Writing Practice 12/6/2018 – A pack of 20 sponges

A pack of 20 sponges is good for…

All kinds of things. And not just the mundane, like kitchen cleaning or washing your car. In a pinch, they can be thrown into a pillowcase and be used for comfort while you sleep. A wrestling team should probably have not just 20, but like 10 packs of 20 on hand, for when the practice gets extra-bloody and they need to keep up.

If you’re on a porn set, and the ladies start doing “tricks” with their parts, then you will want all of those for cleaning up.

A pack of 20 can be a landing pad for a hamster doing gymnastic tricks. Like humans, who vault or do their releases from the high beam and land in that big pit of huge spongy cubes, a small pack would be just perfect for when you’re teaching little Mittens or Chubby or Dale the Guinea Pig how to run along a little balance beam and jump off. Can you imagine how cute that would be, to see those little legs waddling down that little beam, and then to watch a furball the size of your fist take a miniature leap into that little pile of sponges? Soo cute.

A pack of 20 sponges is good for a science classroom, especially when they start to get into the units on chemical reactions. Remember when we were all in the fifth grade, and everyone was trying to build examples of volcanoes? Some baking soda, some other shit, red foot coloring, and a stain on your desk that wouldn’t come out for weeks. Well, with a handy supply of sponges ready, you can head off that stain before it even starts.

A 20-pack of sponges could also be an emergency pack of sanitary pads. Now, they probably won’t work as tampons. At least, not by or with self-insertion. [author’s note: Here I start to laugh at myself while writing.] They don’t have that applicator-thingy, so I imagine it would be kind of tough to do it yourself. Thus it’s a two-person job: one to hold the doors open, one to make the Delivery! (HA HA HA – I’m literally laughing as I write this!)

And the last thing that a 20-pack of sponges is good for is to take with you to a fraternity party. Both men and women can benefit. Women – stuff your bras. You’ll look hotter, cuter, whichever you want. Men – stuff your pants. You won’t look any better, but since you’re going to get plastered and piss yourself, the sponge can ensure you don’t make a mess on my fraternity’s dance floor in the process.


Writing Practice 12/4/2018

From Where The Sidewalk Ends, p 50.

“The googies are coming, the old people say, to buy little children and take them away.”

But I’m not afraid. My mother says I’m too valuable, she would never sell me, not for even like a thousand silver coins.

But I don’t really know if that’s all true. I heard that last year, when the googies came to town, Tommy Spickoza’s mom told them that they could have him for two thousand, and they thought it was a deal. The whisper campaign they sent round after said they would have paid five or more. So if they would pay five thousand for Tommy, how much more do you think I could get? Ten thousand? I’m so much better than Tommy. He’s kind of a mean little guy. He pokes cats with sticks and tells bad jokes. I’m not like that. I hold the doors open for my sister and I don’t chew with my mouth open and I make sure to always write my name on the top of my homework.

My mama says not to worry, because I’m too valuable to her, but I don’t think she understands economics. I may be only thirteen by now, but I understand it much better than her. All us kids do. We’ve been watching the googies come into town and buy some kids, and not others, for a decade now, and we can’t make sense of it. Sometimes they want just the fat ones, and that year they take like the six fattest kids in the whole town. So the next year all the kids were real skinny (we starved ourselves for like three weeks before they showed up, just to help our causes), and that was when they wanted the shortest ones. They took Caroline, and Suzanne, and Jonah, and Zeb, but left chubby Marco, who’d been crying the whole time that he just couldn’t do it, couldn’t lay off the candy bars, and we all understood, Marco’s home wasn’t that great anyway, and even the googies would have probably been a welcome change.

So then the year after they bought the short ones everyone was stuffing their shoes with papers, and hanging by their arms from trees for days at a time to get taller, and wearing short pants to make their legs look longer, and that was when they too two girls, twin sisters, and that was that. We didn’t understand, but still we keep trying to figure out their system.

Braydon thinks he’s got it figured out. He thinks this year they’re going to take three boys and two girls, out of the thirty or so of each who are all under eighteen. “One runner,” he says, “and one smart kid. And the other three are people who do music.”

That’s the part that scares me, the music. Because my flute has been sounding really good this month. Mama says not to worry, I can fake it, or I can just pick up the guitar when they arrive and just be real bad at that, and then they’ll pass me by. I don’t believe her, because those lineups aren’t when they actually choose, Braydon says. He thinks they’re monitoring our every move already, so they know before they even get here what they’re gonna do.

I asked my Mama once about why they (they being the parents in this town, stupid them), have been selling their kids to the googies, and she really didn’t have an answer. Something about opportunities for all to be better, but I think she’d rather just pretend not to know what’s going on. That way, if the googies come for me, she can pretend like it’s this great big tragedy, and get the sympathy votes and pity looks from all the other women in the village, and at the same time her life will be a little easier ’cause I’m not around.

I don’t like her very much, my Mama, and like I said, she might not understand much about economics, but she sure does know that ten thousand silver pieces would feed two mouths a lot better than zero pieces feeds three.

Writing Practice 11/29/2018 – The kami…

The Songs of Trees, p. 100. The kami is both water and absence of water.

It is light and darkness. It is the way of love and the way of indifference. Not hate, or war, for those imply a passion for, or against, something. Thus the opposite of passion is impassion.

The kami comes upon one when he or she is sleeping. It is a breath of night wind, through an open window, even around the cracks in the door. it steals in and silently takes over the soul, infusing its receptor with an air of invincibility, a feeling of all-reachingness, a sussurration of serendipity, a unanimity of thought and action unrivaled in the mortal plane.

The kami is an idea, an ideal, more than anything physical, or even spiritual. For if it were physical it could be defined, measured, captured, tamed. If it were a spiritual, perhaps other-dimensional, it could weakly interact with the objects, the people, the places and things of this world, and we could see its effects. We could see how, like gravity, or electromagnetism, it impacts the world even though it is not of the world.

But the kami does not behave as such. It does not behave at all. It has no pattern to its action, inaction, or combination of the two. It tries not, it fails not. It simply is. And if one were to attempt to understand the kami, to hold its concepts in your mind, to believe that you are external enough, observant enough, independent enough to be able to take in and objectively evaluate the kami, then you are simply showing your ignorance of the reality of the kami and of you.

For even this little we see, or imagine, of the kami is as if through a darkly-veiled glass. We see, we feel, we know, only what it wants us to know. Perhaps the kami is only one miniscule, minute, remote tendril of some great, vast, interstellar consciousness. Perhaps it is magnanimous, perhaps malignant. There is no way for us to tell.

Perhaps the kami is an aggregation of miniature experiences, floating through the ether with no more intentionality than the Yellow River. Again, we have no way to measure, to conceive, to understand, apart from what it has deigned to reveal to us. And should we believe?

There is a camp which says the kami is all it says it is, and we should believe. That this is the first of many steps along humanity’s path to enlightenment: the absence of skepticism. And that from that starting point we shall be able, with the help from the kami and those who follow, to eventually reach that Nirvana so many long for, and so few seek.

But not me. I shall retain my pensiveness, my apprehension. I shall continue to wait. To ask. To wonder. To believe – not in the kami, but in the self, for that, as Descartes so elegantly put it, albeit in not so many words, is all I really can do.

Writing Practice 11/28/2018

She’s a keeper because…

She’s a keeper because she stands in the goal box and faces down the sixty-plus mile an hour wristers from the blue line without flinching. She keeps her composure and her cool when everyone else is getting flustered. She’s a keeper because she’s not afraid of getting hit by a puck. Hell, a puck would be soft compared to the hands and the belts she’s endured over the years. At least with the puck flying at her, she has some pads on, some protection. And some teammates, too, who might sacrifice themselves before the shot comes in and makes contact.

She’s a keeper because this is where she finds her power. In defense, in being that last line of protection. She’s done it for her family – always stepping in front of her little sister and brother when mom was too mad to control herself and started swinging wildly. Stepping in front of mom when the DFS folks came to interview everyone, and making sure that, as bad as mom might have been, they didn’t get split up and moved somewhere that could have been even worse. She’s a keeper because that’s how she sleeps at night, knowing that she’s done everything possible to keep her team, her family, her community, safe and in power.

She has no desire to be offensive. Even the word repulses her – OFFENSIVE. It offends her to think that she might do that to someone else – to hurt, to assault – to offend. She knows it must be done, yes, cheers her teammates on, but the thought of her own actions being the reason her team triumphed over another practically sickens her.

It is a fine line, a distinction she has not really been ever able to articulate. She wants to win, yes. She knows that winning requires scoring, which requires offense / assault / attack / shooting. But she has never felt comfortable there. Instead, she feels comfortable the other way – protecting, defending. Supporting. That’s what she does, and she does it damn well.

Writing Practice 11/25/2018

Did you see that?

It was a clown riding by on a bicycle

No, it wasn’t. It was a Halloween costumed kid on a skateboard. He only “looked” like a clown.

No, you’re both wrong. It was Carrot-Top, and he was on roller blades, and he was drinking what appeared to be a pineapple smoothie. I should know, it was in exactly the same cup my grandmother used to get her smoothies in, from that place down on the corner, you know the one, where we used to go and get the three-dollar popsicles.

Oh yeah, those things were so good. I’d have like three a day in the summer. My mom always asked what I was spending my money on, and I would lie and say “Chicks, mom, I gotta buy them stuff to impress them.” And she believed me.

Nah, she didn’t believe you. She knew you were gay before you did.

Did not! Did, too. She even told me once, when we were like eight, not to pick on you because of it.

No she didn’t! Shut your fuck hole, asshole!

Guys! Guys! Hold on!




Did you see that?

Nope. What was it this time?Don’t say another clown. I certainly don’t believe you the first time. I”m not gonna believe you this one.

Nope. Guess again.

Okay, was it a parade of pre-schoolers? You know, where they hold that rope and all walk single file and look like they’re preparing for five to eight at the State Prison?


Was it a dog chasing a cat chasing a rat chasing its mate because it was horny and then hungry and then just having fun?

Nope. But I like your style!

Was it a skywriter in the blue, but instead of saying something like “I LOVE YOU HARRIET” or “EAT AT MACAVITY’S”, it was real big blocks, empty squares, kind of like an artificial algebra problem with geometric shapes instead of variables?

Nope. Getting warmer, though.

Was it a worm, shriveled up and hard and flat, squished by too many feet and left alone to rot by the birds because all the good parts had become toughened in the sun?

Yes! How’d you know?

I saw it on my way in.

Did not!

Did too!

No way! Me too!


<high fives all around>

Hey guys?





Did you see that?

Writing Practice 11/23/2018

[because I was riding past it when I pulled out my notebook]

Write about Greenville, Illinois…

Greenville, Illinois, is one of those middling little places in the middle of america, one of those places that is inconsequential by itself, but if every one of the Greenville’s and Dubuque’s and Florences and Albions across the country were to fall, the entire economy would come to a screeching halt. Greenville is lubrication in the bearings; it is oil in the crankshaft, it is the spit-and-shine of the modern economy.

It is one of those places in between the agricultural rurality and the intellectual city. It is a straddle, a middle, an in-between in which you don’t have the full commitment to farming of the plains, nor the devotion and history of industrialization like the factories back east, nor the intellectual / commoditization / technological of the big cities of St. Louis, Chicago, Austin. It is a hybrid, but not the cool kind. It is a chimera of things, some good from a few different disparate parts, and yet without the flaws of each of these places the aggregation of “good only” smacks so false that nobody believes it, nobody that trusts it, nobody really tries to help it succeed.

So Greenville sits, squats, waits, behind Highway I-70, waiting for the passing travelers and transporters to almost run out of gas, and then be there to resupply them, and, oh, by the way, while you’re here, why don’t you also fill up your stomach with overpriced chips and hotdogs, or satisfy that sweet tooth craving with a candy bar or a slushie, or even get ready for that long, lonely alone night coming up by lubricating yourself with a convenient 12-pack of beer, or a fifth of distilled spirits, perhaps even pick up a couple of smokes along the way.

Because that’s what Greenville is. It doesn’t make anything itself. It doesn’t grow the food, or process the cotton, or assemble the automobile, or develop the software that everyone else uses and consumes and lives in and with and appreciates and, even, needs. But it is strategically placed, carefully, precariously, dependent on the multifaceted nature of our economy which says “live local” but acts completely different. They are dependent in Greenville on the transportation industry and yet, too, the industry is dependent on the network of Greenvilles and Peorias and Waynesburgs around the country, for without them, without this quantum-connected network, this “cut out one you’re okay, cut out one too many and everything falls”, everything would be different.

Used to be. And then the transition started. May come again, too. But for now, Greenville and its ilk remain, waiting, supporting, remora-like, providing a small benefit for a small cost, skimming just enough off the top to keep their host alive, like a good vampire, who doesn’t drink too deeply from any one victim, for if you do that, everything falls.

Writing Practice – 11/17/2018

An acorn falls from a tree.

It bounces on the sidewalk, for this tree is inside a neighborhood. or, rather, the neighborhood was built around the tree. It has been here for two hundred years; the sidewalks for two decades. The acorn bounces along the hard surface and comes to rest against another pile of acorns, all very similar size, shape, color, consistency, for they have all fallen from the same tree in the past two days or so, have all bounced a couple of times on the sidewalk, all have rolled to his stop here in this pile at the base of the little slope, where the sidewalk makes a slight curve around, following the road.

In a few days there will be a thunderstorm, a big one, and at that time much of this pile of acorns will be swept away. They will tumble and roll, haphazardly forced into their swirling gambol by the flowing rainwaters, which will make their own way down the hill, around the curve (they are not impeded in their progress by such little inconveniences as curbs and humps), and then the rainwaters will flow into the storm sewer and take the acorns with them. They will waterfall down over this manmade edge, and will cascade into this manmade pit; and then follow this manmade riverbed for miles and miles and inside in the dark underground silently, and perseverantly making their way from high ground to the lower. They will flow with their acorn hitchhikers through the sewers and finally into the discharge zone, another manmade chute that looks like a huge, hollow phallus jutting out over the river, and once there they will emerge into the daylight, waters mingling with waters, acorns floating on the surface and bobbing, gently, repetitiously, until the river flow them away, away, away away neighbor.

The river flows on, inexorable, a much bigger bath than the rainwater or the acorns have yet experienced. It, too, moves at its own pace, sometimes flowing wide and slow, sometimes hurrying through a narrow channel, sometimes meandering back and forth in a serpentine path which takes many leagues to travel only a few kilometers, as the crow may fly.

Along the way the acorn dries in the sun. It may seem ironic to think of a waterlogged, floating acorn as dry, but that is exactly what happens. Part of it remains submerged, of course, but the tilted over part remains a little less than half of its apart body and exposed to the sun and the wind at all times, and so this particular acorn, nothing particular about it, really, remember, it was essentially just like all the others, it is floating on the river and making its way downstream, and all the time the sun’s baking the upside while the river leaches in, or at least tries, to, from the underside. Soon the hard-backed edge begins to flick away, at the eroding insistence of the wind, or at the teeth and claws of passing sparrows, or at the random insistence of a wandering mayfly or mosquito or midge.

These things take their toll on our beloved acorn. Before its journey along the river has ended, our hero has become much less. Weather-worn and hollow, hollowed out, [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] of some future out or nothing more than the floating shell of its former self, all of the good, rich, hearty valuable fats and proteins inside hollowed out by the destruction of water.

All that is left is for the shell to float, undisturbed now, on the rover for these last few distances, until the river mouth empties in to the wide ocean.

And from there? Well, the story has just begun.