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Portland Archives - Amanda SledzAmanda Sledz

08
Jun 13

Tourist Seasons

midwestern tourists with white socks pulled halfway up their calves in polo shirts with muted tones. Deep in exchange with drug-addled tokens of lost rave days, negotiating mouthfuls of tentacles. A sentence escapes, directions and change and ten salutations to old mischief and gods lasso’d from plants and sci-fi pages.

Foreign travel informs other language encounters, avoided with translation devices churned active with charades. Just like overseas both parties are nervous, and then someone takes a picture and buys a doughnut.

My eyes on the mother, stout firm and grounded from three children sliced from her body. She won’t offer her tale unless asked, and then it’s all getaway cars and field goals and journals inked thick with secrets. This woman won’t hug like she’s been interrupted. She’ll press her breasts into mine until they grow.

Her male counterpart something else all together, propped around wars and his grandfather’s wars and the job he was supposed to retire from until he didn’t. A camera saluting the labors of silver miners, his hands those of harvest. His wife will graduate to crone without having been abandoned, but if he’s asked who he is he won’t answer.

Meanwhile the ravers recall friends, all dead, who once occupied pants with enough fabric for two and filled dance floors with movements that would better serve some city, before one was left to foam her overdose alone so no sick sort suffered prison. Big city burdens bruising small towns long after notions of illegal dancing.

At twenty it’s not possible to measure the collection of bodies and faces and pick which hand will pull the card of cancer, will avalanche all the way down the mountain with no memory of bodies to cushion them. Image preserved of a cloud kicked up by two cowboys who never knew horses, stamping time in high desert lines while my tent became shelter for lizards. Daytime heat would force our retreat under mushroom canopies, then night resurrected lost thunder. We listened without hearing the warning.

Some went without gravestones in favor of ash recalling dormant volcanoes. Other shells had one autopsy, two, with neither revealing an answer. Others assume phantom forms to warn big eyes away from empty houses. Names and faces preserved through clothing artifacts collected in a bag, honoring a time when tshirts stopped short. Robots and aliens stitched in homage to sounds, silked with sweat and ringed in candy.

If they ask who I am, I won’t answer. A sugar different from the offering of this city, stolen from plants and sci-fi pages.

 

 

 

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29
Mar 13

Afterbirth

Greetings from a coffee shop state of pseudo-slumber. Bright flaming ball of essential daily nutrients in the sky, winged ants springing from sidewalk cracks in clouds before they settle into kitchens, spiders prepping complex webs and bracing for Hobo accusations, and pale peaking flesh gliding down the street attached to mouths munching stories about bicycle parts and allergies.

This thumbs up is brought to you by the end of January, the end of February, the end of every awful month that seriously needs elimination from the calendar. There’s never been a better case for hibernation than a slow walk down a rain drenched street on a shivering day where every shop owner says fuck it and just closes at five to retreat to the nearest bathroom for a little private mutilation. The rest of us adopt yellow pallets and stone sunk eyes, characteristics previously thought confined to addicts and dystopian novel characters, trying to summon inspiration through a cocktail of Vitamin B and Vitamin D and herbal hoodoo woowoo alongside wanna-be sunlamps and cancerous tanning beds. These attempts to self-resuscitate are chronicled on blogs and tweets and facebook, because internet communication is the only acceptable sport for sanitary sorts who arrive at Portland’s borders and instantly fall antisocial and ill. It’s retreating to caves, coughing and brooding, waiting for the rain to make moats and moss and green scenes so we remember what we’re doing this for. I hate you I love you I hate you I love you.

This is my oldest Sid and Nancy romance.

I’d like to reveal all the excellent events that have unfurled in the past few months, but as I already mentioned January and February don’t actually exist except to file your taxes and force you to attend expensive parties. What I really did was rewatch all six seasons of the Sopranos, and then spend hours considering minor scenes that involved submersion in water and horses, and whether or not Tony traded places with death, and what it all means in terms of self-absorption and the level of denial required to ignore or participate in heinous things. Yeah, that’s it, like the Milgram experiment that explained how the Holocaust could have happened, with the dude being shocked and people still pushing the button and maybe crying and still pushing the button, and…

Still: television exists to remind us that we’re all going to die, and none of us are going to wish we had watched more things before it happened.

So: Last night I organized my selves into a skin and stood while other people sat and made talking noises while dressed as a blue Keebler elf. This is apparently known as a reading, and it took place at Rain or Shine Cafe on Division at 6:30, and I sold four books. Two were sold through the Square, which is a stamped size piece of science you plug into the larger rectangle used to microwave heads, and then money happens. This is a much better use of a smart phone than talking. If you haven’t yet received this fantastic device in the mail, I highly recommend signing up. For all the complicated technology I can’t grok, my brain meats totally tossed this salad without error, and for the first time since its purchase I dared to love my Android phone for the three more days I’ll have it.

The crowd was also neat-o, and contained many of the kind Kickstarter contributors that allowed Psychopomp Volume One to make it to print. A small part of each of the three sections was read to introduce each of the four characters to the herd. At the end of each section everyone pawed the ground and cried “Four legs good, two legs bad!” so I knew I was really on to something.

It went well, and I hope to do more things just like this in the future.

The kind words that followed the reading made me think an audio production of the book should be in the works. When working on this beast I read it aloud to myself anytime my apartment was empty, a tip dispensed by more than one of my writing professors at Ohio University. This is a great means of detecting punctuation errors, and measuring whether or not dialog sounds authentic or like something Bob Saget would say when he’s under contract at a major network. It also zeroes in on garbage words and phrases that are utterly out of place in a paragraph and therefore need to be deleted. I used to consider this heartbreaking, but if you’re a writer you’re always going to write more. Clinging to a phrase you hope will one day arrive as someone’s tattoo to the detriment of the chapter results in a lot of people with ink they don’t understand.

Otherwise, I’ve been in a state of afterbirth, trying to get my body back, knowing all the while that the minute I can pull off a 50 mile bike ride I’ll be pregnant with book again. I mean it, pregnant: The time spent working on it is weird aches and pains and hormonal surges while fielding questions about how far along I am and whether or not I’m ready for this. When the golem makes its painful escape there’s no expectation of having to feed it and water it and clothe it and take it all around town in one of those strollers that swallows the sidewalk, smiling and squeaking, “Excuse me! Don’t you want to hold my baby?”

Then comes the doubt: what if I created a dumbass? Why did I bring this THING into the world to defecate in its pants? It’s totally gonna throw a tantrum in the coffee shop, and I’m going to have to sit there and rub it on my boob while everyone averts their eyes while circling me like the sun. This is bullshit. Who can I get to watch this for me? Can I leave it at Center Camp at Burning Man while I cover myself in blinky lights and run at the fire? I’m the Joan Crawford of authors, wearing lacy nightgowns and painted-on eyebrows and the sneer of someone who hasn’t had a pleasant thought in a decade. One minor disappointment of little consequence and I’m a tabloid, beating it with wire hangers, complaining about ingratitude for all I’ve sacrificed and how no one appreciates nice things, before I leave my book with the nanny and escape for another bender.

Still: I’m on the verge of my Steve Martin moment, where the sour is replaced with the glassy-eyed smile that makes parents often love their children despite their tendency to break things.

In the coming months I’ll be weaning, sending out more review copies, getting the ebook online, booking more readings, and trying to get Psychopomp to take care of itself. Then, Channel Insomnia and Psychopomp Volume 2, and with any luck I’ll have a crowded house and will feel overwhelmed all over again, which is a much more wonderful thing to experience than a hollow, empty bookshelf.

 

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28
Sep 10

reporting on the condition of being human (in america) to the home planet: September

some people are on to me

the crank-wanker at the bus stop who repeatedly asked for change, and didn’t understand when i explained i’ll have nothing to do with his campaign slogans. then he stared at me and stared at me and said “who are you?” and smelled my undercover, and luckily the 20 arrived exactly then.

pamphleteers with their prophets, ornery white and usually dead and likely unable to speak the important follow up question: “Can’t you take a joke?” she cornered me on burnside with her fat stack and drowned expression and little dog occupying a baby stroller and announced her own salvation. hidden gills tickled and i scratched while her lips cast calculations so i slithered before her math found my matrix.

merry wanderers who notice the stars in my eyes and the eyes all over my body, iris to iris with other eye-pods accurately detecting the skipping spinning of my soft insides. we greet in clicks and shake mitts and post walk-away the hooks remain.

still: most are not on to me.

television is very important here

when the hovering ships the US government assures have never been identified arrive, many will be glued to their televisions waiting for someone on the other side of the mystical talking box to confirm the testimony of their senses.

while the nail biting meat is sufficiently occupied, those who have electrostimulated their unmentionables will assume the lotus position and levitate for entry. don’t worry: the few witnesses will likely be written off by uncolorfuls as white-light purple-shroud finger-twirl-by-the-temple acid-popping sky-is-falling psychonauts, or rambling hyperactive unmedicated children in need of a time-out and an older, more glasses-wearing therapist. In the morning those uncolorfuls code crazy will simply be gone. Poof.

television is very important.

day jobs occupy time

this joke is at least as good as the one that begins with a prophet and some pamphlets. after taking out fake money from fake government to go to real school to memorize faulty theories, individuals work meaningless jobs they attended college to avoid to make barely enough fake money to return to the fake government. because they owe them.

captured: a reflection in a pool of water. only the water is real. i tell them. they don’t believe me.

so i tell them it’s television, and if what they’re watching is dull they can turn it off. they say, “what else would I do with my time?” I’m not sure how to answer this.

television is very important.

sound is a strange thing

some humans restrict the experience to ears and fail to activate the sensors sleeping in exposed hair follicles. a cello isn’t simply drunk in a eardrum, it runs a track up arms and over skull and wraps string tight around throat until eyes water mercy. voice isn’t simply a means of message delivery, it’s the creation of a heart egg perfect and warm before slow hatching. each individual accent scaling jagged cliff sides and rolling down green hills and coyote hopping fences and dumping tea in harbors and dipping into great lakes and crawling off pan handles eating hotcakes and collared greens. every cracking knee and whispered judgment and falling down laugh presses me closer to overwhelmed, tips the scales a single weight further into wow.

when my own voice hunts for sound escape, words chosen so each syllable enunciated matters, it’s then i notice how few spend time on the business of listening. No, not until they’re aware of some absence, only longing activates neglected drums and the instruments that accompany them, and only then do they open a little for the greater a-ha.

they’ll never hear us coming.

crows continue to be a nuisance

closest to angels are crows, the closest to flying humans are pigeons. mating of these two beings produces a dumb crow, wandering into the road head bobbing to earth pulse. stand by for the coming 18 wheeler. a fellow other-thing asks if that’s what i am under this exoskeleton – a dumb crow. Gabriel assures me there’s a compliment in there.

two on the wire, waiting. mated for life, nearly toppling the upper branches of a nearby tree with the volume of their night time roost.

they definitely are on to me. good thing no one is listening.

americans like to burn books

words are sacred, pressed into the offerings of trees and preserved for some period of time before they are boiled down to catch phrases and pressed into pamphlets. humans show disdain for one another by burning their favorite books and melting words away. these humans don’t know the internet exists and the books they are burning have already been scanned and are being actively distributed for free, as we speak, by THE GOOGLE. some are very upset by this development. now they’ll never burn all the copies. it’s book immortality, until the internets fail us, and free knowledge until a student loan is required for access.

other ways to know immortality

across the street from the bus stop a black woman wearing house shoes and a long flowing skirt and a pink sweatshirt walks a slow procession on the sidewalk, cradling a life-sized doll dressed as a bride on her big day. each step fluid and perfect, dedicated transient approaches with extended hand to inquire about contribution. the doll, not the woman, turns into the outstretched paw and offers the soliciting an answer.

this is better than television.

my ears tell me to turn up the sound. she has opted for immortality, to color pamphlets conjured around book-fed bonfires by those too afraid to say her name seven times in a pool of water.

i listen, and the doll tells me it’s love of death informing every waking action executed with an eye on the end. informing disrespect for the ocean, a need to hasten the apocalypse so all standing around can see the spectacle. not enough to color it black with oil, why not drip it in blue paint so children wander our terrified and Avatar dyed? why not speed our evolution with skin burnt red and eyes stone flat?

she keeps walking, on to something and way beyond me. and i remember: nothing carries sound like water.

still: they are not listening.

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30
May 10

waiting for bus #4 is magic

the biggest crow gobbled my right eye up.

left, crying and winking

away the abandoned pair of bright orange socks

bread crumb trailed right to Radio Shack.

*

I’m not sure what a ukulele has to do with any of this

but she has one for what it’s worth.

any moment the twink-twinkle plucking will Red Dwarf every little star.

*

she assumes the position: Twink. Twinkle.

shrunken guitar stuffed sick with pineapple,

coconut clobbered singing hole.

Twink. Twinkle. Twink.

*

thick calves and moustache pedal four seats of invisibles

to their place at this apocalypse.

he stops and marbles a grin,

then rings his bell.

Ring-Twink. Twinkle-ring.

*

It’s time to abandon this body.

*

Too-Tall Stick Indian brings everything but the ukulele to a halt.

he needs directions, and says they should arrive

directly from the road.

*

I’m as ghostly as the pedicab’s passengers.

Stick Indian will take nothing from me.

*

Still, his road wager pays:

a visible made brave by his backpack

waves all three of his dimensions:

“Over here, brother.”

He walks the Too-Tall instead of pointing.

*

Ring pedals away.

Twink twinkle.

*

air brakes and rotten eggs launch the crow

and my missing eye

into the dangling donut hole of the bus driver.

*

his face reveals everything:

fuck. a ukulele.

not this Sunday.

*

that bus doesn’t even slow.

left, crying and winking

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