And of the toilet brush

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And of the toilet brush
next to porcelain bulb
resting in its holster
all bristles even with the lip
save one
curling up
from the pubis of the brush’s handle
curling up and away
from the toilet brush’s
downward
destiny
curling up and away
from shit
and piss
and vomit
and gism
and I have never seen
a violence
so complete
as that bristle
curling upward and away

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

You know

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

When that orange burns through the gaps in the leaves
and you pull your sweater just a little tighter
and the rush hour of thoughts put you in a daze
and your faced with another night sleeping alone
and the dogs are whining for their walk
and you’ve mindlessly opened and closed the fridge
and you glance at the clock 90 times in one minute
and you turn the dryer back on without even checking
you know
you know you’re alone
but that little blue ball
Bukowski’s little blue bird
still hops
in your rib cage
keeps you pacing
you know your spirit
can take it
you know

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Deny, Aloof, Fame

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Crickets
No wind
Move your arm
Feel it swim.

Black swiss cheese
Above the trees
Blinking holes
Moving souls

Words betray
I’m okay
Donkey’s bray
I’m okay

Nature moves
Flashing screens
Breathing mouths
Counting beans

Piles of beans
Flash on screens
Breathing mouths
Become routines

Dying slow
Long goodbyes
Reflecting glow
Attracting flies

Nothing loved
Nothing gained
Straining eyes
Entertained

Wearing masks
Hiding flasks
No more smiles
Wandering aisles

Keep in mind
Distance gained
No more hugs
Distance maintained

Hold the phone
Coming home
Fingers itchy
News so kitschy

One more touch
Finger raised
Swiping screen
Red Blue praised

Square root =
44.94441010849
Year of fear
Drinking wine

Crickets
No wind
Move your arm
Feel it swim

Blue pastel
Above the trees
Sending man
To his knees

Condition, Skin, Waiter

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Slip, drip through cracks. Crocodile flesh the desert floor eats all alive sun baking the heat Venus Fly Trap. Death

Circumstances, existence temporary. Ripping veils kicking, screaming, bleeding, kissing, fucking, missing, sleeping…not waking up. Being

Fingers, toes all in a flurry. Skittering, tittering blurry. Frenzy, quaking and shaking. Sun’s point of view, we don’t move. Waiting

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon lathers, shaving, slivering, chiseling, waning. Time

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon is full. Love

Surprise, alive, squeeze, squeal. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon shaves and grows. Love

Dirt, water, air, fire.

falling stars
waterfalls
choking weeds
blooming buds
browning grass
lush jungle
forest fire
toxic sunsets
fresh air
bleeding noses
Eskimo kisses
Love

Role, Disturbance, Dine

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It’s not the shoes. It’s the feet. It’s not the feet, it’s the bones, muscles and tissue. It’s not really even those things, it’s the brain. The thing that tells the feet what to do, where to pivot, stop, book it, boot it, jump, slide and plant.

Even when they don’t feel it that day. On any given day the feet come to play, the mind could be a million miles away. Dreaming of that perfect companion with which to dine. Those sorts of things are controlled, some would say, by the heart. So perhaps it’s not the brain, but the heart that when hurt, doesn’t allow the brain to function properly.

Lace up all you wish but the distractions are many and the appetite for play simply isn’t there. Hear the cheers, the boos but if you don’t see that one face in the crowd, the heart just won’t play. Or maybe it will, perhaps it truly can be mind over matters of the heart. Perhaps you can will your feet to connect where they need.

I don’t know. Sports is very one dimensional, usually all or nothing. He gave it his all. She just didn’t want it enough. Is that really the best way to make parallels with our life? Maybe sports are just fun to watch.

Today was a good day for living but not for writing.  

Fascinate, Drawing, Rise

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

He walked ten blocks on the phone talking to her. Trying all the time to drag out the conversation because he knew how it would end. Then he walked ten blocks back, paying attention to each step, understanding that one foot in front of the other was the only way to get back up the hill, the only way to get back to his house.

She had captured his attention but, in his state, he wasn’t ready to reciprocate. Change as a concept was easy, he thought, but it only happens one step at a time. When they met, he hadn’t taken enough steps to be ready, to reach that change he pictured in his mind.

Along those ten blocks were houses with the various decorations of Halloween scattered on lawns and porches. The only spell that he ever knew happened not in a cauldron but in the eyes, hair, smile, laugh, and touch of a woman. What he might call love. The first and only evidence of witchcraft.

Now he would have to create in his mind the lines and shapes that would show him what his new life would be once his feet carried him up hill. How would he construct a home? On what foundation would it be built? How strong would it have to be to withstand the earthquakes, twisters, hurricanes and storms that would come? On what would that home be built?

And all of a sudden something inside cried out, “Baby don’t go. Baby don’t go. I tried so hard but I wasn’t ready.” He took a breath and shuttered. It was cold. He was alone. On what would he build his home to make sure it was standing if the spell never wore off?

Mask, Impact, Discovery

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Perhaps loneliness can be written away. Getting lost in words, ideas, sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters, books, tomes, libraries. To become friends with letters and a tool for writing. Making acquaintance with a blank page, filling it with the handshakes and small talk of stories, essays, and poems.

Forcing one’s being to come into contact with the page, to forget all else. Surrounding loneliness with all that comes with writing and wrapping it all tightly around like a hug. Consumed by repeating the feeling period after period. Obsessed with filling the page and losing the self. Building a safe covering, draping oneself with the muses of tragedy and comedy; Melpo and Thalia.

All the while time moves, slightly faster, than when your eyes are locked onto the clock, moving with each blinking light or ticking hand. Loneliness slowing time. Time amplified and compounded by loneliness. Sleep and death the enemies of loneliness but friends of time and its passing.

Perhaps loneliness can be written away. Erased or at least postponed by the transcription of thought into words. How many words to erase loneliness? How many candles to light up a dark cathedral? How long can they burn? How much time passes before loneliness like a wind, rushes back in, leaving only the smoke of memory?

Burrowing furiously to unearth some sort of truth, the face behind those smiling and laughing masks, to the spiky ball of pain, down to the fluffy ball of joy. Digging down the white, throwing up black letter after black letter until you’re at the bottom of a page, buried safely under a pile of words.

Trade, Imagine, Concert

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

To give one thing for another.
To create in the mind a picture of what could be.
To act with another in harmony.

That is what I want.

To give one thing for another, where both parties are satisfied.
To create in the mind a picture of what could be. A home.
To act with another in harmony and dance without even thinking.

That is what I want.

To give one thing for another, where both parties are satisfied and what they receive is what they return.
To create in the mind a picture of what could be. A home. An existence more comfortable together than an existence apart, even at its most difficult.
To act with another in harmony and dance without even thinking. To carry a conversation while balancing all the tangents, jokes and looks for years and years to come.

That is what I want.

To give one thing for another, where both parties are satisfied and what they receive is what they return. Where they stand up as equals but lean on each other when necessary.
To create in the mind a picture of what could be. A home. An existence more comfortable together than an existence apart, even at its most difficult. Fiercely individual, independent but inseparable.
To act with another in harmony and dance without even thinking. To carry a conversation while balancing all the tangents, jokes, and looks for years and years to come. To pick up where they left off and know they pick up your slack as well.

That is what I want.

To give one thing for another, where both parties are satisfied and what they receive is what they return. Where they stand up as equals but lean on each other when necessary. When the relationship becomes the haven for the individual.
To create in the mind a picture of what could be. A home. An existence more comfortable together than an existence apart, even at its most difficult. Fiercely individual, independent but inseparable. A picture where both stand together in any setting or with backdrop, holding hands and smiling.
To act with another in harmony and dance without even thinking. To carry a conversation while balancing all the tangents, jokes and looks for years and years to come. To pick up where they left off and know they pick up your slack as well. To know that their worst can be accepted because their best is truly awesome.

That is what I want.

Wave, Paper, Flexible

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Hands reached for the little boat. Fingers tapping its paper corners and sides but the current whipped it down the gutter. The blue and red ink began to puff out in areas where the boat was pelted with rain and splashed with the small waves rising over sticks, stones and garbage clogging the drains.

Dropped into the makeshift river, this little boat was light and feathery. It’s creases tight and corners sharp. Now after rain, rapids and collisions with hands and debris, the little boat was becoming heavy. The taut micro-fibers ultimately making up the boats triangular shape were losing their rigidity.

The rain turned to hail, and the sky’s angry kidney stones pelted the little boat. Each ice pea dunking portions of the paper vessel into the water. The sail was nailed from the side and submerged before teetering back to its shape. The bow was hit, and the boat flipped over, and righted itself once again, continuing its unguided journey.

No matter the danger, the boat stayed the course and went with the flow of the stream. The only thing that changed it was the fibers loosening their grip on its former shape. With each dip in the water, every wave, every reaching hand, stick, stone, hail or rain drop, the little boat slowly changed.

By the time the rain stopped, and the sun jostled its way through the angry clouds to dry its tears, the little boat was no longer that. Instead, a crumpled piece of paper snagged on a branch and dried in the sun.

A day later, with no rain, snow or hail forecast, a man without a home wandered down the street. The paper shivered in the wind, catching the man’s eye. He bent to pick it up and looked at its blue lines, like a watercolor prison door. Pulling a black marker from the side of his beanie, he wrote.

He stuffed the paper into his pocket and made his way to the intersection downtown. A woman, stopped at a red light looked over to her left and saw a sign that said, “Hungry, anything helps.”

The little paper had changed and changed back again. Now it would change again.

Average, Compose, Indication

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A deep breath. A few quick blinks of the eyes. Pulling the shoulders back. Things to twitch out the nerves and get back to stasis.

To see a creature so rare for the first time cuts the breath short and tightens the ribs around your heart. To want to see that creature again is audacious. An indication of stupidity.

A horse can be seen on any farm, pasture, rodeo, fair, petting zoo, television set, film, etc. The unicorn is a different matter. You’ll find it when you’re not even looking and if your being isn’t ready it’ll slip out of sight just as quickly as you blink.

A graceful, powerful walk yet grown not from the pith of clouds, but the steel of cold and dark places. A glint shines from the tip of its horn, proving its readiness for battle. It’s coat white with muscles rippling through scarred skin. Blue eyes that burn with passion and dogged persistence. A fiery mane cascading down a neck and shoulders that have carried the burdens of weak men.

I saw that in a glimpse, and I cannot get enough. And if I should never see it again, I’ll console myself by knowing that at least I had that instant.

And my youth is…

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And my youth
is running out
and your age
is coming
to an end
and our time
together
has been
short lived.

So when my time
comes
let it be
in the embrace
of a hug,
the verge
of a smile
or
that wave of
emotion
that crashes into
a new parent
when they hold
their child
for the first time.

Let it be
in the silent scream
of a shooting star.

Is Jesus coming before the Police?

A short piece written about a loved one’s suicide attempt. 2003.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

“Is jesus going to come before the police do?” a stampede of swine grunting, squealing and snorting away from the long splinter-scarred finger of gods only child run whole-heartedly off the edge of a cliff. The creator of everything Ferrero Rocher and pneumonia, sits behind the belt-buckle tightened around Orion’s waist. The long wrinkled finger of a guilt infected old man leads a boys gullible gaze to the twinkling stars, winking and nudging the darkness. One finger towards god but four curled back to underline the butt of his cosmic joke. A shitty Korean car idles in a closed garage. A special snorkel from exhaust to cracked window helps the old man understand the punchline. The swine fall through the roof before the chicken can get to the other side. The stars wink and nudge the darkness. “Is jesus going to come before the police do?”

Birth and Illness as a Child

A short piece written in 2009.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Images of incubators, IV drips, tubes and a wrist band. Memories conjured up by repetitive whispering echoes. Stories on repeat for the benefit of the teller. Any deviation from the script might yield a moment of truth. The voices chant visions of a baby with chicken pox, red bumps, itching and bloody. Collective sighs of relief ease out of the peanut gallery. The boy is catching the right diseases at the right time. Praise god, thank you father and continue to bless us. A telling symptom for the diseases of the soul, an unquestioning heart and a reluctance to embrace the shit. While the doctors poke and prod, the peanut gallery; the gloria-inexchelsis-deo-gawkers destroy their knee caps and hold sweaty palms together. Oh what a friend we have in jesus. Indeed, while the doctor stabilizes gods little pin cushion, grabs a cup of coffee and announces to the gawkers as they rise from their diligence, “the babe will be fine.” The doctor takes a bow. The peanut gallery once again takes a knee and as they look up to god, the angels hook the doctor by the neck and pull him off stage. The illusion practically flawless; as solid as a slice of Swiss cheese.

Of grunting and groaning

Thoughts on politics, more specifically, the September 29, 2020 presidential debate.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Like a good American I am more concerned with what I’m having for dinner, playing with my dogs, checking to see who liked that picture of me on social media and protecting my right to leave the house freely and unencumbered. I wear a mask, of course, mostly to ward of judgement, but I do it. I’ve been keeping my distance from all of you all my life, so it’s great that everyone else knows to stay 6-feet away now as well.

A presidential debate, you say? Sure, I’ll watch. I care about the future of my backyard.

So it began.

I got up in the middle of the “debate” to roll back the sliding glass door to the back yard. My dogs ran out and sniffed for their spots in the dust patch I call a yard. The English Bulldog on left and the Boston Terrier on the right.

The bulldog scooted his hind legs underneath and pushed out his rear dumping a couple mocha jumbo-sized carrots. The terrier scooted her hind legs underneath and pushed out her rear, dumping a few dark-chocolate tootsie rolls. If I get up close to either one, I can hear them grunting.

They kicked up dust and ran back into the house.

The debate went on but I had a realization: That I could not watch my dogs take shits anymore. Why should I know so much about them as to describe the length, girth and color? All I can do as their owner, is pick up the shit and keep the yard clean and free from stench. I thought about a scenario in which I would no longer need to pick up after my dogs. When (and I hope this day is long in coming) I would have to put them BOTH down. I’d never want another dog again. A big change for sure, but a different life could be found afterwards. I could manage.

The debate ended and I thought about my grunting dogs and cleaning up their shit.

Social Security

A short poem, 2013.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A little boy sat on a bench in a park,
watching old men play their game. 

One moved his piece,
they frowned and they slouched,
then the other accomplished the same. 

The castles moved straight,
the horses made hooks
as the black and white shapes met their fate. 

The boy slightly shifted,
his gaze never lifted,
as the sun slowly made her escape.

The men’s eyes creased wrinkles
as moves spotted became twinkles
and their hands became part of the pieces. 

The boy closed his eyes,
looked up to the skies
and asked god why this game never ceases. 

God gave its reply
in the form of a sigh
but the men and their game stayed the same. 

The boy shook with cold,
looked back at the old
and decided that he would proclaim:

“I know I’m too young
for all of your fun
but it’s getting quite cold you see. 

My mother is waiting
but I’m still debating
if this is the game for me. 

I wanted to know
before I did grow
who would be left with his king. 

So I’m asking quite nicely
if you’ll play concisely
and finish this game before spring.”

The men gave a chuckle,
one grabbed his buckle,
as the boy cocked his head to the side. 

The old men gave advice,
hoping that would suffice
but the boy sauntered right up beside. 

Without making a scene,
he reached for the Queen
and moved in a line that was straight. 

The old eyes got wide,
the boy swelled with pride
as the man on the right cried,
“Checkmate!”

Sabbath Mourning

A short piece, 2012.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I used to be such a good boy. Making promises to my mother about keeping all my senses away from trouble. Every sight, sound, smell, flavor and texture was a blessing from God. Back when tattooed men were frightening and loud talking women made me angry. When skunks didn’t remind me of smoking and mint was just for candy. When a quarter was more valuable in my piggy bank than in my pocket. Back in the days when guns were made of plastic, bullets out of foam and soda was not a mixer. Back when I only had one face. Now here I am on the other side of the coin. And having seen both ends I know that you need both sides to buy a soda.

I was a lover

A short piece from 2013.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I was a lover before this war and don’t tell me that mental pictures created by TV on the Radio don’t have the power to change chemistries. I am weary, sick and scarred from too many battles in the war of who could care less. When Uncle Ben Folds Five times and still doesn’t learn that the house of the Rising Sun never loses. We know then for whom the bell tolls. A sickening ring that continues its echo, repeating its cold brass answer.

It tolls for thee, for me, for she, and for he. And I refuse to continue wincing at questions of christianity (lowercase, improper noun) or other. It’s not as simple as loving my brother. So I shrug my shoulders at religion, at theology, and democracy, my politics apply only to me. I shrug at the dividing notions of this versus that because I wish to see through he and through she before I get to me.

I walk barefoot on the sand to feel the process of my steps. In the sun or in front of the stars. I open my eyes to fill my mind with everything the light reflects. My ears are open to fill something inside that can’t be described. To write is the most frustrating thing because there are emotions and experiences that will never exist in words. The contrast between black shapes on white space.

I was a lover before this war and I already know the ending. The question of my last breath is either sober or whiskey soaked. The continuous monologue in my mind reaches the end of its reel. I am not making sense but its my senses that make me. I don’t wish to Confucius you but the way of the tao (lowercase, improper noun) is better paved than that of christianity (lowercase, improper noun). If christ (lowercase, improper noun) was the way then that way was tao (you know).

Teetering

By Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Maybe I wasn’t there. Maybe I was but I’m a different person. Maybe I was there learning, adapting, and changing. Maybe not at your pace or your style but maybe I was there. Maybe the next one will be.

Maybe you didn’t know what you had. Maybe you built an excuse. God knows I’ve built my own: teetering Derrick’s pumping crude bullshit into my brain.

Maybe I didn’t say hi. Maybe I needed more time. God knows you do.

Maybe life is understood teetering on the middle of a maybe.

Where are my teeth?

A short piece of prose, or something.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

You get so up in your head that you want to flash back to your BMX with the two pegs to ride down the street and back as fast as you can.

Weeks go by. Years go by.

You get so far into your projections. You want to change.

Years go by. Decades go by.

You see your family the same but they’ve all changed but they haven’t stayed the same. You make the same mistakes but with bigger consequences. All around you the t-shirts change, the science changes, sensitivity changes but it’s all still the same.

The body ages but the mind grows chaotic: A frantic camper in the rain racing to drive down stakes into mud. Stuck to stories growing mold, fuzzy but always staying the same.

The sandman doesn’t sprinkle you with dust. St. Nick can’t give you what you want. Christ could be relatable if only he’d made mistakes. You bought the world’s spirits, elixirs and potions but snake oils only erase time for nothing in return. The tooth fairy took all your teeth but I think she also has your innocence, and you never saw a dime.

Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup. Too many voices in your head spoil the creativity. You can spend time but you can never buy it.

The only option is to drive down stakes into moments you never want to let slip.

Tonight

August 23, 2020

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I bounce my legs to keep the flies, gnats and mosquitoes from biting my feet. My elbows jump out to shoo them away. It’s still 90 degrees out, whatever that means. There is a breeze and the sun is blocked by a neighbors trees three houses west of mine. The wall unit is buzzing. A pool has formed from the steady drip of water, soaking the mat on the back porch. The dogs are splayed on the linoleum inside.

Saul’s visiting his kid. His bed is still in the living room. With only the wall unit to cool the house, we sleep in the living room, me on the couch, Saul drags out his mattress. Tonight he’s sleeping at his kid’s grandparents house.

I got a tattoo on Friday, wearing a mask the whole time. It’s a small piece, a couple of words, “live deliciously.” The implications are of pursuing a Bacchanalian existence. An almost ironic statement given the amount of societal distancing lately and, possibly for the foreseeable future.

I can hear the parrots that roost nearby in the Summer. Not native to Southern California but escaped from a local pet shop and thriving in their own gurgling, trilling, whistling and squawking bacchanal. I envy them tonight, and many nights lately.

I let baby girl out. She’s sitting at my feet, panting. I look down at her when the neighbor’s dogs bark but she doesn’t seem interested.

In a few minutes I’ll head inside to paint but I don’t feel like I can abandon my writing before landing on some deeper meaning, some understanding for the day. Today, perhaps, I must be satisfied with simply writing about the present.

Hall, Light, Doctor

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

In the hall, where transitions take place. Shuffling from one idea to another. On my way to eat over there. On my way to shit over here. On my way to paint in the room next door. On my way to sleep in that room.

Always on my way to something but never appreciating the place in which I make the transitions. A cheap whore is the hallway, used to and fro without a thought or care. In the middle of my house but never the center of my attention.

The light in the hall has two switches, never pointing in the same direction. One is always up. One is always down. Neither ever looking in the same direction. One is off. One is on but the light always changes when one looks the opposite way.

Where do I go from here? The hallway leads to all areas of my home. Where I sleep. Where I eat. Where I shit. Where I shower. Where I work. Where I fuck. Where I watch TV. Where I stare at the painting and think about all the things of which I need to think.

I’m 34. I’ve been to the doctor more times than I wish. They don’t know shit but what you tell them. They are hallways, clueless unless you already have a direction in your mind. They speak with authority, are necessary evils but really don’t know anything unless you have an idea in your head.

So here’s to the hallways which we all traverse, mindlessly, thinking about what’s ahead, never thinking about the journey.

April 28, 2020

Evening on the patio.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Living alone is survival. Life is being in a relationship. Life is a relationship. it’s strapping into a roller coaster with someone else and taking the ride. It’s seeing that person as the moment.

I wish I had taken more photos and videos of our time together. There is no poetry in that last sentence, only a cold realization. I have only memories and those fade and morph into abstract shapes. Blurry lines that only just begin to provoke a feeling. A photograph shakes the rest of the memory awake, giving that moment a life in the mind.

I was mistaken. The moment to be lived was not the place where we were or the thing we were doing. The moment was her. It was her reaction to the view, her laughter during the show, her smile after dessert. That was the moment and I missed it. I missed them and now they’re fading, leaving me with only lines and abstract shapes.

I came outside, after sobbing in bed, to write. Pincher pugs crawl everywhere and, though I don’t see them, crickets chirp.

I happened to pause and look up at the night sky, exactly at the moment that a shooting star entered the atmosphere and disappeared milliseconds later. That has happened to me more times than I can remember.

It was told to me, or maybe I read it somewhere, that to see a shooting star is an extremely rare occurrence. Not for me.

My instinct is to ask what it means. What everything means. What does it mean that I seem to see an unusual amount of shooting stars? If it is, in fact, unusual.

I’ve learned to stop myself, however, from asking those unanswerable questions of meaning. Rather than appreciate a thing for what it is, my mind moves to construct some larger, overarching truth that must apply to me. A virus that attaches to my brain and distracts me from what is, by pushing my mind to think about what must be. It manifests itself in religion, ideologies, and philosophies by feeding me thoughts that reaffirm or justify my actions. A virus that blinds me to the simple truths directly in front of me by forcing my mind to interpret instead what I wish to see.

The first step is admitting to myself that I am infected by the virus of meaning. I must admit to myself that everything I see, hear, smell, taste or touch does not necessarily bare itself into some greater truth. the virus, like a giant rolling ball of tar, picks up those things and tells me they are all related to the never-ending monologue in my mind.

That everything has meaning to me or that there lies somewhere in the depths of the ocean a cosmic truth that is false.

The next step I take will be in the wrong direction. I’m flickering. I’m not receiving any signals. The channels are fuzzy and the batteries in the remote are dead. I have nothing but the buzz of static to keep me company. No regularly scheduled programs, no advertisements, just a fork in the road and no information in my head. The glow of my screen the only source of light. A television with nothing to show. A television with no shows.

Then I met the girl that showed me the stars, that showed me her scars and the channel switched and the show changed. I changed. I can see something new, something new. Something better.

April 27, 2020

Evening on the patio.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’m beginning to understand how kings of old grew fat and angry. Staying in their castles with only pleasure to occupy the mind. The mind, my mind, needs a challenge, something to which it can lend itself.

I’m growing fat and lazy, less ambitious. Hungry only for scraps. There is a sort of deterioration that occurs in the mind during a depression. A deconstruction, that for a writer leads to excessive personal pronouns; I, me. A narrowing of walls that somehow the rest of the words squeeze through leaving me with all the “I’s” alone.

Qualify, Screen, Reaction

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Entitled by deed
Entitled by greed
Entitled to feed
Entitled to breed
Entitled to bleed
Entitled to stand on one’s own screed.

Begging for chances
Begging for advances
Begging at feet
Begging to eat
Begging for meat
Begging for the right to one’s own dances.

Burn up the screens
Burn up the scenes
Burn up the teens
Burn up the jeans
Burn for the queens
Burn to find out what everything means.

Tear down the bricks
Tear up the flix
Tear down the walls
Tear up the dolls
Tear down the malls
Tear of the curtain to see all the tricks.

Build up your scheme
Build up your cream
Build up your steam
Build up your dream
Build up your stream
Build to make the status quo scream.

Follow no man
Follow no plan
Follow no klan
Follow no fan
Follow no ban
Follow the instinct that tells you, “you can.”

Go up
Go down
Go left
Go right
Go in
Go out
Go

Grass, Thin, Theft

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Seas of blades
giants run, jump
make love and
sleep

Collapsing thuds
checkered cloths damp
with dew

Wrapped in wind
Robinhood thieves
pick-pocket hearts

Twisting chiffon
Spring steps
blades bend

Love is Molasses
Care is water
The thick and thin
of thieves.


Beam, Appeal, Oven

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I cry hard, like something is forcing itself out of me. Its wrinkled hands prying my jaws open from the inside, sending out a beam of aching sound, like wind chopped by the blades of a mill. Grunts and groans, the acoustics of pain are beautiful.

Plea’s to higher powers only expand the shadow over me. Nothing comes down, nothing hugs me, nothing screams in my ear the comfort of an existence lived any other way than alone. Let us look up, in the holy scripture, the book of 2nd bullshit and find out what lies lick our ears and send us life preservers with no rope attached to dry land.

Half-baked illusions equate to disillusions. Heaping helpings of please and thank you’s, excuse me’s and handshakes do not replace a single realization that we are and will always be entirely alone. Living in ovens, separated from the rest of the kitchen, getting weaker and weaker until we finally fall asleep in the warmth of wires glowing red. To become a meal, an example for some fresh batch of lives, popped into the oven.

Belief, Obese, Death

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Stars, sun and moon pattern canvases of purples and blues.

Bloated fingers stuffed through rings dab foreheads, stomachs and shoulders.

White hairs spill from Mitres jabbing at the sky.

Oceans of pink pressed hands squeezed white.

Fire licks spit roasted gluttons.

Salivating teeth taste smoke.

Souls peep morning skies through dewy windows.

Stars stab sun.

Moon kill sky.

Sun kill moon.

Bus, Defeat, Miracle

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

He hopped on, paid the fair and took an open bench seat towards the back. Someone had vomited in the seat across the aisle from him. Gripping the handle above him, swaying with the bus, he lifted himself into the window seat and stared out.

The rain drops on the window made all the head lights look like shooting stars passing him. No one was walking the streets. Homeless were huddled at bus shelters, doorways and underneath shop overhangs.

Then, once again, he thought about her, a new her, a more recent her. As quickly as it had begun it had ended and instead of the hurt subsiding, it was rising again.

He lowered his sleeve by raising his arm and twisting his wrist to check the time. 40 minutes to get home, review what he had written so far, think about the new direction for the project and then call Larry. The new project was about his divorce but he couldn’t stop thinking about the girl friend he had had shortly after signing all the paperwork. He had lost her too.

Maybe lost wasn’t the right word, she had come and gone. He had to sit with that. Accept it and not hold onto it. It was too easy, with everything that had happened over the past year and a half, to not view things as defeats stacking up. He was winning in defeats. He snorted and smiled to himself, checking the neighborhood they were in. Two more stops.

No one saw the smile because of the mask he wore, everyone wore. The pandemic was still raging and he thought about how much social distancing he had already lost, now this “act of god.” It would be nice to experience a miracle some time soon rather than disaster after disaster.

One more stop. The bus pulled away from the curb and he watched the red and blue lights of a cop car across the street. They bounced all inside the bus when they passed.

He had to force himself to think about the story. At first a good idea. Taking his recent experience with divorce and creating a fictional horror out of it, exaggerating the feeling of loneliness, strangeness of the once familiar and the questions of what he had done wrong.

The bus stopped, he grabbed his bag and jogged around the corner to his building. Someone was exiting and held the door for him.

“Thank you.” he said passing.

“No problem, it’s nice to catch a brake sometimes.” The old woman laughed and let the door slip from her hand.

He kept going, trying to force himself to think of the story, to write what he knew but be separate enough from it to tell it coherently. Unlocking the door, he nearly tripped over his dog, Marty who was nearly seizing from excitement.

“Marty! Not now. I got work to do, bud.”

Setting his bag on his desk, he pulled out the notes he had begun taking. Reviewing all the acts and asking himself, what small details can I add that provide some relief to the heaviness of the story?

And I write.

A poem.

And I love you
even though
you are gone.

And I sit
in my feelings
and enjoy them
because I am alive.
And then
I feel
the next thing
that comes.

And ancient
cosmonauts
hold up
scepters
in a statue of liberty pose
in the kingdom
of outer space.

And wolves
drip bloody howls
into snow.

And red haired girls
dance
in fields of flowers
with their eyes
closed.

And
I write.

And
I love you
Forever.

Pilot, Hair, Wolf

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

…only beginnings

At mach speed it screams through me, mixing with my chemistries, passing through the shudder down my spine and ripping through my rib cage. I’m left with a glimpse, a still of a needle nosed jet driven by a figure with a helmet and tubes. Intimate is the moment, a photo, a tingling, an ache.

Follicles salute bloody snouts. Extending past split ends, peering at red snow, hearing howling, growling and snarls. Patellas chatter with tibia, fibula and femur. The vertebrae conga twists and sways. Visceral macabre discos, danced by ancient biological giants and jolted still by animatronic technologies. Everlasting, never changing pirouette’s dedicated to the unknown, to fear.

Notes bounce jagged lines over tympanic membranes. Hear and let beat what needs beating. Listen: I can be fulfilled alone. I let things come and go. There are only beginnings…

Box, Swing, Touch

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Six sides, 8 corners, and hollow in the middle or sometimes the vessel of some great surprise. It’s potential, opportunity, pregnant with possibility. A box.

The stomach holds the great tangled nest of intestines, large and small. Like the patterned maze of the brain, the stomach holds all the feelings. The butterflies, the guilt, the shame, the regret, the excitement. It bares the burden of our most pivotal moments. It’s that spot in the dirt where heels dig in to turn directions and change course.

To rub Buddha’s belly is a sign of good luck, it will bring good fortune. It’s hard not to think of the Buddha being tickled by so much rubbing, with that big grin permanently etched into his golden face. To run a mindless finger around the belly button, to feel the grooves and smoothness of worn away stone or metal, is an act of meditation.

Momentum. The tick and tock of a clock. The up and down of the yo-yo. The yin and yang of life. The back and forth of the swing. The push of feet against concrete against the pull of gravity. To what end? Gravity always wins.

Box, swing, touch. Everything is connected.

Rope, Blind, Sword

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I step outside and look around at all the legs and torsos around me. I can’t see too far because of the fog around my head. Everything is monochrome, it’s always been monochrome but I have a feeling that I’m missing color. It’s a dull ache and I suspect that the heads of those around me, attached to the necks, torsos, and legs of those passing me in the fog, poke through the clouds above. Others breath fresh air, they see colors above the fog, they feel and express those feelings.

I stand on my toes and crane my neck, willing my head past the clouds to something else. I never seem to be able to reach it. I’ve stacked crates, books, climbed ladders, but I can never get high enough to see past the monochrome.

Sometimes, I’ll go to a bar and some old man will push a glass full of gold with bubbles in my direction. I drink it and I catch glimpses of brightness, take deep breaths and feel something in my chest, rattling at my rib cage. Some moments there’s a tiger biting at the bars and other moments there’s a mouse passing freely throughout the world of my body. The bubbles in my glass fizz and pop but my head is tilted toward the sky.

There must be a reason young men look up at the sky and shake their fists while old men stare at the ground and rub their tired hands. I was born to die but while I wait I wave my hand in a long, slow goodbye. My eyes see but I think I’m blind. Ropes are for tying down and swords are for cutting but love is for those still waving goodbye.

Terrify, Characteristic, Throat

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

She danced on the burning edge of a match. Flames lapping at her legs. Her skirt twisting with the into the reds and oranges. A little spot of white in the center of destruction.

She danced and opened up her throat to scream. Her hair tangled in the flames being pulled by the stars. Fingers moving like tentacles, waving and sticking to her body as she swayed with the wind.

I held up a hand to shield the match from the violence of the wind. The fire would eat, but it would have to taste the wood of the match all the way into my fingers before it sent up its smoke.

The fuel of the green lungs all over the world fueled the dance between my fingers. Those forests of lungs all in a singular breath from the Amazon to the Black Forest, creating a hollow breath through the tunnel of the world.

I watched her dance and ignored the insatiable appetite of the flames biting into my finger tips. An emptiness hit me, a tunnel opening up inside my chest, terror. Then the flame spit up its victory smoke and I was left with the memory of her dance.

My blistered fingers fumbled for another glimpse at the woman who danced on the burning edge of the match.

Until my fingers black and nerve endings shriveled, I would strike, and shield, and watch the women dancing in the flames.

Recite, Knot, Drop

“It’s time, children, time to recite that ancient refrain.” said the man in top-hat and tails. “Give us money, give us money, give us money or I’ll scream.” Over and again, the same refrain. Over and again, the same refrain.

The Captain eyed the man in tails. He shook his head and turned his boat around. “If you all can’t play nice, then I’m turning this ship around! Keep your hands where I can see them and please comply with my crew. They are going around collecting wallets, watches, keys and any other surprises you might have. *wink* perhaps mints or chocolates.”

“Here take it, take it, I don’t need it anymore.” Says the old man, the last living member of his family. “For what are things? “the old man asks looking down at his shoes. “If we have no one to share in its significance?” A tear hit the floor in front of a member of the crew collecting valuables.

“I’m not a man to take what isn’t mine.” The teenage crew member dropped his valuables and ran out to the deck. Leaning forward on the railing, trying to catch a glimpse of land. “Ho, there it is.” bending down, he leapt overboard. The pursuing crew braced against the rail, looking over at the splash. One of them had gotten free.

The woman in charge of rigging, pulled at the knots in the rope. She saw her mate jump overboard and swim it alone. A brave and terrible thing to do when refusing to comply. She continues pulling at the ropes, only to tie them up again the next day.

Those on land see the ship and wonder what they had missed. Where did they go? What did they see? Are their lives really better than mine? Crowding around the ramp of the ship, people ask for money. Money, thank you. Money, please. Money, I’m begging you on my knees.

“All the money’s on the ship. We don’t own a thing.” It’s true, but the reflection on the bubble floating around the wealthy reflects the appearance of money. And that’s enough for mob. And then they don’t have money. They come down the ramp, turn around and join the crowd asking for money. Always asking for money.

The man in top-hat and tails, wails from the deck as the gangway pulls back. “Ladies and gentleman,” he waves his arms around the ship, “your money! Give it a round of applause!”

The captain pulls out of the bay, laughing about all his money. The woman coiling rope begins tightening knots. The crew member see’s the ship passing out as he swims into the bay. And all the people on the shore hold out their hands and ask for money.

Scorch, Violet, Toys

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The sky shimmered for a moment between the violet clouds. Like a glassy mirage in the deep purple disappearing into infinity where cosmonauts fall in love with earths finity.

Space ships: toys in the bathtub they float in the expanse. Cosmonauts: kids in the deep end terrified of staring for too long at the bottom. The anxiety of what might appear gripping them.

A glance back at that glowing ball of blue, brown and green hues with wisps of white like a tattered cloak.

The mind will twist into itself, further than the shape of its walnut, deeper than its shell.

There is no warm comprehension only cool calculations: The language of positions, diagrams, degrees, millimeters, rations, nuts and bolts. Still, never their minds attempt to bury the why, who, what, where, how?

The cosmonauts dare to ask. They stare and float and wait for answers suspended in antigravity but they can only ask and make calculations.

To the rest of the bipods standing on that illuminated globe, the answers are the cosmonauts. The space travelers turn from earth, seeing it as the light at the end of the tunnel being swallowed as they drift closer and closer to nothing.

Understanding comes, not directly, to the questions ahead in the vastness but from the things of earth.

Staring into that blackness, seeing lights poking through the black blanket. The inspiration to kneel and reach their hands out to the nothing is tempting. they do not have answers so they beg for a screaming face to prove their questions are correct to begin with.

A momentary slip. Their great understanding of earth has allowed them to partially, if only feebly, understand what is not earth.

Answers be damned. The truth of the matter is always in asking questions in the correct order. So it goes the cosmonauts built a ladder mode of questions and bombs. They rode their explosions into the meat of the sky.

So they return. The cosmonauts not with answers, only slightly different questions until they ride those propulsion toys back into the violet of dusk, scorching the sky.

Account, Arm, Sniff

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The file had been on my desk since my first week at Lav, Slav and Tony investments. It had been put there by an old man, the founder, who wore a tux and stuffed cotton balls into his cheeks like Marlon Brando in the Godfather. He had dreams of going legit but to everyone’s knowledge he had never actually had any illegitimate business.

So I opened the file and started reading the paper. It was a MEMO, a short paragraph that read:

“ATTENTION: All account managers, please do not keep arms at the office.”

At first I wanted to make a joke about how we would do our typing without arms but then I remembered that the MEMO was nearly four years old.

I grabbed the MEMO and slid it into the waste bin. Now I was all caught up with work. I headed out of the office but before I could go Lav and Slav stopped me (Tony was the cotton ball guy, dead now). They invited me out for a drink. As their employee, I said yes.

They took me to this club in the part of town where they store meat, fish, furniture and other wares. A club with a pink sign in Miami vice style writing that said “Lazerbeam” only the “m” was going in and out so every few seconds it was club “Lazerbea”, which I thought sounded cooler.

We went inside and Slav motioned to a waiter who took us to a booth. We ordered drinks, then Lav took out a little baggie of white powder.

“Time to put on my dancing shoes,” he said.

Then he chopped up an impressively straight rail, a real mathematical wonder. He dragged his nostril across the table, which stood out to me because the table wasn’t so clean. I could see bits of lint, dust and Saltene crackers being pulled into his nose. Lav dabbed at the residue left on the table and rubbed his gums with it. Then he jumped up and ran to the dance floor.

Our drinks arrived and as I reached for my Whiskey/Coke, Slav said, “Ah, I notice you didn’t read our MEMO.”

Saint, Overalls, Jolly

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

You need to brush your teeth. You need to comb your hair. Need to floss. Put on deodorant. Clip your fingernails. Swab your earwax. Trim your nose hairs. Maintain two eyebrows. Cut off those straggling hairs on your forehead.

Time is coming.

Trim your ear hairs. Lotion your face. Lotion your feet. Get dressed up in clothes that fit. No more overalls. No more pull up your pants and *SNAP*, *SNAP*, you’re dressed.

Time is coming.

You want respect don’t you. You want a long line of individuals trailing out the door at your funeral. You can’t die in overalls, you’re from the suburbs. Ridiculous.

Smile at the elderly, nod at your peers and make faces at children. Keep it up, they’ll remember you as a saint.

The saint of simple greetings. The saint of self care and simple greetings. The saint of self care, simple greetings and a hot body.

Well, time is coming.

You need to do push ups. You need to do pull ups. Need to squat. Ride a bike. Jog. Lift weights. Do crunches.

The saint of hot bodies.

Discipline. Rigor. Scheduling. Exercise doesn’t pay for food so get to work. Work tires you out so get some rest. Rest isn’t exercise so get to working out. No time for pleasantries, no time for big smiles, no time for nods, no time for making faces at babies.

Time is coming.

The saint of discipline. the saint of rigor. The saint of assholes. You’re staring down at your navel when you do crunches. There isn’t even the hint of a ripple where abs should be, supposed to be.

The saint of disappointment. The saint of eating like you haven’t eaten in years. The saint of comfort. The saint of Webflix.

You watch the rest of the show and get some rest. you’re not an ideal, you are.

And time is coming.

Eat. Drink. Be hairy. Increase your hygiene routine. Increase the discovery of hairs in new places. Trim, shave, cut, slice. The saint of hygiene.

Enjoy a good, hearty breakfast. Try a new restaurant everyday for lunch. Load up for dinner while you watch TV.

The saint of contentment. The saint of guilty pleasure. The saint of settling.

Time is coming.

You watch your weight. You watch your weight increase. More jelly equals more jolly. You keep up your routine, the hygiene routine.

You can’t have it all, time is coming.

Black, Balance, Equal

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @taabithewonderer

It’s the first name of a horse with literary fame. The dye of clothing chosen by the dead actress bisected. A type of humor laced with death, loss, illness and spite. It’s the color opposite of color white. The vacuum of light. It’s also be a descriptor for people but not a definition.

And this.

It’s a teetering scale. A tight rope walker. A brand of shoe that’s not so New anymore. It’s standing on one foot without falling. It’s what we all want when we talk about our lives. It’s all part of a recommended breakfast. It’s a sort of act but we keep believing it’s more than that. It’s something we want but something for which we can only continue struggling.

And this.

It’s true and it’s not true. It’s the sign with two parallel lines announcing the sum of our additions, multiplications, divisions and subtractions. It’s a sign of the times. It’s what we’re born to assume but quickly learn isn’t quite true on all planes of existence. But it is but somehow it’s not.

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