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I Outgrabe
a mome rath's opera
Recent Works 
15th-Nov-2007 04:37 pm - BRIAN

A Machine of Death story. If you're unfamiliar with the Machine, please click through for a brief history. In summary for lazy bastards: What If a machine was invented that could tell you, through a simple blood test, how you're going to die?

Any other greeting cards that were this particular shade of pastel blue and embossed with ducks would've read, “It's a Boy!” The Croftworth's, inevitably, read, “It's a Brian!” It was a family name three generations running, and another three back before the first and foolhardy Brain Croftworth III named his only son Jonathan. On the day that the cards arrived, all 80 of them fresh from the printer, shrink-wrapped neatly in stacks of 16 along with matching duck-embossed envelopes, it took Mrs. Cynthia Wellers-Croftworth every ounce of what willpower she possessed to resist her urge to burn them.

She'd had enough of the name “Brian” already for one day - for one lifetime, probably - without the additional 80 instances. Her husband, Brian the third, was sitting opposite her on their tan leather couch, his expression tight and worried. Her father-in-law, Brian the second, was in her kitchen along with her mother-in-law, giving the younger generation enough privacy to talk without actually impeding eavesdropping. And the little printout slip that she'd received from a Machine in her ObGyn's office that morning, now sitting on the coffee table between her and her husband, read, in neat block letters, BRIANCollapse ).

Politely rejected by the MoD editors, 6/14/07.
14th-Nov-2007 02:53 pm - A Kiss

A Kiss

This poem is for all the lips I've never kissed.
As they are illiterate and deaf,
I hope you'll press them to this page
or computer screen
so they can collect their consolation prize--
too smooth and stiff, I'm sure,
to be any actual consolation,
it'll have to do.
I don't have time to kiss all of you
and some of you have herpes.


Prelude to a First Kiss When Love Is Meaningless

Even the moon, aloof, maidenly, and cold,
has pushed away her virginal veil
and allowed men to explore her.
Like her --
or like she was before 1969 -- I'm not frigid, just scared, cold
when I'm alone in bed dreaming not of Love that leads to a wedding veil,

two-point-five children and a prefabricated home,
but of the warmth that comes with sharing a worn couch,
Army of Darkness,
and mugs of tea. The moon is still in the heavens, floating soft in darkness;
she was not disowned for her boldness, nor would Dad banish me from his home,
but I can imagine his face, stern on his Lay-Z-Boy beside our old couch,

his orbicularis oris and oculi conspiring to form a glare
at the tongue-pierced, dyed-blond boy I've brought for him
to meet. If I believed in God
I'd worry about what He thought, too, but I believe in God
the way I believe in Love -- I don't, but I'd like to. Which is why I'll glare
at the dyed-blond boy, say nothing, and wonder what will happen when I kiss him.

Previously published in Departure:GNV Issue 15/16, Spring 2003.
10th-Apr-2007 11:37 am - Dead Things

Dead Things

I dreamed about the war last night.
In the dream, I woke up alone at home,
your breath still deep in my lungs,
like I’d been drowning in green grapes
and had somehow washed up on my childhood comforter,
buried in teddy bear flotsam.
My dead cat was vibrating the bed with his purr.
I smoothed his soft fur, went and sat on the living room floor.
Our old wood veneer set displayed the news
but I only listened – I was busy watching my cat,
how he preened, how his back arched for my hand.
My dead mother clanged pans in the kitchen –
she was baking bread that smelled like
snowdrops blooming between daffodils.
A breeze was blowing in through the bathroom window.
I went to investigate and my cat followed me,
floating a little. I could feel my father hidden in his bedroom,
a comforting, benevolent force.
It occurred to me I might be dreaming.
I saw the spring sunlight filling the window like flies,
and I knew people were dying. I wished I’d wake up,
that I could dissolve the war with the dream.
Then the room rippled and I was awake,
family far gone, war remaining,
your breath still steady on the back of my neck.

Previously published in The PoliticalDogma Vol. 1 Issue 3, 2006.
3rd-Apr-2007 11:00 am - 8:15


at 8:15 the world breaks down
the people burn, the buildings blow
the children melt, the streets go soft
the plants are ash at 8:15

unsatisfied, we decide
on dual singularities,
and three days later do it again,
revisit Apocalypse at one after eleven
and forty-three seconds

with Revelation never planned for,
everything is dead, especially survivors --
Apocalypse eternal, internal

we dropped black holes whose pulls still scream
with the people, with their children
with their burnt hair and skin and houses

Previously published in The PoliticalDogma Vol. 1 Issue 3, 2006.
28th-Mar-2007 01:52 pm - Strength

(Being an Excerpt from the Japan Diaries of Richard Gordon Smith, 1898)

Sunday December 25 Xmas Day: Nagasaki
Slept decently last night despite the cold.
My guides barely noticed it.
Their winters all must be like this: severe, solid, and austere
as they themselves are (though they submit
to such curious customs: my own servant worships foxes!
What would an old shire fox think!).

The city seems too delicate for this weather --
all wood and paper, lit by ten hundred coloured lanterns --
like a spider-city woven with gossamer walls, or a fairieland
replete with geisha fairies in their charming obi flowers.
Snow falls on their fair skin but cannot make it any paler. These women
care no more for the cold than roses in a hothouse.

Wednesday January 4: Lake Biwa
Came back to my room hungry: dinner was koi-no-ikizukuri,
an ancient, honourable dish. The cook remarked
that I must have once been a samurai when I asked for it.
The fish was served to me still gasping, not a cut nor drop of blood
visible, bedded in mountains of rice,

for luck. It sat, swimming futilely before me,
while the cook poured soy sauce in its eyes and mouth.
A full two minutes later, the fish convulsed in a great sigh,
flicked its tail, and flipped its skin -- scales and all --
over its finned back as though throwing off a blanket,

exposing its flesh, cut into pieces a quarter-inch square,
ready to be plucked out with chopsticks.
My servant is of a delicate stomach
and could not eat it -- nor could I. I severed its head, though,
much to the confusion and disgust of the cook, and asked for more sake.

Previously published in Departure:GNV Issue 15/16, Spring 2003.
28th-Mar-2007 12:14 pm - earth by april

earth by april*

show me more life
don't be a plain jane
love like death (completely)
but flow like april air
change totally
heed neither yesterday
nor tomorrow
be blue bright
and cry storms
love like death (indiscriminately)
abhor white plain flat cold
melt earth & hearts hibernating
wake the worms
love like death (but better)
don't be so frigid

*Note on the title which bears small relevance to the meaning of the piece: my parents first met at a restaurant called Earth by April (named, like this poem is, after a line from ee cumming's anyone lived in a pretty how town), where they both were working at the time.

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