Comments Posted By mattlock
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When people say that they want the truth, that’s not usually what they mean. And when people say they want TRUTH, that’s not usually what they mean. What they want is a story without obvious artifice. They must be outsmarted by the artifice in order not to see it.
Truth is banal, chaotic, full of tedium and irrelevance.
But an editor knows just enough truth to make a lie enjoyable.
» Posted By mattlock On 05.01.2019 @ 5:57 am
Days pass, and then years, and eventually a lifetime. They are made of decisions, or at least the idea of decisions. There were choices, that much is assured. But who chose? The person that you weren’t, and became? Or the person that you are, and never had any chance to avoid? Or do the two meet somewhere in the past, when all scales were tipped to the point of breaking, and the future wrested from your hands?
» Posted By mattlock On 03.20.2019 @ 5:54 am
Many years ago, on a gymnastics mat, the world spun around her. Skylights spattered with rain, the blue cracked plastic and the foam underneath, the back wall against which other gymnasts propped their legs and stretched, and the door, a shining blur of outside light even with the clouds, and the darkened shape of her mother emerging to bring her home. Her body a warm mellifluous song, it flowed around the world and took the shape of its surroundings, and she floated through the beautiful sounds of the present into the future.
Now, in that future that was once so dark and shapeless against the blurring light of those days, her body had grown to the limits of its mold, had cooled, and shrank into a hardened shell which had begun to crack. Where before she longed for the rolling world, in the air and against the ground, now she feebly and tentatively put one foot just slightly ahead of the other, leaned hard on her cane, and wished only that the world would remain upright and stable.
Then the day came that her cane found false footing, and the world rolled again, she with it, seeing first the window blurred with the fiery sunlight, then the ceiling of the stairwell, peeling away, and finally the darkness, and no blur of light within.
» Posted By mattlock On 03.19.2019 @ 8:31 am
An handful of dust, recycled far too many times, was once again scooped into a leathery sack and pushed out into the light. And later it shivered under the black canopy, and looked through the only clearing to the stars, which shone like many eyes watching down, and reminded of the many terrors watching from just in earshot. And the infinitely more terrors that grew as restless ghosts in the sack, osmosed in from the dew of lonely mornings, the rustle of grass in warm winds, found it again from old times when old sacks were torn apart and all dust strewn again into anonymity with the ground. If only this could be the case, all would be quiet again. But this sack could not allow it, its own enemy, and spent its days filling more sacks and taking the quiet from that dust, because it could not stand the silence of its own being.
» Posted By mattlock On 03.17.2019 @ 4:34 am
What did you expect? That it would last forever? That you could experience these things and put them in our pocket, and take them with you like obedient pets? Did you think they were lying to you, those robed degenerates lounging on marble?
You hirsute madman, stumbling from the wet jungle, clumps of mud in your beard and eyes. Where did you expect the path would lead? Through all this dripping verdant life, expiring and reforming eternally before your eyes, to a clearing with Spanish marble and Roman statues, catching the sun like the plaza you left? And in the center, a beautiful fountain of gold? Wreathed in the divine consideration of angels, created from the stories you left? Waiting for you, built for you, with life for you to take, exactly as you hoped it would be?
» Posted By mattlock On 03.16.2019 @ 6:01 am
it shimmered as only old dreams shimmer, in the secret places of a life nearly over
and the whipping wind tossed little white lips of froth over themselves, rhythmically, in sequence toward the shore
birds swooped from the sky, catching the sun on the way down, flashes of white in descent
and it smelled like a breeze that is the whole infinity of summer drifting from wherever youth comes from to wherever we box it away and visit it only in memories of water, lilacs, grass pollen, algae, the cool smell of green in the leaves
he kept this place near his chest, and climbed into it sometimes, on long dark clacking train rides from the cold and doubt
» Posted By mattlock On 03.15.2019 @ 5:05 am
Where all stories, even the first story, began. And where many stories, including maybe the first story, end. In small, foolish, terms, the long strip of pulverized mountains where boats are rocked to sleep on the surety of the tide. Where leather-faced men dislodge insults from the lost parts of their lives, that they heard in foreign tongues when they were spry and disembarked in search smokey-eyed conquests — or to be conquered. Where children without eyes fully opened see everything for the first time, and remember the spray of the saltwater but only for the next year.
The border between the light and the known world and the dark and the depths. From which any horror, half-seen, could slither out and terrorize. And at one time we were that horror. And the dark will wait until our corpses are engulfed by the tide and slide back into the deep.
» Posted By mattlock On 03.14.2019 @ 5:09 am
!” He shouted, his hair slicked back and blonde as summer grains in an old Roman senator’s field. Light streamed from his face. His radiance flowed out among the rows of fold-out chairs and brought out rich, blood, royal, reds from the musty stained carpeting. The hotel conference room, with him in it, was Napoleonic, with windows that stretched to the ceiling, gilded in baroque fleur de lis that tangled along the columns and joined cherubs, perched at the convergence points of the great arches. His wisdom and charisma stretched back through generations, as sure as the city itself would forever be a beacon. As sure as the indomitable advance of mankind would enslave its way through the stars. And the peasants, eternally searching for an altar at which they could prostrate themselves, surged forth from the snack bar and lettered rows and old lives of Iowan drudgery, clutching their coin, offering it to him, and with it fealty.
» Posted By mattlock On 03.12.2019 @ 3:42 am
The ones who long for escape will dedicate themselves to understanding their prison. They will dive in, to the walls, the floors, the pipes in the basements — and further. They will follow the pipes outward, sink into the currents of shit and toothpaste that wash outward to the furthest horizons, and follow them there. And inward — to understand the tiniest twirling of electrons corroding the latches on the windows, so that they may perfectly reproduce the patina and its pattern over spans of time both microscopic and galactic. They will die before the work is finished. Their bones will pile up against the walls of laboratories, fashioned into chandeliers like cappucins. A descendent of a descendent of a descendent — unrecognizable to the orginators — will wade through the femurs, flick on the light switch (made of a finger bone), and enter the last line of instruction that will complete the simulation. And a thousand years in the past, a scientist (whose spine forms the better part of a decorative chais lounge) will have looked into his imperfect future, and will have seen this moment while pondering the subtle swirling of steam from his tea, and will have smiled.
» Posted By mattlock On 03.10.2019 @ 5:25 am
Fat from the carcass crackled around the fire. A semi-circle of tired, dirty, things crouched and watched the meat cook. Gusts of warmth escaped from under the meal and touched their faces. Light as well, shadows against the trees and the canopies and into the tangle of dark brush. One looked back, hearing, from his secret fears, the rustle of death behind him. Instead he saw something like his own shape, and the shape of his companions, outlined darkly, moving, striding across the trunks and branches, chasing a dream of the past.
» Posted By mattlock On 01.30.2019 @ 9:08 am
They fell out from the tangle of history, twisting around the world and blowing in the breezes. Split, gnarled, burnt, cut, dyed. And we count ourselves fortunate to be among them, draped over the shoulders of the future.
» Posted By mattlock On 02.11.2018 @ 2:38 pm
A sea of blue and white scales, scraping along the floor of the bay. Waves whose contents were water and flowers and sometimes incinerated relatives. Now, whose contents are each other. Who are formless and yet cling to form, until they grind into dust. Another load dumped from some shore. And the force moves about, and smashes into the opposite end, but not with a soft ‘r’, like some accident. With an ‘l’, with intention, and damn the consequences.
» Posted By mattlock On 10.14.2017 @ 9:36 am
She shuffles between the tables holding a tray of clanking glasses. She slides in the small spaces between like beams of light slipping under a door. She holds her breath and tightens up her stomach to try to make herself smaller, to fit, between those lives, seated and flailing and shouting about themselves. She brings and they take. They grow and become fat. They become drunk and larger and expand like balloons until they push on the walls of the restaurant and the doors creak to hold them. And still, she finds space, where life is not, to pull more plates out, to shuttle mojitos, smuggle bottles of beer. When the expanding people have burst out the doors and windows and spill out into the night, she sits on a box of napkins, and fills her lungs like balloons from the end of a cigarette
» Posted By mattlock On 09.30.2017 @ 10:12 am
What is it like when the base assumption is wrong? What is it like when the dock floats with the water? Or, from the deck of the boat, you could swear it’s the sky rolling and not you. The captain, snapping open a gold timepiece, takes another look at the map and knows, when that little golden spear of sureness moves to impale those Arabic scribbles, he will stand on sure footing. And yet, he will still rock, his body a memory of the sea. At that point, he will only be sure that it is he and not the land that rocks. And the golden time-piece is the assuring, sure-footed, lie that allows him to continue on among the gaudy crowds.
» Posted By mattlock On 09.24.2017 @ 1:45 pm
If there was only one choice for a man to make in the short course of his life, that choice should be what to worship. All further decisions flow from this. Does he choose to murder? Or something more banal, it doesn’t matter. What matters is his highest ideal and how he squares his actions with that.
Better than the things that are chosen for him — which are numerous. The preciousness of life, the importance of family, his anxiety, these are the things that some dead god put in his bones and which will guide him surreptitiously. When he chooses his worship, he takes those and resurrects them into a new live God, something chosen by him, something which guides him because he finds its guidance best.
Or, at least, that’s the ideal
» Posted By mattlock On 09.20.2017 @ 1:31 pm
I’ve heard that pious weavers would add imperfection to their rugs, to pay dues to God, the only true perfection. But the king felt no such shame and no call to such deference. He had before him an army, a nation wide and a lifetime deep. It’s not that he chose not to be pious, piety never entered his mind. There was no room next to the ambition. Crops died. Wars were lost. But his ambition became his obsession. For all the daylight hours (and then, years later, by the light of thousands of candles hung from great chandeliers) the workers toiled after the walls of the palace. “Bluer than bluest sky,” he commanded. And traders came with sapphire and left with the treasury. And jewelers took their share and came back with azure tiles by the thousands. When the first palace was done he stood in it, disappointed, empty. Before the last worker left he ordered the roof torn off and the walls extended upward. The base grew by double. Catacombs were added. And every inch covered in shimmering tiles of deep blue. The palace grew nearly to the walls of the city. Until the King died and all was demolished.
» Posted By mattlock On 09.16.2017 @ 9:45 pm
In a creative mood, God got up from his breakfast and walked to the veranda. He looked down over the railing of balcony at the white flecks of sails and sailboats floating on the azure water. A salty breeze tossed his hair to one side. Vines and olive trees on the cliffs under the villa shook similarly. When the breeze halted he could hear the muffled noise of bathers and sailers mixed up with the rhythmic cries of seagulls. The scene was a radiant source of happiness and peace. It was, by most definitions, perfection.
Which is what bothered him, I suppose. Perfection is static. There was no drive in such a world. That radiant peace was a blanket that would spread out to other places, warm and comforting, and smother all development. In this perfection, he thought, he had failed. A wave of sadness came over him. If only that were enough to redeem the scene. But he had overcooked this one.
He walked back in from the veranda, to the cooler shade of the marble inside and then out the door of the villa. Meanwhile, the atoms of every bit of matter in that world began to quiver. An energy excited them, moved them around in their places, and then compelled them to break rank. In great bursts of light and heat, the sailboats, the bathers, the seagulls, the azure sea, all of it, was unmade. It became energy, and then nothing. And then a thought in his head as he slowly drove away.
» Posted By mattlock On 04.25.2017 @ 5:05 pm
Your love is like a fortress and we are the invading armies in the fields beyond the walls. There is one inside who peaks over the battlements in jealous doubt and lays in the lavish warmth of your shelter. We watch him in envy and we plot our entrance.
The brave, impetuous soldiers who charged the gate with roses and poems fell alone in the dust. Even in their dying slump they breathed their last too far away from you to even run a bloodied hand against your walls.
The politicians argued forcefully that the gates should be opened, for the prosperity of all. Their leaflets launched in ornate packets from trebuchets and fell in your courtyards. But steady was your loyalty, and you burnt them in the many fireplaces that warmed Him through the winter.
One succeeded. The one who climbed in through the sewer ducts clutching a knife in his teeth. We cheered when we saw the old king’s head tossed over the walls, until we realized that the doors would never open for us.
» Posted By mattlock On 01.14.2017 @ 2:35 pm
That’s a good word because when I was sitting here waiting for it to load and thinking about what I’d write and why I started wondering what the purpose is of all this. All this single-word brainstorming. Do any of these paragraphs become novels? Do any of these people become authors? Are they authors already? Procrastination was my favorite sin when I was writing more. Writing became its own procrastination–as long as it sending a few more perfunctory breaths into the cloying corpse of the story I was working on. As long as it wasn’t submitting to the tyranny of the writing advice. “Write for 5 hours a day, whether or not you feel inspired. Sit in front of your desk and stare at empty paper if need be.” Is that so? Is that the secret? To turn this little ember of inspiration into coal and then stamp it flat and sell it as pencil lead? To turn the escape into the pursuer. Might as well just get a real job.
» Posted By mattlock On 01.06.2017 @ 7:43 pm
One finger slid down the communiqué to hold his place, while the shockwaves of the shells pushed the walls in an out and caused the gas lamp to pirouette in desperate bids to escape the hung nail, while the local people pushed desperately in and out against each other to escape the city walls and save themselves from a final pirouette to the ground, clasping hands over the hole in their chests. The other finger listened carefully to the blown lines of brain transmitting from the other end of the table, resting on the bronze crown of the thumb lever, sometimes pounding quickly in staccato, mimicking the hollow echoes from the near distance, transmitting, at a speed at which all those clumping bodies in the streets would like to have moved, somewhere in the far distance and the unseen distance and only if the lines were not cut, more or less because the transmitter’s body shook independent of the walls, the news of the retreat. And sometimes between explosive bursts the finger fell and rested, like the bodies on the far end of the city, and stayed down like a long sigh in the lines, or like the last exhalation of a body slumped over a still desk, the cracks of death moved past him and further into the distance, and a final transmission held indefinitely by the weight of a leaking chest.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.29.2016 @ 1:02 pm
If you want to know what rage is, find a toddler and give her a live bird. Imagine she’s maybe 2 or 3 years old–old enough to understand when something is alive, but not exactly why or under what conditions something dies. Put the bird into her hand, carefully so that it can’t fly away. She will grasp it too tightly. The bird will sound muffled shrieks like a dog chew toy squeezed of all its air, and for the same reasons. The bird will be her best friend for the hour or so that she waddles around and shakes its corpse. Eventually it will dawn on her toddler mind that the bird is no longer struggling its weak struggle under her chubby fingers. When she puts it on the grass, it will not move. She will know that it is dead but she will not know why or how to reverse the process. Tell her that she killed it because she squeezed it too tightly. Make sure she knows why it died and that she was the murderer. Now imagine the opposite of that.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.27.2016 @ 10:02 pm
The others, who walk in swing-step on the promenade, promenading, if you will. Whose stark-white smiles flash in unison, or in ripples along their ranks, arm-in-arm, as they skip (or goose-step in the masturbatory fantasy of a degenerate) to the shining shores of oft-promised future. They flicker like lightning in far away clouds on farther awayer horizons and we think, “If only I could flicker so,” like the real truth of the projector and it’s many concentrated attendants.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.26.2016 @ 2:44 am
What True North guides the needle, and for what does it owe this fealty? In all the years that it has stared hopeful past the horizon, has it never been betrayed? Has it never know the despair of the pursuit, felt tired in its soul, turned South and slipped away into the darkness of its mind? North is always there, pulling the compass to it like a servant. Better the servant then, for whom there is always a path. At least until the Earth stops turning, when all compasses will know nothing.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.18.2016 @ 12:15 pm
One wonders what really exists between two things. Or two people, for that matter. There is this word that means: the distance between, the volume where there is nothing, around which all creation exists. When really between us is more than is inside of us. Maybe thousands of years. Maybe hundreds of whole lives lived like water forming into ice, wedging space in the bricks.
» Posted By mattlock On 11.27.2016 @ 11:40 am
Small vortexes formed around your eyelids every time they fluttered, like the vortexes around honeybee wings. I almost couldn’t look right into them–they tore my soul out and left me without words and just when I thought words were so important. So instead I think I looked down into the ice cubes of my drink and stole glances at the mirror behind the lined firing squad of liquor bottles which had all night been gunning down my resistance to you, just to get a look into your eyes without you looking back. Or I caught your slightly melted face in the bronze shine of the bar-rail, from where you leant your arm so casually and stabbed at my heart with your laughter. Already floating, already light, the upward force of your eyes, when I finally looked up into them, tore my head clean off. Sent it somewhere into the sky.
» Posted By mattlock On 10.29.2016 @ 3:12 pm
Images passing along a mirror’s face are, to those in front of the glass, a true reflection of the world. Within the frame are all the possibilities of life, excluding memories, which themselves once slid along the surface and then exited into oblivion. But while they lived were included in the frame. Possibility is the reflection, and outside the frame, although not real, was still possible. Possibility then is a reflection of ourselves–of that which is behind us. What of the world behind the mirror? And how many mirrors surround us?
» Posted By mattlock On 10.22.2016 @ 3:03 pm
Serpentine dreams wrapped the sides from just inside the lips to just under the base. Did they connect inside? Or were they a part of the glaze? Just another facade to a vessel awaiting content….
» Posted By mattlock On 10.16.2016 @ 11:20 am
It shocked her that that was the first word that came to mind; that she could look in the kitchen pantries of so many faces, hike through the crevices at the edges of smiles, scour the whole back lands of miles and miles of wrinkling, sagging, pimply, cratered, leathery deserts, and still find nothing but void.
» Posted By mattlock On 04.30.2014 @ 5:43 pm
Men rushed in, doors shut, wind followed them and curled around your frosted glass. They were shouting, but laughing, disgorged their overcoats, drew wallets, slammed them down on the counter and yelled demands. All eyes snapped to attention. The room fell quieter. The leader held a plastic card above his head and barked orders: “Everyone be cool; round’s on me…” before releasing it and letting it slide toward the petrified bartender. A blast of hot liquor leaped out and into your throat, burnt you as you shuddered at the force. And then the Stockholm, for these commandeering brutes, aggressive louts pushy and inconsiderate–but didn’t he have the most beautiful eyes? All that bluster, just a guise? So he let his sympathy pour on you, softness unseen, shared tenderly in the midst of that command, connected, tethered, then yanked–back through the shutting door, cushioned by the wind.
» Posted By mattlock On 01.10.2014 @ 1:40 pm
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She moved with alacrity through the love of the mirthful crowds and city. She glittered and did not shine. Pity, I think the word they used, that her celestial beauty fell prematurely from the vine. No seed came of the fruit of her brief and luminous levity; her withered icon fallen, in the end, her life another elegy.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.19.2013 @ 11:24 am