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Category Archives: Guest Writing

Punched in the Imagination

The following piece is one of my all time favorite pieces of writing.  I read it out loud to my then 17 year old son, Max, and when I was done (and after he had briefly closed his jaw) he uttered what is now my favorite quote about a piece of writing and one I hope will someday grace a dust jacket on Keith’s work:

“I feel like I’ve been punched in my imagination”.

This piece is poetry masquerading as flash bizarro fiction. It has mesmerized me since the first time I read it and I lost count of how many times I’ve read it sometime last year on what might have been my Baker’s dozenth. It is so wonderfully illustrative of Keith’s bizarro writing with the vivid imagery and almost painfully tight word choices.  His work isn’t always pure bizarro; he does horror, fantasy, and well, he does Keith Dugger.  Regardless of genre description, his writing is minimalistic, precise, and poetic.

You can find more of Keith’s words at KeithDugger.com

~Sue

 

Cicadas, Molasses, and Roses by Keith Dugger

 

Somewhere in my imagination, a cloud-shaped mushroom envelops my soul.

And I walk through the red door.

On the other side is a figment of a woman. She’s more beautiful than my imagination can create. It’s just her sitting there in the middle of a room of nothing. She’s tied to a chair with an empty look watching me.

“What are you doing here?” I ask only as a conversation starter.

Cicadas scream out of her mouth in a language I cannot repeat, but one I can understand. “I’ve been waiting here for you.” Her voice is like watermelon heaven.

I reply a little less cicadian, “Have you been waiting long?” Okay, a lot less cicadian.

Sparsely placed windows with panes hewn of dust and death filter the light shining down on her chair; it dapples over the wood like the shadows of zombie hummingbirds. Her skin shimmers and shifts in the grey light.

“I don’t mind.”

As I cautiously move closer, a feat I accomplish without walking, I see thin strands of fishing line attached to many parts of her beauty. Eyelids, nostrils, cheeks, ear lobes, eyebrows, and at least fourteen points on her lips all tied in neat little fishing-line bows. Even the points on her breasts are connected. The lines jut out from her, fan out and up, a crystal peacock waiting to flourish a mating-call display.

The lines tug and relax in a symphony of motion as her cicadas talk for her.

“Why do you talk with cicadas?” The red door behind me is now a man holding a candlestick made of ear wax. The flame burns blue.

Her mouth strings tug a sweet little smile. “I don’t talk with cicadas, you listen in cicadian.”

The cicadas disappear around me in a funnel of air as she talks. The chattering bugs don’t hurt me, but I think they want to. I’m glad they don’t, cicadas are the sound of my analog dream connecting me to her.

I name her Sin.

I want to sit beside her and hold her. A chair appears next to hers, leather, dirty and new. I sit beside her and want to hold her, but I can’t. The wires letting her talk and move and look at me are more than in my way.

Her hands are tied behind her. I weave a touch through the dozens, perhaps thousands of almost invisible lines holding her world to mine. I need to hold her hand. But I can’t.

Before I can untie her, free her from this fisherman puppetry, I walk through the blue door.

Somewhere in my imagination, a mushroom-shaped soul envelops my cloud.

On the other side is a figment of a woman. She’s uglier than my nightmares can fathom and she’s strapped to a table. Her eyes are made of molasses and ooze a look toward me that makes me fear all liquid candy made from sugar cane or corn syrup or tree sap.

“What are you doing here?” I ask only as a conversation starter.

Her voice isn’t watermelon heaven, it is a sickening mash of soft, rounded edges and low, gravely undertones. “I’ve been waiting here for you.” She is everything I wanted to hate, but loved anyway.

“Have you been waiting long?”

“I don’t mind.” Her sweet voice pulls bile from deep inside me and coats the inside of my mouth like a dirty mop cabaret.

I float toward her even against my strongest desire to run. As I get closer, I see tiny ant-sized people skittering across her skin. They stand up in smiles and bow in blinks just so she can seem more real than she is.

“Why do you see with molasses?” The blue door behind me is now a man juggling tiny yard gnomes on fire. Their beards make the fire burn green.

“I do not see with molasses, you visualize with sugar.”

The molasses drips down her neck, over the edge of the table and pools on the floor like sticky windows into yesterday’s tomorrow. The edges of the molasses pools sparkle and crack. The dark reflections don’t hurt me, but I think they want to. I’m glad they don’t, molasses is the flavor of my analog dream connecting me to her.

I name her Molly.

I want to lay next to her, to feel the velvety texture of the million little people shuffling her skin in reaction to my touch. A padded table appears next to hers. I lay beside her and want to hold her, but I can’t. The little people punch and scratch and bite me every time I get too close.

Before I can sweep the tiny nuisances off her ugliness, I walk through the yellow door.

Somewhere in my imagination, a soul-shaped cloud envelops my mushroom.

On the other side is a figment of a woman. She’s different than any woman my imagination can create and she’s floating in the nothingness above me. Her fingers and hands and arms are made of rose bushes that reach out to me to prick me like razor wire on top of the fences around my brain.

”What are you doing here?” I ask only as a conversation starter.

Her voice whispers with a sandpapery lisp grating me back to the red door. “I’ve been waiting here for you.” She is everything I fear.

“Have you been waiting long?”

Her voice pulled me closer against my will. “I don’t mind.”

The roses were black, wrinkled and dead.

“Why do you reach out to feel with dead roses?” The yellow door behind me was now a man kissing another man that was himself. Their kiss makes purple fire.

“I do not touch with roses, you feel with death.”

Dark rose petals flit about the room and me, their edges sharp enough to cut me in two. The black roses don’t hurt me, but I think they want to. I’m glad they don’t, roses are the scent of my analog dream connecting me to her.

I name her Petunia.

I want to wallow in her rose bush, to feel the death of a thousand roses. My fingers and hands and arms turn into roses. I move close to her, close enough to touch her, but I can’t. Her roses of death mock me and laugh at me and make my roses wilt.

Before I can clip the darkness of the dead roses from her, a woodpecker with a spiked wig made of marmot hair pokes at me.

“The doctor will see you now,” the nurse said. “Have you been waiting long?”

“I don’t mind.”

And I walk through the white door.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Guest Writing