Pastoral Genocide

The Post Modern Debate: Everything to Everybody
November 6, 2008, 4:16 am
Filed under: Music | Tags:

Download The Post Modern Debate – Everything to Everyone

I received a voice mail from my mother, once. It went like this: You know I love you very much. You are a man now and despite that, you are still my little boy. You will always be that. You will always be eight years old and it will always be Christmas morning. You know that I love you very much. You live far away from me and I miss you. [NAME REDACTED] killed himself today. It is terrible and I don’t know what to do. He woke up early, before everyone else, and went behind the house. You know the house, you have been there. He woke up and went behind the house and sat beneath a big maple tree. He shot himself in the head and he sat underneath that tree. It was early in the morning and no one else was awake. They slept in and he sat underneath that tree. They found him when he was still alive but it was too late. [NAME REDACTED] is my best friend in the world and her husband sat beneath a maple tree and killed himself.

There is a pause.

I love you very much. Promise me that you will never do something like this. Even if I am gone, promise me that you will never do anything like this.


black and white cowboys
October 31, 2008, 5:59 am
Filed under: Music, Writing | Tags: , , ,

Download Black and White Cowboys: Ken Burns Does the Great Plains

elosie benicoeur was a very beautiful woman with a very intriguing accent. she told me this, once: sometimes i think about a friend that i used to have. her name was issendia and i haven’t known her since we were both 8 years old. she was my first friend and she moved to sweden with her father. he was a man with a big mustache and a diplomatic post. he smoked out of a pipe that made the air smell very sweet. issendia moved and i wrote her a letter that said issendia you have moved and i miss you. at christmas, her mother sent my mother a box of oranges. they had thick pulp and they tasted sour. we waited for them to ripen but they never did.

I’m a Lawyer
October 25, 2008, 6:56 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Most people wear their seatbelts, and we’ve got the polls prove it. I don’t, though. I don’t wear my seatbelt and I can’t fathom that I ever will.

Think about: life is pretty fucking safe. We’ve got hospitals with dialysis machines and mechanical hearts. Can you believe that? Mechanical hearts. We’ve got nutrition facts and allergy warnings on the back of nearly everything that we eat. We’ve got automobiles with airbags. We’ve got houses with security alarms and neighbors with homespun values. It’s safer now to be a human than its ever been and I find that a little disfranchising.

I’ve always wanted cancer. Not the bad kind, but not like, you know, prostate cancer, either. I want real cancer, I want the end to be looming and unsure. I want to beat it. I want wires and tubes to connect my arm to machines, strange looking machines that beep and whine. I want to emerge scathed and wise. I want to go to parties and tell stories about how I looked death in the eyes and I didn’t back down. I never back down.

I want to get stabbed. I want to grasp death and hold it in my palm. I want to lie on a sidewalk, at night, in dark puddle of my own blood. I want it to spread like wings across the pavement and I want to stare up at the streetlights as they spin soft cones of light and I want to think, is this it? I want to wake up in a hospital room. I want a chest covered in scars.

I want to fly in a plane that falls from the sky. I want to know what it feels like to come crashing from the heavens to the earth. I imagine a great feeling of weightlessness, but I want to feel it. Empirically, spiritually. In want to survive; I want to wake up to the screams of the injured and the feel the crisp heat of jet fuel as it burns against my back. I want to hear sirens and I want to be pulled from the yawning unknown by strong hands wearing blue latex gloves.

Mostly, though, I want a divorce. I caught her fucking some asshole in our bed. He was painted in the overtones of the working man and he was riding her like a rented mule. In our bed, my bed.  The bed we bought right after we got married. They were sweating and moving together and making noise. The thing that struck me was that he was bald. Bald. Can you believe that? I’ve got my hair and a little bit of money. Sarah, I said once, in front of everyone that we know that I loved you and I would forever. I don’t, anymore. And that’s ok. But you could have at least picked an attractive man, a man with hair and an office job. A man with a automobile nicer than that shitty blue pickup that was parked in the drive. A man that wasn’t a card carrying member of the Teamsters or the UAW. Fuck the proletariat; fuck the working stiff. Of all the things you’ve ever done to me, this was and is the worst. I won’t, can’t, forget this. I can’t forgive this. He was bald. He looked like a carpenter or a mechanic or a convenience store clerk. I am young and I have my hair and I’m a lawyer.

October 24, 2008, 7:46 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags:

A new Mike Barwis adventure story has been posted at Wolverine Liberation Army. That is all.

Click For Big
October 5, 2008, 12:39 am
Filed under: Launch | Tags:

The oldest man in the world had once, in his youth, considered himself a photographer. In his age and in his wisdom, however, he had come to understand that he was not a photographer. He had sometimes seen things, things he had sometimes wished to share with others. But that, alone, did not make him a photographer. It made him an old man who had once been a young man. He knew this. In his old age, his mind wandered and he sometimes thought of himself as a fisherman. That was a good thought. He thought about the ocean and boats and nets pregnant with fish. He thought of great catches and the power of aggregation. He thought about the axiology of it all and he wondered if fish had souls. He wondered if he had a soul. He thought about killing a soul to nourish a soul. He thought about a million fragments of a million memories and he wondered about collectivity. He wondered what happened to the 4 x 5 photographs he had taken and treasured as a young man. And then, he got tired and fell asleep amidst the operatic bustle of assisted living.

The Only Bad Part about Flying is Landing
September 13, 2008, 6:15 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

She’s telling me about her dream while we’re sitting at the kitchen table. It’s early in the day, not quite light yet. I’m tired and yawn while I hand her a cup of coffee. She’s got a look on her face, a distant and quixotic look. She sighs like she’s been somewhere and, now, she’s glad to be back. She says to me, “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t breathe; at first, there was everything and then there was nothing and it didn’t matter to me, either way. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Her recollection of her dream is foggy and inconclusive. It has a non-linear plot and it’s hard to follow. I try, though. I like hearing her dreams. They’re a slice of her, a piece of something meaningful. It’s a personal thing, sharing your dreams. I don’t often remember my dreams. We’ve been married eight years and only recently has she started telling me about where she goes when she falls asleep.

Anyway, she’s saying that it started slowly. Her dream. She was walking to work like she always walks to work. “I didn’t know it was a dream, at first,” she says. “It was bright day, a blue day. It was beautiful and I remember thinking that this was kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive.” I know about those kinds of days so I nod my head.

She continues, “Everything changed, though. I got closer to the shop and the air seemed heavier, like a cold front was moving in. But there was no wind, nothing. The day looked the same but it felt, um, different. And then I noticed that there was no sound, anywhere. It was quiet and I felt so alone. But I wasn’t scared. I was just there and I was walking to the shop, counting my steps.”

She’s been trying to get into shape, lately. So she counts her steps. She told me that she tries to walk seven miles a day and figures that one of her steps is equal to two feet. That way, according to her, one mile is equal to two thousand and ten steps and seven miles is equal to eighteen thousand and four hundred steps. I don’t know how she keeps track of it all. To me, her schematics seem neither worthwhile nor efficient. But that’s how she is. It’s endearing.

So, she’s counting her steps and almost to work when it starts to rain. “It was the weirdest thing, she says. “It was raining but it was sunny and the rain was coming down in big, fat drops. It wasn’t making any sound. Everything was quiet, but I could smell the rain. It was waterlogged and heavy, you know, but it also smelled good. Comfortable, like everything was different but that was okay. And the drops were hitting me but I wasn’t getting wet.”

She says she gets to the shop and unlocks the door, like she does every morning. She steps inside and she notices it smells like coffee. “It smelled fresh and new and it was, you know, a good thing. Like, I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, maybe more than I like to drink it. I think a lot of people are like that. I am.” And I think about it for a second and I agree. She’s right, coffee is about anticipation, about gentle pauses and the logistics of inhalation.

“And then, it everything turned upside down,” she says, her face curdling into a frown. She’s concerned about her dream and even now that she’s awake, it’s following her. “I heard this siren, like a tornado siren. It was close and I could tell the megaphone was circulating. It was loud and then it would sort of slink into the distance and then it would get loud again. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there. It started to get hot, like really hot and the siren was still going off and from the window I could see that the sky was still distant and blue and I’ve never been so confused before.”

She stops for a second, to take a sip of coffee. She spills some on her shirt and says “goddamnit.” She grabs for a napkin and tries to wipe it off. But her shirt is cotton and the coffee has soaked in. She looks at me and continues onward. She’s talking fast, like she’ll forget it if she doesn’t get everything, absolutely everything, out right away.

“I go outside and then I see a formation of planes flying over my head. They’re dropping things, black specks that look like aspirin pills, out of their bellies and it takes me a minute to realize that these are bombs and they’re dropping them right on top of me, they’re floating down from above. I’m scared, you know. I’m scared that I’m going to die and that these bombs are going to kill me. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do so I run inside and sit under the front desk. I try to remember what we learned when we were in school and we had to practice against the Russians coming and dropping bombs on us. So I grab a thick book and I’m cowering there.”

“Then, I hear a boom and everything shakes. It just like what I expected it would be like. It was so loud and I was scared and all I could think about was those poor people in Iraq and how their lives must be so hard. Everything went fuzzy and white and then I wake up. But I don’t really wake up; it’s just part of the dream. I’m lying in bed and you’re gone. There’s a depression in the sheets but it’s cold and you’re gone and I don’t know where you are. I feel so alone, I want you to be next to me and you aren’t and I don’t know what to do.“

She looks shaken. She’s always been a very beautiful woman. Her face is perfect and there’s not a single thing about it I would change. Right now, it’s draped with a look of childish concern that makes me want to hug her. But I don’t. We just sit there and then she starts talking again.

“I get out of bed and I look for you and I find you in the garage. You’re pouring gasoline into the lawnmower and I try to get your attention. I say ‘John,’ really loudly, but you don’t look up. I walk over to you and I touch you but you don’t notice. All I want is for you to notice me but you don’t. I’m not there but I am and it’s so confusing that I go back into the house and sit on the couch and think about things. I’m trying to make sense of everything but I can’t and suddenly I feel so sleepy. It’s a good sleepy, a comfortable sleepy and I sort of fall into it, you know, start to fade in and out and I feel so warm and happy. But I don’t know why I feel happy, I just do. That’s the last thing I remember.”

And then she gets up. She clears the coffee cups from the table and places them in the sink and goes upstairs. I hear the water turn on and I know that she’s stepping into the shower. I’m still in the kitchen, alone and thinking about her dream.

September 8, 2008, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Everybody got fucked, in way or another. My dad went to jail for a couple years. My sister caught a meth addiction. My mom ran off with a biker hick named Johnny Watson. I got into a car accident and had my left arm amputated.

So, it went from bad to really bad to intolerably bad. The bottom fell out. My parents always drank. It got worse, like all these things always do. They started drinking more and hitting each other. It’s hard to hold either one more accountable than the other. I know that sounds weird to say. Men shouldn’t hit women, I agree with that. But she started it as much as he did. They’re both to blame and there’s no way around it.

I’m not sure why they stayed married, really. If you no longer love someone, you no longer love them. In the bigger scheme of things, that’s ok. It happens. The personality is not a static thing. It changes and reinvents itself. But these people, my parents, they aren’t practical people, rational people. They are near-sighted reactionaries of the classic sort. They deal with bad things by drinking harder and longer and screaming terrible things at each other.

The night it happened was miserable. Everything about it. The day had dragged itself along like a dying animal, humid and endless. It was hard to breathe, everything seemed so goddamn sticky. They started drinking early because it was Saturday. By dinner time, there had been yelling. My dad threatened to hit her. That was always a bad sign, a harbinger of a soon to arrive certainty.

By eight o’clock, the sun was gone and the moon had roosted like a blood orange in the early September night. They were going at it, hard. She was slurring something and he was slurring something and none of it, really, made any sense. She threw a knife at him and he threw a left hook at her. She missed; he didn’t. The neighbors called the cops and they showed up to find her sitting on the floor with her three front teeth in her hand. She was pretty bloody and mad as hell. He locked himself in the bathroom and the cops had to break the door down to get at him.

I thought, eventually, she would calm down and ask for his release. She didn’t. She pressed charges, took it to trial. She told the County that he raped her and hit her on the regular and was the kind of guy that needed to be locked up. I don’t disagree with her.

They gave him three years, two of them suspended. They sent him to a real jail, not County. He was a repeat offender and they did what they said they would do after the last time he got arrested. Two weeks after my dad got to prison, he joined a white power gang and stabbed a Mexican. The guy almost died, apparently. They revoked my father’s suspension and gave him the full sentence plus two more. I don’t disagree with that decision, I really don’t.

My mom filed for and received her divorce shortly after the trial had ended. She started hanging around with this piece of shit named Johnny Watson. I hate that sonofabitch. He’s a fucking pervert and I’d like to slash his throat. He’d stare at my sister’s ass like it was alright, like it was perfectly normal for a 47 year old man to gawk openly at the 19 year old daughter of his girlfriend. He’d say sick things to her, ask her twisted questions about twisted things and laugh in this growling cackle that would make your skin crawl.

I told my mom he was no good and she didn’t listen. He bought her whisky drinks at the bar and treated her with disingenuous respect and took her out to the movies every now and again. He didn’t hit her. She liked that, I guess. She stayed with him. They moved down to Houston about a year ago and I haven’t heard from her since. I don’t miss her.

But my sister missed her. They had always gotten along alright and they had their own personal relationship that I wasn’t privy to. Good for them, you know? Anyway, she missed her and felt bad about things and started doing things that she shouldn’t have been doing. She got hooked on meth and now she’s a skeleton with rotten teeth. I don’t recognize her eyes anymore and I think she’s gone. That kills me. She’s my baby sister, you know? We went through all this together and now she’s leaving.

Maybe I’m taking the easy way out, blaming my mom’s departure for my sister’s destruction. I’m not sure. It doesn’t and can’t matter at this point. What’s done is done and there’s no sense in arguing with any of it. I do know that I feel alone and abandoned and that I miss the way things used to be. Even though they were bad, far from anything or anywhere close to perfect, it was something. Occasionally, things were good. Christmases and days at the beach in the summer.  Ephemeral? Of course. But that was part of what made them good. Now, I feel pretty lonely about most things and it’s hard because I’ve got no one to talk about anything with.

About six months ago, I got into a bad wreck with a pickup truck. It was snowing a little bit and I lost control. I slid across the median and side-swiped a blue F-150 and sheared the hell out of the side of my car. My arm got caught up in the wreckage and I woke up in the hospital in more pain than you could imagine. They told me my options and said I needed to act fast. I told them to cut it off, if meant not dying. So, now I’ve got one arm and four hundred thousand dollars in hospital bills.

Losing my arm doesn’t have much to do with anything, other than the sense that I’m tired of all these bad things happening to me. I see the good life and I want it, but I’m entirely unsure on how I should go about finding it.