Pack Rat

Packrats overthrew the government in 1980, or 1968, or 1922—
or perhaps they always ran the place.
They build their middens out of stolen wheat and mortgages,
piled in burrows on offshore islands,
cemented with amberat (which accretes from urine)
and which can preserve a treasure-pile for centuries, at least, or possibly forever,
until scholars and treasure-seekers wander in with brushes and dental picks,
prying apart the riches of a lost continent,
still—after thousands of years—reeking of lust and pride.

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by Jerry Bowley

Giant Primates of North Dakota


My NaNoWriMo novel this year is Giant Primates of North Dakota.

It’s some kind of ugly hoax that we only get posted to these anonymous corners of Earth. I sometimes imagine the globe redrawn, with all the mid-continental portions erased or flooded or replaced by warm-water lakes visited by free-spirited Danes who pull their dresses over their heads and swim naked and expect everyone to be as carefree as they are—but then I come to myself and realize that I have onions to chop or cameras to repair or guns to clean.

The Syndicate


The Syndicate is a slavish imitation of The Hardy Boys, with the following exceptions:

  • Frank is a brain in a vat. His only means of physical agency is via a colony of robotic bats.
  • Joe is dead. He (or some entity pretending to be him) speaks via voices in Frank’s head and (occasionally) via Skype.
  • Aunt Gertrude is an amoral mercenary.

Image via Wikipedia.


Surveillance: “watching from above”
Surmontrance: “showing from above”

Ubiquitous CCTV cameras yield ubiquitous surveillance.
Ubiquitous CCTV projectors yield ubiquitous surmontrance.

Residents of London live in a ghost world imposed by the state. The shadows and murmurs of un-augmented reality are barely perceptible under thick layers of surmontrance. Conscientious objectors blind and deafen themselves, only trusting their unsurmontred senses.

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by hc gilje

Go Slow

A handful of hipsters from Dayton, Ohio (don’t laugh)
have full-shirt tattoos of famous traffic jams:
Lagos, Mexico City, Moscow, Joburg…
with authentic makes, models and choke points.

It can take all day for a Lada to make it from hip to wrist,
the driver fuming and pissing in a bottle,
and one motorbike just off Tverskaya
has never made it off its rib.

I went looking for the artist who did all that ink,
but some other dude was renting his chair,
his dealer was angry—out a hundred bucks—
and his trailer had burned to the ground.

Meanwhile, in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur,
a handful of wanna-be thugs
are sporting idealized Pan-American Highways,
just before dawn, empty of cars.

Hat tip to Fela Kuti and Jack Womack.

Source image CC-BY-SA by Mark Fischer


My story Ningyodashi appears in the anthology New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan.

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan is an anthology of stories, flash fiction, poems, haibun, haiku and artwork and photography donated by over 60 creators from all over the world to support those in Japan still affected by the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. All monies go to the Japanese Red Cross.

This anthology was prepared by an international team of volunteers and includes the donation of a poem in German with English translation by award-winning Austrian poet and writer, Friederike Mayröcker.

Greg McQueen, founder of 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan says this:

“You’re holding a book that beat the odds. A book made from determination. From compassion. And by holding it – buying it – reading it – telling others about it – you stand with the writers and artists who created it: ordinary people who watched the lives of strangers destroyed and decided that they needed to help.”

Celebrate with us Japan and its people.

New Sun Rising is available at Amazon.

Image CC-BY-NC-ND by Larry Halff

Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota

“Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota” is a poem by Megan Kurashige. I found its title irresistably evocative, so I have reused it here. Please forgive me, Megan.

Southwestern Minnesota contains several lost cities
but for our purposes here we’ll focus on one
lost since 1871
when a Lakota grandmother
ironically named Letty Swenson
became fed up with its streets
(to say nothing of its citizens)
and shut her eyes to it forevermore.

In an instant its prosperous Belgians,
lapsed Hutterites, sodden Germans,
bewildered Swedes and lone Korean
vanished from the prairie
and became suddenly and helplessly self-sufficient
in what amounted to a soap bubble in time.

Elsa Schultz
buxom and plain
had planned to steal a horse
and ride it clear to Sioux Falls
in search of better prospects
but had to settle for Sven Lindberg.

Jon Glazer
lost two-thirds of his income
unable to sell saddles
(and and feed, and tack, and medicine)
to his customers seven miles away
in Ghent.

Kim Cheol
(whom we won’t neglect)
had planned to travel to Marshall
to attend the Swedenborgian church
instead made peace with his god
among the Methodists.

If you visited it today
(I would not know how, but perhaps you do)
you would find two thousand souls more or less
nice folks, harmlessly inbred
who would be pleased to meet you
invite you to supper, pass you a hymnal
but lacking the imagination
to fathom why Letty was so pissed.

Image CC-BY-SA by Raphael Quinet