Peripheral Slithering

Schitzolini was awarded a residency at the horizon house in Big Sur.  Perched on the cliffs, his room faced downward into the yawning abyss. Staring into the spatial form of forgetting, he recognized shadowy formations that suggested the void be not the emptiness it seems to represent.  And from the void spewed memories not his own.  Wracked by remembering what had never happened, Schitzolini’s narrative mirrored this with the second person as a way to stress the simulation for the reader.  As he wrote, it felt like the entire retreat were tumbling down the cliff.  Remembering to forget, the text seemed to swallow itself as it was written, swelling up with things thought to be forgotten as if forgetting were a form of erasure.  The peripheral slithering of omissions had come back to break the seals of continuity.

Klein fiasco

Without a money spill, a beach house comes with some sort of compromise.  In this case, the instructions are to enjoy the ocean front property as long as one does not look under the floor.  Sounds easy enough.  Until you get there and it appears that things are living under the carpet.  You step gently into the dreamy beach home, careful not to squash whatever rug beast just darted into the kitchen.  Sit on the sofa with feet up.  From here, you enjoy the view of the beach and the ocean while ignoring the peripheral slithering.  Maybe the wooden deck will be a better place to hang out if it isn’t too cold tonight.  The staircase from the deck leads right down to the beach, just as advertised.  A walk on the beach might put this strange condition out of your head.

Down the stairs, you notice a door under the house.  The key for the front door works and inside there is just a room for the washer and dryer.  There’s a hatch in the ceiling but you’d need a ladder to poke your head into it.  The thought of what might crawl onto your face makes you shut the door and go for that walk.  The swelling force of the ocean grows into the wild surge of an imminent flood.  Moments ago from inside the house, it appeared so tranquil.  Flat and without movement.  As if the surface of the sea required only the thinnest seal to keep it down.  You forget the calming effect of distance.  Now it teems with energy.  The tide ravages the path along the shoreline and sends you crab crawling on the rocks to get around the point where you hope to beg for inspiration on how to experience the rapture of persecution when you return home from this vacation.

As the waves crash, the whitewash makes a thousand faces merging into one another.   You remember last night when you closed your eyes and a phosphene materialized into a dissipating neon lace.  The froth blows across the sand.  Foam collects like snow on a half-eroded sand castle.  The fake frost chills the hypothetical bones.  The sight of a human-made thing (obviously a castle made with the skill of adult hands) where there should only be natural things in nature annoys you like whenever you see one of those stupid stone stacks made by some pretentious fop who calls himself an artist and lives in what he calls an artist’s community, you are sure to mess it up, so you kick a turret and sand crabs spill out and wiggle back into the ground.  You notice their little holes all over the sand’s face and envision them teeming under its porous skin.     

The aggravating itch of a familiar yet unidentifiable smell overcomes you.  A sweet musty scent you figure might be coming from the scrub at your feet.   But upon rubbing its scraggle and sniffing your fingers, it’s something else.  This unlocatable fragrant itch of grey matter has a swarm of vague memories about it.  Just under the membrane of forgetting.  A dim amber of near memories that wants to bleed brightly but cannot for no particular reason.  

You hike up gentle sloping sand dunes.  On the ridges, you gradually ascend to a peak that seems to shift farther away as soon as you think you’re getting closer to it.  When you think to turn back, there appears a telescope on a tripod atop the ridge of the next dune.  You scan around the dune-scape but see nobody around.

Looking through the telescope, you cannot believe your eyes.  You look at the distance with your naked eye again.  The two visions drastically differ.  You wonder what kind of magnification power this could be.  It was as if you were looking at a different landscape altogether.  Your naked eye could not pick up even a hint of the telescopic vision on the horizon.  To make matters more confusing, each time you look through the strange apparatus, a different vision appears in the scope.  

The first vision shows the dunes descending toward a beach that is familiar enough to be your childhood beach but reformed like in a defiant dream.  The dunes are much bigger.  The headland in a different spot.  The cove more pronounced.  The waves break with greater peaks.  The estuary stretches for miles.

The second vision is something Dali and Bacon could’ve painted.  A body is pinned on the shore like a giant rock on wishbones.  A face twists in such agony as sand pours into its mouth.  The sea water funnels through its pores.  Once the deformation process is complete, the released body limps along the shore because it has become a sad soggy sponge.  Soaked in a coat of forgetting as it looks for a more affectionate rock to attach itself to.

The third vision is the most abstract of all.  Cords are submerged in a shallow space of decades forgotten.  As you try to follow one of the cords, it splits off into dendritic memories deteriorating into gooey threads suspended in some viscous memory-hive.  Shadowy masses ooze along the floor.  Prismatic spaces fall off into darkness.  

The fourth and final vision returns to the scene of your naked eye, the sand dunes.  But from the sky one drop of water slowly descends until it suspends itself at eye level.  The one drop explodes into sound waves that knock you on your back.  You look up to the solar chariot doing donuts in the sky like a mad street takeover.  Its driver rubbernecks at you with crazy eyes and a blinding grin.  The chariot’s circular gush showers down a deluge of light.  The dunes radiate into a bright fuzz.  Like particles of sand, your body disintegrates into the hot gusty winds.  Your voice shimmers across what had become a chasm of air and light.  And for a moment, you forget about the black pond of memory that tugs and pulls you down the more you struggle against it until it fools you into thinking you are that old body heavy with forgetting to forget about the befuddlement of intentions sticking to you like tar and the quagmire of entanglements that sucks at your feet. 

Back at the beach house, you run upstairs and find the floors still.  Problem solved.  A good night’s rest is guaranteed.  You walk around the beach house freely, then make a pasta dinner and eat it with that ocean view which was the whole point of this trip.  To have it be the last image in your head as you fall asleep and carry it into your dreams.  From inside, the conditions seem calm again but you wonder if the windows and insulation are thickened to dampen the sounds of rough weather.  You crack open the door and a roaring chill blasts and  face-fucks you with a demon-screeching gale.  Shut in silence, the darkness masks the threatening bulge of a flood.  You spin the fork in the pasta and the noodles writhe around it as you wonder how well such a house is built to withstand the event of a Tsunami.  Surely the odds are in your favor.  Such a thing won’t happen for the one night you are here to remember nothing about the emptiness back home.

A meaningless sentence runs its fragments through your head for no reason.  It always starts the same with “the daily urge limps forward.”  Looping to lure you in.  To make sense of it.  But it escapes your grasp again like a wet noodle.  You have even woken up into the vague fragments your mind conjures up with it.  Somehow a bleak wind blows there with sentient machines wagging their tongues while pressing zigzagging dots into the sand curtains.  This is the type of nonsensical impression too difficult to rewind on the fork of your attention.  Easier to let this kind of thing go and endure it when it returns in order to forget it again.

You find yourself in the bedroom.  The bed has that soft fleece that reminds you of motels when you were a kid and you would comfort yourself with cheek rubs.  And when you used to play on the bluffs like you saw today and how the bluffs never were the bluffs when you played but an imaginary scene of war like an ancient stain of memory on a child’s brain.  Fallen soldiers caked in mud.  You saw how the steam rose off their wooden bodies in the morning sun.  Those left to stand watch on the bluffs kept an eye out at sea on that distant island chain, those watercolor silhouettes floated above the metallic sheen of a distant surface stacked upward.  Massive squadrons billowed over the mountain ridge to the north.  The small prey hopped into their shelters and clung there like rain drops to berry clumps.  The haggard watchmen braced their weary bones enshrouded with shaggy armaments for another assault.  They watched the possibility of their imminent erasure.  Besides, the lives lost always returned to these formations long after they were forgotten.  The canopies held their position as the airborne forces swelled up to take another approach to rain down upon the last fortress hunkered down at the sea.  Under the shady guard, some tired limbs rejuvenated by the sunlight.  The unsheltered pathways were left empty to appear barren.  Only such a place fraught with broken roads would be inhabited by a frail lot.  Make no mistake, this bulwark was nothing but resilient.  Made to bend.  To give way when needed.  This land had been molded by many forgotten assaults, for it ensnared as much as it forgave.  Despite the gashes and holes, no substantial dent had ever really been made.  Here, injury transmuted into one tough truth decoy.

You gaze at the ceiling and notice that it is bubbling.  In one corner, a pinprick releases black spores that ooze down the wall.  Bubbles boil into more ominous bubbles until the whole ceiling sags down into one enormous tit about to burst.  The only condition for the ocean view was supposed to be the floor.  If only you had more money, you could afford the luxury of a good night’s sleep.  The sagging tit brushes your cheek so softly that you think of mommy and want a sip of milk’s forgetfulness.  Forget everything.  Forget the childish daydreaming.  Forget the need for a vacation.  Forget the conditions.  Forget the tough veneer of all delicate things.  Forget whatever teems under the surface and dresses the void.     

The tit bursts and the waves break and the floor gives way.  Faces gush into faces.  Bugs slither into the same bug.  Everything is noodles writhing around the turn of you, the fork.  You are the sand crab burrowing back into the sand to hide.  You are the ambergris of a sperm whale floating at sea.  You are the spores spreading all over this place.  You are the tranquil dream of a window frame that forgets the agony of fabricated memories.  You are the thin surface that seals up everything and nothing.     


A Sequence of Forgetting

A Sequence of Forgetting by Klein Fiasco 2018

I used to collect Cabinet Cards, photographs from the late 19th and early 20th century that could be found at any flea market. It boggled my mind that these had been discarded or lost from the families they belonged to and were so cheap (usually a few bucks) for something over a hundred years old. The mere purchase of them felt like a cheat. History discarded. Artifacts for the taking since nobody seems to really care about them anymore. I grew up with a photographer who made a living doing portraits. So I was familiar with that kind of life from the photographer’s perspective and the sorts of things people look for in having their portrait taken. Always a disconnect between the finished image and whatever had conjured itself in their heads. And I would wonder about such discontinuities that must’ve existed between the subjects and the final image. Every exposure incapable of capturing the context it pretends to present. The elusiveness of history staring back at me. In a sense I felt like these cabinet cards might as well be as old and forgotten as speleothems in a cave or an old recording of a faded tune warped by the passage of time. And after I assembled this piece in 2018 by superimposing the old portraits onto my photographs, I forgot about it for four and a half years until it haunted me again.

Happy New Year,

Klein Fiasco


Star Arcade

One year on Christmas Eve, Hieronymus Schitzolini was changing the curtains in his studio apartment.  That year the space heater was on the fritz and either overheated the room or barely warmed a leg.  So he had it cranked up and moved about in the buff.  While putting up the blackout curtains, Hieronymus lost his balance and fell off the ladder.  Unfortunately, earlier that evening, he was skinning potatoes.  Unbeknownst to him, one of those skinned potatoes had rolled onto the floor and waited for him silently.  So when he fell, it so happened that upon hitting the floor with his naked flesh, the potato went right up his rump.  At the hospital, nobody believed the miracle had happened in the way he told it.  Nonetheless, while waiting in the ER with a tater up the clacker, Schitzolini penned this vision on some paper scrounged together by the helpful staff.

Klein fiasco

‘Twas the Christmas of ’92 and out on the Playa in Death Valley I stood alone on that white plane.  Like a racer on the Bonneville Salt Flats, a silver craft raced toward me.  As it got closer I saw that it had no wheels.  It was hovering fifteen feet above the ground when it stopped before me and lowered its docking bridge.  Mesmerized, I failed to notice how anything exited and got behind me but before I knew it, I had my arms held behind my back and a bag over my head.  Inside, I was put on my hands and knees in some kind of harness.  They spoke a language that sounded precise and intricate.  When one of them spoke English, I was shocked at hearing something I could understand.  “We’re going to give you back your soul.”  I didn’t know that my soul had gone missing.  Did the word “soul” mean something else to them?  A searing pain in my rear end went well beyond the proctologist’s thumb, let me tell you.  While enduring the pain, I was trying to figure out what the word “soul” meant to them and if it were the same meaning then how could it be possible to give it back and through my ass?  As they inserted it into my butt, the one informed me that the first person they gave a soul back to was the one we call Jesus Christ.  With this much rear pain, I bet Jesus didn’t ask for this gift either. 

Whatever they did inside me, at some point they hit a spot that caused me to gush into a fever dream.  I saw sand crabs flopping asunder the playa millions of years ago.  Soft paws strolling along the shallows of the lake that is no longer there.  Then I was in a hut somewhere listening to the murmur of boiling eggs while I picked up a piece of fudge and without realizing what a hard brick it was, rent my tooth and tongued it as it dangled.  The smell of sour piss emanated from a corner so I went outside to find myself on a frozen lake with fisherman tending to holes in the ice and pulling out fish already battered and fried from the water.  A wild horde of fiddlers fingered psalms as their beards crawled with eels.  Somebody scratched the odd phrase “blob warp spew fracture” into the ice.  A mint sprig fell from the sky and I caught it and chewed on it and it released a sort of truth meal that’s too difficult to explain but to make a long story short I turned into a river skulking it’s way back into the hills.

When I came to, clearly the one speaking with me was assigned to help me with the transition between my ignorant life without a soul to my new life with one.  And so I limped as my star being helped me deboard and as I needed to sit down on my side, my Star Being helped make sense of the inner realizations I was already automatically having from receiving my lost soul.  Here is what I understood with the help from its guidance.

Star Beings seek planets that have evolved enough for them to enter the vessels of consciousness and adorn a body in which the weary space traveler can sleep.  They use the planet as a womb hive until it must be abandoned due to overpopulation and its damaging effects on any planet’s environment as the technology inevitably progresses.  In the adornment process, the vessel prevents the Star Being from bringing their knowledge directly into it.  Everything they know is refracted by the fleshy gravity bound medium they call a meat frame box.  Their dream state is what we call our waking life.  And when we sleep they run their simulations – the decaying sense manipulations – to experiment with consciousness through dream logic.

Star Beings are obviously far ahead of us.  The infrastructure of our corporeal form is far more primitive than theirs, which can withstand space travel without the need for ships or suits or any of that limited container mind-frame engineering.  Eons ago did they learn how to harness the nested curves of the Sun-Father’s penis.  They only presented me with a spacecraft so that I could make sense of their appearance.  Some of us dream of other planets where our Star Beings (the ones who took on our flesh) were before.  

Once my Star Being entered the vegetative consciousness of a planet and showed it to me through a dream where I had these beautiful white flowers blooming from each of my organs.  The sensation of organs blooming was like an ecstasy of endless unfolding.  All the spaces under my skin filled with these tender petals.  Then I awoke into another dream where I stroked my chest hair and found one I had to pluck.  With a tug, the sensation of fibrous rope squeezed pleasure through my pore.  Like I had plenty more where that came from.  And I pulled and pulled and discovered that it wasn’t hair at all but lettuce.  I pulled out a bed of lettuce and still there was more.  And on that bed of lettuce, my Star Being revealed himself to me as an ancient Sumerian replete with glorious regal curly hair and beard.  So much hair in fact that I had to look closer to realize that he had my face.  The only difference was a more pronounced mole or beauty mark on his left cheek.  And he told me that he had to appear as a harbinger of justice reincarnated to make an impact on my dull consciousness with a gift known to some on this planet as a vajra or a diamond-thunderbolt by which reality can be peeled open. 

Mirroring or doubling is a favorite tactic of Star Beings in our dreams.  They tend to stay hidden even when they reveal themselves to us.  Like when mine doubled as Shamash, he told me, like some genie, that I could ask him any question I wanted, but when I did, it was like I immediately knew the answer from within myself to the point that I could not discern if I was having an honest conversation with myself or if I was actually receiving his infinite wisdom through the refraction of my vessel.  I asked him about the white flowers blooming from my organs and he told me, or I told myself, that it was a plant that he had discovered on that planet where flowers bloom into consciousness in a meadow tended by a lady as light as a gossamer with filaments of light for hair and skin as tender as petals.  She would pluck one of his petals as she would with the others and wrap it in a single hair so that it would float across a bay to sentient life on the other shore whereupon receiving it, they recognized it as what they called an epiphany.  

The lady of the white flower meadow was the model on our planet upon which the Virgin Mary would be derived along with the ultimate epiphany as an immaculate conception or the impregnation of the greatest idea like the soul inserted into my bum.  She would recite a meditation for hyper-active minds bearing the burden of an overactive consciousness while plucking her epiphanies that went something like this:

“Don’t worry about what won’t work out, accept what will.  Rather than wasting precious life on worrying, start loving as a way of living instead.  Don’t worry about your partner, love your partner.  Nothing positive or unifying goes without acknowledgement.  It is a mistake to assume so.  The mind cannot be directly controlled.  The mind can only block thought or direct it.  Take care and attention to how you think.  Be as good a witness to yourself above all else.    Gather the infinite petals of truth and receive the fruit of health and shield of shelter and ultimately the emblem of unity.  Follow its warmth.  Its gentle unfolding into the void.  Its truth is its love.  

Love is only an illusion if apprehended by deception.  You get what you give.  The light of the flower only reflects your light.  Such sentient beings forget what love is and that is why they need epiphanies.  To remember that deception only gets nothing in the end.  It destroys its own purpose.  Let go of the objects of your attention.  Open your hands and they will be full of everything you need.  Step back and relax into the widest frame of your mind.  Stop fighting yourself through others by worrying about the shallow terrain of evaluations that accrue into a wasteland of clutter if they are not seen for what they are.  Do not live by such superficial restraints set at some other time in some other place.  Do not listen to the lies of comfort and safety and efficiency and any other mask that hydra-headed fear can assume.  Know that you desire what you fear and fear what you desire and neither is a cause for panic or desperation but rather contemplation.  

Sit like these flowers in the meadow on the banks of the ancient river.  Observe what floats by.  Force nothing.  Know that any action is merely a bolder reaction.  Let the reactions float down river.  Let them assimilate with the rest of the reactions.  Relax.  Nothing is new under any sun.  Everything issues forth from the same place.  Have courage in unfolding your tenderness and watch worry crumble away.  Abandon enforcement and choose to radiate like the white flower.  Nothing will ever be the same again.  All the pointless battles and pyrrhic victories will dissipate.  And the emptiness of the void will reveal itself as the positive force it also is.  That of full potentiality.  This is what it means to possess the diamond thunderbolt.”

In that meadow, my Star Being met his soulmate.  She sprouted and blossomed right beside him.  He could not believe how remarkably easy it was.  They knew it right away.  And the mother of that garden knew love at first sight (the randomness of destiny) when it appeared in her garden.  And when their time had come to leave that corporeal form, she plucked them at the same time so that they could journey across space together.  They traveled across the void but their form of traveling is something the Star Being referred to as “growing” across the void and they came to this planet and adorned the forms of myself and my love.  

At this point, I realized what he meant by saying I needed to have my soul reinserted.  My Star Being was in fact already me without me knowing it.  Seeing it as another body was the only way my dim consciousness could make sense of the impossibility.  Since my mind became too cluttered with what I mistook as me, they intervened to make me whole again.  The flesh had to be bent back to serve its true host and fulfill the rejoining of these star-crossed lovers by lodging the diamond-thunderbolt right up my keister.

We were born into bodies on separate continents but still found each other and repeated the first sight of love we had experienced on that other planet as flowers but had forgotten in this life, though buried somewhere deep in our refracted consciousness.  

Stranger still, we sometimes have the same dream.   I mean I’m in hers and she’s in mine.  In one dream, my tooth fell out or was kicked out by a spider who dangled from its thread so my partner took a pair of scissors and cut it and removed the spider from my mouth.  That is love.  

We were sitting at a park where a chartreuse haze clung to the grass as people sunbathed and used tombstones for backrests.  The sky flashed silver and stayed that way like a sustained camera flash as the clouds rotted purple.  We ran to an abandoned houseboat with an indoor pool where a fluffy white Persian cat floated on a satin pillow.  The cat picked up a miniature guitar and strummed a few chords that compromised the hull and the house boat began to sink.  We escaped through the indoor pool.

Whenever I’m unkind to my partner now, when I harp on things that cannot be, my Star Being reminds me of what a ridiculous man I am.  He calls me a real clinger since I persist in his consciousness when on other planets usually his host subsides and accepts his rule.  Once I had a real fit about family matters and a flaccid dong flopped out of my mouth.  My mustache turned into a pubic bush.  I scrambled to stuff the floppy thing back in to hide it but it flopped out all the more.  As soon as I figured out how to stop being a dickhead, the swollen sponge disappeared and I could talk and eat normally again.  

I asked my Star Being why I keep forgetting myself and turn unkind.  He explained:

“Human flesh is governed by its source, the same source we grow across.  We call it the void of emptiness and full potential.  Sentient beings are all run by the ouroboros of the will.  A unity of desire and fear.  One and the same.  Thus, remembering is made of forgetting and vice versa.  It is as natural to forget as it is to remember.  And good too.  But also not.  It’s an eternal flipping and flopping full of contradiction to anyone who only tries to hold on to desire and deny fear.  To hold on to memory and forget forgetting.  Such is the way of error.  There is another place where I have been and you have too, even though you cannot remember it.  A place where a crescent silver moon touches the zenith of a mountain.  We would cross that bridge and traverse the terrain as particles of reflected light and touch everything with our indirect worship of that sun.”

“But why come here and play this game on Earth?”  I asked.  And my Star Being moved my mouth to answer my own question:

“The shapeshifter inside plays at the center-less ghost arcade.  We impersonate ourselves and pretend they are the people we meet.  Intentions are the assumptions of ghosts.  Our principles are the desires of these apparitions.  We mash the buttons to escape the disappearing scroll.  The dead renderings pit us against bosses from our own forgotten scripts.  The forms assumed are remembered not as assumed but as strange finalities to be erased.  Play the lucid dream game with its soft joystick breaking intentions on every counter gesture.  Listen to the disembodied voice impersonating you.  Dead soul marionettes dance the death jig for empty points.  Ghosts run errands in this looping sand box.  They simulate text messages about how many friends they’ve lost.  Whoever plays the game forgets the years trapped in this ghostly architecture.  Even Star Beings are entranced by the flickering finalities of a captive yet dying light before they can grow across space to enter another game.” 

Hearth Cavity

Hearth Cavity Podcast

Hieronymus Schitzolini descended as a ghost-Slinky to visit his deceased father, the man he never really knew, in the ludicrous underworld.  There, Hieronymus witnessed a transcendental pyramid-head decapitated and hovering above its base that had capsized and involuted into a black hole.  Between the suck-force of the base and the stretch-pull of the head, his father was suspended in mid-air agony.  It reminded Hieronymus Schitzolini of the time he became a human Tootsie Roll in a swimming pool as a child.  Recognizing this as an undesirable position common to many other American males, Hieronymus penned this story about what he used to call an anchor baby, not in the foul political sense, but as a particularly tricky parasitic formation in the mental terrain of an adult stuck using its Play-Doh figurines.  

Klein fiasco

When I saw my father in handcuffs on the news, it felt like I was the last person to know.  It fit perfectly with his way of being.  Even though he had never broken any serious laws, the image made him seem automatically guilty.  Perfectly believable.  Through the shock came a sense of vindication.  Truth will out.  See what bullshit I’ve been putting up with everybody?  And now he’d have to answer for his behavior.  Then I found out what he did.

Artifact daddy.  Old Bunker Head.  Bartholomew Schtizolini.  Not made for this era.  Great Depression scars.  “Never trust a bank” attitude.  Always acted like a criminal even though he never was one.  A guilty conscience for no reason.  American tough guy syndrome.  Trust nobody.  Go it alone.  Don’t reveal anything you don’t have to.  Guard your privacy.  Protect your property.  See something?  Look the other way.

Bunker head would talk to me as if we were going to commit a crime someday.  If you ever have to do something, never tell anybody about it.  That’s how you get caught.  Do what you have to do and then get the hell out.  Prohibition era mafia fantasies. 

Maybe all this imagined crime made the metaphors easier to remember.  Brighter colors and more contrast for him to follow.  The paranoia baked in.

I have tried in my own way to be free.  But no matter how hard I try to forget what sticks, it keeps coming back.  No matter how many times I black out, the memories resurface.  All the therapy.  All the reevaluating.  None of it erases them.  No drug works.  

Waiting for decades, the childhood memories do not naturally disintegrate. It’s disheartening to see the crude images constructed by a child’s mind rematerializing as if it were the absolute truth.  How these Play-Doh memories lie when they say they encompass me or tell me who I am.  It’s ridiculous that an adult has to fall into this trap.  Looking through that child’s eyes – the formations lacking the context of what the adult knows now. 

The things I cannot forget have already been forgotten by my father.  Sometimes I prefer to think he didn’t know what he was doing.  Unaware of how he scared a child shitless.  And for no purpose that benefits me now.  As an adult, I can imagine that he acted out against his own bad memories.  That the ones that stick haunted him too.

Listen, through the wall, to Bunker Head blasting war movies in the next room.  Not the obligatory ones about how shameful war is.  Not the ones about the most powerful militaries that are useless against those who know how to run and hide.  Hitting soft targets when possible.  Showing them what they want to see.  Saying what they want to hear.  Waiting them out until they tire.  Until the machine overextends itself in other quagmires.  No country has unlimited resources.  Time wins every time.  

Blowing shit up.  Those action movies.  The ones that make shoot’em up governors and even a president.  The ones that get good little boys and girls to enlist.  The underdog fantasies.  Amidst the mindless drones, the trooper as hero in disguise.  Even while burning a village to the ground.  Eliminate the right threats.  Omitting the innocent killed irl, of course.  Forgetting the friendly fire, naturally.  Inebriated on war fantasies where humanity will be saved by the superior violence of technology.

Omitting the fact that technology is and will be used against us.  The bomb returned to us as a “dirty” thing.  Our real guns, in the hands of kids.  The drones redirected to attack us.  And the nukes we’ve all forgotten about to return someday.  Kill or be killed morphs into sooner or later suicide.  The survivors will blame the other.  We can never say we brought the destructive idiocy on ourselves.  The evil is always out there because we always do what we could.  How desperate we are to believe in our innocence.  Our purity.  It protects us from feeling guilty over our short-sightedness.  We cannot accept it.  We refuse to acknowledge that to be human is to not see what’s right around the corner.  That any war is self-destructive.

Maybe the action movies blanked dad’s memory.  He talks of his childhood.  But never mine.  He doesn’t remember that he made his child hate himself.  That the child stupidly tried to take control over what could never be controlled.  That his problems became his child’s guilt.  My suffering was always insignificant compared to his.  I had no right to complain.  That Old Bunker Head had given me everything, in his eyes.  Spoiled rotten by disturbing, desperate acts of violence.  He always said he had no regrets. 

But that was then, and now he’s just an old feeble man.  In cuffs on the news.  He had broken into homes and sledgehammered fireplaces.  Demolishing them into cavities.  The images of those smashed holes were somehow sad.  Why the hell was he doing this?  In typical news fashion, none of the reporters could say why.  Instead they played naive and just said it was crazy.  

I fought with myself to hold off contacting him.  He should call me.  But weeks passed and nothing.  It was normal for us not to be in regular contact.  But this left me wondering if Old Bunker Head was planning on it blowing over or just doing the time without letting me know.  For weeks, my mind fixated on those caved in fireplaces.  I saw him in my mind’s eye frantically wailing away with the sledgehammer.  Putting holes in the hearths perfectly fit as an image encapsulating his entire life.

By not reaching out, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t felt before.  I knew where he was coming from.  Old Bunker Head was also the king of compartmentalization.  A royal lockbox.  If kept separated, the error goes, mental conflicts magically just go away.  It’s called discipline.  Train the mind by practicing the discipline of appearances.  That is what puts boots on the road to victory.  Dirty boots signify a cluttered mind.  Wrinkled pants and untucked shirts means that there are multiple toilet paper rolls in use at one given time and the toothpaste tubes have not been rolled up and some lights have been left on in the house.  Insanity.  Any soldier worth his salt must know this.  Any real father knows he must be a drill sergeant to his kid.  Any mother, a general at war.  Consistency wins the battle, tactics the war.  What war is irrelevant.  What fruits, a vague afterthought.  

When I couldn’t stand waiting for dad’s phone call anymore, I drove to visit him.  Right off the bat, he asked why I had bothered to come and see him that way.  He said he was finished with his life.  It felt like I was in a confessional box emptied of its religious promises.  His appearance had changed.  His body was caving in on itself.  His eyes receded far back into his head.  Sourly he spoke about his step-father as if he were still alive.  The cheap husband.  He knew he had the money just not exactly where.  Then I remembered that his step-father, long dead, had a severe mistrust of banks and hid his cash in all sorts of places in his house.  And when he died, my dad went to the house and in fact found the money in the fireplace.  Old senile Bunker Head had completely forgotten that.  And here he was in jail utterly confused.

This near innocence pissed me off.  I didn’t come here to feel sorry for this tight wad but the whole thing started to smell of our long rotted sad life.  It would be too easy for me to say he did it to himself.  Too cruel even if it were true.  And maybe that was what I thought I wanted.  The meaning of what he had done seemed overblown.  He had only destroyed some bricks.  And in the befuddlement of old age.  It’s not like he hit the gas instead of a brake and plowed into a farmer’s market.  If he had done that, I could abandon him.  But this was hardly an unforgivable crime.  

It was a long drive back home.  I couldn’t justify or figure out how to post bail.  It was a ridiculous sum commensurate with murder.  Besides, Old Bunker Head had said suicidal things as long as I could remember.  He had this weird insistence on the hypothetical hospital scenario where I would have to pull the plug rather than let him become a vegetable.  He also said over and over that he’d pull the trigger on himself before he got too old and lost his marbles.  But now that the mind-marbles were scattered, he had already gone past that point.  What if I managed to post bail and he killed himself?  Would I get a refund?

He left me teetering between self-preservation and heartlessness.  The bitterness of his no mercy attitude somehow begged for mercy even though he always ran from the stench of his own futility.  And look at him now.  Too old to remember.  Too old to care.  His parents didn’t understand him.  Neither do I.  Clearly.  

Worse, it was always me who apologized to him.  And how I apologized in earnest to him until the day I realized in middle age that he just didn’t seem to care.  That everything had slipped away from him long ago and he had no way of getting it back.  

Since I cannot forget him, I have distanced myself.  Avoided his desperate confusion.  The kind of real American family rotted to the core by an abusive stupidity.  Traumatizing each and every good little boy and girl.  Scaring them shitless into a subservient guilt-ridden worker, ready for orders.  Aimed at simulating movement only forgetting affords and fabricating wombs that always turn rancid.  To hide in some work one is supposed to love more than family.  He better tell himself he doesn’t really work a day in his life.  Use the job to steer clear of the shitstorm of the memory called home.  Consume more to forget.  Focus on possessions when the shit inside starts to come out. 

And here I am wanting to forget by hitting the road.  Driving anywhere.  Up the coast.  Wherever the road leads.  Away from prison.  Away from Old Bunker Head.  A sign reads Old Rosebud Palace ahead.  Where tourists go to forget the point of Citizen Kane.  Alongside a ragged fence somewhere, a pack of zebras gallop.  Flashing the black and white zig-zag at the side of my eye like a strange memory approaching from out of the blue.  The memory of something I had never done flashing between the memories I believe.  The rest of the trip a blur.  The road an instrument of forgetting.  Each and every marker blurred except for the zebra interruption.  Flashing a schism.

I pull over.  A stupid “No Trespassing” sign dangles from a nail on a broken fence.  I kick the dumb post.  It loosens.  I kick it again.  Grab the sign.  Yank it off.  The post won’t budge when I try to pull it out of the ground.  I slump with my back against it and see that the damn sign scratched my car when I threw it.

A warped template was my dad’s true gift.  A sanctified illusion convincing enough to give me the wherewithal to play with what sticks since it insists on being remembered.  So what if he has forgotten my childhood?  It was never me anyways who he saw in his head.  That was his idea of me.  

My child-mind sculpted forms automatically from a material that still surpasses my comprehension of it.  Transmitting its bullshit diorama to the adult-self decades later.  Laughing at the meaninglessness of it all.  The little trickster baby fools this sad old child stumbling toward a terrain he fears for what its surface will remember to forget and forget to remember.  Will I get stuck like a broken record on whatever the little shit decides to send my way? 

On the side of the road, I’m back in the empty confessional not knowing who it is that I hope hears me.  Forgive me for not letting go.  Forgive my bullshit.  If I can forgive my confusion, why not his?  Forgive me for what I remember.  Forgive that child for what he thought he saw.  Forgive me for what I forgot.  Forgive me blotting out the good memories with the bad.  Forgive me for carving out my own hearth without knowing what I was doing.  Forgive the confused and troubled baby that must be anchored inside him too.  Forgive me for succumbing to this fragmented senselessness.    

Hearth Cavity Photo by Klein Fiasco

Rubber Dream Trampoline

Rubber Dream Trampoline Podcast

Many have speculated that the origin of the title Rubber Dream Trampoline comes from a passage in Philip K. Dick’s novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said about accessing parallel realities with the experimental drug KR-3: “After that he gave up; hopeless, he said to himself.  Like living in a world made of rubber.  Everything bounced.  Changed shape as soon as it was touched or even looked at.”  While this could easily express an angle of Schitzolini’s work, he reveals the actual origin of the title in the following passage that traverses a parallel portal of police state paranoia.  This passage also explores two aspects of American life: the inability to apprehend the peculiar phenomena of haecceity by rampant voyeurism made commonplace and acceptable by fame machines, while also looking at the horrid strangeness of violators who think of themselves as victims.  

Klein fiasco

“Do you realize what this means?  The action itself has definite causes to pick from.  None good.  It means you’re defective at best.  We’ll have to carefully review your records to figure it out.  This means a whole investigation.  A pre-trial to determine how serious it is.  It’s going to be a lot of work wasted on something you never should’ve done in the first place.  It’s a shame that nobody taught you better.  But that’s life.  Everyone gets a steep learning curve about one thing or another.  For your sake, I wish this could be forgotten.  But the potential consequences are too serious.”

Could I believe my ears?  This is what I heard upon entering the brutal heft of a prefab concrete apartment block.

“What did the KID do if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Not that it’s any of your business but he took an unnecessary risk and had an original thought.” 

I share a glance with the kid and flare my eyes to tell him to endure whatever this adult has worked himself up over.  I say something banal like “kids will be kids.”  The adult looks at me as if I were mad.

Once when I was nine, a librarian told me I couldn’t take a book home.  She insisted my only choice was to read it there and take notes.  But I had a better idea.  I slipped into the back office and copied the book on the copy machine.  Near a hundred pages deep into that hot sweet stink of fresh copies, the librarian caught me red-handed.  What angered her was not the wastefulness but that I thought of my own solution.   

“Do you live here?”

The question isn’t really a question but a reminder.  You don’t belong here.  It’ll be easier if I answer straight.

“I’m visiting a friend.”

“Does this friend happen to live on the third floor?”

Again I feel put on the spot.  Maybe I should’ve kept my mouth shut.


“Then maybe you should get to it rather than interjecting yourself here.”

The crisp, sharp tone in the adult’s voice sends me off.  I’ve been caught and repurposed too many times to not recognize that tone.  

My friend on the fifth floor is more acquaintance than friend.  Someone who I was told could help me with my situation.  Someone who knows somebody.  A matter of discretion.  And I’ve already told a stranger what I’m doing here.  The stain of my own ineptitude sticks until I forget it with the first sip of tea.

“Look.  The point is whether you have a pass or not.  That’s all they care about.  If a certain somebody is stopped and even let’s say forgets their pass at home.  This is no innocent thing.  More often than not such a person has things on their mind.  Possibly dangerous things.  Original thoughts.  A full inquiry then is made.  It’s all very time consuming and resource heavy, you see?  The pass system allows a process of selection.”

Why is he talking to me as if I don’t know?

“Go to apartment 313.  Tell him I sent you.”

The ominous third floor.  That adult in the hallway sure had me pegged.  A pang shoots across my back.  The vague pain of being about to do something obviously wrong.  

I take the stairs down to the third floor.  There’s this sickening feeling that I might run into that crank again.  And that would make me an instant liar on the third floor.  Crack the door.  A woman steps out of a room.  She walks toward the elevator.  Her outfit overcomes her.  It’s an orange puffy jumpsuit.  There is something in the way she looks that says it’s a costume, not a perfect fit.  It makes me wonder about how many other costumes she has.  It is as if I can see them all laid out on her bed, in the room I’ve never been.  

As she waits for the elevator, her appearance shifts toward a universal form.  I recognize her face.  It’s the famous actress, Stella Steeplechase.  From interviews, I’ve found her process fascinating.  Stella Steeplechase claims to have access to a deep catatonic state wherein she finds the smallest and closest place that allows a possession to take hold of her.  Then, the behavior pulses itself through her.  Sometimes, the pulses near convulsions when the intensity of a possession reaches its limit.  Then it becomes a game of holding on to that threshold.  On the brink of utter randomness, as she puts it.  As loosely patterned as it can be while still sticking together enough to make sense to the audience.     

The hall is clear.  Another headache strikes and I press my face against the cold wall.  I never used to get these migraines until they started deploying the anti-thought machines.  At first, we dismissed the crackpot conspiracy theories.  But then came the months of what is called “the blankness.”  You go blank before you know it.  After a few months, the thoughts creep back in punished and more tame.  The pounding headache recedes so I swiftly go to room 313 with Stella Steeplechase’s face emblazoned on my mind and knock.  

“Who told you to come here?”  

“Rolan.  From the fifth.”

The door opens.  I glance quickly at the empty hall as I slip in.  It’s the crank from earlier.  

“Aha.  I knew it was you.  Look, I have to keep up appearances.  You never know who’s listening.  So what’s on your mind?”

“I’ve misplaced my key.”

“Of course.  Not sure what good it’ll do you though.”


“You haven’t heard the news?  The Reenactors have finally taken over the city.  Did you not notice the pandemonium outside?”

“Of course.  It was my best chance to get over here without a pass.”

“Well, you’re lucky a Reenactor didn’t stop you in the street.  They’re not interested in seeing anyone’s pass.  In fact, if you ever do get caught by one of them, it would be wise to lose the pass.  I mean toss it, swallow it, shove it where the sun don’t shine, if you know what’s good for you.”

He sits at a government module, clearly stolen.  It’s a toss up when the administration will take back control, but it’s only a matter of time.  Order will be restored until the next outburst.  At the strike of a key, the dumbwaiter delivers my pass and Felix hands it over.  I pocket it.

“You’re not going to check it?”

“What’s it matter?  It’s fake isn’t it?”

“What’s your real name by the way?”  

“Leon.  Short for Leonardus.  Leonardus Schitzolini.”

“Not the same Schitzolini as in Hieronymus Schitzolini?”
“Yes.  That’s my father.”

“You should’ve told me this from the get go.”

Felix digs into a shelf and pulls out a copy of my father’s book.

“Rubber Dream Trampoline.  Granted it was written in a different time.  But this book got me through many tight spots.  He really harpooned several areas that were foggy until I read it.  I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.”

“You know in his time people didn’t appreciate it.  It was only later when he was already near death when Rubber Dream Trampoline became a thing.”

This was true but not nearly the whole story.  My dad was a conflicted man.  His tragedy was to a large degree self-produced like everyone else, in his view.  He’d have been the first to admit that.  But everybody read something else into Rubber Dream Trampoline until it was banned.

“It had to be so.  Something that original cannot be tolerated.  Anything too idiosyncratic arouses suspicion.”

“Do you know the origin of the title?  Not many do.  I don’t believe it was ever in print.  But on his death bed, he handed me this note.” 

I pull it out from my pocket.  It’s been something of a lucky charm for me that I prefer to keep with me whenever I leave my apartment.  “Would you care for me to read it?”


Mom wants to get me out of the house so that she can cheat on dad.  Whenever she saw someone, there was this sensation I’d get that I didn’t understand at the time.  That vague feeling –  the queasiness of betrayal.  She tells me to go outside and clean up the backyard the day after I had friends over and to make sure to put the tent away from the sleepover.  

Grumpy about chores, an idea comes to me I find so hilarious that I cannot resist doing it.  It sure would be funny to roll myself up in the tent and roll around the yard.  I shake the tent out until it’s flat and I get on one side and roll myself into the tent like a human Tootsie Roll.  There I am rolling back and forth across the yard in hysterical laughter.  With every roll the tent gets tighter and tighter.  Then I fell into the pool.  The deep end.  As I sink to the bottom I realize what’s happening to me.  Lucky for me there is an air tight bubble around my head.  But I don’t know how long that will last.  

I feel my feet touch the floor of the pool.  I bend my legs as best I can but the tent is tight and constricting any full bend.  With all my might I push off.  The human tootsie roll shoots up and breaks the surface.  I scream for my life as I get sucked back down.  I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate.  I push off again.  Scream.  Sink.  Push.  Scream.  The hysteria turned terror had me in its grip for minutes that lasted hours.  

And it was my dog, Schnipsy, who saved my life.  The faithful dog barked from inside the house until my mom’s lover had to dismount and pull me from near doom.

My memory elongates this experience of sinking, pushing, and screaming and presses me into some eternal rubbery capsule.  The trickster’s dream bounces me on his trampoline.  A trickster who could get me killed, playfully.  From then on, I never know when I might next find something so hilarious that it might be worth my doom.

“Would you mind if I make a copy of that?”

If this is traced back to me, I’d have to go through this all over again or worse.  I’m already here to change my name to evade the 24 hour surveillance and routine harassment stemming from having my father’s name.

“Go ahead.”

He goes into another room.  I raise my voice.

“What are the Reenactors reenacting?”

“Nobody knows.  It’s a weird coagulation of half-beliefs and near fantasies about a war that never really happened.  But don’t tell them that because they absolutely believe it did.”

“And the Debtors are reacting to the Reenactors?”

“The Debtors believe in rewarding reactionary behavior.  They thrive on it.”

“Then what do the Reenactors want exactly?”

“To waver.  They yearn for that constant state of wavering between what could be experienced as reenactment right at the edge before it becomes an enactment itself.”

More yelling echoes in the hallway.

“You should probably get going to wherever you need to be before they deploy the anti-thought machines.”

I head out and go to the stairwell and take it down until I hear a struggle coming from below so I quietly step down to peek from the railing.  What must be some Reenactors have a woman pinned on the floor.  One takes off her pants.  Another rips her shirt off.  It’s a frenzy of disrobing.  They play at roughing her clothes up.  Try to tear them.  Stomp on them.  They giggle and grab at her.  Pull at her hair.  Her crying excites them.  One of them yanks at her panties.  And it’s none other than Stella Steeplechase.  She belts out a scream whose frequencies cross the wires between agony and threat.  Shocked at hearing their mothers and sisters cry within her scream, the others stop what they’re doing.  It has become too real.  Their plaything too dangerous.  The impact of her scream sends the Reenactors running.  

I pick up her clothes and hold them as a kind offering.  She looks at me with crazed eyes.  

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

She stands up.  Stares right through me.  

“I don’t need your fucking help.”

I’m paralyzed by her look.  The look that has taken me with her to other terrain.  Indescribable and unmapped.  That face that has taken me through the dark to come out the other side.  Countless times, she returned my spirit back to myself, changed.  More brilliant than I thought possible.  What kind of a person is capable of guiding others in such a way?  Who learns to hold such fragile rhizomes so loosely?  She’s delivered countless psyches to their desires.  To be free of themselves.  Accessing the impossible dreams coiled up inside those in need of her bravery.  And she’s been that way since she was a teenager.  Existing in a loophole.  

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t think, I just saw you and…”

“Fine.  But think again before you look at me with pity.”

“Oh no.  I’ve been repurposed.  My face never snapped back.”

“That’s a dangerous problem to have.”  Her demeanor switches slightly.  “Show me your pass.”

“But we’re not on the street.”

“We’re checking everyone who is outside their domicile.”

I hand her the newly made pass.  

“Lee Shaw.  I’m placing you under arrest.  Turn around.”

She ties my hands with a plastic zip tie.

“I’m not Lee Shaw.  Please listen to me.  I had that pass made here in this building.”

She whispers the info behind me.  I assume into a microphone.

  “Alright.  Let’s go see if you’re telling the truth.”

She marches me back to Room 313.  She unlocks the door with her own key.  Felix is squatting in the dumbwaiter as it goes down.  

“Alright now that I’ve got you alone, you will need to do as I say if you want to get through this alive.”

I’m speechless.  Limpid bolts of hot energy dart around my back and into my groin.  I nod like an automaton.  

Stella fucking Steeplechase leads me into the bedroom.  She throws a full head-to-toe, kisser-to-keister body suit at me and tells me to put it on.  It’s a tight fit and I can’t see a thing.  I feel her hand grab mine as she takes me over to a box.  I go in.  I don’t ask why.  The box creaks closed.  The lock clicks.  

In the darkness, I think of the minutes that felt like hours for my father and wonder if I haven’t to some extent put myself in a similar Tootsie Roll situation.  Bouncing up and down in my own pool of absurd rapture.  Was it blind courage or ecstatic stupidity that got me here?  I cannot tell. 

I hear the door.  The box opens.  I nearly pass out from standing up.  I feel her hand remove my nose patch.  I hear Stella Steeplechase’s soothing voice ask me if I want to sniff it.  I nod and feel it right under my nose without touching it.  It smells of citrus but also quite sour.  Probably a grapefruit.  But maybe something else.  There’s another scent I can’t quite make out.   

She asks me if I’d like to taste it.  I nod.  She opens up the mouth patch.  I immediately ask if this is really necessary for my safety.  In fact, I plead for her to take the suit off.  

“Look I’m happy you’re here,” she says, “but I’m a bit disappointed in your level of gratitude.  So just think on that.  Hopefully we can reset.  Get to tasting that fruit tomorrow if you’re a good little boy.”

Stella Steeplechase puts the mouth patch back on without me getting a taste.   When I’m back in my box, I hear her leave the room.  There’s some sounds like a scuffle going on.  And a gunshot rings out.  Somebody unlocks the box and as the person helps me take the suit off, I see it’s Nolan from the fifth floor.  I also spot Stella Steeplechase’s body half-in the dumbwaiter.  Shot in the back of the head.  A mess so bloody it looks like a bad prank.  

“Sorry about that my friend.  My name isn’t Nolan.  It’s Lee Shaw.”

“Is she really dead?”

“Let’s just say it’s her final performance.  Look we had to use you.  Felix is a Debtor.  The story about how he obtained the government module didn’t pan out.  Besides, aren’t you tired of being treated like an imposter by the Debtor administration?”
“Well, yes.”

“Of course you do.  It violates your sense of reenactment.”

“Is that what this is?  A reenactment?”

“It takes action to set reenactments in motion.  Our hypocrisy is minor compared to how the Debtors misread the energy of becoming as lack.  You are supposed to always lack something according to their system of guilt and resentment.  That’s how the Debtors want you to feel so you need them.  Stella Steeplechase was a shell for that system.  She was a hardcore nightmare.  A vending machine dispensing tailor-made poisonous treats of paralysis.  The queen of indentured servitude.  Pretending as if she were the only one who gets to be free while blocking her fans from engaging in meaningful reenactments.  Besides, it was the facial implants that made her a star.”

“Why me?  What do I have to do with any of this?”

“Your father’s book changed my life.  It showed me the way.  He wrote it in code.  He had to mask it in a way that the worshippers of Being could accept.  Preempting their reading of it as schitzo.  When in fact, the cohesion comes about by the end for those who hear its brave call.  What a delicate soul your father must’ve been.”

“That’s what Felix said.”

“Because he was copying me rather than reenacting it for himself.”

“Well, just for the record, my dad was also capable of great asshole-ness.”

Lee Shaw pulls out a Tootsie Roll from his pocket and pops it in his mouth.

“Of course he was.  I’m sure.  But what hope would a child have of understanding such a father when most adults couldn’t get it?  The container mindset is where we all begin.  Really, though, it was a love letter to someone like me.  It liberated me from the worship of Being.  Now all that needs to be done is to realize its vision.  Then the book will be useless.  And that’s what Schitzolini would’ve wanted.”

“You know what he said about that book?  He said he believed every word of it and none of it at the same time.”

An anti-thought machine appears in the window.