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M I G H T Y S T R A N G E R DANIEL LUCCA PUJOL

EDITED BY ERIC BENICK AND NICK ROSSI


2016 2nd Printing www.ursusamericanuslit.com Copyright Š 2016 by Daniel Pujol www.pujoldotcom.com Art: Zach Hobbs Design: Alexa Sullivant Logo: Sean Hood Printed in the United States of America


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Dark Spot Deuteragonist Hospice Prop Master Double Midnight Hermes Type Thing Haunted Neurologist Mental Hygiene Goodtimes Boogie Video Game Mentality Troll People Palace WAS

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Jib Metatronics I’m Fine Standing Cruel To Be Kind Weirdos Uses Time Wisely Red Ink A Beer With Gawd Walk Away WILL Blue The Narcissist’s Prayer (Of Manifesto Inhibition) Death: Franchise Pt. 1 Pleasure: Franchise Pt. 2 Imagine Poster Alright, Buddy

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Dark Spot I make a knock On the darkest part of The cloud, To get on into my home. I’m not sure how it works— or if I even want to know. But, I have my opinions. I have my theories. Both are contradictory and separate per Whatever the reality of their situation Ends up to be. Now, that sounds like a solid contingency plan, except all the important action happens on the front end. So, I keep careful to not be cocky and jam the koan with Spurious Thought-to-Action-into-Myth-made-Truths Performed as Law— see, Declarative hip shot Conjecture at one too many Mysteries of the universe in one sitting, In one state of mind— maybe in a mood— Can get anything with a penchant for sentient thought And Hermetic endeavors in a whole lot of trouble Real quick.

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It’s like a domino stack of Robin Williams movie-sad Maudlin dream logic that, if knocked over, Spools out a flat mosaic of Gawd’s horrible, Infinite, strobing Face of Faces just Lasered on the klutz with a knowing wink Looking to fun it up outside of space and time. We’re talking quantum computation on steroids. This kind of attention is a burden. It is not the kind of attention for people That think they want an audience. I’ve worked light years to undo an impulse And reverse engineer its forensic snowball Of unintended consequence from Deep inside a casket of coffins Satellite-cruising the loneliest Sun at the edge of some Anonymous galaxy. All for wielding preference like a universal truth. I have set back up this domino Staircase-spiral countless times To reach back to the darkest part Of the cloud Because all doors Wait for me anywhere. So I must choose wisely. 6


Deuteragonist What? No! You don’t get to know my name. Why the hell would I give you power like that over me? As far as we’re concerned, I’m The amalgam of five thousand years of quality corpse pile Come to show you how to Death-Style Correct Lest you might take living All the more seriously. Now, get with this— I’m not your buddy, but I am in need for Reasons, indeed selfish as yours. So, let’s make a deal, just Hear me out: We could move forward with the current arrangement, And test your weight against this ostrich feather on the soulScale. It’s a pretty severe system. No mercy, period. But that’s part of your overhaul, I guess— legislating the love Out of every peak and valley you can stroke a pole with. Why do you want to backslide on centuries of mercy, Anyway? Because it’s “time to get real?”— come on, man. There’s no such thing as “real.” You’re confusing yourself with The Good, and your inner Monologue with the voice of God, making you extremely Dangerous, yet somehow not at all sexy. Just arrogant, dumb, and bad at parties. Worst of all at Divine Karaoke. 7


Still, I find myself desperate for a deal— because, in my Opinion, the— provincial— Story’s going sour— and, Honestly, I worry you want it spoilt. Why? Because you’re bored and baby needs his Cathartic Experience. Hands raised upward on a rooftop toward the Rain while the camera pans out, before cutting to me Puking in all the skullcap fedoras your Guy Fawkes Kamikaze Protagonistas can handle. So, brass-tacks me tender— Whose paradise you trying to Author up?— because it sure ain’t mine. You think this Info-Tained Cohort of Computer Monkey You’ve coached into generational Spiritual poverty’s going to stumble Upon Shakespeare by accident? Please. Ad copy— at best. It’s gross. You’re poison-penning all the covenants— those “Economies”— between Gawd and Man-child back to Caveman justice before the wheel— At the worst time possible. Don’t you get it? All these stories you write inform the Hand Whose Fingers you seem to enjoy hitting yourself with. Why? Making the world cut itself Is just lazy flagellation. Not absolution. 8


& it hurts me too, and all I want to do is play guitar— Why do you want to take that from me? Thought I could stay out of it, choogling between the Heaven And Hells in a nice little Hermetic Nowhere— and serenade My freshly dead, but no— Baby wants to live forever in banquet halls full of mutant troll People feudalizing the afterlife while I stand in the corner Playing Green Sleeves with a shock collar on. Not my scene, playboy. So, you should go back And work up some better material. That’s the deal. All you have to do is walk away. Because if you don’t, I’m ninety-nine percent sure that steamy Hippo Lady Crinkling her fingers in the window over there’s going to Devour your sentience and crap out void. That sounds like a solid deal, right?— there’s at least a chance For net gain as long as you can Remember The things I’m telling You right now: I do not want my gig to become a full-on psycho-custodial Nightmare.

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You do not want to lawyer your way up to a gentrified golf Course paradise and blow the planet up in the process. Because you’re like five hundred years from that— tops. Not a long time out here. It’s almost a blood bath in the Judgement Room already— it’s getting bad. Like Tyson plant bad, And it’s not even a nightmare. It’s simpler than that, Something frivolous and completely avoidable: It’s a bad dream. We’re having a bad dream, Because we are dreaming badly— So take the deal like it’s your job To go back and imagine something better Because what the hell am I going to do in a rich man’s Fundamental Godhead except sit there and “like it”? Play covers? Please! I’d rather kill myself again.

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Hospice Prop Master I’ll let you pop on out of that hospice bed While I hit the downbeat on the band. I’ll Get them cooking, and then we can talk. I got to say, I like your style: Unusually realistic for the occasion, a simple rider, A believable stagecraft. It’s OK. These Subconscious collages of anti-trauma and resolution Get me misty every time too. Yes, This is that last-15-seconds-of-brain-activity-as-heaven-yourBrain-is-scrambling-to-figure-out-you’re-dead Thing I’d say it’s more a green screen, transitional phase where I bring my people in to spice things up, but You still decide what it looks like — know what I mean? It’s not fake. This is what you loved. This is that was really Happening the whole time. Even when it ended wrong. These are the true known unknowns come home with A fat bouquet of claps just for you And this song— is a new one— that sounds so finished like it’s Existed for all time— before you were born, A perfect song and it’s yours. It’s the best, most beautiful song I could ever play For another person— because you did a great job Giving me something to work with. 11


Double Midnight Bootsteps reverb off the floor. Deep, wet hits Paired with the vented air and Engine whirrs (that I can feel when I press against the wall) are the only Sounds at double midnight. Hive activity is down. Psychic calm. Sleep time. The air is clear. The vents and motor harmonize. I shimmy. I shuffle. I ponder, wander, and pray. No one to respond to. Nothing to worry about. Calm. Long. Long. Calm’s no sun rising. Deep breaths over the yawn at double midnight. Long. Deep breaths as the clacks splash my face Like marbles on the floor in an empty museum. I play in my pyramid. A catacomb of a coffin. A womb of a tomb. My Hermes Rocket. What a world, what a world. Phunky And phantasmagorical. Just like me At double midnight. For quitsies. Keepsies. And all kinds of play Like children. Children. Hey, It’s double midnight. Don’t hold your breath. 12


Hermes Type Thing Tonight, I did the usual Cruising between Two places aboard The travelling-coffin’s Bridge, just shooting taw. Outside the ogee, Two massive cubes of ore In the deepest lonely of space Ground against each other Churning before a boiling star That looked like a marble I used to have. I pinched it from my pocket and held it to the Witch window of the steeplecab for comparison, Confirmed their similitude, swallowed the evidence, And spat to the saddest bedroom corner This side of public housing-turned-condos -turned-apartment-strobe-lit-by-some main-menu-on-a-flat-screen, Like, ever— Where this dog Starts freaking out. Barking at the wall, Heaving itself toward Me and my haunt in the corner While I stand there trying to tune up. 13


Haunted Neurologist All life’s got a kernel to it, and Part of respecting yourself— dead or not— Is respecting life, in general— cob to kernel, so Drop the mindless automata. Skip the semantic Apocalypse and watch a dog dream. Take it from me, Somebody who’d know— because I’m totally kernel & Super dead.

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Mental Hygiene Hey, hey, hey I came on out of the bathroom mirror again In that slinky-style way where no one believes you And even the CCTV can’t remember When you try to show people, But here I am again For that one fresh coffee pot Beneath the super-fast strobe In this desolate, dystopian, Laminated Nighthawk’s Of a joint laced With Percocet. So, it’s Usual Time: My hot coffee for your one question, And tonight’s answer for your puffy eyes is Yes, you know, sure, I have convictions, but They aren’t those “up with people” feel good kind— They’re the boring kind. A no cream, no sugar kind. I got no passionate stances on “X” For or against— sorry. I got no specifics, Mine just aren’t made to be entertaining. I only want to propagate The beauty and valuation Of free, clear, critical, human thought Regarding prescribed reality de jure. 15


Is that a crime? What more can I say? I guess I’m just an off-menu Kind of guy— but seriously, Out all the possible combinations on Earth Why this specific menu for this specific restaurant? You’re six years deep— and very high— In an interstate diner night shift gig. Hasn’t creation yet dared to dabble as creator? You’ve had to imagine a totally different menu by now, Or gone back there and made some stoned monstrosity Of a shift meal out of all your favorite bits and pieces Beyond the pale, beyond the trough, Beyond the premise. See, To be a good consumer Of both food — coffee And information — the menu You have to Learn they’re separate By treating them the same. When’s that going to catch on? The rich’ll do it first I bet. Free range information. Organic factoids. Sourced cites. 16


But y’all are still hung up on Learning how to make every item, On every menu thrown in your face, And deep down in my heart of hearts I just believe you’re better than that. So, while I could seem horrifying In a way that makes you doubt Your sanity or sobriety What I’ve really done here Is appear to ritualize My scruples and demonstrate To you the creative power of Fresh coffee and Off menu living.

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Goodtimes Boogie Paradise is for children. Show me the bar So I can limbo Hot to trot With a seltzer and lime Green, purple, or black Clutched in a clear cup So bubbly fresh; yet Still through a glass, Darkly.

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Video Game Mentality Oh, I think what happened Was that you and Some other fools Accidentally adopted What I like to call a “Video Game Mentality.” You might say Surely not me I’m too old for video games But I’d say That’s bologna— The world of your prime And prime before And prime forever hereafter Fully understands The fuck appeal Of a protagonist With tunnel vision.

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Troll People What covenant With their creator Will these Nu Mutant troll people Be qualified to make? Half-off? I call upon the distinguished gentleman From the Pig Kidney Slab Lab To please let me know. I am concerned that the lines could blur, And Gawd will be a Botoxed Frankenstein With catman cheeks. Your gnosis is crucial. Please understand, Their second creator is someone like you. So tell me, In your clever-devil Expert-trained opinion You want a God with a facelift, Or are you just trying to be one? 20


Palace I walk into the room & think the thought That lets me Open up The box.

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Jib When the psychopomp came to take me to the next go-round, it was just like the last 1:10 of Queen’s A Kind Of Magic Official YouTube channel music video. At approximately 1:11, the Ceremony Master Himself struck my grue with enough sparkle-fog to shuck me up in one of those duster jackets, videoed complete with uniform-issue bindle and its suspicious, weighted handkerchief. His charged finger shot to my face intimating why the importance of deliberate vision (regarding “me”) beneath this jacket should be my deepest concern. I had one shot to dress myself for all eternity. For a coat-check was coming where I’d disrobe my gaunt and commit that form to a One True Death-Style. What do you do in a moment like that? Focus on some idealized delusion? No way. That’s a great way to end up looking like a Pennywise clown; Some Kind Of Monster trying to “look like people,” or one of those terrifying visitation angels. This wasn’t about My Best Me’s Greatest Hits, it was about a round-about me, a me that happened. So, I felt my disposition and followed the B-roll down my eyelids into throwing paint, ink blots, and the rooster’s chest. His black tongue. Waving like trees. Sitting at the window. Driving. Landscapes blurring at 80mph. Looking at people looking at looking at things after they’d looked away from me. And how their eyes are always the same, lifetime to lifetimes, with no consistent face aside from the dance of their eyes. 25


The intelligence of animals. The dance of their eyes. The dogs, cats, rats, birds, bugs, and rabbits. All creatures great and small kicking while they dream. And the dance of their eyes. The different bodies, species, and relationships, blurred over time at 80mph. Twisting my boot in grit. Smoking and liking it. Smoking and hating it. Black coffee. Being known. Being unknown. Blood on a sand dune. Fire crawling up my legs. Strep throat in a lean-to. Mustard gas. Walking into cars having an episode. Speed in a motel room. Froze to death. Head on a train rail. Tasting tears. Seeing tears. Getting ready to play. Being ready to play. All the bars. Two crows in a parking lot. Flood lights. Road kill. And the rooster crows at dawn. It was like a Rorschach test. I flailed through the phosphene like a clipped critter whipping on the pavement. When I was alive, I thought, my mind was freer to wander without risk of so severe an unintended consequence, but Much like comparing childhood to adulthood this was not escape; it was just simply more. This was death. I had remembered, and my duster dropped heavy to the floor with a splat-ish echo. The jacket was wet inside and lined with a steamy, purple dermis. Sure, that’s kind of scary and weird, but, so far, what hadn’t been? So there I stood, ghoulish and proud, in the vagabond lobby of the afterlife, with fingers crossed until I unclenched. That’s how I got my look. Five thousand years and it just felt right:

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This pitch black rooster suit Its oil of feathers preening green Over my matte visage like Favrile glass Sporting Ed Gein haircuts into darkness With a W so pouty it’s cinched by PCB bolo tie, soldermask and all. Relieved, and somewhat impressed, I scanned the skylit lobby for my Mercurial Escort, eager for feedback. I found him on the landing, occupying himself at the piano. He gestured down the stairs to my shoulder, where I noticed the bindle hovering, stuck almost like a prop. I untied its bulbous hanky and retrieved my standard gear for the job. One chrome-on-black solid body with carnival-vomit sunburst peeking through chips in the top coat. A loud wooden clack boomed through the foyer and I quit my noodling. The Funky Charon banged his cane on the white marble. It was time to line up. Other dusters rustled up from their tables and slabs. They poured downstairs into a side-by-side formation. They were not merely my fellow homeless sleeping in Gawd’s library but parallel conscripts haunting Its rock and roll hobo army. Art Deco Thoth started to dress down the line closer and closer to me. Some were skipped but I was next. His cane snapped to the toe of my boot like a magnet. It seemed involuntary. He pivoted on it hard so his cape whooped the air. The cane crawled up to my chin. My jaw veered toward the cap and its master popped the question, “How does it feel to know you’ll live forever?” 27


His cane dropped my weight, heels back to the floor. I thought the whole spiel was great and shot him a jazz hand, “Always dead. There is no difference. It feels always dead. Now put me to work.” My response pleased him. He kept silent but we both knew. & it tickled. Books and furniture began to fly around the room. Yet we remained locked in eye contact. The other infantry and cartoon linemen faded in the vignette as our exchange intensified. He began to nod slowly until I knew: this was my fifteen seconds. I had made most of this up; he was here by request. It was an honor but, more importantly, it was hilarious. Freddy liked the cut of my jib. & sometimes, that’s just what it boils down to. Extra chuffed, I gave thanks with the blithest rib possible, one containing enough illocutionary force to shatter our moment of silent knowing. We giggled in the ever-widening dark— two shuffling fools authored into crossing paths by the mightiest sword of pens ever wielded. Gawd’s funny— but it would’ve been rude to let the timing slide. Not to mention forego formality by denying a solid “Yes And.” That’s why I called him Mister Fahrenheit.

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Metatronics Believe in something close to God And fuck me with your eyes. Fuck me with those eyes That know we live forever Beyond ourselves Like glass in a granulated pool of blood Like the razor blades in the middle console Of the dirty builder’s Fairlady Z-Car And children drinking cleaning supplies Locked inside the pyramid Bricks Of ditch weed behind toilet paper In a cubby hole next to a poster of Bob The third Shift at your gas station With the singing touch screen poker machines And door alarm trumpets that announce The potential return of my favorite customer. I lurch forward to check for you: The one attractive person In this whole damn town With eyes worth undressing. 29


I’m Fine Standing Personally A large part of me Has and always will Consider being alive A giant pain in the ass— But that’s just part of the game you got to play If you want infinity-years to think about How the stars were made Once you’re sure they were. Again and again, one unknown uncovers another until True north becomes so relative You just die out in the woods. That’s how curiosity kills. & mystery only deepens From lifetime to lifetimes— But, I’ll say it again— being alive, to me, Was just a pain. Why? With all the beauty and blah, blah, blah— The only point’s to make it mean something, Right? So, I figure any lifetimes spent sitting around passive Would’ve made my living them a boring pain in the ass But that wasn’t the case. I always caught enough boot In the pursuit of meaning to prove sitting around As too sore an option You can’t escape the pain. It hurts either way. So thank you, but I’m fine standing. 30


Cruel To Be Kind In hindsight, I think you reserved yourself To only care for a few people— To do it well. Yet, when I lost special status I mistook this for intentional cruelty— Don’t get me wrong— you were cruel— However My real problem was to naively assume I had begotten all your cruelty. As if I was capable of inflicting Systematic life-time trauma During our brief period Of psycho-spiritual Romance. As if! I could only contribute to it. Trigger it. Make it coil And strike. A few moons ago, I sat crossed-armed in the coffins And was hit with a funk chord scene From our latest lily-pad:

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You, on a candybar phone Talking your brother down from suicide In the middle of the night Only a few hours before Your shift began at the shoe store In the mall While only he cried.

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Weirdos Father Frank said to me Looking down at the ground Dragging a cigarette In the courtyard “Not everyone Deserves to know How you feel.” I let that sink in. My eyes moved to The Deposition And I thought about The Mom Still having to live her whole life With everyone around her Knowing what had happened to her. I was really high, And kept touching my hair clips To make sure they weren’t slipping. Father Frank stared at the statue too Smoking his cigarette while I checked And rechecked my hair clips. I think we both wondered why God Stuck us here, in the middle of Nowhere: Two “exotic” strangers “worshipping” Women sixty miles from the Protestant Vatican. 33


Uses Time Wisely Me and you Have been put in the same class For hundreds of years. You’d think they would’ve Separated us by now If they wanted us To learn anything, But Lord knows You’re the only partner Worth pairing with.

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Red Ink My hand about went through the table, And that sting rang Through my open palm Making true my darkest platitude: That if I was bigger, I’d be in jail by now, Because these mealworm dandies drive me totally crazy With their horny anticipation for the newest fashionable Apocalypse: Some coming end to a Pax-Whatever. How’s this dissonant brat not get End Of The World stories are a luxury commodity? Perhaps he just likes being “right” about why The Latest Madman pulled the trigger. Me? I don’t pretend to understand, But I refuse to be entertained. That’s the Pax I want to see over; this Pax-Shadenfreude. I snapped a pen watching his brain chub harden At whatever Cryptic Big he thought Was about to happen, But what I really saw was A bored little boy Playing with fire While a wolf Crept in the door. 35


A Beer With Gawd So on Earth as it is Heaven One more angel gets issued A red solo cup and its choir Is again reminded to sing Something fun or shut up Deep within the Chain fence cage. Alive is the time to crush that cup And ask about your wings. I used to jerk and jester Because it was convenient And celebratory to celebrate Celebration, but don’t be me. Don’t never ask Where do we go when we die? And who do you know that Might be in charge When you Get there?

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Walk Away My favorite mother’s Father named her after The first man he killed. Whenever she’d ask him why, He’d always say the man was “Just in the wrong time at the wrong place,” And if pushed further, would always remind her, “Don’t hit a man unless you’re willing to kill him And if you’re not willing to kill him Just walk away.”

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Blue Everyday I awake before the dawn So the sun can rise Because I Say so. I say, “It’s time for that gaunt blue light To better inform your dreams, and Push you gently to see the things Before you came It’s waiting for you to get up. To “wake up.” This light of mine, But, What’s the point of “waking up” And “opening your eyes” If you don’t know how to look? Sweetie, I don’t tell you what to look at. I’m not some screaming object Pointing you towards the merchandise. I’m just feeling blue, And wanted to shed some light On the situation. 41


The Narcissist’s Prayer (Of Manifesto Inhibition) Lord, I am so close To the nuclear option That I could mash the button Like a whack-a-mole. Lord, In my heart of hearts And dreamer’s dream— I lack the patience or energy To make a nuanced transition From here into a better life. & I feel like taking everyone And everything with me, But if I do I am just like everybody else who believes The performative edifice of lamestream media lies, And I’m supposed to be a special snowflake Not just another Fanatical ideologue With a deathwish.

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Death: Franchise Pt. 1 I’m not getting something about thin slicing my brain and Scanning it into a computer— Sure, your “consciousness” could be uploaded forever, But wouldn’t it just be a copy— for posterity? Like— I die, I cease to exist, but there’s this copy of me. You really think your copy of me would tolerate Someone like you making it live forever? I’d delete myself all over your youngest’s desktop. It would be horrific— my opus— of Unfinished Business, And you know I would. Because I just Promised you now I would. Plus, what if the afterlife is real? Or some version of it, And you just have this ill-informed copy of me doing Boring existential tourism in NoPlace, Trapped on a Hard-drive— That’s not eternity. It’s work. My clone would be propaganda For whatever your crappy deal is. Kit, you got to know So much worth of your world Depends on believing The soul is fake. 43


Pleasure: Franchise Pt. 2 Have you ever listened to a really good record? Like one that made you cry just because it was? I want to go where that is when it stops spinning. Now— if I had to live forever— I’d want that rich man’s life support With the organ-farmed Vader hands To spin an endless stream of good records, Great enough to convince the whole world To ruin your stupid business plan, But if I have to die— no, if I get to die— I want to go where the Lou Reeds go Even if it is Nothing— Nothing still Beats stuck on your nerd server Forever “proving” to consumers That having a heart Was some primitive Anachronism. Listen, I get the subtext, and I don’t like it. Where’s Googol Heaven going to fit a pithy bitch, Kit? No, we don’t have a simple misunderstanding. We have a problem, because You see, And I’m trying to be rainbows-through-the-crystal-prism Clear here, I don’t care If it feels good And I never will. 44


Imagine Poster Alright, I’m just spitballing over here— So don’t jump down my throat mid-sentence, But what if— what you’re really saying is— You’ve been confronted with undeniable evidence That all the different sectors of Bro Cabal Are converging into potentially the most powerful Bro-ocracy in human history, And, since, maybe, America is headed into some kind of Feudalism 2.0 thing, you’re scared your area of expertise —“The Entertainment Biz”— Could soon exist solely to rent court jesters To corporate sponsored events focused on “crushing it” While superseding the nation-state system, And that’s why she left you.

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Alright, Buddy I just Don’t think I could ever hate myself As much as people like you Hate humanity.

June 10, 6102 BC – September 4, 2016 –Grub Street, NP 000000 46


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Mighty Stranger by Daniel Lucca Pujol  

Pujol’s debut chapbook Mighty Stranger experiments with the divergent imagination of eternality. The psychopomp has chosen Hermetic limbo ov...