The unplanned devised a plan to decide what was important and what was unimportant. Passed out the straws and realized they were one short. By luck or accident this was something that happened all unto itself. Perhaps it was a pregnant plan performing atrocities from bed.
It was about taking a stand.
And about shoes. I lost mine, then stepped on something sharp. On this hill even the grass was sharp and cracked.
Did I bleed?
Did it matter?
Dyeable shoes making do in a shit economy. Drab shoes. Sample shoes. Seasonal. Heeled. Sparkled. Sneaks. Tying on the discounted. Discounts for the hoard. You couldn’t discount how his political process creeped out his guests but nobody wants to be rude to the guy providing the dinner and booze. They all decided to keep things light. This is what they agreed. They will not think about pictures of his penis either angry nor sated.
No penis to see here.
The pregnant carried weight. The pregnant had to go. Wobbly never won a beauty pageant.
Out-of-sight and off the scale.
A cart full of discounts and grimaces making way to higher ground. Maybe there was a flood coming or maybe I was there for the view or maybe I was taking my stand at a very reasonable price, albeit one with blisters.
* * *
The beginning of something can be something of an ending, the future is The Lovers, the future is over the hump and into the swamp, the future is an implosion-happy bridegroom, the future is the casino paying out poorly printed money, it’s going to hurt, foul future looking back at you.
An advertisement stuck on my Ace of Spades, an advertisement printed underneath the advertisement on my Ace of Spades, the future is bifocals, ads on a deck I already paid for, ads on a deck I shoplifted long before advertising was invented.
It’s complicated, it’s count clockwise, it skips around.
These cards portray the children of snakes, my second favorite deck portrays the parents of propaganda, how is my baby being telecast, how does my baby have more market share than me?
I consider the reversed, understand nuances, understand it doesn’t change much, four piles of cards implicating the same destiny, the Adorable Puppy used to be something else, something vicious, now he’s just playful destruction, now when you hit him with a rolled up newspaper he bites your lip while making enthusiastic love to the cavern of your neck.
Somewhere there’s a sincere young man mumbling, “that’s really beautiful,” on a YouTube video.
Going back in time to teach primitive women how to assert themselves.
Might that be dangerous?
Someone has to do it, the lover’s head among the fancy spread with meats and champagne, things change to paper dragons, things change like a mighty empire, things change with the Lover wearing an insensitive mask, yes, it’s good when they teach ladies how to wrestle.
There’s a fast-food restaurant called SPERM where the willow tree used to be, but one question, what’s on the menu?
There bald men read your future by gazing into your toilet.
The bald man looking through my bowels, picks the High Priestess, he fishes the signifier out of the bowl, these cards are showing their wear, this card stuck on the back my underwear, the King and Queen of Diamonds tumble out, the face of the Magician worn off, wishing that mage met the Empress and felt something close to abundance.
There’s a spunky sperm who was never allowed, who is quite sure his mother would have loved him if she bothered to know him.
This admission makes a difficult time shuffling the waterlogged deck.
I don’t need clubs, I need a pair a pants, can’t show up in only underwear, people expect decency, people expect a cover up, people expect someone to wear the pants around here, people expect the imaginary to know its place and remain in the imagination until its needed.
The boy cut his neck on a hookah while fleeing on a donkey and now his mother and father are here to claim him.
Why should I cooperate?
Because we must do something to pass this time along to the next in line.
The 3 of swords can tell you if you’re compatible or not.
The attic doesn’t exist, it stands for something unreachable by gut.
She’s wearing the red dress rippling in my reflection, I flush a thousand times, flush as hard as I can.
She remains red and rippling.
That is what the Tower card warned about and this is how I failed that advice.
How can there still be water to fill the tank?
How am I so unloved?
The meaning of the Devil is passion and temptation, it’s not the passions or the temptations that are foul, it’s the people who own them.
Foul unlovable people.
There is no Hate card, I smudge what is before me on the stall, in the deepest red and brown, far far past hate, post-post-hate.
* * *
Under the uterine sky the many windows reopened after the robbery, exposed vulnerable like a matryoshka exhibit, crippled like a classmate. So many things taken, toys and games and teeth and shoes and a silver birdcage. I don’t know where they were stolen from but I knew they were gone and I couldn’t get them back.
I knew my robbers; ex-lovers and cousins of friends with their pocket knives and laughter, taking keys and iPhones along with all the other goodies. The ex was the worst criminal and the worst of people, the worst of all I spat and put up no fight because I couldn’t come up with a purpose any of this would serve.
When they left I locked the doors and hung the screens like fly traps. I huddled in my womb of no entry and saw no trapdoor, not that I tried, not that I wanted to ever get out or wanted anyone in.
I lived a warm and cellular life until one day the house heaved and pushed me out and I couldn’t get back in. Outside was too bright and cold for anyone to exist, yet so many did.
Somehow I did too.
* * *
My trailer graffitied but it was much worse than that. The animals inside hadn’t behaved, they went positively wild. The leopard ate the caretaker and most of the cow. All that was left of Mizmoo was her head and shoulder, sounding so mellow, mooing on the floor, like she forgot a leopard gobbled her. Maybe she understood that her purpose was delicious.
All I found of the caretaker was his silent, severed foot.
Difficult to say if this was my fault, if the animals should have been fed, if it was my responsibility to feed them. Should I have separated them? Put up some kind of boundaries? I left them as they arrived. Who was I to implement a change in the order? I barely could make sense of the existing rules. Couldn’t even be sure the leopard was the culprit, but the zebra hadn’t appeared as a contender. It had to be the leopard, the zebra was inconsequential.
The scrawl on the outside of the trailer:
THE VICTIM IS
THE PERPETRATOR IS
THE VICTIM IS
THE CULPRIT IS
THE CASUALITY IS
THE FUSE AND
JUST A PAWN IN
An outfit calling itself “The Carries” claimed authorship and included an email address.
Clearly an attack on my feminism with bait for my reply.
I gave no reply nor showed any tears or concern. I walked away and when I returned much later all that remained was leather specks and bone splinters, piled like magic refried beans, like a pile of runny shit caught in a rainstorm.
Don’t ever bring my feminism into question again, you psycho-cunted arsonists, I seethed to the specks and splinters, else I’ll rain down onto you the most terrible Twitter mob who will tweet your titties to crumbs.
* * *
On this meeting with this particular ancestor named Carry, I was surprised by her mask and its thickness. Hardly a way in or out. Not at all clownish but with brown scales, leather and bolts.
How strange to hear her speak through the clamp for a mouth and to be seen through her single tiny eyehole. How muffled her words sounded through the barriers. How uncomfortable to know she cried behind that foulness not because it was foul, but for the sake of her brother, an accused molester of the vulnerable.
Trouble with the law. There’s always so much trouble with laws for this family.
Who did this to you?
“The women and children, like they always do, their cruel, perverted imaginations that they just can’t keep to themselves. They have to share, and share for years, they whisper and then they group together and then they testify and allow it all to go down as record. They perverted it all, smote his perfect legacy.”
No, I mean who put that mask on you? Why are you still wearing it? What is behind it?
“My brother placed it on me, for my salvation. He’s my protector. There are so many terrible women and children spouting their wretched tales, repeating and publicizing. They let nothing go! What lies behind this mask hasn’t yet been penetrated. So little left that hasn’t been penetrated. My face is one of the last pure bastions.”
You can hardly see or speak through that mask and it smells like your skin is decaying under there.
“Yes, the decay keeps me safe. Frightens away the children and many of the women too. No one is going to scavenge me for their depraved narratives. Forever I remain unmolested.”
But her corpsed-face remained unmolested no longer.
Because now I was there, smelling it, imagining its appearance, inventing my memories.
* * *
I stepped through the door leading to the alley, the kind of alley where back in the day, when a hero is a helpless child, his parents might be killed right in front of him. There I found myself in the middle of a bald man duel.
One bald man wore an argyle sweater vest, the other had a reptile poking from the crown of his skull. One time my father had a sweater vest so I knew not to look. One time my father was possessed by a reptilian alien so I knew not to get close.
The duel was over quickly. A bald man died. A bald man was the victor.
Unconsciously I stroked the dead man’s head knowing there must have been relations a long time ago. His corpse glowed a pregnant pox I hadn’t cared to remember until this death and once I did care, I still couldn’t remember.
This was a game changer, if we replaced the term “human beings” with “players” or “avatars.”
At Chalet Ice N Elk we prepared for the invasion. Then they got my father and we were leaderless. We called Mom. She screamed over the phone that she couldn’t help it if our father was a reptilian assbeast and besides, she already did her time and now she was a free agent fielding considerably better offers.
So we embraced our new world order by adapting our lives to fit into alien society. All we could do to survive.
We embraced our new world order?
Struggling to remember the embrace.
We must have. We’re still here.
* * *
REB LIVINGSTON (www.reblivingston.net) is the author of God Damsel (No Tell Books, 2010), Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, 2007) and the curator of The Bibliomancy Oracle (http://bibliomancyoracle.tumlr.co /askoracle). She's currently finishing her novel, Bombyonder.