to stand.

“This was back in the 60s and the 70s. It wasn’t like the X-men nowadays. Back then, comics meant something. They had something to say. Nowadays, you crack open a comic, and there ain’t hardly any words. Most of the characters ain’t worth a shit either. Who can really relate to Captain America. No soul. Flat. You know that he’s gonna save the world and he always saves the world. Boring.”

“I don’t know. The new Avengers movie was pretty awesome,” Bill retorted.

“Yah, I’m going to see it again next weekend,” Jason eagerly added.

“I’ll wait for it to come out on video,” said Kurt.

“Uh, you mean DVD,” corrected Jason.

“Yah, sure. Whatever,” he answered, putting his hand in the cooler. The ice was getting watery. The beer was running low too. Pretty soon, he thought, he’d have to go back in the house for some more. His small, yellow house with chipped paint. “You kids want to know who deserves to have a movie made about them?”

“Who?”

“The Slick, that’s who.”

“Who the fuck’s that?” said Rob.

“Yah. Who the fuck’s that?”

“Jason, shut the fuck up.”

“The Slick appeared in a couple of issues of X-men back in the late 60s. I think Stan Lee was doing the writing then.”

The kids just stood there and listened. They had heard Stan Lee’s name before, but couldn’t quite place it. None of them cared to admit that fact. Rob let out a large burp.

“He had the power to shoot K-Y Jelly out of his fists kinda like the way the Silver Surfer could make cosmic energy shoot out of his hands,” Kurt continued, “and he could make himself real slippery so if anybody ever grabbed him or had him in a headlock, he could slide right of it with no problem. And if somebody tried to shoot him, the bullets just slid right off him. Now you tell me, is that cool or is that cool?”

“What kind of super power is that?” asked Rob suspiciously. And for a few seconds, all that was heard was the sound of prepubescent boys sipping beer. The old man shot a half-inebriated glare at Rob.

“For starters, it’s the kind of power that makes it easy to jack off, which I’m pretty sure would be useful to you,” returned the old hippie. Jason and Bill laughed. Rob couldn’t think of anything clever to say, so he said ‘fuck you’ instead.

“Yah, yah, yah. Well anyhow, the storyline wasn’t anything too creative. Basically, Magneto and his army of mutants had taken over the world, and enslaved the humans. It was up to the X-men to save the day… you know. Cyclops would try to pump up the other X-men and say in a really pompous way, ‘Show no mercy X-men, for there are beings in there that would feast on the human soul itself,’ and all the other X-men went for it—all except Slick. Slick said, ‘What’s the point? If they want to run the world so damn bad, then let them. They can’t make the world any worse for us than the humans who’re always trying to put us in cages.’ And Cyclops would say something like ‘Because it’s the right thing to do.’”

“So what happened next?” asked Rob.

“Well, the X-men listened to Cyclops, and they defeated Magneto and his minions and put the humans back in charge. And out of gratitude, the humans kept persecuting them.”

“That sounds pretty lame,” said Rob as he was taking the last gulp of beer. Jason and Bill agreed that that story totally sucked.

“Well, that’s the world for you,” answered the old man.

“What happened to the Slick after that?” asked Bill.

“After that, the Slick was never seen in the pages of X-men. But he did make an appearance in the Fantastic Four. It was the one in which they were confronted with the planet-eating giant, Galactus. Mr. Fantastic placated Galactus by offering him a gift of the Slick and his powers of lubrication. And he hasn’t made another appearance since.”

“No way Mr. Fantastic would ever do that,” Bill pointed out.

“No, Mr. Fantastic would never do anything like that to somebody against their will, but in this case the Slick volunteered himself.”

“That doesn’t sound like something he’d do,” said Rob.

“Yeah. It’s pretty out of character for him, I gotta admit,” said Kurt, opening a new can of beer.

“That’s pretty messed up.”

“Well, I guess you have to look at it from Galactus’s point of view… after all, it must get pretty lonesome in space.”

* Originally published online in Zygote In My Coffee #140, January 2013.

A Letter to Franz Kafka

Posted: December 20, 2015 in Poetry

I’m not going to say that it wasn’t
A fucked up thing for Gregor Samsa
To suddenly wake up as a cockroach
But I still say that it would’ve been
Even more traumatic for a cockroach
To suddenly wake up as a human

Sure his fiancé left him
Sure he lost his job
Sure his family was happy when he was dead
But it was good that he found out who’s who
And that all is conditional

The roach knows what’s what
That existence is
A delicate balance of
Cooperation and competition
That sentiments
Do you about as much good
As a busted leg

And it knows better
To stay away
That the light of lies
Can’t penetrate the darkness
Under the refrigerator
That the stink
And corruption of
Institutions
Can’t find it
In the walls
That the roach motel
Or death by suffocating poison
Sure the hell beats
Consciousness that cripples

Once the roach becomes man
Where does it hide?
Two legs aren’t as good as six
And it isn’t used to being
Such a big target

* Originally published in Deuce Coupe, March 24, 2010

Barely the Minority?

Posted: December 16, 2015 in Poetry

They’ll watch tv like blind dogs…
Buy lottery tickets
Listen to the same old songs
And bitch about taxes under
The compulsion of stingy despair and piss
Away their coins in slot machines
As they piss themselves
Bitter
Yet enjoying their bitterness.
Hopeless
Yet functioning despite their hopelessness.
Absurd
Yet unaware of their absurdity.
Deranged
Yet seeing dignity and entitlement in it.
Ignorant
Yet proud of their ignorance…
Finding comfort
In the certitude
That only half-ass religion and
Patriotism can bring…. On Sundays
It gets them a 25 percent discount
Off of the privilege
Of a personal relationship
With the savior.
On some days it’s something
That they don’t even think about.
And on other days, it’s the only
Thing that sustains them
As they patiently wait
For their compensation at the end of days.
This isn’t a town somewhere.
This isn’t a city somewhere.
These are a multitude of lonely enclaves
Of humanity
Barely the minority
Yet
A cheap
And a reliable source of
Renewable destruction
For everyone and everything else.

* originally published in Haggard and Halloo, August 31, 2009

Hamid from Egypt

Posted: December 12, 2015 in Poetry

In the back stockroom
Of the downtown Safeway,
I worked with an old man named Hamid.
He was a PhD in history who
Was forced to flee
His own country.

We weren’t alone.
There were the cockroaches,
And the mice, and some gnats.

And there were lines
And lines of
Destitutes.

Of homeless people
With forsaken brows
And furled beards.

Of bag ladies
Without illusion, hope
Or femininity.

Of trendy yuppies
Who were overpaid
And smug.

Of gutter punks
Dirty, stinking,
And unapologetic
Or hip kids
Posing
As gutter punks.

Of party-time college boys
Looking to drink,
Fuck and spawn.

Me and Hamid saw it all.
The working types. The artsy types.
The hippie types. The average types.
The druggie types.

We put the cans in large
Plastic bags. The bottles were a bit
More difficult, because they came in different
Shapes and sizes. We sorted and stacked
Them on pallet boards
Like slaves
Building a pyramid.

* Originally posted on Haggard and Halloo July 12, 2009

Insect Freedom

Posted: November 18, 2015 in Poetry

When Joe Cloyd
Woke up
One morning

He found
Himself
Transformed

Into a
Cockroach

He didn’t panic
He didn’t despair

He looked
To his right
To his wife
Who was
Sleeping
And slowly
Scuttled
Out of bed

He then went
In his
Daughter’s room
To look in
On her
But the crib
Was too high

But he could
Smell her
And she was
Doing fine

So he headed
For the
Front door
And was never
Seen again

When it hit
The papers
He was
Talked about
By old women
Who never
Even knew
Him

The old women
Despised him
For turning
Into a
Cockroach
Because they had
Nothing better
To talk
About

That
Joe Cloyd is
Slime, I
Don’t care what
Anyone says,
Declared one of
The old women
At the bingo hall

Yah, turning into
A cockroach is
No excuse, another
Interjected,
My sweet Bill
Turned into a
Cockroach years
Ago and we’ve
Been happy ever
Since

But their
Cockroach husbands
Who were at home
Understood

* Originally posted on Clutching at Straws February 17, 2010

A rough life on four legs

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

On the block over from the pioneer square
just opposite the meyer and franks sit
the gutter punks
and their dogs.

It’s the dogs that get me. I know I should
feel bad for the kids
but that’s not why I give them a few bucks.

They sit in the shade obediently. The lease
is slack. Only a few feet away are the
food carts.

Autumn is halfway through. And
MEAT AND RICE AND BEANS NOT HERE OVER THERE

Their bellies are gone and their
tongues are tired

MEAT AND RICE AND BEANS NOT HERE OVER THERE

Some guy gives you a brochure
about the GOOD NEWS
and keeps walking.

They sit there as if they know all
about it
but how could they with all that
MEAT AND RICE AND BEANS NOT HERE OVER THERE

I don’t see jesus
descending from the heavens
with a can
of ALPO

all

I see are the nicotine stained
fingers of children
holding tight to
a leash

Shut the door and come in

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Poetry

Life is a series of doors
that you open once and then close forever.

No wonder all these old people
are bitter—envious and hateful of youth.

No wonder they suck on the flag
with their hand over their heart
and their finger up their ass.

It’s hard to imagine that all these old people
were young once, but they were—

these timid haters of children—

so dried up that not even viagra-laced veal
with a side
of cealus caesar salad
can make their pricks

burn again.

I like that you paint. I like that you’re not one
of them. I like that you like the sound of me
playing the bass

that thumps out color
(I do my best)
as we try
to make up our own key.

* Originally published in Citizens for Decent Literature #4, September 22, 2012