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Hard Open I call this a burner. Printed on dead trees. Flimsy. Soon to be dog-eared and disregarded in some toxic compost pile. I’d call it a magazine but that word has been abused. The soul has been sucked out of the magazine industry, one flamboyant advertisement at a time. Print isn’t dead. Maybe it’s diseased...dying...transforming. But so are we. Modern day magazines are nothing more than tapeworms. Only worse. The infection has multiplied. The troops have strengthened. Today’s magazines are the Russian doll version of a tapeworm. One tapeworm living inside the irritated and bloated guts of another, and that parasite living in the intestines of another bloodsucker, and that one clawing its way into the anus of another. Eventually you, the reader, becomes the host. Tear out the shitty, filler pages. Rip out the ads that don’t apply to you. Rub yourself down with the cologne scented promotions. Torch full-page of cryptic copyright information. Snatch out all the bullshit and you’ll have a few poorly penned articles. Probably about celebrities. Probably describing the fancy eatery, the clothes, and the glare of their expensive watches. It’s time to put the boots to the parasites. Expose the entire industry for what they actually are. Hold the cigarette to them and watch them wriggle and dance. Right out of the gate, I’m doing it another way. The best way? Probably not. Guerrilla warfare tactics. I’ve got no desire to compete with their ad revenue. I’ve got no use for sellout money. It’s hard enough to look at myself in the mirror. The last thing I need to do is sell off another slice of my soul. Give me the lighter. I’ll burn it down myself. The parasites can’t handle heat. That’s why I’m calling this the burner. Not interested in infecting you. Not begging for your cash our your attention. No double-click likes. Shut off the notifications. Shut off the parasitic feedback loop. This burner can’t make you happy. I’m making what I want. I’m doing it how I want. Cutting the fat. If it’s four pages long — so be it. It’s all temporary. Flip through, look at the pictures. Read what you want. Start in the middle. I don’t give a fuck. There’s no table of contents. There’s no nine-page spread advertisement at the heart. Burners promote burners. Burners promote people, not massive faceless, shitty businesses. Good people, bad people — humans in all of their glory and degeneration. Weak writers eat shit. Weak photographers beat feet. This isn’t for you. If you’re offended, good. Do something about it. Protests won’t stop me. Greed will try. I’ll stomp it flat. Get angry. Get euphoric. Do what you like. Support what you like. I’m just here to burn shit down. -Grunt Words

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t

Swindlers of Self-Help [Shooting the greasy shit-fish at the bottom of the barrel]

Self-help writers - I don’t hate you for your futile attempts to help the layman. I loathe the pathetic path you’ve taken. Seek the weak and wounded, offer them the world. Print it pretty in the table of contents. Sell your porous soul to be on the best sellers list, but don’t call yourselves writers. This isn’t vitriol for the sake of entertainment. I get it. I’ve fallen for the sales pitch. Too late at night, too drunk, lonely, post-masturbation remorse — I’ve bought some of your dungcollections. I’m guilty. But I’ve never choked my way through a single chapter of your bad-bullshit advice. I want to be open to your specific genre of deception. I’ve even considered the morsels of altruism that might sit within the thousand pages of repetitive horse-shit. I can’t convince myself. Self-help advocates are the used-car salesmen of the the literary world. They’re worse than the dusty, undersexed broads who charge entry-fees for goofy writing competitions. They’re lower than gray-haired, perfume-poisoned writing conventions and weekend writing retreats.

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There should be a different word for these scum. “Self-help writer” implies that they are capable of writing anything worth reading. They’re sleeping pills. They’re sleeping pills with horrific side effects. They make the reader’s assholes itch. They put a permanent glaze in the eyes of the already disenchanted. They’re a dirty bunch of nothings, stealing the coins out of wishing wells. All of these self-help advocates should come together to form the Charlatan Church of SelfHelp. They should use all of that blood-money to buy a big plot of land on some nuclear test site. They should play ukulele over the spasming squeals of their geiger counters and drink from glowing puddles. If it were up to me, all of these self-help conartists would join hands and attempt to catch the next incoming meteor. Maybe the pussfilled voids, where their souls once sat, will absorb some of the impact. Maybe they can help humanity after all.

The Charlatan Church of Self-Help daily affirmation: May the two half-decent self-help writers in this world someday meet...in a head-on collision.

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poc k e t l i n t


[drop pocket lint here]

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The

Devil with green eye. Hit me on the head with a green piano. Sing death threats in the shower. Dances like a friend. Cuts like a rusty pair of bolt cutters. Never run with the devil. It needs hearts for sustenance. Chews twice and swallows ugly. No more mister nice guy. The Devil with green eyes has walked through the door.

Devil

It’s fun to be this frightened. To smell the breath of disaster. Wearing the tsunami like a robe. The sand can’t get in your shoes if you’ve been flattened by disaster. By green eyes and thick haunches and all of the burning hair. That’s a smell I won’t forget. Fire hair leaving second degree burns on the empty pockets that once held my eyes.

The dog barks. The flowers wilt. Succulents shoot their thorns. I need oven mitts to unlock the door. Blinding myself with a cantaloupe spoon. I can’t watch the movie. It ends with an overflowing wishing well. Dumping old wishes into the gutter. The night goes quiet. Bats jump to their deaths from the ceiling. I sweep by braille. Too many tiny carcasses. Maybe if I keep them in the microwave, the green eyed devil will mistake them for dinner.

It’s a Venus fly trap with artificial intelligence. Big enough to catch a polar bear. Nibble it like a gummy bear. The devil breaking mirrors to refuel her bad luck. Throwing pianos off the highway overpass to make her favorite music. She-captain of chaos. Capable of crushing diamonds into oatmeal. Add a little cinnamon and it’s a well rounded breakfast.

Never paint the walls in the house of a green eyed devil. The paint never dries. Always soggy. I can’t help it. I’m sweaty on the inside. Outside I’m a blister full of ketchup. I can’t stand this color beige. It reminds me of better places. Hospital beds and terminal wards. The walls should be padded. She’d cut the pillows with her fingernails. The windows are missing. I think it was her singing.

I took to eating dog food. Rubbed my ass on the carpet. Bit my nails down to the bone before I walked into the house. Look around the corner with a mirror on a stick. It breaks instantly. The lights flick boogers. The smoke detectors picked up a cigarette habit. They use the back of my shirt as an ashtray. I was buried to my neck before I knew what was going on. I’d thought I made a friend with the devil. It was only smoke in my eyes.

We held hands. I sat close to the fire. Too close. My chin dripped into my lap. The firewood rolled on it’s back and I was forced to rub its belly. The sky spit white lighting and golfballs. I took cover under the wheels of a used toyota. I’ve still got the imprint of the exhaust manifold on my cheek. A small oil leak wrote my name in motor blood. I knew I was toast.

Now I sleep in a hole under a bed with a cardboard cutout of myself beneath the sheets. The devil sneaks in some mornings and pours boiling water from her nostrils. I wait until the puddle cools before I wash my teeth. The dog won’t drink hot water. But he uses it to part his hair. If we're quiet long enough, the sun will crash into those rocks and it might distract the devil.

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Wears

Green

Eyes

Look what I’ve done. I’ve lost my sight and made a devil out of green eyes. It’s not all exaggeration. The truth lies on the sofa with her feet up. The television stamps its feet like a bull, aimed at the American flag. She braids a noose for her enemies. It’s a hobby like knitting, or solitaire. The buzzer beeps on the microwave. The bats are steaming now. I bring them out and drop them in the chasm below the green eyes. Dinner is served. We sing happy birthday to a crow she keeps as a pet. Wears it on her shoulder and feeds it chicken livers. The devil screams out the candles and eats the cake with her pitchfork. The rain is coming down now. It’s nice to get some support against the inferno. Only the windows are locked. The drains are plugged with mud and rotted rabbits feet. Maggots swim when the water rises. The paint will never dry at this rate. The beige color stays on the back of my eyelids when I sleep. I cough out water and my own intestines. It’s okay to cry at this point. I can’t tell if the tears are there. Sweaty on the inside. Soggy tissues don’t do their job. A man delivers doughnuts in a coffin. I pick the one made out of asbestos. It’s shaped like an albatross. Tastes about the same. Swallow those feelings. Hope to choke. Wash my teeth in the dirty bathwater before the green-eyed devil returns.


COLOMBIA AND BACK Traveling home from Colombia. Four flights. Four middle seats. Twentythree hour battle with imminent diarrhea.

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t’s the third flight of the day. I’m ham-sandwiched between 298 sweet pounds of El Salvadorian grandmother, and a surfer with sunblock residue in his stubble. The El Salvadorian grandmother — lets call her Abuelita — has a rat-chihuahua hybrid. She takes the animal out, kisses it, and makes the sign of the cross on both of their chests as the plane prepares for take off.


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y stomach is sour with South American tap water. San Salvador and LAX never seemed so far apart. Claustrophobia is an understatement. I’m working on ancient meditation techniques, doing breathing exercises, and praying to all the gods I can remember. I can feel the pockets of gas in my stomach moving like a pinball. Abuelita insists on keeping the armrest up so we can cuddle without consent.

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he first fart comes at about twenty-thousand feet. The sound alone corrects my posture. My eyes go wide. A few seconds pass before I realize the origin of the rumble. I look over at Abuelita. She’s dead asleep, propped up against the side of the plane with her bottom end angled at me. I get the sudden whiff of El Salvadorian food and pull my shirt up over my nose.

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even hours to go. Any time I find a morsel of comfort in the vortex of stenches, Abuelita adjusts in her seat. The surfer in the aisle seat is balls deep in some over-dramatic Keanu Reeves film. Without waking up, Abuelita grabs my arm, squeezes it, and snakes her hips further into the seat. Part of me wants to chew my arm off above the elbow and bleed out.


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etween the claustrophobia, Abuelita’s hot snoring, and my own potential surprise diarrhea, I get the feeling I’m not going to make it. These are extenuating circumstances. Put a professional monk in this position and I promise you, he’d start patting at the pockets of his robe looking for a lighter, dreaming of self-immolation. We’re about two hours in when Abuelita kicks her shoes off, exposing dirty concrete heels. Immediately sleep apnea puts its finger down her throat. Her snoring causes turbulence. Little kids begin whimpering. The seatbelt sign comes on. I close my eyes. The nap gods are plugging their ears. I pray to the Pulmonary Embolism gods instead. It’s no use. I hear Abuelita attempt to cover up a fart with a cough. Then I feel her cloven hooves on my leg. Part of me wants to stomp my heel into her poorly pedicured piggies. I want to scream BOMB. I want the the engines to fail. I want a flock of pterodactyls to blast through the cockpit and cartwheel down the center aisle. Maybe there’s a mountain hidden in the clouds up ahead. I try to look over Abuleita, but her breath has forged the window black. I remind myself that there are only five hours and fifty-five minutes remaining. The effeminate plane waiter comes by and offers me a look of sympathy. I tell him with my eyes, “SAVE ME.” A brutal five hours later, I’ve given up all hope for midair catastrophe. I hear the rusty landing gear creek into the down position. Abuelita wakes up peacefully. She wipes a heavy line of drool from her chin and smiles at me. I pat her on the thigh, “Estaban aquí,” I tell her. There’s no lesson. No biblical moral. Sometimes life shoehorns you into the middle seat on a seven-hour international peasantclass flight. Sometimes you drink Colombian tap water and shit lava-mud for a month. Sometimes trauma is better than boredom.

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A LETTER TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW Dear ________, What’s the verdict, cocksucker? You packing up the baby carriage and coming back to the homeland? Or you staying in the land of kangaroo milk and piss vipers? Both choices are the right choice. That’s the hard part. That’s the best part. The only wrong choice is a deferral. Also, get a vasectomy. I heard planned parenthood is doing a two-forone deal. If you need a cosigner, I’m in. I’ve been considering getting my tubes tied for some time now. I’d prefer if the doctor lets me watch the procedure. A series of mirrors maybe, or a GoPro attached to his scalpel. Haven’t worked out the logistics yet. Willing to sign consent form. How is the lady (wife) in your life? Are you helping each other with happiness? Is it love? Does that matter? I had too many questions last time — I have more now. It’s only getting worse. I wonder when they’ll cut me off. The reaper will wade in with that hideous floor-length robe, shaking his head. “Enough questions, asshole.” He’ll swing his poorly designed wheat trimmer at me. I don’t think it takes me out on the first try. He’ll probably end up beating me to death with the handle end. I’ll giggle and mock him until he finds success. That went dark. Not sorry. Had to make space for the light. How much of yourself do you see in that kid of yours? Is that good for the ego? I’ve turned the tables on my ego. I’ve started berating it in the mornings. Kicking the end of his bunk. “Get up you piece-a-shit.” Turning the tables on that sonuvabitch, you know? Unsure how it will pan out. I’ll keep you updated. Apologies for the long gap in correspondence. I blame time-zones, daylight savings, the cost of stamps, inflation, procrastination, and general governmental disfunction. All love and dynamite sticks. grunt 13


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U R N E R B U R N E R B U R N A crudely mixed concoction of zen and kamikaze meth* All words and photos made by Grunt Words* Edited by Grant Woods* Sponsored by the Mudroom Podcast and the infidel*

Burner number 1  

Crude concoction of zen and kamikaze meth. All words and photos by Grunt Words. Edited by Grant Woods

Burner number 1  

Crude concoction of zen and kamikaze meth. All words and photos by Grunt Words. Edited by Grant Woods

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