Disney Co.

She couldn't carry a tune.
she hated nature;
cute animals made her gag,
but he found it cute
when she smiled;
tongue pressed against her
gap-toothed expression
that reminded him
of Play-Doh squeezed from his fingers.

Lifetime Achievement

I received an award:
a plaque that said,
It's no Oscar,
but I'll display it
on my mantelpiece
next to the bust
of [Laureate].



Holding heads,
arms swing hooks
left and right
trying to

connect. Our walls
press together:
I can feel the

warmth. Ever-present
in a way
that speaks softly,
taps its fingers on your
core. Hard-pressed,
grinding teeth
down to the stump;
the distance is

great. Between
my shoulders and
outstretched arms
lie years of


Telephone Poles

We're in a forest:
a network.
life support
from my box
to yours.

I sent out memos
in the form
of a sledgehammer
through the walls:
painted white
like paper.

There was no reply
as I looked
in your living room
your hand on the
I wish we could work
in the same way that
neurons link:
arm in arm.

Beef at PCC

Top Pot tastes like:
six months physical therapy,
walking, stuttering,
feather dusters replacing fingers and forearms.
Over and over canned goods dusted
with people too small to join
together. So I peel the crusted skin back to
times of bitter sweets,
german pretzels;
to wave my mechanical arm:
belts and pulleys charged
with amnesty.

The Alien

When the alien came,
nobody would come with me,
but I was ready
with my D&D Monster Manuel,
twelve-sided dice,
and light saber replica;
all packed
into a cardboard box.
Said he would rather
crack open a beer
and watch Sports Center.

Dark Superman

isn't evil
as his name might suggest,
but he does have a time machine
that he uses
to go back to the south
in the early 1800's
to pummel

Dead John

"I was waiting for the bus when I saw her walking by. She was absolutely radiant: her pallor had pinkish undertones that made me think of springtime, newborns, flowering trees, late nights stacked end over end. When she walked off the bus I had this incredibly small window of time to make a move, but I was paralyzed. How can I pick up a girl when I'm a ghost?". Rose continued to read her book, leafing absently through the pages as though she couldn't hear me
"And I know what you're going to say Rose, 'Dr. Hanson, the rest of the medical community, and the State of Washington blah blah blah maintain that I'm alive'. Well I don't feel alive. Doesn't that count for something?"
She looked up briefly. Not enough to make eye contact, but I could tell she realized her mistake. "Seriously, though, this really sucks. Why don't you lose the drive for food or sex or love when you die? Why am I stuck in this city, trapped in a job a monkey could do, with nothing. Nothing else." I could see a vein rising in her temple. She was about to say something. I had been there all day: thinking and perusing her gothic nicknacks. I hate to say it, but a store that panders to the five people in Seattle that are really into gargoyles is not a good idea. Especially when there is just about the same specialty store in a better location not too far away.
"Would you shut up?" She said it calmly because she wasn't really mad. She was just tired of me going on and on about the girl I had seen on the bus. Maybe she's jealous. Maybe I should be putting some moves on her? She wasn't unattractive... Kinda dead-looking like myself, with pasty skin and dyed black hair. I could see it working out. She's into seances and cemeteries, so of course she'd go steady with a dead guy. To her, I'll bet dead is a plus; like how some women find men with "butt chins" or heaps of body hair attractive. I mean, somebody's got to love them. Sometimes I feel like I should just accept any admirer because it's rare to find a girl that will stick around when I could go to some other otherworld state at any minute. I'm gonna do it.
"What are you doing later today?"
It wasn't the first time I had done this. She didn't even look up from pretending to read, and you'd think I would give up, but I had this talent for fitting feet in my mouth. Minutes passed by the dozen, and I tossed my hair back to a more rakish angle. "Read any good books lately?"
Nothing. Nice. Real nice.
When I'm uncomfortable I smile, so by then I was grinning stupidly from ear to ear, marinating in my rejection. "Maybe you shouldn't have had that seance if you didn't want a friend".
The creases around her mouth tightened, cracking her otherwise pristine composure. "You think that's what it was about? Friends? I've got friends, and you aren't one of them. You're some kid that follows me around bitching about how dead and helpless you are, and you're not dead, are you? No, if you really died you wouldn't be here, would you?"
I paused. "Reading the Necronomicon doesn't make you a death-pert." We had done this dance many times over our two years of friendship and I wasn't about to let it bother me, "Hey, being dead is a handicap just like being blind or-"
I hate it when she cuts me off. Time to storm out. "I guess I'll go visit one of my other girlfriends" I didn't stick around to see her reaction. It probably wasn't anything special.
Work was in two hours, and the thought of going back to my dingy studio apartment made me feel queasy. Though I shouldn't call it dingy. Gloomy is the right word. Dark and gloomy. I have scarcely more than a mattress and a lamp, but everything is covered in this layer of dust I don't have the heart to sweep away because I'm not around that often. I swear all the money I spend in coffee shops across the greater Seattle area would be enough to afford a better place, but I'm hoping to get the call one of these days: out of this bullshit limbo and into something different. Maybe nothing. What if I get there; jump through the hoops, hurdle over the pearly gates to meet my maker, and it turns out my reward is to evaporate and join the rest of expired humanity in space.. I'd tell god to go fuck himself as soon as I saw my feet starting to disappear. If I can see him. Her. It. This is what keeps me up at night. Sometimes I wish I had never died because if I was still alive I would have added up to something by now.
"Hey" I wheeled around to find myself face to face with Ron's pink balloon head.
"Wanna get some coffee?" Ron was from work. We both did data entry for this big law firm downtown and, unlike myself, Ron was aiming for the top. His plan was to go to law school and become a legitimate employee someday. I liked to think of him as a piglet because, in a couple of years, I could see him walking down cobblestones; a full-grown pig, wearing a top hat and lighting a cigar with a $100 bill, but for now he was harmless, chubby, and impressionable. Just in case it was part of moving on to the next stage of being dead, I wanted my last good deed on earth to be steering him away from the future I had envisioned.
"So, what have you been doin' John?"
"Nothing" I knew this was a conversation killer, and I said it so we could walk in peace. I'll miss the smell of fall when I go. The crisp cold that gets into your bones and blankets your face until your lips are numb and stay two steps behind your brain. I hope that heaven or hell or wherever has some of the charm that being alive had, but not like what I'm doing right now; walking down the avenue with this portly fuck, waiting for my number to be called.
There she was. My mystery girl. Across the street, wearing a pea coat over some brightly patterned dress taken out of a Sears catalogue from the 60's. I started to stare: another one of my bad habits. I looked harder and harder, concentrating on my pupils and imagining dots firing out over the street and tapping her in the back of the head so she would turn around. Call me odd, but I rely mainly on the sixth sense to pick up women. She slowly turned around to face me, just as a bus stopped in front of her. I had to do something.
"You again?" Casual as it sounds I screamed it at the top of my lungs: a panicked crackling flashback to junior high. Ron cocked his head to try and see what I was yelling at and I was gone before he could turn back.
My options were: stand and eat the rest of my foot, leap into a dumpster, run down the alley, or hide behind the coffee stand a half block up the street. I took off running to a still-developing fifth plan and threw some chairs behind me so Ron wouldn't follow.
"Yeah," I said in his direction, and I'm sure he heard me. What a dumb thing to say. Maybe, "See you at work Ron," or some good excuse about an emergency: "I left the oven on," "I have food poisoning," but I was gone in a flash.
When I finally stopped running I was out of breath and deeper into some neighborhood I had never been. Fuck, I wish being dead was like Casper the Friendly Ghost. I'd befriend Christina Ricci, play pranks on bad guys, but most of all walk through walls and fly. If I could fly I'd recommend it to all my friends. I'd tell people to kill themselves because it's so much fun to be dead and fly around.
I glimpsed a familiar glow in the middle of the sea of townhouses. As I got closer, the light intensified and my blood ran cold. This was it. I walked faster and faster until I was running; past manicured lawns and luxury cars until my lungs ached I could no longer feel the pounding of the pavement. My eyes closed. A tingling sensation started in my fingertips, moved up my arms to my chest, down my torso to my legs, knees, feet, toes. My last few seconds in this world. I screamed; forcing my last breath. A car horn mingled with my death throes.
"Get out of the fucking road! You wanna get yourself killed?" A man in his 40's driving a Lexus SUV. Not my idea of god, but I'd take it.
I stumbled out of the road to be enveloped in the bright fluorescent lights of a gas station. Figures; last time it was a Denny's. The gas station was like any other; stacked with scratch tickets, malt liquor, two for a dollar knockoff candies, cigarettes, and a man who clearly did not want to be there. When I walked in, a bell sounded, and I imagined myself invisible. Maybe he'd be spooked. He looked like the no-nonsense sort, and I could see him shooting at a mysteriously floating candy bar instead of running for safety. I sauntered down the aisles with one hand rifling through bags of chips and Little Debbie snack cakes, the whole while staring as if it would bore through his head. I snaked my way closer and closer to the counter, acting as though I had found the thing I had come for. When I hit the counter, my left hand held a pack of Extra gum and my right was a fistful of Tim's Cascade Potato Chips.
"Which way's downtown?"
His mouth upturned into a well-rehearsed smile, and he pointed directly behind me.
"Thank you." I put a five on the counter and walked out. That's another thing: if karma is true and that's how I can move on with my death, I'll tip like there is no tomorrow because tomorrow might be the day to meet my forty virgins. If I went, I'm sure the money in my bank would get divided among tax institutions, with some of the change going towards people like Droopy over there that work a good 40+ hour week in a job that isn't going anywhere special, but that wouldn't qualify as good karma because it's after the fact and I wouldn't be the one to give everything away.
It was nearly three, and I would have to do some serious flying if I wanted to make it to Goldman and Goldman; taking the easy way out, I called in.
"Yeah, I'm sick and I'm not going to make it so you should tell Frank and Ron and....yeah"
Now that I had the rest of the day, I wondered what I should do. There's the problem: nobody is here to tell me what I should be doing. When I first died, I did nothing. No sleeping or eating. I even thought I was floating around when I got up to go to the bathroom. Several psychologists later, I was back on solid foods and ready to try and move on. In our last session, I told Dr. Hanson I had to "move on". In retrospect, he probably thought I meant "move on" with my life, and not "move on" to some final stage of death.
Boy, did I try to die the traditional death; I watched movies, read books, made and broke appointments with Fathers, Rabbis, Monks, Priests, and cult leaders. Everything besides bodily harm because that's what threw me into this mess. I got a lot of advice, but obviously nothing worked because I was still moping around. Thinking. Even after becoming so discouraged, I liked to try moving on in little ways like praying or making shrines to gods I hadn't considered. It was time to go see if Rose has calmed down.
"You again?" Time hadn't improved her mood. I blamed her hippie upbringing. Too much peace and love turned sour drove her to open a store that deals exclusively in gargoyles and other gothic decorum. I thought I'd make a round of her store to make it look like she had some real business. As if people were out on the street, looking in, to see if somebody was shopping for a gargoyle. Even so, I'd like to think my presence makes her business look more successful.
"Did you even talk to that sunshine girl?" She has a talent for sounding friendly. I turned casually as if my shopping experience had been pleasantly interrupted.
"No, I saw her across the way and then bolted. I'm thinking about placing an 'I saw You' ad in the The Stranger."
"You could always grow a pair. It's free." She smirked.
"Ha ha." I let each 'Ha' drip from my mouth. Obviously I wasn't going to get a straight answer to my romantic troubles, but that's the nature of our relationship.
It's tough to find people that find death positive. Since my death, I had a few friends and every one of them has had a preoccupation with death. Sure, that was all I talked about, but maybe there were some normal people out there who would find my predicament fascinating.
In the beginning I contacted everyone I could: the news, fire department, relatives, but nobody believed me. Nobody gave a shit or came to my funeral: which I had to arrange for myself. Something about the deceased inviting people to his own funeral didn't add up. It was sadder than any birthday party I have ever had- eating black cake alone in a funeral parlor with over fifty empty foldable chairs, saying my eulogy into a tape recorder so I could give it to my parents. After that I cut off contact with everyone important in my life. If they couldn't handle my death as well as I could; fuck them.
I had to lighten the mood, "Remember when we met?" I could tell she appreciated the subject.
"I was drunk at the Confederate Cemetery, cursing the sky, and I heard you and your friends chanting for the dead to rise."
"And you rose."
"Hell yeah, I rose. Rose." I got a kick out of stuff like that, and so did she. This was why I enjoyed her company; we had the same cheesy sense of humor.
"If you want, I could try and set you up with that mystery girl. Maybe you would have something better to do than be here all day." Her eyebrow raised suggestively.
I didn't know how she would do it, but my face lit up more than I would have liked to let on. Rose would get even more smug if she knew I wanted her help.
"That would be nice"
She smiled and shooed me out the door.
There is a spring in my step as I jauntily walk down the Avenue. Hell, I would even talk to Ron this time around, if I saw his melon head. As though he heard me, Ron steps out from what I would guess is a book store.
"So what have you been doin' John?" Either he has no recollection of how I made a getaway last time we ran into each other, or he doesn't care why. Maybe he's just looking for me to throw him a bone.
"I've got a date"
He doesn't look surprised, but the corner of his mouth upturns slightly. "Is she a corpse too?"
I can see that little piglet growing up before my eyes. The other side of his mouth joins it's neighbor and I struggle to collect myself.
"No, she's a normal girl" I straighten my spine and give an assertive nod.
Ron's happy stupid fucking face is not convinced.
He thinks I'm dumb. Not dumb, but not all there. Not together. Not with it. Not with it, in that I'm full of it. Like this is a big joke. Like I'm enjoying this. Why would I?
"Why would I do this if it wasn't real?" My voice runs ragged and echoes into the city to become part of the drone of traffic.
Ron scoffs and walks away. This is just like with Dr. Hanson, my parents, my friends, and all those other people. The girl. I hadn't even thought about her. She wouldn't believe me.