Thursday, July 30, 2015

Based on a True Story

Cheeto Girl, they called her. And yeah, I'm not joking, they really did call her that. She stumbled around the trailer park all day, dead-eyed, eating cheetos and drooling orange drool. I think she lived with her mother, although I never saw her mother....I don't think she went to school, but that's just because I never saw any evidence of her being in school. One time she came to my door and said, “misahwah buh suh vesweh.” Vesweh? After playing charades with her for about a half hour I understood she wanted to borrow vaseline. Why? “we guh behbuh.” Bebuh? “Weh behbuh! Yaknow, behbuh.” Near as I could figure she needed vaseline to remedy bedbugs. I gave her a jar and told her to keep it. Whatever she was going to do with the stuff to combat bedbugs, I didn't want it back. Later on she came to my door with a ball point pen. I guess it was in return for the vaseline. We take care of each other in this work your shit job, collect your nut check, whatever it is you do, and you can maintain your fetish or your addiction or whatever with little to no problem (mine's beer, but I digress). Folks are nice. If someone's going to the mailbox they'll be happy to grab your mail for you and everyone knows when to leave you the hell alone. They'll even give you a ball point pen for use of your vaseline. That orange cheeto drool, though? Christ. Turned my stomach. Worst thing I've experienced since my last breathalyser test.

copyright 2015 Molotov Editions

Monday, July 27, 2015


Vignette from “Three Significant Days in Othmar's Life”, 1991

The sky looming over the bank that day was whitish-grey. It wasn't threatening; it was bland. Bland and maybe a touch grungy, thought Othmar, leaning against the wall.
It was eight thirty and thngs were jumping in the downtown intersection, the traffic aggravated and convulsing, the walkers bustling off, no-nonsense, to their somber destinations. All but Othmar. Othmar was as stationary as he was unemployed, loitering by the First National Bank. It was common practice for him to sleep in these days----could it the jet lag of prevalent hopelessness----but today would be different. Othmar was sure of it. It had come to him in a dream.
Around quarter to nine, Othmar's boyhood friend, Roger Chadwicke, happened by. Okay----maybe “friend” was a stretch. Boyhood Acquaintance? Borderline Antagonist? That was maybe more like it. Roger was a low-echelon marketing analyst. He and Othmar had grown apart since high school, as borderline antagonists will. Roger was rushing off to work like everyone else, sporting that harried, oh-no-I'm-late-my-life-is-over face.
Othmar waved. Roger stopped, mid-scurry. “Out of work again, eh, Othmar?”
“Get a job, mister,” Roger snarled. “Life doesn't wait for the idle, Bucko!”
“What are you doing, hanging out on a street corner?”
Othmar shrugged. “Waiting for something to happen.”
“Oh.” Roger grimaced as if he'd just been told the sky was purple. “Well, good luck with that.” And off he stormed, compulsively inspecting his jacket as he went.
Othmar kept on waiting, leaning against the wall for two hours, arms folded, waiting, just waiting. The cops made several revolutions by him but left him alone....he seemed to know what he was doing. It was turning into a real sleepathon, but Othmar hung tough. He knew something was going to happen. It was a dream, a fancy, a mere hunch, but Othmar had come to lend great faith toward his hunches. Something would happen.
Shortly after eleven, something did.
“You weren't in Viet Nam,” bellowed someone from down the block. Othmar looked up. There was a ragged, overdressed man heading right for him.
“You weren't in Viet Nam,” roared the derelict again, “so don't you be lookin' at me!” He whomped Othmar with a feeble right cross and then he thundered down the street in a huff.
Othmar didn't know whether to feel hurt or just confused by the whole thing.
As noontime came around, Roger walked by the bank again, this time with a gaggle of similarly attired cohorts. He grinned at Othmar. The smile wasn't anything close to friendly or charitable; it was more of an I'm-going-to-ridicule-you-in-front-of-my-martini-buddies-just-for-sport kind of smile. “Othmar!” He hailed. “Did anything happen?”
Othmar had no reason to lie. “Yup.”
“What happened, Othmar?”
“I got punched.”
Roger curled his lip with distaste. “Great. Take care, Othmar, and dammit, get a job!” He and his group departed with a discharge of smarmy laughter. Othmar lingered, heavy-hearted, for another ten minutes or so. Then, guessing that everything that was going to happen had, he went home.
That night, Othmar had a nightmare. In the dream, he was attacked by a lion. The lion bit his lips off and he bled strange, white blood.
The next day he heard that Roger was dead. Faulty wiring in his electric pasta shredder had caused his house to explode.
Copyright 1991 C.F. Roberts, 2015 Molotov Editions

Friday, July 17, 2015


At some point in the mid '90s one experiment or exercise I did was to write four separate poems, all of which were entitled “What I Remember”.Why, I don't know. My record keeping is a little fuzzy, but from what I can tell no one ever ran these anywhere, so for better or worse you're probably seeing them here for the first time. Here they are, all four of them:


decried pain and
this piece of old
doddering spoonfed
lurched up and the
a snapshot vague
old carousel melody
back lifetimes when
you and the haze
washed over like ether
squalled a malcontented
rage big baby
what it took
distant strains
saw pretty girls in
and bows
skipping and leaping
over slopes in
verdant pastures---


devolved from being
object abject w/functioning
orifices all too easy
prime directive
didn't have to be
didn't have to be
picture picture
lodged in stasis
you denied
ran ignorance is
bliss is blitz
rolled to see
meat exude
(lose me)
what it took
(lose you)


part was left
of this me
fragmented old
doddering fool
spoonfed restrained
took the buffer
hung on the
steadfast wall
looked for reason
decried pain and
the ongo hung
his head sad
prizes my entropy


hell give it a
name and a property
unto itself
go figure
it just
in a wash in a blur
frollicking they were
in meadows
the pollen
hung in the air
like butter
a shrill
across the room
a name at the
top of their lungs
woolen cling
denim well worn
clung hard to
a thigh shaken
made me waver
heat that wells
shields past barriers
like a soldier
covered in dirt
she sauntered
in my direction
stood for the word
lines and curves
inquiring eye
my balance
was the
head hung
what it took i
she the fell i
black on white on
over over ribbons
sleight of hand of
mind of
took the
like ether
i abstained
(in the corner the doctor shuffled his cards

circa mid-late 90s/copyright 2015 Molotov Editions

BLACK SABBATH-Born Again (Yeah----that's right---it's the much-maligned Ian Gillan album---what the hell are you gonna do about it?)

Friday, July 10, 2015


Driving through intersections, I frequently find myself wishing the birds would hang in the air a little more than they are sometimes likely to do.

                                                              JUNKYARD KING
                                (Original Title: “The Jizz-Crazed Love Stewardesses”)

Biff narrow-eyed Vince from across the table. “All I see when I look at you is twenty years of life wasted,” he said. “You're not gonna see me here in ten years! I'm gonna save my money, go to Harvard fuckin' University and become a lawyer!”
Vince decided to humor him. “, exactly what area of the law do you figure you'll be specializing in?”
Biff stared at the surface of the table for two or three minutes, frowning.
“You're an idiot,” scoffed Vince. “Ten years from now you'll be squatting in a blown-out factory, whacked out from 50 hits of acid, listening to old Black Sabbath records on speed 78, drooling like Pavlov's dogs and looking at God.”
“No---YOU will!”
Vince wasn't getting dragged into any more childish, futile arguments. He took a long drag off his cigarette and blew the smoke in Biff's face. Biff spluttered and tried to wave the smoke away.
“You dick! Haven't you ever heard of Secondhand Smoke? They're gonna ban your filthy habit!”
“Fuck you,” said Vince. “Don't you be walking around the dirty city air and cry to ME about Secondhand Smoke! You haul chemical waste for a living, so don't you talk to ME---”
“I'll talk to you all I damn please!”
Vince took another drag. “You know what your problem is?” He asked, blowing another cloud of smoke in Biff's face. “You have no sense of perspective.”
“No----YOU have no sense of perspective!”
“Shut up, douchebag. Have you ever thought about the way flocks of birds explode up from roads just barely to flee oncoming trucks? How they interrelate with power plants, nuclear weapons and clusters of grapes? Have you ever seen a head in a burlap bag, seen Kings and Queens fornicate with the dead, dismembered remains of their servants----have you ever, in depth, studied one of DaVinci's anatomical diagrams?”
“What, are you crazy?”
“Am I? You think you're going to Harvard fuckin' University to become a lawyer, and you think if people stop smoking your ass will be immortal! I wish, just once, you could hear the sky crackle the way it does, so thick you could take a butter knife to it....”

Biff rolled his eyes. “Oh, spare me.”
“Okay,” said Vince. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the Nine and shot Biff in the head, sending him promptly to Heaven.
Vince sat up, walked into the back room, folded up his makeshift cot, got undressed, packed his things and threw on his walking clothes. He headed out the door and into the midday city. As he hit the intersection, he caught the symphony of tangled telephone lines above and listened to each one humming its individual part in the great, electromagnetic orchestra. 

Published in VOX (Albuquerque, NM) 1996. Copyright 1996 C.F. Roberts/2015 Molotov Editions

Thursday, July 2, 2015




Mike Falcone was able to tell that the woman from the Rental Office wasn't thrilled with him. He guessed she wasn't enjoying the showing, but it was beyond him to make things better for her. He wasn't a part of the Social Counterfeit she had to be used to for clientele and it wasn't his problem if she couldn't hack it.
Admittedly, he wasn't presenting himself the picture of congeniality, but why give her that? Mike knew her, knew her smarmy type and knew what kind of people she usually dragged through these apartments. They were no doubt the ooh-dahling-this-is-so-lovely-so-quaint big biz couples with the Volvos and the two-point-five aspirations. Mike didn't have to be told so, it was there, bang, knowledge, like knowing you had to breathe to live. Mike knew this woman was aching for such a fresh-faced, reserved pair right now, not Mike Falcone, not a walking, talking explosion. Anything, anything else.
She was going to have to deal, though, because his money was as good as anyone's.
Mike had his own life to concern himself with. The rental crow was visibly allowing her blood to curdle. Too bad. Mike bombed through the open apartment, screaming to test the acoustics. It had that buzzy, tinny, unfurnished apartment type of reverberation to it. He scanned the white walls, dreaming of the paintings, the hellish paintings, he could try to grace them with. He wanted to cover them, their bare, white complacency, in the worst way imaginable. Oh, and the big picture window thing, the sliding glass door leading out to the balcony—it would never, ever bear curtains. This was very important. No curtains.
Mike was ecstatic. It was open, high up above the world, open, so open. It was a turret. It was a domicile.
Behind him, the woman was babbling something like, “the kitchenette is this way,” and Mike paid no attention. She was gesturing as trained, yutzing and putzing in her wallpaper paste makeup and her ugly, yellow shoebox dress, all horrific and horrified. She was a living, talking backdrop, now. There was no room for her, for kitchenettes, for Wall Sockets, for Bingo or the goddamned Elk's Club. The connection had been made. This was the one. This was the one. This was the one.



Mike hit the ON switches one by one and all nine television sets opened their dusty, cyclopean eyes to reveal a glowing fest of snow and colliding imagery. Nine different channels, nine different lives, voices, worlds wrestling for domination, all clashing and twisting around each other, vomiting their output, their gnarled information swirling in a broken cacophony.
Mike grinned a real, bitter grin and stared around him at the onslaught, the TV screens and the howling paintings which exploded, earthy yet vibrant in their reds, greys, yellows, browns and blacks across the walls. Tortured silhouettes and hints of burning, breaking life danced and contorted. This was it, alright.
The fruition, Mike thought, the culmination of struggle, toil and years and years of deep, personal war. The reason for every contact ever made, every undesired stench he ever allowed to cross his path unhindered, every sour, pouting, world-bittered orifice he'd ever allowed to receive him. The reward, the coronation for every little compromise he'd ever had to debase himself by making.
Open. A dais. A throne.
The windows were naked. No curtains. The windows were the eye to the world and it would be obscene to veil them in any way.
The grin, even as impure, as hawklike as it was, dropped after a minute. The smiles never lasted, ever. This wasn't disturbing and Mike shrugged it off, allowing silently as he often had to, that maybe the smiles shouldn't last.
On came the frown the scowl, the Sovreign Face. The surveyor face, the stare straight down. King. Eye. The War, why it was fought, the Struggle, the ever-progressing rush onward.
He slid the door open and stepped out onto the balcony.
Mike was dressed in his victor's clothes, the ruling clothes. Regal as ever, damning, the figure of condemnation, pointing the finger down in judgment. The black pants, black jersey, the capelike black housecoat. Even those black and white high tops, so death-game, so sport-noire. It was time. Time.
He stood there at the top of the convulsing world, hands on railing, gripping it firmly, savagely, because it was his. He hunched over that man made, glass-skinned precipice and looked down, glowering like a hungry buzzard, taking it all in. Every bit of it.
The city yawned out like a maze, buildings making walls and blocks in a complex, senseless, faceless tangle of streets. Those road-ribbon-things were choked and clogged with a teeming, jerking throng of cars and people—rather, what were supposed to be cars and people. From up here, Mike saw them all, every irrelevant one of them as they were meant to be seen---bugs. Bugs. Thousands of mindless, scrambling bugs, coursing through that maze, lost, trying to walk through cement in this wreck, this garbage sculpture. Rambling naked, cross-eyed and intoxicated amidst the neon, the trash, the smoke, the confusion. Pulsing. Lurching. Moving on and on. For what? For what?
He remembered the shock, the transformation on Shelley's face, when he slapped the divorce on her. Oh, how he relished that action, the joyous result. That mawkish, pop-eyed, ignorant smile of hers, the one that wouldn't go away, the smile he'd grown to hate, permanent and unflagging as it was—there was such a thrill in seeing that smile obliterated. Her candy-striped daydreams---so high school, so powderpuffed---dashed. Deflowered. Was she out there, too, striving among the bugs, the base crawlers who devoured their own? Yes, Mike guessed she was, or may as well be.
That retrospect didn't haunt him with much sadness. He had to laugh. Sure, it was a mistake. Sure, he had believed in it at first. The lesson he learned, though, was the lesson of the bugs, scuttling over each other to reach destinations they had no notion of. Life as Juggernaut, rolling over everything. Ongoing change. Mike Falcone measured his forevers in days. Weeks. Seconds.
He glared down upon the shifting, blinking, groaning tumult.
The wind was high, wailing and howling about him. It roared like an invisible ocean, screeched like an all-encompassing, transistorized choir of inhuman angels. Mike felt like he was in the eye of a hurricane as he stared down into the pit.
Uuhh,” he yelled, testing his voice and what kind of match it might be against that wind. He couldn't tell. Was anyone able to hear him, or did the power, the velocity of the wind strangle his sound, right there?
Aaaahhh,” he yelled. Did it matter? The bugs, he felt, should know they were being watched, know they were being kept in line. “Aaaaaahhhhh!” He screamed.
Mike rumbled back into the apartment and got the radio. It was a shoddy, decrepit old portable he'd picked up months ago in some rural flea market. Sad piece of junk----why buy it? Why this shitty little one speaker radio? Why not? Why care?
He came back out upon the balcony with the radio and thought about how easy it would be to let go of this negligible piece of plastic and circuitry. So easy, so logical, for it to sail off into the night. The radio. Him. Anyone. Anything. It was elementary, a fate inescapable, like that oncoming train one couldn't get away from at the mouth of the tunnel.
UUUUUUHHHHHHHH!!!!” He yelled, and he hurled the radio off the balcony. He watched it disappear, end over end, swallowed by the night. As it fell, he heard it occasionally hit a railing, a bit of wall or a window.
If one was inclined to worry about the safety of the ants below, and Mike wasn't, one had to consider the danger of raining a portable radio down on the street. It was obvious to Mike, though, that there was no danger. The way the thing was bouncing and breaking all the way down, all it would be by zero would be a lot of wire and springs and a few shards of ugly, beige plastic. Harmless. Not hazardous, not touching anyone, as if anyone down there in that maelstrom was worth considering.
UUUUUUUUHHHHHH,” Mike yowled, commanding the night, condemning the tiny populace. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”


As the night wore on several other objects went over the balcony. They included a set of expensive glassware, a couple of cheap bar stools, an office chair, numerous articles of clothing and a jankedy old card table Mike imagined had somehow survived the marriage to Shelley.
The boys in blue turned up after a string of disturbance calls and found they had to force their way in, no one seeming to be home. They ran a nice, futile game of tag around the place before they saw their quarry out on the balcony, screaming, shouting and firing taunts from his perch.
Mike was a gargoyle, dangling from the railing by his hands and knees, big-eyed, red-faced, teeth bared, hurling his damnations, ruler of the world, a holy blaze on high.

THE SCOWL was published, in 1992 or '93, I think, in a little litmag called ILLITERATI. It was one of a rash of short stories I wrote shortly after I got done with my novel, HELLO, UGLY and that was a time when I was finding my footing as a writer. My prose stylings at that moment make me think of Chaim Potok on Angel Dust----and that's probably an insult to Angel Dust.
copyright 1990 C.F. Roberts/2015Molotov Editions