[This piece is a PERFECT example of what editors call the 'Purple Patch Trap'. A writer works so meticulously on every single word in a piece and falls too in love with everything to cut anything. I wrote this in high school, spending hours on the amount of syllables in a sentence, the number of sentences in a paragraph, the number of adjectives etc. Basically, it's a really thick piece for being so short, and always serves as a great reminder to me that writing doesn't always have to be so forced.] The sun chokes the moisture from my throat. Humidity squeezes on all sides. The golden brown reeds are still, but bending under the weight of their pallid bulrush heads. They stand like sullen men with hanging heads. My body is like a damp cloth being wrung dry by strong, tight hands. The humid air wraps me in its massive fingers and clenches me in a fist. My skin is drawn tight; scalded by the sun. The air is hot and thick in my throat; my mouth a stew; my tongue the meat on a grill. I walk among the reeds with hands in pockets and eyes watching my feet make each step forward upon the yellowed grass. My feet kick up small clouds of dust and dirt. It settles on my skin and makes my feet feel like sandpaper scrubbing in my sandals. My toes are dry, the nails cracked and splintered, the skin around dead and hanging. The field beyond is walled off by dark brown, almost black wooden fencing. The planks are split and fractured like a desert floor. Some have swung loose from their rigging; others are fortified by rusted steel and nails. Inside graze scrawny, skeletal cows with heads down and mouths chomping; the grass crunches like sticks between the cows’ teeth. In the center of the field is a tall tree, beside it a cow. It stands forlorn in the shade, its head hung, looking bored and heaving air in and out. A man is walking up the field toward the tree. His shoulders are square and broad with a brick of a head sitting atop them. His nose is sharp, pointed, and curled up a bit, like a rat’s nose. Short hair scruffs his neck and jaw, dense and black. Bushy eyebrows keep the sweat from his forehead away from his eyes. A bald head returns the sunlight with a vengeance, at the cost of its own skin puffing and red. Swinging at his side, wrapped in a huge fist is a massive axe. It is heavy and unbalanced in his hand. One side is blunt, weighted, and flat like that of a sledgehammer. The other side is shaped like a half-moon, chipped with wear, but sharp like a serrated knife. He walks toward the tree, goes beside it and begins immediately. His face is relaxed as he lifts the axe into the air, then he sees me, standing there like a forlorn child. He stumbles back and the axe drops to the ground, haft in his hand, blade in the earth. He looks at the cow, the tree, then me - I’m standing in his field; I’m p
(This is the piece that I wrote for entry into IYWS. It has since been unedited)
I sit here alone, in a pitch-black room of reminiscence. Memories come and fade with the ticking of a clock. Moments of every depth play themselves around me like a firestorm of thoughts. A slideshow plays itself on the iris of my eyes. Words are screamed and whispered into my ears. It is an aura of insanity.
My legs have weakened and I am driven down onto my knees. Sweat drips from the tip of my nose, and spit drools from my lips. My eyes are dry in their sockets. I am here alone; that is my greatest punishment.
If a wish could ever be granted, may it be that I am able to see her again. Just once more is all I could ever ask for, but she will not come; I know it.
I sit here alone, in my dreamy sanctuary, awaiting the presence of another to settle my aching thoughts and throbbing heart. I lie here and wait. I lie here and wonder. I lie here and hope; but know it is in vain. I cannot expect it to come, like a bastard child waiting for his father to hold him it does not come. Who am I to think I deserve such a thing? I feel the hopelessness of it all, yet I still wait. Still wait so that I may see her once more. Still wait so that her eyes may capture me; see the contours of her face, the ridges of her smile; see everything of her that made me want her so much more.
I sit here alone, but I can almost feel her presence beside me; her finger traces the folds in my hand to tickle me, while her other hand cups it beneath. She sings a childlike tune as we sit together. Sometimes, at the high notes her voice cracks, and if I laugh she turns to me and teasingly hovers her lips just in front of mine. I would feel her breath palm my chin and neck as she makes my lips twitch with--
--No, that part of me is over. That is a scrap of my mind that has disappeared inside. I search through the binding labyrinth of my spirit with no destination, and find myself broken, for through the travels of my mind I am shocked, scorned, stabbed, spit upon with the turn of every corner. This wearing battle has sucked the life through my outstretched fingers. This piece is missing, and I can summon no further will to continue on without it.
My vibrant heart has faded with every poisonous sting. It has weakened and wrinkled, and no longer resembles anything of quality. I take every hit. I’ve grown accustomed to it. It has become my abode. It has become my only sanctuary. The pain is constant; there is no hope, so there is no letdown. How a heaven of such contradiction can exist is beyond logic, but hell does not give me an invitation to otherwise.
A picture flashes before my vision and embeds itself to memory. I see a man and a
There were plenty of ways that I could’ve developed an active interest in writing that would’ve sounded much nobler and more romantic than the real story when related years later. For example, I had an early affinity for language that lead to me reading well by the time I was 2 years old and teaching my Polish nanny English when I was 4. That could’ve blossomed into a convenient, provocative memoir of a boy genius that had all the signs of being the next brilliant literary mind. It would’ve made for a good biopic about me years later, probably with Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the lead (with his hair dyed brown, I think it’d work) or an equally cerebral presence. You could have watched it and said, “Oh, wow, he’s already reading! How ironic that he became such an incredible writer! He was destined for greatness!” I was romantic, imaginative, playful, enthusiastic, just like most kids, really. I was a misfit, and not by choice, which is GREAT for establishing creative faculties in anyone. And the bullies, my God, I had the best bullies. I couldn’t have possibly gotten luckier with my antagonists. It could’ve been the story of enthusiasm and artistic verve overcoming negativity and emerging triumphant, yielding a phenomenal writing talent that would change the world and inspire everyone. Of course, then I went ahead and forgot all about the whole “having a phenomenal writing talent that would change the world and inspire everyone” prerequisite for that storyline. Poor narrative development, on my part. As it happens, I started writing almost entirely out of spite for the English teacher I had during my freshman year of high school who told me that I should consider dropping down to intermediate (as opposed to advanced) English because of my troubles with writing papers. That’s it. The pieces were all there for a great story and that’s the one I went with, instead. I didn’t write at all before that. In fact, I openly hated it. That was the central catalyst for my turning into someone who writes on a daily basis, and it was born out of petty spite. The synopsis of my biopic, now, is basically, “Kid gets mad at teacher for saying he’s not good at some stuff, so he tries to get better at said stuff.” Oscar-winning material, down the drain. But the strange thing is, and it still baffles me, while you might expect the triviality of my creative origins to make my voice more than a little wry and sarcastic, that romantic, imaginative, playful, enthusiastic voice with the early affinity for language carried into my writing, meaning that I always had a place to reconnect with genuine affection for words. For me, that’s why the recording of human perspective is a thing that needs to be protected, and why XRIVO means so much to me, personally. It isn’t about being a genius or a prospective best-selling author. It’s just about being human, talking
On the third floor of the courthouse is an empty reception desk and several chairs, all filled, a girl of college age studying medical terminology, two old women making the polite and tense conversation that bespeaks the hope that other people can make time and service pass more quickly, a man of somewhere around sixty reading a TIME magazine with the President on the cover, a boy in thick black glasses with a moleskine notebook and a suit-jacket covering his untucked flannel shirt, his stonewashed jeans, his well-kept loafers, his hair a dark and mussed mat over his skull, a woman speaking, loud, barking, commanding into her phone that the price of something be higher, that a deal should be negotiated, the tapping of all of our toes on linoleum and the hot and atmospheric breathing of sighs that concentrate at the center of the room on a man, at the desk, his hands palms down on the counter, no line for him to lead, swaying from foot to foot, weight shifting, a denim jacket and sneakers, the hair on his knuckles covered in sweat, like ours and like mine, slapping the countertop exhaling, harsh and audible, punctuated and deliberate, not wistful but pointed, his distended lips and the tips of his teeth to try and tempt some progress towards him. We follow the doors as they open and the clerks come out. We step in line quick and ordered with our summons in hands outstretched, our numbers memorized, our birthdate and our names set to priority recall, our license plate numbers, the makes and models of our cars. A man near the back of the line watches the windows and watches himself, watching the line diminish segment by segment and then the floor, chin downwards. The chat and the conversation continue, louder, less tense with action, movement gracing their discussions, spontaneous warmth - warmth and interest - the opening of personalities and the exploits of sons and daughters, the studies and the sacrifices, this morning of their judicial participation, this usurping of their routine and conquest of patterns and daylight, this moment that they’re missing, what they’re wrenched away from, this patient and that student, their line of work, harrowing peril, loss of leisure, the sweat beading at the top of their spines and wiped off their foreheads. They call off numbers and names and send us to the courtroom. Our voices echo. The walls of the room are high, ornate designs on the ceiling and the walls, the wood of the banister dividing the court from its audience pristine, sanded down to marble smoothness. The chairs are all that same wood, all ordered and perfect. They do not creak or bark with the clash of their joints. There are the two tables with glass tops, water glasses, judge and witness stand, podiums, televisions, demonstrative chalkboards and diagrams, projectors, at the center an empty space and to the right the chairs, twenty-four in total, the impending place of imminent judgment. &nb
Free writing on the idea of dreams.
knuckles colliding with wood, fissures of relief. short-lived and the complication is raw: tangled, knotted, red, like this fist. like this fucking sorry heart.the friction rises, flesh inflamed; slowly purpled as a sunset, slowly darkened like my horizon, the future splayed. I reel, surreal, come down I spill and fall. fool. and you wonder why it frayed.juxtaposed and incongruent; I've tried to sate this expectation. he sits in a ribbed cavern, purging out into this hole and I thought it had been sweetness, swore it was a medicine. it rots, allergic to this imitation: this. this. affirmation, all my second plans, all the fall-back-never-should-couldn't-be is left. disappointment seeps, softens all the skin until a simple breath can bruise. a simple fucking implication wounds.you will laugh and I will too, the salted streaks. you will roll your eyes at me and I will rub them until they bleed.
I found a journal with a series of short pieces in it (some horribly pretentious attempts at being through-provoking, others just descriptive) and am working through editing them. This was written in the spring, possibly as an attempt to hurry summer along.
I figured I would just get some ideas / a map of some of the things we mentioned including in this. We can add to it and then on Sunday make it look pretty once we have content taken care of? If there is anything that I add that you don't like or think could be improved upon, please feel free. I felt our guy needed a name, but even that can be changed.
Name: Karsten Schwartz
II. Work Experience
III. Volunteer Experience
1. Civvies - necessary Civil Service in home of aged persons at request of government. Unmatched tasks, assist in day-to-day objectives.
IV. Hobbies / Achievements
1. Bike riding, football playing, family and friends to visit, meeting new people, writing of poetry and narration.
Watch, where you’re going!” you sneer at me and move on with your nose up.
“sorry…” I mumble back, picking up my books
Actually you ran into me. I was standing at my locker, not like you even care.
You see me in the halls every day; I sit in the desk behind you in history, and have a locker down the hall from you.
Do you know I’m homeless?
My dad, brother, sister and I stay in abandoned buildings. Our family didn’t split up when we lost our house, and I think it’s better that way. It still feels a little like home because we somehow manage to have a few rules existing.
The rules are simply: go to school as much as you can and don’t fight or get arrested.
Before we were evicted we were a proper “use-a-napkin and write-your-thank-you-letters” kind of family.
But that was before dad was considered a disposable part of the company. That was before all the bills and their ever-so-pleasant collectors. That was before the power was cut and our tap ran dry, and a nice blue paper was nailed to our door.
Don’t think this all happened overnight, oh no, this was a prolonged suffering. My dad fought every step of the way, “just some more time” he’d say. Oh dad, why would time make an exception for us?
That gave me time to prepare though.
Step 1: Go through the stages of grief and then accept the fact that you’re moving into a new sort of residence (probably a refrigerator box)
Step 2: Practice. To get what you need you are going to have to steal, lie and beg. No need to dance around it. Homeless people tend to acquire sticky fingers. I wasn’t always a thief though, but you reach a certain breaking point. Like when that blanket in the store is so soft and warm and the temperature is dropping outside. 44 degrees… 37… 33… and there’s your breaking point. So people should check their pockets when they walk past me, and pat me down at every store exit, but they don’t.
Still, stores are only good to an extent. Homes are the real bonanza.
Breaking into houses is best during the day when most are at work. Usually it takes a little patience and surveillance. Now contrary to popular belief, we aren’t about to break into your house and rob you blind. That would put you and the police on red alert and it would have been a one-time thing. No. We are subtle. We’ll observe the house: When do the adults leave for work? The kids for school? Are there security codes? A dog? We need to get to know you in order for you to be the “hosting” family. We don’t take everything, just some crackers in the back of your pantry, a blanket from the bottom of the linen closet, and the shirt that you never wear. Nothing big enough to notice, just the stuff you forgot about already. We’ll stay with you for maybe a month or two, and then leave. You’ll never even realize we were there.
Those are the days I miss school.
And although I may have stolen many things, I still have a conscience and I won’t forget those I’ve taken from. I made a list of all the names (taken from IDs)