I told a virtual friend that virtual communication was irrefutably alienating me. The virtual friend sent me a virtual hug. Virtually, its value was a television through a blackout.
I told another virtual friend that virtual communication was irrefutably alienating me. This virtual friend sent me a virtual kiss Virtually, its value was a spare tire
with a hole and no air.
I told yet another virtual friend that virtual communication was irrefutably alienating me. That virtual friend sent me a virtual gift.
Virtually, its value was tin obstructing a vending machine.
Virtually, hundreds of virtual friends remained online to text their supply of factual simulations.
Literally, my concern logged off before they did.
Tuckie, with his orange jumpsuit on and black Durag gripped to his head, woke up four hours earlier than he had gone to sleep. He checked to see if the other inmates noticed the same, but they’d yet to sleep. You don’t want to be labeled as a hysteric in prison; mental health is sort of stigmatized inside these walls, though it is often the rule. Tuckie didn’t investigate any further. He kept his mouth shut and just observed. It wasn’t long before his mouth was open and his jaw was dropped. Cremson started humming the rhythm to Tupac’s, “Life Goes On.” Inmates are fixated on routine; prison is a haven for ritual and for the time sensitive. Inside the cells, inmates created unknowing routines that others noticed that ranged in subtlety from a snorting of the nose into the throat, to a banging against the wall, and to selfentertainment in the form of singing, rapping, or doing stand-up routines. Cremson hummed the instrumentals to “Life Goes On” every night at ten. This was after he’d do fifty pushups and groan “oh god” before pacing in his cell reciting old Richard Pryor skits. A man needs his routine. Without it he’s lost. But in the cracks of his routine lies beauty. A beauty or anomaly that only others can notice. Cremson did this shit every night to keep his sanity. He also messed up a different portion of his routine every night, which kept Tuckie’s sanity.
Cremson messed up in the same spot Tuckie remembered him to before he got to sleep that night. That was the first clue. Thirty-five minutes later, a new inmate was thrown in a holding cell outside of death row. Death row was known for holding people based on the intensity of their crimes and for the short lifespans of the inmates. Death row should have just been called Tick-Tock, for each prisoner had an urgent timer on his life. The holding cells were for petty crimes such as marijuana possession, theft of service; tiny misunderstandings of upheld law. The processing officers called it the small pond – they could pluck fish in and out of the pond at their discretion. Jason, the new inmate in the small pond, was arrested for selling white t-shirts outside of Madison Square Garden without a vendor’s license. There was a playoff game between the Knicks and the Heat to which MSG declared a ‘white-out’ in the stands. Jason thought he could hustle in cash by selling t-shirts outside of the Garden to those that didn’t get the memo but desperately wanted to fit in.
As he was thrown into the holding cell, Jason looked to the arresting officer and said, “Officer – you know what was in them t-shirts? Cotton. You had us picking that shit but now you don’t want us selling it?” Tuckie remembered laughing hysterically when he heard that line the first time. This time, however, there was an eerie vibe coming from his cell. He brushed his languid back against the whitish-grey cement wall and was having trouble breathing. He was sure that what he was experiencing was real, yet magical at the same time. He remembered Cremson making the same mistake four hours earlier and now witnessed Jason being processed in the holding cell and making the same quip twice. “Yo, Hammerhead.” Tuckie said. “Get to the edge of your cell. But keep quiet.”
Hammerhead was the veteran of the cellblock. He’d been
on death row for twenty-five years, which psychologically damaged him to the point of anhedonia. It is a mental disturbance knowing that others are seeking to kill you, but not knowing when that day is going to be. The only pleasure he got was from Islam. He converted twelve years ago and had been trying to get everyone else to see its beauty for just as long. The nickname Hammerhead was given to him by older folk that are no longer present – they’d seen a documentary during free time on Discovery about sharks and noticed that Hammerhead’s eyes were as far removed as one of the main attractions on the program. The name stuck. So did his anhedonia. He didn’t fight the name. “I’m here. What up?” Hammerhead responded. “This is going to sound crazy.” “You know what’s crazy? Talking through these bars and through these fucking walls.” “I think I know what’s going to happen in the next two hours. I’ve already seen it. I went to sleep and when I woke up it was four hours earlier. The clock was four hours earlier, Cremson fucked up Tupac in the same exact spot he did three hours ago, and even that new guy that slammed the officer with the Cotton joke – I saw him being processed twice.”
“I’ve been dealing with the same shit. Why do you think I don’t talk to the rest of the block no more? They’re not gonna believe me. They already think I’m crazy.” “What are we gonna to do about it? What if we can go back more than four hours? “You mean, what if we can go back to a time before we were locked up?”
“Yeah. That would change everything. We wouldn’t be here in the first place. I’d be able to spend time with my baby.” “You think that’s wise?” “What do you mean?” “You think it’s wise to eliminate all of our actions and go back to a life where we didn’t get caught? “We’re already rehabbed. It’s not about getting caught if we don’t commit the crime in the first place.” “What is rehabilitation then; just a term used to identify being enslaved for a long fucking time? If we were free, we’d commit the same crime, but we’d be smarter about it and learn how to get away scot-free. Rehab is just for those that get caught – to those that get away with it, it’s Reward. “Islam’s been teaching you a lot, huh?” “Islam is the exception. It is enslaved and will be in permanent rehab as long as Western media exists.” “Do we tell everyone else?” “If you told everyone else they wouldn’t believe you. If they did believe you, they would abuse the power given to them.” “What if I abuse the power given to me?” “Then you might not be here. But that change would take you back to a time where you wouldn’t have learned what you’ve learned in here. In the present you’re holding onto past knowledge. If you go back to the past you’re eliminating your present knowledge. You wouldn’t be any wiser or any more foolish than you were when you killed that man on the tracks.”
Tuckie was in a dilemma – he wanted to escape the prison and
forget everything that happened to him. He wanted to go back to a place where he was not labeled a convicted murderer; a place where others could look him in the eyes and see humanity rather than primal lethality. The logistics of such a move were not conducive to success. Tuckie spent the entire night in his cell working out scenarios and situations he could get himself into with this newfound power. Tuckie then whispered to himself, “If Hammerhead’s had this power for so long why is he still in here?” Hammerhead responded, “Because I’d be delaying death. Death is the final known frontier anyway. Why would I keep running in the opposite direction? That’s fool’s gold.” Tuckie said, “How’d you know what I just said?” “Don’t be stupid, son. Because I’ve already seen your past, present, and future.” Hammerhead responded.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Daydream(s) transport the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.â&#x20AC;? Bachelard This place has a language. The language sets in the walls, walls that are deaf
unable to hear the man cry for help. Mute the house lets in water through the roof. There a man lies his head. He sees the cracks. The language of the walls, haunts its very foundation. The door moans when the woman comes home, hands filthy from working in the fields. Peach skin against peaches, darkened each hour by the sun. After tumbleweeds find their lost homes the cherry trees are cut and set ablaze. The smoke ornaments the country sky as the sunset sheds her color onto the backs of rolling hills.
The man and woman walk down the narrow passage way only to find, nothing on the other side, just darkness, and that no language exists in the wake of this place.
It was always here. The shadow that informed the person who informed the shadow. The sun rises above the church steeple and slowly descends down the side, quick not to disturb tombstones. The trees give way to the light breeze at dusk and yet it was always there.
The stars look like unmovable houses in the sky-
mapping out the cartographic invoice of the earth, mirrored back by Crater Lake. The sounds of lights burning out puts the wind at rest. Whispering spruce sleep and silently sigh at the last flicker of light before dusk settles. A black bird takes the moon gingerly with its beak and eats it whole to make room for the sun.
Gestures of the breeze blow the petals off of spring?
I am sprung.
All I want to do is show you my fingers. Their muteness.
Doves sing out of my lips
Mouths opens wide to let the light in.
Images lock lips with darkness. A pinhole. Cotton fibers turn into white matter with water. Torrential rain.
Not a soul has argued the hardships of life, and, as real as they may be, the underlying story is a method to push forward eternally. The story, the details, the pictures, and the full picture is wrapped neatly into a bow we call culture. Again they suffered as it seemed they always would. It is a reality amongst our civilized world that when hardship falls, there is no person than can truly count on another person. For what is life but a game of chess? One must consider whether or not good will and lent hands is beneficial for their self-interest. Their own sustainability, thus, civilization. The grand gesture that one must provide for the whole like a herd chased by a single sheep dog. Pull the telescope from your pocket and cast out on these waters. A young man and women clinging to society and crying out to God to place grace on their family name. Minimal recourses and laws which require they log each of their accomplishments to be processed and taxed. War and political sanction that has left the masses impoverished with much of their family gone. In a time where name and blood mean so much, the idea of having no power amongst your peers becomes an issue of respect and lifestyle. Sitting amongst these ashes, a thousand young couples like ours striving for the idealized structure propaganda has preached. This young man, whose family rests singularly on his soles is amongst the most honest of men. Raised to hold back all emotion, he has always had faith in a greater end point. If he was suffering, he simply wasn't working hard enough. His young wife, a perfect
image of the reliable woman who raises her children under God. Through draft and poverty she held her morals high and her children to a great many standards. Alina and Ivan Miruska and their three children hailed from lands they would rather not mention amongst the more Eastern slavs. Shackled to a small apartment where their children sleep in the bedroom quietly, Alina and Ivan toss and turn on the floor of the dining room, wondering if the kids will ever have their own room. Ivan wakes with heavy arms and tarnished teeth. He reaches for a small wooden box, which contains cigarettes that he picked up from various locations across his commute. Alina can be heard in the kitchen, trying her hardest to be quiet while cooking the morning's morsel. This honest, hard-working man sighs heavily and begins to roll the cigarettes between his fingers, loosening the tobacco. Helena, the oldest child rushes in the bedroom and begins to beckon her father for hand-soap which he explains is not in the budget. She pouts and hold her hands out to his face. Ivan looks at Helena with great despair before pinching her cheek and attempting to clean her hands with his undershirt, to which Helena is unamused and stomps away. Ivan turns back to his tobacco and pulls his pipe from the drawer. Alina soon files into the bedroom and calls Ivan for breakfast. She wraps her arms around him and leans in, “Oh how I love you, Ivan.” Ivan embraces his wife with the vigor of a child who has fallen ill. Taking her in, he hides amongst the nape of her neck and whispers to her: “I am your hard-working man, and you are my dutiful wife.”
He rises, pushing Alina to the side. Knowing that her frail psyche would immediately feel dishonored, he turns to her and smiles, “I'm sorry Alina. You know I have to leave for work shortly.” Unable to argue with logic, Alina returns a smile to him and rushes to wake their son from his slumber. Ivan sits down to bread and butter, paired with hot tea. Staring deep into his lowly chalice, he wishes for coffee. As his son emerges from the bedding quarters, Ivan must leave for work.
“Remember to be polite, and pay attention to your instructors.” The boy is silent and returns not a glance to his father. Despite a calm mother and a working father, Ivan's son cannot understand why his father does not pay and praise him the attention he deserves. He looks upon Ivan with disgust, always telling himself that he will run far away and do all that he can to be nothing like him. Alina sets the bread and butter in front of her son, “Alexander, you musn't be angry with your father. He provides many things to us and makes it so that we have shelter, hearth, and health.” Wishing for her son to return to her as a newborn babe, she reaches a hand out and lays it against his head. “Your hair is beginning to look much like his did, and the two of you certainly have a lot in common.” Alexander pushes his mother's hand away and retorts, “It is bad enough to have his name, let alone to be his son.”
Failure comes in a lot of forms. One is the look of your lover’s face when you realize. He is no longer yours. There is a point where you come to hate the heavy knowledge that it is not he, but you who is unfit. To satisfy what you have come to know, they need. I know that our love must go. Another alleyway leads you to their future. When you see the next woman standing. In line, this one, isn't wasting her time. It is amazingly beautiful and altogether resembles a perfect image of torture.
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