Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A blanket was moved slightly.  Some gray brushed into the darkness.  Time from somewhere out beyond silence was casting its threatening net and nets and net.  Stop making it up was clawing at the blanket's edges.  The dispersion was spilling up for vomit into commitment.  Organized nastiness and insipid reproachments awaited.  In that regard the reference was forthcoming and useful for blanketing uselessness.  Not a disease, but a trend and a manner of regarding most for the egg crates.  In that regard they were in inescapable regard for egg crates to the sky.  More gray was brushed into the darkness on one side and then the other.

First Voice: In that regard.
Second Voice: Dreamt that.
First Voice: No, it wasn't a dream.
Second Voice: It wasn't a dream?
First Voice: It wasn't a dream.
Second Voice: Where was that heard?
First Voice: From before.
Second Voice: From before what?
First Voice: From before darkness that followed the gray.
Second Voice: Now gray follows darkness.
First Voice: It has its pull.
Second Voice: Its pull is a good way to put it.
First Voice: Gravity of words that shade.
Second Voice: In that regard.
First Voice: And will continue to be regarded that way.
Second Voice: A turnaround that brings repulsion.
First Voice: Not enough time for facing.
Second Voice: No regard for facing except beyond.
First Voice: Gray followed by monitors.
Second Voice: With regard to monitors and the code.
First Voice: Regarding the code.
Second Voice: Yes, it goes around many times and envelopes what comes around.
First Voice: It has come around to that again.
Second Voice: After darkness.
First Voice: With regard to profiles.
Second Voice: With regard to that.
First Voice: Misleading in that regard.
Second Voice: Agreed.  With regard to that.
First Voice: Antiseptic obligation.
Second Voice: How many with regard to that?
First Voice: Undetermined.  Never to be determined.
Second Voice: Never to be determined.
First Voice: Incontrovertible.
Second Voice: Without question.
First Voice: Without regard.
Second Voice: Without regard for darkness.
First Voice: The absolute darkness.
Second Voice: Impenetrable.
First Voice: In that regard.
Second Voice: With regard to facing?
First Voice: Penetrating.
Second Voice: Good way to put it.
First Voice: It has been in that regard.
Second Voice: Until brushed aside by the gray.
First Voice: And visions of egg crates.
Second Voice: Beyond visions and up to the sky.
First Voice: Never impenetrable darkness.
Second Voice: Only the gray. 
First Voice: In that regard.

- Max Stoltenberg

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Ms. P sat in her office.  She was searching for something in the drawers of her desk and was getting increasingly frustrated. 

Ms. P: I know it's here somewhere.  He handed it over to me in here.  Or maybe he handed it to me in his office.  Always handing me something to handle.  Could still be in his office.  For all I know, he may have taken it with him.

The phone rang.  She hesitated as she continued to ponder.  Ms. P eventually picked it up.

Ms. P: LLX Systems Communications Division, this is P speaking.  Oh, hi, DD.  How are you?  Really?  Bronchitis?  My goodness.  I'm sorry to hear that.  Yes, I do give a crap.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Don't say that either.  Well, that's a little true.  Just kidding.  I said I was kidding.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  You keep saying that.  I do, too.  I was just kidding.  What do you mean you can't tell?  Of course, you can tell.  I can tell you can tell.  How?  How can I tell you can tell?  By the way I make it sound like I'm kidding.  I take the nasty edge off of it.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  For crap's sake.  Like I said about the crap that I give.  No.  No, not true.  I disagree.  I disagree.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  All right say that.  Go ahead and say that.  I give you crap.  I give you crap even though I give a great big crap about you, DD.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Fine.  Say that.  Fine, say that.  Go ahead and make yourself worse by saying that.  See if I give a crap.  I do give a crap.  Don't - OK.  OK - go ahead and say it all you want.  Keep talking yourself into the intensive care.  Is that what you want?  It sounds like that's what you want.  How's your carpal tunnel?  Worse?  See, it's because of how you talk and what you do to yourself.  Yes, I know.  It's your kids, too.  Just the older ones.  The little ones don't know any better.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  Fine go ahead and say that.  All right, go ahead and say that.  See if I give a crap.  All right, fine, it's the little ones, too.  And your mother?  Anyone else you want to throw in and stir into the mix?  No?  I'm surprised.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I was just kidding.  All right, whatever, go ahead and say that.  Go right ahead and say that.  How's your back?  Really?  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  You are not that old.  You are not.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I'm the one getting old.  I am not kidding about that.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  How  am I trying to be better than you?  How am I trying to be better than you when I say I'm the one getting older?  Well, you are being immature when you make it worse by doing this to yourself.  Go ahead and deny it.  Go ahead and stay blind.  Stay blind and keep on walking through that minefield.  That's probably what happened to your back.  You walked right through that minefield with your blinders on when you could've taken a different path where you looked out for you and taken those blinders right off and thrown them away.  You could've thrown those blinders away or down the toilet and flushed them away.  You might've had no back problems now if you'd listened to me and flushed those blinders down the toilet.  Sure I'm saying this to you now, but this is nothing new.  This is nothing new.  I've been saying this for years.  Well, not in those exact words of flushing your blinders down the toilet, but I've been telling you to look out for yourself for a change for years.  I've been telling you.  For years.  Yes, for years.  How long?  We have not known each other that long.  No frigging way.  At least a year or two more than that.  Fine you believe what you want to believe.  You don't listen to me anyway.  You're afraid of change.  Yes, you are.  You are afraid.  You are petrified of change.  You'd pee your pants if you really made a change.  All right you have courage to live your life.  Fine you're the bravest person in the world.  I'll go out and buy you a medal and bring it to your place.  Yeah, I'll bring it to your place if it's not Grand Central Station over there.  You don't listen to me.  Don't say that.  Don't say that.  I don't have to listen to this.  After all the listening I do I don't have to listen to this.  I've got to go, DD.  I have something I need to do for my supervisor.  He left me a whole truckload of stuff to do and I have no idea how long it will take me.  I really have no idea.  You take care of yourself, sweetheart.  For a change.  Yes, I do give a crap.  DD, I've got to go.  Bye bye.

Ms. P hangs up the phone and heaves a considerable sigh.  She sits and rocks in her chair for a while.  She then continues looking through the drawers of her desk.  She finds a piece of paper and looks at it.  She starts to return it back into the drawer and then pulls it out again.  She looks at it and reads it silently to herself.  She then continues to read it out loud.

Ms. P: . . . to her and she'll turn it into a meal that serves 10.  Oh, brother.  Bring a wound to her and she will heal it and nurture and strengthen it into an arm that throws the winning touchdown.  Yeah, right.  Give her the most trampled seeds and she will grow it by her sweat and blood into a garden that could adorn and welcome you to the greatest institutions.  What a load.  Hand her the diminished and she will enhance it with her compassion, sensitivity, and words.  Words issue in the most poetic of language from her and result in all the artists, statesmen, architects, philosophers, doctors, and scientists.  I'll give you some language.  Been meaning to shred this.  Shredding things doesn't quite give the satisfaction one looks for in getting rid of stuff that's called "sensitive."  Sensitive information.  Holding on to things just because they give you a laugh.  Or you just sit here in this dead end not laughing at ridiculous words put together by people who make a living writing ridiculous words that create worlds that are unobtainable because they don't exist or you have to pretend you believe this stuff or act insensitive enough to ignore how ridiculous it all is.  Don't hope for anything.  Just want people to leave me alone.  Get's lonely in here after a while until it's interrupted by annoying friends.  Not really friends.  They just use you by taking advantage of your wisdom.  Actually, they don't apply any of that wisdom.  What a fool to keep showing up at the same damned business everyday.  Nothing better out there.  Not yet.  It'll never come so it just remains the same as it gets worse.  Less and less to give and lonelier and lonelier as the man looks over your shoulder all the time.  Glad he has his own office to keep him out of my hair.  Can't stand my hair.  Bad hair day today and yesterday and the day before that.  Should shave it all off and demonstrate that the barren skull will bring forth something fuller like this crappy hair that just gets tangled with lousy men.  Wants to be stiff?  I'll spray him with something to make him stiff or poison him.  Better off without him.  It's so quiet in here without the boss.  Him and his jokes.  They know how to use the jokes.  Nice and quiet in here.  This rocking feels comforting like that time not that time the other one I wish I could remember better.  I am getting older than her.  Much older and mature.  Lot of good that does with men who know all the jokes.  Ridiculous and they make you laugh and they leave you looking at them and how ridiculous they are.  Glad they're not here.  Glad no one's here.  Should go and shred and get some conversation.  Hard to have a conversation that shredder drowns it out.  The box is full with all that sensitive information.  Sensitive to them.  Just numbers and names.  Not really names just letters and what do they call them ac ac acro acronyms.  Just a lot of acronyms that are owed a lot of money that never gets paid.  Bills.  They want you to pay your bills and you see the stacks of bills they don't pay.  Pretty big stacks so much paper.  Should shred this crap of lies with all the other sheets in this box in these drawers.  These offices are like bigger boxes filled with paper and all kinds of sensitive information that should be shred.  Shredding drowns out conversation into smaller small talk get shredded paper caught in metallic teeth until it gets jammed and smokes and burns.  Still smell the last time it burned.  Burnt popcorn.  Burnt dinners.  Burnt houses.  Nasal memories.  Hard to remember things other ways.  Can't think of them at the moment.  Memory totaled like the last car.  Didn't get much reimbursement for that.  Never do.  Wanted me to buy the supervisor a new digital voice recorder because he broke the last one and didn't want to use his credit card because the company wouldn't pay for a new one.  He said he couldn't use his credit card for some reason that still doesn't make any sense to me.  I've never worked for any who it seems it's in his job description is to not make sense.  It's to his benefit not to make sense.  Avoid giving a straight answer to anything.  Makes me curious what kind of nonsense he comes up with on his latest dictation.

Ms. P starts looking again through her drawers.  She suddenly stops and looks up with a mixed uncertain realization. 

Ms. P: Did I really?  All this thinking about shredding.  I don't recall doing that, but then why would it come back to the surface of my mind?  No, I couldn't have.  Got rid of it.  Tried to.  I couldn't possibly.  Getting older and so mature with wisdom and all that gets ignored.

She gets up and goes over to her shred box tucked in the back corner of her office.  She sticks her hand in and begins to shuffle some papers around.

Ms. P: I wonder if no I did not.  Maybe under this batch.  Nothing there, of course, not there.  I could'nt have definitely no possible way.

Suddenly there is a small thud as her hand moves something against the side of the box.  She stops shuffling papers around.  She is quiet for a while as if contemplating a stubborn puzzle.  She pulls out the digital voice recorder.

Ms. P: So I did.  I'll be damned.  When was this? 

She takes the recorder over to her desk and sits back down in her chair. 

Ms. P: Why does it seem like it never happened or happened so long ago over years and decades even?  A lifetime of forgetting about things that you try to get rid of, but never do until you remember.  Now that's sensitive information.  Sensitive information scraping at sensitive nerves on the verge of snapping.  Snapping.  Don't pick it up where you left off.  Don't press the button.  Don't be pushing buttons.  Those buttons buttons he's so good at pushing buttons those buttons that clever bastard knows what to press.  Don't pick up where you left off you know now now you know where you left off.  You've got the button now and don't have to press it but you have to type it up and make sense of his nonsense or make more nonsense out of it and hide more of what he's trying to hide or just expose him the incompetent rat fink.  The yes man who can't take no for an answer and has no problem passing on the answer no to all of us.  Don't pick up where you left off.  Have the button.  Don't let him press the button.  Out of town and out of mind but at the touch of a button.  Don't pick up where you left off cut off cut it off. I can understand those women who cut off all that dictation.  Just one long stream of nonsense that keeps streaming out.  Don't pick up where you left off.  Have the button.  Do we have to finish it?  Do we have to finish it at all?  Can I finish this ridiculous communication and put enough fragments together and leave all of his so funny jokes and double meanings out in the holes of my forgetfulness and keep it out of the holes of my memory the holes of my body you bastard don't pick up where you left off.  Might need to remind rewind just a little to get just enough to finish the mess.  Rewind enough or rewind all the way to the beginning before the beginning of his breathing his life his existence his voice that voice his meanings his double meanings his ridiculous meaningless meanings and jokes so unfunny they make one laugh make too many laugh that ignore his nonsense or put up with it.  Fastforward away from where you left off cut off cut it off make him bleed.  That would be poetic justice not very poetic and there is no justice.  Could fast forward, but who knows where it ends?Who knows where it ends?  Rewind rewind enough, but when do you know enough is enough?  Rewind to before the beginning can't read the read out the display is broken and misleading like my mirrors where objects don't appear as they are.  Rewind just enough to have enough buffer to get enough material to finish this.  Not finish this.  It is finished.  You're finished.  I'm finished.  Finish this rewind enough don't pick up where you left off.  Rewind to a time before the beginning that place can't bring it clearly enough to the surface in my mind some kind of property when there was a property two or three stories stories with only half finished scenes in them pretty dresses sweaters and afternoon light glowing softly through the material plenty of material and then it gets erased.  Erase all of it and let him do the damn thing himself wouldn't know what to do helpless little fuck floundering behind his words and his nonsense and his jokes can't make up his mind and rewind with enough of a buffer a flash of something that used to be steep a bluff or something where was that?  Smell the ocean.  Smell doesn't last when things get burned up and burned down.  Rewind enough don't rewind at all at all erase it all.

Ms. P rewinds the recorder and stops it.  She hesitates and rewinds some more. 

Ms. P: Don't trouble with it don't trouble yourself erase it all.

She rewinds some more and plays it.

Supervisor's Voice:  . . . figures.  An analysis that analyzes the figures for communication's expenses show what appears to be an increase, but is actually a decrease if you refer to the copy of that report I was expecting from JR.  He promised it to me last week and I will get that from him before the end of next week when I get back.  His numbers reflect more accurately the expense total.  Not like the initial analysis where the reflection of the expense figures do not appear as they actually are like those mirrors on some cars.  Ha ha ha. 

Ms. P stops the recorder. 

Ms. P: Get to the button before he does with his jokes.  He's reaching for it.  Just erase it all.  Have enough.  Trample it underfoot and tell him it broke again and he'll just have to fend for himself and fall out of the nest.  He'd probably catch a branch on his way down and be saved.  Its ones like him that always get saved and never crash.  What is that?  Circumstances always missing schmucks like him so that his team can keep him propped up and making our work make him look good for the ones who remain invisible and when we see their faces at last we no longer want to set our eyes on them ever again.  Erase it all. 

Ms. P plays some more.

Supervisor's Voice: . . . ha ha what was it those mirrors say?  Objects in mirror appear not as they are or further away or closer whatever.  Mirrors lie.  Just like I bet they lie about how I look ha ha ha -

Ms. P stops the recorder and lifts her arm to throw it and hesitates as she cries out.

Ms. P: Told you.  Told you why won't you take your own advice your own wisdom that you can't seem to gain enough wisdom enough to not pick it up where you left off got to finish it finish this mess and go home to the burning smell erase it all rewind before the beginning of the whole sordid story stories erased ruined by them erase it all fast forward, but who knows where it ends?

- Max Stoltenberg

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Lines and unfinished rectangles and narrow paths marked off vehicles for movement and parking.  Openings to park and to move along so as not to stop other vehicles from finding space to move and to stop.  Many times vehicles stopped but not to park.  Many times vehicles stopped because they had not yet found a place to park and were prevented by other vehicles that had stopped because they had not yet found a place to park.  On many occasions other vehicles put other vehicles in a position where they were stopped from moving to turn to get to another narrow path due to stopping and moving through the current narrow path which had no open unfinished rectangles for their vehicle to park in.  These other vehicles were stopped by other vehicles which were stopped by other vehicles that were in the way at the end of one of several narrow paths because these other vehicles were not there to park in an open unfinished rectangle but to empty some of its contents which moved of its own accord and not blown completely by the wind like other objects of trash and soon to be trash or to elude or be ignored by those who moved of their own accord and dependent on others that moved of their own accord to convey them in vehicles that moved and blocked and got blocked and were not there to necessarily park in an unfinished rectangle. 

The vehicles when they were not impeded in their movement by other vehicles that either blocked them or were blocked by other vehicles that were blocked by other vehicles would stop their movement due to an open unfinished rectangle being passed by.  An open unfinished rectangle would be passed by as a result of being overlooked by those who moved of their own accord when not operating the vehicle that conveyed them when due to their operating the vehicle of conveyance.  By and by what passed as an operation was a conveyance that operated so that those that overlooked or looked over what was conveyed would eventually be overlooked and passed over. 

Other things being conveyed would often be the cause of blockages in the movement of vehicles conveying what was being conveyed.  Some things were conveyed between what was being conveyed by vehicles or as vehicles for a means of exchange in order to exchange what was meant.  Sometimes what was meant ended up on what was exchanged or what was meant was a means of exchange to be derived as what was being conveyed by vehicles as being something meant to be done.  To be done as listed on a to do list with lines for items to list to be done involving items that were exchanged.  Reading between the lines read lines between vehicles in order to stay in order to order and take orders as a means of exchange and as a means of what was being conveyed by vehicles what they were meant to do.  They didn't recall much when they needed to in order to take orders but they thought they recalled when they were either moving or parked blocked or unimpeded of or of not of their own accord that they could find themselves parked on paths that advertised themselves as free.  Maybe they didn't recall anything but only succeeded in being conveyed and confused.  The means of exchange only exchanged one means for another and somehow they got the order of things mixed up and lines crossed.  Lines and unfinished rectangles and narrow paths were marked off but the means of exchange only exchanged what was meant and what was meant to be done and what they were meant to do as only marking them as marked off positions.  Marked off positions soon to be exchanged with others to be conveyed more efficiently with less parking and more moving.  Reading between the lines in a manner that conveyed them through doing or not doing in regards to items on a list on lines that marked off positions where vehicles that conveyed these positions were kept in order to take orders of what others were ordering.  Orders that were a means of exchange and means to an end that ended up in carts to be carted around.  Carts to be carted around and left around.  Left around to be left between vehicles between the lines.  Reading between the lines.  Carts to be put one inside the other to form a long line in a procession.  A long line in a procession along procedures lining up in a process.  Carts within each other and carts within forming lines along a means of exchange before being carted out to be emptied and left around to join up again.  Carts left between vehicles conveying what's being conveyed within to get carts to cart around within.  Re-emerging without with items on their lists in their carts carted around to be left around between vehicles they will be rejoined with one inside the other as vehicles to convey what's being conveyed in a long procession along procedures in a process to make less positions available and orders unending in an order that never ends.  Reading between the lines the positions that are marked off to be replaced at the next dropped order drop off as they park within closed rectangles on circles that convey their waste after what they have consumed.  Closed rectangles marked off with doors that hide those that have been marked to be replaced at the next dropped order drop off as they read between the lines that convey them between narrow paths that never widen.  As they read between the lines that disorient after being oriented briefly.  As they read between the lines that list descriptions that include learning curves within narrow paths.  Narrow paths that never widen when more unfinished rectangles without are marked off to be filled by more vehicles that convey what will consume and waste and waste and mostly waste as they who are marked off in closed rectangles drop off on circles that convey their waste wasted on what is consumed and consumes them.

- Max Stoltenberg

Friday, May 27, 2011


She believed very little that others told her.  She disliked being lied to and misled.  And she loathed waiting.  And she especially abhorred waiting in an auto mechanic's shop while her car was being repaired.  It was probably even less than very little that she believed when others were doing their best and acting their most passionate and being their most adamant to convince her of something.  She had spent a great deal more than most of her life weeping over much more than spilt milk.  She regretted the reality that her body replenished itself.  A significant amount more than the majority of her thoughts were devoted to cogitating on the idea of her body's resilience being overturned and overruled so that the emptying process could be allowed to continue to its final concluding scene of the closing of her eyes into a tremendous prolongation far beyond just an extended snooze.  Snooze snooze and hit the snooze again on the alarm that shook her out of other places she would rather be or worse than the paths she had been misguided onto by friends, family, coworkers, bosses, lovers, strangers, friends, phony friends, phony and cowardly acquaintances trying to be more and less than they really were whatever that could possibly be.  Who knew?  No one knew or they pretended and feigned to know or have explanations those bloody explanations that turned words into conduits for biological waste.  Biological material and goings on that wasted away like she wished she could and she could not.  Her body kept bloody replenishing its bloody self with bloody cleansing that made an awful bloody mess.  Man, what do you want now?  From her from her body that flattened and fattened that opened and closed and stretched and tightened that softened and hardened and touched and recoiled from you, man.  Man.  What do you want now from her?  Stop looking and talking.  Lies and misleading directions and cowardly nonsensical explanations shooting out of that grease covered body of your hands.  Don't touch and stand back and come here and tell her now what.  What's that now you say, man?  It'll be a while longer won't be done until tomorrow or the next day?  Because the part is hard to get to?  Bet it's hard.  It's always hard as you think of nothing else but getting your eyes and your hands on things that bring the cleverest and the best out in you clever trousers man smearing your face with dirt and darkening layers to make your eyes stand out and shine with bright suggestions of suggestive positions to attempt to connect things that have ruptured and leaked their fluids.  You complain about what you like and you are obsessed with what you complain about.  Liking and complaining make you into one unclear murky confused and foggy lubricant for the machine that grinds her and him and him and him and her to grind out little packages soft at first before they are hardened by your hardening and liking and complaining.  They look like you when they throw their tantrums.  You, man, look like them when you throw things.  When you throw off her like an inflatable raft to convey you on your shining pool glistening with your alcoholic getaways.  Getaway and get out from under this body that you think you have much more and much less than a clue about and disappear back into the hole you came from that makes excuses for you and apologies and tells you about being chosen or not chosen or responsible for whatever you put what they call a mind to to to never mind you're not listening anyway you can to get around it get around her get in her drive right through her with your explanations that always have a reason a meaning a beginning a source a creative source responsible for excluding and misleading and possessing those who have not been chosen or born like her with a vagina with breasts with an overwhelming exceeding of the limits of patience for the rape of woman and of words you commit on a moment by moment basis with your body work with your tools with your tool.  Going to leave now.  Magazines filled with the latest and the out of date images and models for this theater this dumbshow getting too old for dress up getting too depressed for waking up getting too fed up with being fed in and out and out and in and in to get yourself out from under the body her body get out from under her body stop the leaking of fluids that she wants to leak out and abandon her to the scrap heap when she can finally be neglected and no longer nagged when she is expecting if she is expecting and only expect the end that slows and grinds to much less than a crawl to suggest suggestive positions in an apotheosis she would close her eyes to and reject with every gradually dead cell that would fall from her body stick to her body it would stick as she would reject with every broken down fiber of her being as long as it would be rejected she had been distracted by explanations that couldn't hold her car together her job together her relationships together her hopes together her dreams together her life together.  She leaves again to walk on and on to walk on to the trash heap where she would join the other objects that couldn't hold together.

- Max Stoltenberg

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Terrance Bled quit his meaningless job.  His boss had asked him, "Why?"  And he had answered him that the job was meaningless.  His boss had responded with that "a job becomes what you bring to it."  He hadn't known what to say to that.  It was something his father would say.  Every room and hallway in that office building echoed with words and phrases he heard his father say or thought he heard him say.  Actually his father's words became a tasteless breakfast that couldn't possibly launch him into his day into the rest of his life.  And yet his father's words were as double-edged acupuncture that slowly let his reasons his reasons his defenses his comprehension leak out so slowly and rapidly scab for others to cast disparaging glances and comments and work his way.  Their way and the boss's way was very close to practically on the shoulder of the highway.  Every update he made to his so-called and recalled recalled back and rejected updates he made and remade remade were buckled with his signature that resembled flattened fauna on the edge of the next county.  The next county the next state the next ocean to the next world not of this world.  There was no such world.  So he quit.  He quit and turned and left the office where he felt his boss's words heard his boss's glare or whatever expression tried to get him to settle into his sandtrap and bury himself in the policies and procedures manual.  He walked down the hallway and felt the heat in his neck on his neck tightening its tight and vicarious cognitive linguistic adage or the most recently forwarded insult. 

Made it to the elevator and pressed the UP button by mistake.  To ascend falsely regretting and supposing it was heading for a planned course into the top floor where the upper people were they even people were waiting to offer their observations they had been making and reports they had received from his boss.  Or there would be no one up there but empty space and he would have his badge lasered off by a machine that would send him off into orbit and see where he could have lived if only he been good enough or bad enough or sneaky and despicable enough or phony enough or off the wall enough.  He was off the wall or would be off the wall and off of everything soon enough and drift to the next world.  Forget it.  Where did that come from?  Who did that come from?  He knew and his words would be piped into the suit they would give him as he drifted.  The tape the disc the whatever would play and play in his suit in his organs in his body until he would be left with his growing discomfort pain pains and disease and he smashed the DOWN button and the elevator stopped suddenly as it bounced between floors between worlds.  He was kidding himself with another world.  There was no other world.  Only one rotating repeating disaster catastrophe filled world and he was finally going down in it.  Just go to the basement and keep taking stairs that go deeper and steeper and wider and narrower into the belly and become an infection to the foundations.  He was kidding himself and pressing the ground main the main thing the main floor button who has got it the button for him to press with a finger that pointed accusingly at superior forms of silhouettes and faces the face that spit what you bring to it what you spring and hop to hop to it and find it in yourself to hack it into that tasteless breakfast of the one pretending pretending all these years to be someone who learned something to discern things and can't get off the ground can't get off and the ground floor. 

The doors opened hesitantly as the dark faces in it frowned their words of contempt and luring him back up to the floor where he quit where he had quit and felt no weight lift but shift deeper into his chest and clutch at his neck as it sank.  He tried to push it under the water's surface of the fouled pool a large dead jellyfish that would not sink and it was coming back to life.  It split in half as the doors opened.  He looked for the lobby and recalled or thought he recalled the corner where he needed to hang a right to get there and be there and leave there from there to leave.  Or be trapped and restricted by the restricting presence of words that surrounded and made the body cave in and get hot and just overheat and manage to keep breathing and keep breathing those words and phrases of toxic apologies for their errors of the times and how things were different in these times where more errors were bound to happen and his counted more because his were so close to the shoulder of the highway headed to the next world that wasn't there so they would just come back to chew off his limbs and then where would he be who would be to see blurry the figures to attempt to make the figures add together add up add down as the elevator went up and down in the world to leave into the lobby that he couldn't to his mind squeeze out where it was.

Listening to the elevator doors slamming shut with that deadening metallic sound that made him think of that story of the lion that did not want anymore to be king and he found himself circled by hyenas laughing at his mane falling out tuft after tuft plucked out by the birds chirping in his ears.  Those chirps that went through his skull like a lightning bolt must have gone through the giraffe's brain that made up steps and patterns of steps to give the impression he was onto something onto greater places in the wild that was only irrational as an animal could be irrational and without its instincts for survival that looked like the choreographed kind to the rest of the herd or others not to his herd because they shunned the giraffe for it was only for others.  Yes, only for others unfamiliar that didn't matter as much like the rest of his existence making up steps that made smaller and smaller circles in the dirt.  Clouds of dirt that plumed like from an arrogant and indifferent blaze.  The blaze that took so many from time to time to the times of more errors from those in charge and those that no longer wanted to be in charge like the lion who stood in the center of the circle of hyenas as they laughed and waited for him to put his crown back together that continually came apart and get those tufts back into his skull even if it took all night in these times of errors that were shared mostly by the little ones the lesser ones the talked about ones the laughed about ones. 

He turned the corner and thought at least he reached the conclusion or nothing like it at all that brought him to the elevator that would go to the parking garage and entering and stepping out to inside the black box with the doors that split more dark faces laughing contemptuously split in half to reveal a hallway that looked very much like the hallway that was like the hallway that turned around another corner apparently only right straight into his boss's office and he fell into the doorway and stood witness to the witnessing of his boss's expression or lack thereof and words of silent and empty phrases that brought his shoulders slumping and slumping into depostured return to his desk and stared at the calendar that stretched its landscape of a lattice structure skyscraper that blocked his view of any of his future views of the future of the sun sitting at his desk where he had resigned himself.

- Max Stoltenberg

Monday, May 23, 2011


They had lost their place reading.  They searched the page and came across the section of the passage where it read:

The yellow and black snake tried to get back into the hedge, but was being held by the elderly security officer.  He had a pole with metal pincers at the end to hold the snake's head in place.  People - the wheels guide block oil stains . . . - normal setting stereo the doors automatic doors doors - . . . - doors the doors

They lost their place again.  Here.

. . . - wheels to convey the . . . - convey the . . .

That wasn't.  Not it.  Something about wheels.

. . . - wheels . . . wheels . . .

No.  Not wheels.  Slash the wheels.  Slash the words.  Slash the story.  Slash.  Metal.  Blade.  Blade.  Metal.

. . . pincers.  Metal pincers held the snake's the snake's the snake . . . the snake . . . choking . . . gasping for breath -

Hadn't lost the place.  Had lost motion.  Lost rhythm or something.  On snake.  The snake's head.  Can't breathe.  Can't breathe.  The reading is suffocating.  The words are choking the airway.  Airway.  Way.  The way.  Snake.  Snake's head squeezed.  Squeezed.  Words squeezing.  The space between the words grows.  Was falling into the chasm the gulf between the words.  Tunnel.  Drawn into the tunnel.  Into it.  Not down or up or up or up.  Just into.  Tunnel everything.  Tunnel.  Light.  Coming towards. 

Light.  There was a light outside the window next to the front door.  Some light.  It glowed dimly.  Put the book down.  Book fell off the side table.  Book spilled onto the carpet.  Lost the page.  Lost place.  Lost the pages.  Lost the chapter.  Lost place.  Chapter.  Pages.  Lost.  Where.  Lost.  Chapter.  Can't find the bookmark.  Forgot to get a bookmark.  Light.  Outside the window. 

Walked up to the window.  Breathing on the window.  Gasping.  Congested with words.  Light.  Glow behind the breath.  Breath dims the light.  Limited breath dims the light.  Light can't get in.  Can't get in.  What is what is what who light can't get in.  Cannot cannot get in.  No stay.  Stay no.  Stay no.  In the house.  In this room.  In this world.  In this this world from the glow breath on the window limited breath on the window fading.  Stay in in in stay no from in the room.  Hand on the knob.  Can't feel the fingers sliding on the turning rotating metal of the knob.  Metal choking squeezing the snake the snake's head.  Brought up brought out by exploration little child little little child moving moving back far far not enough back.  Never far enough back inside the book where the place to read is lost so easily. 

Door door the wheels the door opening and opening now and outside door closed shut.  Shut.  Way.  Shut.  Light a little not much brighter.  Still still night still light still dim.  Where?  Back in.  Lower case.  Lower case.  Below the line.  Put head down.  Light.  Down the street.  Towards towards the corner.  House.  Fence.  Where's the fence?  The fence of the house.  Can't read the darkened street signs.  Turned off the light.  Turned off the light.  What street was what's his name on?  What's his name?  What's the name of the street?  Maybe the street was this way.  This way is what way?  Way after time to sleep.  Sleep.  Keep eyes open for sleep later late.  Sleep.  Keep.  Keep.  Street.  What way?  Who's what's name?  His her when?  What - . . . the wheels - turning the wheels snake can't breathe gasping in the grip of lost place spaces between words tunnel tunnel into choking tunnel no light no way.  What name?  What way?

- Max Stoltenberg


They each had a nose for trouble.  And what was troubling them reeked of being far past time when things were worth saving.  So many items had gone bad.  They stood in the kitchen. 

She looked into the opened refrigerator as he was taking notes.

She: There are two gallons of milk and I believe the one on the left has gone bad.
He: Gallon of milk.  One on the left.  Gone bad.

She leaned in and examined the gallon on the left more closely.

She: Yes, definitely the gallon on the left.
He: It has been duly noted.

A puzzled expression came over her face.  Her nose wrinkled and she leaned back into the refrigerator.

She: Actually the gallon on the right has gone just as bad.
He: Gallon on the right.
She: Left and right.
He: Just as bad.
She: Other dairy. 
He: Expanding into the category or the stench drew you there?
She: Both.
He: Looks like another page is in order.
She: Be surprised if it doesn't use up an entire pad.
He: No surprises.  Just line after line of things gone bad.  However, it still doesn't exclude the usual punctuations of amazement and doubt.  Akin to awkward maneuvers to distract others from mucus on one's sleeve.  Left sleeve or right sleeve.  Take your pick or spontaneous expelling expressions of indeterminate determinacy.  Left or right.  Both gone bad as you say.  Both gone bad as we note.  As we record.  Line by line.  Line by line.  Page by page.  Pad by pad.  Publish.  Self-publish.  Self-conscious.  Awkward maneuvers to rid one of the mucus that clings.  That clings after being expelled. 
She: Aziago gone bad.
He: Aziago bad.
She: Cheddar.
He: Sharp?
She: Bad.
He: Mild?
She: The cheddar, the cheese, the dairy, all bad.
He: The gamut of dairy, all bad.  This will take a while to record. 
She: Not worth troubling with items anymore.  May as well focus on headings and domains.
He: This half of the kitchen?
She: Bad.  Rotate 180 degrees and repeat.
He: The kitchen in its entirety, bad.  Dining room?
She: Why limit documenting to rooms and floors?  Think big and think rotten.
He: Upstairs, downstairs, rotten.
She: It doesn't stop there.  The sidewalk spreads decay from residence to residence to putrescence to trash collection zone to what does it matter?  It's all decomposing matter.  Hurry before the paper yellows and the pen secretes the most foul and obscuring issue and ooze.  The surviving unhealthy, the virulent, the cancerous, the modes, the nodes, the substance, the loads unloading, all have issues, their issues, their issues, that cover the Earth's brittleness with gelatinous fictional fantasy incomprehensibility nonsense and the words and the words and the sounds and the groans and the groans and the whimpering and the muttering shooshing shooshing expulsion of the last final repulsive polluted air and all that remains is silent silence wrapped in stench.

- Max Stoltenberg

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Things had been up in the air for June and Mandrake.  Up in the air they had been between them.  For all the things that had fallen into place, so much still remained up in the air.  For all the things that had fallen into place, each place had opened up to become another space.  Another space for the thing that had fallen to fall through.  Each space for things to fall through led to another space for things to plummet towards another place to rest, but not for long.  Each place that things plummeted towards just became another place for things to fall into place, but not for long.  Not for long these places that things fell into became other spaces for things to fall through.  And these spaces that things fell through continued to fall towards other places and spaces.

June and Mandrake had so many things up in the air.  As long as they remained up in the air, they would not have those things they kept up in the air fall through.  They kept things up in the air to keep them from falling through.  To keep things from falling through spaces between places.

Mandrake:  What are you writing?
June:  Nothing.
Mandrake:  What do you mean "nothing"?
June:  Nothing.
Mandrake:  I've seen you doing something.  It must be something.  It can't be nothing.
June:  It has too many holes in it.
Mandrake:  Too many holes?
June:  Too many holes.
Mandrake:  And what does that mean?
June:  It doesn't mean anything.
Mandrake:  It doesn't mean anything?  Is that all right?
June:  That's just it.
Mandrake:  What's just it?
June:  That.  This.  Is just it.
Mandrake:  I'm not following you.
June:  It's untenable to follow when there's too many holes.  All that follows is a fall.  A fall into the abyss.  An abyss of holes and transparent landings.  Transparent landings that are full of more holes to fall through.  Landings that are full of rests interrupted by more holes and more spaces and more falling.  Plummeting and plummeting through the abyss. 
Mandrake:  Catch your drift.  Nothing to stare into.  Drifting into and below.  Turning things upside down accomplishes nothing, but the illusion things are moving up and out.  Except things keep coming up.  Things keep coming up and beyond our reach.  Things seem to be moving up, but they continue coming up and obscuring our view.  Obscuring our view and creating another barrier.  Another barrier of things that keep coming up.  Things that remain up in the air.

- Max Stoltenberg

Thursday, May 19, 2011


She cleared her throat.  Clearing it a couple of times didn't seem to make him stir.  Neither of them could exactly stir.  She cleared her throat several more times.  Words were again heard coming from her.  Silent for a period or so.  A period.  Or so. 

Woman: Have you fallen asleep over there?

The man did not respond.  It was hard to tell if he was awake.  He stood a distance from the woman.  It looked like his eyes were open.  His face had a droopy look about it.

Woman: Hey.  Hey! 

The man's eyes widened and the rest of his body shook.  Except for his feet. 

Woman: You are still here.  Still here with me.  Have you dropped off your guard?

The man moved his mouth and then his neck.  He cleared his throat several times.

Woman: Sounds like the man hasn't cleaned the cave recently.  Hasn't rid the passageway of debris.  How does the man breathe?  The man hasn't rid himself of the debris, but the man sure has rid himself of speaking up.  Rid himself of being clear.  Rid himself of a path.  Himself.  The man.  He has rid himself of that other thing.  Let the woman think of it.  Since the man has rid himself of all that stuff including the thing that eludes the woman at the moment.  Eludes the woman like all the so-called physical laws that surround the woman.  Surround the woman, but elude the woman.  The laws escape with the wind and drown in the sea.  Let the woman think of it.  Think of it.  It will come to the woman eventually.  It only surrounds and wraps around the woman.  But somehow it evades the woman's yearning for consideration.  Evades the woman incessantly like flood waters that keep rising in a win lose win lose lose lose lose.  The woman's fabric of sense is flooded red in her head in her head under and through her bed.  Flooding and evading her grasp.  Give the woman a moment.  It'll come to her.  Give the woman enough time.  The man won't.  The man's impatience super seeds more laws that will follow to their perpetual maintenance.  Perpetual maintenance that will perpetually elude the woman.  The woman will stand as she does now with outstretched fingers trying to grasp.  Yearning to get a hold of.  The other thing.  One tiny thing.  So elusive.  All right.  The woman gives up.  Just tell the woman what it is.  The man's description.  It's in the man's description to tell.  To tell the woman eventually what it is.  It's a law.  A law that eludes and outpaces as the man and the woman stand still.  Standing still because their feet don't move.  When did they stop?  When did our feet stop moving?  Clear your throat again.

The man clears his throat yet again.

Woman: Speak.  Want to hear something.
Man: W-w-what?
Woman: There.
Man: There what?
Woman: There now.
Man: When is now?
Woman: The woman doesn't know.  No longer know.  Hoping the man might have an idea when is now.
Man: When is now.
Woman: Yes. See what the man comes up with.
Man: Come up with.
Woman: For crapsakes! Has the man fallen so much off his guard that he's been replaced with artificial intelligence?  Really faulty artifical intelligence.
Man: Really?
Woman: Yes, really. Is the man real?
Man: Not really.
Woman: The woman didn't think so.
Man: Not really sure.
Woman: Oh, not really sure.  And exactly what is the man waiting for to help him make a determination one way or the other?
Man: Waiting.
Woman: Putting the woman off.  That's for certain.  Putting the woman off in more ways than one.  Putting off and turning off.  Shutting off.
Man: Shutting off?
Woman: Been doing that since before the feet got stuck.  Before the woman's feet sank down and before the man's feet sank into this surface.
Man: Surface of . . .
Woman: Yes, surface of . . .
Man: Surface of the yard.
Woman: Yard?  The woman guesses that the man could say that.
Man: Yard.  Court.
Woman: Court?  What court?
Man: Court.  Yard. 
Woman: Courtyard.  Now come to think of it, it does look like the courtyard of some . . . some . . .
Man: Thing.  Some.  Thing.
Woman:  Some place.
Man: Place.  Thing.  With.
Woman: With?
Man: Up with.
Woman: Up?
Man: Come up with.
Woman: Oh, see what the man come up with.
Man: Yes, see.  See.  Up.  Looking up.  See a lot of with.  Large shapes making one large shape of shapes.  Looking down.  Feet no longer move.
Woman: Man manages to stay ahead and yet is so slow and what the man comes up with.  The man.  So slow.  The laws.  So fast. 
Man: Never seen mother.
Woman: Is that it finally?  The man hasn't seen his mother?
Man: Never seen a mother.  Never seen a mother become the trees.  Never seen a mother become the grass.  Never seen a mother become building blocks.  The story book says so.  The man says and sees that it isn't so.  Never seen a mother become large shapes making a large shape of shapes.
Woman: A mother complex.  The man has a mother complex.  The man is blaming his machine parts on a mother complex. 
Man: Never seen a mother become the ground.  The ground beneath the woman and the man.  Beneath the man and woman's feet.  Their feet that no longer move.  With meaningless statements passing between them. 

- Max Stoltenberg

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Things ostensibly were coming to an end.  For her they were.  Even though she was aware of it ostensibly spiraling down.  Whereas as things ostensibly engaged in a slow drain.  Whereas as the poet joined the virtual unraveling of things.

She had been sitting for what seemed like most of the season.  Sitting for most of the season in her bath.  What season it was probably eliminated summer and maybe spring as well.  As well as could be narrowed down.  Narrowed down in the tub.  The tub she had lowered her body into.  Back in the time that spoke with dead voices whispering dead words.  The living imitated the deceased in their exclusion of her.  Whereas as the time had rushed out of sight around the averted eyes of others.  Others whereas as others by no means necessary for her.  By no means meant and not meant for her without a word.  Without a word.

She handled the teal crayon with her right hand.  The left hand had been of no use for some time.  Sometime whereas as some of the time it still was of no use.  To her and the rest of her.  Her that wanted to rest.  Handled the teal crayon with the other hand.  The other hand handling it for the time being.  Wet paper wrapped around the side of the tub.  Trying not to tear.  No tearing for her.  No tearing her whereas as she tried not to tear.  Paper wet.  Drying and splashed again by her body sliding from exhaustion.  Her body sliding from exhaustion into the water.  Pushing the water against the side of the tub.  Her body bumping the side of the tub and a wave made of drops painting the paper wet.  Painting the paper wet.

She handled the teal crayon and spoke softly, "Lips dry part to speak of paper made wet again.  Crayon.  Your crayon softening from the steam.  Draining and refilling.  Draining and refilling.  Cooling water.  Heating water.  Skin.  The skin of the knees chapped and sprinkled.  Chapped and sprinkled.  Skin beneath the surface rubbed by palms.  Peels away like the membrane of a hardboiled egg.  Membrane.  No tearing.  No tears anymore.  You've gotten that far.  That far in a wet place.  A wet place wet with tearing and grinding as mud collects and cakes between your teeth.  They avert their eyes and imitate dead people.  Dead people.  Dead images for you are slowing draining and refilling your tub.  Leaking from the spout.  Reducing waterfalls to calendars recycled in dry bins.  Until they are knocked over by the wind.  Upset bins vomit their shred waterfalls into the blight behind your lonely house. Upstairs in the tub.  Water is silent.  Strange sounds under the upper floor.  What stirs below?  Palms rub your flesh underneath the surface.  Membrane.  No tearing.  No tearing for her.  Peeling membrane curls into the cooling water.  Membrane curls into a dance banished to the edges where they cling.  Whereas as they cling to the edges.  Draining and refilling.  Drained and refilled.  Tearing as they are banished.  Banished by palms.  Fingers.  Fingers and nails puncture skin softened by water drained and refilled.  Cooled and reheated.  Heat softening skin to be punctured by fingers and nails.  Those nails like a fork testing the readiness of the skin.  Drained and refilled away.  Lifting off the bone.  These bony fingers writing with the teal crayon on wet paper.  No tearing before what is written is written.  Whereas as the draining and refilling.  Sliding under with a lowering of the chin.  Back into the hole she had emerged from.  Forgetting and slipping under.  Eyes closing.  Closing the lid of the container."

"Wake up."  Growled one of them.  She sat up to find the three of them standing over her tub.  Standing over her.  Over her in the tub.  The one who had spoken added, "Come out."

Whereas as the poet rubbed her face with her hands.  She held her hands over her face.  She held her hands over her face and kept them there.  She kept them there as the three of them stood over her there. 

"Come out," the middle one insisted.

Whereas as the poet held her hands over her face and kept them there, spoke through her wet bony fingers and replied, "It continues.  It continues interminably.  Interminably it continues."

"Come out," the middle one insisted again.
"Make her feel," muttered the one on the left.
"And have her come to her senses," added the one on the right.

They said these things as they stood over her.  As her flesh lifted from her bones underneath the surface.  Whereas as she tried not to tear the wet paper.  Gripping the teal crayon so it would not fall.  So it would not fall.  Until what is written is written.  Is written whereas as it is written not to tear.  Not to tear for her.  Slip back down.  Too soon.  Too late.  Timing and time eluded her always in this life of draining and refilling.  Cooling and reheating.  Cooling.  Slipping.  Slip.  Before they lift you out. 

"Come out," the middle one insisted and insisted.
"Make her feel," said the one on the left.
"Make her come to her senses," added the one on the right.

Whereas as the poet held her hands over her face and kept them there.  She lowered her chin and repeated, "It continues.  It continues interminably.  Interminably it continues."

- Max Stoltenberg

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


There was B.  And there was F.  There was B and F.  F and B together on the same level.  For now.  Who knows how long it would last?  How long would it last for B and F?  How long for B?  Not long for F?  It was lasting for as long as it would last for B.  And the same could be said of it and how long it would be for F.  Only a matter of where spaces made themselves known in the levels.  B and F had been on the bottom level for several months.  Probably more than a year.  Almost two years.  Somewhere between a year and two years.  B and F together on the bottom level.  Reporting.  B and F reported to G.  G was made aware of a change in the reporting structure.  Q from the 4th level would now report to W on the 11th level.  Q no longer had T reporting to them.  T was asked by Z to take the elevator with K to come down from the 4th level and hit the road.  T took the elevator down from the 4th level and hit the road.  L was moved from the 9th level to report to D who had been moved up from the 3rd level onto the 4th level.  This left no one on the 4th level reporting to L since T had been asked to hit the road.  That opened up space for B or F to report to L.  Which one of them would report to L?  They waited.

B: Has L said anything to you, F?
F: Has L said anything to you, B?
B: I asked you first.
F: I am saving my words for last so that you can have the courtesy of voicing your thoughts first.
B: I won't hold any words back if you answer me first.
F: How will I know for certain that I will hear all the words you have to say on the matter?
B: Because you will have given me the courtesy of an answer to a question that was put forth?
F: Courtesy is one thing.  Full disclosure is another.
B: T took the elevator down from the 4th level.
F: T always takes the elevator.  Doesn't like the stairs.  Hollow echo.
B: Hollow echo.  T took the elevator down from the 4th level for the last time.
F: For the last time.  So that one of us might take the elevator up to the 4th level for the first time.
B: Been up there once already.
F: When have you been up there once already?
B: When L wanted to meet.
F: L wanted to meet.
B: That wasn't the only meeting.
F: That wasn't the only meeting.
B: There were two meetings.
F: Two meetings at the least.
B: There may have been more meetings.
F: There probably were more.
B: Depending on how many are involved.
F: It's not just internal.  There might be some external considerations.
B: External considerations may not be accurate.
F: According to who?
B: That's just what's been heard. 
F: There is a possibility that this may not be exclusive to the bottom level.
B: Really?  Are there levels lower than this one?
F: They are always making lower levels.  It cuts complexity in terms of responsibilities and liabilities on the even lower levels.
B: That would affect the 4th level?  Make it a higher level with more under it?
F: Not necessarily.  There is word that no one might report to L on the 4th level.
B: No one might report to L?
F: L is being considered to report to X on the 8th level.  After T took the elevator down that leaves no one on the 4th level.  Essentially the 4th level gets absorbed in one direction or the other.  Either the 4th level disappears into the levels above it or the levels below it. 
B: Brings to mind a story of a cow that wandered onto the highway due to a space in the fence.  It followed the two lanes that continued in one direction.  Could have been towards cooler weather or warmer weather.  The cow couldn't understand the road sign that said that the two lanes were merging into one.  The sign said, "Lane ends merge left."  What difference does it make?  The lane could merge right.  Both lanes are merging into each other.  Just like the levels.  They move towards each other because the 4th level is eliminated.  But then they don't really get any closer because they just add new ones above and below.  It makes no difference because the cow can't make sense of it.
F: The weather might not change all that much.
B: What do you mean?
F: The highway could be going between East and West.
B: It could.
F: Or the cow might leave the road.  Cars and trucks.
B: Cars.  Not so many trucks these days.
F: The cow would more than likely leave the road.
B: Not like us.  We stay on it. 
F: We stay on it so we can come everyday and move around the levels when spaces open up.  Like the one on the 4th level.  The level that isn't there anymore.
B: Move around between levels when spaces open up and there are just the right number of meetings to leave a level where it is.  Able to move up to it.  Or just stay on the bottom level with lower levels below.  Doesn't that make our level higher?
F: No.  It makes the lower levels lower.  And the level we're on just stays the same. 
B: Until they don't need it anymore. 
F: If they don't.
B: When they don't.
F: When?
B: Until we've been here long enough.
F: And when is long enough?
B: Don't know.  Don't think there will ever be enough.

- Max Stoltenberg

Monday, May 16, 2011


She was stuck at work.  The program was unable to alphabetize the list of names.  Weeks of typing were being scrambled.  She remembered to hit the "undo" button.  Names and information were back to their original less mixed up condition.  Mixed up.  The whole mess was so tangled now.  It was a misunderstanding last night.  Why couldn't he get that through his selfish protozoan skull?  Men.  Allegedly so adaptable.  They destroyed so much by remaining so unadaptable.

She was putting off the inevitable.  Calling him to inform him.  Informing him of being stuck.  Stuck at work. 

"Just leave it for tomorrow," he would say.

Her whole life had slowed down when she met him.  Pulling alongside him was once so exciting, so calming, so comforting.  Now it was so so.  It was so deadening.  Searching for the "undo" button.  Nothing to be undone.  The details were piling up against the dam of her glazed over eyes.  The details were pressing against the wall that would pop her out of the plane and into the air that rushed at 35,000 feet.  She could feel her glazed over eyes being blown inward and through the back of her ponytail.  Her ponytail would whip and thrash about the clouds.  Her long hair would be given reluctant permission by the jetstream to be buffeted about like a damaged parachute.  A mad rubber squid rejected by reality.  Death had arrived at last.

The last 5 minutes were punctured by her desk phone ringing.  It was him.  One conversation would exhume the one from last night.  Shit.  Don't answer.  She had to answer.  She was stuck at work.  She was stuck.  Clouds.  Clothes and hair filled with wind.  She escaped her chair and went to the window.  What floor was she on?  She was stuck as she pressed against the glass.  The phone ringing against the glass. 

The dark glass.  She saw the fish.  The fish in the tank.  In the tank behind the glass.  The tiny fish glowed in the darkness of the tank.  She put her hand on the glass.  Maybe the fish could swim through and into her hands.  Hands filled with little fish.  Fingers dancing with tiny little fish.  Her fingers and knuckles would glow in the dark.  How old was she?  Young at least.  What grade?  Was it after school she came home?  Put her hands on the glass in desperation as she watched the mother fish eat the last of the little ones.  Eating the last.  The littlest ones were the last.  They were the fastest.  They were the last to be eaten.  Last to be eaten by mother.  Mother.  Save just a little of your daughter.  Just enough to remember something.  Enough to put 2 and 2 together.  To know how they come out.  Save a little of your daughter, mother.  Just enough to put some words in order.  Enough to make lists long enough to save enough for the little mouths to feed.  Mother.  Save just a little of your daughter.  Not all gone.  Still here.  Still here.  Still here against this dark glass.  Stuck against this dark glass.

The dark glass shook with the ringing of the phone.  Still here.  Still stuck at work.  Stuck at work.  Stuck against the dark glass.  The glass vibrating its cold denial in her ears.  Cold denial.  Cold.  The clouds were cold.  All that annihilating wind.  Fuck me.  Fuck me until I am all gone.  Not you, asshole.  Stay in that shitty grave of immaturity.  A long sharp heel into your mouth.  Run that forked tongue through.  Are we through?  No.  Stuck at work.  Everyone had left.  Alone and stuck.  All that wind.  The clouds.  What a deathbed.  The phone pierced her temples against the dark glass.  Lights outside turning off.  No clouds.  No wind.  Just piercing and shrill phone whining in the glass.  The dark glass.

- Max Stoltenberg

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Guts.  He didn't have them, but they were all around him.  Guts were everywhere.  Trying not to step on them was a bloody difficult nuisance.  The pages were being torn out and shredded.  The machine was constantly running.  The running.  The runs.  Guts seeped out uncontrollably.  Nasty business.  These guts seeping out.  Pissed everyone around him.  The people who had all the guts in the world.  The world was full of it.  Piling up into monuments, hills, buildings, and mounds of guts. 

He would slip on guts and awkwardly rise.  An awkward rise to the surface of the gut-filled landscape.  A landscape flooded with guts had become a sea.  A sea of guts.  An awkward rise to the surface was punctuated by voices interrupted by the unending motion of guts.  Guts always in motion.  Always digesting.  He was passed on from one process to the next.  The next.  And the next.  Being broken down along the way.  Being.  Broken down.  All the way.  Just most of the way.  Not fully digested. 

He was unable to purge the slightest bit.  He was being dissolved and broken down.  For not.  For the guts.  The guts all around him.  They were sick of him.  The pages were being torn out and shredded.  The machine was running day and night.  Running.  The runs.  His guts were seeping out.  That pissed them off. 

They'd get out the hoses and cleanse him of his seepage.  Uncontrollable seepage.  The hoses blasted him with fluid and guts.  Mostly guts.  They had nothing but guts.  The fluid was from the inside of guts.  That hurt.  Guts hurt.  Inside and outside.  He tried to collect his thoughts that hadn't been broken down.  Needed more time to fill gaps in his thoughts burned out by acid.  An impossible task.  The before and after gave the impression of not being like the acid of all the guts.  All those pages had been torn out and shredded.  The machine kept running.  Day and night.  Running.  The runs.  He seeped out of himself.  Breaking it down.  There was no before left.  There was no after left.  Breaking it down.  For them.  For guts.  They couldn't make sense of what was left.  There was nothing left to make sense of.  They left what was left and they left.  Guts couldn't rub off on him.  Even though he couldn't help rubbing up against nothing but guts.

- Max Stoltenberg