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Invite Something Wild

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Another HitRecord contribution. The prompt was to write a story including the phrase “this is what happens when you invite something wild into your home.”

This is a fantastic prompt because it does that impossible job of both being specific enough to focus a story, and yet vague enough to allow for a wide range of responses.

Perennial

Her hair had gone short since last I’d seen her. She said it reminded her of flowers, like the trimmed stems of lilacs she used to find along the roadway in towns I’d never heard of.

I’d promised myself that this time I’d turn her away. This time I’d tell her I had a life; I wasn’t just sitting around waiting for her to come back. I was going to tell her, but I didn’t, because I knew she’d see through the lie.

Every few years she’d pop up, as though she herself was some rare flower, some hibernating bulb that only pushed through the surface of my life every few years. She came and we loved and then she’d tear me apart.

She redecorated the kitchen so that it looked like a Betty Crocker ad. Or she’d insist we learn to dance because dancing was what the clouds did. My boss would yell when she’d show up at lunchtime and demand that the day deserved cookies, and tea, and sex in the rain down by the lighthouse.

And then, inevitably, I’d fall asleep thinking that this time everything was right. This time she’d stay. But she never did.

Some morning would just come from nowhere, like a debt collector on an errand, taking what was owed. And I’d wake up to her leaving. Leaving again. Like she did.

If I asked her about it, tiny cruelties would come tumbling from her mouth like battered wind chimes. She’d use some of her same old poetic bullshit to get out of giving me a real answer. One look at the heartbreak in my eyes and she’d be confused that I took it all so personal. As if I was the crazy one.

She’d say she was just following her favorite constellation as it traipsed across the sky. She’d say it was like asking an Eskimo why he sneezed in summer. She’d say it was just what happens when you invite something wild into your home. And that’d be all. Like that explained everything.

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Settling for Less (Writing for TV)

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014


Another HitRecord Contribution. Any similarities to actual people or events are purely coincidental.

Settling For Less (Writing for TV)

 

Jon was already drunk when the phone rang. He stared at it, unbelieving.

It can’t be, he thought. No, no. This time it was going to be different. This time we had momentum. It can’t be.

No good news came this deep into the filmy meat of a warm afternoon.

“Hello?”

“Jon, ya scoundrel!” The voice of his publicist drove a funnel into Jon’s heart. Poison flowed in.

“No, Wayne. No. How? We had everything, this time! Everything!”

Wayne’s tone dipped, his voice struggled to regain the false charm.

“Jon, just because I’m calling a week after the new book’s release, doesn’t mean bad news.”

There was a pause. Not the excited type that can barely hold back the good news behind it. This was a stagnant pause. A stinking, turgid, infectious pause, holding a cache of bad news in its loose, quivering bowels.

“To be honest, though, Jon, it ain’t great,” said Wayne. He could hear Jon’s sigh on the other side of the line.

“We had the critics, Wayne. The critics fucking liked it, for once! Even Kirkus, for god’s sake!”

“They never published the review, Jon. Snooki put out a new book and, aahh, you got bumped.”

“Well what happened to the New Yorker?! They swore, Wayne. They fucking swore to me on the navel of Shakespeare that they’d publish that rev—“

“They did publish it, Jon. In one of their sister companies; it’s a slightly smaller magazine . . . not quite the circulation we were hoping for—“

“The Times! We had the goddamned Times saying . . . aww nevermind. Fuck it. Just, fuck it all.”

Wayne could hear papers being flung from Jon’s desk.

“Now, don’t be that way, champ. Don’t get down. I’ve got a new direction for you. You’re going to love this.”

“Ok.”

“You ready?”

“Fucking say it.”

“Television.”

“What?”

“You heard me, Jon. Television. You’re going to write for television.”

“This is exactly how murder-suicides start, Wayne.”

“Don’t judge, Mister High-and-Mighty. You need a new direction; television needs new blood. It’s a perfect match.”

“It’s just not me, Wayne. It’s not my style, not my image, not my audience. I just—“

“You don’t have an audience, Jon. You’ve got debts, and a drinking problem.”

“Forget the ‘suicide’ part of my previous statement.”

“Jon, trust me. You’ll thrive anywhere! You’re a Rembrandt of words! A Colossus of prose! Folks just got to find ya, and I’m telling you, this is the way.”

“Mighty god.”

“Just ‘Wayne’, to you, Jon.”

“This show got a name?”

“Of course it has! And even better, a famous face to run it. It’s got a built-in audience, Jon! You’re going to love working with them.”

“God, I hope so.”

Jon hung up the phone and attacked his throat with half the glass of bourbon. His throat was able to fend off a few ounces, but most made it past the gates and set fire to the place.

He thought about television. He thought about the abhorrent concept of “working with other artists.” And as the night clamped itself over his office window, Jon felt his old resolve welling up again.

He would move on, again. He’d work for pennies, again. And this time he’d try his hand at TV.

“Maybe,” he said to himself, “maybe, I don’t know. Maybe it won’t be so bad.”

 

 


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The Jovian Spark-Now Available for Pre-Order

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Just what the title  says.

Pre-order is a very new option for independent authors, so The Jovian Spark is one of the first several thousand of its kind to be sold this way. The actual publication is set for February 9th, 2015, when the kindle and trade paperback versions will become available for delivery. Here’s to a new world.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PFLCH6O

 

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Disappearance

Friday, November 7th, 2014

This is an old poem that showed up in my first novel. I don’t write poetry anymore, but this one came to mind recently. I used to re-write this one obsessively, using it as a warm-up exercise or literary tic. Perhaps its resurfacing has to do with the impending publication of the new book and the “Jovian skies” line below.

The Disappearance of Charles Du Pont

We drove two hours against flat planes,

doubt-filled nothingness where the truckers died,

to where he stood alone in the morning fog,

and bent his hat toward the tired universe.

 

“We need you,” they all had said.

He rubbed his temples raw.

“We love you,” they all had said.

He whistled into his coat.

 

“You forget,” he said.

“One day, every part of me will die.”

And he raised his eyebrows,

the only goodbye he knew.

 

There was nothing now

between him and infinity

between train whistles and Jovian Skies

cabbages and kings.

 

“I’m a selfish man,” he told me.

An epitaph for gods en route,

off to where the track rails intersect

and the ground crashes into the sky.

 

 

 

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A Play About Nothing and Love

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Nothingness is more terrifying than death. We’d rather be small than not at all, rather go on than cease. This is a short play about two imaginary people talking while existence erodes away. In retrospect, it’s a little Never-ending Story in that sense, but more incoherent and metaphorical. Enjoy.

Schizophrenia, in Shades of Peyote
NARRATOR: As we descend upon Imaginary Paul and Imaginary Lily, we notice the
desert has surrounded them, and is demanding their surrender. Little did the desert realize
that it, itself, was in far too much trouble to be chasing after Imaginary people.

The desert, like most things, was a sad member of the club “reality,” which had been a
very popular club until the about 1960s, when folks started needing it less and less. Turns
out, the club owner owed the landlord and was in deep with the sharks from making bad
bets on philosophical contradictions. With the fading appeal of “reality” and property
taxes to pay, the owner jumped ship one night in a beat-up Ford Galaxy and was never
heard from again. The debts were called in, and Imaginary Paul and Imaginary Lily, with
the desert around them, were soon to consumed by the shrinking edge of everything,
closing in from all sides.

Neither of the un-real duo noticed when the part of reality that allows one to speak
plainly and without metaphor was swallowed into nil and lost forever. They were far too
focused on the woes of poor Imaginary Paul, who didn’t know if he should a certain,
troublesome someone, and was agonizing over it.

So, they discussed the pros and cons, not knowing that the girl in question had ceased to
be mere minutes before, when her town fell into nowhere.

IMAGINARY LILY: This girl is the disregard of a clumsy power. November lists the
reasons why December can’t be trusted.

IMAGINARY PAUL: She says certain somethings, racked with promises, bitter as dust.

IMAGINARY LILY: Ah. “I love you,” with tongue in cheek.

IMAGINEARY PAUL: In so many ways, I believe her.

IMAGINARY LILY: Yet here she is, shade under which you’ll wilt slowly.

IMAGINARY PAUL: But all of a sudden the sun’s the worse, and no petals to spare.

NARRATOR: Only now does the desert notice an itch on its back. Forgetting the non-
literal conversation, it leaves to investigate its stinging fringes.

IMAGINARY LILY: You’re a celestial butterfly. Who else would you prize to waste
forever?

IMAGINARY PAUL: Well, a waste with thorns. A tragedy with a hat on. Not a broken
bow-tie.

IMAGINARY LILY: Moments of grace. They shoot fire across the brim of every old
woman’s wine glass, give glancing blows to god. Sham of shame, only emptiness.

NARRATOR: Imaginary Lily didn’t know that at that very moment, emptiness is what
the desert found gnawing away its periphery. It screamed in a panic, “Squaaaaaaa!”
which no one ever came to know was the desert’s battle cry.

IMAGINARY PAUL: A buffoon for moments remembered for eons is still someone
else’s putty. A world without water is countered somewhere by oceans of seas.

IMAGINARY LILY: (scoffing) You’ve swam and choked enough on green eyes. Choked
beneath bent blood-vessels and seeped salt so deep to trudge silt down windy tunnels till
the capture of Chronos.

IMAGINARY PAUL: (defensively) And enough word inflation to make typists charge by
the verb. Thusly: a mirror of ghosts yet to die by the spice of your own brew.

IMAGINARY LILY: Don’t negate the thickness of flares. Better to be a Christ than a
Methuselah.

IMAGINARY PAUL: (annoyed) A feather-pillow in a coffin under piss-yellow dirt.
What a nice evening suit, worn far below the remnants of better-destined epitaphs. Your
grandiose conception of the potential supernova is, I’m afraid, a non-sequitur.

IMAGINARY LILY shifts, uncomfortably.

IMAGINARY PAUL: You speak enveloped in the dauntless shadow of undisputed
truths, uncontested, intentionally respected with silence. Unwilling or unaware of the
graciousness of a lie meant sincerely.

NARRATOR: Now the desert had begun to battle. Sweat broke out on its brow when the
sword melted into his foe, and the sands turned glass, then to unframed horizon. It’d
never encountered such a dangerous nothing.

IMAGINARY LILY: A lusty muse, then?

IMAGINARY PAUL: An effort of intention based on the bottom of Babel that still
stands, and always should.

IMAGINARY LILY: Men fall so a man can rise. Would you really pluralize your
singularity after such infamous disconnect?

IMAGINARY PAUL: I would, at least, lock safe the flowers I’ve gathered in darkness
and fingered in fits fit for forsaken angels.

NARRATOR: Now the desert has relented. Frayed down to a useless tract of sand and
rock, it was now no more than the small space surrounding two oblivious back-talkers.
There was no appeal, no last chance to make rent and the lullabies had been sung. It let
itself erode, defeated, into the void.

IMAGINARY LILY: More blankets when nature is ice.

IMAGINARY PAUL: More ticks on the abacus that make the making anything.

IMAGINARY LILY: Only because math is alone on the chalkboard.

IMAGINARY PAUL: And I’m alone to find poetry? Prometheus for an ungrateful
future? He who popes the virtue of solitary ascension?

IMAGINARY LILY: I preach possibilities. I spout dignities born in heights. Fighters
who fight in fear of falling make crater tourist attractions.

NARRATOR: The sun is dying now. So too is the wind. The air is pulling into the nearby
outskirts and cold settles for a moment, before the end of moments.

IMAGINARY PAUL: Fear has its reasons.

IMAGINARY LILY: So do you.

IMAGINARY PAUL: I’m still lost.

IMAGINARY LILY: I know. You just want her to be lost with you.

IMAGINARY PAUL: Yes.

IMAGINARY LILY: When did it get dark?

IMAGINARY PAUL: Are you cold too?

IMAGINARY LILY: Wait. Where did everything g—

NARRATOR: Thus perished Imaginary Lily, Imaginary Paul, the desert, and everything.
I think I speak for all of us when I say, ‘It was just a matter of time,’ and, ‘good
riddance.’

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Constellation Nostalgia

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

This is another contribution I made to HitRecord. This was for their “Patterns” collaboration. The specific topic was how patterns relate to the concept of nostalgia.

 

 

Nostalgia is built into us, as it’s built into the universe. The night sky is a photograph of lights that have been dead for eons. Stars that long-ago exploded and scattered their hearts among the cosmos never knew that one day we’d mine the gold they left. They couldn’t have guessed that we’d pull the metal from the Earth and twist it into wedding rings, war-medals, tooth-fillings, coffee spoons.

When we hold a lover’s ring and remember their smile, the universe feels it too, and remembers the star. When we look at a photograph and laugh at a moment , the universe looks too, and remembers the tree.

And if we could look forward, if the sky inverted itself and the future flung itself over the night, we’d see the photograph decay into soil and fold back into a tree. If we looked farther we’d see the gold dissipate and drift, the planet around it fall away, and the dust floating back toward a star.

And if we split the skies in two, one future, one past, and looked out  across both of them, letting our eyes hurtle the distances to the very edge of both, we’d see darkness mirroring itself. We’d see a tree of starlight that grows sideways like the horizon, reclining in an ink river that begins and ends in silence.

 

 

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I Lied

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

The blog refuses to die. I’ve resigned myself to that. This blog will be updated with material regularly for the forseeable future.

This week, it’s a story I originally wrote for HitRecord’s TV episode regarding Trash. For those who don’t know, HitRecord is an artists’ collaborative site run by actor Joseph Gordon Levitt. They got a TV deal just last year, won an Emmy, and are in production on their second season.

Though this story was not selected  for the show, JGL’s kind words about it make me think it was runner-up. For the record, I was beaten by some no-name hack, Rian Johnson. No one has seen him since, so either his career nose-dived or he’s been tasked to write the new Star Wars. (might be the latter)

Why Christmas Smells Like Shit

By Jonas Samuelle

A landfill had been forming around the periphery of our relationship. I could see it when I said something romantic on the patio, and she just laughed this quiet, awkward laugh. An old egg carton fell onto the table between us when she made that laugh. It was stained with dried yoke.

When we fucked for the last time, she held me inside longer, kept trying to prolong it, wrapping herself around me with a fake tenderness; it seemed more like an apology, which it was. I smelled soggy metal and old coffee grounds the whole time. The whole fucking time. The apartment was clean, with mother of pearl apathy and vanilla candles and anti-bacterial sex, but if I’d looked out the window, I would have seen it: shit piled against the screen, weighing on the walls, heaps of emotional refuse amassing like Catholics around guilt.

So I caught her on Christmas. I walked past the empty oil drums and twisted rebar that gathered around her apartment. The sky was shedding car parts and used socks when I knocked on the door, holding her present.

I thought I’d bought her a vase. I thought I’d wrapped it with ribbons and Styrofoam and money and affection and promises. At the door, I looked down and realized it was a piece of driftwood I’d crumpled newspaper around.

The door opened. A fat guy in his underwear looked out at me from inside the apartment, where a garden had grown over the last few days. His nose twitched as he stared, as the junk piled up behind me, around me, everywhere except through that door, where he stood, in his goddamned underwear.

“I’m Nick,” he said. She made some noise behind him, like she was going to explain but thought better of it. I couldn’t see her.

I coughed up something in my throat, but didn’t say anything.

“You can leave that anywhere,” Nick said, gesturing at the present.

I looked around. Towers of wasted plastic and stinking diapers blocked the horizon on all sides. There’d been a dumpster deluge in the last few seconds, and I hadn’t even noticed. I tossed the gift away somewhere.

“Can you find your way out?” she asked, still out of sight in the garden.

“I guess we’ll see,” I said.

I turned around and stepped over syringes, rusted nails, broken liquor bottles and dead rats all the way back to my car.

It took a long time to get all the grime off my shoes. Years. But Christmas still smells like rotten things, still feels like a pity-fuck in a room where the walls swell with garbage.

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Eulogy

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

I’m not the blogging type, clearly. Find me on the various, hellish social media platforms listed in the links until such time as I no longer require them to promote my work.

Then, feel free to email me .  . . until such time as I no longer allow unsolicited emails.

Then, you’re down to stalking. At which  point I’ll catch you and burn  you.

Much love,

-J

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Update

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

I’m still here.

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Disarm

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

A series of battles have storm-fucked my cheery-chipperyness the past year, making efforts high and results comparatively low.

Turns out that sometimes if you shadowbox long enough, the shadow gets tired and decides to find a new life as part of an eclipse somewhere else. So, now straddling the mountaintop in relative sunshine and a not-so-chilly breeze, I can take a few moments reaping my sows and binning my baggage.

I’m back to work, in earnest, writing a new novel and letting the edits of the last happen at whatever pace my characters are comfortable with. You can’t force a child to grow up. Whereas I was hoping to let the little book click its pieces together like an airplane engine, it’s instead formed into an evil plague-robot that runs on human teeth. Thus, the marching orders have been rescinded and it’ll remain in the shop awhile longer.

The new book’s a mystery. Not as in “I don’t know what it’ll be,” but as in it has a genre (sort of), and that genre is mystery. Though not my typical fare, this project, though in its infancy, is already smoking cigars, reading the paper, and talking about finding its own place. Updates to follow.

So, I survived the Mayan miscalculation, the new annuals, the many-mustered storms, and the evil robot. My hair is shorter and greyer, my skin is drying in the sun-shiny not-so-cold breeze, and my cheery-chipperyness is returned and apparent in my (still intact) toothy smile. I’m still here, and not going anywhere.
Happy fucking new year. I mean it.

 

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