These poems were first published in Consecrate/Desecrate: The Great Salt Lake Anthology, Community Writing Center, 2022, pgs. 252-256.
Hymn to the Great Salt Lake
White shining beautiful sea
inland roads of streams to be.
Vast shores on acreage stretch,
Great Basin drained in steppe.
Pure snow, falling from the clouded sky
lake effect nature, dozen’s feet high.
Ecology’s difference, in salt water’s cast
unknown to human, except First Nations’ past.
Salt jumpers and quicken quacks,
the ducks fly for their bug snacks.
Brine shrimp stole their way
where gulls dance at play.
See floating men and women
breeding Deseret kinsmen.
Boats, oaks, rutters, stir the pot
while Saltair peaks, open for a spot.
Water gleaming on surface salt
dried an eon ago, in land’s fault.
Mines of Morton dot the land,
reminds us—modernity’s grand.
swirling onto the lake.
Spiral Jetty shapes the salt
and gives pleasure with its wake.
over the rocks on the hill.
Passersby swing past the Jetty arm,
for the algae red shoreline on the sill
I set feet in the path.
Gone are the people before,
taken up what the Lake’s given, hath.
Bonneville remnants seen.
No more crabs and kelpien fishes--
simple sand, wind, and the brine shrimp, keen.
Smithson’s hands shaped the born legatee.
A beach day, where the adults play--
earthen sculpture serving entropy.
Kodak E100, Color Reversal 120 Film
Saturday, September 17, 2022, 6pm.
Spiral Jetty, UT.”
Case of the Missing Water
and not a drop to Drink.”
Not here, not there,
not the salt water said Coleridge--
let it go to the sink.
when fresh water flows freely.
Dropping down, flying around
making its way, slipping down slink.
Let it dry.
Let it make haste for the lawns!
More for our alfalfa fields,
and more to wash our stink!
Great Salt Lake,
bounding freely eons ago.
Cascading on the Snake River,
into the big brine dink.
in a mere 170 years.
Dying too late—not enough tears,
to cry in sync.
Cinestill 50D, 120 Film
Saturday, September 17, 2022, 12pm.
Antelope Island State Park, UT”
First Published in Consecrate/Desecrate: The Great Salt Lake Anthology,
Community Writing Center, 2022. p 254
Kodak Tri-X 400 TX, 120 Medium Format Film
September 17, 2022
Spiral Jetty, UT
First Published in Dead Stars and Stone Arches: A Collection of Utah Horror, Timber Ghost Press, pgs. 49-50
The Terror Begrudgined
finds it way around the gates.
To be in the terrored home.
There is no door closed for the
Shadows and space,
dark foreboding in its place,
finds it way around the gates.
Of the give and rake—of the
of the shamed past—making sins anew,
finds it way around the gates.
Flee before the presence
of a guest begrudgined, seen--
find its way around the gates.
First published in Enheduanna: A Pagan Literary Journal, Volume 5, p. 68-99.
It may have been building for decades now, but the striking turn has been made in America among the younger generation from pure laze faire capitalism to a more socialist oriented outlook.
Socialism, as defined by Richard Dagger and Terence Ball (Emeritus), professors of Political Science at Arizona State University, writing for Britannica, “Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another.”
Taking this definition then, the idea of the public ownership of social and economic goods has its appeal, as the entire public would be involved and invested in the owning, operating, and returns on the products and services. More often is the case though that this baseline definition is overlayed with more complicated political dogma, such as claims that socialism is communism, and that they are identical. If this is the case, then why would there be two terms for the same thing, when the terms are not synonyms of one another?
Those who fearmonger the “socialism=communism” idea fail to understand that socialist ideas and structures have been with the United States since its foundation.
A brief historical overview is required in this essay to place socialism and social tendencies in context of U.S. History. Socialism, as a practice, has existed since the arrival of the Pilgrims,
In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness…Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death. Two years of communism in practice left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.
Private Property as Incentive to Industry
Realizing that another season like those that had just passed would mean the extinction of the entire community, the elders of the colony decided to try something radically different: the introduction of private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor (Ebeling).
We as readers can look back four hundred years and apply terms coined after the end of the Pilgrim era. As such, historical context and bias should be acknowledged that the term communism is used as a lens by which to view these settlers, and the word would not be used in English till around 1840 with the writings of John Barmby (Online Etymology Dictionary). In no way is there any textual evidence to assume that these Pilgrims would have considered communist ideas intrinsic to the new world—they were certainly not pleased by the practice of communality.
Some historical scholars disagree that the Pilgrims, and the later Puritans, were actually practitioners of communal aspects in Plato’s Republic as put forth by Ebeling. It was an agreement that many begrudged, which later forced the failure of the communities as individuals sought to move away from the collectivist style and into individualism:
The truth is that although the Pilgrims did accept economic communism for the first two and a half years of their plantation at Plymouth, they did so unwillingly, not ever considering it an idealistic experiment in social betterment. For them all-for all the others as well as for Bradford-it was an economic expediency, forced upon them by the English investors, or “adventurers,” who insisted that for the first seven years of the settlement all goods and all profits should be shared in common. Far from sanctioning such a program, the Pilgrims resented it from the beginning, and they continued to resent it as long as it endured (Glazier 72-73).
What is historically recorded is that collectivism was practiced, even if it lasted only a few years.
The Puritans also tried their hand at it,
Naturally, as the Puritan movement came to its own, these two elements flew apart. The collectivist, half-communistic aspect, which had never been acclimatized in England, quietly dropped out of notice, to crop up once more, and for the last time, to the disgust and terror of merchant and landowner, in the popular agitation under the Commonwealth (Tawney).
This examination of the historical trend establishes the rhetoric of America as the potential be to be the first utopia (religious in orientation) of the world, as these two groups, Pilgrims and Puritans, sought such a place when they fled Europe to seek religious and societal refuge away from the persecution faced in the old countries (History “Mayflower…”, “The Puritans”).
No consideration at the time was given to native populations, and as such, this essay is a discussion on the western colonists and their utopias. No essay would be complete without acknowledging the hand the first nations had in helping those colonists establish themselves, teaching them the ways of the new world. Further reading on this can be found in any history textbook about the era.
Native history aside, the colonists arriving to the new world came with the idealistic approach to utopia, which certainly can be seen to be influenced by the utopian ideals found in Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia.
Monarchs, he argues, would do well to swear at their inauguration never to have more than 1,000lbs of gold in their coffers. Perhaps this is one reason why Utopia is not bedside reading in Buckingham Palace. Instead of being worshipped, gold and silver should, he suggests, be used to make chamber pots. War is fit only for beasts, and standing armies should be disbanded. Labuor should be
reduced to a minimum (Eagleton).
Moving forward a century comes the foundation and formalization of the United States of America as a nation in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (United States, “A Declaration…”). So, it would seem that from the very beginning of the government that the goal of the society in its pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is to create a society in which its citizens are equals, which is another incarnation of the communal equality shared by Puritans and Pilgrims.
Much is known of the history of the United States, that its citizens still strive for that equality. While not the idealistic approach by Ebeling, America developed much further down the path of the individual as put forth by Grazier, giving rise to the barons of the 19th century capitalism. “The most powerful people during this period would later be called robber barons—a term which means exactly what it sounds like. These capitalist titans held great industrial monopolies and unprecedented wealth” (Kelly et al). The new system that evolved in the 19th century was already on a run-away effect with the rich becoming exceeding wealthy and leaving the poor and suffering to their own devices, also rhetoricated as individualism and the pursuit of “happiness” in whatever way that is subjectively defined by an individual.
The development of the American version of capitalism dates back to the complex systems involved in immigration, slavery, and race (Bois; Clegg; Desmond; Truth). It needs no stating that for much of U.S. history up to the 20th, the dream of financial success was applicable to white male property owners—those who could vote (Al Jazeera). Tracing such a system would require an extended essay, but there are various writers and scholars who have done such and is not necessary here. However, it is important to note the change in racial systems in the U.S.—with abolition of slavery—is what led to the Reconstruction Period of the South as the primary labor source vanished (History, “Reconstruction.”).
American capitalism was supposed to be the ultimate exercise in equality, at least according to some economists such as Matt Stoller.
American capitalism used to mean economic equality and security. When I mention this in speeches or talks today, this observation prompts laughter, or outright disbelief. But it’s true. Americans used to believe economic equality was foundational to our political system.
Implied in the idea is that each individual would acquire wealthy and liberty and that generally there would be an absence of the poor and needy. From the very start, this notion was flawed as a system in such a way that when there is freedom to acquire wealth without limit, some will have more, and some will have less.
Already, some eighty years after the foundation of the American Republic, writers such as Henry David Thoreau began to critique the system of inequality and inequal wealth distribution that had developed. The idealism found in Utopia would certainly be appealing to most of the laboring masses, who, like in Walden, spend most of their time laboring for the grave,
Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clear eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born… The better part of the man is soon ploughed into the soil for compost. (5)
In the opening chapter “Economy” of Walden, Thoreau takes up the plight of the poor. As no social system was in place during Thoreau’s lifetime, Walden (published in 1854) serves as one of the many texts in which writers of the day are examining and cataloging the societal issues. Walden clearly initiates an analyses of the structural inequality mechanisms that ensure the poor stay trapped, but fails to put forth realistic economic solutions for those trapped at the lower levels who do not have access to the same resources Henry David Thoreau did when writing the novel.
While the work of philanthropists did make an impact in some areas (Such as George Peabody and Andrew Carnegie), the poor and elderly were on their own. This included the working children, which can historically be seen through the factories and industries of 19th century America. It was through the work of activists, like photographer Lewis Hine, who brought the image of child labor to the front of America’s consciousness to enact real change (Contrera), enabling the passage of the Keating-Own Child Labor Act of 1916 (United States, “Keating-…”).
The horrors of child labor, poverty, and the extreme conditions has been well captured in literature and film with such works as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Iqbal (1998), and Horses of God (2013). While child labor was abolished over a century ago in the U.S., it is still a systemic problem in many parts of the world (Gettleman and Raj; Reid).
Socialism Enters the 20th Century
Improvements in socio-economic conditions gained considerable steam with the progression of civil liberties. With the ability of more of the population to vote, power and control was redistributed to those who were marginalized. The passing of the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution (United States “19th Amendment…”) was the beginning of social and economic change in the U.S. away from the majority of white men who ruled, to an inclusive society of the other part of the white majority. This step of inclusion was the first towards actualizing the statement of equality in the Declaration of Independence.
Just a few years after the 19th amendment, The Great Depression led to a series of state and federal benefits to ensure the wealth and support of their citizens (Social Security Administration “Chronology-1930s”). Following course, Franklin Roosevelt created a series of reforms to give relief during the Great Depression—The New Deal (Works Progress Administration) (Berkin, 629). In 1935 came the first true social program to benefit the nation, one intended to take care of the aging and elderly, who had given a life of work to the system. This was Social Security. While the New Deal put people back to work, the leaders of the time recognized that a more complete system of care was needed for those hit by the depression, but who were not able to work.
The creation of the New Deal and the following social reforms started to fulfill this utopian dynamism, defined as equality, for all peoples (who at first were white, then women, and later First Nation, African America, and then everyone). Prior to this, the pursuit of capitalist goals and the ideology to pull oneself up by the boot straps (if one had a boot and a strap), as argued by Stoller, comes to end. The preceding centuries demonstrated that, in the wake of such great economic collapse, not even the richest were safe from the affects, much less the poorest (without any boot or strap).
Here marks the turning point of the U.S. towards full socialism. The impetus being the Great Depression and other economics impacts (such as the Dust Bowl) of the 1920s and 30s. Purely from the financial point of view, the U.S. needed to float its economy, and thus its people with it. The nation did not have to pursue a course of legislation for its citizens, but the amount of suffering, loss, and primary economic collapse, led the government administrators and law makers to realize that the lack of the social safety nets would implode the economy and the country in the long term.
This form of socialism might also be considered utilitarian. What is meant here by “utilitarian” in this essay is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as
Utilitarianism is also distinguished by impartiality and agent-neutrality. Everyone’s happiness counts the same. When one maximizes the good, it is the good impartially considered. My good counts for no more than anyone else’s good. Further, the reason I have to promote the overall good is the same reason anyone else has to, so promote the good. It is not peculiar to me (Driver).
This utilitarianism pairs with the working definition of socialism in this essay, “economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources” (Ball and Dagger). In the interest of utilitarianism (The New Deal), Labor became public, and so too did the resources protected in the New Deal’s social reforms. Suddenly the elderly, theaters, roads, bridges, murals, parks, and other resources were guaranteed as public common good, open to public inspection, built by public tax dollars—ending the reign of private sector dominance since the Pilgrim era.
After the Great Depression, merging Ball and Daggers’ socialism and Driver’s utilitarianism, the republic of the United States emerged from the watery grave that was The Depression as a democratic socialist utilitarian society.
This socialist utilitarianism advances the utopian narrative further by materializing the utopia from (Thomas) Morian’s paradisical theoretical notions, to a defined pragmatic framework, intersecting social-political dichotomies pushing for equality. The unspoken push towards socialism in the U.S. superannuated the previous baron capitalist economics, ameliorating the lives of it citizens, rather than leaving them to their own devices.
But already before the 20th century, modern versions of a utopia were being dreamed up a century earlier by poet Walt Whitman—“the poet of democracy”. Octavio Paz discusses Whitman’s work as the dreamer, dreaming the American utopian into reality.
If America is a creation of the European spirit, it begins to emerge from the sea-mists centuries before the expeditions of Columbus. And what the Europeans discover when they reach these lands is their own historic dream. Reyes has devoted some lucid pages to this subject: America is a sudden embodiment of a European utopia (554).
Writing his essay on Walt Whitman in 1956, Paz recognized earlier what the entire experiment, The American Experiment (Dale; Jefferson), was trying to do: achieve utopia. Jefferson, Whitman, and Paz’s understanding of such a dream being reality comes from the understanding of not just what constitutes a nation (peoples, rivers, culture, dreams), but also the necessity of such a place in a world reliant on traditional feudal, despotic, tyrannical, and oppressive systems.
Socialist utilitarianism, or contemporary utopia, is most apropos to this journey of the United States. The contemporary utopia narrative can be pushed further, as found in texts and talks by science fiction writer, Kim Stanley Robinson. “Food, water, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education for everyone on the planet by whatever means that gets us that. Or the work towards that state” (Ford). The critical method is the “work”, or progress in any form, towards that utopian state. It does not appear over night, but is a system which is developed over the long term with the consistent push towards the benefits described by Robinson, through the people’s actions, which then shift the structures in which the people exist towards the utopian state.
Robinson, discussing his Mars Trilogy, believes that discord, dialogue, and dynamics are necessary to establishing a utopian world: “Utopia will always be under threat and dynamic. It will never be completely established. If it is then you almost have a dystopia of permanence and rigidity” (Ford). Not unlike Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star, where a communist Bolshevik utopia exists, the applicability of the ideas of this contemporary (Martian) utopia can be delineated back to the socialist ideas of pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness—goals of the socialist utilitarian utopian republic, the United States.
Robinson also concurs with Paz and Whitman that America is the greatest utopian dream ever to exist,
The government of the people by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this earth. Shall not makes it a future tense and an imperative. It’s a science fiction story. It’s a utopian story. What Lincoln was saying to us was an injunction and even a command. Democracy only exist when people go out and make it happen, especially when there are very powerful forces with a lot of money trying to buy up that very same government that we call democratic (Bioneers).
Though mostly unrealized through American history, the emergence of the utopian state differs vastly from the early Pilgrims and Puritans Morian utopias, which left out the dynamism. When these strict utopian structures met the unpredictable human nature, they failed in the face of human’s desire for individual private capital.
Modern Notions of Utopian Evolution
The dynamism towards providing basic assistance, food, shelter, and etc., happened when the U.S. moved from the static dystopia of the Robber Baron era, to the dynamic utopia of the 20th century.
More legislative changes promoted further dynamism in the following decades as outgrowths of the initial economic disasters. The First Food Stamps program appears in 1939 (U.S. Department of Agriculture), the judgement in Brown v Board of Education (Supreme Court, “Judgement, Brown…”), and the enaction of Medicare and Medicaid Act in 1965 (Social Security Administration” Medicare…”). These three pieces of legislation and court appeals put into place the requirements of the society at large to meet the needs of an equal education, basics food, and basic health care.
And the list continues on with more equity and equality that unfolded during the Civil Rights movement. Native American voting rights (Little), end of Jim Crow laws with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (United States, “The Civil…”), Equal Pay Act (United States, “Act of...”), Education Amendments of 1972 (United States, “Education Amendments…”), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in 1972 (National WIC Association), and Roe v Wade of 1973 (Supreme Court, “Affidavit of…”).
The legislation does not stop there. Along with the new rights obtained, more follow in the decades under different U.S. presidents. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (United States, “Americans with…”). Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (United States, “H.R. 4173”), The Patient Protection and Affordable Care of 2010 (United States, “H.R. 3590”) and the Supreme court ruling in favor of LGBTQ marriage in the Obergefell v Hodges case of 2015 (Supreme Court, “Obergefell…”).
Entering into the cotemporary era, it would appear that the new American (socialist) utopia is in full swing. Being built on a steady march of social and equitable progress forward from the 1930s to the 2010s, there still persists questions about fixing additional social and economic issues, coupled with their expense, contrasting with the need to privatize—taking away public interests.
Private enterprises always, or should always do better because fewer regulations and controls exist with private enterprises than having to answer to public inquiry.
As a process, privatization denotes reducing the roles of government, while increasing those of the private sector, in activities or asset ownership. In practice, privatization may include ‘‘load shedding’’ or divestiture, the re-placement of budgeted public activity by private market mechanisms such as consumer cooperatives, coproduction, variously structured public/private-sector partnerships, state management contracts such as monopoly franchises for the private supply of public services, user charges, lease-purchase arrangements, and even tax reduction, intended to stimulate private-sector investment (Gayle and Goodrich 465).
Such reductions in the size and scope of government could be seen as a safety measure, to prevent overreach and too much authority at the federal level. The system of checks and balances born into the U.S. system helps to curb some of that overreach. The authors Gayle and Goodrich do state that “Such an interest is probably best defined by adopting a rather utilitarian orientation, operationalized by changing the balance of political advantage within pluralistic democracies” (464).
Recent moves in tax reeducation and legal documents appear to favor such reeducation for corporate interest. The propaganda machine of the Trump administration would have the public believe that cutting taxes for major corporations promotes economic benefits for those at the bottom the machine (Mnuchin). The actuality of the situation is that the best savings went to the top,
First, many people will technically have lower taxes, but the cuts are so tiny as to be hardly noticeable. The Tax Policy Center estimates the 60% of Americans at the lower end of the income distribution will have federal tax savings of less than $1,000. Also, most people believe the tax cuts didn’t benefit people like them but only the very wealthy. They are right. Those in the top 1% save $51,000 (Ghilarducci).
This pairs with the notion that Trickle-Down Economics had any affect at all for the poorest citizens, much less the middle American. It does exactly as it says it would, trickle down a few drops for the entire masses. Not an appealing system (Pearl). And this was again seen in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, where most got a little, but the top gainers received the most share.
The Problems with Privatization of Public Commodities
The Citizens’ Untied ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that corporations, in America, are people (Supreme Court, “Citizens United…”). The corporate interest prefers the private (non-socialist, libertarian) over the public since they wield power to exempt themselves from paying their share of taxes, obeying laws, and pooling their funds to lobby for changes in congress. While unfair, this is the real structural power that a billion-dollar corporation has versus the common person—such is the evolution of the private section for American capitalism. Even so, the argument for privatization persists
Generally, some the argument is to reduce the size of government but most important, Butler contends, is that privatization can simply reduce the size of government. Fewer government workers and fewer people supporting a larger role for government means less of a drain on the nation’s budget and overall economic efficiency… “If your city is not taking full advantage of privatization, your cost of local government may be 30% to 50% higher than it need be. The costs of state and federal government are also greater without privatization” (Goodman and Loveman).
The ontological differences between the push for private, and the openness of the public interest as seen in the 20th century, differs in its end goal. One being for ultimate pursuit of profit and efficiency, and the other for the protection and enrichment of the public at large (which also would include corporations). This is also true when the two political sides of American politics, Conservatives and Liberals, is boiled down to the philosophical differences: Conservatives put personal work and gain first, and liberals put community gain first.
It is true with what the Goodman and Loveman state about the promises of privatization vastly exceeding the results,
In addition to the problems of insufficient competition and monitoring, there are broader objections to the no-holds-barred advocacy of privatization. While acknowledging that privatization may make sense on economic grounds, Paul Starr argues in his paper, “The Limits of Privatization,” that privatization will not always work best. “‘Best’ cannot mean only the cheapest or most efficient,” he writes, “for a reasonable appraisal of alternatives needs to weigh concerns of justice, security, and citizenship” (Goodman and Loveman).
Taking into consideration then the discussion by Goodman and Loveman, Gayle and Goodrich, the basics of privatization are the “cheapest product for the most efficient process.” Often, this has not been the case, with subpar performances and results. This has been seen especially in America’s for-profit education system, where outcomes and job placement of student rank in low percentiles, “Unreliable and misleading job placement claims, particularly but not exclusively at for-profit colleges, has been a repeating theme of scandals in the federal student aid programs for decades” (Shireman).
In another industry, the private prisons failed to meet basic standards for staffing, training, and living conditions as the companies that run them stuff bodies into the buildings in order to acquire more funding. “The corporations running private prisons inevitably claim that they are saving the government money, but their true focus is on protecting their own bottom lines. In order to lower operating costs, these facilities cut corners, hiring fewer employees and paying and training them less” (Joy).
The same uncertainty and underdevelopment exists for the privatization of any public commodity and resource. The same unanswered questions abide. Even public libraries, which historically opened from private ones to be the “Free Public Library” of a city or town (American Library Association), face privatization or have been full privatized in some areas. “On Wednesday, August 23, the city council of Escondido, California voted, 3 to 2, to move forward with plans to hand their public library over to the private, for-profit company Library Systems and Services.” (Diegelman).
But the question that resonates—not just for libraries, but for so many cities grappling with privatizing public services to cut costs—is one of community control. When a city lets a private company run the show, who controls the resource, and how much say does the public?
The answer to the problem with privatization is found in Erickson’s article “And, of course, there is a less tangible problem with library privatization: it makes many people very uncomfortable, even if they can’t quite explain why.” According to Patricia Tumulty, of the American Library Association, it comes down to questions of access. “With privatization, the public loses some direct control,” she says. “You’re having the chief operating officer answerable to a third party rather than answerable directly to the public or the county commission”
Continuing the Socialist Dream into the 21st Century
The roll and purpose of socialism is as a structural component to a healthy and prosperous society. Karl Marx’s social theory aims for the equality and equal measurement of resources among all citizens. “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (Engels and Marx). While Marx has good working theories, the ontology of the 19th century is far past and does not fit with the concerns of 21st century societies.
The socialist utilitarian America utopia continues today through programs and legislation. The bailouts in the 2008 Great Recession (National Archives) where banks and the auto industry took billions, or the stimulus checks to the people and businesses during 2020’s COVID-19 (U.S. Department of the Treasury)—purely socialist in nature—helped float the economy, save people, and stabilize the U.S. and greater world community till the events of the time pass. In this manner, the United States continues to push forward as a democratic socialist utilitarian society. Though voices also push back against these types of bailouts and benefits, there are groups of people more interested in helping Americans, than saving money.
In order to keep that socialist outlook alive, America has to stand up against outdated notions of economics, slave wage labor, colonial rhetoric, and corporate rights over the individual. As Q from Star Trek: Voyager said “...that the individual’s rights will be protected only so long as they don’t conflict with the state. Nothing is so dangerous to a society” (Landuaer).
Democracy, socialism, and the continued sustainment of a utopian society where everyone has their needs met, equally contributing to the structure, means each person has to work daily towards the goals of such a society. While there are bad apples in every system, these negatives do not go so far to outweigh the greater benefits to society as a whole (Rousseau).
Democracy is dynamic; so are the human lives. Protest. Be active. Speak out; and always stand up for injustice in the world. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (2). Only through bridging party lines, setting aside differences, and working together in our communities, locally and globally, can the socialist outlook be achieved.
Ball, Terence and Dagger, Richard. “Socialism.” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/socialism.
Bioneers. “Kim Stanley Robinson-Rethinking Our Relationship to the Bioshpere | Bioneers.” Youtube, 12 Nov, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=489I0gZlepM.
Diegelman, Amy. “Library Privatization Passes Despite Public Outcry.” Bookriot, 28 Aug. 2017, https://bookriot.com/library-privatization-passes-despite-public-outcry/.
Driver, Julia. “The History of Utilitarianism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 27 March, 2009, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/.
Eagleton, Terry. “Utopias, Past and Present: Why Thomas More Remains Astonishingly Radical.” The Guardian, 16 Oct. 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/16/utopias-past-present-thomas-more-terry-eagleton.
Ebeling, Richard M. “How Communism Almost Ruined the First Thanksgiving.” Foundation for Economic Education, 23 Nov. 2017, https://fee.org/articles/how-communism-almost-ruined-the-first-thanksgiving/.
Engels, Friedrich, and Marx, Karl. Manifesto of the Communist Party. “Chapter II. Proletarians and Communists.” Online access by Marists.org, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm.
Erickson, Amanda. “Are Privatized Public Libraries so Bad?” Bloomberg Citylab, 28 March, 2012, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-03-28/are-privatized-public-libraries-so-bad.
Ford, Adam. “Kim Stanley Robinson – The Singularity & Transhumanism - Interview Part 2/5.” Youtube, uploaded by Science, Technology, & The Future, 29 July, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbzJfPFgA5U.
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16x20 in. mixed media on canvas by Daniel Cureton.
July 4, 2020.
First Published in Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose. Salt Lake City: LUW Press, 2019, pp. 112-113.
The flame rose hirer
And the sound of heat, gushed.
The button was pushed with fire
As the closed door shut, hushed.
The leaves unfold
As the paper burned.
And the crisping sound untold
through the centuries traveled, learned
A simple Herbological specimen
arrived in the collection of Louis XIII.
But kept from Australia, as dead men
Do keep their secrets, grave born still, 19th.
What Labillardière gathered so carefully
survived through the revolutions aim.
The World Horrors of 20th century passing merrily
yet, be so tossed into the consuming delights of flame.
Jardin des Plantes,
Tagged, boxed, shipped from bureau
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, France.
Colhelper, No 71250:
Tony Bean, botanist,
Queensland Herbarium, Australia.
Asking des Plantes “where are my catalyst?”
the government answered sesquipedalia.
Olearia, flowering plant, Asteraceae family
Daisies and sunflowers alike.
To identify and classify, happily
Seed, stem, leaves, and pit to strike.
In the notes of a book now closed
the package of Australian history, embers.
In the oven of biosecurity, disposed
the job done, security officers unhindered.
The only comfort to centuries of dead gone by
an email, no sugar, no feeling.
Government empathy, thought, and lies
fingered the send button, bureaucrat’s willing.
These Poems First Appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, No. 37, June 2020
Southwest, pp. 159-60
On iron red tipped mountains high,
heat and scorched earth cracked in rays,
waves brought by arid death--
beams shooting through salt flats barren an age ago,
cracking the range as Earth splits the crust westward through
basin voids—billow currents of air as
red rock and sand falls down the river beds, dry.
Spice and pepper,
sliced chilés to garnish the dish:
purslane, and black frijole
served with the flare of rustic ranches.
Piñon Pine drops the seed of coffee from green branches,
simmered in the kettles, while
Prickly Pear cactus reaches for sun raised long,
purple flowering light-soaked edibles as
red rock and sand falls down the river beds, dry.
Big Brown Bat, sonar silence in the night of cool relief, while
Great Basin Rattle Snake slithers in waves of shimmering glass.
Desert Recluse burrows deep in layers webbed,
Cattle ranches in sage brushed valleys,
and cowboys lasso and tie.
Buffalo roaming the valleys where ancient Ute bones lie,
symbol of First Nation Elder Peoples,
on iron red tipped mountains high.
Stillness protrudes the Desert Solitaire into holes deep gorging.
Arches float in mountains ancestral.
Smoke reaches the sky above, while
canyons gorge the earth deep and wide,
painting the rainbow of time for all to see--
pride and transparency--
homes dug deep in Ancestral Puebloan sandstone and
beans that fill the stomach, and the cooking pot above flamed mesa.
Spiritual desert dreams the weaver of tomorrow,
As Bear’s Ear rise above Grand Staircases,
red rock and sand falls down the river beds, dry
lives in a places that splay life barren.
Flourishing among the four corners--
Copland and settler
the land reveals it secrets.
Welcome horn and home
eastern and first nation, love.
As the Golden Spike transnational is one,
the red rock and sand falls down the river beds, dry
From Iron red tipped mountains, rising high.
Raspberry Pie, page 160
ready to receive.
The heat fired
And the gun lifted
The metal from the board
expert hand steady
gliding across my insides
the thrill and fun
I was unplugged
as you felt me up
felt my parts
felt me shutter
as you touched me again
in only the way you could
You pulled me apart
And it was no work
But for my own good
Become Raspberry Pi
You screwed me after you finished
Tempting me again
Making me hot in ways only electric can
Old to new, now I emulate
As the 8 bit world turns, I’ll always be your computer whore.
The Universe Set Free, page 161
The Bekenstein-Hawking formula is given as Sbh = A/4 X kc3/Gћ
Emanating from space, from the precipice of the ultimate curve
The event horizon of holes in black, blackened fabric of positive density
The universe of the mind, In a Nutshell
seeing the beginning and the end of sun stars, moon bodies, nebulas and nurseries
Euclidean math and imaginary time, evaporation spheres and negative energy
The devotee of Physics and Cosmology, On The Shoulders of Giants
Taught us how to peel the sky, understand the ends
And find our place in the cosmos.
Great brain of the ages, locked away
freer than those caged in bodies of flesh
Traveling on the currents of the multiverse in 11 dimensions
Lucian Professor of Physics, conversing with Newton
Running free and rowing home
On the rivers of space-time
You were here, A Brief History of Time
Humanity will miss you, science will Saint you,
the Bang will never forget the name Stephen Hawking
Brazil National Museum Fire September 2018, pp. 162-63
The rush of hot wind on the men,
hands furiously grabbing what they can hold.
From a collection of 20,000,000 gems
oh what can’t be retold!
bombeiros spray with blasted guns
fail the 92% gone.
They grow limbs as beast of the realm
save what can be lifted before the flicker drawn.
Science legacy, 200 years of collecting,
serving as the reference for the world.
Exist now in journal photos,
precious research items in embers hurled.
The rush of hot wind on the men,
hands furiously grabbing what they can hold.
From a collection of 20,000,000 gems
oh what can’t be retold!
The flame creeps along the wall--
Baking, breaking, bashing, burning.
Cooking dead knowledge consumed,
The insects pinned to posts
so carefully recorded and displayed.
Brilliant colors, shining as the light dances,
fly away in the sweeping winds unbraid.
Art woven by indigenous hands,
feathers float on the waves.
Adorned with delicate history
greedy heat stealing down-caves.
Masks hide their faces no more,
exposed in the cold heat.
Melting, cracking, splitting, caving
embers on memory beat.
Mollusks, 40,000 specimens slow to move,
stuck in the shell of time.
Gazing death in fire’s eye, succumbed not through,
the saving hands of curators’ line.
Continents joined—village planes beyond the Amazon rivers,
the twist and rounds of throats that rose from the twangled jungled roads.
Egyptian and Latin, wrapped in linen preserved,
corpses entombed an epoch ago explode.
Civilizations out of time--
Crackling sounds, drowning rhythms of drums.
Wars, plague, politics forgotten--
Bones rattle their hums.
Museum cured of the forever backlog,
reels shrink, bubble, and pour.
Exu consumed with delight,
voices crinkle and crackle—ash tapes of analog speak no more.
The rush of hot wind on the men,
hands furiously grabbing what they can hold.
From a collection of 20,000,000 gems
oh what can’t be retold!
The flame kisses and the roof falls,
Higher it rose, deeper into history,
all-consuming death, bleak.
Fresco of Popei,
buried and removed from the eruption of Vesuvius.
Escaping time, heat, ash, dust, and dirt, 2,000 years late,
swept into the bin by consuming flame at Rio, lugubrious.
Pages fly past on hot current, blackened as the Earth,
return from whence they came.
Manuscripts so delicate,
disintegration’s famished spark to blame
the lobotomized Brazil.
Mourn for the loss, and living unknowable
countless millions still.
Specimens sent around the world,
gone from the drawers of tomorrow.
Labels charred—files smashed—cases crushed,
Science forever blind, hands full of sorrow.
The rush of hot wind on the men
Hands furiously grabbing what they can hold
From a collection of 20,000,000 gems
oh what can’t be retold!
Cabinets of potential covered in the wake of collapse,
heat tempered to survive.
Offering hope to us where there was no sprinkler
No insurance-Nature may revive.
Dearest Luzia, we thought you gone,
12,000 years born, your skull tells of life.
Unborn to Europeans and the Far East,
You cut through Nature’s crematorium as the carbon-steeled knife
Bendegó stands tall, symbol of hope,
among collections that lye dead there.
Meteor fallen so long ago, you withstood the bend, will, and crack,
Pedestaled you remain—dispel our despair!
America the Vile, page 164
When did we forget what it means to be American?
How cold did our hearts turn to other's situation, not like our own?
When did we ignore the flailing dreams of those seeking better,
and chill ourselves on the ice of greed?
We dream the dreams of today for a better tomorrow,
but we leave those who are most vulnerable behind.
We seek to further our own money, letting the elderly die unattended.
We pass children lying in the streets, starved of futures.
We cast the poor asunder, saying they are lazy workers.
We call the youth insouciant, labeling them as entitled millennials.
We accost the minority, profiling them as thugs and illegals.
We close our doors to the immigrants escaping wars, marking them as radicals.
We let the Corporation fill our bellies with swill and our minds with hate,
placating us so that even Nazis march in our streets.
Yet we call ourselves, American.
Liberty stands hollow in the East, face shrouded in shame, torch snuffed by narcissists.
Our Lady invites the poor, the tired, those yearning to be free, to pass by
not the America of dreams, but of condescension and tyranny.
The lands of the Earth shake, blackened with living dead,
corpses on the tit of capitalism,
stained by the blood of soldiers in Uncle Sam’s’ forever wars,
thickened like the paint of doom by the talon of the Eagle
moving slowly toward the abyss as the bison in the plains.
Hope is but a memory, and freedom a passing lark.
Columbia dies on the doorstep of the nationalism, calling us to remember
“We are a nation of immigrants”
Enjoy these excerpts from my new book: Monster Brain: Conversations with OCD, Forty-Two Books, 2019.
Anxiety's Bane, page 44
You ever felt it:
the uncertainty and distrust?
Your own self a stranger
not knowing who to trust.
Fade in, fade out
the focus is so hard.
Bright lights, enemies--
soul wretched and marred."
Alone IN A CROWD: A Short Film by OCD, page 56
"CUT TO BROKEN PERSON
BROKEN PERSON is filled with intense panic. Fright appears on their face, they fall to their knees.
Lade dah, let’s try the old plate to the head! Better yet, hammer to the temple instead.
Sharp jolted camera angles zoom onto BROKEN PERSON’S face with angled sunlight illuminating their terror.
Maybe we can hack off the limbs and pretend it’s Dicken’s little Tims.
Or smash in the face, just like the show, and find relief, with the killing blow."
A Day in the Life of Compulsion, page 78
Brain Trippin', page 113
"I said oh well!! Don’t care.” he said nonchalant as the anxiety welled inside. The mental struggle was exhausting, the unrelenting grind of obsessive compulsive disorder never relented on the organic machine.
“Well Daniel, how about try this fry pan on for size. See how hard it hits the brain with ease?” said OCD
“I don’t care. I don’t want to care about fry pan weights on skulls.”
“Now, let’s try to see the exploding brains that fly out when you strike.”
“Ugh, disgusting. Too bad it’s a watermelon now.”
“Problem solved” smiled OCD. “We’ll just reset the loop.”"
Heteroflexibe?, page 126
"You could suck off every jock in this locker room and swallow their loads like horchata!
Every dick I suck means I’m gayer than the rest.
“What, I don’t suck dick!”
Yeah bro, it’s the hottest thing.
“OMG, what are you talking about.”
Why don’t you try it, you might like it enough to switch."
Hue of Blue, page 148
"With hue of blue, Clonazepam.
You sit on the shelf each night,
eyeing me with your tranquil plot.
I resist like I know I ought.
But, can’t help to think you’re right.
You land inside so easily.
Taking you is so breezily.
I close my eyes before the ride,
with hue of blue.
Sleep comes as the fairy dreamland.
No better feeling than dreamsands.
I, in wake of anxiety,
escape OCD quietly.
O, there in sleep I make my stand,
with hue of blue."
First Published in Peaks of Madness: A Collection of Utah Horror, Forty-Two Books, 2019, pp. 347-358.
“Wow, is that Lovecraft’s typewriter?” screamed Andrew with boyish glee.
“Yep.” Plop. The old machine let out a ding. “We just got it in today with some of his other effects,” said Julie.
Andrew was beyond thrilled. An avid enthusiast for Lovecraft and horror, he collected books and memorabilia, fancying himself a quasi-expert on the subject. “Dare I touch it?” he said in a low whisper
“What?” asked the other archivist.
“Oh, ugh, nothing just talking to myself.”
She turned and walked away deeper into the archive.
Andrew glanced out the window overlooking the low foothills of Brown University, I’m living the dream, he thought. An archivist at a university working with the collections of authors he loved and admired growing up certainly was one of his dreams.
Andrew turned to admire the typewriter. It was dusty and quiet, but glowed in the sun beaming in through the windows. He sighed audibly and returned to his work. He had piles of manuscript documents to process.
As the days went by, the typewriter sat on a nearby table and each day Andrew noticed it became cleaner and tidier. At one point, Andrew asked a fellow archivist if anyone had been cleaning it.
“No. No one’s touched it since Julie, the one who brought it in.”
Andrew was perplexed.
Back in the office, he stroked his finger down the front plate of the typewriter. It was dust free.
“Wow, either this is self-cleaning or someone is giving it some elbow grease,” he said to himself. Deciding to keep an eye and see if anyone was indeed cleaning it, he spoke to John, the Head Archivist, about it.
“Are we doing an exhibition of Lovecraft’s papers?”
“No, not that I’ve heard,” said John. “I mean, we’ve done it before, but we don’t have any plans since the collection is old news.”
“Well, I’m just curious who is taking care of the typewriter. It’s been cleaned. And no one seems to know about it.”
John shrugged. “What’s your curiosity? It’s just a typewriter. We’ll bag and tag it into the collection and stick it on a shelf with his papers.”
“It’s just that it’s his typewriter, Lovecraft’s personal one. The 1905 Remington. I think that it’s worth a special value–dollars–also sentimental, which we can capitalize on for a writers and enthusiasts exhibition.”
“Ok…I mean, I agree. Maybe in the future we can schedule it to be set up. For now, it’ll just be as is. You can keep working on your manuscript collections.”
Andrew gave a nod.
Returning to his desk his thoughts caught up with him, Well that’s that, but I have a suspicion someone is up to something with the machine, even if John doesn’t know. Andrew looked at the typewriter, shining on its own (that’s peculiar, it shouldn’t be so shiny not in direct light). He walked over to it and a distinct *click* was made, as the “H” key was pushed down. Andrew took a step back, shook his head and looked again at the machine. That must have been my imagination.
Andrew leaned in for a closer look and didn’t come upon any strange happenings.
Deciding nothing was there, he turned to walk back to his desk. Another *click* came ringing down as clear as day. Andrew swung around, hoping to catch someone typing, only to find himself alone with the typewriter, and his thoughts.
The Brown Daily Herald
Ghost and Monsters Abide within University Archives
“Strange happenings on the campus at Brown as staff have no answer to queries of reported shadow figures and poltergeists in the archive reading room.
“”No, we have only a staff of eight with a few processing assistants. It’s highly doubtful one of them would be going around and play tricks on staff and patrons. This is clearly people’s imaginations,’ said John, Head Archivist.
“This paper will report more online as this story unfolds. Follow us on Twitter @the_herald to stay up to date.”
John flew around the corner. “All staff meeting.”
Andrew walked to the reading room where the other staff were gathered. Some were confused, others anxious, but the general feeling was that everyone knew what the meeting was about. John walked in and immediately started.
“All right, I need whomever is responsible for the pranks to come forward.” He was holding up a copy of The Brown Daily Herald in which the story had made the front page.
No one seemed surprised. Most, Andrew thought, were like him—more concerned over John’s anger than the story.
“This ends now,” John continued. “I will not have us be made the fool of the entire campus. That fool will be the one I fire!” He ended the meeting by walking out and slamming the door behind him.
Andrew pilled back to his desk and considered his options. Should I set up a camera? What about jamming the keys so they don’t work? While deliberating, he heard the faintest—*tap* *tap*—sounds.
Instead of hurrying to the typewriter, Andrew played it cool (Not gonna get me to run around like a headless chicken).
Another half hour passed, the sounds on the Remington continued, but with more intensity—*Tap*—came the echo down the hall. Andrew ignored the sounds. *TAP*—the force of the stroke set him on edge.
A feeling crept down his neck, shivering down his spine like a slithering cold snake. This is nothing. Nothing at all, just my nerves he thought. Anxiety rising. The sudden feeling that the typewriter was aware that he was aware that it had entered his mind. Like the chill of a cold shower, a voice penetrated, “Aaaaaandrew…”
The tingling coiled down his hands as the—*TAP *TAP *TAP*—in rapid succession, rattled the mental frame on Andrew’s conscious hold, and pushed him to listen to the voice.
“Aaaandrew…coooome tooo meee…” The voice sounded like a warm glow.
A feeling of lusting thirst, dark with temptation, washed over Andrew.
The tapping continued with a furious whacking, sounding as if the machine would come apart.
Andrew’s heart raced in anticipation. He turned in his chair, expecting to see the person he felt in his mind, as a long-missed lover returned, when suddenly—*DING*—the bell rang, startling Andrew so much that he jumped from his seat with a yelp of fear.
He had heard enough. Rounding the corner to confront the mystery typist, Andrew found himself alone, and the machine perfectly still. Someone had inserted a piece of paper on which was typed, “Hello, Andrew.”
This is madness. To keep an eye on it and prevent further insanity, he moved the typewriter closer to his desk, perched on another table.
Time to take this to the director. Someone is after me.
Andrew yanked the sheet from the platen and started towards John’s desk. As he turned a corner, he ran into the director, startling the man who yelled in return, “What’s the matter with you. Are you working or playing on that confounded machine,” he said with a scrupulous look, having noticed the typewritten sheet in Andrew’s hand.
“Ugh, no sir. Sorry, I just kept hearing this machine go off. I was certain I’d catch someone playing with it. Here, look, they typed a messaged to me.” Andrew showed the paper to John, who glanced but failed to be impressed by the evidence.
“So? You could have just as well typed it right? Move the typewriter someplace where it’s locked, like the manuscripts safe in the vault, that way it’ll stay out of reach of everyone, yourself included.”
John left him and Andrew let out a sigh. Shit, this damn typewriter is trying to get the better of me. What the hell. The typewriter was placed in the locked safe by a staff member on the other side of the archive in the rare books vault.
A few uneventful weeks passed, allowing the rumors to quell, and to let John cool his head—the staff forgot the whole mess of the hauntings as routine returned.
Andrew needed to get something from the vault in the safe. He asked one of the staff women to come along.
“I don’t want any issues again, like we had last month.”
“Of course,” said Sarah nonchalant as they walked to the safe.
“Do you think there could be anything…wrong with the typewriter?”
“What do you mean?” she asked concertedly.
“Well, just that…” Andrew was uncertain about telling anyone his experience. He and Sarah had been co-workers for a few years, but they didn’t know each other well.
“It was like it was taunting me,” he said. “During that whole hauntings mess, it was by my desk and would go off by itself. I could never catch anyone on it.”
“Oh…” She glanced out the window, her face widened in alarm.
Andrew noticed the look. “It’s just that I’d hear the tapping sound and run over to find no one around, but yet the carriage had moved, paper been inserted, text typed out. It’s a little spooky.”
Sarah agreed and he dropped the subject, not finding a confidant in her. They arrived to the safe and Andrew entered the code: “2848-”
Andrew heard it. *Tap* *tap* *tap**tap*
Shuttering, he stopped. Sarah was far enough back to not have heard the sound. He continued the sequence “-8548.”
As his fingers hit the last number the safe door flung open with an explosive boom and a sudden burst of wind from inside that launched Andrew and Sarah backwards into the stacks.
Boxes fell from the shelves onto the pair, papers and folders flying out. Andrew rolled on the floor, coming out of his daze and looking up.
The typewriter floated out of the safe. It gave off an eerie light. Streams of energy plasma shot out of its sides. The overhead lights flickered and went out. The vault darkened, with only the glow of the typewriter remaining.
Andrew gasped, paralyzed with the same fear that had tried to grip him those weeks ago. He looked to his left and found Sarah out cold. He was alone.
Electric current filled the air as the typewriter moved slowly toward Andrew, drawing out the breath he had recovered. The—*tap* *tap*—of the keys called to him, the ring of the carriage was the bell of welcome, and the electric arcs formed hands of ecstasy, pulling him in. Andrew sat up and stared wildly at the machine. He uttered a whimpering “No,” but felt pinned to the floor by the hands caressing him as a familiar lover.
“You see Andrew, it’s ok now, you can come home with me,” said the machine.
Like a tap-dance of death, the keys fired with increasing speed. Papers flew out, landing in a neat stack next to Andrew. A ghostly figure appeared next to him, the shadow of a slender man who pointed down to the pages. Andrew felt compelled to move, the same slithering coil slinking its way down his arms.
“Pick it up…” whispered a sultry voice.
Picking up the manuscript, Andrew read “The Demon’s Machine” on the masthead. All the pages were blank except for the last, which had Andrew’s name typed out.
“Picking up the pages, Andrew saw his name on the page. He looked upward, recognizing the figure of the idol he so worshiped, beckoning Andrew to join him. The choice was clear: resist with eternal pain, or let go and live forever in eternal ecstasy.”
Andrew recognized the ghostly figure—H. P. Lovecraft—the soul of the man dead almost a century, come to life to feed.
Lovecraft’s ghostly figure smiled, a deceptive demonic flash of teeth as his arms opened wide to embrace the newest guest.
No, you’re not supposed to take the souls of your fans. He could feel the warm current flowing inside, the feelings of comfort and love in contrast with his rational brain, and the drain of energy leaving him. The life force flowed out of his body through his eyes, his mouth, and seemingly through the very flesh on his bones.
“Let me love you. Death is only the beginning of what can be…forever between us,” it said in a soothing voice. The figure of Lovecraft reached down and gripped the boy’s hand, letting out in the vault a sinister laugh.
The alarm in Andrew’s brain exploded as he felt compelled to give his soul to the typewriter but knew it was death come to take him.
Just up the corridor came a sudden flash of light. A door swung open and there stood the backlit outline of a person.
“Not in my archive.” John walked forward with a jug of motor oil in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. He was followed by an assistant carrying a potted plant.
The energy current arced forward and smashed the pot—ceramic pieces flew everywhere. John took one to the back of the head, “Owh, that hurt!” he said. A fire in his eyes ignited, but he kept his cool. The assistant screamed, but continued to hold onto the plastic which had lined the clay pot.
In the throat of the typewriter, where the ribbon reels were stretched, Andrew saw a pair of enraged eyes emerge. Hissing, the typewriter slowly moved towards John, leaving Andrew half soul-sucked with the figure of Lovecraft sneering at the pair.
“I said not today, mother fucker!” John splashed the jug of oil onto the typewriter.
It jerked to the right, only to be met with the bat swung deftly by the Head Archivist. It swayed out of the way, but caught another stream of oil as it went left. Trying to rush John, the oil landed on the keys, instantly boiling, set aflame with its own electric energy.
John stepped out of the way. “Now!”
The assistant flung loose soil onto the typewriter by the handful. The oil boiled and mixed with the dirt, slowing the machine’s advance. The streams of energy began to flicker.
“Get out of my archive!” John yelled, and brought the bat down smack dab between the reels.
The furious typewriter tried to suck John’s soul and spewed the dirty mix back at them, but it could only sputter and lose gravity.
John gave one final gusto blow onto the keys, smashing the metal and plastic beneath the pine. The machine let out a screech as metal parts flew out the sides and fell to the floor, lifeless. The figure of Lovecraft vanished and Andrew felt life return. The lights came back on in the vault. John stepped back, watching all the souls that had been captured slide out of the machine, off its pages, and vanish as smoke in the wind.
John moved to help Andrew, picking him up and sitting him in a chair while the assistant checked on Sarah. “Out cold sir, but she’ll live,” he reported.
John nodded, giving Andrew some water. Andrew, dazed, managed to chirp out a thank you,
“How did you know?”
“Kid, you don’t get to be Head Archivist without having seen your fair share of the strange and weird.”
Andrew sighed, guessing that demonic typewriters counted as one of the weird. Nonetheless, he was shook. I never thought that’s how I’d meet my favorite author.
John said, “I had a sneaking suspicion from when you first came to me about it that it was a living artifact. We get them in occasionally, but unfortunately there is no Warehouse team to deal with them, so it falls on us. I knew it was biding its time for the opportunity to strike.”
“So you knew something would happen when the safe was opened the next time,” Andrew said shaking his head to clear it.
“With all the ruckus on campus and your panic about the machine, I knew it would make some kind of move soon. Sitting locked up for several weeks, I’d be pissed off myself. You just happen to be the chosen target, probably due to your association with his work. Thankfully, I’m old enough to know what the bane of the mechanical era is: dust and oil. So, short of holy water, dirt and oil works best. That’ll gum up just about any of those metallic wonders of the pre-microcomputer age.”
“And a baseball bat,” said Andrew.
“And a baseball bat.” John agreed.
Andrew breathed deeply, feeling mostly alive again, and went to stand. John put his hand on Andrew’s shoulder.
“We’ll get this cleaned up. In the meantime, I think you can report to the Special Collections Department, they deal with… special cases,” he said with a wink.
First Published in Peaks of Madness: A Collection of Utah Horror, Forty-Two Books, 2019, p. 60.
Fiend of the night
you came to Deseret
for the deeds
with saccharin charm
The University too easy,
the Saints let you in their doors-
Elders and girls so trusting
blind to bludgeoning psychosis.
As you hit so hard.
in the skull
The glorious ideas.
The succulent sounds.
The warm feelings-
that coursed inside.
The ease of strangle.
The rush of the beat.
The thrill of the feel-
as the feet kept still.
The push of your thrust,
into the hard body
throbbing against my walls
balls shrinking deep,
as you came inside
within my stiffened space
fulfilling the corpse desires
screaming ecstasy of compulsion
loving me to death
the art of murder-sex
I never knew love
before you corded me
Exhibition for one
The truest love
like the kind you gave
in my filth laden grave
Forever in the cell
your memories electrified
never forget the high
as you stiffen, bulge, and die
First Published in Enheduanna: A Pagan Literary Journal, Volume 3, 2018, pp., 50-51.
Response to “In Noctem” and the cut scene in which it is used from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film. The sound track should be played when reading aloud the poem, completing the reading by the end of the song.
*Times indicated are seconds on soundtrack
The utter despair.
The absolute knowledge of what is to come.
Not seeing a way out,
Not seeing the light that is around.
(Pause. Begin again 0:21*)
Angst is little comfort.
Hate was my constant.
Disdain my sleeve.
Scowl my outlook,
as I walked into the shadow.
(Pause. Begin again 0:36)
How did it come to this?
(Pause. Begin again 0:41)
I was careful.
I was strong.
I was closed to the dark impulses.
Yet I agreed,
to take on what needed to be done.
(Begin as music arrives at 0:48)
To do what no other could.
To out pawn the pawn master.
To master the manipulator.
To show him the wrong of his way
in the final moment of his defeat
(Pause. Begin again 1:00)
Even after my body is cold.
Was it all worth it?
(Pause. Begin again 1:05)
Will the memory of Lily live on?
I can walk away.
(Pause. Begin again as verses begin duo coupling at 1:11)
The clouds form and there is time
as the shadow passes.
It’s not too late to leave in an instant.
But why have I stalled?
Why I have I forsaken myself?
(Pause. Begin again 1:23)
What is love?
This thing I could never purge…
(Pause. Begin again 1:28)
even with the darkest acts
(Pause. Begin again 1:38)
I know what it is…
(To be finished as the second half of the last “Never will forget” begins at 1:45)
Học viện HogwartsV. “In Noctem (Into the Darkness)-Hogwarts Choir-Half Blood Prince Deleted Scenes.” Youtube, 24 July, 2016, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9By0u8CoV0.
Hooper, Nicholas. “In Noctem.” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). New Line Records, 2009.
Here are samples of my writing out in the world in print in publications and journals.