Comments Posted By mattlock
Displaying 1 To 30 Of 102 Comments
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
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
I thought that it was the television that gave the first announcement of the storm. The soccer game cut out and an emergency report announced that weather had changed direction and that we should all take shelter at our nearest emergency site. My sisters and my mother and I panicked, but grandma just waited until the game came back on–and it did, oddly. The sky darkening and the quiet breeze slowly getting angry and raising its voice. We strapped down what we could and got everything ready to carry to the emergency shelter while Grandma just sat and watched. I lost it and started screaming at her to help. I don’t think I was even done yelling before the wind screamed louder than I could and rain started pelting the SIDE of the house more than the top. It changed from the middle of the day to black as night in the space of a few minutes. How odd it was that the game kept going on a sunny field and Grandma didn’t answer. I was yelling from the doorway for her last chance, because she hadn’t said anything the other twenty times I told her we were leaving. I thought it was the TV that announced the storm. But Grandma had known it long before. She’d smelled it way back when the air was just breezy and rolling in slow and warm off the sea. She’d smelled it like she’d smelled it a half dozen times before, and a half dozen times watched the smiling bright sky turn black and hateful, and come down to tear around and snort and wail and shred the whole world to pieces. She’d watched from the shelter too many times–not another, she had said, without saying. I left her in the sunglow from that soccer game in some happy place far away, as we descended into a crowded concrete bunker, and the sky descended itself and swept all things away.
» Posted By mattlock On 12.01.2013 @ 8:16 pm
The dump truck backed up to the canal and beeped in a shrill tenor. The whirring hydraulics pushed out a long alto moan and the old hinges of the hopper groaned in baritone. A pile of old instruments shifted with the gravity, shuffling like soft brushes on symbols. In a staccato rhythm they splashed into the water. The rushing air from their fall pushed through them and was molded into the faintest hum, heard only by nearby dogs. Then, in the silence, they sunk to the bottom.
» Posted By mattlock On 11.30.2013 @ 7:04 pm
He set the smoking quellazaire onto the dark mahogany of the desk and noticed something peculiar and compelling. The curls of smoke seemed like the living counterparts of the swirls in the wood; one was the cold hieroglyph on the wall of the tomb. The other was the wild priest, dancing a ritual in a gust of wind. But he saw there, too, that the spry ringlets, twirling and twisting, full of invisible energy, slowed and calmed. As the fire at the tip cooled, the line of dancers rose heavily, hunched over themselves, laboring to lift their weight up. He watched, horrified; he felt as he did when watching a perfect scene in a brilliant play, that the total truth of his soul was known and being acted out before him. The playwright knew him perfectly, had perhaps gone before him into the same troubles, and as frightened as he was to know, he had to watch, to see his future in that little sideshow on the desk. The heaving lumps of tired smoke convulsed–the cigarette was near its end–then formed a straight, thin line that looked to him like flags being pulled from a magician’s sleeve. Til the last one slipped up into the air and evaporated, the cadaver of the burnt filter laying in the black swirls of mahogany. His heart calmed. He sighed and pushed his chair from the desk, wheeled out into the darkness of the room.
» Posted By mattlock On 11.28.2013 @ 12:19 pm
I think I fell backwards, but that’s all I really remember. There was shouting and the sound of a train and something was wrong to my right side and down, I know that. Mostly I just remember the sound of the train. It was just shaking and noise all around my, coming from inside my head, felt like. Not really like a noise but like a feeling, rumbling out from the dark part of my chest, just above my stomach, and pushing fast and strong along my sternum and into my neck and then jerking my head around to that wrong thing on my right, and down–made by the people, I guess, in hindsight. Like they were all rumbling, or vibrating, in tune, and all those waves just wobbled around everything else and converged on that one spot. I think they carried me, too, because, now that I think about it, I was down there, with the trouble. Shoulders hurt; I must have lifted something. Then legs; maybe I jumped? That’s all I remember. Then rumbling, rumbling, squealing and…. that’s it.
» Posted By mattlock On 11.15.2013 @ 9:27 pm
Huddled hunks or mounds of flesh and torn cloth, indistinguishable, lumbered in silence along the muddy lane. Their bare feet sunk ankle-deep in slop, a festering mixture of mud, manure, blood, the leakage from the bloated twisted bodies lined up on the flanks of the road. The city that lay behind them emptied of its life, filled up with maggots, windows dark and doorways resperating decay. They were fleeing, city to city, to someplace god had not lain his sudden vengeance, to somewhere that peace and life would still persist. Scurrying alongside them, attracted by the food falling from their bags, were rats, carrying the tiny remnants of that past and current horror.
» Posted By mattlock On 10.23.2013 @ 8:41 am
I put my ticket back in the rolling raffle bin and watched it shuffle and nestle into the vortex. They were little leaves in a tornado, or tiny kleenexes caught up in the mother-of-all sneezes–chain-link, I guess. No, they were scraps of paper–receipts, envelopes, flyers, newspapers–in a weed-grown, cracked, abandoned, parking lot when the winds come to blow away summer and the little streams of cold winter start to trickle in. Those winds are heavy and crash into the pieces of debris and hurl them around in that little parking cage, smash them up against the fence and hold them there, but they can’t get out. Not until that divine moment when two front mix over that spot and some hot air caught on the ground surges up. That updraft can carry them higher than the fence; it can let them free into the streets to wander all the way to the horizon. How to make that happen? How to get it so the bright hand reaches into that ruckus and pulls out just your little scrap of nothing?
» Posted By mattlock On 10.20.2013 @ 11:23 am
It hung so sweet from the wilting branch, the desert heat and no moon for weeks–only stars. Up he reached and sweat ran down his face; long rivulets from the upper delta to the lower ocean. Lost in the sand, without the moon: who could know when it was? Wrinkled fingers wrapped around it, pulled it down–it snapped off the branch; you know the sound–carried it with them for the rest. Wrapped a smooth polished ring around the finger, til it wrinkled, shriveled up, no rain for weeks. Isn’t that what we’re here for? Asked the waiter, with another bottle of wine and a red tablecloth.
» Posted By mattlock On 10.12.2013 @ 6:26 pm
The rolling rack rolled away, carrying back flashes of unfolding light, backward into the darkened coils. A bearded man stumbled across rocks, shouldering all the individual iterations of creation, illuminated scales of a black serpent strung up in the gears of the box under his arm. Slithered, it did, away into the past. And with it took the present, a long line of mute corpses, posed in effigy by a blind mortician, small in the wheels.
» Posted By mattlock On 08.24.2013 @ 10:58 pm
Back To Stats Page
He swore a hesitant fealty to the empty throne, shining gilt in the low-light, returned to his waiting retinue and they thundered back into the forests. The thought of his new charge hung heavily over his shoulders like a leaden cloak, and made him blind to his ride for much of the foggy night. He wished that he could toss it off, reneg and be free. But before day broke weakly among the branches, the image of his burden changed to involve silver trimming. A fine fur collar caressed his neck. Silk lined the inside and held him warmly and softly as his mother never did. The outside was brocaded with intricate scenes of battles and angels revealing in him a splendor his past had denied. His yoke became his pride, and as he emerged from the forest into the sunny dewy fields, he only wished that he was quicker in festooning it with added weight.
» Posted By mattlock On 08.03.2013 @ 10:40 am