Friday, April 29, 2011


Mr. Ladd was spending his 26th birthday working in the data entry department.  Blowing on his hot coffee made him ponder extinguishing candles.  As he took an abrupt sip, he noticed out of the corner of his eye the supervisor.  As much of a visual recognition that he was willing to make.  They both broke their brief eye contact.  Briefly gauged in the smallest fraction of a second.  He felt the back splash of the exchange in the constricting muscles of his neck.  Mr. Ladd looked down at his keyboard.  Number keys awaited to be tapped.  Quickly.  Quickly.  Tap.  Tap.  Tap.  Move on.  Fraction of a second.  Constricted neck muscles.  Necking.  Those lips.  How many months ago?  Years now.  It was 4 years ago.  The memory of her sank beneath the ocean of rushed thoughts.  Rush.  Quickly.  Type.  Follow the form.  Fields of figures and shorten the stack enough to soften the eyes that glare at your neck.  Skin thinning.  Muscles tightening.  Fingers tangling.  Suddenly.

The screen went blank.  Collective groan.  He felt silence in his throat.  Like a dry well.  Well.  A well gone dry.  A well that has been dry for for 4.  4 years now.  Mr. Ladd heard something about a break until the interruption was fixed.  Imagine fixing an interruption.  His life seemed composed of interruptions.  Conversations that never reached a middle, let alone a resolution at the one party he was invited to since moving into town.  Mr. Ladd.  Mr. F. Ladd appeared on his section of the long table which made up the 9th row in the back of the room.  He looked to the woman to his right for confirmation.  She gathered her things and joined a cluster of people.  A dialogue that was never permitted to start. 

He moved quickly to the back and reached out his hand to catch the heavy metal door before it clanked shut.  Too late.  No exit.  He was familiar with the difficulty in working the large metal handle on this door.  It was stained and rusted and neglected.  He applied both hands with varying degrees of pressure until the door approved.  The silence in his throat was filled with muttering.  Not too loud.  Escape.

Outside the back of the building led to an area with only dirt.  Mr. Ladd felt his feet in his shoes as they scraped along the brittle ground.  Voices and noises were muffled around the corner of the office structure.  He smelled dust and the fuel of cars and trucks.  Cars and trucks.  There was that set.  About 20 of them it had to be.  Were in a neat box.  Lost in the move that year when he was 5.  Or was he 6?  7?  No.  Not that old.  Maybe.  No.  They came and disappeared so quickly.  It had to be 5.  Can't summon up the colors of the cars and trucks.  One of the trucks he thought was a dark green.  They came and disappeared so quickly.  Green means go.  Go.  Go where now?  Go.  More numbers.  More forms. More piles.  More money.  Not enough.  Not fast enough.  Type faster.  Must type faster.  Supervisor's glaring.  Glaring eyes.  Comments.  Comments section.  Disconnection.  Let go.  Go.  Go is usually green.  No grass.  Just dirt.  Away from the voices and the noise.  The comments.  Comments section.  Forms.  Faster.  They keep changing the forms.  The fields.  Field of dirt.  Just a section of dirt.  Shoes scraping.  Feet hurt.  Hurt.  4 years now.  4 years.  Necking.  Neck stiff with constricted muscles.  Knotted by glaring eyes.  Throat emptied again of sound.  Just silence.  No tapping for now.  Just silence.  Tap!

F. Ladd looked to his right and at the dirt.  There was a crust of bread.  It wasn't there a moment ago.  No.  It wasn't.  He thought he had seen it land out of the corner of his eye.  Mr. Ladd looked up and saw it.  A dark small bird flying on and away.  It must've dropped the crust.  Fraction of a second later and he could no longer see it.  He scanned the sky and became aware of some kind of music.  He noticed a cooling in the air.  A cooling breeze.  A breeze that made everything and his body colder.  A musical chord like strings.  A whole section of strings playing a moving dirge.  And then the breeze thinned and the music faded.  He looked to his right.  Mr. Ladd thought he saw a sheet of paper or wrapper of some kind of substance or material float down to the dirt.  Rejected from the chain link fence.  Had it played the music?  The music and the breeze that could have frozen everything.  That could have frozen time.  Mr. Ladd.  F. Ladd stood there trying to maintain this moment frozen in his mind and his body.  He did not know how much longer he would last at this office.  This office of tapping.  Tapping.  Tapping.  He did not know how much longer he could remain so still outside. A couple of feet from a dropped crust of bread.

- Max Stoltenberg

Thursday, April 28, 2011


She stands over the cement ashtray.  Watching the cigarette smolder in the sand.  The smoke wraps around the stub.  A wind tucks the smoke underneath in a steady current.  Some of the ashes even glow red.  Like eyes of an insect struggling to stay alive.  Perception is fanned mockingly and then stifled.  Ashes dry up and disappear as red eyes close permanently.

Did any ashes get on her scrub?  She quickly scans the patterns and pockets.  Nothing.  Measurements of the prudent and the laughable.  Right eye gets a sharp sting from hair that has been blown in by the wind.  Fingernails drag the coerced strands.  Getting long.  Need to make time to get to the salon for a haircut.  Make time.  Make something.  Make conversation.  Make dinner.  Make beds.  Make it better.  Make it the same.  Make it the same.  Make them happy.  Make them laugh.  Measurements of the prudent and the laughable. 

Designing woman designing the same and the turn.  Designing the turn to come right around to end up in the same spot.  According to the design templated over her skin.  Can't shower it off enough.  Warm water.  Warm water getting cold.  According to the design templated over her skin.  Template.  Plates.  Making dinner.  Making the table.  Washing plates.  Big plates at that restaurant.  Date.  Make a date.  What was his name?  Marco?  Demarco?  Demarcate a page.  Speaking in code.  Aggregation and aggravation.  Make it the same.  No straying from the formatting.  Recareer when the code breaks - when the film breaks.  Interface with them.  Interface for others.  For him.  Marco?  Was it?  Maurice?  Mauritz?  Unending patterns designed to go on indefinitely until the red eyes close and the ashes disappear with the wind.  Lines and shapes designed in patterns.  Make it the same.  Little eyes in the small corners of every intersecting line in the indefinite and unending patterns.  Interlocking.  Weaving and knitting together.  Connecting.  Tangling and untangling.  Make it the same.  Unending until the red eyes of those little bugs in the dying life of the ashes.  Patterns.  Make it the same. 

Given up on his name.  Need to change yours.  Once more.  Once more until the next time.  Relationship patterns.  The knots are too small in the tangles of the connections.  Those little lines of code in the patterns.  Little eyes in the corners between the lines.  Where they meet.  Where you meet.  Met.  Make it the same.  Get away.  Would be nice.  About time.  Less energy wasted on annoying things.  It's getting colder.  Get away.  About time.  Time.  Away from them.  Over to the space outside.  Stand alone.  Take it in.  The air.  The smoke.  Look around.  Space.  Air.  Smoke.  Look down.  At the cement ashtray.  Extinguish the pattern.  Dying life remains in those closing red eyes.  Dying in the sand.  With ashes disappearing with the wind.  Current patterns of wind.  Indefinite and unending patterns of wind.  Don't burn anymore holes in the remaining scrubs you have.  Keep them as long as you can.  Make it last.  Make it the same.

- Max Stoltenberg

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Excess water.  Soaking cloths stacked.  Stacked and pressed.  Hands pressing.  Hands clinging to cloth.  Lips so vice-like in their grip of the useless.  The useless words unemployed yet again.  Yet again.  Yet again useless.  Lips so vice-like.  Lips closed like doors aging beyond memory.  Nameless. 

Your breasts feel so non-existent.  Isn't that a trip?  Your chest is so empty.  That is really something.  Creepy.  Actually nothing.  Not even hollow.  Like your body is quietly collapsing into the air.  No boundaries.  No space within you or outside you.  What's holding up your mind, though?  No pulse but thinning thoughts.  Dissolving down to the tiniest chemical transmissions.  Drying.  Cranial crust. 

Crust gently brushed.  Brushed by the slightest scent of flowers.  What flowers?  Right there.  The petals are scraping your stark irises.  Behave.  Beehive.  Buzz.  Honey around.  Honey.  Lips so vice-like.  Piano.  Don't.  More teeth pressing into the lips.  Cutting.  Tongue licking blood inside the aging doors.  Shut in.  Behave.  Stark irises.  Once raving inside.  Behave.  Don't.  Blackened by feathers dried of their paint.  Stiff and metallic feathers.  His hair.  Don't.  Knuckles.  Fingernails.  Useless.  Relinquishing.  Licking blood inside the aging doors.  Shut in.  Behave.

Petals.  Easy.  Knuckles loosening.  Can.  OK.  Moving.  Muscle unknotting.  Palms around the tulips.  Excess water soaking the cloths stacked.  Cloths stacked on the dresser by the window.  Night time.  Bed.  Don't.  Too big.  Don't.  Back.  Back to the tulips.  You can.  OK.  Palms rubbing against the petals.  Don't.  Tingling in the fingerprints.  Don't.  Lips vice-like.  Licking blood inside the aging doors. Don't.  Don't rub.  You can.  OK.  Clutch.  Clutch the petals.  Knuckles.  Knuckles tightening.  Petals.  Ripping.  Don't.  Stop.  Lips vice-like.  Aging doors shutting in.  Don't.  Don't stop ripping petals.  You're clutching and clinging.  After relinquishing.  Knuckles.  Cracking.  Ripping petals.  Yes.  You do that.  Cling to the tulips.  The tulips.

- Max Stoltenberg

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


As well as could be conceived she had picked herself up.  Picking at it.  Leave it alone.  Alone at last to last alone.  On and on going on.  Remembering when it was ongoing.  Those line items.  Items on the lines of those forms.  Forms that formed her day for years and years of pay to spend.  Spend and pay to stay with him.  His name stirred laughter and tears.  And . . . fear.  Fear of all this time being cranked after his end.  The end of him.  To be followed by the end of so many silly phrases and words arranged in the oddest and amusing positions.  Positions. 

As well as could be conceived she was taking longer to straighten herself up.  Lifting her face and eyes to a good enough vantage point to see where she was now.  Lifting her face that must have gotten dirtied on the last stumble.  Stumbling block.  They used to make each other stumble over each other's sentences and induce the contagion of humor in one another's chests.  Until it hurt.  Contagion.  How did he get it?  That contagion.  Poor diseased gentleman of a man.  Typing all hours of the day.  Those busy fingers.  Those fingers.  Searching for just the right entry point.  He knew how to move you.  He knew how to pull the curtain away until you saw there was nothing left.  No form.  No shape.  No content.  No origins in a mind emptied of the all engrossing project.  Projects stopped coming.  They did stop.  Slithered to a halt.  He pulled the curtain away and there was nothing back there.  Back there where there seemed to be more color for both of you.  Back there behind the curtain he pulled across your expectations and there was nothing left.  He was right.  Damn it all.  He was right.  Poor diseased gentleman.  Laughed until it hurt.  Crap!  Did it hurt for him.  He hurt.  Held his hand that pulled the curtain back across those expectations.  Nothing left.  Except one thing.  You always knew he expired for want of other food.

She limped on.  As well as could be conceived she survived the last on many falls after surviving that wreck back there called your life.  Events.  Current events.  5th grade.  Who? What?  Where?  When?  Why?  What was her favorite question to answer?  It used to be "why?"  But, now she knew it was "what?"  Yes, now it was "where?" as in where was she?  That wreck she left behind her was maybe miles back.  Miles back where there used to be road.  All that lie ahead was nondescript land until she noted all the citrus.  And the anthracnose.  Decaying colors.  There was that.  The sound of the exploding metal and the decaying colors and broken glass were far back there.  As well as could be conceived she had survived and recovered from the last stumble.  The last stumble to the ground.  The last stumble.  Expectations for the last one grew.  Oranges competing with the anthracnose.  They appeared to be succumbing.  Just as she sensed her succumbing to the invitation of each subsequent fall.  The ground was softer each time.  Another bed perhaps.  They had made it.  They had slept in it.  As well as could be conceived.  Poor diseased gentleman.  It hurt for him.  Held his hand that pulled that curtain across your expectations.  Tomorrow was crowding into today's devastation as well as could be conceived.  She was laying on her stomach on the soft ground.  Make her bed.  Lie in it.

As well as could be conceived she wanted to sleep.  And she was aware of her fingers.  His fingers typing until about nothing behind that curtain.  Poor diseased gentleman.  Her fingers dug into the earth.  The earth of the bedsheets around the citrus and the canker.  Color was overcome.  Succumbing just as she was to the soft ground.  Her bed.  The last stumble. 

- Max Stoltenberg

Monday, April 25, 2011


Run away little runaway legs!  Run as fast as you can!  He and she and it can't catch you if you just take short rests between running and running and running.  Man.  Woman.  Thing.  Threatening to make you straight and narrow.  You like being bent and squirmy and bouncing from the sidewalk to the bed and to the sky.  Don't mind narrow for your body to fit between walls that press and squeeze.  Run little legs to keep your mind wide and open to the colliding air that lets you pass into the next chapter to make things up.

You're breathing hard.  Aren't you, little running legs?  Take that brief rest and feel the land pause.  Where's the camera that rocks and wobbles somewhere across the street?  Or is it right behind you?  Did you pass Darby's house?  You wonder if he's home.  Gotta go.  Run run little runaway legs.  Heading for the mountains where the snow is melting.  Got to get there before it's too dark for stories.  He, she, and it don't give up.  You want to zig zag and adventure with your voices of size and shape.  Menace and manage.  Yipes!  Mountains.  They seem so far off.  You think you still see some white on the very top.  Get there.  Got to get there before it's too dark for stories.  Too dark for stories.  Just a little white on the tops of those mountains.  How fluffy will that snow be?  Deep enough for your running and running and running little runaway legs.  Keep running and running.  Take less rests now.  Stories before it's too dark.

If the snow on the mountains is melting, oh, well, didn't need it anyway.  You remembered your shoes.  You remembered when you bolted.  Running little runaway legs.  Towards the melting snow on the tops of the mountains on the hills between those tall tall green trees.  Some are all black from lightning.  Darkness shutting books on stories.  Shutting them down and making them too dark.  Too dark.  Melting snow is OK.  You'll get those running little runaway legs in the melting snow away from he, she, and it.  To stomp in the messy mud.  Yes.  Just keep running little runaway legs from the figures in sable.  He, she, it want to keep you white.  Mud is just what you're looking forward to on the top of those mountains far off.

- Max Stoltenberg

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The tenebrous onslaught of Saturday evening's storm was being dissolved by Sunday morning's reticent attempts at the resurrection of the hopeful.  But we will say more of this hereafter. 

His pill had taken a long time to dissolve in the old spoon.  Why hadn't he changed that spoon?  Procrastination bleeds  throughout the waters upon which the discouraged toss their stale bread.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Sleep was delayed by the noise of the storm that towered over the home and seemed to have its origin in the asteroid belt.  Asteroids the size of small moons, airports, planes, supermarkets, gated communities, and battleships.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

The storm was turned off by the rushing waters of procrastination and disposed of ideas.  They seemed to abruptly splash against the window that let in Sunday morning light dimmed by the cloudiness of doubt and high winds.  He felt the drowsy after thoughts of his pill from the stormy night before.  He was distracted by the scene outside his window.  Hedges and trees had their leaves shaken in a silent film where the color was being gradually removed.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Only now he noticed that the crib in the corner was empty.  Where was she?  He thought he heard the sliding of feet across the kitchen floor and a cabinet being closed.  Or opened?  He felt the blankets next to him stretched as if across a body.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Who was that speaking in the other room?  The other room.  Which room?  Was it the nonsense of a little one?  Was that sound the banging of little fists against a plastic tray?  Or was it the wind playing with the house?  Was it the nonsense of a not so little one?  But we will say more of this hereafter.

He rolled over and noticed the sheets were stretched around his own body and not another.  He struggled to disentangle himself from the blankets.  Warmth and comfort.  Nonsense.  Loose threads strung between toes.  Nobody in this room except him.  Anyone in the other rooms?  And which ones?  Closet.  Pants.  Shower.  Water to awaken.  Waters of procrastination.  Flowing over the dying body.  The cemetery could be seen from the bathroom window.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Looking out the bedroom window on a sunny Sunday morning or any weekday for that matter.  Decaying matter.  Matter that doesn't really matter anymore.  Matter decaying under the ground in the cemetery that can be seen through the bathroom window near the back of the house.  The back of the house.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Looking through windows on a sunny morning.  Not this morning.  The high winds and muted dawn of never never never making eye contact again.  Looking at the other corner of the room.  The metal seemed to echo back his thoughts but more hollowed out sounding - and feeling.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

The metal of the torpedo in the other corner of the bedroom echoed hollowed out thoughts.  They crawled back into the bed of his mind.  His mind deadened by all those things that made it onto lists and all those things that didn't stand a chance of making it onto lists.  Things that didn't stand a chance.  But we will say more of this hereafter.

Memories of sunny Sunday mornings looking through the bathroom window at the cemetery faded into hollowed out thoughts.  Looking for paper.  Folding paper of crumbling buildings.  Waters of procrastination flowing between crumbling buildings.  Not so high this time.  Not so high.  Looking for paper.  Something to write something with.  Fingers are crumbly like crumbling buildings with waters flowing between them.  Waters of procrastinated bodies.  Waters.  Crumbs.  On the floor.  Next to the torpedo.  The bathroom window.  Toward the back of the house.  That could never keep up with the front of the house.  Could never stay ahead of the cemetery.  Hollowed out thoughts echo off of metal.  Watery crumbs.  Floating between abandoned buildings.  But we will say more when looking for paper.  Water rises between empty buildings.  Waters filled with ruined paper and the disappearing ink of the hereafter.

- Max Stoltenberg

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


He stood still in the room full of dust.  He stood very still.  Shoulders felt like they were being scratched by the air.  The room full of dust was quietly filling with time and its nerves of lint.  Not a chance.  And yet each particle of abandonment clung to the surface of possibilities.  Possibilities buried in superficial reminders of hollow promises to oneself.

He didn't even recall what he had told himself all those years.  Books of corpulent sentences and serpentine paradox dominated the frozen spaces in brittle bookcases.  The volumes remained as messengers of the insipid.  The word had been spread throughout the room and caked into a powdery fungus.  He thought he was reminded of a passage from somewhere in that room, somewhere in his recollections:

Depending on the object and its teleological qualities, the seeds planted in the vicarious soil of lost . . .

No.  That couldn't be it.  Or perhaps it and the edge of the recollection is exactly where its uncertainty would come into sharper focus.  Perhaps . . .

. . . the vicarious soil of lost rhythms dialectically sufficient to initiate . . .

Initiate what?  This side up.  Fragile.  Contents under pressure.  Store in a cool place.  A cool place.  Frozen not metaphorically, but lowered mercury.  Lowering.  Decreasing more.  There has to be . . .

What?  Initiate the antithesis proposed by . . .

What was that fellow's name?  The one in that volume he  thought was toward the very edge on the right of the topmost shelf.  That spot for some reason reminded him of that hill he walked up.  This side up.  Fold carefully and several times in order to make a smooth tear.  Then you would have two pieces with one considerably smaller than the other.

The other and the antithesis that brings one to the next level or stage or whatever.  Would much rather reminisce  about that hill for some reason.  What was it?  The reason.  The reason for that hill.  So green.  Tall grass bending together in the wind. 

The light of an emerging image faded as the room emptied of the setting sun.  Like a cantankerous lid shutting him out as some bothersome insect.  He stood as a reprimanded and still bothersome insect.  In the room full of dust.

- Max Stoltenberg

Sunday, April 17, 2011


The story ends.  Nothing.  Lightheadedness leads to a welling compressed by darkness.  Applause surges and fades as if riding on the edge of a volume button.  Somewhere.  Where?  What?

A title winks in and out of existence.  That was it.

Sit.  Get up.  Which direction?  Whose?  Sit.  Movement of people.

Movement of names scrolling.  Scrolling.  Welling. Compression.  Thought is compressed by words.  Compressed by names.  Nothing is filled by the blankness and the darkness of the black screen.  No more welling.  Silence. 

Names have scrolled up into assumption.  And so many have exited.  He sits.  His shoes sticking to the floor.  His head is bathed in growing light and growing confusion.

- Max Stoltenberg

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Inside.  Outside.  That started inside.  On second thought (or maybe it was the one immediately after that) that started outside.  There was a couple of shadows inside and perhaps you might recall them.  However, there was also a couple outside the establishment as it is sometimes referred to and this couple outside also stand like shadows since the days pass by more quickly as all involved are older.  The shadows, that is, the couple outside you would not have encountered before unless it depends on who you begin with and if one can include anything that might reside within the establishment of the empty margins.  The narrowing margins. 

One of the pair has been marginalized in an ever narrowing context bereft of form and inflated with the content of superstitions and pathetic imagination.  They are either the ones outside or inside - within or without the establishment.  They strain to converse due to coming unanchored from that which establishes them.  And starting to continue or beginning again with the couple outside who may not be familiar due to the teller no longer recollecting which set of partners may lack a reference.

Denton: I have a reference.
Sandra: Don't be contradictory.
Denton: I'm not.  It's just that my reference hasn't gotten me a letter yet.  Once I get that then they'll consider me.  My application will be able to go further.
Sandra: Have you reminded them how important this is?
Denton: Of course.  Every moment I can remember to remind them.
Sandra: I'll try to be better about making sure you remind him.
Denton: I need to write things down so that it can be outside my head and not inside forever trapped in the swirling maelstrom of anxious cognition.
Sandra: No doubt.
Denton: You seem preoccupied.
Sandra: Just noticing the woman inside at that booth with the man.  She looks like she's crying.
Denton: I can't tell.
Sandra: Well, don't stare.

The couple inside stare at each other.  The silence continues for a couple of minutes.  The waiter stops by them.

Waiter: Any ideas about what you both might want?
Dora: Give us more time, please.
Waiter: You bet.
Sam: Are you crying?
Dora: No.  It's my allergies.
Sam: Are you sure?  It could be both.
Dora: No doubt.
Sam: What are those papers you have?
Dora: Some scribbling.
Sam: Like what?
Dora: A poem I've been trying to finish. 
Sam: Is it depressing as usual?
Dora: What do you think?
Sam: Well, if your expression is any indication.
Dora: My expression.  Which is so well read.  My depression which is so indicative.
Sam: Sounds like a poem right now.

Outside Sandra begins to walk away from Denton.

Sandra: Now can we go?
Denton: Can we just sit down on this bench and look at the birds?
Sandra: There are no birds.
Denton: No birds.  A title has been planted.
Sandra: Let's go home and you can water it.
Denton: Wait.  I need more time to let the idea of "no birds" expand before it's watered.
Sandra: I wish there were some birds.  Don't see many anymore.

Inside Sam reaches towards Dora's bunch of papers.

Sam: Anymore images?  Anymore visions?  For us.
Dora: Less poetic phrases.  They're being gradually replaced by legal ones.
Sam: Take out the poem.  I promise I'll listen without my usual defensiveness.

Dora takes one piece of paper out of the bunch and looks at it for a moment.

Sam: Is that it?  It looks rather brief.
Dora: No.  The poem goes on for quite a bit.  To the point where I have trouble finishing it.  This is just a phone number.
Sam: For who?
Dora: A therapist.
Sam: Someone who'll make us look inside when what we need is to search beyond.
Dora: You've always thought that the answer is out there.  Maybe this therapist from outside our little tangled world could help.  We need someone who can be objective.
Sam: That's not what I mean.

Outside Sandra is growing impatient.

Sandra: Can you explore the meaning of no birds at home? You remind me how important your solitude is to discover the freedom from meaning ideology within the relativistic space of your isolation.
Denton: I'm just referring to expansion that's all.  If the patch of earth is too small to water then just fuck it.  That's all. 
Sandra: There's mostly concrete and gravel here. 
Denton: That's what I'm getting at.  The lack of that is stirring that need for the patch of earth.  I want my patch of earth.
Sandra: I think that couple must think we're crazy.
Denton: They look too involved in their conversation.
Sandra: No, the ones in that car over there.
Denton: Which car?
Sandra: The one with the couple sitting in it over there.  The black car.
Denton: The one that looks all funereal?
Sandra: I was going to say "bad ass."
Denton: Funereal can be bad ass.
Sandra: That's your opinion.
Denton: And I wonder what theirs is.

Inside Dora is reading from another paper that has her poem.

Dora: You move outside
While I stay inside
The divide grows
Between the cracks
Of our confinement
Opinions and disconnections
Serving each other's
Agenda for moving outside
While I stay inside
Digging and getting dirtier
My smell revolts you
To continue your advance
Away from me toward
Your retreat from my advancement
Inward in the opposite direction
Of your throwing off our shelter
Towards your outside
Escaping from my yearning
Within the widening gap
Bring the walls closer together
To give me the satisfaction of
Just a little friction
Not to be as you disappear outward
Away from . . .

In the black car outside a couple is discussing whether to get out.

Desiree: I thought you said you've never been here before.
Sandy: I must have forgotten.  I have a horrible memory.
Desiree: Well, we can go to my place and I'll make something.  It would work out better so I can finish my treatment plans.
Sandy: All work and no play.
Desiree: Work preceded by play.  Play is important.
Sandy: I know.  How long have you been a play therapist?
Desiree: Gosh.  It's been so long.  All I know is that I enjoy it much better than all that writing stuff like poetry.  It just goes around in a circle.
Sandy: Why don't we just eat here so you don't have to be in the proximity of writing your treatment plans just yet?

He is about to open the car door.

Desiree: Are you sure?  Now you want to go in after your traumatic formation when we pulled in to the parking lot and you had your dark memory restored?
Sandy: You're gonna use your psychobabble on me?
Desiree: What do you want?  In or out?
Sandy: We've only started this relationship and it's already in or out?
Desiree: I just want to encourage you to make up your mind.  You just seemed so against this establishment.
Sandy: Establishment. 
Desiree: Well?
Sandy: Can we just take a moment?  Give me some time.  Aren't therapists supposed to be patient?  Can't we just select the middle between in and out for just a bit.  Can't that be an option?

Denton and Sandra are sitting on the bench together.

Denton: I know you don't like poetry or when I really take up our time so I can experience something.
Sandra: I don't mind you wanting to experience something. 
Denton: It's like I hear the words about being between birds and no birds.

Dust blows into my eyes
Making them appear to weep
For nothing in particular
Except no birds
Forever doesn't last
And what can't last
Seems to go on forever
The wind from elsewhere
Brings no birds

- Max Stoltenberg

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Just another minus sequence
Mentioning the imperfect made
Into typographical errors undone
One eye focused through the space
In the fence that blurrily
Crosses dirt toward the next fence

Figures walk in line between them
Ahead of schedule
Kicking the backs of boots
In front of the next

Looking for a word
That word that either started with a "d"
Or had a nice hard "d" sound
In just the spot where it is

Just another minus sequence
Mentioning the imperfect made
Through appeals for more appeals
For more appeals that are

Just another minus sequence
Mentioning the imperfect made
Through appeals for more appeals
That are ahead of schedule

Put in order
Put in sequence
To count the days
Mentioning the imperfect made
Through appeals for more appeals
That form more reasons

For more appeals that
Just another minus sequence
Mentioning the imperfect made
Through appeals for more appeals
Built out of what is left out
Making sure to leave more out
Don't want that in there

Must make just enough room
Just enough space to
Just another minus sequence
Mentioning the imperfect made
Sure to not be mentioned
As it is left out
And ahead of schedule
With more time to walk between fences

- Max Stoltenberg

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Accept or else
Sign name

Brief breeze
Hold breath




- Max Stoltenberg

Monday, April 11, 2011


Cannot see each other's faces only however so little apart.  Together in the disappearing light.  Disappearing suddenly.  Where did it go?  Trying to see his hands.  Moving them and clumsily striking her.  Where did he contact her?  Accidentally.

She: Ouch!
He: Sorry.
She: It's OK.  I'm OK.
He: No it's not.
She: Are you saying I'm not OK?
He: No.  I mean you are.  It's not OK to hurt you.
She: I'm not hurt. 
He: Tag.  You're it.
She: I guess I am.

They stand in silence.  Or maybe they lie.  Will they drift off to sleep or fill the shrinking space with rushing to give their dark formlessness contours?

He: I think I see your eyes.  I know they're blue, but I'm trying to convince myself I see blue.
She: Don't hurt yourself to be convinced.
He: Want it just to be . . .

There.  Before him and within to express nothing more for than what is when it is submerged in the dark.

He: Trying to find . . .

She feels his cautious and searching hand caressing her toes and deflected by toenails.  Pressure is noticed on her cast of his palm.  She waits for him to attempt another extremity, but is surprised to become aware of his finger wiggling its way into a hole in the plaster. 

She: Found the hole.
He: Where is skin?

His exploring digit taps against more material underneath.  A plaster cast within a plaster cast.

- Max Stoltenberg

Saturday, April 9, 2011


As the woman, no longer a member of her youth entered the middle of her age, she vomited up the remainder.  There she goes.  Laboriously lifting her head to get the hair out of her face for now to hang limp in the absence of the wind.  Nonchalant.  There she goes.

No longer a member of her youth.  Now entering the middle  squeezed between and there she goes.  Trying to remember those songs from that decade that spins in the nausea swirled by the hell of others.  Slapping Sartre and there she goes.  No longer a member of her youth.  Now entering the middle.  The middle of her middle.  There she goes.  Holding her tongue.  Biting her tongue.  There she goes.  The nausea makes the music skip.  Scratch.  Scratch.  The music is stuck and skips ahead.  No longer a member of her youth.  Slapping Sartre and there she goes.

Thoughts tangled with lyrics no longer memories of her youth.  Skipping ahead over the stuck stuck stuck skipping ahead to the middle of her middle.  Hold her tongue.  Bite her tongue.  She thought she thought of the building.  The assembly and the loud nausea.  The assembly of disconnection disconnected by phrases of others nauseatingly afraid.  They and their fear that they reproduced by the disease of language's mutating nonsense.  There she goes.  The assembly.  Nausea.  Stuck music.  What about what she liked?  Liked?  Gravitated to.  She had gravitation?  Nausea.  The assembly.  Never had she recalled pretending not to be alone among so many people assembled together.  There she goes.

No longer a member of her youth.  Skip skip skip over the middle to the precipice of death.  Now there's a wind.  Now her hair is filling with gusts of emptiness that pushes out the nausea.  Nausea.  Yuck yuck yuck yuck.  Back again and skipping past the music she is trying to hold on to.  Nausea.  Being sliced by the petulance of the wind.  In her hair.  Her hair filled with the land of others.  Hell is others.  Slapping Sartre.  Bitch of a philosophy.  Bitchy language.  Washing her worn face over the slippery sink.  No longer a member of her youth.  Slipping and skipping ahead.  There she goes.

Her bathroom.  There she is not.  Just a box.  On a ball.  Nausea.  Won't go away.  There she goes.  Where?  There.  There?  Fingers want to comb the terrain.  The hair is knotted.  Limbs are caught in the knots.  Knots and scratches and glitches.  Skipping over the music that cannot be recalled.  Nausea.  Skipping off the atmosphere.  There she goes.

- Max Stoltenberg

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Trepidation captured it.  It captured him.  No, it captured her. She waited for him to provide security access along the hallway.  She could have sworn she heard some kind of music playing faintly.  It possessed a tune that reminded her of that song she thought she remembered.  Was it the one that she used to play frequently before she relocated?  The one when she lived in a different state.  A different state all together.  She then realized the melody resembled more the rhythm of an animal she once heard in those woods.  The bright woods darkened by the forgetfulness of time.  Her passing through time.  It'll come to you.

She was back in the hallway.  The noise she heard was no longer musical, but the sound of the door's lock being opened in a slow and mechanical reticence.  She pulled on the handle and lifted her face in expectation of her appointment and noticed it was someone else entirely.  She asked them where he was and the administrator offered the words, "I don't know where he is."  It'll come to you.

Another body entered the hallway as it began to fill with more bodies.  This third person attempted to capture a glance at her face and the woman who has been waiting responded with half a smile and raised her eyes up to the fluorescents.  It'll come to you.

She turned around.  There was another way around the back.  She walked and not too fast.  Taking her time to allow it come to her.  Where was he?  She had spent her whole life pretty much waiting for this moment.  This moment to be of use.  Usage drained slowly out of her aging body as she passed along the back hallway.  Trying to find a way around.  Through time.  Through her life.  For this moment.  To be of use.  Usage.  Draining away.  Not as slowly.  It'll come to you.

- Max Stoltenberg

Monday, April 4, 2011


Typing the title and erasing the front in order to make it more concise.  The subject begins to take shape.  No.  Not yet.  There is another way.  No.  Putting it back the way it was.  There was not another way.  There never was.  Now the title has something resembling a person.

The man found a missing section of the fence at the end of the park.  He passed through and half noticed thoughts that had been cut off mid-sentence or so - if that is what they were - or the manner in which they could be referred to.

He walked on into harder terrain that did not retain his footsteps.  They became or were prints of a fainter quality and off they went to thereabouts.  The breeze became a thinner barrier to no more.  As it disappeared, the sun's heat erased what little issued in the way of expression from him.  Not by himself - not him.  Today is being swiftly undone along with whatever came before.  Whatever did.  Perhaps it did - not by him.  Any?  Any more?  Not as many as he thought.  Not as many as he thought together.  Numbers.  The numbers were overestimated yet again.  Being adjusted down and less.

The landscape took him further away and down into an area of lower and less elevation than loftier memories.  Perhaps not so lofty as he supposed.  Suppose not.  In a time when more was not enough.

And now as the wind increased. There was more neglected land and unused space or abandoned it was or will be.  The dust.  The dust rose up and he did not enter or become surrounded by it.  He just became less.  And that finally - for a change - or not.  Was enough.

- Max Stoltenberg

Saturday, April 2, 2011


One of the many amblings of the pedestrian is noticing the growing aches in his legs and feet.  How fast the "Don't Walk" sign flashes on.  It prompts an acceleration in the muscles and footfalls are more pronounced.  Did he press the button for the direction he wanted to walk?  Does it really expedite matters anyway?  There were so many signs with their statements, instructions, and demands.  Did the pressure applied by his feet or fingers really matter?

What seemed to smother this line of thought was a sound - what was that sound?  It sounded at first like the strange and surreal sucking sound of a tape being played backwards.  Voopt.  Voopt-voopt.  It sure did sound like that.  Then he noticed that he was walking under the highway and that it was the sound of tires passing over the road above.  Cars and trucks moving forward or so it seemed. 

Soon he walked by a very large sign for a fast food restaurant and heard another odd sound that passed itself off as a variation of the tape being played in reverse and the sucking was more like a flapping.  And it was - a flapping of the sign which was a tremendous canvas having its name receive a pronouncement of the wind tearing holes in its name.

Eventually, he reached his destination and was informed that his car could not be fixed and he would have to go to a transmission specialist.  He re-entered his car to drive into the flow of traffic with its vehicles moving forward and in reverse back to where they started and where they left from and where they started.  His thoughts leaked ever so slowly along with the fluid that continued to seep from underneath the gas and brake pedals. 

Go.  Stop.  Like a tape being fast forwarded and rewound and played in reverse.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.  That sucking sound.  Sucking the sound out of the road and his feet and fingers whose applied pressure made little difference.  Leave.  Return.  Leave.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

- Max Stoltenberg