ÂŠ 2011 by Kyle Hemmings NAP CHAP 6 NAP Magazine & Books Indianapolis, IN NAPLITMAG.COM
TOKYO GIRLS IN SCIENCE FICTION KYLE HEMMINGS
Gross Fable Uncle Amazing Wolf Girl After a Night of Some Heavy Shit Dinner Party with Strictly Anti-Cubist Anchovies Plimsoles in Punk Soft Hearted Girl Amerikamura
Bathing Chickens Cheap Lies Murakamiâ€™s Children of the Storm Wild West The Dogs of Domination Sex-Sugar Charge Type Thing Alita has a Runny Boyfriend with Glass Moons Why I No Moe Zoku
Gross Fable As a little girl without sunshade, Chikako kept her ear to the ground. She listened to the pulse of a city of tunnels. She heard a voice say Where are You? The voice alternated between buzz fly close and forgotten animal burrowing. She realized that it belonged to her biological mother, stingy with intimate coins and prone to basements, the one Father kept sending to a land of small plastic flowers, where nothing ovulates. Chikako stood over crack lines and traced the paths of worms with Shrek-like faces, always laying low from The Rain People. Her childhood was lonely, full of distant hills that never showed up in family photos, the whisk of lepers escaping closets. At night, she declared she had no real playmates. There was a summer when her window became stuck. Through glass, she reached for the night. Birth order was of no particular importance. The moon was richer than the stars. Its voice said Come Live with Me. I Am Round. I Can Feel Your Distance.
uncle amazing When Etsuko was just a letter in the alphabet, her uncle was a language all to himself. She wanted to learn it, but the vowel-consonant-vowel was too complex for her to grasp. He was amazing. He twisted within the hula hoop, the dizzy heat, a sizzling barbecue and everybodyâ€™s mom in attendance. At night on the beach, he could swallow fire or made it look like he could. Etsuko could never understand how he got away with that trick without remaining speechless for life. He taught her how to spread an even line of mustard on imported all beef hot dogs or how it could be mistaken for suntan lotion. That was a no-no. Then the unthinkable happened. He drowned in a huge tidal wave while trying to save her. When she came up for air, she realized she had swallowed his words. From then on, there were fish inside her head. She could never understand what they were saying, but she knew they were hungry.
wolf girl Let’s say you know so little about me. Like whose idea of a joke to name me Hideo for excellent male. Or why I hang out at Triangle Park, ogling expatriates or crusty punks. Say I’m wheelchair bound since a hit-and-run by a weekend lover, all ambition, anti-Potter Power, strategic tattoos of Sex Maniac Revenge. My legs stay numb, but my brain is full of twitching centipedes. You can see them smile in my eyes. A day job making animations, little Chiba animals that fight dragons disguised as people. I’m sure you’ve known some. And in a stream, I sometimes watch the reflections, the shape shifters, werewolves without human pitch, girls in frill skirts singing Gaga. Everything disappears in its reflection. Then you appear. Sitting on the bench next to me. We talk about the stupid talent shows and the men straining to sing like boys. We joke that you’re a werewolf and how you can un-paralyze me with a stare. Or your little-girl antenna thoughts. We talk about my beautiful rabbit hands that can draw seven versions of you and still return you to the water. We talk about your job as a telephone operator and why at times I feel so heavy, how I can sink below every reflection.
In bed, you straddle me, attempting to cure me with that silly centipede of a smile. The walls of this orange room are filled with my creations, peonies, little dolls, peonies in hand. At some point, I admit that when it comes to love, I fast-fall. Suddenly, you are sad. You claim that you are bipolar, so melancholy at this time of day, a very sick werewolf. I apologize for my centipedes that talk too much. Nevertheless, you rush out of the room with a piece of my flesh. But you forget that I still canâ€™t walk.
after a night of some heavy shit Is the world ending yet? Yumi the Pop Queen of clammed hearts goes buck-tick on auto-mod. Did you set the alarm clock? Her boyfriend, a drag queen in red pumps & Bozo nose, claims he’s a teenage Jesus. Vow wow he says, as if begging for ark storm sex. She says, Baby, I’m just a numbers girl who can’t get a decent melodic death on. Bored as a corpse. In my peninsula they don’t go ape shitz on bananas. In fact, the monkeys can’t even get hard. Jesus utters a putty tat thought: They say Kolonji is good for girls tending towards cramps or is it Sweet Sludge? Bitch, says Yumi, what I have is anti-menses I can’t muse properly. I’m James Dean needing some Black Haw. They both crawl towards each other as in fallen & can’t getz up. I want it, says Jesus with make up running off. Baby, says, Yumi, I love your music & your frets really hit me below yesterday’s button. It’s just that I can’t get a good finger on your suspense.
Dinner Party with Strictly Anti-Cubist Anchovies Mrs.Tokyo, who is worried that her sister, Miss Cold Child, will remain the hidden shape of a daffodil on the back of cereal boxes, throws a party.The world is full of kind wolves, she whispers into Miss Cold Child’s ear.Then she’s engulfed by conversations with dangling participles and gaps for abridged histories that can’t be crossed. Miss Tokyo serves onion dip to the three gentlemen from Poughkeepsie and an expatriate gondolier whose glass constantly needs refilling. One of the Poughkeepsies speaks with darting eyes, sideways and back towards center. Miss Cold Child interprets this as a self-destructive epileptic who wills his own seizures when a relationship goes one up. The other Poughkeepsie asks if the onion dip is homemade and that he knows a shop where you can hear onions cry without being peeled. Then he laughs. He’s chubby and superficial, all spin and afraid to be alone, a gleam in his eyes when he tells a Chelsea Handler joke. Miss Cold Child believes that he’s been molested by a bridesmaid with long-ass fingernails, rainbow colored, some ugly scars where he remains untouched by diets. Just then a pizza boy from The Dough That Never Sleeps arrives with six boxes with different toppings: weeping anchovies, smug tomatoes, salmon on the run, ham cubes without true
edge, comatose mushrooms, and vegetable proxies. The varieties of crust are Light Between Your Lips, Thick as Our Childhoods that Never Met, Hard Like Your Father Who Killed a Man in Calais, Soft Touching Corners, ThinGirl Mystery, or None At All. Miss Cold Child places an intimate tip in the boy’s palm and she can tell by the fading glint in his eye that he’s dying. Nothing to worry about/all’s well with the world/Okay, see ya/ are his last words on the way out. She watches as his truck becomes smaller than insects’ dreams under a flicker of unnerving light. Back in the living room, the gondolier has collapsed from dehydration and one of the Poughkeepsies is finger painting in the air the curves of his ideal woman. Miss Cold Child studies the dimensions and concludes that the lines don’t meet--an unfinished woman. Or one who lets the air in, floating man through man. She’ll never be Photoshopped or burnished. She lifts her wine glass and smiles at her reflection, foreshortened, eyes like rivers. After making a wish, she knows who she will sleep with tonight. The room is the sound of stones breathing in the afterglow of rising water.
plimsoles in punk We don’t do magic. We do shotgun. We make love to our groupies in jars labeled “The World’s End.” Bitch, it’s all blam, but I like my Bubonic lust with honey and extra puff. Our psychic lovers, neutered by order of the queen, go aphasic in cafes, but text us fine during a city siege, all brown out and closed circuit despair. In between sets, we pretend that our sex smitten robots are strawberry machines with a flair for Peach Fuzz. This is another way of saying that we don’t suck. If you watch closely, Asia, you’ll see us on Late Night doing the McDonald Duck. In another five years, Flipper will be just another name for retired dolphin and no one will remember the Plastic Fantastic Quack.
Soft Hearted Girl Momoko has turned into a giant crab balancing the world on her back. The world has shrunk to an ellipse the size of a fish bowl. Behind the glass are people as islands who once pretended they were important as continents. Me, I’m outside of everything with a built-in obsolescence. “Don’t drop us,” screams a girl, scrunched-face and toothy, nose pressed to glass, “it’s a shitty deal, but the only world I have.” The Harajuku Girls, the Goth Lolitas, the Hung Diffidents, and the wind-up drummer clowns sing slowburning love songs or make faces at me. I imagine that Momoko means nothing to them even though its their weight on her back. Some don’t even bother to shrug. “Jimihen,” Momoko says, (her way of nicknaming me Jimi Hendrix), “my back is breaking. Never again will I lie face up for the Salary-men, the muff-dealers in rocking-horse Mary Janes. In my dreams, I am stripped by their invisible webs. I always wake with a taste of metal. I want to spit out my blue heart.” For a moment, Momoko looks away, distracted by the shadow of a jumping spider. Part of the world rolls off her, crashes. Everything is the color of falling between. With eyes open and her darkness within me, I cry her name. Night sleeping next to night, history turning to nitrogen and inorganic trace, screams swirl between my ears then fade. But I can still hear her voice. So tiny, like a firefly.
Amerikamura I never bought a handful of busta rhymes from a girl with colorless eyes, the curve of a laughing cartoon wave that keeps coming closer to shore. Or to the edge of. We’re shooting the breeze outside the Omotesando Hills Mall. I ask her how does she get around without a dog or a futuristic robot that gives good GPS. She says her dogs are faithful but imaginary; she’s mobilized by touch and routerless recall. It begins to rain. We both turn crack and putty. In an apartment that she claims she owns, we listen to Shonen Knife and some club remix by DJ KillTheFreak. In bare feet, she does the Cha Cha Slide, choreographing some moves like she’s surfing on air. I tell her I’m a Unix programmer from Amerikamura, The American Village, in Osaka, just here shopping for some brand jeans at the Candy Striper in Tokyo. Hers are faded, torn. Oh, really, she says and, I can see from the whimsical thrust of her head that she doesn’t quite buy it. Actually, I had just broken up with a girl named Hotaru, addicted to Ash Ketchum and to cosplaying pop divas, just for the sheer dare of hurting someone. I was always that powerless nerd. She didn’t cry or ask for a reason. Instead, Hotaru buried herself in Euro-Trance and watching TV without the sound. So, I sometimes come to Shibuya to reconnect with the eyes of strangers. I will punish myself
with distance. I also suffer from bad migraines. Sometimes I have to shut off the lights and hand myself over. After a tumble of sightless making out, all chapped lips and smooth acrobat tongue, the girl with the busta rhymes still insists that her name is MamiMami.Then she asks If I would like to die with her. What? I say. She says she dies each day, a thousand versions, the darkness she caused, a pill, a syringe, homemade mustard gas--there is no preferred method. She shakes her head, as if freeing it from someone else’s fingers. Don’t mind me, she says, I’m crazy. Koo-koo. We sit on the edge of the bed, sharing a can of flat Coke. I can tell all her dogs have stopped barking. In the silence, we are reduced to being each other’s victim of a false amnesia--on the street, we’d pretend we never met. I sense a rumble in Shinjuku, a panic below that will soon spread to our little island of a room. Perhaps a war has been declared on some new form of Godzilla. And she and I are step-down children of the Great Ghost War because somebody wanted what wasn’t his.The front door swings open. A boy with sarin-hate in his eyes, the color of subway-dark and aftermath, stands before us, eclipses everything. He mumbles something. She’s not well is the part I understand.The rain has stopped its undecipherable code in raw bits. And as if giving myself up to a mushroom cloud, it is now I who must disappear.
Bathing Chickens It isn’t like trying to get Kiku into a corner so you can whisper in her ear that she’s got lice.There are days when you yourself feel flat-bodied and wingless, sucking on dry hair. It’s your problem too is what Kiku would say. It isn’t like chasing a toy dog into its own shadow, just to hear Kiku laugh. Her eyes still reflect miles of wavy grasslands, a childhood hoed by bony fingers, turned on empty smiles. She was lulled by insects chirping under the bed. In those years of false breasts, Honshu was slow in gravity. Later, a man appeared in her life with nine fingers. He never gave a satisfactory explanation, only that he killed chickens for a living. She left him out of fear; he never said much, a gaping pothole in the road, deeper day by day. But she still gives you goose bumps, those jitter critters under the skinny that makes you want to mate. Or squawk in your wire cage.You will soak the chicken you caught today with warm salty water. You’ll remove any trace of slime, mucous. But because you suspect this chicken is sick, shot through with all kinds of antibiotics, you let it go. In the late afternoon, while your dad is buying pipe tobacco at a U-Tot’m too far down the road, you spot a chicken, perhaps the same one, pressing one side of its head against the screen window. Maybe it wants to warn you. Maybe it’s just plain nosy. And you and Kiku are busy making all kinds of wingless love. She calls it lice, spending entire lifetimes in the space, shaped like Honshu, where you and she intersect. In the night, after she’s left, you sink in your own space, your resistance shattered.
Cheap Lies This is not me who’s talking. This is five obscene traumas involving a by-sexual mother and a precocious baby brother who went dim. Under stolen lava lamps he recited the ways of our dying. Then he did just that to make sure someone did it right. This is twenty years ravaged by marching in a Beat Crusade. This is my vision of America: all highway without endpoints. I never had sex on an airplane, but I still have a fear of being taken hostage in Bangkok. This is the smooth cracker-jack face hiding 10,000 drop points in a non-life of enemy held valleys. Polite people call it boredom and endless bunny-wail on Echo.This is the look of the first boy-virgin who turned his back to me. Even after surgeries, he never lost that face. Dumb in photos, beautiful in self-reflected solitude. This is my father in the bathtub, fingers tapping the air while reciting Balzac, steam drifting throughout our little house at the edge of a rain. He had a voice of bamboo. He cut us good with his strung syllables and uncut nails. This is the world as my idea of snare and bass drum. I want to beat it until my hands bleed, then I’ll turn electronic. But this is not me as in whole number or reduced to a common denominator. This is not me as in sum of or inverse of or the converse is thus. This is your soul speaking through me in the only sign language it knows. The is the part of you and me that isn’t three chord and two minutes and fifty seconds of air time. This is the part of me that mainlines you. Everyday, we both die to save one overlapping part of the other.
Murakami’s Children of the Storm All day, we wait for Jimmy-chan to deliver us from our everyday dictators who claim they went paperless years ago or Shogun nurses who give us blue & red pills that they say will make us see clearly, clearer. Do they not remember that they too once fell from Royal Empress trees? There was a boy who called himself a Thuja Green Giant, then he died from windowless vistas, from being rained on--acorns big as my father’s knuckles. In his later years, he went as still as Crape Myrtle. But he breathed until the end. It’s a shame what metal teeth have done to the earth. As we look out of our hospital windows, carrier pigeons snuck into our vaginas that stay moist even under failing A/C. Jimmy-chen the boy who was once a brother in the mirror-real until our stepmothers with gossiping false teeth accused us of witchcraft, who made us smash the Jimmy who lingers when our hearts are strip-searched at airports. Jimmy-chen we have recovered the mirror and in it you are young and smiling and telling us that in a parallel world we are perfect we live on cheese and honey and crackers that go snap and the goat lips that go tautau. We are still the beautiful rabbit children who dream under yellow Eucalyptus or Lilac Silk. Our numbers keep growing even if our days grow numb.
Wild West My Buffalo girl is a bird of paradise who turns out to be an aural vampire tone-deaf to mute spin. On rainy nights skyscrapers nil she’s all saori destiny & melancholy squeeze box. When she slaps me with [ jungle or tooth organically grown nails] it’s to let me know that she’s anti-Metal & she ain’t no BaBe with backhorn. I offer her a baroque love, devoid of funky monkey & boom bump & gRind. Too trigger on pistol valve she shoots my iceman. Plastic porno princess, we are both rats & stars. She’s all cool, z-chick & pink lady smile. I hold up my hands. I’m no Jello Biafra. I was once a blood stained child.
THE DOGS OF DOMINATION She doesn’t believe him when he tells her that he once shot videos for The Stalin or how he can put his bo-dy on auto-mod, his cable hands on Buck-Tick. The next time he visits her in a tiny apartment near Yoyogi Park, he brings the usual manuals on animal training & tricks. But she doesn’t jump up or devil-worship his crotch. She tells him that she’s gone mono in love. He demands the name. She tells him it’s a boy straight out of a Satoshi Rocca mural on Cat Street. It just happened, she explains, she found herself floating towards his image and the whole thing turned real for two. Beyond fiberoptic control, he smashes his own glass case in his internal clockwork galleries. All she hears now is green glass ticking & the high-pitched echo of a woman too far away. It’s all he ever was. She’s as still as a pip sculpture. Afraid to laugh because it might make her inner Rocca boy crack.
SEX-SUGAR CHARGE TYPE THING She had sex with all them, narrow-necked men prone to insulin shock. Some not as sweet or dense as others. In one way or another they all died by being struck by lightning, sometimes during the act. She stores the charges of her dead men in her head, hands, and body, which she likes to think of as a Leyden jar. One day the jar bursts from too much stored love, too much sweetness. She finds she can no longer shock lovers. But rather, she feels transparent. The world wraps around her like foil, then unravels her. For years, she wakes up sad in places like London or Philadelphia. She broods atop glassy-eye moors, the loneliest and most non-conductive in the world. Considers the drop, the deadfall. She’ll dump her old needles into the night. She’ll invent the world’s largest sugar cookie. It will make her happy but comatose.
ALITA HAS A RUNNY BOYFRIEND WITH GLASS MOONS Her magic 8-ball is a boy who calls himself Destiny Nova. When it rains, they hold hands in the Tokyo subway, or make love in destroyed rooms with brutal cat longing. She knows his schizophrenic zones will someday break her heart, will cause her endless embarrassing meltdowns before men who never wash their own sheets. On some days, she’s thinks: my future [a prostitute with Betty Boop eyes, working the bottom floor of a skyscraper. Just so I can buy a cure for my Nova boy, who by that time will be hopelessly catatonic.] Today, he is building a contraption of wire, fiberglass, and metal parts from the scrap yard. He says that when it is completed it will be called “The Unknowable Machine”, one that can translate the unspeakable thoughts of the other. He then locks himself inside her. She feels so naked. He is so other-ly alone.
Why I No Moe Zoku Because we are wasted at dawn. Because our mother space ship crashed while I was giving birth to twin androids. Because there are no more words that can capture the acid leakage. Because my inner Geishas only live twice. Because I am an X girl in Lost Decade & Tokyo Drift. Because your cherry blossom clit is killing me with poisonous niceties. Because a bleeding father homunculus keeps showing up on my CAT Scans. Because Tokyo Joe keeps crashing through my ceiling with a blinking oneeye Zero. Leave suicide-by-the sea for dessert. Because the giant mutant frogs keep jerking my chain. [Which is another way of saying that I should stick to raw spinach.] I should stick to raw spinach & you should shut up. You should shut up & eat your own Occidental spiders.
Pieces in this collection have been published in various versions in the following journals: Bad Penny Review, Golden Sparrow Magazine , Nano Fiction, Otoliths, Pipe Dream, PressBoardPress, and This Literary Magazine.
Kyle Hemmings is the author of three chapbooks of poems: Avenue C (Scars Publications), Fuzzy Logic (Punkin Press), and Amsterdam & Other Broken Love Songs (Flutter Press). He has been pubbed at Gold Wake Press,Thunderclap Press, Blue Fifth Review, Step Away, Elimae, Nano Fiction and elsewhere. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/