Emil Bennett Asleep

slips into another scene
starring two brown eyes
caged by that hideous white
face; he’s not in the tragic role
as he beholds the body propped
to its position:

EMIL. I don’t know your face
anymore, Neil, except for your eyes
which seem burdened by knowing
of life’s closing. It’s been years since
I helped lower the skin you left
for the earth.

The brown eyes blink, fixing themselves
to the window.

EMIL. What I mean is, I don’t remember
the face I should remember, the face that was
really yours and not death’s contortion.
But memory won’t allow me
control. Your sons might
recall, hopefully—I’m sure. Neil?

They don’t respond, focused on glass
Emil cannot see through.

EMIL. This face isn’t even real
for I never came to witness your nearing
to finality; I feared guiding my hand
to your paled skin, and seeing
the remainder of your life trapped
in your eyes as the rest of the body caters
to cancer’s swelling. Neil resides within
those eyes, barely.

EMIL. You were a better person
than me, Neil, and a family needed you.
I would have been fine getting fucking nailed-in
if it meant letting you–

Finally, those brown eyes shut
out their light, and the curtains fall,
everyone applauds. Emil backstage
holding up a drink.

EMIL. Another homerun, Emil!

He smiles as everything begins
to fade to black.

Day in the City – Fiction

Late afternoon once again and the man moves across the empty street toward the park. Right away he sees a fat squirrel standing on the grass, its cheeks moving. He shoots it with his BB rifle and drops the body in his sack, looks around for a moment, then starts to head back home.

The man goes along his way, passing by abandoned cars. He peeks inside one. A while back, in one of the cars, he found an album with some lovely photos. Another time he saw a raccoon curled underneath a dashboard. He used to think about the people trying to evacuate, and him waiting for the imminent. But something in his genes disallowed his dying like the others. Now he peeks inside dead cars and buildings.

Later, as he walks through the basketball courts it catches him, a red soccer ball laying partially deflated in the middle of the empty court. He’s passed by it countless times, but now he’s struck. The half-of-something sitting there, touched only by the stolid air. The man goes over to it, squeezes and listens to its long wheeze. Then he drops it in the trash, even though it won’t go anywhere.

Sunday Photo Fiction
Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction.

Woodstock

The pit of hell eclipses the damned
toilets in the mind of the lone security guard.
He had informed the right people
of the breath of feces spoiling the air,
the spilling of porta-potties dampening
the earth and a girl’s smelly shoes.

But now a man onstage informs, “Um,
there’s a fire…” The mountain of flame
overtakes the crowd. A 10 year-old barks
at the fag onstage. The last guard
ditches the show.

And Ted tosses an empty can where others
have piled, smells something. His friends
were taken by the crowd, purple darkens
on his arm and he wishes he was less bored.
He follows two pretty girls (finally!) but a group
of pale apes finds them and coerces their flesh to be
revealed. He tries to catch the cacophony in the air,
but noise bludgeons. Soon smoke
engulfs the night. Ted makes it home.

A Great Writer Speaks – Fiction

“Writers write,” Herman Reisz informed the students, “in order to become a better writer, a writer must write—every day.” Reisz was one of America’s most renowned authors; his novel, No More Light for Scott, published in 1992, was an instant classic and read by every undergraduate studying English. Noted critics like Thomas Stulls praised the writer: “Reisz is perhaps the most significant writer of the last few decades. Not only do his words bludgeon the reader with their profundity, they are also of great import. Reisz is a tremendous literary gift; the same cannot be said of many.” Herman Reisz also lectured frequently at all the top state and private universities where he bequeathed young wannabees his ultimate wisdom.

“Writers MUST live life. Observe people. And, of course, write from the thumping in your chest.” As Reisz was proffering his knowledge he scanned the numerous faces, hungry and hoping to absorb some form of greatness from an aging man with spectacles. He knew that most of them were talentless. Most, he figured, probably wouldn’t be able to construct a memorable line or image, at least, not on purpose. And even the ones with talent, he knew, would most likely be swept-up by the trap that is academia. He was thinking all of this as he was lecturing. He was able to do the two things at once for he had given the same advice, in the same way, over and over. He likened it to the involuntary ease of blinking or eating with your mouth closed. Reisz didn’t hate what he had become—it was reality.

“The best writers bare their skin,” he heard himself say. Now he was watching one of the girls in the third row: Long, brown hair, head rested in her hands, green eyes gazing at him. “…they open themselves up. They have to. That is the obligation of those who wield the pen…” Reisz started wondering about how much that girl’s parents must of forked-over so she can have middling discussions about Blake or David Foster Wallace. And all to what end? So that hack writers can get paid to lecture for only the very few bother to even purchase their buy their pulp? We may never know…

“In addition to being ever-present with reality, the best writers also offer messages of grave significance…” Reisz didn’t know what that meant, and was certain that no one else did either, but they were lapping it up, he could tell. Maybe that girl really is interested in literature and advancing the art-form, he wondered. Perhaps, she is less interested in fame or becoming a “name writer,” like Toni Morrison, Dave Eggers, or Herman Reisz. But so what of it? Most people will most likely never read her work, either because there are too many other writers flooding the market, or because most readers don’t care about originality, but would much rather read something that agrees with their views or utter schlock.

This was when Reisz stepped away from the lectern and turned to the whiteboard. He picked-up one of the pens and scribbled something big enough so that everyone can see (and he underlined it, twice): It was the answer to everything, so if anyone couldn’t see (or read,) Reisz read aloud, “Cut the crap!” He ended every lecture the same way, and knew it was all nonsense. He also knew that, years from now, the books that he published that were so highly-regarded would never be read again for he knew that he wasn’t a very good writer. He had no talent, but he never did feel an ounce of guilt for pushing mediocrity. Reisz coasted through life, writing a few more nondescript books, eventually retiring somewhere within the mountains, waiting for his pleasant life to take its leave.