Satire

Fiction — “The Most Prolific Writer”

Tanner Harby is the most substantial writer of the 21st century, although since the Century has only recently started, that might be presumptuous. But I am already this far in my report of his craft, and if it emerges that there is anyone who has written as extensively and with such detail, I will kill myself. I will put a gun to my temple and blast away, because my life will have become a purposeless ooze.

What makes Harby interesting (abstractly, not in actuality) is his lifelong attempt to document his entire life experience – all of it. Every minute, every moment, every fart, as it occurs in real-time.

Obviously, this project has had its pratfalls. Harby cannot record everything. In fact, his novel (shared with me, and only me, through Google Docs) is abridged. His babyhood, his childhood, are fleeting. The true conceit begins in his dwindling teen years, specifically when he learned how to write at 16, and will end at his death. Most of it is typed, but some parts are scanned napkins, toilet paper scrolls, whatever’s available.

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Writing

Fiction — “Seven Days”

Day One
Not having anything to do, or to stave off the heart attack forming in my chest (it turned out to be gas), or to hold off a walk to the gas station for cigarettes, or to creep away from the wife awhile, ornery ever since she noticed a carpet growing on her chin (it happens at this age), I turned on the light in the garage. “That’s better,” I said, maybe to the dust, before I set up my canvas and paints. But I couldn’t think of anything to put to paper, so I went back inside and watched TV.

Day Two
The light was still on when I went in and sat on my stool and tried to think of what I was going to paint. Wasn’t there some guy who looked at a blank canvas for ten thousand hours and sold it for ten thousand dollars? Some postmodern garbage about painting with the eyes, or the meaning behind the effort. But you need to be an associate professor to pull that crap. I thought to myself: simple. Dab the brush in blue. A sky, maybe. No gradation. No atmospheric perspective. No clouds, either. Just blue. Like a Rothko.

It was a relief to be painting again, but I couldn’t think of anything particularly interesting beyond its base color. My wife was on the couch, reading a book about magicians. I kissed her head, and she made a waving motion like she was fanning away a fart. Take-out again.

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Life, Satire, Writing (Published)

Published — “Flexible Groups”


Defenestration published my short story “Flexible Groups” in its December 2016 issue (for context, they release an issue every April, August, and December). I was influenced by Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and my experiences in professional education. One of the members of my writer’s critique called this style “snarky with a soul.” I’m keeping that.

Defenestration is an online publication devoted to humor in all its varieties, and its About page boasts such accomplishments as selling its life story to Christopher Nolan (you might have heard of a little something called The Dark Knight) and successfully defending the Earth from Martians.

Writing

Fiction — “The Poor Rabbit”

He came home worried about the broth smell misting through the house. He went straight for the cage to find it empty. Did she do it? Did she cook the rabbit?

He sat at the table, disheartened, and when she brought a bowl of soup—just water and meat chunk—he felt an internal brokenness, a crack in that childish hopefulness that had helped him survive poverty for so many years.

The rabbit, the little innocent, sacrificed like everything else.

But when the rabbit hopped out from under the table, he sighed, relieved, and pet it gently.

“Eat,” said his wife, happily. She gestured to his bowl, but where her hand should be was a stump wrapped in bandages.

“Eat,” said his wife. “Eat.”

Satire

A list of exhibitions the Museum of Modern Art would probably display

A wall coated in Bubble-wrap with a Do Not Pop Sign. All the bubbles have been popped.

A year’s worth of poops in grocery bags. Each is titled with what the artist ate that day. For example: Desmond White, “eggs, mushrooms, enchiladas, side of salsa, aspirin, 18 ounces of water,” Nov. 7, 2016.

A wall-sized plaster vagina with live feminists inside spurting passerby with super soakers full of goats blood in a modern comment on silencing the lambs of lady periods.

A window that’s been labeled “window” or “panels.” A mirror that’s been labeled “reflections.”

An armchair made out of dicks been done

A labyrinth of waist-height cardboard walls been done

A video of people making out and rubbing fish on each other been done

A pile of straws been done

A rabbit made out of rabbit turds been done

and finally

A beautiful baroque portraiture done in the style of Rembrandt with a caption that reads: “The artist wanted to upset the popular notion that modern art has to be shit.”

 

Writing

Nonfiction — “5:58 am in Stafford, TX”

Two minutes to six and I can’t ignore the heavy drops of rain tapping my car like a full set of fingers on a keyboard or God beating out a tune in a rhythm I’d have to be God to understand. These are taps I find more distracting then the velvet snores of my wife two minutes to midnight. This morning I am sleepless in Stafford. Last night I was sleepless, too, maybe because grading and lesson planning has me taking caffeine pills at 7 pm. Or maybe it’s an anxiety leftover from Hurricane Harvey. We all seem to be shivering these days at every storm-sign. Fall’s coming. Fall’s here? Difficult to tell away from the screen of my phone and the expedited flings of a google search (Google: the best way to bing). Nor can I look to the skies or stars. Man peers down at the glowing milk of phones while the Milky Way hides behind fog and musk and must and smog. Houston doesn’t do Fall right. We don’t have the crooning red leaves swirling in ancient tempos or the yellow-orange bracken littering the floor like tossed invitations to some garbageborn small town venue. Houston is slimy year-round, the glitter dulled by knees of moss and Jurassic greens. Maybe the sunsets are a little more red when you’re stuck in traffic, but how do you find the beauty when avoiding the Wheels and Winds and Waters? Now Houston rain isn’t fingers—it’s gray cement pouring against windshields. You can never really escape it, nor the feeling you’re slowly falling out of love.

Writing

Poem — “A Cigarette on the Beach”

A cigarette on the beach:

Cold,

Light-headed,

Salty,

Composed.

You inhale with the coming of the waves;

You breathe out as they slip away.

The drowsiness you feel is the cooling of the earth

as it spins through a universe of cold, salty thoughts.

The embers in the stub are little suns.

You flick away a shooting star

and know at once how small you are.