Dan, Demonslayer

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This is the second night in a row you’ve woken at precisely 1:20.  You knew before you looked at the clock.  Woke from dreams of dislodged ice dams, raging frigid waters, the floating remains of porcupines, friends lost.  Awoke to fear.

Awoke to a familiar fluttering.  A gathering and folding of darkness in the corners like great heavy wings.  Recall walking home from the house of your best friend as a child, two doors down, so much further at night.  You broke into a trot when you reached the road, then a full sprint as you felt it fluttering behind your neck.  there was no time to turn and look at it.  Safety lay in the wedge of light on your house’s stoop, and even then you did not face it.

Yesterday, somebody in your house made note of it.  Dreams have been sweaty, clenched.  Your dog seemed uneasy.  There is a rhythmic, undulating hum that accompanies the whoosh of the forced air, and the gnarled branches of a lone oak clatter against themselves outside. 

You’re awake, in the dark, acutely aware that your dog’s water dish is dry.  That feeling in your chest?  Like your heart has come untethered and is caroming upwards banging ribs as though to plug and stop your breath?  That is the demon, fluttering again against the nape of your neck.  Stand and breath.  Turn and face it.  

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Marzipan

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If he was honest, he’d like to fuck her, just once, a little roughly, from behind. He wasn’t really attracted to her, she had hard lines to her face, was pushy. After all, she was the one who knew how to make marzipan. He knew space. How to make it, how to use it. When he came in he turned any space into something resembling an exploded version of the old video game tetris, like if you were to turn the room on its side the components would crash neatly against one wall and evaporate into a high score, his commission. A good grip on that large round ass, the side of her face pressed deep into the mattress, her pudgy hand overboard braced against the floor, maybe a handful of her hair gripped tight against her scalp, her body arranged to his satisfaction. The job wasn’t going as planned, she was using him mostly as hired muscle, having him move tables and display cases back and forth across the increasingly scuffed linoleum. In the end though if it resulted in some configuration roughly matching his design it would be easier to extract the contractually negotiated price, even though the contract clearly stated that upon completion full recompense was due regardless of whether the client followed his design fully.

 

She hired him because he had an excellent track record and great references. Most businesses he worked on were retail shops and restaurants, small kitschy bodegas and the like. His alterations typically resulted in a four to eight percent increase in overall revenue. But he knew that there were always those jerks that thought anybody could do his job, that it was non-work, a sham. Ms. Marzipan was starting to give him that feeling, and he could sense a struggle. Outside the long threatening snow had just begun sifting dryly down, swirling lightly over the parking lot. Two large windows at the front of the shop gave out the lot and the surrounding thick suburban sprawl, a strip of highway with mini-commerce centers hanging off like hungry ventricles in a fractal pattern for eight full miles, so dense with all imaginable sorts of business that it was impossible to tell where one town ended and another began. Like, if you really needed some marzipan, this was the place to go. Because that happens.

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Fuck it. Breathe in, breathe out. The things that change and the things that stay the same are the same things. There is no difference, no delineation, alteration is both constant and nonexistent. If that seems like meaningless tripe it’s because it is and that’s the entire fucking point. Because in this world there is no true causality, causality would imply affect, and there is no affect. There is no control or do or even free thought or free will, it is only the tightly scripted machinations of the universe drawing down the coil, hanging blindly on the end of a pendulum which swings ever lower at each snap of the escapement. Truly there is no weight to this display case as this display case does not truly exist except in the mind of some drooling dreaming being outside the confines of space and time who digests our troubles like simple sugars and grows fat on the misery of the world. Watching me drag it across the nauseating pattern of the linoleum floor for the fourth fucking time in as many fucking hours like I was the cursor of the mouse gripped in her pudgy sweaty hands.

 

It’s fair to say sometimes that the things people do are not the things they are really cut out for, and even in the things which exactly fill the mold of their life as a fluid fills its container there is room for dissonance and distress, since the terrible reality of this world is that all things must be terrible and cruel, and that cruelty unabashedly employs joy to highlight its mastery of our fate. What, because marzipan occupies some priority role in some minority cultural outpost in a country which does its best to swallow cultures and shit out something uniform and absolute? Like her shit doesn’t stink? Like it’s fucking tempered by herbal concoctions and a strict schedule and you couldn’t hold a match to her farts and burn down a barn?

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Being the kind of guy who can seriously and effectively arrange space to the point where it is a marketable talent means that you are also the kind of guy who has a constant stream of alterations and arrangements shooting through your brain and so you have also developed the ability of pouring two fingers of bourbon while kicking the shoe off your foot with the toe of the other. You can hold the bottle in one hand and spin the cap off with your thumb and watch it bounce chaotically across the counter and you’ve also finally realized one day that there’s no fucking point to retrieving it even if you can do so in a masterful manner, since why cap something soon empty. And even though you know that the glass itself is sort of a moot point you like the cut in it, the shape, and the balanced weight that doesn’t try to sling whiskey at you like drinking straight from the bottle does. Since it is suppression you drink two fingers at a time, an aid to this is the ritual and a well made rocks glass is something to hold up to the light and turn as far as the wrist will go, admiring the world as bathed in amber and refracted and distorted and generally sent askew.

 

And reality can be sent asunder and swept into curious little piles spaced evenly across the broad expanse of buckled hardwood floors, and little bits of it will catch in the seams and be forever filler in something both finished and not, and you can hold the empty glass up like a lens and examine them, the piles, and determine the composition. And if you jot this down on a pad of paper it will undoubtedly be a profound and amazing realization which will decompose into jibberish by morning. But by morning you are again ready to take space and things and place them within it and manage and control and cede that control as you become once again a simple but highly paid minion for people who think they’ve got it all figured out.

 

This thing, it is not light, it is dense, it must be since it sinks to the bottom of the glass and even as you drain the glass and hold it over your extended tongue to try and capture it, the thing, it must be so dense that it sank through the bottom of the glass and the bottom of tomorrow so you must try tomorrow to capture it once again. It is dense because it is everything joined together in a point that draws all light and reason bends around it. It is dense but it does not fall out of your life.

 

Tomorrow it will not be marzipan. Tomorrow it will be synergy at a cubicle corp that does God knows what and the products are forms. Tomorrow will be a breeze since tomorrow nobody will have any fucking clue whats going on or what the point is, but somebody will step up and order his own minions around, and the cubicle residents with gather up their walls around them like gaudy prom dresses and slide them around to his satisfaction. Tomorrow will be a breeze, and it will not stink of marzipan, and he can think of things which float.   

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First Place, Last Place

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Atrophy.  Pins and needles as the enveloping fog slowly disperses.  A long-standing standard of measurement finds no bite, hanging without regard to physics in the voids of consumption, a mind not unlike swiss cheese.  It is early in the day and midway through life and way too late for change.  Decisions have piled up like rubble behind and the dust raised congeals in the lungs in wads.  So forward, forward.

There is that pinpoint of bright I’ve clamored towards, unknown promise pricking my pupil and pulsating like the light from long ago, a possibly dead star but my only reference for steerage in an arid, empty realm.  So toward, toward.

I linger, touch my lips to walls where a spring of caustic liquid trickles.  It burns but is wet, and I promise my life to it, and to the next spring and the next.  Stations and stanchions, fueling but dwelling but filling but loitering, places which aren’t the end [but] (and) (un)necessary on this journey.  And I say to myself, they are on the road, just off the road, and sow the road, the road, at minutest increment.

And so the road in its vague delineation guides me, convex, though it lays to trouble me off its path; I know the narrow apex is the straightest way, convex but it conveys me, vexes me but stays me, and otherwise I’m skidding scree or roughly tumbling to another complex way station and its fractured aftermath.  At which point: Atrophy.

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20 Knots

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It is a teeth clenched whiskey drenched failing peripheral vision night.  In their slow swing, the stars, softened by suburban light, veered briefly into lines by the merest tilt, do gently dot.  I press this knot against marlinespike to break and roll and work the bond away.  It is piled, and the source, the standing end, every bight is the same, a long night from coil, a wretched mess of fray.

And yet I work, and yank and pull and splay.  This tiny knotted world could be spread for miles on the ill-kept lawn, a yawning sprawling web, twisted yarns wrapped in knitted nylon casing.  There is no source to seek, there is only the unraveling.  No end-point except a straight line, to be caught again and hauled and coiled and kept with a gasket, and hung for some time on a timber until usefulness can again apply.  But there is no use in this tangle, and this tangle is my work.

Here are knots I did not tie, unwieldy, staggering, grotesque folds of line with no meaning.  Here are the half-slung hitches I attempted to preempt the mess, here are kinks where others, weaving, working with meaning, bent their intent to my progress.  Here are the whorls kept in a pack for too long and allowed to wander.

It is nocturnal work, to yank and pull and wonder, and tease out each trailing thread.  And spread it here in the grass, in the yawning dawn, the damp taut chattering morning, and watch it contract and ball, and pick my starting point for tomorrow.

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A Brief Sail

It’s possible some images might offend you.  Not my problem.  Of course I’m not talking about the photographs. 

It doesn’t end, he thought, as he swabbed the last greasy dregs of his defecation off his sphincter. There’s always more. He stood and flushed, and held the lever down, as it seemed sometimes to aid the vortex in swallowing his grief. And wondered what changed that, what really made the difference so that occasionally all remnants of evacuation would be consumed.

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It’s a long list of other’s people shit to take care of. Hove-to here, this interrupted life, navigating a maelstrom deviled by the flotsam of others. A course changed to accept the prevailing winds, winds he hoped would die.

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It doesn’t matter to him. It’s a tip of the bottle away, sleep. Otherwise, thought is condensation on the windshield, pushed around in salty swirls, nicotinized, turning the beam of oncoming lamps into a broad plane of glare.

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If not, though, we wrestle with our history. And succumb to it, eventually. Sleeplessness due to the past? An unrelenting nightmare from which we cannot wake and hope the opposite. The ablutions, supposedly, aid in this. Scrubbing the etching plaque off teeth, scraping endless miles of stubble from the chin, thin concave plastic discs pinched off the iris to be pressed upon again tomorrow.

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He gathers in the folds of his gown, a long silk thing trestled and wadded by glue, slapping at door-jambs and hanging on the unburied heads of nails holding trim. It fit fine the night before, and nothing’s changed, nothing’s different. He’ll fold it under himself and lay softly in bed, and loll under the fits of wind, chatter over crests of waves and settle with a thump in between.

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Organic

Ah, it’s been too long.  Even so, I’ve spent my days with brow deeply furrowed, expectant of seed, fallow but formidable as large dark swaths of patterned land viewed from a jetliner.  The truth is, I’ve been turned inside out.  Or really, I suppose, outside in, and carried my various organs swaddled in the knowledge that I’m soon to turn 30.  

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Just around the corner

My heart, say.  It is a machine which extrudes love to pile in coils at a certain rate.  There are days when the mechanics who are responsible for the maintenance of it are at the top of their game, and the heart is productive.  And days when it seems they all take ill at once, and the damned pump does naught but spill bile on the factory floor so that it seeps past door sweeps and leaves a lingering odor.  I’ve finally come out of the office to re-calibrate this piece of equipment.  It turns out many clients will need to find new suppliers.

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My heart looks like a still

The office has had some tidying itself.  It is no longer a space for piling junk.  Certainly, there is plenty of useful junk around.  But I’ve learned, I think, to file it correctly.  Office flow chart: Is this information useful?  Yes. Keep it around.  Is it immediately useful?  Yes.  Put it on the desk.  Do I really give a shit?  Yes.  Take appropriate measures.  And back through with No.  No. Throw it out.  No.  Throw it out in a week.  No.  Throw it out.  Holy shit, I can’t believe you threw that out!  Well, it’s on the fuckin’ internet, so.

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I feel a bit foggy

And where would we be without the energy plant, the stomach?  I signed up with this company that delivers organic produce to my door.  So, I eat a lot of kale.  Which offers way more nutritional value than whiskey.  Like Tyson vs. your middle school self more.  I suppose that’s good.

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I also eat mushrooms. Yup.

But kale is good with whiskey.  As are smoked oysters.  And every everlovin’ thing you ever ate.  So the liver and me are still at odds, though maybe a large fraction less so.  You’re welcome to imagine large fractions (by which I mean fractions which signify greater than 1/2) and do the mental math to convert them to percentages, which I think are way easier to think about, especially when making bar graphs.  But that sat on my desk for a week, and I threw it out, and I no longer go to graphic bars.

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Knife Safety

Well, we learn from our mistakes, don’t we?  I am the owner of a number of well-honed quality blades, including chisels, planes, draw-knives, a hand adze, some random spoke-shave articles, x-acto knives, a couple of axes, and four or five purposed pocket knives.  I spend my life around sharp.  I also spend a lot of time near circulating and reciprocating high speed mandibles of death.  But I’ve not once wounded myself on one of these machines.  Twice now, I’ve incurred wounds from knives which required sutures, and both were the result of a careless familiarity with our most basic tool.

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The irony is that I cringe when I see a knife mishandled.  I’m close to tears watching children use knives.  I am a veteran knife user, and employ techniques to maximize the potential use of the tool while keeping risk at a minimum.  But the life walked on the knife’s edge is destined for a wound or two.  

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This one was the result of a half-rack of Budweiser in the heart of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, and poor lighting for fireside antics.  The offender was second from the left in the first picture, a folding Buck knife with rosewood handle and brass hilt, butt, and rivets.  It’s a lovely knife, my camping knife.  It’s sturdy, and I keep it very sharp.  It weighs in at about 8 oz. Which is pretty damn heavy, for a knife.  Ninety percent of that weight is in the handle, which makes it easy to do this (I do not recommend trying this): While still folded grasp it by the blade between thumb and first two fingers. so that if opened the point would be facing you and the blade facing away from your dominant hand; Swing hand in tight clockwise motion (counter clockwise if left-handed) so that inertia of handle causes it to keep moving when hand stops, so that handle swings open; With small flick of the wrist, toss knife into the air for 180 degree overhand rotation and catch knife by handle.  Doing all three steps in one slick-ass motion will impress nobody but yourself, but you yourself will be seriously impressed.

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DO NOT do this while drinking.  DO NOT do this while the only light by which to do this is firelight.  If you fail to follow these instructions, DO NOT forget to remove NOT ONLY your hand from general vicinity as you lose the flashing rotating blade of certain harm in the ambient and soothing but very scant light of a fire, BUT ALSO all appendages which might remain BENEATH said rotating and now falling very sharp, very heavy blade.  And, failing all these instructions, it would have been wise that you’d been wearing something other than sandals.  So. 

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This one was pure rushed carelessness.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing funny.  It was  the first knife on the left of the first picture, a CRKT given to me by a very dear friend, who apparently is trying to kill me by death of a thousand cuts.  I was using this knife for carpentry type work, for which it is not intended.  It lacks a suitable grip for some less-than-finesse type actions performed in such work.  Failing that grip, my gripping hand slipped forward and all the pressure of the blade ended upon my index finger.  The knife was sharp enough that I didn’t really notice until I saw the blood.  And there was lots.  

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