Archive for September, 2015


Sep 29 2015 Published by under Poetry

Like gravity, like pole-aligning force,

like proton seeks electron for a bond,

we follow the potential, in our course,

attract to high degrees, but then abscond.

Like fermions in space too small for two,

we might explode or else degenerate

in classrooms without windows on a view

of something real, for “Teach” to denigrate

besides the “lowly” scribe and engineer.

At least they take the abstract thought to task!

One swirls a wand, and concrete words appear.

One builds a tap, so you might drain his cask.

These graduates are bosons, but deranged,

identical, but scornful, when exchanged.

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Two Months’ Waste

Sep 27 2015 Published by under Poetry

He’ll save two months of sweat in waste, (exact,)

organic matter, smothered out of life,

a stone from which, a promise, to extract,

to gird the quiv’ring digit of his wife

to be or not. The question is the same,

but not the lovers’ thrustthe parry-point.

Mercutio and Tybalt are to blame.

I’d sooner show devotion with a joint,

rolled by my hand, on paper from a book,

writ’ by my hand, to meter out our length

in rhyme and time that stuttered, cried, and shook

to ring your ears and prove your diamond strength.

A halo is much better than a ring,

a paean, not the same old psalm to sing.

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Sep 18 2015 Published by under Poetry

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I’ll See You Again Soon

Sep 11 2015 Published by under Poetry

You might not even want this leaden verse,

to tie your hands and chain you to your bed.

My poem seeks its subject like a curse

plays on the ear; it’s only in my head.

So make a paper airplane from the writ’.

The right to rite of passage passes right.

If hard syllables slip, then make them fit.

The daybreak plots sweet deserts for the night.

I could say, “If you’d leave, this tree would die,”

and serve to you a mismatched petit four

that makes no sense, without the urge to cry.

Why don’t I cry? Why won’t it hurt me more?

I have no heart to feign, or beat my breast.

I have a hundred more; I’ll save the rest.

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The Riddle of the Sphinx

Sep 08 2015 Published by under Short Stories

Tube socks… Thousands, millions of tube socks, oscillating to the day-and-night cycle of the planet, coming on and off feet, on and off… hands, as googly-eyed puppets, watching me… watching me pick my nose… The fuck you looking at?! …This? …I bought it at Wegman’s. It cost me a hundred dollars, and I don’t even know what it is… Or maybe it cost me eight dollars and twenty seven cents, and I know exactly what it is… I pick up dead things with this… Havoc… Sexy goat-beast—


My cat alarm growled at me, and I opened my eyes to face the dawn. It bothered me that I needed help getting up that morning—most days, I don’t—but he’d kept me past my bedtime with his addictive personality traits, again.

“What a fucking mess…” I thought to myself aloud, sighing and closing my eyes again. I counted to three, and I was on my feet.

It was barely even his fault, I told myself as I straightened the bed, and he kinda did us a solid. The least I could do was speak the truth for him, but he’ll fuck the whole thing up, I knew already.

I decided I’d give him a wake up call. He kept me waiting for an answer just long enough to remind me I’d been the one to break up with him and why.

He answered with a grunt.

“Get the fuck up,” I said, wondering to myself why I’d called him at all. “It’s nearly eight o’clock for our lowers. They’re gonna wanna talk with your incarnation, too.”

He sighed. “…Thanks,” he said. “Can I keep the tether open?”

I wondered if we had the bandwidth for him to see the infinitesimal rise of my eyebrow as my gaze wandered off, but it was moot if he was as unconscious as he usually was. “Yeah, sure,” I said. “You’re gonna watch me get dressed?”

“You’ve got a visual up?!” he said, and then he tweaked the fuck out of bed and onto the floor. I already knew he slept naked. (Since you’re gonna wonder, now, eight or nine, but it’ll never help him any…)

He came up from behind the bed a couple of seconds later in a gray European-style suit with a blood red silk shirt and a rose-patterned black and red tie. I thought about it for a moment, and I was in my own matching suit with a skirt hemmed a bit below the knee. Being a life form of pure thought takes all the fun out of risqué video chats with your psycho ex-boyfriends.

“No nemes or kalasiris?” he asked. “You’ve looked fabulous in them, lately,”

“It’s a civil court appearance, not a cultural festival,” I said, inspecting my outfit, “but I enjoy them again lately, too—thank you—or a stola. I like your ponytail, but I can’t decide if the goatee makes you look like Jesus or Satan.”

He grinned and fondled his moustache. Then, he laughed. “We look like the Wonder Twins,” he said.

“You picked a good color scheme, for how I feel today,” she said. “Just stand on the other side of the room from me.”

“You seem sweet on him, at times, at least,” he said.

“What’s he wearing?” I asked.

“He has the luxury of showing up in pajamas,” he said, pouring himself a cup of coffee. “Eris’ lower will show up in a twenty year old bathrobe, for chrissake.”

“Eris’ incarnation won’t be expected to testify, though, and it’s bad if he looks like the scraggly, drunken schizophrenic you really are in the flesh,” I said.

“They’ll think I’m crazier if he wears a suit,” he said, lighting his morning cigarette. “What’s your lower wearing?”

As, if!” I said, feeling around in the “undercarriage” to at least make sure she wasn’t being raped by some other persistent, delusional “ex.”

His nose wrinkled. “How could my meat-puppet possibly be the only one involved in this?” he asked.

“You’re the only one of us crazy or desperate enough to send your meat straight into the grinder!” I yelled, impulsively crossing my arms.

“Do you blame me?” he asked.

I bit my lip. “…For his sake.”

I felt him out in his usual states. He was in the first place I looked, on the back steps to the garden with coffee and a cigarette, just like “big brother.”

I said, “I honestly think he doesn’t even know if you’re alive.”

“I want to assure him, but he’s rightly guarded, of his own volition,” he said.

I told him quietly, “I blame him slightly less than you.”

He scratched his temple. “Bastet, I guess I understand.”

I puckered my whole expression. “He writes better poetry than you,” I said.

He recoiled like I’d hooked him. “You’re welcome,” he said.

“Alright, we gotta get to court,” I said. “Your lower looks like a scumbag.”

“More like your smegma rag,” he said. We really have no manners here in Heaven’s public restroom.

“Sock puppet…” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“What goes on two socks with sneakers, three socks on business, and one sock with sandals?” I puzzled.

“I see what you did, there,” he said, “but nobody else would, which is the other reason you bought candles.”

“Triple wick…” I said.

“A vagina works both ways,” he said.

“So does an asshole, virgin,” I reminded him.

“Tell that to the judge,” he advised.

I materialized a prop set of thick black-rimmed glasses on my nose to take off for the sake of the pathos, and I rubbed my temple. Yeah, there was a reason I’d always loved him in the past tense.

Let me make this clear right now: there is no physically or magically possible scenario where I give away the life I’ve built for myself, for him or anyone, but, to his limited credit, he seems to basically understand and respect this, and he’s not a bad nut, in my book. The problem was convincing a judge of this. I counted the things I had going for me that were better than him, as we made our way to the court, but I admit that I only could have gone on for ten or or eleven times the transit, in his defense.

Loki’s smile was as wide as the dildo he had picked out for Dan’s legal opponent. It had been Loki’s suggestion, to file a civil suit against Allah for the slander and torture of his son, and Loki had even offered to act as Dan’s lawyer. Dan had accepted without hesitation, but we all already knew he was crazy.

“All rise for the honorable judge William Robertson presiding in the case of Strano versus Strano,” said the bailiff, and we rose.

The judge came in and told us, “Be seated.” What a relief.

The judge addressed the court, “First, for the sake of clarity and brevity, given the potential confusion between those before me and their incarnations who are involved in the case in different capacities, I’d like to refer to the plaintiff and the defendant by their common proper astral names.”

“John Strano,” he said, “may I call you ‘Allah?'”

‘You could just call him, “Al,”‘ I thought to myself.

“That’s fine,” said John.

“Daniel Strano, pardon, but may I call you ‘Lucifer?'”

“That’s fine,” said the angel formerly known as “Daniel.”

They had to start with this shit; let’s not forget who’s who.

Loki began his argument by demonstrating various pieces of borderline-illegal technology found in Dan’s family home that had been used to torture, coerce, and misrepresent Dan to the public. Dan’s part-time lawyer and double-time “tech-monger” had a look in his eyes at times during the presentation like he was sexually jealous of the particularly nasty devices he was parading out. Expert testimony was submitted, about the devices and about peculiar circumstances that had allowed Dan to escape death under these conditions. This aspect of the situation had become central to a public debate about physical magic on Earth, but what concerned us then was how it affected Dan’s treatment by Allah. The nuts and bolts of immortality and physical miracles were for another case. I admit I became distracted from the rather dry proceedings, imagining everyone in the court room except Dan in their underwear with clown make-up and juggling evidence or some other tom-foolery, until it was my turn to take the stand. I was sworn in.

Loki smiled disarmingly at me. “Bastet, would you please briefly describe how you know Daniel Strano?”

“Our incarnations met years ago,” I began. “His lower reached out to me again a couple of years ago, on the astral, and, given our shared political interests and his need for a friend, I try to keep him what company I can. He’s respectful of my wish to keep my lower out of things like this.”

“Are you two fighting for the same cause, or is he your cause?”

“A little bit of both,” I said. “I’m sure everyone in the room is aware of legislation we’ve helped forward and the investigations I’ve participated in on his behalf.”

“Please tell us, briefly, what you observed about Daniel’s living conditions in the time around when you first met,” directed Loki.

“I had the opportunity on many occasions to physically visit the house where Daniel has lived in most of the time since then, a five-bedroom home owned by John and Annie Strano. It is exactly where you might imagine Allah’s and Eris’ incarnations would live. The interior is beautiful and fastidiously kept, but relatively modest for the size of the house. Astrally, the house appears to have a similarly artful decor, of which the primary function is actually nominally for security and privacy,” I told him.

“Dan lives comfortably enough in the flesh,” I continued, “but the spirit is another story. Knowing him personally, I always held the opinion that Dan has a keenly perceptive awareness of his environment on the astral, despite the modification that has been made to his soul biology as a result of legal decisions made at around that time. It was determined, about when I first met him, that his awareness of the astral had become a problem, given his reputed behavior toward both physical and astral beings in the months before we met, and it was decided his soul would be magically and chemically altered to deaden his astral senses, supposedly to protect him and the people around him. It seemed obvious to me at the time that, despite the changes to his biology, Dan was still very much aware of us. The common opinion was that he only thought he could hear us anymore, due to illness and his gradually fading memory of prior events, but I carried on clear conversations with him that theoretically shouldn’t have been feasible—on the astral and in the flesh—given the purported deficits imposed on him.”

“What have more recent investigations you’ve participated in found?” asked Loki.

I considered my rehearsed words. “Dan’s soul was modified in part to disrupt his awareness of our plane, but not in the manner or to the extent commonly presented, as a human basically deaf to our plane and rendered a nonparticipant in it.”

“What were the effects of the soul modification?” he asked.

“As has been reported in the media on the authority of independent medical examiners,” I said, “Dan’s lower maintains evincible predominating autonomy of thought and action despite the control mechanisms surgically installed in his soul. It’s likely that other people who’ve received these treatments are in a similar position, is part of a recently suggested clinical opinion, except that two factors are important to Daniel’s situation: for one thing, he values demonstrating his agency to the public over the appearance of sanity, and for another, his family has attempted to systemically project the appearance that he’s half puppet and half terrorist with astral and physical illusions hidden in his environment, especially the family home, and on his astral person itself. Fixtures in the house have been used to project what amounts to a false hologram of Daniel’s behavior on the astral, while he’s gone about his business, trapped in plain physical view at times, trying to stave off the effects of his soul surgeries and to signal vainly to us that he was even aware of the disconnect between a world projected by Allah and Eris and his limited awareness of what was really happening in our world.”

Loki said, “I would like to remind Your Honor of the examples and expert analyses submitted of the various technologies that were found in Daniel’s home and on his person.”

“Frightening,” said the judge, “that so little of it was even your design.”

Loki nodded. “You flatter me, Your Honor.”

“Bastet,” Loki continued, “as you know him, was Daniel even aware of the terroristic rhetoric forwarded by his presumed astral identity for the past nine years?”

“…Probably about a fifth or a tenth of it, I’d guess,” I said, “while the rest of it is completely at odds with what I know about him personally.”

“Is that Dan’s soul, right there?” Loki asked pointing back at the plaintiff’s table.

Lucifer waved excitedly and twirled the edge of his moustache.

“Yes,” I confirmed, “but Daniel would probably rather say that he and that guy share a quantum Turing machine, whether virtual or hard.”

“Is that Daniel’s soul?” asked Loki, pointing to a holographic photograph on the evidence table of Jesus consuming dissociatives amid the strewn components of an improvised explosive device.

“While there is the tiniest superficial similarity between the two, that man is an imposter,” I testified.

Loki smiled and touched his fingertips in front of his face. “One more thing, Bastet,” he said. “Allah has made the claim that Lucifer has stolen critical technologies to make Daniel a walking physical anomaly of sorts, and to enable a rather powerful form of physical magic that reflexively reacts to protect his mortality and produces limited ‘miracles’ as a result when he is threatened. As an accredited academic, what is your opinion on the idea, originally forwarded by Daniel himself, that the apparent miracles we seem to cause by manipulating his body’s mortality are actually due to a quantum anthropic principle on his part and luck on our part, as we kill him in worlds without miracles we desire to happen?”

I cleared my throat. “I think the important thing to remember, about this claim, is that no independent investigation has found anything intrinsically special about Daniel’s body or soul that could be responsible for such effects and his apparent immortality. Holding quantum ‘many-worlds’ interpretation true, it’s reasonable that at least a set of such extremely unlikely worlds should exist, without recourse to ad hoc explanations for his apparent immortality of flesh. In this regard, Daniel’s explanation is one of the only relatively plausible ideas to be put forth that does not rely on undetectable reasons for his existential condition.”

“Thank you, Bastet,” said Loki with an assured smile. “I have no further questions for you.”

Loki walked back unhurriedly to his table with hands clasped behind his back. Allah’s attorney (a Mr. Barlowe, I think his name was,) put away a document he’d been looking at and approached the stand. I wasn’t sure what happened now.

“Bastet,” began Barlowe, “is it true that your incarnation and Lucifer’s dated at one point?”

Of course he’d target this. “It is,” I said.

“How old were you when you started dating?” he asked.

“I was sixteen,” I said.

“How old was he?” he asked.

The “king” was already in check. “I think twenty one.”

The obligatory ignorant murmurs circulated the gallery like an infectious disease.

Mr. Barlowe asked, “How did you meet him?”

“…Through work,” I told him.

He asked, “Was he your supervisor?”

“No,” I responded. “We were both cashiers, until he left the job after a couple of months.”

“Did you consider him a teacher in any regard?” he asked.

“Absolutely not,” I assured him.

“How long did you two date for?” he pressed.

“About nine months,” I said.

He asked, “Did you have sex with him?”

“Objection, Your Honor!” Loki shouted. “Relevance?”

Barlowe turned to address the judge. “I’m trying to determine the objective reliability of Bastet’s testimony and get an account of Lucifer’s behavior as concerns his mental health from someone who knows him, Your Honor.”

Loki looked disgusted. “But the particular question bears no relevance to either matter!”

I considered the implications and panicked. “Wait! No, we never had sex!” I interjected.

All three of the judge, Loki, and Barlowe gaped at me.

Barlowe removed his glasses to clean them. “Are you aware of what the age of consent is in New Jersey, Bastet?”

“No,” I said defensively.

“For your reference, it’s sixteen,” he said. He replaced the set on his nose.

“Did he ever do or say anything that made you feel threatened?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

He looked me in the eye. “Even in the slightest?”

“He was actually one of the least pressuring or aggressive boyfriends I’ve ever had,” I clarified.

“Was he ever erratic or grandiose?” asked Barlowe.

“Honestly, yes,” I admitted, “but he was extremely gentle with me.”

Barlowe kept his eyes locked to mine. “Did he ever encourage you to hurt yourself or anyone else?”

“No!” I replied.

He reminded me, “Bastet, you are under oath.”

“He jokingly told me to ‘kill’ my parents, in the obvious sense of teenage rebellion against their institutions, but we all know the man won’t even raise a fist to protect himself, and his jokes are inappropriate,” I said.

“Would you consider that an inappropriate joke?” asked Barlowe.

I said, “I’ll kill them right now.”

“Council member Bastet…” admonished the judge over some half-stifled laughter from the gallery. “Just answer his question.”

I looked Barlowe in the eye. “No,” I answered.

“Did you ever encourage him to hurt anyone?” asked Barlowe.

“Objection, Your Honor!” shouted Loki. “He’s attempting to compel the witness to testify against herself on a potentially criminal matter.”

“Sustained,” said the judge. “Mr. Barlowe, now that I’ve let you establish a context, I’m waiting for you to make your case.”

“We still haven’t gotten to Lucifer’s hospitalizations, Your Honor,” he responded.

Robertson looked nonplussed. “Well, proceed, but directly,” he said.

Barlowe nodded at the judge and straightened his glasses for a moment before continuing.

“Bastet, was Lucifer hospitalized while you were dating?” he asked.

“Yes,” I had to answer.

He asked, “How many times?”

“Twice,” I specified.

He asked, “Did you visit him?”

“Of course,” I stated.

“Did you bring him any care packages, or reading material, or the like?” he asked.

“I brought him a Teddy bear and graphic novels,” I said.

“What were the titles of the books you brought him?” he asked.

I suddenly wanted to slap my sixteen-year-old-self. “Oi… Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.”

Barlowe looked over his rims. “Excuse me?”

“The name of the graphic novel series I brought him was Johnny the Homicidal Maniac!” I said over some confused muttering from the gallery.

Loki rolled his eyes.

“I see,” continued Barlowe. “Do you feel Lucifer needed to be hospitalized?”

“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I doubt he was a danger to himself or anyone else.”

Barlowe’s face suddenly turned lurid. “Would you feel threatened if he accused you of hurting him in ways that you had no idea about and made no sense, and if he attempted to use painful military grade restraint magic against you as he did his family?”

I thought for a moment. “How could he be held accountable for using magic against people who swore that there is no such thing and who forced him into a hospital to convince him of that by coercing him to take antipsychotics, particularly when these were to render him incapable of that kind of action?”

The judge shifted to face me squarely. “Council member Bastet, you don’t get to ask him that,” he said. “Just answer the question.”

“I suppose I would be scared,” I said, “but he never did and never will use anything like that against anyone but his parents.”

Barlowe took two measured strides in front of the witness stand and stopped. “Just one more matter, Bastet,” he said. “Is it true that you played a significant role in the research that informs the dissenting opinion on a scientific explanation for the apparent immortality of Lucifer’s flesh?”

“I played a small role in it,” I had to say. “My lower was not involved and is unaware of the work, to be specific.”

Barlowe looked me straight in the eye, again. “Do you have any significant doubts in the hypothesis that the only reason Lucifer’s lower is alive today is because of the virtually infinitesimal chance of his survival in at least one possible quantum world, that we happen to be lucky enough to be experiencing with him?”

I’m sure my face betrayed what I wished I could say. I said, “Under oath… Honestly, yes—it relies on an extremely small chance of us seeing him alive, right now—but it is the only reasonably scientific explanation that has been advanced so far, I believe.”

Barlowe faced the judge. “No further questions, Your Honor,” he said, and turned back to his table.

“Council member Bastet, you may return to your seat,” said judge Robertson.

I left the stand feeling violated and disgusted. Arguments and testimony carried on blithely in a rhythm that seemed totally oblivious to the people really affected.

Dan’s lower was brought up via camera at one point, from his cloister in his backyard. Loki asked him if he knew what was going on, and he said, “You’re debating my case in a court that has no authority over me.” The defense attempted to cross-examine when Loki finished with him, and he answered a couple of questions only to end up finally giving them the bird. The judge made a joke about how he had always wished that he had found himself in a position to do something like that, and the court laughed nervously, and things went on like Dan’s statement wasn’t basically true. It was almost easy to forget that the defendant had attempted to end the world less than a year ago and the plaintiff’s zany antics might somehow have been partly responsible for stopping it.

Sooner or perhaps later, by my pensive and distracted internal clock, we took a recess and expected the judge to return with his ruling.

When we returned, he said, “I think, whichever side one favors in this case, most would agree that major questions are left to be answered pertaining to both the soundness of mind and peculiar existential condition of the plaintiff. However, I’m sorry to say that evidence of the malfeasance alleged in the treatment and representation of the plaintiff by the defendant is clear. On the large majority of the evidence presented pertaining to the slander and psychological mistreatment of the plaintiff, and considering the effective loss of earnings and lasting damage to his mind and character, I must find in favor of the plaintiff—”

The clamor and cheers that went up from the gallery at those words was deafening. The god-king of all conservative politicians had one ruling finally not go his way, lost to one of the wickedest men in the world, even if the road to possible criminal conviction would be interminable.

The judge finished making his closing remarks. Daniel and Loki stood up and turned to exit the courtroom with a spring in their step.

I caught Lucifer with a hug and whispered to him, “Do you have to die before ‘God’ forgives you for this?”

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