How nothing can hurt you

How nothing can hurt you

Thank you to everyone who has read A Creature Wanting Form and sent me lovely thoughtful messages about it or left great reviews on Goodreads and such. It honestly makes it all worth it (?) Maybe tell a friend! Or ask your local book store or library to get a copy.

And to my many friends and colleagues in the media please feel free to cover it in some way. What a lovely thing to do that would be. Not just for me but uhhhhhh for the culture.

This indie publishing racket isn't easy man.

Here's another couple excerpts. Sorry to people who have already read them but the good news is you're dismissed early today.

If any of you want a signed copy let me know and we'll sort that out.

Be back in a few days with fresh new hell.

It starts a tidal wave

It was the last day it would ever snow but we didn’t know it and we got into bed nice and early. Your feet so cold against me as always. We fell asleep to a silly sitcom we’d already seen five times at least. To trick our brains to be quiet.

Later it was the last time they would play the World Series but we didn’t know that either and we got into bed nice and early and watched without rooting for anyone in particular.

We loved it in there. Huddling under the covers. The period before unconsciousness was a pocket out of time.

The fifteen good daily minutes we each got.

To be able to wake up the next day and reset everything and try again.

Like nothing could hurt us.
Like a child thinks.
Eventually your feet frozen so cold and me crawling back under the covers to join you after the fire went out.

I’ll see you in the morning baby I whispered and I could see the words vaporizing in the cold air.

Thy kingdom come

It was agreed upon that there would be no more drinking for the time being so we gathered up the bottles from each apartment and locked them in a closet in the basement. One last kick in my asshole from democracy.

The fighting hadn’t reached the city yet but it was on the way. Like tracking a package delivery on your phone. En route. Ten minutes away. We’ve left it outside your door.

One wanted to forestall despair and to stay sharp was why and besides there were all these guns around all of a sudden and none of us with much in the way of training. No point accidentally blowing your own head off at a time like this when some pig dick was on his way to do it for you in short order.

I took one last heroic swig as I locked up the door and felt the warmth run through me then regretted it then didn’t regret it or anything anymore for a little while.

After a period of quiet and fucking with our phones to try to get a signal we got to talking about the things we’d always hoped we’d have had a chance to do. Cities around the world we’d wanted to visit. Things like that.

I never got to see New York R. said. I know it’s not like it is in the movies but still you know. The energy. R. was so beautiful I wanted to kill myself about it.

W. was our landlord and had been a big shot at the university and since I never finished my studies there I had a hair across my ass about his whole thing.

I thought I could’ve cut his throat and no one would say anything about it but I had no justifiable reason to do that. I wouldn’t do something like that actually.

F. was looking at me like I was an asshole and he loved me but he could’ve broken me in half if he wanted to and he often wanted to so I untensed my shoulders.

I don’t know why I thought something like that about W. It was the booze in the closet that had gotten to me. I never stopped knowing it was just there the entire time we waited. A vampire sensing a heartbeat. The agony of that.

L. was trying to breastfeed in the corner but having an awful time of it from what I could tell.

Why don’t you say a poem for us someone asked W. and he coughed and cleared his throat and said ah well at a time like this etcetera.

I know one I said.

Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving? ...
It is the blight man was born for. It is Margaret you mourn for.

That wasn’t the type of thing I would normally do. That was weird of me to do.

Manley Hopkins! W. said seemingly impressed. Clapping like a hog.

I’m not stupid I wanted to say. I’m not so fucking stupid and in my head I was throttling him and hanging him over the balcony but not really meaning it. I think you understand me.

I don’t remember many poems anymore but that one was always easy to remember because it rhymed so simply and obviously which I guess was the point of inventing rhyming in the first place. So that we wouldn’t forget things. To pass down and like that.

W.’s wife was always kind to me before she passed. I got the sense she was watching this all transpiring from somewhere and decided I better act more normal. Curses aren’t real but what is the point of chancing it. God isn’t real either but same idea.

I looked at R. to see if she had any type of look on her face about the poem I said or not.

Idiot. A woman doesn’t want to marry a poet. Not if they have any sense about anything. Maybe sleep with one for a while before smartening up. Poems are for the very young and for the very old not for people in the very middle like me which is maybe why I don’t remember too many of them anymore. Maybe they’ll all rush back to me toward the end if there’s time.

Before the shooting started dozens of us were dying every day from the sickness. Prisoners were set free to shovel the bodies into pyres and the smoke got so thick and corrosive sometimes that it felt like the sun had set at 3 in the afternoon. Everyone knew we were breathing in the dust of our neighbors but no one ever said it out loud. It seemed like a further offense to them to acknowledge what was happening.

We’d long since stopped watching the TV for news. The main channel had signed off the other day and left a music video playing over and over and not even an overtly political one as far as I could tell so I’m not sure what the point of that was.

Everyone always wants something to mean something.

After some time had passed it was decided one of us should go upstairs and peek out the window to see what all we could see and I said I would do it almost too enthusiastically but everyone seemed relieved about it so I climbed to the fourth floor and let myself into my apartment and found a small flask I had stashed away and drank from it and felt pretty much fine about the whole thing just then.

How nothing can hurt you.

An explosion went off somewhere far enough away that it didn’t matter. We got pretty good about judging that sort of thing. The speed at which sound can travel.

I have a recurring nightmare where I’m dangling off the side of a building or a cliff or something like an action hero and I’m barely holding on to someone I love below me trying to pull them back up to safety but I’m not strong enough and they fall to their death I presume but it all blacks out before they land.

You can’t be going around thinking about that type of shit all the time when you’re awake though.

I have another dream where there’s a horse underneath my bed. It doesn’t do anything it just lays there like a sick horse breathing badly. Its massive rib cage moving in and out. It’s almost peaceful like the sound of the ocean but if I’m honest I’ve seen the ocean only the once so what do I know.

I slid the glass door to the balcony open and poked my head out and it was snowing and then it was raining and then it was sunny and then it was snowing again. Down below someone was running along the street pushing a baby stroller. Not fleeing or in a panic or anything just jogging. She had a bright red hat on and I waved down to her but she must not have seen me because she just kept going.

A recycling bin was blowing around on its wheels in the wind like a malfunctioning robot and I practiced pointing my gun at it and imagined how it would fall over if I shot. I wanted to shoot it so badly but I decided I better save the bullet.

I made the sign of the cross and closed my eyes then snapped out of it and noticed the pile of dirty dishes in the sink I assume would just stay there forever now.

Maybe not. Maybe we would be saved at some point. One had to think that.

You had to think that.

I hadn’t been to church in a long time before I prodigally returned when things started to get peculiar last year and it turns out they had changed the wording of the Lord’s Prayer ever so slightly in the intervening years since I was a regular and whenever I heard it spoken differently it was alien to me it was like if you went to karaoke and found out they had changed the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing” behind your back and told everyone else but you.

When I went back downstairs everyone was quiet so I said why don’t we say a prayer and we all held hands and felt strange about it but said the words anyway.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
On Earth as it is in Heaven...

The general consensus before all of this started seemed to be that we were waiting for some ideal version of ourselves to finally arrive and right the wrongs of the previous generations but that always struck me as a form of postponing the inevitable. A type of punting.

I think that we are now in this cruel and unforgiving and merciless moment of unchecked violence and sickness and indifference to others the people we were always going to be and always have been no matter how many billions of prayers or poems we’ve said. I think the ideal version of this country is here now. It’s a train we’ve been waiting to board that we’ve already been traveling on for miles we just didn’t realize it yet.

Saying the prayer seemed to give everyone something to reflect on for a while so I sat there quietly thinking about who I would have to kill around here to get one more drink.