Fresh-baked, toasted wheat with a cream cheese shmear.
Fresh-baked, toasted wheat with a cream cheese shmear.
This isn’t my achievement, but my wife’s. Coffin Bell has published J. Motoki’s “Directions After Death” digitally and physically in their first print issue. If anyone’s interested, the anthology, Coffin Bell: ONE, is available for preorder ($15). Per usual, I’m both horrified and impressed by my wife’s dark literature. Where I’m satirical and speculative, she’s weird and wonderful and clearly, clearly, the better writer.
Forgot to mention this when it came out. Life gets busy sometimes. One of my poems published at the end of August.
Rue Scribe is a magazine devoted to “Small Literature”—to “micro fiction, flash fiction, tiny fiction,” and to, eh, what the hell, “short shorts.” This cigarette drag of story is about the “small but powerful,” about the smoke that lingers. That’s why I’m honored RS chose to publish “Cuidado,” a poem condemning global violence on women through a life-changing encounter that lasts no more than five seconds.
I’m not just a braggart. Swing by my Rejections page to see my letters of reject from 2018.
My wife and I went to see a medicolegal death investigator from the Douglas County Coroner’s Office discuss her profession—a presentation that was surprisingly lively. I thought I’d share a few interesting bits from the morbid monologue.
Naturally, the coroner was late a few minutes. Her Excuse? “Sorry, everyone, somebody died. No, really.”
According to her, a physician determines cause of death. But her job is to determine the manner of death. Both examine the body, but she also goes through the corpse’s effects, to the scene, to their homes and work places. Unlike the police, she doesn’t need a warrant.
The cause of death is something like this: stab wound to the heart. the initiation of the chain. The mechanism is what actually does the killing. So, stab wound? Mechanism: Exsanguination, i.e. blood-loss.
Cause: Pneumonia. Mechanism: Hypoxia, or lack of air, leading to organ failure.
As for manner? That’s the context of the killing.
She gave us the list of manners: homicide, suicide, natural, accident, undetermined. While the examiners will provide comprehensive data about the death, the manner ends up fitting into one of these five simple categories.
One of the coroner’s examples was an x-ray of a man with a nail in his skull. The point was near his ear, the dull hammerable bit in the center of his brain. Cause of death? A nail through the brain. But what was the manner?
After examining the wound, it’s entry, the equipment nearby, we determined the manner involved a nail gun. Judging by the angle, it was likely a suicide. He took a nail gun to his temple and blasted away.
We took cases (from out-of-state and with names removed) and had to determine manners of deaths. Mine was a guy who tried to prove a gun wasn’t loaded by putting it to his forehead and pulling the trigger. She called it a stupidicide but it was officially an accident.
We also looked at photos of grisly ends and did the same. There was a man who was struck by deer antlers. You could tell from the prong-pattern across his chest, the lacerations on his sides. There was someone who fell from a chair while fixing a lightbulb. Well, there was the chair, there was the lightbulb. We also looked at scenes without bodies and determined the cause of death. An alcoholic’s bed (the bottles, the trash basket, the sheets). A suicide by driving into a near-stationary bus (no skid marks).
One of my favorite anecdotes was about a skull she found. The examiner being a generalist, she passed on the item to an anthropologist, who determined the age and time period of the skull. She sent isotopes (water) to a lab and DNA to another lab. A femur was discovered with bite marks; this led her to find bone fragments in old bear scat. Within two weeks, they knew everything about this teenage girl, including how she was murdered.
The entire presentation was highly disturbing. I was appalled. My wife was enthralled. I hope she doesn’t get any ideas.
Half-a-year ago, I was contacted by Z Publishing about contributing to their “Emerging Writers” series. Having launched a successful run of “Emerging Poets,” the publishing house was seeking to publish new writers from every state in what they called a “sampler platter.”
I was ecstatic. I penned a flurry of fiction and plagued critique groups for several months. There were no specifications on genre, so my pieces were strange and speculative. One was about monks hunting a bear in an underworld library and another was about a man buying terraforming equipment.
Z selected “House Divided” from my slush of submissions. The story is about a recent divorcee ruminating on her home, which, instead of being given to her or her ex-husband, has been split interdimensionally between them. In essence, her husband has become her ghost, a reminder of a life lost to the vibrations and footsteps emitting from her walls.
So here we are—with my plug. There are two anthologies from Texas. Mine’s the tree behind bluebonnet, a hazy sun on the horizon, pink-gray clouds smearing the sky. I’d be honored if you purchased a copy.
Blue sky. Clouds shaped like rabbits and eagles. Faro Claret looked up at a statue of an old war hero, a bowcock adorned with gumdrops—no—buttons, and a gray uniform, and a conglomeration of names. Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard. Faro knew very little about art history, or history, and today was a rare adventure away from his windowless office where he worked for another conglomeration of names—Merklee Shipping Commissions Incorporated. This was one stop of many. Moments before he had admired a tree with similar awe, as if a tree were a sculpted thing too, carrying mysteries in silence. Continue reading “Fiction—”Rabbits and Eagles””