I have a piece of flash fiction in issue 5 of MacQ, a.k.a. MacQueen’s Quinterly.
My story “Mazuku,” on the theme of survivor guilt, will soon be published in volume IV of the print edition of Apricity Magazine, out of the University of Texas-Austin. It is available to read now, via the link below:
I made the video of the song “2020” by the Boston band LOVELY while in COVID-19 confinement/lockdown in Paris, utilizing and/or manipulating what is to my best knowledge public domain and open source footage. My thanks to the generous Mike “Beeple-Crap” Winkelmann for the use of two open source clips.
Jim Keough – Voice
Rick Jones – Bass
Craig Adams – Guitar
Jack Clark – Battery
Paul Delano – Guitar
Track released 28 March, 2020 Support the band here
After reading Ōyama Shirō’s memoir, A Man With No Talents (San’ya gakeppuchi nikki), I became interested in this Tokyo district for day laborers, now popular among foreign visitors for its budget accommodations. In Blair McBride’s Digital Journal piece “Mysterious Past Meets Uncertain Future in Tokyo’s Sanya District” I discovered the area’s dark history as a ghetto for the “Burakumin” underclass, as well as an Edo Period execution grounds. Considering that the Japanese government virtually erased all references to Sanya on area maps during the 1960’s, I decided to look up the area on a 10,000:1 scale map of Tokyo, using the Google Translate application on my phone to superimpose translations on the camera’s live image. The application produced strange results, trying to decipher not only the kanji characters and their context to one another, but individual radicals, or kanji elements within a greater kanji. In the above video, words pop on and off of the screen at a dizzying pace, resulting in a stream of “pseudo-consciousness.” Glimpses of hidden truth, or just surreal fun?
Fukushima, has North melting
the Sanya land
South of thousands of living
Okada the sin gust
Tech times of blood
Sanya alternating ago
Park in squamous
the distribution consistent
Tokyo sum gust
Tech ratio roller
You turn so clearly
Today, on Day of the Seafarer, I would like to recognise the hard work of seafarers around the world, and the efforts of the International Seafarers’ Welfare & Assistance Network (ISWAN) in providing support to them. Seafarers live a precarious life, often working in unsafe conditions with little or no job security. Hundreds find themselves stateless as their ships are abandoned by unscrupulous owners (the subject of my next novel). As a result, their mental and physical health suffers, and they find themselves living as prisoners aboard unsafe vessels, unable to support their loved ones at home.
Don’t forget the men and women who work our seas!
“I am like a cat, I have had nine lives,
but if nationalist forces in this country prevail,
my heart will burst.”
An air stewardess, who survived a 33,000 ft fall, dies aged 66. (source: BBC News)
Vesna Vulovic’s words touched me, especially from where we now stand, peering into 2017 with trepidation. Growing nationalism (with its inherent racism) not only in the USA or here in France, but across Europe and well beyond, is manifesting itself in a full spectrum of hatred–from racist innuendos to belligerent attacks.
She survived such a harrowing ordeal, yet chose not to live out her days in quiet repose, profiting from her celebrity status as was possible. Instead, she chose the hard, just road, going head to head with Serbian nationalism. Perhaps fate had spared her for this, her greater mission.
A softer landing this time, Vesna.
I’m proud to be a selected reader on the virtual book tour for Robert Vivian’s MYSTERY MY COUNTRY, a stunning collection of his dervish essays (a form of prose poem).
Like a revolving door spinning between realms material and spiritual—oneself and the Oneness—the reader has only to jump in to these pieces to be transported. To transcend.
Standing in white T-shirt, skivvies, and black socks, he slipped his ballistic body armor over his head like the cassock he’d worn as an acolyte. Its weight thumped his back, then chest. Bringing wide Velcro straps around to grasp the sides, the Kevlar plates flattened his paunch and rolls of fat on his lower back. But this would not protect him.
So he slipped on his uniform—dark blue trousers and cerulean shirt—hands working free of the mind, spider legs climbing up his front, button to button. Shirt into pants, belt through loops, leather taut through buckle. Then a second belt, metal-laden black leather held out before him like a deadly snake he must dispatch, not sure if it will do him in first. When it had spun around to hang straight, he whipped it behind him, snatching it with a blind hand and bringing it around to join at his waist with a snap. His hands slid over the polished leather from both sides, handcuffs and pepper spray, his holster on the right and a metal ring on the left. Reaching for his nightstick by the handle jutting 90° from its length, he threaded it through the ring on his belt, and dropped it to hang there. Hands on stick and holster he gathered his courage, but these could not protect him.
So he took to his pickup, a violet dawn just now breaking. He drove Stanton to Maple, McGrath to Main; at the corner of Fifth, he screeched his tires turning left into headquarters, pulling into his old space. He unsnapped his holster. Raising his pistol with his right, the thumb of his left hand pressed into holes in his shirt where his shield had once hung, but even that would not protect him now.
So he cocked back the hammer, guiding the matte-silver barrel of his service 38 into his mouth, its sight scrapping his palate. Squeezing the trigger in his quivering index, the hammer clicked, a dry percussive sound felt through his skull. Taking the pistol from his mouth, he wiped the barrel off on his pants and returned it to his holster, snapping it shut. The photo of his wife looked back at him from the dashboard, but from where she was now, she could not protect him.
So he backed from the parking spot, wondering if the gun would be loaded next week, and if so, what would protect him then.