As the pandemic’s numbers double on the tote board like the national debt, the United States already was fighting an infectious epidemic. A virulent strain
Where more citizens were susceptible than estimated and were contaminated by the xenophobia, racism, and distrust of science spewed by patient zero, the president. These strains have infected political discourse with his toxic word salad sprinkled with long-discounted narratives, a tortured national mythology, to feed the fascist hunger.
He believes in the church of make-believe where our lives and this country are mere foils in his reality tv series with the next episode now streaming: “Desperate for an enemy: Pandemic.” With the log line: Believing he is worthy of being a wartime president, DJT usurps more power, but fails to use it and remains oblivious the military has been engaged in a War on Terror, since he took office.
With script and prompter, he stands in front of the world with a wrecking ball of false hope, lies and non-sequitur attacks. Like Marie Antionette, he dismisses his charge with a wave, “try getting them yourselves” as though he were running late for a tee time and Ivanka and Jarod asked him to buy a cake, only to grudgingly offer assistance.
While not the first president to inherent an unexpected flex point in history, he is the first to adamantly declare the buck stops elsewhere. What war crimes await at the end of your series, Mr. War President? The very real responsibility of snuffing more lives unnecessarily because of his carelessness and antipathy towards the suffering, like those on the border before the pandemic, Now it will be the soldiers of medicine who battle without enough personal protection equipment, and other necessary weapons to flatten the curve.
War should galvanize a nation where citizens’ sacrifices work in concert with federal power. Instead, we are left singing alone for crumbs of compassion of a heartless wanna-be dictator.
Should we still be surprised? Three years and a half years in? Nearly 250 years in? Our national health confronts this epidemic every generation when the established power is threatened. It infects by with- holding the healing medicine and instead resorts to ramping fear addled lies over truth.
Today, all of us are susceptible with every cough, fever, sneeze or runny nose. Today we are the “other” for being too something in the white, rich man’s last heartless gasp of control.
Justice continues be fought for by those willing to take a bullet, to be beaten, and to not hide behind daddy’s money. People bravely working shoulder to shoulder to bridge the social distances Mr. War President longs to torch.
Hunker down, citizen scientists artists and entrepreneurs. Get to work at home in your garages, basements, and kitchen tables. Build respirators, ventilators or better yet vaccines to stop these viruses and heal a country struggling for breath.
it's strange it's the same feeling every time. whether you want the job, whether you were ready to quit, whether the next job is waiting. when you hear it again, laid off... laid off
it's that feeling of watery knees the way the room blurs instantly if only a second the air busts out of lungs desperate not to be trapped you walk in circles, listless an imposed value snuffed
its grimly funny, I don't identify my life and my work together I consider myself an artist who works to maintain the goal of making art that I don't make money from
I don't identify my life with my job but in these desperate times it's clear we are vessels to a system that expects two things produce and consume
what happens when both streams dry up?
a friend texted the apocalypse is only one very long business meeting
she's right, like filing for unemployment in the nineties first of the morning forms then looking at a bulletin board of losing manufacturing jobs write down the job numbers to apply for while waiting endlessly for an interview a determination to come
every morning more birds chorus out my bedroom window I hear an intermittent slow century of traffic, I have nowhere to be sorry to say son, but right now I am not capital and capitalism has no use for me
Before Corona she thought participation in activities frequented by the elderly, poetry readings bible studies aqua fitness, would insure those habits would continue in the future. After corona she wonders if her mere presence could kill them off.
They'll talk to you of freedom
Such a invaluable, inviolable right.
You're free just like everyone else
You're free to be just like everyone else.
It's when you try to be yourself
You'll see just how free you are.
They'll throw you in jail just for
Using a different intoxicant than
The one that they grudgingly allow
You to use. Indoctrinated by your
Education, fooled and lied to by the media,
Until no one even questions how
Our one and only life is spent slaving
To make money for others.
Yet we're constantly told how lucky
We are to have democracy and
Hello all...since most of us are in some kind of quarentine and a lot of us are doing that in apartments with loud asshole neighbors...i tehought i'd post a chapter from my last Rand novel, The Poet. I'm still hoping it comes out this year at some point before the election...but this year...
anyway, The Poet is set from October 2015 to around the spring of 2016. Rand Wyndham is once again a librarian in Brooklyn and is a working artist with a small cadre of poet friends and a possible steady girlfriend. The book also has an underlying political vibe in that there's climate change issues and one Orange-Colored Billionaire running for president.
The chapter I'm posting here is one in which Rand is up early in the morning trying to write in his apartment building but is met with a number of distractions, neighbors, dogs, and distractions he's self-created. Hope this chapter amuses you and maybe makes you laugh.
Take Care Everyone!
I had a sick feeling in my
I’d been staring
at that first sentence for an hour. Why did my character have a sick feeling in
his stomach? Was it over a job? A woman? Was it over money? Had he too drank
five double vodkas before passing out on his couch? How in the fuck did I know?
I was only the asshole who’d sat down at five in morning, still semi-drunk, and
wrote those eight ominous words with nothing to back them up. Why in the hell should
I know anything? What a load of nothing the morning had turned into. And to
think I could’ve been in Larissa Haven-St. Claire’s bed soaking in that strange
flowery-sweat scent that her flesh had. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. No
shit. It was called failure on all accounts.
wasn’t getting anywhere. I was never getting anywhere when it came to fiction.
And there were only so many poems that I could write about my job, about people
on the bus, about sex and assholes at the grocery store, before I completely
exhausted my own small and petty existence. I wiped sweat from my brow. Maybe
our hero was worried about the orange-colored billionaire running for
president, or climate change, considering it was getting toward deep December
and I still had the windows open to try and get some air in the apartment. It
was like September outside and kind of frightening. Climate change was enough
to make one’s stomach sick.
Then that dog
across the street started barking. More moments of my writing morning slipped
away. I had a sick feeling in my stomach as the barking echoed all over the
street. Maybe the main character was sick to his stomach because he knew that
he had to kill that fucking dog. It was the only way for him to maintain his
sanity. No Son of Sam shit but more an irritant that had built and built until
it blackened his soul, and he went full psycho killer. Americans loved dogs.
What could be more conflicting than a guy contemplating killing one?
I had a sick
feeling in my stomach. I sat there and stared at that line. The words didn’t
sound like genius. They sounded like a dead end. I gave up like I’d been doing
lately with fiction, with poetry; forget even bothering with a short story.
Carolina had those fuckers all over the internet, and I couldn’t even come up
with one microcosm of an idea. Gigi had a new short story every week on her
blog. They were full of teenagers saving the planet or government, or whatever
bullshit those YA books wanted us to believe other than the fact that most teens
were lazy slobs with their heads buried in their fucking cell phones. Jackson
woke up and just had to write a poem
every day. Even Larissa had a stock of poem prompts that she kept in a
What did I have?
I went online. I
knew who my real master was at that moment. It was online porn. And what would
it be that morning to keep me from becoming a literary immortal? Naked Latina
women? Black chicks with big asses? MILFs? GILFs? Skinny punky EMO girls with
tattoos who reminded me of Carolina from the past? BBWs? Transgendered porn? Transgendered
MILF porn? The choices were endless.
Or would it be a
celebrity that morning. But which celebrity? A film actress? A pop singer? That
chubby but kind of hot comedian? The smart mouthed one who kept trying to take
on dramatic roles? That family of reality television stars who had big, huge
wonderful asses and were always taking their clothing off? Imagine if I put
this much attention and emphasis on my own art. There’d be no stuck at I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I’d
be giving the Godfrey Whitt’s of the world a run for their money. I’d be the
darling of the New York Times. A Proust in my own beer can stacked room! In
every bookstore there’d be a display with my ugly mug staring back at people as
they shopped for self-help books and mystery novels. In interviews critics and
fangirls and fanboys would ask me how I put out so much writing. Don’t jack off, I’d tell them in a
sage-like manner. Instead I found leaked nude photos of that one blonde actress
who made those dystopian movies. And away I went.
But then from
upstairs the ominous alarm of my fuck-a-thon neighbor went off and I heard a
bed squeak. There was an audible groan. A guttural yawn. Then came the pounding
across my ceiling to where she, one Molly Brown, kept that heinous clock of
hers. She beat the thing into submission with such wrathfulness I swear the
four legs on her dresser made my apartment shake. I never felt for an inanimate
object the way in which I empathized with that clock.
Molly thumped back
to her bed and landed on the mattress with a thud. The muffled voices came. The
giggling. Her boyfriend, Chico, a name I self-applied to the man, moved from
his spot on the bed and started talking his muffled game. Shit. I started
pumping my cock again, faster, staring at that photo of the blonde celebrity
naked on all fours. It was a picture that she thought would remain forever
private but was hacked in this big celebrity scandal. I begged for it to give
me the utmost pleasure. I was running out of time.
“Fuck,” I said, to
no one. The springs on Molly’s bed started to go. Then came the moans: Molly on
tenor and Chico on bass.
“Fuck me, fuck
me,” I could barely hear her say.
Chico said, through grunts. “Ah, your pussy, babe.”
I started pumping
faster. I could feel myself maybe going limp. Even the blonde celebrity was
looking at me with that come on, already,
face. I started going, like Chico was going, like Molly wanted him to go. I had
to beat that fucking guy. I was practically ripping my dick off, tugging at the
fucker through the piss hole in my black pajama bottoms. Every oh and ah and thump from upstairs fueled my need and desperation. I wanted
blonde celebrity girl like I’d wanted no one else. I’d never seen any of her
shitty movies. I’d read an interview with her once and she sounded like a
post-feminist twit who’d piss on Betty Friedan’s grave if given the chance.
Blonde celebrity girl didn’t believe
in feminism. It was hard to believe in feminism when you were pulling down
twenty-five million a film. But she didn’t shave her pussy either. So whatever
ethos she believed in was fine with me.
“Oh Christ,” I
said, as I shot my load.
moaned, at almost the same time.
Then it was silent
save that asshole dog barking. I went to grab an old tissue to clean up the
mess on the floor. Only there was no mess on the floor. In my race against
Chico and time I’d managed to come all over the crotch of my pajamas. I woke up
trying for art and glory and I ended up splooging all over myself. How in the
fuck had I convinced Larissa to date
me? Blonde celebrity was looking at me like, seriously, dude. She’d probably win another Oscar next year, while
I’d be lucky to keep my job and hold my book of poems. As I sat there in my
messy shame, Molly and Chico began turning their afterglow into the day’s
argument. They fucked and then they argued. The radio started blaring mid-eighties
pop from their whack-job next door neighbor’s apartment. Walls were pounded
upon. It wasn’t even six-thirty yet.
“You bitch,” Chico
said. Molly muffled something back and then pounded off of her bed.Chico followed and then came the scuffling,
thumping noises that often serenaded me in the morning. The neighbor, Gerhardt,
had something by Huey Lewis and the News going.
I looked away from
cum-covered p.j.s, away from blonde celebrity who was so done with me.
“Come here,” Chico
shouted. There was more thumping and pounding from upstairs. Molly muffled
something and a door slammed. The Huey Lewis ended from the other apartment
with what I could only describe as maybe the sound of a broom poking at the
walls. A Starship song came on next.
The door upstairs
opened and made a thud against the wall. Molly Brown muffle-screamed something
to Chico like, You try this every
morning. I’m getting sick of you putting it in my…Gerhardt pounded on their
wall again. Chico gave a cursory pound on his as well, and the Starship music
Another noise came
from upstairs. It sounded like someone got body slammed on Molly’s floor. Without
thinking I grabbed my trusty Bobby Bonilla signed baseball and threw it at the
ceiling. The fucker came down and almost smashed my monitor. It would’ve been
bye bye writing and naked blonde celebrities for me. I picked the ball up and
threw it again and again, until Chico or Molly or whomever pounded on my
ceiling. I got up from my chair and fixed myself for a fight. Something had to
be done about those assholes because assaulting them with musical snippets from
the 1980s wasn’t working. I made for my apartment door.
They looked like
they were ready to spear each other in the hallway by the time I got to the
second floor. Chico was in his wife beater and plaid shorts. He was holding a broom.
Gerhardt was already fully dressed for the day in a white t-shirt and faded
jeans, and that beat-to-shit Yankees hat he’d been wearing since Mickey Mantle
hobbled off the field and forever into a bottle of booze. He was holding his
broom too. Both doors to both studio apartments were open. Gerhardt’s radio was
still blasting the 1980s. Everybody Wang Chung before the sunrise.
“What in the fuck is going on up here?” I asked.
“It’s not even seven in the morning and I gotta hear this shit? I swear to
Christ I know people who will turn you all into Soylent Green.”
him, bro,” Chico said. Though short in stature the guy was pure muscle and tattoos
on his bronze skin. He had one of those spider web ones on his elbow, which was
supposed to mean he killed someone in prison. I immediately regretted my
decision to engage him in such a hostile manner. It was John Lennon who said,
all you need is love and give peace a chance. And I loved John Lennon. And I
loved not getting punched in the face by Chico’s with spider web tattoos.
what the fuck, dude?” I said to Gerhardt instead. Gerhardt was maybe
sixty-five, seventy. He smoked so knew I could probably take him.
you calling, dude, you bum?” he said.
But a quick look in the blurry hallway mirror was all I needed to confirm his
assessment: greasy long hair, pajamas ripped in the crotch, unshaved for two
weeks now, blood-red wine stains on a t-shirt that was showing off the man
boobs; I was a fucking bum.
were makin’ noise too, man,” Chico said. They both turned their brooms at me.
only because you were making noise,”
I said to both of them.
wasn’t doing nuthin’,” Gerhardt said. He pointed a shaking finger at Chico.
“Until those two started their morning jackrabbit bullshit.” “Mind your own business, old
man,” Chico said.
Brown appeared in the doorway. She was dressed in a plain aqua robe that went to
her thighs. She looked about as plump and oversexed as always when I passed her
in the basement or suffered her cell phone rants while we were both stuck doing
laundry. She was the kind for whom cherry-red lipstick and fire engine red hair
dye would always exist together in a perfect symbiosis. I’d spent the first
months in my apartment jacking it to her and plotting to make my move…until
Chico moved in. “What kind of a pervert listens to people?”
think I wanna listen to you two?” Gerhardt said. He taped the wall with
his broom. “These walls are like paper.”
can hear you downstairs too,” I said.
gave me a dirty, disgusted look. Coincidentally it was the very same look she
had in my head those times I mentally mounted her and went to town. She looked
like she knew some shit the other ladies had missed out on. Chico looked a
satisfied man, despite his mostly unfulfilled penchant for anal sex. “You sit
down there listening to us too?”
I’m recording you for the government,” I said.
oh my God look at you.” She pointed
down to the crotch of my pajamas that I’d forgotten were covered in my jism. It
now looked like a grayish Pollock splotch. “You are a pervert.”
jerkin off to us, man?” Chico said.
“No,” I said. But
they were all looking. Even Gerhardt looked. When we made eye contact, he
frowned. “It…it was the actress from those films.”
Chico kept his
broom on me. “What fucking movies?”
ones,” I said. That garnered a queer look from all present. “The ones where they
battle for food in the future?”
“I love those
movies,” Chico said. “And she’s hot.”
Chico shook his
broom at me. “What the fucking fuck, perv?”
“I’m not listening
to you,” I said. “I’m down there, yes. But I’m trying to get work done.”
said, like she’d never heard the word before. “What kind of work are you doing this early?”
“Writing,” I said.
fiction; the occasional anonymous rant on some perky, flaxen-haired memoirist’s
All three of them
laughed. And not like little snorts, but real belly laughter. Chico bent back
so far he nearly scraped his broom off the ceiling. “Poetry,” Gerhardt spat.
“You a big artist,
bro?” Chico said. “We got a big-shit artist
“I’m a librarian,”
all howled again.
making that up,” Molly said, coming up for air. She looked at Chico and shit
got real again. “There ain’t no li-barians. The li-baries are all dying because
of the internet. You know he sits down there jerking off to us. Look at him. He
probably looks up teenage girls on Facebook and masturbates to them too. You
think a guy like that is a poem
writer and li-barian?” Molly turned to me. “I might not know your name, but I
know all about you. I’ve seen you in the basement dumping all of those plastic
vodka bottles and those magnum bottles of wine. Writer? Li-barian? Li-barian-writer
my ass. You’re just a drunk, dude.”
“I’m currently partial
to being called a rummy,” I said.
“At least I’m a
guy who prefers his morning’s quiet,” I said.
“You need to get
yourself a chick, bro,” Chico said. “Like get laid.”
“I have a sort-of
girlfriend.” Molly rolled her eyes.
This was not going
down as I expected. Insulted for my art as well. Molly Brown’s words were like
salt thrown on a gaping wound. I should’ve stayed in my room with my
cum-stained pants and let those barbarians kill each other with fuck sounds and
radio noise. Eventually the population would thin itself out. Or the
orange-faced billionaire would become president and round us all up and throw
us into camps where art wouldn’t matter anyway when we actually were fighting for food. America was a
Hans Fallada novel waiting to happen. And what was wrong with plastic vodka
bottles? We couldn’t all be Hiltons.
“Look, I get up
every morning at five and write,” I finally said. “At least I try to. But
usually there’s noise. There’s that fucking dog. Eventually there’s your alarm
clock. And then whatever the fuck you two do. Then come the arguments.” I
pointed at Gerhardt. “And then Wolfman Jack over here gets into the act.”
“I hate that
fucking dog,” Gerhardt said.
“I’d fricassee his
ass, man,” Chico said.
“But you see where
I’m going with this?” I said.
Molly gave me
another hateful glare. “Yeah, you want everyone in this building to tiptoe
around you, Mr. Drunken Writer-Li-barian. So you can create.”
“I wouldn’t mind
it if the three of you shut the fuck up, so me and the rest of the building
could sleep in at times.”
Gerhardt said. “He’s a noble bum.”
Chico laughed. If anything,
I was building an uneasy alliance between these people. “If you’re such a big
shot writer why haven’t we heard of you?”
“It doesn’t work
like that,” I said. “This isn’t pop music. Writing takes years and years, and
sometimes you never really get anywhere.”
“Sounds like a
waste of time,” Gerhardt said.
wine,” I said. But he was most likely right.
“Do you even have
a book?” Chico said. “Like Stephen King.”
“Can I buy it?”
Molly said. “On like Amazon.”
“Not yet,” I said.
“You’re full of
“Artist,” Chico said. He finally put his
broom down. “You look like a fat faggot.”
said. He put his broom down and waved us all away like a bad dream. He went
back inside his carpet-laden apartment and slammed the door. The 1980s music
“Could you guys
just be quieter?” I said.
Chico said. He went back inside the black hole of Molly’s apartment, leaving
just her and me in the hallway.
“I used to draw,”
Molly finally said.
“Then you sort of
understand,” I said.
“When I was like
fourteen I drew.” She went inside the apartment, with a quick flash of her ass,
before she turned back to face me. “And then I had to grow up and get a fucking
“I have a …” But
Molly slammed the door in my face, before I could say anything.
are closing the liquor stores the strip malls the mouths of babes the eyes of angels and the voice of God they place six feet between babies and their mothers men and their reason a fool and his money they have sold out all the toilet paper the hand sanitizer the cleaning products and the common sense the human decency the personal freedom and the right to choose they took all we learned the power to put a man on the moon and used it to build us all a cage that looks exactly like our home.
we batted the word around dystopian paranoid, I wondered if I should be more paranoid my friend insisted it can't happen here
maybe I should have read more pulp sci-fi looking for clues on humanities need or reason to color the future so dark
is it true we understand love in a way that makes us fear it is it true that somehow as humans begin to see this version of humanity as non-binary that somehow our thinking becomes solidly binary maybe that's more a symptom of the times, a corporate branding of information
to look at the future from 1980, 2000 wasn't so strange it was religious nonsense a coming milennia that was scary
it was easy to see this future or some version of it it from twenty years ago both cases a slow descending a winnowing down of freedom, we failed to call fascism now authoritarianism blooms
to look ahead, the future should be a blank space a blinding light obscuring perception. it should be a temple to our best possibilities
humanity is in dire straits it needs to change course drastically to remain a species after this mass extinction we created passes
as always we let our hubris lead yet again our hubris fails it might not be dark yet but the future, the temple of our possibilities, is fading
steel rails lit by moonlight along the serpentine path, the backside of society and dissidence of distant lights that flicker a warning—decency! —death sentence! the silent drums of patriotism
gravel sings a lullaby underfoot then lo, the faintest scent of smoke illumination of hidden fires down in the brush, in a hollow
hunched figures of shadowdark faintly visible from the moonlit rails
further ahead, a white house sits abandoned at an Edward Hopper junction, shuttered against the night, paint chipped and flaking away, the edge of town further along the transient fires in the hollow, stars above, hell below nothing behind—desolation
one lesson you learn on such a journey is that there is no heaven in this life or in any other—just soup kitchen rhetoric to lure in apostles and starving sheep, but if you stand, listen, wait… sometimes a lonesome whistle will call in your mind, if not your ears
this distant call leads elsewhere, down embankments, through the brush, incandescence is my meager lord and I join the rabble by the fire, curled horns of mountain goats sprouting out of knit hats and hoods, no sheep or flock are we, these are songs of ascension, these are prayers of warmth, this is the remains of rebellion that will never die no matter how many tyrants come and go, and it is here I remain without so much I once knew, far, far from the lights of town and all they once stood for
--James H Duncan
James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and the author of Feral Kingdom, Vacancy, and We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, among other books. For more, visit www.jameshduncan.com.
If I were limbless could I not strike with my tongue?
If I were deaf could I not hear the emotion on a face?
How now far inside the tomb lies the answer to all questions Faustus?
If you cannot work you cannot contribute to society, it seems America.
Who are you to the state, the government, the world?
If all value were placed on the backs of the worker, the progressive, the animated, for a culture of workers, a culture of industry thinkers and what came before it - a war of ideas, then why wait for the invention of the machine.
what is my problem with criminals? I’m supposed to be so liberal and I am liberal with convicted felons it’s the criminals in active practice the criminals getting away with it in broad daylight, for years forever, since I first heard of them they were dirty
WineDrunk SideWalk: Shipwrecked in TrumpLand wants your poems, fiction, art, photographs etc...anything relating to what is going on in the country since 01.20.17. go from the personal to the universal...previously published work welcome SUBMIT2RESIST firstname.lastname@example.org