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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


Simon Smithson

It’s The Strangest Thing

November 1st, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I’m of two minds about posting this. Mainly because I’m worried that when my hat-wearing, bullet-riddled corpse is found on the wrong side of the border with a simultaneous death-grip on both an empty bottle of Jose Cuervo and a silver .45, the eventual court proceedings will employ this post and previous ones from TNB as Exhibit A: When It All Started To Go Wrong For Simon And We Were Left With No Option But To Bring Him Down.

But hey, it’s Halloween. So enjoy!

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Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.

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Rich Ferguson

Karma Driving School

October 15th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Author’s Note: I want to thank Jessica Larsen for the photo that she took during her recent travels in Varanasi, India.

Let’s go back to the very beginning / get in that car / get behind the wheel / rev the engine to pure devotion / our each and every dream – sparkling motion / relearn brake, gas, and clutch / not so much to speed us through these streets / but to clearly see that our each and every action ripens into results / bad equals bad / good equals good / it’s not some tricky math / nothing like finding the perimeter of all human suffering / what it is is the world coming from us / not at us / karma driving school

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Ryan Day

Why I Still Hate Drum Circles—Briefly

October 14th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

So, he dropped me off at the edge of this mountainy type geological formation that was covered in forest. I was glad to be dropped off. The 40 minute drive out to this seemingly random point had been filled with little bubblets of conversation like:

“That’s when I knew that Jeremy was a total psycopath and there was no choice but to pull the trigger. Him or me. Feel that?” He offered his finger for me to examine tactilely. I was assuming it was his trigger finger. There was a nodule. “Got caught in the trigger mechanism. Saved his life. Lucky, huh?”

Uh huh. (more…)


D.R. Haney

Saved by Demon Song

October 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

I’m hungry. I have no money at all, none is expected soon, and there’s no one from whom I can borrow. I pace all night, wondering how to come by a few dollars to eat.

Finally, slowly, a plan unfolds: I can walk down the street to an ATM, fill out a deposit slip for a phantom check, feed the slip to the ATM, and request a cash advance. The bank, of course, will quickly discover that no check accompanied the deposit slip, but once I’m contacted, I’ll simply say that, being in a hurry, I forgot. By then I hope to have thought of someone who’s willing to cut me a bona fide check.

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Peter Schwartz

Heart VS. Head

October 8th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

In my worst moments, when I’m awake and shouldn’t be, when I feel as though I am merely surviving this life, I think: what am I? I don’t know what I am but I do know a little about the habits of the creature that is me. Maybe the most important duality I inhabit is that between focusing on my mind and focusing on my heart. When I’m in my mind, I’m serious, possibly a little cranky, and doing something useful like accepting my next friend on Facebook. When I’m in my heart, I’m either writing my next new poem or practicing one of my more inspired hobbies like autoerotic asphyxiation or Reiki. (more…)


Ronlyn Domingue

How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Russians (Iraqis, North Koreans, and so on) and Hate War

October 1st, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

I confronted eschatology too young. Although benign compared to some beliefs, my Catholic upbringing placed me at the sidelines of Armageddon—strange references to a kingdom come, the Second Coming, Judgment Day. I got queasy at the mention of the Book of Revelations. Sermons and syntactically-strained Bible readings led me to infer a tremendous destructive end to all life, human, animal, insect, plant. There were drawings in books, filled with fire, angels and demons, a sea of the damned. For a child, it’s impossible to reconcile a loving Father with one who will kill every one of his children with wanton violence. Children also don’t grasp metaphor.

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Tyler Stoddard Smith

Some Thoughts on a “New Literacy” While Remembering Patrick Swayze

September 29th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

HOUSTON, TX-

Pierre Bayard’s ode to philistinism, Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus, or How to Talk About Books That You Haven’t Read is a unique experience. Upon completion of Bayard’s work (one wonders if Bayard himself ever read his own book), I found myself first outraged, then confused, and finally, a little constipated. I thought to myself, “How does this boorish Frenchman claim that a perfunctory flip-through of Anna Karenina should suffice for an understanding of St. Petersburg’s high society during that time—or Jasper, Missouri’s, home to the Double Deuce for that matter?” Can this Bayard be serious? Can we really talk—intelligently—about books we’ve never read?

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Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 3: Voodoo Doughnuts and First Loves

September 28th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

I have learned many things over the past few months of book touring. Number one, grabbing a book-buying audience’s attention in the summer months is like convincing me that Dan Brown, or Stephen King, is a good writer. Number two, if you read in a venue where they make maple-bacon doughnuts, they will come. Number three, there is no other bookstore like Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. (more…)


Simon Smithson

Leaving (for) Los Angeles

September 28th, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I stopped into Los Angeles recently; I wanted to get a new guitar strap and there was also this minor literary thing that I figured I could go to while I was there. It was a good trip, and one that I will cheerfully blog about at some length. There are some stories that must be told, and moments that I fear will haunt me forever unless I sobbingly confess them to the internet at large. Like the point over dinner when I suddenly realised that the twinkle in Brad Listi’s eye wasn’t pleasantly welcoming bonhomie at all, but rather a deep and unforgiving madness (the two look remarkably similar).  Or the time I first heard Greg Olear’s voice, and I knew in my bones that terror had a new favourite uncle. Even now, I can’t close my eyes without seeing Rachel Pollon laugh and laugh and tie Ben Loory to a railroad track (the story of how he survived is one of incredible heroism, skull-shattering evil, and one man’s surprisingly aerodynamic straw hat).

But these are things that will have to wait until my next post, as I have other things to say first. (more…)


Litsa Dremousis

Helen Falangus 1926-1974

September 22nd, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

In short stories, everyone’s grandmother smells like rosewater or lilies or, if she’s the antagonist, bears a faint whiff of venal decay.

I’ve had allergies since I was a little kid, so I don’t remember what Yiayia smelled like. I remember her voice, though, warm and encouraging and conspiratorial in the best sense, as if she and I were our own party of two, off to do something wildly fun and cultured but still ladylike, as she was of that generation.

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John L. Singleton

Things I Learned About the Apocalypse Over Labor Day While Vacationing In Palm Springs, California

September 15th, 2009
by John L. Singleton

LOS ANGELES, CA–

So, I’ve been working pretty hard lately. And by working hard, I mean that I’ve been working really hard, for long hours (12 or so of them every single day) for about the last two years. As a reader of this little article, you might wonder what I’ve been working at for all of these hours, but that’s not important. What is important is that at this point, the only thing that really punctuates my working of really long hours is the drinking of highball glasses of Jim Beam, which helps me work more but alas (according to all of the addiction recovery books I seem to be reading lately) doesn’t really relax me. At least not in the way a good vacation would. A good, sober vacation. And what better place to get away from it all (or at least the burning, wood-fired Tandoori oven that is LA right now) than Palm Springs, California, just two hours away!

At first this seems like a great idea, right? A relaxing desert, a pool, room service… All awesome things. However…

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Uche Ogbuji

A Thousand Words: Cousin. Nieces.

September 15th, 2009
by Uche Ogbuji

BOULDER, CO-

It was early in the morning.  Lori answered the phone and handed it to me.  My father’s voice.

“Uche…there’s been a terrible…”

“Uche…you should know…”

A pause as gruesome guesswork played through my mind.  I wanted to hear rather than continue imagining, but did I really want to hear?  He drew a constricted breath, and it came in a wave before his voice broke.

“Uche, Chika died tonight.  Imose died tonight.  Little Anya is just barely hanging on…”

Died.  Died.  Barely hanging on.

My nieces.

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Peter Schwartz

Faith Isn’t Stupid

September 4th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good. (more…)


Don Mitchell

Badass Pink Chevy

August 18th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY -

Prologue: I’m getting worried about the Simon Smithson Effect (SSE). This afternoon I was fiddling with this piece, which is a companion to the earlier “I Don’t Brake for Mongoose,” both belonging to a larger work called “The Dump,” when in comes an email from the guy in Hilo who’s been using my trailer, telling me that this morning at sparrowfart, when he was least expecting it, he was stopped by a cop and told to register the trailer or face a $100 fine. SSE? WTF? LOL! Read on.
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Paul Clayton

Le Voisinage de Monsieur Roger, First Blood, Part I, Chapter 7, addendum 1.2, or Wally Gator gets down with the crew at the sauna…

August 17th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

As usual, I drove to the municipal pool last Sunday.  My route takes me past the soccer field.  A game was in progress, one team wearing green shorts and jerseys, the other blue.  Soccer is really big here in South City with the Mexicans and Central Americans.  They’re out there most Sundays, their families picnicking on the grounds, watching.  There’s always a truck parked alongside the field selling burritos and tacos.  We also have a baseball field adjoining that.  They usually play Saturday and some evenings under the lights. (more…)


Oksana Marafioti

Cats, Sex, and Reincarnation

August 15th, 2009
by Oksana Marafioti

LAS VEGAS, NV-

I have this cat. His name is Trotter, dubbed so after a character from a really lame pirate flick, The Cutthroat Island. Well, there is nothing pirate or cutthroat about Trotter the cat. He’s rather ordinary, although like all felines he believes in perfection that is himself. Black and white, slim and amber eyed, he spent his street-reformed kittyhood in a shelter. He licks his non-existent manhood, he drinks from the toilet, he sprawls on your desk when you’re trying to write.

When happy, he drools on your clothes.

I’m perfectly fine with Trotter’s sometimes devious ways of sneaking an occasional waffle off the table. When he catches a pigeon, and drags it by its broken neck into the living room, I praise him on his hunting skills and toss out the poor bird when he’s not looking.

But there is one thing he does that I can not get used to.

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Sung J. Woo

Book Review: J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand

August 6th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo

WASHINGTON, NJ -

Every time I open a new book of fiction, there’s a part of me that hopes for the improbable: to encounter something new, something utterly original.  So as you can imagine, I’m let down a lot.  But sometimes I get lucky.

It’s been two weeks since I finished reading J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand, but here’s this little gem of a book, still sitting on my desk.  I don’t know when I’ll return this paperback to its designated shelf, but it won’t be anytime soon, for I keep going back to it, reading one of the 100 anecdotes in this collection at random, smiling and chuckling along the way.

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Simon Smithson

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

August 2nd, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

It started with a lottery ticket.

I was in a newsagency, buying a pack of gum. I had five bucks in my wallet that I had assigned no particular purpose to, the Division One prize had been jackpotting for weeks, eventually reaching a total of AU$90,000,000 (or a penny in American dollars), and one person in three in the whole country had bought a ticket. So I figured, Hey, why not? I’ll get in on this action. After all, I deserve that money way more than any of these other chumps. God knows I’ve worked hard all my life to avoid rising above adversity, helping others, or being a decent human being in any way, shape, or form. It’s about time I got rewarded for my efforts. Also, Papa needs a new pair of shoes.

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