The Sketchbook Project 2012

Why do I always wait until the last minute? Because I do my best during a cramfest. At least I like to tell myself that. So I had less than a week to complete this sketchbook. I chose to do a graphic novella based on my sketchbook’s theme — Time Traveler. The Time Traveller is also a frequent guest of my vignettes, in small and strange stories exploiting the temporal possibilities of such a lifestyle.

This is explored further in this graphic novella. The majority of it was done within a ten hour period. Please read and comment. Disregard any errors you might find, and don’t mind the sloppy last-minute artwork. Or do. Tell me what you think. Insults, solicitations, questions, advice, psychic readings, and then some are welcome.

The pdf version of my sketchbook — Man of the Multiverse: The Ballad of the Time Traveller

Here’s also the pdf to my 2011 Sketchbook Project Submission. More about The Sketchbook Project 2012 and then some.



So I wanted the kid to sleep. As any parent knows, the car is a powerful tool for soothing the beast that is your child. We were already in the car, so… it’s not bad parenting if you took a little longer than usual to drive from point A to B (never mind if you traverse the entire alphabet twice before finally arriving at B).

Tooling down the street, curling around roundabouts, I found myself settling into the routes of my childhood like a wheel locking into a well-worn rut. Not the exact routes, mind ya, because that would finish quite badly, with chain link wrapped around my fender, along with various bits of backyard paraphernalia which might or might not include bits of bloody dog hair.

My old stomping grounds were illuminated, long dormant neural pathways superimposing the subdivisions, the shards of maze-like suburbia with memory’s clarity. There the cornfield I was afraid to go too far into, content to pitter and patter at its edge; bright constellation of activity there—a nail punctured rubber sole to flesh sole causing me to limp home. Across the street there was the cauldron of Osage orange trees surrounding the recessed foundation of a silo. There was no light pollution.

Then the bicycle dashes across the cracked sidewalks, the destination often suspect. The squeak of wheel, the fading pink paint of my sister’s “borrowed” bike so my friend could take mine. Hot and cold, your hands burned, your face burned. Forcibly forgetting the brakes down the town’s steep rolling hills. Cooling down at the local Dillon’s, twenty five cent generic sodas from the machine outside and stolen candy whose wrappers were hidden between the folds of magazines. VHS tapes from the video department. The movies were so great back then. A Family Circusesque montage stipples our routes across town, which are just as circuitous.

The heat wave making waves across the concrete. My grandparents were in town and everyone was off to the City of Fountains but I elected to stay behind. I don’t know why, but there I was, with some pocket change and not enough water in my body, walking the couple miles to the local comic book store where I woke on the floor surrounded by concerned faces right after buying a candy bar at the 7-11 (which has long since been converted to a pawn shop and its barricaded windows, to add an element of seediness). When I got home I found that the candy bar had melted in my pocket, and the packaging made a teardrop shape as all the chocolate rushed to the bottom.

Turning the car down a forgotten street, the flash in the mirror showing the kid’s nodding off, but not at the finish line. The pond slides past. Me and a friend on a bench, my shoulder blades perched on the 2 by 4 backing, tripping balls off on sticks of honey sunken amanita muscaria. Benevolent columns of cloud in the blistering blue sky, twirling to pause and cast bashful smiles before twirling the opposite way. His trip something else, but the muscles in our face were drawn up. The water, like Joyce put it, millioncandled. Then we went down behind the hill to the runoff pool which used to be a fish hatchery to smoke a joint or two.

Park after park, clandestine conventions of illegality, slouched on armatures belonging the children of the day (I imagine if we could hear, the ghosts of these whoops and cries linger on the wind)—during the night, a different sort of child comes sneaking out of back doors, across low wet grass, footprinting the asphalt until they reach the pre-arranged destination, eyes glittering, hands snaking into pockets to grasp moist leafy fragrances.

Then somewhere between that and now, things happened. Some things got better, some good things got lost, and some things hit the fan. It’s hard to reconcile the kid with the large wire-frame glasses pervasive in the 90’s  to a tall father sodden with exhaustion myself. Illusions were shattered, of course, and along with the pieces fell the innocent versatility of naivete, belief. Now a cynic cashing in doubts, the trip fades (wire-frame unrendering of memory) to leave behind mellow nostalgia but not the despair of the absent. It is a gift, something we should give to ourselves once in a while, to remember our origins, to remember it wasn’t always like this. We can reacquire the pieces of self that made us in thrall of the world, if only indefinitely. A fine vintage to be enjoyed on special occasions.

I look in the mirror. Out like a light.

I Might Have Been Five

I remember the smell of my lunch box, the plastic ones with a companion thermos. The smell of sandwich in its ziploc bag and the futility of searching for morsels on the long bus ride. It was a long bus and I sat in the back with my too small coat. I would run up the gravel drive when the bus pulled up to my rural address in upstate New York.

I remember the birch trees in our rather large yard. How I liked pulling the silvery bark apart! It made me think of zebras. I also loved how its leaves looked like twirling coins during autumn. I remember, in the third person, myself running while wearing a brown coat, or maybe it was blue and grey? and pulling along a rainbow hued kite as my father looked on. His hair was jet black at the time and he didn’t have his belly. He looked like I do now, skin draped on bone by virtue of genetics. I remember a white window, and tunneling in the snow. My mother dug a cave in which I huddled.I think I fell out of my bunk bed that night. My mother remembers me smearing petroleum jelly on the old faux wood vinyl wall paneling of our trailer home.

I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to gather the clouds into a jar and hold it forever, captured within the glass, as I soared across the continental United States, leaving the only home I remembered. Now I don’t remember so much; my memory is a box of old photographs, of moments arrested in Time.

Exquisite Shorts–a Thumbscribes and Electric Literature Collaboration

Thumbscribes hosted a collaborative fiction titled EXQUISITE SHORTS headed by Aimee Bender of Electric Literature. What ensued was a pleasant albeit confusing romp through one hundred contributions of 300 character limit fiction, starting with Aimee Bender’s “She was startled by what she saw on the bridge; it did not seem to have a shape, and yet it was moving toward her, and she found herself inexplicably compelled to stay put.” These are my contributions:

17- Christ, was that motes of light peeling from it? It existed within an unreality of its own, static. “All my life,” she answered, the words coming without volition.

33- A profound depression sank her and confusion swirled in, washing away her confidence. “Damn you, Aimee Bender!” she cried, without understanding why, punching the air. She wallowed in the Kübler-Ross model before finally determining she was living–ha ha, she sobbed at this–the Bardo Thödol.

43- “Are you to be my Vladimir, Glen? And you,” she gestured to the formless twilight, “my Estragon? Or is it Shaun and Shem?” In a shower of organ donor cards, she sighed. “Be damned if this plurabelle gets out of this by the skin of her teeth. I suspect we’re not even halfway through my story!”

92- She blinked. Her toes were cold. The night had intervened, bringing her senses back to her. The the thing on the bridge. The mirror. It hung before her still. When she was seven she thought she could peer with a telescope far enough into a mirror to find herself reflected back from inside the womb.

99-The mirror rippled. No! She didn’t want to! But it drank her, swallowing memory and pain. Alice fell through the looking glass and she was startled by what she saw on the bridge; it did not seem to have a shape,and yet it was moving toward her, and she found herself inexplicably compelled to stay put

Into the World

On the video my daughter is born. I rewind. She is born. I rewind. In that sterile hospital room attended to by women in sterile gowns wielding sterile equipment, my daughter is born.
They push and prod her squalling form.
Her skull is elongated into a cone.
They suck mucus from her nostrils with a bulb.
They throw her arms up, flap those feeble arms.
Rake a finger roughly along her soles.
Her tongue is darling, trembling, modulating sound for the first time.

What of our ancestors who gave birth in caves, forest floors, roughshod cabins?
The modern mind quails.
The bloodied father, pale, perhaps fainted in the opening of a new world.
The mother’s scream startling the wind folk off their branches.

The baby is born and oh is it fucking visceral.

Its wail fills the exhausted silence… or it responds to silence with silence. Either way, it is pressed to the bosom, slick and cooling, the mother’s warmth enfolding it. The umbilical is limp gelatin shivering, still protruding from the point of departure.
Do they know what to do with it?
A gasp as the placenta sluices out with tentative tugs?
Is it separated from the child by the gnashing of molars?
A sharp flint knife?

Man is not a child of instinct, but it lives in him so that he may know what to do when the time comes. There in the sterile hospital room, a miracle has occurred. There on the vistas of the far fog-shroud past, miracles have occurred.

The question is, which is the more profound?

An Online Submission…

…in response to an sponsored challenge proposed by Lauren Beukes, the author of Moxyland. The object is to write a story that fits within the universe crafted by Miss Beukes, and she will select three winners to be published along with the novel. If you should wish to, scroll down at the book link and you can read my entry under the username zxvasdf.


The Great Canine Caper

After a bit of jolly ol’ free time all by herself with free run of the whole house, my seven-month old  pup rolled on her back as a rectangle of  sunlight poured from the open front door, from where I observed: a living room rendered a disaster zone, a kitchen boasting a derelict garbage can, that I needed to buy more toilet paper.

She destroyed: two rolls of toilet paper, a sandal and gnawed further on a previously demolished sandal, various contents from junk mail to discarded food wrappings previously existing within the garbage can, several plastic drinking bottles, some tupperware, and gave fine toothmarks the jar of peanut butter, her very most favoritest treat in the world.It looked worse than it sounds. Imagine a piece of toilet paper torn into pieces and these pieces torn to pieces and so forth ad infinitum…

Shudder at the contents brewing within the bowels of this Alaskan Malamute-Labrador Retriever Mix having had—this criteria being determined on the merit these objects have left behind pieces of itself, their remainders since remaining incognito—eaten: a stick of Krazy Glue, a big bag of Reese Pieces, a stick of pure Cocoa Butter, the crotch of women’s underwear (not mine, I swear), and Styrofoam covered with the juices of raw chicken thrown away several days before (at least THAT smell’s gone).

Despite a few days excreting foil, it is safe to say she is unaffected by these deleterious contents, and still quests unabated after bags of Reese pieces and jars of peanut butter.