Monday, December 21, 2009

from Quantum Leap

Michael James Martin does some impressive things: I admit without much shame that in all my time as a reader, I have never wrapped my head around the actual math of poetry. Meter is a thing you feel, in my opinion. Do I feel comfortable recommending a poem to someone while refusing to comment on the actual mechanics of it? Of course. I don't care how a piano works; only that it produces "The Lonely Man" by Joe Harnell. As always, if you don't feel it, it doesn't much matter anyway. As such, the formula for what is a valuable piece of writing remains locked in my subconscious. Every time I try to scribble it out on the figurative chalkboard I end up distracted, and shortly find myself drawing rubber-legged stick people running for their lives from burning houses.

To summarize, Michael James Martin's poem from Quantum Leap works. It is fragmented and joyous and desperate, communicating via vignettes run amok. They spill on top of one another, separated by disorienting "leaps" from one circumstance to the next. The sense is of futility; Dr. Sam Beckett's self-imposed task was to repair what he could in any given situation. Michael James Martin wonders aloud how this scheme would operate in the real world without a screenwriter's moral (and practical) intervention. The protagonist finds himself disoriented and besieged:

Leap: I didn't accomplish anything last time, right now
a gun tastes funny-awkward on my tongue, inches from my
uvula so I'm not sure how much I'll accomplish Leap:

This is as funny as it is miserable. Is altruism an immortal quality? Does it require witnesses that know your name? How do you fall in love in the midst of madness? It's an implied question, I think; the hyper-sensitive drama of the narrator's predicament strobes at you as if narrated from the tatters of a television script run through a paper shredder. Drama would not survive on television if it were honest to this extent, at a magnification you could call molecular. It would elicit a lot of weeping and laughing and impossible-to-vocalize fear. The narrator struggles for a moment of stability. There isn't one. What better way to treat a moral protagonist than to throw him down a well with no bottom? How long does such a person last when life splits down into its insane base sensations, becoming nothing but a series of funny-awkward guns? Read from Quantum Leap by Michael James Martin @ Juked.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Charactered Pieces / Major Inversions.

Major Inversions: Gordon Highland's debut novel. Dark and funny and sweet and twisted; twisted-sweet. A tale of the terrible things people become, even when they have good things in mind. Purchase it at Gordon's website.

Charactered Pieces: Caleb Ross' short story collection. I've had the pleasure of reading several of the stories in this collection (I am eager to read the rest; my copy's in the mail). Caleb's fiction is haunting and beautiful and disturbing and the opposite of timid. Un-timid? It recognizes no boundary. Like a spider loose in your walls. Purchase it at Caleb's website.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drug Series #11: Cocaine

While not his most recent, this story has wedged in me.

Sean Lovelace is a magician; his work (like all my favorite work) is unconventional and difficult to categorize. His medium is typically prose poetry, and he often works inside the conceit of a serial construction (his stories often arrive in the form of lists, brutally beautiful free associations, or dreamlike shards of narrative strung together with a common theme). It's a form I have taken some interest in lately, and Lovelace absolutely wrecks it, every time. His work is what I picture when someone says Flash Fiction-- it's economical and vivid and professionally spare. When he describes Elvis Presley's rings in Drug Series #11: Cocaine as "blazing like accordions," I stopped reading. Blazing like accordions. Blazing. Like accordions. It is the very definition of a perfect simile; the accordion is such a bulky, odd contraption-- a gaudy spectacle of an instrument that is largely incapable of subtlety. And the very use of Elvis Presley alone does a lot of heavy lifting in the context of the story; the King summons a host of associations and imagery and implied tragedy. He's his own metaphor, in a way. Safe to say, if this story doesn't do something to you, you're probably barking up the wrong tree here.

Read Drug Series #11: Cocaine by Sean Lovelace @ Barrelhouse.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I have had webpages in the past, it's true; I remember fondly my Geocities webpage from 1997 or so, the existence of which was only to lead users on a frustrating adventure through a maze of circuitous links for my own amusement. I also posted some MIDIs of songs from the "Rocky" movie series. Awe inspiring? Yes.

Webpages that followed were slightly better in most cases. And one-- the one built by Man of Many Coats Jason Heim (of multimedia zine Colored Chalk) was outstanding. Sadly it sank into the murk when I failed to renew my domain. The internet is complicated. And sad. Depression followed; then pizza. Then more depression. Then silence.

Now, I've returned with another hijacked plot of digital land on which I shall build this: Eject! I'm fashioning this to become my online junk drawer, where I shall keep all things of a literary slant that interest me. My doings, and the doings of my cohorts, will be discussed. Ad nauseam. Or whenever I feel like. Salient points will be made. Parallels drawn. I cannot promise that heads won't be exploded.

Rest assured, its not that what I hope to index here is considered junk in any sense of the word. On the contrary, I find that the junk drawer in my house actually contains the most useful stuff in the joint; it is the drawer I keep returning to. The drawer I trust. The drawer that accepts no order, yet has everything I need.

So why "Eject?" Why not "The Junk Drawer?" Because "The Junk Drawer" sounds stupid. It sounds like a place in the mall that would sell hand-knitted oven mitts or clothespin reindeer with googly eyes. And though I did in fact craft something like this in kindergarten, I'd like to put it behind us.Now I get to reverse-engineer the title of my Blog, pretending that I had some grand purpose in mind when I chose it: when I think of the word "eject," I think of a lot of things. Noise. And fire. And wind. Escape. And excitement! Maybe that's the best word choice; even utter terror is, if nothing else, exciting. A jolt, a sudden bursting upward. Chaos, exhilaration, spinning, falling. Can fear and joy exist in the same instant? Hope and despair? Why not? Before you can answer the question, you are in a controlled descent; if everything goes to plan, you arrive safely back to Earth, unscathed and shaken to the bone. And you look up at the distance you have traveled and wonder if the miracle can repeat itself without the threat of high-speed death.

I will be bold and say that it can! The best fiction blows you out of the aircraft, into the open sky. It is a gift to feel that way, and I've been keeping my thoughts on it largely to myself. Selfish-- this isn't a drug in short supply; there are talented artists dotting my radar daily, and it's their toil and trouble that richens our lives in untold ways. Some of this writing has been done by strangers; some by people I am lucky enough to know. I hope to share all of it with you.

Also, I will be peddling my own words from time to time. But enough foreplay: let us eject!