Walk downhill from atop West Cliff
Ameliorate there, drink the misty champagne wind.
Waves slaps her coasts there - they whop, slash, recurl.
Get smart, she screams - Get smart or get gone. I won't leave.
You'll have to fire me like the rest of them, love.
Some foul-aired jackal gnaws at my bones
sucks the marrow canal dry, leaves guts for the buzzards
but enough is left to cook a fine meal for them.
Do you sing eves
When glass is dry
And vinyl crackles?
I sing a name unspoken
- only sung, you see.
Only liars sing it
Only liars and me.
Her name’s April
Lives in a valley where
Desert wind thickens, rises
Leaves little room for breathing and air
And carries an everpresent ethanol tinge...
Where skies scream lowly and lowlights dim
The center of the Central Valley.
And she blooms there like some
Enchanted quillwork goddess
With clouds of elegance and
Vapor as she whisks by.
April comes like the moon
Leaves you with the sky -
Violet, sparkling and
Yellow fire skin.
April is enough to make
Young men die
And dying men win.
Whenever I feel, hear,
or see a thing and recall you
I sort of hack, cough, and spit.
Then I shake my head violently so
it feels like my brain is knocking against
the inner walls of the skull. All this to avoid
weeping. I also wonder how it could have all
been in those days, back then--wonder how I
looked into those big brown bulbs and saw love
when there was something more akin to murder and
indifference much of the time. You've said it yourself.
There have been many demons crawling around me in my
sleep and I suddenly wish that you had been around to smell the
many layers of putrid rotting flesh in the night. A lot of the smell
is something like the pheremone-infested cloud in the depths between
your fat thighs after a long workout. I enjoyed the smell. It's not really there
in the nights, though. And the demons: They aren't real, so they are also not there.
They are as not-there as you are.
34th and Winchester
The wall of brick left of Colton's stride as he skulked into the alley off 34th and Winchester had been scrawled upon with a round cartoonish graffiti face in red spray brighter than the rustic adobe beneath it. It was mocking him. With its sneer, snap-back ball-cap, and slack-jaw under lazy eyes that gazed at half-mast which were dilated and stoned, it levitated there on the wall like a jovial specter. Colton was tempted to stop there, to admire the mocker, the attention to detail, the seamlessness of its color. Even at a glance, the viewer sensed no hint of brick-red or cement-gray underneath the strict bright coating of spray that constituted the floating, somewhat ovular attempt at a circle.
Colton was watched, though.
From the faraway middle of the long alley, at a steel drum fire near dumpsters where now obscure figures congregated under the cloudy moon near the back exit of a pasta spot, he was keenly scrutinized, watched, judged, sized-up by eighteen eyeballs. They expected him.
Colton attempted several times to lift his head as he made his way down this infamous alley; to walk tall with each step toward the fire as he was directed to; to conceal the fear dripping from every pore; to control each nerve-wrecking wheeze that escaped his concave scrawny chest into the cold night air. But each breath puffed more loudly as he neared that firelight--the only direct light existing now in the abyss of the alley besides the foggy moonlight that shone down sparingly beneath the overcasting layer of filthy acid rain clouds.
The wet street dirt crunched crisply beneath his squeaking Doc Martens with each trudge that grew steadily slower as he approached, like a heart attempting at steady slumber. His coming was anticipated but each fireside figure spared no caution. Colton gripped cold black steel hanging from beneath his left jacket flap as he approached, removed the safety, gained a better view of heads alit by the firelight as he gradually came close enough to discern. He marched forward ungainly now; unintentionally uncouth to his advantage. He was a mad figure stalking like a fiend in the night to those looking on; a more terrifying sight than he had intended.
The cloak-like duster that billowed over his scrawny frame in the light evening wind embellished Colton's figure; made him more like a hellish reaper than a tradesman from the shadows. But that's what he was: A man coming to make a trade, a man alone. There had been rumors of this kid with the big jacket and the boyish face and the Gospel-true kill-shot and the old-timey Civil War era custom-hewn Reminger six-gun that he fired louder than thunder and as quick as lighting. The rumors were loud and thick in the streets. "Crosshatch" they were calling him. Apparently, no one had known his name because he lived in a different city and only did business in Baureng. The man at the front of the drum-fire, closest to the approaching Crosshatch, didn't have his hand on his pistol but stood calmly, openly, with an upturned scowl as Crosshatch approached. He had done his research. He never conducted a transaction like this without knowing as many ins and outs about those involved as he possibly could. He knew his name. His name was Colton Kimsley.
"Crosshatch Colton" the front man said quietly to himself after a deep drag from a cigarette that he had spent 'all goddamned day trying to find', he had earlier vented to his coworkers. 'They hardly sell a shit's worth of quality tobacco in this town, let me tell you.'
These eighteen eyeballs had seen their share of cutthroat but small time drug pushers with a lot of bullshit preceding them. The trumped-up small timers were like famous rappers: lots of talk, lots and lots of talk. And lots of talk began to happen for them after awhile--besides the talk they were talking themselves--if they stayed alive in this game long enough. If you do one or two "bad-ass" things (the front man knew), even surprising yourself by doing them, you set yourself apart a bit. Then people get to talking and the talking spreads faster than gonorrhea had spread in this nick of the woods according to the news reports. It spread like wildfire. People loved to make street legends out of small timers because it made good talking points. It gave people a purported street cred to say they had done business with a sort of "Crosshatch Colton" like "Pistol Pete", "Pappy Mason"--a modern-day Bill the Kid for the urbanite professional criminals in Baureng.
Each party to the trade anticipated a beat, a deal gone bad, just from the vibe emitting from Crosshatch--this skulking stranger in the dark that approached them. They exchanged glances among themselves and drew nearer. The front man sensed it, finally removed the cigarette he perpetually tufted as he watched the boy approach from what felt as miles away and demanded something of him.
"Steady, lad" his lilting but fearless voice broke firmly through the increasingly cold air. It was an Irishman called O'Neal, the front man. Colton could see that beneath his sharp-cut scruffy chin crawled a black swastika crookedly up his face, almost reaching the bottom of his left ear as he faced Colton's cloaked figure which finally emerged into the firelight from the edge of the alley. O'Neal then took another drag from a half-smoked and barely lit Turkish Royale standing closest to the barrel-fire, so as to be seen most clearly among the nine men with guns discreetly drawn. Colton had long-noticed they were drawn by now, and kept his hand beneath his jacket, a bold and almost insulting move.
O'Neal was clearly less tense than the other eight, didn't have a finger near the Desert Eagle sticking up from the right side of his wear-worn, low-cut True Religions. Colton could sense the metallic symmetrical bulge the gun made at O'Neal's hip by the light of the fire. Colton contemplated for a moment whether or not he meant this pistol to be passively detected by anyone that stood before him and he decided that he did. Colton would later see that it had been customized at the barrel with an etching of the Iron Cross, had high-grade bullets that outclassed the weapons of the gun-show customers that guarded him. The safety latch had been also customarily removed by a machinist that specialized in guns. O'Neal rarely used the gun these days and even less rarely required the safety latch, but was surgically accurate when he did wield it. This was a reputation he developed through no word-of-mouth effort other than the words of the mouth of his gun.
Author's note: This story goes on for a few more pages but I have already transcribed a lot here from the original manuscript. It's a small sample of my style and the breadth of content that I have saved up. This particular excerpt is from a completed chapter of an incomplete novella I'm developing. I hope you have enjoyed it. Contact me if you're interested in my work through Prose or, more preferably, at email@example.com. Thank you!
Today I watched a man become the ruler of the world.
With legions at his whim marching before him,
He looked on with a dismal and faraway gaze
Winking and shooting index shots like J. Wayne amid a spastic bramble of snapshots.
Those that preceded him, trembling and scoffing at the power he'd yield
As the torch was passed. They looked on as if beholding
A funeral pyre,
The forward-marching flag burning to the sound of great applause -
Mass oblivion and delusion.
This town has a tricky way of swallowing up the malcontent, of accommodating the outcries with just enough bullshit until they lie down quietly.
I've let go of many dreams that have died in the toxic wind blowing through the aching
trees and many are clasping with brittle frayed fingers to what's left
inside the callouses that are layered over and over.
The rest of us are meandering around soulless
trudging knee-deep in feeble attempts at reaching the golden strand
or some violent lover
looking for her daddy
packed with the baggage in her purse
or a bar-stool saint
ready to roll the dice of hell
in a foul bramble of heathens and choir singers
beneath the dead leaves and black streets.
I want to sing a song to Oil City
I want to stand on the edge of the highest parapet or bell tower and caw like a crooning devil--a demon with the voice from above
"You old bitch! You pit of traitors and deserters! You glorious fray of bastards, whores, and vagabonds slithering through a miserable pit of tarred air and bar-backs. Whatever gave you the right, Oil City?"
Visceral battle cries from Earth-Song's tribe cut the air amidst the high hemlocks, stopping Moon-Wind as he loved her. They both turned glaring, terrified, to the distance in the east.
They rose and quickly rushed towards the western river where the mare stood waiting. The cries echoed shrilly as they approached the river and they heard distinct zipping sounds all around them. Earth-Song fell behind as they ran.
Once at the riverside, Moon-Wind rushed to mount the mare. Once mounted, he turned and saw her suddenly laying, an accurate arrow jutting from her head.
He fell down, crying out bitterly.