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tho ghts of revol tion

Kevin Patrick Nelson


The Struggle At War Within Rule Movements in the Thick Heartland Forager As the Soot Settles and the Winter Begins Eye The Howl of a Dune Rider Church


At War Within My king tells me to get back to work. Time'sa wastin'. My slave exclaims, “my back is bloody and broken.” My jester no longer dances for fun—my feet await orders from above. Oh, how the powerful wave scepters so violently the whole loses hope in the castle walls that hold and protect them from freedom. Curse the dictator! Curse the dictator! Curse the Cursed! For it was me who isolated us, told us it was safe under my watch. It was me we so feverishly believed. The Head, the brains that gave spark to the traffic flowing through the halls of my kingdom. The Bodies' actions are enslaved by The Head's Thoughts. These Thoughts are ruled by other Thoughts—which are bound to other Thoughts...a lineage of Thoughts! until there is an uprising of consciousness. Regardless of the Thoughts that take office, by election or revolution, The Head never changes elevation on the hierarchy unless cut clean from the support. The system loses function and the castle becomes a tombstone. Only when the entire system falls to death and becomes absorbed in a much more organic system are the Thoughts truly overthrown. The entire system must be destroyed. Off with The Head!

But I don't want to die.


The Head often overlooks the limitations of The Heart as her factories are the driving force that gives life to The Thoughts—and the unseen Bodies are what keeps her productive. Each Body unaware of the origins of the kingdom or who or what laid the bricks that made up the walls, they continue to feed off and sustain Organ Stores. They rush inside and find something that they can stick to, grab from the walls and consume before another Body does the same. An intricate system runs, and seldom does The Head consider. An abuse of power is underway, addictive tendencies that cater to The Head's satisfaction, inevitably causing the Organ Stores to close, leaving The Heart in strain. The Thoughts may think they have control because The Heart inherently serves its function without much fuss. Until it keels over from too much stress—which it does all too much. The Head, producer of said stress, being of many branches of Thought, the roots reaching deep, thus every root has to be cut. If only The Head was reasonable enough to take note of The Bodies' needs. If only The Head considered the work of The Heart, and the existence of each Body that worked in The Heart's factories, instead of being so damned absorbed in its own Thoughts. Constantly we come to a truce, trying to sympathize for the others as best as we can—even if we will never really understand our underlying history. Patriotism masks ignorance as I smile back in the mirror, trying my best not to acknowledge the conflict in me. My heart, the slave The crown, my king My castle, the kingdom, my being—is fortified wherever I may stand, Even during upheaval.


Rule He was passionate about his words but what were they good for? Everyone else sitting cross legged in the circle laughed and roared as he told his story—he was much appreciated by all on this eve of celebration. We all took turns suckling on the bottle, letting the warm rum rush out our nerves until sweat met the summer night's still air. The moon hung with half a heart above us. No clouds shielded the stars' flicker. He was talking about his time in Thailand, how some woman puked all over his friend, hilarious stuff, the type that shapes minds, really, when I stood and walked to the other side of the ninth story roof top. I leaned over the edge with my forearms on the rim. A couple was quieted with a sudden discomfort by my presence. Their soft murmur buzzed but wasn't thought upon. Whether they raised their voices again is besides my knowledge. I lit a cigarette, holding my beer awkwardly in my armpit. I again leaned forward and looked out onto the street below. My vision was doubled by the coupling of escapes, so I drank the third quarter of the beer. My eyes were led by my ears to the trash heap at the end of the block. A man was shifting through the bags, all the discarded artifacts, in search of something to match his frame. He held up shirts in the orange streetlight, then tossed the cloth aside. He shook an old wooden box in case there was a stray diamond hiding in a corner that some past owner had overlooked. He threw this back into the pile. I turned back to the group and looked around at the shadowed party—the music muffled, the voices ceased. All I could hear was the man below rummaging, searching. Maybe something will fit. Maybe. I just want a yes. I was drawn back to him. His movements more alluring than any of the hips in tight dresses. The party goers' smiling faces ignored what was beyond the rooftop, I don't look down on them for this—after all, I stood at the same level. I wanted to enjoy this moment, this company. This man was teaching me while they were just entertaining. The ruffling of his


honesty with each reach into the pile, struck me like the nail beneath Sir Henry's swing. I'd learn something from this man with his choice of what to keep from the heap, or atleast I thought I would—I was drunk. Yes, we'd find something that would last as long as the memory would allow itself. When he found what he was looking for, I would find what I had hoped for. Ha! I watched on, waiting for the lecture to begin. Teach me. Fireworks still rose from the outskirts above the skyline, this was, when it was, a day of independence. As was each day—but this day people took the time to stop and gawk at the explosions. By now, the night hours winding on, the people of the party were too wrapped up in their own agendas to acknowledge the festive displays of solitude. The crackles, the sheer power of harnessing fire in streams of red, blots of white, streaks of blue, went unnoticed. The symbolic force paraded across the skies towards the magnificent gleaming city, without witness. This fellow below, layered in the humid night, cannot see whats before me. As I ignore the view—he does not have access to these heights, this vista. The people on my level do not see this—their attention better spent on stories of shock and oh my gawds. I feel closer to the man with nothing but what he can carry in his hands than the ones arriving with extra beer. I'm sad for someone, but I don't know who. Me, them, him? Not long ago, we were on the same level. All of us. He took his time with each item. Examining them carefully. I downed the rest of the beer, burping up the last gulp. He checked the towels for bugs and mold, nostalgically thumbed the toys, remembering when simplicity substituted strain.


I watched an ass as it walked by. He and I was never satisfied. After sifting through the majority of the trash, he walked away. Leaving it all behind. Everything was returned after being marveled over and considered. The objects we reach for forgotten in the pile of left over dresses. His search would continue elsewhere. Perhaps there was something particular he was looking for. Whatever it was we didn't find it here or there. Just before the festivities started we passed each other below, we saw the matching honey of our eyes as you asked for my help, I was aware of this. I could once shake your hand but I preferred not to. Not long after, I found myself back down there, meaning to pass you unaware. I awoke—slouched in the corner nine stories closer to the celestial spirits—to the quiet of the early morning. The sky was still dark and the birds hadn't started chirping but another sun was on its way. The roof had been vacated. Only garbage—red plastic cups, piss painted walls, an empty bottle of rum, an empty bottle of whiskey, the roaches of several joints, the butts of cigarettes—and me—were left littered about the gravel. I steadied myself after a few sways. It took me however long to find the stairwell. I was close to cursing at passerbys in the street for dreaded help, expecting to die alone atop the tower. Then, I found the door in the same spot that I had been looking all along and spent a few more minutes trying to figure out how to open it. The streets were quiet, except for the occasional fire cracker or gun shot. Days like these it was hard to tell. As I walked down the avenue I noticed a man smoking a cigarette under a lamp. His tan leather jacket was dusty, the wrinkles of his face lined with grime, he rumbled with a


grumble from under a white beard. “The glass is half full!” the man kept screaming frantically. His voice seemed to echo off every wall without ears to seek refuge, like an injured bat trying to find a cave in the earth—flying blind and bouncing off of stone nets instead of a nurturing habitat. He continued yelling as I turned into the entrance of a building. I pressed the buzzer and waited. “Yes?” a voice crackled from the intercom. “Yeeoh,” I said. After a few counted moments (with a nod of the head), a solid ring let out from each door. I rode the elevator up to the eleventh floor. There was an art installation on the wall of the elevator, incorporated in the mirror siding, splitting my image into countless selves. I wasn't deconstructed, for I existed wholly in each of the mirror's fragmented curves. My whole form was torn into different obscurities, stretched to unfathomable lengths, crushed and reduced to the smallest cube, torn in two at one distorted view. As I marveled at the kaleidescope of my reflection my eyes caught something floating in the space between us. A feather from my down jacket hung in the air—not moving in the slightest. It found a perfect equilibrium with the climb of the elevator. I began to dance to the music in my head. As my hips ticked and tocked like a metronome, my shoulders tossed about like a balloon on a windy day—the feather followed in my wake. My movement attracted the feather and it was pulled to the waves of energy my body exerted. The door chimed open and I made a right into the hall, knocking on 11B. A crack of darkness opened and a man peaked out from under the cover of his disheveled brown shoulder length hair.


“Mr. Woods,” I said with a slight bow. He squinted wearily, nodded and walked away from the door. I let myself in and took my shoes off, hanging my bag on the coatrack. At the end of the hall Mr. Woods stood, a shadow over a dancing flame, with his back to me. He was looking down at a center table between two chairs. I often questioned why Mr. Woods kept his apartment so dark. He would tell me that he couldn't stand to face the day. I've only seen the spots of his living room that the fluttering candle touched upon. There was a fan above the table, swaying gently, giving the flame the rhythm to move with. Also there was the mirrored armoire that held his hundreds of books. I could never make out any of the titles. Prints of famous paintings hung framed on his wall, I'd see moments of Basquiat's crown, the sarcasms of Banksy, an obsure beauty constructed by Picasso. I sat on the sofa away from the action, giving myself an angle of something remarkable. Mr. Woods studied the squares of an unchristened chess game. He moved the white queen's pawn two squares to the center of the felt roll out board. He bit his lip, lowering his head in thought, his eyes running different patterns. He walked to the other side of the table and moved the black knight to the third black spot, third row. “We've just begun,” Mr. Woods said. “Will you stay to see the victor?” “No,” I said. “I have work to do.” “Do you?” “Yeah,” I said. “Can I get some weed?” Mr. Woods looked at me blankly before turning around and pulling a drawer from the armoire. He was ginger with his movements. Each tweak of muscle was calculated like he was trying to preserve his energy for more inward endeavors. He removed a large velour bag with atleast


twenty different baggies of small amounts. He tossed it across the room. I caught the bag and shifted through the different varieties, choosing one to my liking. Replacing the sack for my last handful of loose change. “Can I smoke?” I asked. “You're free,” he said, backing up his white pawn with the bishop at the center. He circled again and sat in the chair, no longer after his butt touched the pad he pressed the black knight to threaten the bishop. He instantly stood with his hands on his hips, fingers curling around his back, shoulders slouching. He moved the white bishop in to the very middle of the board. “Positioning,” he said suddenly and without a further word for near two minutes. He stood there, perplexed at where he should move. So early in the game and he had many options of attack—a wrong move early could leave him vulnerable later on. He didn't want to sacrifice his defenses. “If I was me,” Mr. Woods said, sliding the white horse forward, with the black knight in range. “I'd,” his hair covered his cheeks like a veil cut with tiny slits to see past. After protecting his black pawn with another he sat again. Tapping on the arms of the chair. “Control the center, protect the square.” He sat there, looking down at the pieces for nearly half of my blunt. I opened my mouth to ask him a question but recoiled in making the attempt. I was afraid of what my voice would do when shattering his novel silence. Fidgeting his fingers and reaching forward before pulling back, he stomped his heel, making me jump. “This guy thinks we're made of time,” Mr. Woods exclaimed. “Make a move before you kill me.”


Mr. Woods seemed to have played game after game for hours, his head hung at an angle one does before falling asleep in their chair. You couldn't see his eyes. His muscles suddenly locked and a quick spasm sent him pacing from one corner of the table to the other with quick, short steps, a turn, quick short steps, turn. His face never leaving the objectives he had positioned for himself. “At this point,” he said with a sigh. “It's anyone's game. “One of us will have to make some sacrifices,” he said. Circling now like an osprey before a dive. “I won't take your trade,” he said. He shook his head, shouting a defying, “No. I won't take your trade. You see my weaknesses before I can touch my queen. You see my hunger and expect me to bite.” “Can you suppose I've had this planned all along? You were never in control of your game, even when it was your turn to play.” “You've set me a trap.” “You won't know until it's sprung.” “You prey on the likes of me.” “I'm sorry you took notice but there's nothing I can do. You will move according to my plan.” “I still love you.” “As you should.” I've never before or since heard somebody speak the way Mr.


Woods does, not only in the fact that he was speaking to himself from two distinct voices, but he had a dignified air, almost a haughtiness in his tone —in the way he accentuated the end of each word, almost in the vain of a lazy meow—making his speech somewhat justified. Despite his demeanor, which his scraggily image in no way upkeeps, he's still humble with his choice of words. He sounded a man reaching the end of middle age, although he was only in his late twenties. “I prepared you for this,” Mr. Woods said after a long pause of thought. “Go ahead and eat what I've placed in your palm. You're starved, what else are you to do?” “But I will surely meet an end.” “I've prepared you for this.” Mr. Woods then bitterly turned away from the board's game and walked into the shadows, into what I can only assume to be his bedroom. A door slammed closed. I did not see or speak to him again that night.

I met myself in the window of the stationed train. Had I grown so old that I didn't recognize the man on the other end of these eyes? My right eye was sunken in my heavy lid, the frame of the right side of my mouth pulled down at the corner by the weight of my all worries—where was the child with a strawberry bowl cut I was once known to be? Where had I gone? This isn't my skin. These aren't my hands. The right side of my face wired with untamed hairs, my locks long and matted. My jacket hung on my right shoulder, the collar upturned intentionally only by my left ear. A diamond earing caught the flourescent light of the cattle car above the flipped up collar. I was missing a right lateral incisor. My left cheek was smooth from a midday shave. My left silk lined pocket. The hole in my tshirt over my right breast. I ran my fingers along the left side of my head, pricking them on the gentle clipped fade. Who are you, staring?


Answer me my question. As the familiar recording told them to beware of the closing doors, two men caught the rubbers on both sides of the bench before me. They pulled open the doors, refusing to be denied entrance. If they missed this train, they'd have to wait a half hour or longer for the next one. These late night trains are hard to catch. Both flung themselves in, the doors closing behind them. They passed themselves without taking any mind towards their counterpart and sat at the end of the bench the other had entered by. The man to my left, who entered on my right, was a man equally worn down as his clothes. He was a remarkably short and round man, his head shaped like a cabbage. His torso matched his head and each extremity. Holes lined his linens, his cheeks were as stretched out as the pockets of his overcoat, sagging from years of carrying his various loads. He reeked of pungent scents unknown to my nose. His eyes sat at a fixed position, as idle as his mind. He had escaped, his burdens left in a trash heap. He was empty, having nothing but the clothes he wore—his body positioned as if a vase free falling, conscious of the upcoming shatter across a tile floor—accepting in this: truth. He swayed back and forth in his delirium. He was loose enough to be considered handicap. He'd lift his head only to have it drop back onto his stomach. This poor man seemed to be frozen in an emotion that wouldn't release him. Reality. At his very sight I was swept away in my own emotions regarding my current state of being. I had been negligent to my needs by pursuing my desires. I had been the bouncer in purgatory, standing in my own way of eden. My friend, how close we actually are. I couldn't smile. My brow wouldn't release its pressure, always bending in with a screw between my eyes. His pockets were as empty as mine, if they were as empty as mine. We were, I couldn't hide this. Empty our pockets and count one's worth. It's absurd. Especially when we felt the same way. How I could feel so low, to physically manifest the virus in my mind, working on a servant's salary without a job to work. Ha. I was poor from my own doing. I had


created this reality which I now sulk in, positioned myself according to my own lack of reasoning. He was, here now, afraid to look up at my face of judgment. I didn't exist, even though I was sitting right in front of him. There was no hiding his scars, they were burned into my expression. The gentleman to the right of me held his head above ninety degrees in the manner a dog would if sniffing the air around dinner time. He was a tall, stickly man who had to duck his head to enter the cattle car. His cheeks were rounded and stuck out like door knobs, carving down like a shallow depression in a rock cliff. He held fast a demeanor of maintaining the utmost elegance. He controlled his stiff movements with a sharp poise. With the position of his chin, I was surprised he didn't seem bothered by the scent hovering by. His hair was glossy and stiff in rows designed by a brush more than twelve hours prior. His lips sat up, tightly smug, a small dimple curling in his lower right cheek above his chin. Even though he was smiling, his expression was insidious and bent in with guilt. His eyebrows were high in the image of a bridge risen to allow a boat to pass through the strait without damage. Things were well for this man but he carried a shame that he tried to cover with expensive fancies. He didn't bother look my way either. His successes ravishing his mind with sick rewards and accolades while stabbing his conscience with the sharpness of his true self. Remember me? He knelt before his own sword, knighted himself for his own campaigns. Then used that sword to chop up the populace of villages without blood ever being spilled. This, the same sword which killed millions, he slept on nightly with the tip to his chest and handle in a corner, taking the position of a samurai amidst his final battle—the sinking pressure never allowing him to sleep. His red and blue diagonally striped tie was tucked under his buttoned up blazer. His khaki pants short on his silk socked ankles. His shoes were a clean off white. He read the advertisements above me. Who's at rule with all defenses down? Our vulnerabilities are hanging in public galleries and nobody finds it


beautiful. Ah, to feel fresh again, clean, fitted with a crisp suit, starched dignity. The glances of beautiful women meeting your style. Yes, the upkeep. The grooming. The care. Yes, yes, the dignity. The upkeep, the grooming. Yes. The care. All of it. All of it and more. Oh to have it! I'd dance and sing without care that I can't sing or dance. To find that everything finds its right place, the shortest string hanging from the hem cut away. An image of oneself is what the world sees, as the world does not see what I see of the world. I remember times when I would only focus on this and abandon nurturing what grew inside my mind. Then I grew fields on infertile soil, while my house fell to disrepair. I couldn't welcome guests. My ravaged selfishness began to seep through my skin, boils containing my vices arose like heat in a tar pit. I was only worried about my own plot. But this wasn't my land. Bubble up, rise, bleed out. The suit of armor was intended to hide the tumor. No one looked past the suit. They saw themselves in the gleam of my steel. Not even I could see through it. I could go home and put on a suit, I could be that. I have a closet full of different shades of personality I could light a room with. Golden era, or how about a gothic noir? Gritty underground rats chasing a break, I could show this as the only reality there is. I also could be the man that strips down, happy in his nakedness. The more I argued with myself, this or that, him or him, her or her, me or you, buh-buh-buh, the more I was to be any of these damned things—this is what brought me in blurry range of the truth, even if it would forever evade me. I surely wasn't speaking it. I was afraid to. But I felt I knew. Truth. Huh. To confront the values I held so dearly, to tell myself that it was all shit. It wasn't. You thought it was. These were the notions that separated me. Droppings decompose, green bodies reach and grow, beauty rolls out a parade of red carpet roses. Take this away and what do I have? I am not the men before me, yet, I am no different. Represented in the form of married contradictions. I wasn't very far from my stop. That train carried me to Fall.


Drop. Drop. Drop. We freed the leaves with death. I felt like at any moment I could make it. That my dreams were to become solidified by my own sculpting. Warmth insulated by compassion. A team to accomplish a task that I alone could not achieve. The riddance of the cattle car. Unfortunately, there's no avoiding traffic. I knew that with the slightest push I would lose it. I've stood at the bayside and watched a ship carry my love over the horizon to another continent. I've known the feeling of an ocean rising between us, having only my strength and resolution to carry me across the choppy breaks. If I sing in your oceans will you listen for me in the rising tides? Come with a hook and fish me out, help me breathe again. I don't want to return. I've never left. When will a vehicle come? When will I travel on? Where did I go wrong, or right? Can it be both? Sink now.

Sink. I find myself in the middle of the margins between two polarities, all along refusing to be marginalized. In every aspect of life though, I am packaged into different categories, shown my folder and told to sit quietly in the cheap, noisy and unstable cabinent. It could be by others or myself —for all find it easier to find familiarity in a stranger. Screeching and


pounding, all day long. Pick me from the stack of pages. I can't take the noise reverberating throughout my holy enclosure! I will be pulled and called upon when I am needed. I will. Am. Needing to be wanted. I want to need. I need to want, something. Something more than just reaching the end of the day without succumbing to my pain—but I can't meet death, my hands are coward—my mind too precious to close my eyes to a setting sun. To need. Yes, I need your tyranny. I need others despite being incessantly labeled as someone who—when I may in fact portray these traits. No fraction can be representative of the whole. The stereotypes I create for myself through other perceptions are lined and blocked like the sidewalk I walk beside. The grass more comfortable on my toes, less broken glass. I'll see you in the field if you decide to step from the plane that only gets filthier, never changing. I'll try to ignore the gray in exchange for the trees. Should I ignore these impulses? Sometimes I admit that the problems I face aren't a roaring sixteen wheeler, headlights fixed on my pivot. Until it hits. I can't suppress the feeling of being beaten off my feet with no faculty to emerge as a pheonix. I feel the whole force of the situation hitting me. You can't dodge chunks of hail unless you're lucky. Duck your head, protect whats dear to you and run. Run. Run. Until you find yourself as you had imagined. Good luck, son. I cannot deny myself proper identification but can't find the words to decribe the attributes that make me unique. The card issued isn't large enough, and I can't write on it: I wanted to be one man, was another, and am my own man. Even this wasn't the end of it. I've become layers of reactionaries, guerillas fighting for opposing nations—a violent nesting doll I can never get to the end of. I have to nod at my imperfections with an accepting patronage. No, I do not like your company, no I won't let it threaten my social standing, for when the lights go out at night, I sleep alone. I will raise my chin, puff out my chest in your presence—even if it


goes against how I really feel. It's a three way affair, I've been at the center of an orgy. I cannot let you see me on my knees, tears of unfounded shames streaming. I will not appear down. I'll smile as if nothing was wrong. Love exists in my hatred, perhaps you can consider it envy, maybe jealousy, towards the man on the outside, from the man on the inside— that everyone can see the glass vehicle but not the machinery that drives it down the road. You get to be who you are, what people perceive you to be. Objectified. I lie beneath, never exposed by my sincere feelings, danced around like a cursed grave. I try to convince myself to enjoy this company as if we were all I have. And in essence, it's true—you are. I will not overlook your presence. I see you on all sides of me. Even though your eyes scurry along the floor of my feet, not climbing a leg to meet me. I will stare at you, I will study you against your liking. I will scrutinize and bully you. I will pick out your flavor when we share, even if I don't like its taste. I will lift you over a puddle, watch you evolve into new phases of being. I am here in you, for you. In and for the world. I love you for the same reasons I hate you—redundant as it may be. Let's not elope on either end. We have the whole dance floor to sweep across. The train never moved a bar down the track. The doors re-opened. Everyone looked around in confusion. We stood simultaneously. Three men entered the doorway. One man stepped out onto the platform.


Movements in the Thick If we all find solace in our tears, why are our shoulders dry? We all face the reign—discussions of revolution emerging from the dust clouds settling over the ruins. We know the future—for it exists only in our actions. As we exit the concrete tombs and catacombs and enter the wilderness that encourages underachievement. Until low enough to believe— fallen far enough to march. Grace a gun, kill you one, until our victory is secure. Listen up, both ears grounded, buried beneath you'll hear the sound of history's victims. Become witness to the day you live in—before your own voice is covered over and forgotten. If slack is whats needed to be on an island instead of going to class then drop and count me out—I know I won't be allowed back in. My experience is limited. I'm going to get all there is. If one story is told to mark a Nation's identity then I will learn the truth elsewhere. Whether with words written or shared on the street—my trust is in the people who have a valid urgency taking place of complacency. Our value is not in relation to a pay or grade scale, we are not packaged meat. 4.0 is a beta version from years past. My thigh is not $5.29. A test is


earning a meal, a roof, love. Transcending boundaries that corner the self. The only empty bubbles to fill in are the stomachs of the hungry. With multiple choices we mull over ninety nine bottles—counting down the intoxicants as we experience them—some empty, some full—until an ocean crashes beneath the skin, our smaller selves lost in the open— drunken dreams of a stability found in reaching a sobering purpose. We all are treading, let us not focus on not drowning but making beautiful synchronizations. The struggle being the art, instead of the art being the struggle. Balancing act without a net, we talked of this while pushed out one at a time until we were linked from tower to tower. Those closest are afraid to step to safety, afraid for those that still know the heavy sinking sensation of walking the tight rope. Aware their friends might not acknowledge anything else before they meet their doom. A free fall is expected while standing on solid ground. My motion is sickening when idle. “I don't want, I don't want, I don't wanna wait in vain, no.” So I say the time has come to abandon complaint. We are all aware. MOBILIZE.


Heartland I The still and rising skies were silent—the birds nestled, sleeping on their ledge. There was no morning call from the roosters. II An emergency siren rang to the reaches of the township. Breaking the calm from the official's burning eyes. He opened the wooden blinds, squinting. Pepples shifted on the sill, the official leaned out and glanced over the street. Twenty thousand stomping soles were stampeding towards the tower piercing the center of the city.


III “Lock the doors and windows— take care of your family,” the official told his daughter in front of his eldest son. He threw on his uniform and left the room. The son crept six steps down the stairs of the basement. Peering through the bars, ducking under the ledge, the son saw his father remove a twenty inch curved blade from a sheath. The official turned to the child and gave half a smile. The son ran up and hid in a closet by the front door, waiting for his father's methodical foot steps to follow. He heard


nothing. Though the lock suddenly clicked open. Through the cracks of the closet the boy watched as his father disappeared into the surging crowd. IV Chants arose with the stench of mustard gas. The rebellion's anger melted the skin of their masks. The mob pushed at the gates demanding proper representation. There would be no one to satisfy their requirements as soon as those prison walls inwardly opened and they got their hands around the noose choking at their air supply with the mass of their resisting strength.


V The official was driven by the current into the square, staring skyward, the capital already in flames before the amassed. The sight of his bright royal colors amidst the billows of charcoaled smoke caused onlookers to cast stones against his borders. He crumbled. Pleading. His curious son shuttered in horror. VI Mid-sprint, a shot clapped and paused the crowd. They were hushed to a collective groan. The child's foot was lifted but couldn't catch his frame. The gravel met his buckling visage. A ripple of blood emerged at an increasing radius, from a point of no pain.


VII The father witnessed the fall of his son from the ground's vantage. The official's head was pressed unrestrained as the boots of the guard trampled into the square without regard. Bayonets were lowered to finish the bullets' sloppy jobs. VIII O' Heartland, you were once promised. IX A memorial was built for the new Republic's first elected. The official's son wasn't the first to gain power post assassination. A grass lawn was constructed, an extravagant event was thrown upon completion, where the ribbon was cut with a machete led by a choir of cursing fists.


The banner boasted, “Freedom Triangle.” The triangle's corners were cut. It wasn't a triangle at all. X The anniversary, coveted in horns declaring triumph, attracted all who survived. The daughter, now mother, made a speech that day. A favored myth told to us as a child spoke of the sword stuck in stone. Only the king, the true king, would be fit to remove the sword and was rightwise to use it at their decree. Her hot breaths detested this fable. Exclaiming that, “The more honorable set the sword so that no life would be harmed under the rule of aggression—aware that


no human is fit for sovereignty.� She detonated something awful that day to the sustained order. Keeping word to her father's wishes, to always look after her family, she orchestrated a controlled burn that shattered the illusion that freedom can be claimed over the remains of the slained. XI Realization. Barraged tremblings from both sides shake the core of the fearful self. The black skies descend, all we know— expectedly ends.


Forager Standing in the middle of the street between two buildings caving in. Revolving and collapsing in me. Is reality now to never come down from the wickedness of a horrible mushroom trip? Concentration stalls the hurled bricks and pens and naked folks caught mid-shower/mid-song and treadmills and televisions and steel bars half a block long—but they keep coming. The more I realize the continual cascade the more force it gains. It's a tug of war between gravity and my head. It's basically up to thee, 'cause please believe the times ain't slowin' down. I've since become a villager that built a city amongst the ruins. Sacred, is the concrete stone we patter over in the midday sun. Shadows against the walls with no form to cast them— on the run, hunt, better get you somethin' to silence that stomach. I used to think this day was coming until it dawned on me that it had never left. Keep tellin' myself this ain't a Depression while the politicians release voiceless huffs from cleft lips—their breaths strong in repelling my shouts.


My throat torn up I now disregard campaigners who dish out lies in order to gain trust—in order to achieve some fucked up agenda that trades lives for dead icons. In order, in order! No more order. If it didn't work against the colonialists of old then what's an arrow to a super power? They've become just another predator to watch for in the rough. I am labeled a lesser being, so be it. That gives me no choice but to adapt and evolve my mind to trick the ones with wider jaws and sharper teeth. My tactics to outwit the monstrous cannibals that feed off my profit must never fit a set method in case they catch on. I will survive the night, wingless but I'll discover flight if I have to. Uprooted, I'm blessed to sprint in any direction—find heaven without a pathway, forge into the brush— where no big body can reach that they can't touch.


As the Soot Settles and the Winter Begins Where do the strays go when it snows? My, they stay. They weather their curses whether the wind is wearing away their faces or reminding them of their burdens by constantly tapping at their backs. I'm sure a certain number never see green again—their nervous systems stiffen and slowly they begin to decompose. Blanketed in a whiteness they settle into the rest, never again, the game is lost. A strong few still scavenge what they can. With limited sources of reinforcement, those without a home scurry from behind steps into cracks of concrete hidden to bundled passersby. Others yet find refuge in the underground system of tunnels no complex mind could conquer. Enter into a labyrinth marching through the darkness of a sunken world beneath our feet—never shall those buried so deep in their minds see the day. The fat cats will last, survive by sitting cozy in their fur coats of grandeur. Slightly slimmer after the winter, the survivors rape the weak, the victims of the elements who barely made it to Spring. Here we await litters of offspring only concerned with their place in line for natural selection. And its without question this appetite scares the mind from considering the other inhabitants of the alley—competitors scrumming for crumbs— tumbling further down from the peaks of morality. Morality! How, you say, can you describe beauty? Eye of the beholder—give him sight or give him blindness—but don't give him both! See what is before you. Is life but a sediment of the desert landscape? Then are the formations of the desert a resemblance of pure miracle or the


slots to toll roads weaving their way through hell's chest, awaiting to be driven away by flash floods? Open up to a world free of judgment—absent of thought—just a space containing nature described simply being as it is. None of the limitations of a squandered conscience need to crack thin through the thick foundations of the pyramids we erect as tombs to our egos. There is no need to cut rock from the mountain when the art of the original sculpture is more beautiful than any single mindful chisel's alteration—but we feel we need to capture beauty in case it ever escapes us—we trap it in a jar and watch as it loses flight—so that we can preserve and place it on permanent display in the lost museums of digital archives. We can watch fools get folded and filed accordingly, their souls taken by photographs displayed but never accounted for. They were there in that instance and never again. For if you were to look now where they once laid, you'd see only the outline of their figure. Which leads me to question, where do the strays go when the cold hardens their soul to stone?


Eye I saw my kin march in a single file line with bare feet kicking over the loose pebbles of the desert floor. They wandered straight from the center of the city in their own directions—each keeping pace with the neighbors who once touched shoulders. Spreading further apart, some headed across the meadows towards the setting sun. Others embraced the night— shadows they've become. I watched as the wealthiest men began to ascend the cliffs fit for breeding at the top—I watched as their above-the-line safety harnesses gave way to their weight when they finally lost grip of their mountain and fell. My how they dropped... I heard their last yells—I bid no farewell. I am the last to remain. Alone in the fallen watchtower still standing tallest at the heart of the city. The square yards between the crumbled walls empty of the souls who once thought they could control their lives by completely letting go. They released themselves into a current pulling one towards hope of a bayou—with the promise of a rock enforced whirlpool that has stood for centuries. The gates have stood open, the flood rush thinning. They staggered off towards nowhere—dissipated in search of a sense that cannot be found upon reaching a destination. Swabs dragged their feet down the dried valley, masses bounded into the forest. Each expecting dangers so they armed themselves with anger—pitchforks, shotguns, daggers and sharp tongues to cut through any vines crossing the path to oblivion. As night covered the dominion no longer guarded by the King—the distant blurs were lost.


By morning they were gone. Their fates never to be known. Vultures began to circle over head, they ate my already rotted meals from my very hands. I decided it'd be better off if I kissed my Heartland goodbye being that my demand was supplied to me in empty gestures appeasing the rippling reflections static in each puddle of rain. The walls leaked tears as I descended the winding staircase, the watchtower, my watchtower was left vacant and lonely. Forgotten is the land that is never visited, may these grounds forever exist in the sight of something greater than these plush eyes. The markets that once thrived, the people who once laughed. It's all past, never will last. Not me here, I must try to salvage my civilization—yes... Each stride leads me, even if each one isn't thought of. Each stride leads me, scenes of splendor is what I seek now. The pride of the creature to survive on its own is the pride of a creature prepared for its doom. I incised this into the stone above the entrance with the instinct in knowing all along that a dungeon is not fit to be a home. As I sleep in the wind on a coverless night, the stars blazing in the eye, I come to realize on the surface of an endless space it is all before me


With no place I can't call home. No more chains. My ankles are sore wondering when I will reach freedom. There's nobody chasing me but my own two feet. It's time I stop running and enjoy this peace. Please, let me in by letting me out.

Nobody responds...

I must be there now.


The Howl of a Dune Rider We hope—oh lord, we hope—that we will miss

the end.

We pray—god o' lordy we pray—to pass away before the apocalypse has even begun. Not to say we don't want lives that are full—lives that reach well into our eighties, enabling us to watch our grandchildren become young men and or women. It's just—

damn.


It seems close— so

close. And everyday we're met with a strong willed fight, struggling to end the plight that places one's heart underneath the soles of their stomping feet. What the hell is there? What the hell could we possibly do? Have the mistakes just been made all over again? A lack of self restraint, conscious objection or even the slightest goddamn clue of what the hell else there could possibly be? Be—how can one be when they await the falling sky?

Lord—if you drop your load on our backs how could we be? To be—oh Allah to just be—without the constant worry of when things will pan out the way one hopes.


When we know that the road leads back to our homes where beds can be guaranteed instead of violent struggles. To hope, is a lost cause unless one finds the strength to realize this is it. We get but once. Why waste your time? I say, why waste your time? What the hell do think your doing? Hope for only that which you actively pursue until the pursuit becomes reality. If collectively we don't perish in heatwaves and UV rays, left in the bitter cold with frostbitten limbs—rotting in the streets that were once occupied by man—

What will you be doing then? Until then—don't spend your time without time in mind.

And when it all ends—


will you kill your kin to satisfy your starvation? Or will you help a fellow of the same race?

The only race. We live on this earth We occupy the same space—bump shoulders and stare into the others' eyes. How do we not see ourselves? How, can we not see—

in order to


just be?

Oh Creator, destroyer, protector— to only be. We're realizing what it means for the earth for us to just be.

And yet—that's all we want. To just be. Instead we get walls built along borders, reformed convicts who can't be voters—a police state that monitors every single corridor. A perception of life sold through burning bulbs calculated by the minute, no to the beats in a second, in order to mislead one from accomplishin' a single thing within one's one lifetime. We have killed an entire coast. We stare at our neighbors waiting and willing to slit the other's throat. Yet never once are we ready to question the motive that would lead to a portion of this earth


where a man stands over the other's dismembered corpse.

We yearn to pillage and destroy in order to build. We were taught through slaughter. Yet— all we really wanna be is left alone.

We are weary, so weary—

of the field we were given and expected to sow.

So—we groan and gasp for air in the quilt-like smug of a humid sun.


Raking up rocks—the desert our forum. So call out—scream across the sands. Let your voice echo down the canyons until received like a spring—an oasis of life surrounded by dead and barren land.

No—we hope to die before then.

Without hesitation I will rise to broken knees with my arms extended and bloody palms facing the valley of Death, and release shouts in words that contain the spirit of my life

to be carried on and until

my final breath.


Church I am of no religion. I am neither the mule nor among the cattle. I am not the herder dog or shepherd. I do know that we have access to heaven and hell on this earth in our lifespans and have the ability to choose between a ladder and a hole—to climb thus ascend to a higher form of self or to fall along a brutally endless descent. I am speaking not preaching—of a truth found only in life. Nothing before nothing after. Expectation of either is like trying to extend ones' hand into a river, lift a cupped palm to the air and believe the still waters will stand for an eternity or so. We cannot hold that which slips away against our preference—whether to the skies or soils. It's the essence we wish to uphold—a simpler form of perception bent only by distance from start to end. The progression of our lives a string held over a bare meadow where milestones are lined as the tombstones of Arlington. Markers to indicate the death of self through succeeding wars —conflicts fought without proper thought. A battle was imminent—the field between the forest lined hills tarnished with the carcasses that would supply the nutrients of a new growth of vegetation to be cut down centuries later so more wars can be waged. A


displacement of what's natural in order to make room for naturally reoccurring elements of the human condition. Raised to become warriors we once again wonder what the war is for. Who does conflict benefit? Keeping our arms in stow we roam the empty loam in hope of coming across others who keep idle their weapons unless to sharpen the skills of their new found neighbors. A demonstration of one's worth is not determined by the heads hanging from one's belt but the lives saved through one's influence. From savage to passive in all the right strides—the pull of one's inner strength—the magnets at the hearts of individuals who hold out their open hands selflessly, without regret—can alter the tides and return a drowning soul to the sands of a land complete with all the necessities to resuscitate an ailing body and tortured mind. Set yourselves at ease—find yourselves at peace with the destination you wish to reach the driving engine behind one's half-ton motivational pull. It takes patience to cross a nation shaking every hand along the way. To allow enough time to say at least one word of encouragement. While I see, torrents of pleasant peasants free of torment—seeking shelter from the harsh winds with smiles on their faces as they huddle together to keep warm—a poison burns inside 'em in the form of their assignment to attain proper living requirements where a meal can be cooked in the oven of the brain instead of worryin' bout the incoming rain hanging on the brim of the blackening clouds creeping over the steel buildings. Feelings of heaven are dismissed even in bliss' presence—the lessons of hell can lead one back from the abyss but one must sense the unwillingness to stress over rent or bills or finances or bullshit.


Lean on me and I'll lean on you. We can support each other—not as crutches but friends to share a lunch if one can't afford it. It's important to notice when there's a change in foliage—to see the two ends of a tree, below being much the same as the branches' tips, extending and reaching outward in all directions. A linear bark in between. All in all whether residing in heaven or hell the tree remains in the plane of possibility. Climb the redwood whichever way you will. Remember though, it is your decision. Nobody else can keep you from being who you ought to be.


Cover Art by Daniel Nelson “Still from La battaglia di Algeri, Gillo Pontecorvo”

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