The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Strange Dream

I nap.

Before I wake up, guilty of wasting three afternoon hours , I sit in a dark room, and seven candles behind me cast my seven shadows on the wall. A woman sits in the darkest corner with her back to me. She knits something large and black. I am naked except for a white silk pillowcase embroidered with twin black cherries cinched around my waist and tied through the back of a wooden chair. I feel cold on my thighs. Someone smells like urine.

The knitting needles click, then grow to a Drumbeat, and then a fire glows behind me. Neil Diamond, shirt sequined silver, struts before me. "Brothers! Sisters!," he yells, "Reach out your right hand!" and something clicks in the back of his throat. On his black pants a single silver sequin sewn above his asshole glints as if singing along.

There is a great flame, and Neil falls into a pile of white ashes. The room turns dim as before.

The old woman knits, turned a little closer towards me. I can almost make out the tip of her nose. Her voice, I know, is deep, too deep.

I wait.

I wake with a shiver. Strange dream. It is already dark. My silk boxers are sweaty. "September Morn" skips in the CD player while the old woman who I abducted and chained to the end table knits.

"I like those socks you made me last week."

She coughs. She has emphysema.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Snuckafoo Year's Eve (In Three Parts)

The Words

I sat at a table adrift in tiaras, plastic horns, and leis and sipped a Bombay Sapphire and tonic. The tonic, lime wedge, and translucent plastic cup bored me. While gin and tonic is fine on a hot India day spent in a rocking chair swatting flies and watching the malaria victims float down the Ganges, the basement of a Wrigleyville tavern on New Year's Eve demanded something stronger. I slid up to the bar and made good strong eye contact with the bartender, some dude.

“Gin and ice in a real glass, please,” I said.

“No,” he said.

A burst of cold rushed from the door. I fingered my sixty-dollar yellow wristband, which was supposed to give me whatever I wanted. I guess I can't always get what I want. “I'll have a Heineken.” Just what I needed.

“Good yuppie,” he said.

I wore a diamond checkered sweater and a charcoal collared shirt. These were gifts from my mother, who dresses me from a distance. However, I chose my own accessory: a pair of Walgreen's reading glasses that hung from the collar of my sweater, turning me into a shy professor. My body, wrapped as well as any Christmas gift, stood at a table with one hand unoccupied. This hand found the jeans pocket, felt my keys, jingled them, and then jingled something else.

Set back in a black garage ringed with white Christmas lights, Snuckafoo began to play, and I heard wild animal voices.

I had hoped for an emotional rejuvenation to begin the new year, but my heart pumped the same old desires: To love, to fuck, to drink. To achieve the former two, I needed to talk to some girl, but I was not yet interested in what she would say in reply, unless it was “Yes.”

I could always begin by explaining to her that the bulletin board in my kitchen is nothing fancy, not even a black designer one, just regular cork for regular people, like us, and it contains a map of my mind with a baby's head in the center.

Then she would say “Not a real baby's head?” Such a nice lilt to her voice.

“No, a photograph of a baby's head.”

She would brush her hair back from her face. “I'd like to see that.”

“There's a small price,” I would say, but she would walk away after I explained that the price was well-groomed, disease-free, but not small at all.

Still no one talked to me. Because of my closed body language or because I'm a goddamn weirdo? (The answer is always both). Only able to fix one of these things, I took my hand out of my pocket, palm open. I felt Dave's drums in my palm, then up my sleek, pale, hairless hands to the nails. Such nice cymbals. Tap tap tap. I bounced in place. Tap tap tap. I stretched my free arm out as if ready to hug. I stood tall. I smiled. I waited.

I went to the bar to get another Heineken. The problem was that I hadn't been writing. The words, not flushed out onto paper, churned around, brown in my head, louder and louder. Stuff like, “A misanthropist is a racist and misogynist out of convenience,” but never stuff like, “She's got a super pooper.” They drowned out even Rod Stewart's “Stay with Me.”

The damn thoughts were ruining my night, the opening bar of my year.

The Detachment

People danced.

I am unwilling to dance with my body, so my mind, disembodied, floated in gray pieces. It hovered and swept, wove in and out of the bumpy cracks where the black radiator hung, and then up on the silver ceiling with the pressed tin twigs and berries, it mingled with the balloons.

It wandered around the stage, squeezed between bass and guitar strings, hopped across the keys, and snuck inside the big drum until “Foom!” That was loud.

From above, I considered myself. The truth lies in the body. The mind cannot touch. God I looked uncomfortable, a stiff among loose red girls, whose flesh cools the touch and warms the press, and whose navels fill with moist beads from gyrating.

How would I fix this detachment and return my mind to the service of my body, my cock? I would listen to the music, first the drums, then the bass...

Then the keys hummed. The guitar whined. It was “Mr. James White.”

And soon came midnight. I didn't feel like kissing myself, tongue tickling the inside of my elbow, so I just toasted “Happy New Year” with my clear plastic cup. The champagne bubbles rose, then fell into my stomach to “Auld Lang Syne.” I don't even know the words to that song.

The band was into “Stoned to the Bone.” James Brown knew that music is the language of the body. My arms felt like wet paper towels, my feet, buckets of water. A girl in a little black dress twirled. A girl in white threw her arms up and arched her back. The bar had warmed.

The Collective

The beer was working. I donned my glasses, blurring my vision and magnifying everything within reading range one and a quarter times. I tried to focus on Pat Reilley. Maybe he could see me, and think it funny for me to be wearing glasses, like him, but cross-eyed. Maybe he was busy playing “Advice for Neddy.” Regardless, I decided that Snuckafoo and I, as artists, must stand together. The product of their pain rocks the house, while the product of mine sings twenty-six notes.

The glasses blurred my vision further, and everything was close and hot, unfamiliar. George's keys cried “monkey” in a lush jungle of sound. Dave's drums signaled the sacrifice of the natives. Hondo's bass thundered the approaching storm. Pat guitar screamed against order outwardly imposed. This, I realized, is why I came. Not to grind on some flabby ass hugged in soft fabric that reeks of wet flowers (although...).

The reason I came is to observe the way that Snuckafoo creates their own order from disorder. From them: a chord here, a lyric there, a perfectly placed song. From me: a word here, a sentence there, a perfectly placed paragraph. They impose their order upon the crowd as I impose mine upon the reader.

Nauseous, I removed my glasses. A sweaty man with an afro and a stained white shirt swayed in front of me to “Down with Disease,” and I knew that he was thinking “Yes, yes, yes!” And then the hippie girl to the side, we three thought “Yes, yes, yes!” And then Hondo, George, and Pat, all “Yes!” but not Dave, who thought, “Beware the milky pirate.

The thoughts, the collective hum of minds, hovered on the ceiling like confetti suspended in mid-air, and it occurred to me that my mind had never been alone up there, that I had just mistaken the others for balloons. The crowd's thoughts streamed into my own and then back out, a cloud absorbing even the socially inept and the rhythmically challenged. A guitar-flare shot up, and the collective energy exploded. Confetti fell.

“So what if I can't dance,” thought everyone. And everyone danced.


Listen to Snuckafoo.



Friday, January 19, 2007


Writing exhausts me because there are infinite combinations of words, and none are necessarily better than the others.

Editing gives me pleasure. There is always a solution, and that solution is death. Oh the killing of words! Editing is the written word equivalent of reducing fractions. Reducing fractions gives me a sense of power because I take a big, hulking, macho number and through my very will, through my very being, and sometimes through my very calculator, I knock it down to size.

Take that, motherfucker!



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Teeth Cleaning

God I love the dental hygienist. She says that I'm her most relaxed patient. And I am, and it's not because I'm on the green pills or the white ones. And it's not (just) because I've spent the previous hour masturbating to clips of Gwen Stefani's leggy interview on Letterman (March 21, 2005). It's because I enjoy her hands and her sharp metal instruments in my mouth.

There I lie, mouth open, having rinsed with Listerine, and pink bib donned, I clasp my hands over my stomach, which strikes me as a funereal position, inappropriate for a sensual occasion, but then again, death may be the ultimate relaxation. My thoughts are far from morbid, as you will see, and I cross my legs at the ankles because I don't think a corpse would do that.

My teeth cleaning is an intimate experience with a thirty-something, red haired, blue eyed lady of indeterminate Eastern European origin. She wears a mask, but I can taste her nose-breath, and it tastes like raw mushrooms, but distinctly female. She pokes my gums between the teeth with the hook, saying "Four, four, three, four, two, two, three..." Who knows what this means, but I like the way she clips her vowels and her short "T" made with the tongue pressed nearly to the inner (lingual) side of her top (maxillary central) incisors.

Then comes the scraping. I don't mind the scraping, though I always feel a little guilty for my lifestyle habits of smoking, drinking red wine, and sometimes passing out without brushing my teeth. It must be nice for her to work on a mouth free of all the filth I put into mine. Then I forget all of this because she says, "Turn a little towards me."


As she scrapes and cleans between my crooked bottom teeth that collect the most dirt and tar, I wonder if she is single. I am prejudiced, but if she were married within (I'm guessing here) Montenegrin culture, then she would be expected not to work, to bear and care for children. But she could be married to an American man, or her husband could wear briefs, or...

"Turn a little away from me," she says, and guides me gently with her warm rubberized hand.

I appreciate the touch. Perhaps she has a history: she married young into abuse. She left her sexy, Neanderthal husband, got an education, and became a dental hygienist. She makes a good living now, but seeks a stable relationship. Her looks are fading, and the bamboo plants she keeps in glass jars are no substitute for children. Even the tall one. The tall one is her favorite, the most lucky.

"Open a little," she says.

"Fuck, man," I tell myself. "What right have you to be imagining this woman's life? If she knew the thoughts you were thinking, she would do a quick, substandard cleaning and dread your return. Is that what you want? You violator of privacy, you sick...hey...take it easy on yourself. You're not here to judge her. Radiate empathy. Women can sense..."

She puts Mr. Thirsty in my mouth. "Close," she says.

Mr. Thirsty sucks his drink. I open my eyes and stare into the bright lamp. Some dentist told me once that I salivate more than the usual client. This is good for dental health. I probably salivate even more now that I have hot woman fingers in my mouth, encased in little more than finger-condoms.

She buffs my teeth with the polishing instrument, inducing more minty spit, then goes to find the dentist.

"How's the real-estate business?" asks the dentist, a short, happy Filipina, while sticking a mirror into my mouth.

"Fine," I mumble.

"You are in the real-estate business, aren't you? Or are you the supervisor of a building? Or do you ...what do you do?"

I don't even know what I do. "I'm in the real estate business," I say.

She doesn't care. "Looks good," she says and leaves.

I wait for my hygienist to unhook my bib. I get up out of the chair, staggering from the blood rush away from the head.

"You are so relaxed," the hygienist says, her mask off. She is pretty.

I gather my coat from the hanger on the door.

"Thank you for the cleaning," I say, grinning as wide as I can so she can see her handiwork, her artistry.

She smiles back.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hey! Yes you!

Check out, featuring me, Whorescopes, and other painful humor.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Unwanted Guest

I am high.

From killing.

A roach sprang from the hole under the radiator. It scurried in six-inch increments and then paused, twirling its antennae.

"I told you assholes not to come out when the lights are on," I said. "The hours between three and sunrise are yours, and I think I've been more than generous."

I grabbed a thick rubber band from the thick rubber band container. With the first shot, I took a leg and flipped the bastard on its back. The remaining legs spun, shocked, and I lined up the second shot from above, though I did not lean close, not wanting to give away the extra half second, as that might allow it to regain its footing.

The impact blasted the bastard a foot into the air. It landed, only half its legs struggling. I respect the hardiness of the roach. It is a more than worthy opponent. I picked up the rubber band and reminded myself to wash my hands.

I took the third shot from six inches. Afterwards only one leg moved, then stood still.

I ran a paper towel under the faucet for a burial at sea in Garbage Sea.