Spiritual Glaucoma.

Spiritual Glaucoma.

Spiritual Glaucoma.

Alexander Ziperovich

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There is a bitter salt in this field of poppies, a stench of the soil that renders my involuntary sweating; tears slowly rolling from my left eye when I force myself not to cry.

There is a demon and his name is mine. There is a place that is unavailable to find. There is a sweet warm darkness that can caress my wounded bones, but I am in this place and I am in this space alone. There is the love that is offered my hand and the friends that want to understand and the writing that keeps me from being the one that caused me to be stabbed but how can they ever, ever, ever possibly see how lovely it is in this slow, deathly solitary wonderland?

Just one sip. Just two pills. Just five needles in a row making kills. Used myself up by the time I was fourteen and I swore to myself that I wasn’t finished with God until he was finished with me.

There was that, the camps, the psychological torturous maps in my head that play on repeat like tracks that are dead on radio stations filled with statistical electricity; what has this earth done to me?

I know nought for I shall not kill but I will, just give me those pills and those bottle’s of absolute, I don’t want to die but I want to be cruel, cured, fixed, filled. Meet my needs and everything shall be healed.

I’ll make those promises even when I know I can’t, in the ambulance with a knife in my hand staring at the paramedics with hatred in my soul; this is not paradise and there is no place to go.

But up into the heavens, clouds, judgement and damnation for punishment of all the audacity of someone that suffers violently sadistic self-fuckment.

I love it.

Keep the tracks rolling; I’m at the train station looking at the coal, stair into my heart and I find that it’s cold. Need’s not met, warmth not given; locked myself away and through away the key to this invisible prison. Give myself a way out? It’s plausible. Like catching a worm with a trout.

There is nothing that scares me, which may sound scary but that is sacred and nothing could replace it; six million ways to try, choose one, I carouse the streets looking for your gun.

I’d like it to be golden and shine in the sun, antique and latin and fires only once.

But dear Lord I am sobbing to you do you hear are you here, is there a way for me to ever be near? Us, together? All I see are cobbled promises and webs and bad weather.

Spare me yours and I will not spare you mines, giggling up dirt ad infinitum.

Blow smoke out of my psyche and smoke rings that are like me as they dissipate into the air and become nothing but sightseeing. Wear out thou? Of course. I want about a gallon of liquid diacetylmorphine, we call that shit horse.

Before I finish, let me explain. My brain’s in a jar made from steel cage and rage. There in an absinthe solution, waiting patiently for something to shoot him but nothing will even though he’s begging, grinning on his knees, banging his head into the top of the jar until the cells of his cerebral vortex bleed out his knees.

And I flee, not for the first time; this land is a troubled one and I want to find God but I think I know that that could be kinda hard so I’ll say to myself that I’ll give this a try even if I won’t, two double neat scotches kept near on the low just in case I can’t keep it together. Listen motherfucker, my mother has pancreatic cancer. Don’t ask me why I’m stressed and violating pages rapaciously; this fucking planet has been raping me ever since I can remember and I so I want to dismember every single person that’s ever done me my nevers. Clever, ain’t it? Spiritual vermicide and I know you all love to see yourselves’ reflections’ in my hatred. Never, never, never landed but I saw the moon and I saw it eclipsed like a bright afternoon in Los Angeles, a needle buried deep in the boiler room of my medals of valor, take this piece and burn it, whatever, just make sure you read this letter. It’s from me to all my fellows and if you know what the fuck I mean then we were meant for this hell together. Follow me down a path filled with fallen branches and we will gather them in our arms and sing the forest romances until we are so lost that we cannot emerge, the birds circling looking emaciated and hungry; this laughing I do is not supposed to be funny. This is my continuity and my poison and my elixir and everything my father never gave me. This is every single time every single person blamed me. This is for every child that will suffer today, please, hear my pleas because I am down now on my fucking hands and knees, begging for lost children to be saved once again, but God has plans other than that; throw a boat on a rock and flood the earth with salt like a waiter you insult. Like a flavorous malt filled with black licorice and faults and fault lines and the fault is mine and I accept that frivolous reality.

In actuality, I enjoy feeling badly.

Sadly.

California Avenue @ 12:15 AM

California Avenue @ 12:15 AM

The glowing ember from my cigarette floating through the dark like a torch and the exhalations blowing through the curling blue coil of rising smoke, a rickety red umbrella that you can never, ever open inside, my pack of smokes and my Betty Boop lighter, and a biting rain pecking at my face curling down my neck as I sit on some stairs and watch a dry patch of pavement below become pock-marked with falling droplets of rain until it all comes together and coalesces on the surface of the ground, dark and wet, the once dry patch annexed from above by the falling saliva of the sky, illuminated by a jaundiced, yellow light; the hard clicking sound of the contents of pregnant clouds land on and around me and beyond a drunk couple sings their way down the avenue tunelessly toward me in a slow, unintentionally wistful cadence.

Gypsy

gypsykids

Gypsy

Alexander Michael Marasca Ziperovich

1.

The ketamine’s phosphorescent glittery saltwatery. Annie is somewhere in the nether part of the condo screaming; there are two places where the screaming comes from, the bathroom or the bedroom. I am always in the middle. I’m slicing up her mahogany dining table again with my three-razor trick. Tossing the kitty around and then lining it up again and then watching it do the waterfall and finally doing a line or two. “You hate me!” I did. “You’re gonna leave me and my parent’s are going to fucking kill you! That table’s so expensive and you’re destroying it and…” Her voice trails off into the ether after a big blow to my face like a slap of red lightening.

“Nhrruruhhhscrhhnchhchhhhhh-huuuuuuuaaah!” I snort.

“Sczizsciissss…” went her table.

This isn’t working. This K is garbage. The other goddamn ketamine I got from those parking lot kids was far superior the night I got LA tattooed on my right tricep and I would have paid two hundred a gram again but this was all there was, thanks to the fucking pokèmon crew up north.

My teeth hurt.

“I’ll be back.” She moans and draws herself up like a bow and shoots herself at the just-slammed door. “Thump,” I laugh, skipping down the stairs after sending the elevator up.

2.

I’m talking to Santa that lives on the doorstep of the furniture store at the end of the block about dolphins or shit and Gypsy stumbles up. “Alex. Give me a fucking goddamned motherfucking cigarette.” Her hair is a lime-green rosebud nest of wires. Her face is decorated with scars and her neck has apparently been doing a lot of black tar. A bottle of Southern Comfort is hanging from her hand like a rosary. She spits violently into the wind, swaying with one foot in the gutter under the sidewalk. She’s like a beautiful painting that moves.

We embrace and she has Hep C and the saliva I think landed in my eye and we start walking, down the block to buy smokes and I tell her about my wreckage of a life and she tells me about hers, again. We’ve been close like this for almost three years. In jail in a nascent ante-cell by the infirmary I saw her name scrawled with what must have been sharp metal all over the door. I thought it was remarkable, “Alex, they just fuckin’ lemme out again yesterday. Gimme another smoke, man.”

We stop and I turn toward her. She’s all rags and liquor meat but she’s gorgeous. Hasn’t had sex in six years she tells me. I believe her. Lives in a government pad up the street the methadone people hooked her up with.

“Well, Gypsy,” standing in front of Annie’s lobby again, “I need some hypodermics.”

“I got a hundred-pack at my pad. Come the fuck on.” She swigs the booze without spilling a drop. She’s quite sharp.

We rise into the Hill as the sun dips below and into her glowing amber sauce as the sparkling shimmer from the glass and the sun fade away. She unscrews it, takes a thick hit and pours out a few jiggers. “Johnny. Poor bastard.”

3.

We walk into her moodily institutional but relatively barren home save the orange TOXIC! sharps containers and the bloodstains and the burnt spoons and pipes and the little clumps of what look like metallic pubic hair. Her carpet is green. A good, honest green.

She shows me to a massive backpack full of capped orange .29 gauge hypodermic needles

!FOR DIABETES ONLY! and I ask how the fuck I know they haven’t been used. The floor is covered with uncapped bloodrusting rigs. “They’re brand fucking new if they’re in there, otherwise they’re not.” I see my face in an empty bottle of gin on her kitchen counter through the open door. I reach in and grab six or seven and look around uncomfortably. “I usually get mine wrapped individually in plastic but…” She jerks her head away.

“What’d I say?” I’m looking at a spot on her wall to which her eyes have also trained.

Her face hardens and softens and finally a small moan escapes her cracked lips. “I miss my daughter,” she whimpers. CPS took her three years ago after Gypsy violated. The picture on the wall is the size of a credit card but a little bigger, hanging from a nail and a long string.

4.

“This is the fuckin’ deal, Gypsy. If you ever want your daughter back you have got to stop doing heroin and getting arrested. I’ll make you a deal: I’ll give you as much Subutex as you need to stay well if you stay off the streets. You can sell it, or if you were smart, switch off methadone and turn on subs. Your choice.”

Her face is music, agony and dreams spilling from her eyes like black ink.

“I just gave you like ten rigs for free and you’re telling me what?” She’s scarlet in the face more than usual and she’s growling at me. “Gypsy, I just want you to have your daughter which is what you want, no?” This is the culmination of a very slow hour of Gypsy telling me what happened and me trying to tell her how to unfuck the whole thing.

I feel brave.

I go to the wall and snatch the picture and take it to her. She rattles and falls to her knees and weeps. “Gypsy…”

“If you wear this picture around your neck and I see you wearing it in the blocks and you don’t bullshit me we can go back right now and get you like ten subs, which as you know are worth a lot of fucking money, a lot more than some fucking grab-bag needles.”

“You got the real ones? Suboxone? What milligram?” She asks after immediately responding to the word subs by flying up off her knees, looking from the little pale rectangular missing picture to the picture itself in my hand. “I have the real fucking deal, the big boys. Eight milligram generic buprenorphine. Don’t get no better.” She sighs and we strike a deal. We walk back down the neon path.

I run up into the screaming condo and grab the safe and unlock it and throw ten or twelve subs into my hand and run back down. I still have the picture but the rigs I left upstairs. “Here. Wear it around your neck.” She puts the picture on like it’s a diamond necklace and for the first time I see something like hope come into her, violent hope. She reaches for the subs and before I give them to her I tell her, “No more if you don’t have that on your neck. None. I want you to have your kid, Gyps.”

5.

I’m boiling ketamine in a black pot on the stove and somehow the sight of a handful of needles has calmed Annie down. I’m abruptly and arbitrarily throwing crystalline ketamine into the pot, letting it boil a bit, drawing it up into the syringe and slamming myself in my left bicep. The memorial tattoo of my best friend is on my right arm.

Boil. Pour. Stir. Draw. Slam.

Boil. Pour more. Stir. Draw. Slam.

“Fuuuuuuck!”

Boil. Pour the whole bag. Stir. Draw. Slam, into my right arm cause I don’t know any better now and drop myself onto the kitchen floor where I sink into a black telescopic pit where I hear someone wheezing, breathing, screaming, shrieking, my heart is or is not bleeding and this ketamine finally did something I needed.

I got Gypsy sober for four weeks. She wore her daughters face everywhere she went and no one ever gave her any shit. I saw her once a few years later looking terrible and then I saw her again looking less terrible and then I didn’t see her anymore.

I love you, Gypsy.

Birth

Birth

by Alexander Michael Marasca Ziperovich

 

1.

 

“Cemeteries…” The scant sun rang glass bells upon the tombs, the bigger tombs, the domes and all the decaying white angels. It was hot in the cemetery in autumn, once again. There is no tragic comedy greater than the furnace of sun heating a single blood stream on October in a graveyard.

 

“But I’m not in a grave. I’m on ‘planet earth’. Why?”

 

Along the Kinshasa highway in Zaire in 1976’, the same truck stops from where HIV/AIDS originated, that is where they found it, this unholy fever from the bleeding jungle. CIA, USAMRIID, KGB, FSS, even the PLA; it became a household name. The deal of all devils: Russia and America’s 2012 pact against the Chinese. It began in North Africa with the Gates Foundation’s polio vaccination campaign, which inflicted long, coursing paralysis and ultimate freedom from life for the recipient in the form of a single nosebleed. They all marched back to the jungle for the witch doctor’s bushmeat to live.

 

Going back to the source was the only sensible thing to do in the interests of National Security they said. Congressionally delicate declination; Suppression via the media; Human complacency.

 

It was just too far above their pay grade.

Pluralism favors the brave and rarely the incompetent.

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER MAO-91 was declared. Signatures were scrawled in a darkened anteroom by three men, one Chinese-American, one Russian-American, and one President of the United States of America.

 

It’s now 2019 and the entire continent has been devoured, eaten alive; ACTION-ORDER-1918 has been activated but the pilots won’t fly the choppers, the soldiers can’t stand post and nothing is working and everything is dying.

 

EO: PROCEED PROCESS DEEP-SEED-SLEEP-89

 

The White House that was airlifted years previous to a remote province outside Shanghai in the form of a Buddhist temple dwelling was burned to cinders after the chief-of-staff and all his AIDS were doused with Cherosene and Kerosene and spit on by the counter-counter-revolutionary infectious squads.

 

They died shortly thereafter, hemorrhaging Khmer Rouge propaganda from the spleens that erupted from their facial orifices.

 

EO: AUTOMORPHEUS SECTION 3 is initiated.

 

The President was orbiting the earth with two or three AIDS until a sizable splotch of Pluto cracked the hull. They breathed in the gaseous ship for six years and six months, staggeringly conscious. It seems Pluto has intentions beyond not being a planet.

 

And that is all.

 

2.

 

“Why isn’t really the right question and I already know how, mostly. I think the real question is, is? Why is? What is?” He ruffles pebbles with his broken rag boots, heels like dry planks, splinters in his feet with every single step.

 

He kicks a rock and breaks his little toe.

 

The last childbirth on earth, in Monrovia, in the heart of the plague, the child was brought forth. The mother died instantaneously, convulsing while bleeding from her nipples.

 

The child never saw a picture in or outside of Liberia or anywhere for that matter. No description. No one knows how he exited the womb because there is no one.

 

He delivered himself.

 

And he was alone.

 

And that is all.

 

3.

 

Lying prostrate on a thick slab of marble stone he glares up at the sun.

 

The sun stares back harder. He stares back harder. Ardor. Heroism. Heroin.

 

He had blinded himself like this before when he should have been in kindergarten so this was no new silly ploy; he had satiated himself by becoming the enemy, nemesis and guardian of the light of the sun, begging it to explode in his nocturnal days without affect.

 

The light warms his face. He turns away disgusted. “Assembly line garbage bulb.”

 

A floating, dancing, singing blur. His mother’s face again. “Assembly line garbage whore.”

 

A caught, designed, mutated beyond control virus manifested. “Assembly line garbage teardrop.”

 

He propels himself so that he falls face first into the soft dirt. He inhales the soil. It never works despite the centuries of deadly peptides, pesticides, protein-molecularly changed rental signs.

 

He is immortal until his natural death.

 

His maternal grandmother died at 103 years of age, chain smoking through the oxygen mask until finally ripping herself out of the ventilator so as to continue swigging cheap brandy. She died a few years later.

 

“No excitement here.” He breaks his other foot and his shoe unfastens itself and runs off of him into a tombstone like a petrified rodent. He kicks off the other boot and raises his hand to the sun letting it soar into the sky but it only lands some three or four feet from his feet, up and down, like those carnival rides designed for the insane.

 

He climbs a cliff.

 

4.

 

He climbs another cliff.

 

5.

 

He summits Kilimanjaro and Everest again and asks the question that has plagued him for all of his sixty-six years: What is?

 

6.

 

In a frothy tornado-like motion he screams at the valleys and canyons and plains below and listens for one sound, an insect a bird a snake a Chihuahua but there isn’t the faintest echo. He bites his tongue, sits down and bleeds onto a carcass. He imagines an ocean suspended at this altitude. Even here the graves continue to flower and bloom.

 

The ocean scarlet with the blood of the last infant-boy-pubescent-man.

 

He drinks deeply of his mind and vomits all of it out onto the snow and the sand.

 

7.

 

Is the question is? The question is.

 

The answer is:

 

This place was virulent with hatred far before Ebola or HIV or Influenza.

This place was virulent with love far before vaccines, cocktails, or morphine.

 

There is no explanation because God refuses us.

There is no explanation because Satan loves us.

 

Why there is nothing and everything?

Why there is everything and nothing?

 

It just isn’t what you wanted.

 

It is what it is.

 

And is it?

 

It is.

 

And that is all that is and all that ever will be.

NEAT.

Neat.

by Alexander Michael Ziperovich

A Short Story

—-

“…the old man would ever have.” Almost arching his prepubescent back up toward the ceilinged sky, the child breathed in Hemingway’s finale. “Get back to the Abacus. Now, Charles.” He glanced sidelong at the horrid teal wall with the crooked spines of the books. “I’m just putting away my ultimate division scenario arithmetic, Ms. Apple.” He had adjusted the room so that he might read a short story, here Hemingway, over by String Theory, Ezekiel, by addition/substraction he kept the Koran.

The Abacus was a wretched teal bubble stick with which Charlie never would have been exposed despite his extreme calculative abilities, which he could perform in his heart, if not for his father and his mother’s docility toward his father’s hatred for art. “The only art you’ll ever have boy, is the art of selling paint for cash.” It was a wretched time to be alive. It always was. He imagined himself languishing in the desert outside Cairo building pyramids and tombs with massive rock and—. “Back to work.” The Abacus slid into his hand like a snake and he gazed at it lovingly for the sake of Ms. Apple.

He took the Abacus to his corner of the nearly shrill room full of the pain of children being forced out of art into death. As was customary for him and Abacus Hour he turned inward and faced the corner that was his that day at the Academy for the Righteous Arts and Splendors. “Georgina, I need your string theory proposal in two and a half minutes, you’ve had three days by golly!”

He gingerly worked the Abacus with his small, nimble fingers and pried it in half so that a small Papyrus scroll rolled tight fell into his torso. He unrolled the ten foot document about seven inches and his fingers hurt and he knew what arthritis was and he glanced at that horrible wall covering the heavens and asked why, again. “The Beauty and Solace of Man Lie in The Struggle to Achieve the Freedom of Paranoia from The Reality of The Beasts of Servitude…”

Ms. Apple was staring into his physical cave where he was reading his scroll that he had created based on the diseased ideas the Academy suggested he was experiencing due to a strong and difficult to pry open codependency with his mother and the world above the teal. They suggested aversion therapy based on Pavlovian and B.F. Skinner models.

“No.” He knew he would be forced to burn it himself. He had worked on the transcription from only his mind in the fashion of Dumas forever.

“Bring in the slavery bucket!”

All the children immediately turned inward, angst, pain, and humorous sadness on their faces apparent as the color of their scorched eyes. Charlie moved to the middle of the chamber.

“THE SLAVERY BUCKET!” The children chanted once, twice, thrice.

A black crockpot filled with gasoline that supported a single, tiny, white candle appeared.

Charlie fell face first into the drum of gasoline right before the commencement of the Slavery and the entire Academy was burnt from the very innermost sanctum.

Charles incinerated the split Abacus and smiled, burning in flames.

Art or nothing.

Everything is Either Dying or Dead

EVERYTHING IS DYING OR DEAD

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

Like oil drying up and rending a city to dust, love will leak out of a man like blood, leaving him cold and stupid with rage. Passion shall be buried, lost forever splayed out on dirt. Strength will succumb to weakness, honor to corruption, and finally, or throughout everything, life must abdicate to death.

I.

Inside the light of a dusty, slightly incomplete moon, hung as if suspended by an invisible string above a rutted field inside a halo of pale blue, a broken switchblade refused to eject from its rusted spring. In the cradle of the handle lay its blade like an obstinate child.

There was a sound, two sounds in quick succession, the second followed closely by the first. The first was a single gunshot, unmistakable in its license, throbbing heavily as might the deep crack of a whip had one pounded the sky.

The next sound was small, a sound only the producer of the first sound would recognize, a body falling backward, backward, backward gasping, down into the earth landing with a horrible diminutive thump.

Then a third sound, the sound of frantic running, of thrashing cattail blades being trampled, swept away beneath desperate footfall.

And there were no more sounds to be heard and the night was again vacant, silent in its indifference to the lives of men.

II.

Rusted oil machinery is scattered idly about like dead beasts that refuse to die peacefully and fall into the earth, as does everything else in death. Five old men, shoulders sagging, their heads slightly lolling, stand around the wraparound porch under a peeling sign above them proclaiming General Store’s existence. A plastic jug is being passed slowly about them, the massive metallic monsters gleaming grimly down at them as they drink the piss-warm booze in the swelter.

The dead oil rigs much like Bartlesville, skeletal and unmoving, decaying- one massive steaming carcass in the dirt. The men of Bartlesville much like the dead rigs, sweaty, brown, slowly awaiting their death in the dirt.

In the faces of the men there is a new awareness as they begin to see a figure emerging from the haze, chewing tobacco leaking down the sides of their upturned chins like tiny rivers of shit. These men are turning their heads now to stare at a red-faced girl carefully stepping out of the passenger side of an old green coupe, which has pulled into the small lot that the General Store shares with the adjoining Bartlesville Inn a small distance from where the men stand. They are staring at the girl and at the swinging abundance of her hair the color of the flesh of a ripe peach as she retrieves a worn floral print suitcase from the car.

They are watching her waving, smiling back at the driver in her windy, billowing red dress as he is pulling out of the parking lot and who is now speeding back down the only road that delivers cars and the people in them back to the 95, which is the interstate highway that provides those that drive on it the sole view of the town of Bartlesville. Those travelers, afforded their brief, inconsequential glimpses of the town, those who do not live there among the dead, oily beasts, those without any reason to be there but who are simply lucky enough to view it as detached, perhaps wistful observers of the detritus of a crumbling America as they move on to better, more ideal destinations, they will never be forced to think about or consider or to even remember ugly meaningless little Bartlesville and they will regard it and quickly disregard it as one instinctively regards and than quickly disregards the ugly, transient things of life. Consequently, they will never hold the things that happen there within their hearts and the things that happen in Bartlesville will be of no importance to themselves or anyone else and they will all be happier, for they know nothing of the souls of the people that live in places like this and in their ignorance they will be at least somewhat more graceful and free.

The oldest of the men turns and looks away, squinting at the little green car disappearing down the interstate and briskly he spits on the ground as if he were trying to rid his mouth of something particularly distasteful.

III.

The huge burlap tent, which had been set up and pitched by the men and women of the traveling Apostolic Church Of Christ in the blistering sun the previous day on the periphery of town was now filled with the desperate, hopeful incantations of worship and from within the golden glow of the tent you could hear the fevered, impassioned cries of praise punctuating the pauses in the speech of a deep, drawling voice of a man on a megaphone:

“Come wary, come ye forlorn, come find ultimate joy walking with Christ, know peace as you bring yourself to a life lived in God’s embrace, find newness in your lives, find rebirth and the serenity that has escaped you, find the joyous love that has eluded you, find the everlasting acceptance and salvation in the Lord Jesus!”

Just outside the din of devotion, sitting on an upturned bucket, sat one of the men that had set up the tent, one of the traveling members of the Church. A recent member who had just signed on and whom no one knew much about. His first name, Charlie, and a few vague details about his life were all that he offered to those that inquired. He was a welcome help to the traveling mission, though, and he was quiet and grateful and he did not cause problems as he kept mostly to himself and was otherwise amiable and so he was as accepted as any of the other anonymous men and women that made the traveling Church possible.

The brassy glow from the entrance to the tent spilled down upon him, illuminating his icy blue eyes. He sat and smoked and watched, glancing at the people coming and going. His face handsome and young but weathered in that peculiar way that a man’s face becomes hardened when he experiences such a brutality so early in life that it is written on his face. His icy eyes like deep, cold oceans conveying a stolid melancholy to all that looked upon him.

A girl with a flushed red-face and long hair the color of the flesh of a ripe peach tapped him softly on the shoulder.

They could be seen running together into the dark, hands intertwined, until they were beyond the golden glimmer of the tent.

They found an old tree above a small, rare patch of grass and they made wondrous love under the quivering stars blinking in the sky.

From the golden tent could be heard voices singing “Hallelujah”. The voices mellifluous, carried by a meandering wind to the embracing lovers like the scent of a flower in a dream.

IV.

Henry’s lifeless eyes were still open, terrified and open. Elijah bent down and closed his brother’s eyes. It was a day of reckoning and the face of the dawn sky was flushed with anguished collisions of purples and oranges and reds swirling like fires above the shuffling men, huddled above the dead body in the field. There was Henry lying on his back, an astonished expression locked onto his gray face, the cloth of the shirt over his heart embroidered with a rusty red flower where he had been shot.

The brothers looked up, up and away from each other out into the distance. Just now there was a jagged shard of vengeance settling and lodging into each of their hearts. Elijah again bent down and picked up the unopened knife that lay a few inches from Henry’s body and put it in his pocket. They turned and walked off, out of the field, leaving their brother. They would let the women worry about Henry’s funeral; they had in them the visions of the machinations of death to be carried out upon another in reprisal for the death of one of their own and in their fury they were solemn.

V.

Charlie sat on the bed in the small motel, warily cleaning the pistol with a gray rag. “They’re coming for us.” The muscles of his jaw fluttered in his face as he ground his teeth together. His forehead creased and his whole face seemed to squint as he spoke, “I killed him and his brothers will come to kill me but I won’t let them hurt you, darlin’. I don’t care what else, Georgia, they won’t touch you. An eye for an eye, a life for a life and all that, but not yours.” Georgia sat on the bed with her back against the wall, her knees drawn up against her chest. She looked up with eyes that begged, “He tried to rape me.” Charlie spoke softly, “And that’s why I killed him.” He whispered, wiping at the damn gun, “That’s why I shot that piece of shit.”

“They can’t kill you if you kill them first,” Georgia said. Charlie pondered this for a moment, stopping his wiping and then resuming it again as he began to speak, “Yep. I reckon that’s true.” He thrust his bottom lip out in thought, closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath. He placed the gun and the rag on the floor next to the bed and reached out toward Georgia and rested his ear against the small bump in her belly and listened as she cradled his head in her soft hands and kissed his stubbly cheek. “Can’t we keep running?” Tears streamed down her face and chest onto his face and chest like silent rivers. “No.”

VI.

The gunmetal sky shone darkly as the last of the twilight was being swallowed up by the gaping black mouth of the night. Elijah pulled into Bartlesville and idling his red truck, stepped under that smothering sky. Clouds of dust hovered mirthlessly around him as he got out and surveyed the town. Off in the distance was a massive tent being dismantled by a a half dozen men. Elijah watched the tent collapsing into itself as the stakes that held the poles that held the tent aloft were ripped one by one from the ground. He again imagined what it would feel like the moment he killed the man that murdered his brother as the tent fell in on itself, crumpling feebly into the ground like a crumbling tissue.

He got back into the truck and drove until he found a secluded darkness where he could rest until the light of the day would allow him to begin hunting the man he would kill; he envisioned himself slaughtering him like the pigs he had watched his father slaughter as a small, scared boy on their farm. He picked up his .45 and gently laid it on his lap, lightly caressing the grooves of the trigger between his thumb and forefinger until he fell into a deep rhythmic breathing where he waited.

VII.

The grinding sound of the key opening the lock woke Georgia up, who stood and went to the door. She was both terrified and relieved as Charlie tore his way past her, removing the gun from his waist as he slammed the door shut behind him. He was breathing hard, he had been running and sweat lined his creased brow and soaked the center of his heaving shirt. He sat erect on the bed, gun in hand, “Elijah’s red truck is here.” She came and sat next to him on the bed, Charlie between her and the door. “Did he see you?” He clutched the pistol and put his back against the wall. “I don’t know.” The tip of his index finger just on the trigger and like that they too waited.

VIII.

In the cloudless sun the monstrous machines looked as though they were grinning, massive steel jaws hungry for prey. The day was burning down into everything, the white-hot sun making it all a furnace. There were no birds flying above or at best the thick, hungry heat had devoured the sound of them singing.

Only a few wretched vultures circled the site where the Apostolic Church had been the day before, morbid beasts that were much like the oil rigs in their ugliness and their brutality, turning an orbit above the debris that had been left behind by the church in the dirt.

Elijah began cruising the town at first dim light. There was a man running in the far distance, running away it seemed, from him. Elijah raced toward him and had ended up at a decrepit motel where the man must have entered but he had been  behind and could not ascertain which room the running man had found refuge in. Elijah looked up for a vantage point from where he could watch the comings and goings of all the rooms’ inhabitants; there were two sides and each had its own set of rooms and doors.

He drove away and found a small turnout on the side of a road on a hill overlooking the motel and he parked, staring from above.

Charlie knew he was out there, waiting, watching. He could feel him, his rage like silent clapping thunder. He knew the murder that filled the heart of the man outside as he knew the murder that filled his own heart when he shot and killed that man who had tried to rape his pregnant wife. There would be blood. It must not be Georgia’s blood that was spilled. Charlie pulled the shades back from the window with the barrel of his pistol and looked out but all he could see was the dust and the sun blazing down on the mottled parking lot outside. There were no red trucks. There was no nothing. Still, he was out there somewhere waiting, watching.

Both men sat and painstakingly cleaned their guns as they watched the sun burn into the earth like a searing hot brand.

Georgia laid on the bed, beads of sweat on her neck, her face like a prayer, her hands clasped together resting on her abdomen, her hands rising and falling with every breath. Charlie sat near her on the bed, his finger brushing the trigger, the gun on his knee aimed at the door. “We wait until the darkness.” After a minute Georgia asked, “Then what?” Charlie looked down the barrel of the gun, “I kill him or he kills me.”

IX.

The ball of fire in the sky was dogged in its hold on the heavens and it seemed that the sun refused to fade away and the day took on the dimensions of weeks and months and years in what seemed to be its infinite dominion over them all. Time seemed to have died and by the time the bright white light afire in the sky finally began to recede into a lesser light and finally, after that, into a twilit half-light, time seemed no longer to ever have been.

As the darkness enveloped the town of Bartlesville and covered the motel in its blanket, enshrouding Elijah and his red truck, the men were ready to kill each other with the same hateful conviction of that horrible sun’s incandescent authority over the earth.

Charlie took Georgia by the arm after a last look outside the window, “We’re leaving. First car drives by I’m getting it.” He waved the gun for emphasis on how this would be done. “Ready?” He already had his hand on the doorknob. She began to go to her suitcase but Charlie simply said, “No.” The door opened and they ran.

Elijah stared hard, his eyes cutting through the darkness like knives and he saw two dark figures emerge into the black night, two figures, moving too quickly. He started his engine.

Charlie heard the truck start and knew as did Georgia and they ran faster, diving into the pitch black toward the interstate and the lights of the few cars on it.

Elijah maneuvered the hill’s sharp turns heading toward the figures, which were weaving in and out of his vision like ghosts, like blurry heat waves from a dying fire, and he focused and aimed his car in their direction and sped up. Finally he was close enough to see the face of the sonofabitch that murdered his brother, he saw him reach down to help Georgia up onto the interstate and Elijah turned and drove onto the onramp where he ascended onto the asphalt where their guns would meet.

Charlie ran into the road with his pistol in the air and aimed it an oncoming station wagon, which swerved to miss him, the driver correcting hard and finally smashing into the median after turning 180 degrees. Elijah drove up and passed the steaming car and spun around and stopped in front of it a few yards up the road facing oncoming traffic and Charlie and Georgia.

Bullets flew at Elijah as he got out and he found safety behind his car, leaning out to return to fire. They had traded two rounds each and neither man had hit anything.

The red truck’s headlights shone brightly and cut a large swath of light through the darkness. The station wagon and its occupants, a family of four, were screaming and sobbing as they tried to get out of the steaming wreck. It appeared the driver, the father, had broken his neck in the collision.

“You know that shit brother of yours tried to rape my Georgia? You know that?” He leaned out into the light and screamed. Elijah yelled back at the top of his lungs, “I wish he would’ve killed the whore like I’m fixing to after I dispense with the spilling of your worthless blood!” They traded shots again, both each very close to hitting flesh. They were both down to three bullets each.

The little girl from the back of the station wagon began limping into the road, in shock from a concussion, walking directly into the middle of a firefight. She stumbled out into the light from the red truck and screamed for help but there was no reply.

Charlie and Georgia were safe behind the station wagon and Elijah couldn’t find a shot. He quickly stood, trying to smoke Charlie out so that he could shoot him in the heart. Charlie saw him stand and rolled once, twice and landed on his belly and took aim and fired and he saw Elijah pushed back by the impact of the bullet that had just ripped through his right shoulder. Elijah was screaming like a pig being slaughtered but he knew it wasn’t a fatal wound he had incurred and somehow Charlie knew this too.

Elijah fell to the ground and lay on his stomach like Charlie, his shoulder leaking blood creating a small puddle, the wound spurting blood every time his heart beat.

“I’m fixing to kill you right here and now, Elijah! Save you the pleasure of fuckin’ bleeding out all over this nice highway!” Elijah howled, “You come fucking kill me then you fuckin’ coward!” Elijah used all his strength to roll onto his back, right arm lifted with his finger on the trigger.

Unfortunately, the first thing he saw was the ataxic, screaming girl, her arms reaching out like she was blind. The gun exploded into her abdomen. The pain had blinded him and he had killed a little girl. He watched her stagger and collapse, her wailing turning to a soft gurgling whine. Elijah was seething with anger and anguish and hate and pain.

“You shoot that girl, did you? Let me help you, here, motherfucker.” The triumph in Charlie’s voice, his gun leveled at Elijah’s head. But something happened and Charlie’s gun did not fire even though he had rounds in the clip, something had jammed. Elijah barely lifted his right arm again, gun in hand, to fire his last shot as Charlie watched through those icy blue eyes of his, and Elijah shot Charlie dead center in his chest. Charlie fell to the ground wheezing, tears leaking out of his eyes, blood out of his mouth. His voice wet with the blood coming from his mouth he begged, “Georgia, Georgiaaa.” Blood fell as a steady stream from the corner of his mouth to the highway as he begged for his Georgia to kiss him before he died.

She ran to Charlie sobbing, horrified at the three dying people strewn across the ground. She went down and kissed Charlie on his bloody lips looking into his rolling eyes, and she picked up his pistol. She slid the clip out and jammed it back in and cocked the hammer. “I love you, baby.” She put the gun to Elijah’s forehead, letting him feel the hot metal searing his skin. Crying, she pulled the trigger and everyone was dead except her. Georgia suddenly became aware of sirens and screaming police.

That baby would be born in the maternity ward of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester.

His name would be Charlie.

Falling Apart On Jeff’s Floor / Slumber Sets Sail

Folly Within The Fable, “Slumber Sets Sail” by Jeff Richmond & Austin Lambert (Thanks for writing this song, guys!)

YUM! Vomit. YUM! Vomit.

Slumber.

 

Falling Apart On Jeff’s Floor

By Alex Ziperovich

I’ve been awake for seven days. No, six probably. Yeah, six or seven days I think. Jeff’s eyes are red whirling tops in the twilight of his bedroom. Everyone’s asleep again but I can’t sleep anymore. The same screaming fun-fun done-done thing keeps repeating: a day happens and then when it gets so dark that it’s almost light everyone stops talking and the fun stops and the done starts but I don’t know how to turn it off, turn off my fun button inside the pulsating, psychopharmacological experiment that is my brain. I’ve been stumbling around in circles trying to find someone to listen to me ramble for hours. Now I’m sitting on Jeff’s floor crying, playing with my pill bottles and panting.

“I don’t know what’s going on.”
He turns away from me to face the wall, “Go to sleep, fuck, Alex. You need to sleep.”
“I know but I can’t.”
He twists his body back and cranes his neck to see what I’m doing and turns back away, “Stop playing with those fucking pills.”
My brain is buzzing fuzzy, I am not feeling lovely and in fact my brain is fucking me, “I know but I can’t. Christ.”
He’s tired and lost, “Dude, c’mon. Let’s just sleep.”
“I am losing it, Jeff.”

I’m pouring various pills out of the bottle into and through my hands letting them slide through my cold fingers down into my throat.

I convinced my fraudulent junkie doctor that I have ADHD. He gave me three or four different stimulants to try; I’ve been trying them with gusto. Once, his eyes wide and scorched bloodshot, he said, “I try everything I prescribe.” He’s my psychiatrist. We get along great.

I remove my shirt and look in the mirror and I see patches stuck to me, transdermal patches all over my body. Daytrana patches. Selegeline patches. Uppers. Downers. Mono-amine Oxidase Inhibitors.

Attached like leeches to my skin.

I feel like all I’ve been doing is eating handfuls of pills of all kinds.

That is all I’ve been doing.

I’m looking at the bottle of Atenolol I have clutched hard in my fist. A beta blocker. A blood pressure medication. If I take more than three it would probably stop my heart. Yes, I have enough to take me away, to take me somewhere to finally get some rest. A place to give the day away.

Suicide is seeming like a seriously viable option. I remind myself that I’m having a psychotic break from lack of sleep. I’ve been heavily abusing amphetamines among every other fucking drug for weeks. How long can this go on? I crawl into Jeff’s bed and I’m crying and I’m laughing and then I’m silent, listening to my heart thudding in the darkness.

“I hate this. I can’t fall asleep, no matter what I do.”
“I know, me too.”
“I’ve taken like 20 bars tonight, man.”

We’re both laying there with Ritalin and Adderall and Desoxyn and Ketamine and Psylicobin and Xanax and alcohol and weed coursing through our blood streams in the snowglobe of his room trying to listen to the snow falling outside.

“You know it snowed like six inches tonight.”
“Yeah it keeps snowing.”
“We need to sleep.”
“I know.”
I say plainly, “I think I’m gonna kill myself.”
“Dude, what the fuck? Just sleeeep.”

I’m back on the floor in my pile of pills picking up bottles, reading labels, looking for new ones. I feel like one of these pills in one of these bottles will do it, one of these pills will fix me. One of these will make me feel right. I wont ever have to take another fucking pill again. I just have to find the right one in this pit black box and everything might be okay.

I know everything about pharmaceuticals. Benzodiazepines are the only drug, excepting barbiturates and alcohol, you have a real chance of dying from when you discontinue their use or in other words, go through a Dante’s Detox, you think not? Xanax is faster-acting than Klonopin but lasts half as long. Valium is good for relaxing your muscles and works well sublingually. Tylenol is the most dangerous thing about Vicodin and Percocet. You can smoke, snort, and shoot Oxycontin if you know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing you can. Ask me anything about a psychoactive pharmaceutical and I can probably tell you about whatever aspect of its psychopharmacology you’re interested in, everything except how to stop or how to feel happy on them or off of them. I have everything but the answers I need.

“I’m calling your mom dude.”
I nod as I put another klonopin on the tip of my tongue. God, it’s like strawberries flavored with laughter…

I hear my moms alarmed, high-pitched voice surging out of the other end as Jeff explains that he needs help with me, that I’m breaking down, that yes I’ve been taking “those damn pills” and no he doesn’t know how many. She knows the junkie shrink gave me stimulants. They both warned me.

How strange that it’s snowing and I’m on my friend’s floor seriously contemplating pharmacide.

My parents drive through the snow to come rescue me. They feed me a Seroquel; I feel waves of calm, warmth come over me like a veil and my body begins to relax and my mind finally surrenders and I sleep, dreamless.

Writing

wrinkdpaper21.jpg

When I write I bleed onto the page, the pen like a syringe drawing up my soul and the paper like some kind of breathing, animate test tube being smothered with lives and pain and the angst of humanity; I am just some kind of medium for all these great, purging exhalations, this emancipation of lustration that I must give to whatever impetus that is screaming, calling for these words I scrawl and I scrawl and I scrawl and I scrawl.

A Glimpse Through The Mask

Ziperovich

You, Alex, you are scared. Sometimes terrified.

You can’t write right right now and you want revenge.

The source of my trepidation is my unyielding refusal to engage in my life as though it were actually mine; live a torturous beauty and be liberated from all the urges and impulses that demand you forsake what you are and what you are of and you shall be set free, Alexander.

What commands you, Alex? What calls you?
What haunts you, Alex? What beckons?
Let the wind of your storm out.
For that is beautiful.

In the dim, obfuscating glow of transcendence through examination of self lays your ultimate beauty – as this pen is moved through these lines without contract or obligation to none other than the winds that are the storms of your soul so let these same true winds guide you through the darkness and into the light of the sun.

The miracle of life is not endless.

Heed not the proscribed direction of faltering maps but the generation of raw beauty through love of ugly as part of whole; beauty weeps for rest as it is dragged to expound.

None of this is perfunctory.

God & Satan Discussing Evil

Image

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

“How about this,” god and the devil had already signed a treaty some time prior as god was simply too brutal and calculating an opponent, a master in the conduct of war; satan really had no choice but to accept his plush exile and his secondary status in hell (which he felt resembled Vegas in the summer in any case). They were broaching the question of the image and subsequent creation of man again, bickering like children over plastic toys. “How about for every sixty or seventy kilos of meat in every man you create in your image, you let me throw in an ounce or so of my pure, unadulterated evil?” He paused grinning. “I mean you can’t totally handicap me here and make me completely reliant on some unwieldy army of bureaucrat demons to possess people! The overhead alone on that kind of operation would bankrup-” God interrupts, stroking his cottony white beard, “You want me to let you be a part of the image of man?” The reverberations from his soft chuckles creates most of Asia and reality television. “Listen. I have already decided that my being the sole entity from which the image of man should be derived is already going to be an important part of the book I’m going to ghostwrite so that man is righteous and divine and my PR people all completely agree on this.”

Satan sat patiently listening and replied when the rumbling of god’s voice began to dissipate, “Yeah, I know you’re going to create the religion thing and have some book confusing, self-contradictory narrative written so you can see who truly has ‘faith’ and find out who the ‘true believers’ are, despite my thought that it would seem much simpler and far kinder to just show yourself indisputably every once in awhile to prove your existence for the sake of not only man’s sanity but his eternal salvation. Look, I think it’s confusing enough with the whole race joke-” God clears his voice to be heard and the minivan comes into being. “Yes, that should prove delightful entertainment insight into man.” The devil slowly continued, “God, you see, you have all the advantages! Throw me a bone here!” He timed this plea perfectly so that it was uttered at the very moment god was being draped in his brand new custom-tailored 20% cashmere 80% angel tongue robe and he was off guard. “Fine, satan, you can have the smallest bone in every man created to do with it what you will and it will be infinitesimal in size,” God lit up the heavens with a sly smile. “And I know you think big things come in small packages,” The devil sits in his rocking chair, one leg crossed over the other. A smug sophisticate. God continues. “But I said you could have that small part of man for yourself and my word is, well, it is the word of fucking god so the deal is done.” The devil sat dispassionately. “Now. Dear satan, do pass that mirror with that white stuff on it you plan on growing in South America with that rolled up dollar bill please.” 

Shotgun Boy

by Alexander Michael Ziperovich

My jaw hurts from gnawing on the barrel of my arm. My horrible fucking arm. Flesh. Wood. Metal. The shotgun’s a part of my arm, this grotesque prosthesis mutation that grew out of me like an evil and gnarled barnacle tree sprouting from the earth shooting lightening and death. This thing that began to grow out of what was supposed to be pink flesh with a thumb and an index finger and blue veins swimming down an elbow. Instead, I got this. The doctors say I’m the first of my kind. When they aren’t attaching electrodes to me and scanning me and inserting tubes into me they’re arguing over who the lucky doctor is that gets to name the new disease that I have. That I am. When I was about seven the police came by the house and nervously sipped tea in our living room as they discussed “the issue” with my parents. I silently watched from the balcony upstairs.

“Nobody else had a 12 gauge coming out of their fucking shirt mom!” I detest birthday parties. Dances. School. Everything. No sleepovers, yet, thank god. “Greg’s mom was staring at me and whispering to Greg and I heard her say monster.” Tears are flowing out of my eyes. She’s such a fucking idiot, all denial and smiles and xanax. “Now, Now… I’m sure she wasn’t talking about you.” I see her lean her head back with a mouthful of cranberry juice and vodka as she takes another sedative. I’m sweating and angry and when I sweat I feel these little clicks in the gun like it wants to fire. It only happened one time cause some assholes at school slipped a little firecracker powder into the chamber while I was asleep and there a minor blast fired out of me when I bumped into a locker. No one was hurt.

The only holiday I ever liked was Christmas because of grandpa but now Christmas is a dismal nightmare; Grandpa had his own bizarre prosthetic and so we were best friends. He had a small pistol for a left hand and he tried to prepare me for what my life would be but he finally succumbed to it all and put his hand in his mouth one night in some motel and I never saw him again. He was useful in the war apparently and he had this dog tag he left behind for me with this small indentation in it and once, before he died, I asked him about it and he told me it was for when soldiers were dying so they could bite it to relieve the pain. I’ve been chewing on that fucking thing everyday since he passed.

I never meant or wanted to hurt or scare or confuse anyone, I swear, but my arm! It got bigger and the shotgun got bigger and meaner and then all of a sudden I woke up one day and I was an unwieldy killing machine reading Edgar Allen Poe and Camus. Fuck. I might as well have born a jar of aerosolized Ebola or a gust of fucking napalm or Jeffrey Dahmer for all the luck I’ve had with people.

My own damn parents, even. They wont hug me; they even started to forget me as their little boy and when I saw them looking at me I knew what they were thinking: “There he is, that little fucking freak of nature we were cursed with, shotgun boy“. Now they’re both gone. That happened before I began writing this.

So, I’ve been gnawing on the bastard. Just chewing and grinding my teeth against the metal and the wood. I’m going to bite the fucking thing off of me hoping it won’t discharge a slug into my throat and I’ll go to Mexi-“

“B O O O O H M M M M M M M”

Everything was Built in a Factory Called ‘Unimaginably Cruel Shit’

volcanoAlexander Ziperovich

I found a three pronged twig. One prong was sliced short, a dangerous fork with a jagged rusty middle tine and so I snapped the fucking godless twig and then I snapped it again into disintegration and I threw it on the concrete and vomited all over the torn mess and I leaned back, surveying my work and I wished for anything I could feel that didn’t feel like walking backwards blind accumulating contusions brought about by smashing into hard, jagged metal signs, everything creating pain inimitable in my spine. I carry a bloody encrusted dagger wrapped in a bloody handkerchief in the left pocket of my shirt over my heart to protect myself but it never, ever, ever works.

Anything that wasn’t not a part of my schedule but wasn’t associated with my schedules’ ends – like flying down into a burning volcano in a wheelbarrow full of ice and hot pussy, me letting my hands drag dancing like spiders atop the volcanic rock on this inverted volcano even though my hands should have been soaking in the cold ice and the warm pussy in the big fuckin’ wheelbarrow and all this useless conjecture because I missed my only chance to fly down into a volcano in an icy, pussy bath cause I had to fuck it all up by letting my hands fly free and of course, what do you know? My hand gets stuck in some lava or some other viscous sap and my other arm got caught in a tree, simultaneously!

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