Poetry

100 Words About Nothing

For my 100th Post, here are 100 words on nothing.

I fear nothing–not No Fear–the sour falseness of that insane bravado melts on the tongue, staining the teeth white as snow, or bones bleaching in the sun, which should inspire fear, but are set dressing for the Big Empty–big, wide nothing, stretching on and on and on–but something, as always, to fear–the same nothing said with crossed arms and averted gaze–rough seas ahead, it says–nothing–not nothing to fear–nothing to say–nothing to see here–nothing going–move along and take that nothing with you, and its fear, too–but, please, leave the something–take something from it, even if you can make nothing of it.

Day 17: In the style of proto-beat Burroughs.

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Forward! into the Past

A friend of mine, a poet and cultural curiosity, sent me the following poem.

Literal reflections; I shut the water off and saw myself distorted in the chrome spout.  Large drops of water fell from the showerhead and plinked onto the spout, turning my bent image from Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Venus of Willendorf and back. And then the mental reflection: to which of those poles am I going?  Not the former.  Not the former.

For the uninitiated, in Boston, formatting poems is a sign of weakness and doing so encourages street toughs to grind rock salt into one’s eyeballs . Not so, however, is writing a bizarre love letter to a friend overseas in which one directly compares one’s own slow decrepitude to the plump body of a pre-Christian mother goddess. It’s sexy as hell, and historically stimulating, to boot. Never one to take anything at face value, I inquired: what was the purpose of such a strange correspondence? All I got in return was insane rambling about Steven Tyler being an invincible warlock, which I imagine was pounded out in a staccato hurricane of keystrokes amid addled giggling. Was there still milk and cereal clinging to his facial carpeting as he rattled this off, or had he forsaken a balanced breakfast in the hopes that a juniper-based diet would get him closer to nature? They say that assuming makes an ass out of you and Ming, and although Ming is Merciless, I think we can assume the obvious here.

Despite my clear need for an unprovoked character assassination (but not preventing its continuation into the next paragraph), I believe he was trying to send me a message through all this talk of warlocks, muscle-bound hulks, ancient goddesses, and large-mouth bass. I had a notion that perhaps he had become pregnant. The references to the movie Junior had all the indications of mad science and reckless disregard for the laws of gods and men, but, perhaps sadly, it was not to be. No–this had the markings of something even more disturbing. I believe this is a code sent from beyond our plane of understanding. Consider the evidence.

There are multiple references to image distortion, which is a common ailment of the Hollywood crowd. Body dysmorphia is wide spread and sometimes troubling, particularly when Cronenbergian ideals are applied to the gastronomic. Structurally, there is a forward momentum–very narrative–yet the temporal nature of the content leads us back to the past: we start with the archetypal strong patriarchal warrior (Arnold) and travel back in time to the symbol of the spiritual matriarch. In combination with the filmic background, we can deduce that he is making coded reference to Conan the Barbarian (1982), in which one strong male warrior battles another in a struggle for dominance, and then The 13th Warrior (1999), a Conan-style knockoff in which the dreaded enemy holds the Venus of Willendorf as its religious idol. The gradual extermination of a matriarchal European culture would predate the glorified cockfights that followed; yet, somehow, the age of Conan is portrayed as a much earlier time, which only makes sense if you figure in some sort of time paradox or human error. Furthermore, the poem is a shower scene, typical of horror movies. The images of water that “plinked” and of “poles” are simply references to weaknesses in character, and only help to identify the writer. The conclusion we must draw from this, then, is that my friend is convinced he’s trapped in a slasher movie, not in the role of the virgin (who was secretly trained in Krav Maga and doesn’t take any guff from weirdos in doll masks), but of the sexually adventurous female, who happens to represent the only (living) link to motherhood in the whole childish murder circus.

Now that the bloodlust has been slaked for the moment, let us consider how we might determine if we are trapped in a horror movie. This is harder to do than it seems. External signs may only point to the possibility that you are about to be murdered/devoured/made into very fetching waistcoat for real, so you must ignore them. Favor instead the way they are presented. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I whistle?
  • Do I stop whistling every time I hear a suspicious noise?
  • Have I ever told myself that it’s only the wind?
  • Is it only the wind? Really? Did I go check?
  • Do I keep my shower curtain open at night?
  • Have I accidentally killed anyone and tried to cover it up?
  • Have I shown a gross lack of cultural sensitivity when in the presence of old gypsy women or anyone that I felt has stared into my soul?
  • Do I have a strange kinship with feral animals?
  • Was I born under a bad sign?
  • Was I born under a good sign?
  • Was I born under a stop sign?
  • Did I ever get that bug/animal/human bite looked at?
  • Do I play God? (circle one: never, sometimes, often)
  • Am I a medical doctor?
  • Have I ever conducted experiments that might be considered immoral or “dodgy”?
  • Do I annoy friends by reading dead languages out loud?
  • Does music seem to follow me around?
  • What’s that buzzing sound?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of those questions, you might be trapped in a horror movie. Of course, you might not. Do you know? Does anyone? And what would we do if we did? Horror movies are the ultimate Calvinist system. You’re either saved or you’re not, and no amount of badassery will save you. Neither, sadly, will humor, but at least being funny can guarantee you the third-to-last laugh. And beware: if you end up trapped in a horror movie without a funny character, look for the prettiest guy and put as much distance between you and him as possible, because you’ve stumbled into an action movie. If you’re not onscreen, you can’t die. Guild rules. And for Pete’s sake, stay away from virgins.