Don't want to hear about these flashes not of light but these flashes forward and back through tense palms that flip through cards with pictures on them call them photographs if you will even though that is not what they are cards stiff and bent and fingerprints sure they are sprinkled like crumbs over furniture and counters and car windows but they really set those cards on their way to being worn out for the backyard to form an unwieldy sheet like a chunk of roof slid off the top of the house. Toppled stacks of paper cut-outs formed a chain of corresponding limbs of vellum sweeping themselves over the edge of the table motioning each other to get lost. She'd thumb-wrestle his caressing fingers away. Someday they'll inevitably lose their way attempting their pitiful endeavors towards the outskirts of what they forgot they were talking about thinking of something maybe to do with an unfinished note with the words "nothing except the truth" in the margin somewhere somewhat slanted.
It comes back around to that choking sensation one of the tubes inside that just might burst or it will persist in its hazarding another swallowing its latest guess at legs sliding down his throat ravelry of mock acknowledgement a din frosted with nausea the nausea the it of existence that comes back around the regurgitation of yesterday into tomorrow spilling its pale color of undigested day and night crocheted together with shut the fuck up.
"Nobody it'll just have to be."
"My arms ache."
"No not that. What ever happened to the swing seat after it fell from the set?"
"It fell did it?"
"Yes it did. We talked about it the day after it happened."
"Another forgotten backyard conversation?"
"We had our chat in the sideyard."
"So I suppose you've catalogued which side we were on at the time as we felt our way along the plumber's snake through the shit drain of the world."
"There's nothing to read while I do my business. That's all I'm going to say for now."
"Give it a few now's and another overflowing paradox of the naive will brim in your mouth."
His mouth remained closed as his cheeks inflated.
Are you going to leave it like that?
Suppose what you want.
That's what's being done. Supposing.
Suppose what you want and it'll still be.
It'll still be what?
It'll still be.
It'll still be what? is what I'm asking.
It will still be.
Spread apart your contraction with one of your fingers digging around in the seat of your pants.
When you lost it.
Lost it. That buzzard that uninhabitable idea turned most of the hair grey and left the darker patches to mockingly display wasted youth.
Haven't swallowed for cellars of hiatuses re-emerged from the open metal doors and clanked them shut started hopping up and down on the rusted surface desiring to fall through until the ridiculousness of the whole thing triggered a sick laughter rejected by the latest tomb. Don't open anything now haven't opened anything sitting here. It's about time you retracted yourself back underneath.
"You're guessing about the time."
"I count backwards and forwards and backwards through the years and I can say I don't have a favorite age never had a favorite age. Used to think it might be right now until it became this right now. Just right is hardly given a chance to start it's suspended suspended with chains and you tighten and loosen your hold on things chains hard to find where to put yourself while motion only turns the stomach into an oven for burning up on the inside everything you thought you could take from the outside where the trees without leaves and the eyes without color dissolve into a cauldron where the pain and the deforming pressure nightmarish conversions of heat and searing memories."
"This is where you kick me in the head."
"You're guessing about the time."
"Am I? I thought I was dead on. Not dead yet, but still on and if you could do us a turn and turn off the lights to the old noggin with a hard enough kick we would be much obliged."
"Obliged? You'd be a corpse."
"Then pin the bill to my chest. I won't feel a thing."
"Nor pay anything."
"No not a thing."
"I'm in the wrong line of unemployment."
"I'd like to propose a toast."
"What are you doing?"
"I'd like to propose a toast."
"What are you doing by proposing a toast?"
"I thought I'd change the subject."
"Did you prefer multiple choice or fill in the blanks?"
"I used to think that until the more blanks that show up in my head."
"You don't say."
"I do unless I draw a blank."
"Inspiration is looking for genius exhausting almost every pore almost every orifice realizing you started at the wrong end."
"I think you mean perspiration with both lungs burning using up almost every branch for kindling from the bronchial tree."
"That's respiration dumb ass."
"Jack ass if you don't mind."
"You never told me your first name was Jack."
"It's not. Or maybe it is. Thought it started with a letter no it's not."
"Either way your last name is ass."
"Where is that blood coming from?"
"It's probably my nose again."
"Been doing that a lot lately haven't you?"
"A lot but certainly not enough. Run out of ideas run out of wool run out of chains run out of flat on the back run out of flat on the face run out of running out sitting here on the edge of the desert more sand to mingle with old dry skin that brushed up against a picture of her that the wind took away and replaced with the latest trash that fills the living room the room where the wall eventually gave way to the howling of the dunes writing incomplete answers in the blanks of a gradually erased landscape."
"Stop bleeding on me."
"When you withdraw yourself all the way back under the table and leave me alone."
"And then you'll stop talking to me?"
"I don't know about that."
"Drawing another blank?"
"If I had one less blank could I do without the likes of you in my head?"
"I got nothing. I'm drawing a blank."
"My paralyzed imaginary friend at the end of my days that drip on as the smallest leak of an ulcerous bag of nerves is drawing a blank a sloppy hole that goes right through my head right through my last nightmare and back up through my mouth that hums and whistles all the tunes I hate and can't get rid of."
And having followed the directions the steps leading up to walking down to the bottom for a foot in the door that closed on perseverance slicing it in half half awake to re-position the tongue under the table and catch the crumbs hard to chew working on it what must be said in response to those cold words in this dry hot atmosphere dusty with crumbs hard to chew working on it what must be said in response to those cold words in this dry hot atmosphere dusty having followed the directions the steps leading up to walking down to the bottom the dark bottom for a foot in the door that closed on perseverance slicing it in half half awake to re-position the tongue under the table and catch the crumbs hard to chew working on it that crumb think might be able to see that crumb off in the distance have to follow into the desert after that crumb catch up to it in the desert have to follow after it after having followed the directions the steps leading up to walking down to the dark bottom.
- Max Stoltenberg