Monday, December 1, 2014

Caught in the Rain


For the life of me I cannot tell you
why my thoughts always return to you.
Everything I'm thinking of
while walking or riding,
but always still thinking,
inevitably return to thinking of you.
It makes the pedestrian in me,
who still gets caught in the rain,
okay.

It was raining when I had you so close
and it is raining now.
This is one way of getting caught in the rain
and that is another.

Most of my day was spent reading
about ancient Greeks (Mycenaeans)
and cleaning laundry.
I was waiting for the clouds to finally burst.
I tired of waiting; decided to take a gamble,
and ride my bike to the library.
I saw the wall of rain moving towards me
down State Street. The clearly defined front
of pouring rain was overtaking
the mere firmament of drizzle above me.

I tried to ride it out,
but it over took the meteorology
I was occupying.
There I was, caught in the rain,
but not at all upset;
awaiting a wane in the precipitation
under the awning of the market
down the the street from my house;
drenched with rainwater and smiling like a fool

I was told recently, if you are in Russia
and you smile an unprovoked smile at a stranger
you are generally regarded as an insane person.

When the down pour returned to a drizzle
I decided to walk my bike
the five or six blocks it was to my house.
Since I began writing, the rain has stopped.
My thoughts of you have not. Lucky me.

Aaron C. Molden

Friday, October 24, 2014

Maxwells


    Maxwell looked up from his bar stool to see his own face staring back at him: a picture on the local evening news.
    For all the wicked things he had done in the name of his own pleasure, natural or perverse, he never believed that he would not know what to do next. Suspect at large. Rape. Double murder? This wasn't suppose to happen.
.  
    He didn't know her when he met her. She was drunk at the bar. He saw her as soon as he walked in and he smiled because he knew from her face that this was going to be easy. Her eyes were half closed and the smirk on her face, scanning around at the men's faces staring back at her, who were paying more attention to her than anyone else at the bar. She gazed at the men in front of her with blissful detachment. One of the men handed her a drink and she looked up at him, jutted her shoulders towards him, embraced the glass she was handed and said "For me?" in a voice that raised an octave within the two words.

    Rebecca Figg, the news banner read. He looked down at his drink. What had happened? What went wrong?
    On the television, a one Clayton Barbee, a friend of Rebecca Figg (bullshit, he was just trying to get into her panties) was being interviewed by WLFI reporter Mike Priggett. Clayton told the news reporter that he last saw Rebecca alive, leaving the KnickerBocker -supposedly the oldest bar in Lafayette- with Maxwell. The crime lab was testing the DNA found on her (of course, because he ejculated on he tits, but it wasn't fucking rape.) Her body was found by her neighbors who lived in the apartment downstairs; a historical house built in the 1890's, now sectioned into three apartments; a Midwestern Victorian mansion with a lot of character and drafty windows. Maxwell had left the door open when he ran out of the apartment in the middle of the night. He panicked. He honestly never thought it would come to this.

    Maxwell walked towards her. She was scanning the leering and adoring eyes of the men in front of her. By accident she caught eyes with him, walking towards her. She held her gaze for a moment. "What are you looking at?" She asked with a tone of conceit.
    Maxwell's lips curled up in amusement. "You" he answered.
    She furrowed her brow and sarcastically asked "and you are?"
    "What do you care?" Maxwell stopped walking, but continued to stare into her eyes.
    She looked down at her drink, smiled, the sighed.
    One the other men standing in front of her turned to Maxwell. "Is there a problem buddy?"
    "And you are?" Maxwell asked in a darkly inquiring tone.
    "What the fuck do you want to know why name for?" The man asked with the aggression in his voice beginning to rise.
    "I'm sorry." Maxwell said in a condescending tone. "I like to greet the strangers I am conversing with when I meet them for the first time." Staring into the man's eyes. "My name is Maxwell." Maxwell looked down and took a sip of his drink. He looked up again at the man and barely extended his free hand. "Please to meet you."
    Rebecca giggled, then took a sip of her drink. The man, with a vein pulsating visibly out of his forehead, stared at Maxwell. Finally, he turned to the bar and yelled "Christ! What does it take to get a drink in this place!" A couple of people in the bar laughed on impulse at the cliche, but most simply sighed or sneered for a moment before returning to their own conversations; their personal lamentations or exultation of that particular Saturday night; discussing politics; complaining about work and significant others; congratulating professional accomplishments with shots of Jagermeister or Fireball; etc.
    Maxwell turned his gaze back to Rebecca, who had been watching the whole interaction between suitor number four, we'll say, and Maxwell. "And you are?" Maxwell asked with a grin to match hers.
    "Rebecca" she sighed. She slightly bowed her head towards the drink in her hand. She finished the last drink of it and rattled the leftover iced in the glass. "Buy me a drink?"
    Maxwell's eyebrows raised deviously. "Let's find a table Rebecca."
    She was all over him after the third drink; vodka and soda with a splash of ginger syrup. She was quietly murmuring to him with drowsy eyes. Her arm was around his shoulder and his arm was around her breast waist or hip depending on where he was groping at the moment. She rested her face on the nape of his neck. She turned her head towards the hot and balmy flesh of his neck and kissed it with her blushing lips and slightly smeared mauve lipstick. She tasted the salt of his sweat on her lips as she pursed them against her vodka soaked tongue. He grabbed her upwards to catch his eyesight with hers. He was staring at her. Those devious eyes of his. She pushed upwards to finally kiss him on the lips. All the groping, all of this subtle pawing. It was finally time that they kissed. He pulled her head back. "I'm not going to kiss you. Not yet."
    She stared up at him for a moment with a dull and annoyed look on her face. His cocky smile had fallen away, but his eyes still stared into hers. Then his eyes dropped for a moment, staring at the cleavage of her breasts, pushed together by her shoulders in a voluminously ample manner. The were bare nearly to the nipples in her low cut dark green dress. He looked at her hips stretching against the elastic fabric of her dress, then scanned back to her breasts. She didn't have huge tits, but she did use hers to her advantage. She knew they could work nearly as well as a supposedly winning smile. She had a good smile, but she was too drunk to care at the moment. It would have been foolish not to take advantage of those tits from time to time. And her hips. Great hips. She smiled when she saw his eyes drop away from hers.

   Maxwell Call was the name of the other victim in the apartment. The shadowy figure he could not put a name to until he saw it on the television. The one that came at him with a knife after this rebecca girl and he had just had sex. Staring at the television screen behind the bar, it was the first and last time he had a clear view of his face. Maxwell. The same name as his.
   Rebecca. He was starting to remember something about that name, but he hadn't yet realized why.

   Maxwell was putting on his clothes with the intention of leaving the apartment while Rebecca slept (or pretend to sleep.) He was quiet, as he was always quiet in attempting to leave a random hookup from the night before. But while he was lacing up his shoes he had the since that he and Rebecca were not alone in the room. A barely audible shuffle. A bend in the flat darkness and the minuscule midnight light in front of him. The darkness had augmented the keenness of his senses.
    "Motherfucker!" The dark figure yelled as he lunged towards Maxwell.
    Maxwell side stepped the shadowy arm holding the glinting white blade moving towards him. He chopped the arm down and grabbed hold of the head neck or torso of the dark figure and pushed it down towards the bed. The blade, with the man, fell into the bare right leg of the nude Rebecca Figg, laying on her stomach in the bed.
    She screamed.
    Maxwell stood straight up and stared into the murky grayness of the bed in front of him. He was beginning to see a deep crimson spot in front of him.
    "Goddamnit!" She shrieked. "Maxwell!"
    "Motherfucker!" The other Maxwell screamed as he pulled the knife from the back of her thigh and swung it towards him.
    He jumped back and threw a hard right into the darkness that had the chance of being a merciless human sneer of a face. His fist connected with a no longer hypothetical face. The other Maxwell dropped the bloody knife and fell to the wooden floor with a rattling thud.
    "I'm bleeding." Rebecca cried, grasping the wound with her right hand, feeling the wetness of her own blood ebbing and flowing with her heart rate. "Badly!"
    The other Maxwell grabbed his legs and dropped him to the floor. Before him, on the ground, shined the knife that so recently rattled out of his opponent's hand. Maxwell took hold of the knife and slammed it into the other Maxwell's upper back, pounding his fist against the other Maxwell's ribs and spine and shoulder blades as the knife split the skin and fatty tissue and muscle and organs of the man grappling him by his legs. Every time he pulled the blade from the other Maxwell's back it made a wet sucking sound; it was a quiet sound, but the keenness of his hearing in the darkness heard it.
    The other Maxwell was laying limp. He and Rebecca were quiet, breathing heavily for a moment.
    "Motherfucker!" She screamed, then jumped on his back and grappled her arms and legs around him. Her right leg was still oozing and pumping blood.
    Maxwell took hold of her and wrenched her grip of him. She dug her finger nails into his sides with enough force to tear his shirt and in some places leave scratches. He threw her to the bed.
    "Motherfucker" she muffled. His free hand grasped her face and was pressing it into the bed.
    There she is, that bitch. He raised the knife. Then he heard the baby cry. There she is, Rebecca Figg. Maxwell Call. He heard the baby crying. Had it been crying the whole time? He slammed the blade into her chest. Not like a knife. Not like a careful incision. Like an ax, over and over. And then Maxwell heard the baby crying. He panicked. He didn't close the door.

    Maxwell sat at the bar. His head was down. He didn't what to look up at the television. He never thought he would not know what to do next.

Aaron C. Molden 




   

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Absurdism

Here in lies the problem:
You think you have friends,
but they are putting up with the same shit you are,
day after day and disappointment after disappointment.
No matter how trivial or profound they may be,
your friends or lovers or family members
-genetic or otherwise-
are not thinking about you.
They are not thinking about you all of the time.
They maybe thinking of you rarely or barely
or, depending on the circumstance, never.
If someone were to take a statistical inquiry
they would probably find that the ones
you were hoping and praying are thinking about you,
because you hoping and praying and thinking about them,
are, in fact, not thinking about you at all, at the moment.
These thoughts can be toxic.
Toxins brought on by totally rational
(or irrational) emotions.

But it is okay.
This is only this moment
and it is not true all of the time
because you are you
and you have made some kind of memorable impression,
possibly on someone that you may have never expected.
You must take this all in stride.
It is the only choice,
even if you know,
at your most nihilistic and suicidal inevitability,
that it is not the only choice.
Feel free to kick up a mess
in your path of refinding your stride
or discover a new and improved stride,
but please find your stride.

Save most of your metaphors for poetry
or stream-of-conscience writings such as this
and/or other personal or rational examples of the written word.
And maybe save it for a less self-reflexive exercise.
I just made myself smile
because I know I am talking to myself
as well as you, whoever you might be.

Honestly, take a look around.
Get the fuck out of your own head
and pay better attention.
I'm addressing you Average American
man or woman
black or white or anywhere in between.
History; social justice (or lack there of.)
Media; honesty.
Science; art: all the subdivisions.
Math; writing: all the subdivisions.
Forward thinking. Love.

Backward thinking
Choosing the option of not thinking.
Choosing to stop translating.
Believing you have learned enough.
Believing others have learned enough
because you believe you have learned enough,
and that is that.
Eras of mental, physical, philosophical
and psychological terror.
Eras of wars on terror.
All Awful! Rise up against it!
But who?
See, you have a reason.

Aaron C.Molden

Friday, September 26, 2014

Losing My Wallet.

I am tire of this.
I am tired of wasting my time
because of family or friends
or ambitions (or lack there of)
or psychological hang ups
caused by childhood trauma
or religious upbringing
or boredom and pathos
or daily assaults and barrages
of stimulating mental and media fodder
or love, that most stupid of human hang ups
that eventually hangs us all up now and again
even though we believed we were too smart
for that shit these days.
I have fallen for women before
and when I loved them
I always believed that they loved me back.
But I really don't know if they actually did.
There is no way of truly knowing.
And I lost my wallet.
I can't find it anywhere.
It's not that important.
All I really need or desire to have from it
is a driver's license
a bank card
and a library card,
all easy or somewhat easy to replace.
Two forms of a ID here,
a PIN number and account there,
a proof of residence and snap,
I have everything back that I care about.
It's not that important, but still
It seems important to me.
I nearly lost my mind trying to find that wallet today.
What a foolish thing to lose one's mind over.
It's like torture without any real physical suffering.
Sometimes I hit things with my fist
as hard as I can.
Sometimes that thing is my head.
I do it to jar thoughts in my head
that I cannot seem to let escape.
I did not do that today after I lost my wallet,
But I came close after scanning for it
for the third time on the same stretch of mile.
It was after the third time,
when I was feeling so completely sorry for myself
that I also thought about the women and men
in my life that have brought me to hitting my own head.
The love and grief and frustration and anger and catharsis
I have felt with them or for them or by them.
All living and breathing flesh and blood and bone and thought.
These are the people and they are not things
and sometimes they have driven me head jarringly crazy
and this is when the car pulling out the parking lot I was crossing
whizzed passed me going fast, too fast, nearly fifty miles per hour,
almost hit me as I was looking down, still scanning for my wallet.
Impulsively I yelled "Slow the fuck down, asshole."
The driver yelled, but clearly could not think of a cohesive and literate rebuttal.
I keep walking as the car pulled around the corner, then stopps parallel to me.
"Learn to walk on a sidewalk, you prick" is what the driver yells back at me.
All I can do ss laugh to myself.
I lost my wallet.
But it's not that important.
It's just stuff. Stuff I can replace.

Aaron C. Molden

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview

Small Space Lafayette Transcription.

Here are my questions about your riot police piece outside Sylvia’s Brick Oven:

Q:What is the title of the piece?

 A:   The piece did not have a title yet. In fact, it was not a complete piece. It was the first step in what was (or will be) a much broader and more complex piece, meant to reflect the current transition of what it once meant to be law officer in the United States compared to what it means today and possibly the future. 

Q: What’s your take on the recent proliferation of images of a militarized police in Ferguson?

A:    Mostly confusion. I (like anyone paying attention to American media) have been bombarded with images and coverage of this incident and its reactions. But honestly I have yet to find a truly objective stand point on what actually happened there, which is kind of terrifying if you think about for a moment. A lot of people are quick to jump to one side on a gut reaction. I'm guilty of the feeling, as I assume we all are from time to time. But I believe the truly responsible thing to do with that is to reflect on that initial gut reaction in whatever way we can. I  draw and write most of the time. The one thing I'm firm on; a family's child is dead, and no matter what this deceased person's conduct was before their death, the family deserves some answers, even if they do not ever truly get any. 
    To be honest, though, this whole idea of what I planned on making, really, wasn't suppose to be about Ferguson. Ferguson, like any sensationalized media event, is more of a catalyst to think about things that we usually like to pretend we do not think about.  Law officers are being militarized in this country and I believe (because every time I see it, it scares me) that leads people to an us versus them mentality when it comes to police officers. I will never have that thought because I was raised by a police officer -my father- and I know he's a good man. When I decided to draw that image, what I saw was a man, no doubt tired, but still completing his duty, whether he liked it or not. When I draw things, my ultimate goal is not to glamorize what I'm drawing, but ground them directly in reality and humanity. Sometimes I'm successful. Sometimes I fail. It's not going to stop me from what I do, though.

Q: Do you think police departments in the U.S. have a “bully cop” mentality issue among some cops?

A:    I do think some of places do, but not around here. I've been around enough places in the United States to know that Lafayette and West Lafayette are pretty safe places to live. I think police misconduct around here is more of result of frustration and human error. You do not have a choice as a police officer to deal with only the people you are compatible with. But because of that reason, it seems imperative that you know how to deal with those others that you are confronted with in the most rational manner.
  
Q: Why do you believe your piece was ultimately covered up?

 A: I would guess mostly frustration. I'd imagine, in a nation so plugged in as ours is to the free reign internet media, that many average Midwestern cops, who go about there day simply hoping they can get back to their home and families, are tired of being demonized by what something someone else has done. I put up  the beginning of that piece up for a reason, as you must already know. It's a police officer in a riot helmet facing a police station. It was just his face with that helmet on. In many ways it is benign,  but it raises a lot of unanswered questions about our current social environment as Americans (or at least I hope it does.) I'm really okay with that because it means that people still care; they are not always apathetic, even if what they believe is not what I believe. We are a part of history; we are a part of American history (and forgive the hyperbole) but I want to be a part of that American history in whatever way I can, no matter how minor. Is it a success or failure? No matter. As far as I can tell, it doesn't stop me from paying attention and translating what I see in someway that fits me, and ultimately, hopefully, it helps me understand the world I see around me. And having a platform makes me feel a little bit better 

 Q: What would you like to say to the Lafayette police officers who called to have the piece taken down?

A:   I would like to say, as I would say to anyone (police officer or not) "Please take a second to look at what you are actually seeing and let it set in before you jumped to conclusions." I have an art degree and the main thing I was taught about art in our times -beyond aesthetics and purity- is that great art inspires discussion, discourse, debate, anything but apathy. Whether it lasts depends on how history unfolds, but I'm not worried about that.  It won't stop me from what I do as pure meditation. The value of that is intrinsic to me.

Aaron C. Molden 








Monday, August 25, 2014

To America: August 2014


America, please.
I do not want to idealistically see us as foes.
Despite everything I see
and everything I hear
and everything I read
and ruminate on and come to conclusions with,
I still feel the red-blooded desire
to be understood as a person through you,
My one nation under God.
The problem is, I am wounded and worried
and anxious of the choices that the powers that be are making.
These; executive, legislative, judicial.
Law and order with liberty and justice for all, right?
We are all assuming animal's, I know this.
We naturally look for trends and reoccurring themes
in life and people and places; in everything.
We have biases, prejudices, flaws, perceptions.
It is one of the things that make us different
(all humans, not only Americans)
but, America, I will never feel full and vital
with  patriotic pride unless we hold on our belief
that all of us
ALL OF US!
are living, breathing, thinking, loving, discerning human beings
with dreams, aspiration, desires (even if they are simple or petty.)
Who can trust the institution it was hopefully raised to respect
and trust that it has their best interests in mind.
I'm not turning a blind eye or a deaf ear.
I am not naive, but I do at least try to hold on to the belief
that every sudden and unexpected death is tragedy, always.
Everyone is someone's child.
If you cannot see that, America,
Then I am afraid you have lost your humanity,
but it doesn't have to remain that way.

Aaron C. Molden

Monday, July 28, 2014

Adreline


Before and after a thunderstorm
are the best moments, aesthetically.
The colors emitted from the sky
and upon the Earth's surface
-just the day before, only pleasant,
but generally mundane-
glow in the air and on the ground
like some ecstasy of light and color,
their source seeming from an alien place.
A rainbow is not necessary,
but if a rainbow appears in this firmament
all the better.
It is a lovely contrast,
those light and lighter blues,
those subtle and profound pinks
whites, peaches, oranges.
They are set so far out
in that nearly unfathomable distance,
behind the darkening green
of July's terra firma and flora
over growing in this giving abode.

The sound of yelping country folk
egging on the illegal roar of street racing.
Atop that growl of revving engines,
a drain pipe drizzles with a staccato resonance.
A muffled hoot.
A muffled holler in the distance to the east
and just what are those unknown voices racing for?
"Six laps in counting!"
The thunderstorm riled them up
like dogs and they need to taste a little danger.
"The summer is here
and the time is right
for racing in the street."
Do not say the Boss never gave you something.
In the waning light of this post-storm sunset
the revving of engines grows louder.
The howls of the half feral speed men
become more pronounced and guttural.
There is a show tonight that will begin soon
and the show is sure to be a full moon show.

"Woo!" they yell.
"Woo hoo!" loud and proud
as the racers press hard their gas pedal
on the straight away of the race course.
Some in the crowd,
others listening, secretly,
wish for one of them to crash
and immerse their soul
in a fiery automobile baptism.
All the while, the rain gutter continues to dribble.
Then moments of mass hysteria
bleed into the consciousness
of the surrounding sound
of noise pollution.
Cars barrel down the streets
of the neighborhood
like a gospel call and response
to the sounds of the race,
so far, but still so distant from them.
The spotlights on the track kick on
after the sun finally and so completely
rests its glowing head beneath the western horizon.
(Hello, you beautiful beings so distant from me,
but still close to my heart. The sun is only yours, now.)
Soon enough, we'll move on to demolition derbies.

Aaron C. Molden

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7th and Columbia


    The three Figg sister's were put into the custody of the state after their brother, Dakota, stabbed their mother to death with a kitchen butcher knife and afterwards was shot to death by a Lafayette police officer.
    There was Rebecca the oldest, Sarah the middle child, and the youngest, Stephanie.
    After the girl's school, where Stephanie sunk her teeth into the cheek of a roommate's face and ripped out a handful of her frizzy strawberry blond hair (they were having a fight over why they were sent to the reformatory school) Stephanie decided to run away and live on the streets. She resorted to prostitution sometimes, if she simply needed a meal or a place to stay out of the cold for a night.
    Eventually she found a man with enough money to pay the rent most of the time, though she claimed  to never know his occupation. They began living together.
    She said she cooked all his meals for him.
    She claimed she performed all her womanly duties, pointing out specifically that she would suck his dick.
    She claimed he would hit her when he became angry because she slept with another man for money when he couldn't pay the bills that month, but she would just hit him right back. She was still young and agile, and he being so much older and slower than her, he would helplessly lose the altercation. "It happened too many times." She told the police. "I got fed up."
    Most of the time, they would laugh at each other after fights. She would hold him in her arms, rocking away the suscpicions they had for each other.
    Tyrone was his name, but all of his friends and some of his family called him Baby Bird because of his shrivelled and atrophied arm.
    It was out in front of the Tippecanoe public library in broad daylight. Stephanie pulled out the pocket knife with the black plastic handle and yelled "I know you're still fucking her!" She thrust the blade torward his skinny brown chest. His stained white polo shirt rippled in the hot summer air before the knife lacerated the cotton and plunged through his skin and entered the viscera of his gut. She pulled the knife out and went to stick him again, but he choped the blade away; the edge of the blade sliced the outside of his palm and fell to the sidewalk rat-a-tat-tating on the surface while small specks of deep crimson misted the grey composite.
    He grappled Stephanie around the neck. "Woman, have lost your goddamn mind!" He growled.
    That is when the police car pulled off of Columbia Street onto 7th. Tyrone (a.k.a Baby Bird) jogged over to the police officer , his hand dripping blood and his polo shirt saturating a deep red outwards from one small crescent shaped hole below his ribs; not between the fifth rib. "This bitch stabbed me, man!"
    The police officer turned the key of his Charger off. "Step away from the car, sir. We'll get this sorted out."
    An ambulance showed up and took Tyrone away. Questions ensued. Back-up arrived. She was hand cuffed. One of the police officers took pictures of the bloody knife with his phone. Another officer took Stephanie's state issued I.D. "You're a Figg" he said, but did not ask.

Aaron C. Molden

Monday, July 7, 2014

Strange World

This is a strange place.
Everything works the opposite way
from what stories have told me.
I have a hard time believing fairy tales.
Or folk legend.
We do not live happily ever after,
we simply get by.
We simply keep surviving
until we cannot survive anymore.
Such a blessing to be so
Complacent and still apathetic.

The pops of the incendiaries
barely affect me anymore.
Fireworks are such a strange joy.
The opposite, but somehow the same
as jumping feet first or head first
or side first or cartwheeling
into unknown water.

No matter. Insanity is no matter.
This whole charade pales
in comparison to the world
and universe at large.
Nevertheless, I peer out into an ocean
of pretty faces beyond the darkness before me
and still remember yours.
And, that, somehow, makes me smile.
It makes me feel foolish,
but not foolish enough
to stop me from smiling,
even as the bombardments continue
as my neighbors yell at their children
and their pets growl and bay
as the crickets rustle and buzz
in the onslaught of explosions
that seem to rile no one but myself.
Strange world we live in.
Strange world.

Aaron C. Molden

Monday, June 30, 2014

Independence Day


I.
This is preposterous.
This whole situation
which is only a situation
because we all hold it in our heads
due to the how we were raised
and where we were raised
to do this and that
and do it well,
because there is nothing worth doing
that is not worth doing well.
Tradition and ritual has its place,
but I have a hard time trusting it
when it has become as perverse as it has.
We are Americans.
The United States of America:
founded with enlightened pride
and discernment.
We should be bound by an oath
of reason and democracy
or else we'll sink like the Roman Empire.
BOOM! goes the dynamite.

II.
Try and comprehend what Americans
have done to this western world.
Comprehend what humans,
white humans most of the time,
have done to this world.
For Christ's sake let's just keep it simple:
Crimes against humanity.
Look at what we did to the the the...
Fuck it! The Indians;
and niggers too, to drive it home,
ya fuckin' racist!
Think about it for a moment
before you blow up something
for nothing other than ritual and tradition.
And/Or consider instead
the day before the running of the bulls
in Pamplona, Spain,
you dumb, but secretive catholic.
Or the Chinese New Year,
though they're no gift to the world
either these days,
with their strange and sadistic twist
of free market capitalism
bleeding ink into their little red book.
Or the Pontius Pilate firecracker fight
in Mexico City during Easter Weekend.
Or just let loose your incendiaries
like someone with nothing to lose,
and willing to add some excitement
to our American Dread:
school shootings
terrorists attacks
cyber-hacking and wikileaks
Edward Snowden
The protest of the world cup in Rio.

An American claiming to be Canadian departs for Europe.
David Beckham shudders, then misses his soccer goal.

III.
Ugly Americans:
Arming Syrians.
Blaming Black Folk.
Blaming the poor.
Loving Mexicans, but not enough
to stand for their human rights.
Beasts of burden.
Meddling in the sexual proclivities of others
and denying rights to those whose sexual proclivities
make you feel confused; icky.
Hating the old; hating the new,
and understanding that one demonizes
the other.
Deciding to hate a woman.
Deciding to hate a man.
Being what you are instead of what to could be.
Being a liar for the sake of your lie.
Ignoring; ignoring.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war...
POP! another firework goes off in the distance.
Several pops greet it's cadence.
Firecrackers, shallow and tinny, crackle
loudly behind me.
Oh say can you see
by the dawns earlier light
which so proudly we hail
at twilight's last gleaming...
...and the rockets red glare
the bombs bursting in air
gave truth through the night...

IV.
I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America.
And to the republic
for which it stands;
one nation
under God
with liberty and justice for all.
Amen.

    Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth a new nation; conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    It is past eleven p.m in Lafayette, Indiana. Noise ordinances are enforced after eleven p.m, so the bursts of fireworks echoing in the humid night become deeper and more distant; like thunder rolling on by. The faint pop of a firecracker rings out quietly within the wash of chirping crickets. Occasionally, periodically the leaves of the sycamore tree to the right of me rustle in the weather above me and above us all.
    A deep faint burst from the east, and in the west, nothing but the darkness and breeze.
    This is one single atom of America.

Aaron C. Molden

Friday, June 27, 2014

Longing


I tell you, truthfully, longing takes on a new meaning
when you feel it when you are not even alone.
To long for someone when you are alone
means you are simply a social beast,
but when you are among peers
among friends, loved ones, others, annoyances, enemies
and long for someone still so distant from yourself,
this...
This can send a shudder down your spine
and heat up your neck
or a drop in your stomach,
maybe a pang within your heart
or possibly a tension in your temple
and draw a tear so forcefully
through high muscle tension, out of your eye.
How embarrassing.
Because, honestly, why should you care?
What really has this person you long for
done for you?
It's funny because I write this as if it really matters
and as if I really mean it.

It is such a funny wild card in human thought.
Love: Sometimes we only feel comfortable saying it
when we do not really mean it.
And sometimes it is the hardest word to utter
when, at the moment, you just did not feel it;
for anything and everything, you just did not feel it.
It is strange, seductive, menacing, wholehearted,
physical, paternal, maternal, scary,
incestuous, homosexual, heterosexual,
platonic, visceral, neural, cathartic,
narcissistic, sadistic, masochistic,
gleeful, scornful, rueful, joyous, rigorous, rapturous,
seedy, selfless or selfish, healthy, fuck suck and sleep,
that love.

Consider the lilies.
Or at least consider the book you could be reading.
What can you find on your computer to look at.
If it is summer you can go to a pool.
It's never too hot or too cold to go biking or hiking
if you plan ahead enough.
A gleaming red beetle struggles on its back
on the cracked grey pavement.
It's six shiny legs flutter and buzz
in the glow of the floodlights.
It buzzes and its body vibrates twice.
Then it dies.

Swim, canoe.
Play billiards, play basketball.
Watch basketball, but don't watch billiards,
well unless you have to, for some reason,
whatever reason you could possibly fathom.
You could also build something
or write someone,
or draw something,
or film something
and discover something that you didn't know was there.

Plus, there is always a pretty girl to kiss
and possibly date or unexpectedly fuck,
or you know, just make out with, fool around,
and you can have dinner with her
or maybe lay on a blanket with in a park
-any park, but some parks are better than others-
and maybe you will have sex with her again,
with her milky white thighs and knees
and her goddamned nearly angelic smile.
And maybe you will try to call her
and hang out with her,
and maybe find some peace out there
from the one you still long for, you sucker,
you longing sucker.
Or maybe you will just watch a movie
to take your mind off of it.
"I'll see you guys, later." You said when you left.
What a gnawing suspicion this longing is in you.
You should be submitting your shitty first novel
instead of writing this, what you call, poetry.

The (short) name list:
Reverse Bukowski
Frank O'Hara
                            Raymond Carver
                            Elizabeth Bishop
Kenneth Rexroth
T.S. Eliot
             Song of Solomon

I don't feel like describing your body
your flesh and bones and eyes and hair
and how your cheeks blush
when I flatter you
or when I slap my hands
against your ass and thighs.
That's mine.
And if I have to get it out sometime
I'll let that sometime come when it does.
It's not the best of you, woman,
but it is a photo finish.

Write a poem as an excuse, an escape.
Abstraction or distraction or subtraction of yourself.

Aaron C. Molden
  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Memory and Recollection


    There were good times, too. Cracking jokes with each at the all night grocery store, always at the expense of unaware strangers. Taking walks around the most interesting place we could find; I always tried to go hiking, she always opted for a pleasant stroll in a place where she could window shop. Embracing after we had sex; one summer afternoon we lay naked in our bed, uncovered and sweating, with the sun beaming in on us. We were writhing against each other on moss green sheets twisted beneath us, for hours and hours. Eating at a new restaurant. Seeing her reaction when she first tasted the new dish she had ordered. Dancing together without caring who sees us. Dancing with her and her alone. Watching her bathe on the banks of a river in her black and gray bikini. Quiet conversations as we spooned with each other on the couch, on the floor, in front of the heater when we went swimming too early in the springtime, wrapped in my blue sleeping bag on the linoleum kitchen floor. Her, listening to the words spilling from my mouth -trivia about the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of western Australia- looking up at me and smiling her incomparable smile. Us, sneaking into the botany greenhouse on campus, where I saw countless numbers of succulents and cacti; plants that, until that very moment, I didn't know existed; a fern whose leaves shivered and closed on floral instinct at the touch of a human finger; a creamy purple flower shaped into a bowl that catches light misting rain; plants known to be carnivorous in the right climate. Watching her watch The Red Shoes for the first time -Emeric Pressburger, my god! you were a genius- her stunned gaze at the dizzying final dance sequence. The curve of her nude hips in the bright yellow sunlight, casting new illumination on where we lay; my hand on the small of her belly, just below her navel...
 
    "You're a liar. You have wasted my night...with passive aggression."
    "Make an excuse; you know I've hit the nail on its head."
    "You took advantage of my kindness. You treated it as weakness."
    "Again."
    "It's your turn to prove yourself to be worthy. Worthy of my love."
    "I'm tired. I've been through hell and back with you."
    "I try to be honorable. Dependable. Stable."
    "Yes, I have faltered, but I have constantly proven I can redeem myself."
    "You have fucked me over enough times for me to turn gleefully against you, you bitch."
    "I hope the rest of your night turns out sour. I hope you realize you have no one left to turn to because you will not know where I went." Jed said in a cold and strangely clear tone.
    Steph sat at the table in her thin brown slip with her head sunk towards her bare and bruised knees. "I..." she began to speak, but then fell silent.
     It was dark in the kitchen, and Jed was standing in a hunched posture. He was a silhouette cast completely in shadow by the bare white light behind him. It was the only light on within their railroad apartment. Jed was looking at the back door with his entire body trembling with fear, shame, and rage. The back of his neck was flushed red and hot in his darkness. "You were with him again." His voice quivered. Tears were beginning to stream down his face. He looked back at her still sitting slumped in the kitchen chair. He wanted to hit her. Then he looked down next to his leg to see their dog, Jack, looking up at him, wagging his tail vigorously. Jack was expecting to step outside with the human he somehow trusted. "Well?" He asked Steph without looking back up at her.
    Steph began to weep. "I don't know what to say."
    Jed stepped out of the back door into the night without the dog, without Steph, and without another word. He descended the deck stairs briskly without a destination and without believing he would ever come back. He walked the streets of the city for hours alone because he could not manage to sort out his thoughts. He didn't want to love her anymore. He did not want to love her anymore. But he did. "God damn it." He whispered as he circled back towards the apartment he had left nearly four hours before. He sat at the first worn wood step of the deck, facing the darkness to the west, There were railroad tracks, warehouses and factories, suburban sprawls and strip malls, schools and parks, and of course the river that washes through it all, catching all the spillage and snaking it away towards the polluted Midwestern water shelf. All of this and so much more he knew were out there, but he could see any of it in the darkness of that night. He did not know how to end this awful and unfair situation. "God Damn it." He whispered again.
   When he finally went in, he discovered both Steph and the dog were gone. On the kitchen table there was a piece of paper folded in half with "Jed" written on the outside. He opened the bifurcated sheet and discovered that the inside was blank.

Aaron C. Molden 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Canine


    I watched a dog kill a gopher. It is not really surprising that it happened, but the dog happened to be a dog I was living with and I was taking him for a walk at the moment.
    He was on a long leash because anytime I see a dog being walked on a short leash for no purpose other than discipline for discipline's sake, I wonder what the dog could have possibly done to make the walker want or need to yank its neck whenever it strays just far enough to render the leash taut. The possibilities are numerous in both visceral and psychological ways. It is particularly troubling for me to see when there is no one else around but myself to witness it. What phantoms do these dog walkers refrain their beasts of leisure from reaching?
    The dog -Jack- and I were walking along the edge of the train tracks on the north end of town. The man made embankments create a three mile stretch of grassy bucolic hill with small patches of pine tree oasis below, some even with park benches and gazebos. A fence is installed along the edge of the tracks, at the apex of the industrial ripple of land. It turns out there are animals in the area who can burrow beneath the fence, into the hill; animals such as gophers.
     Jack had stopped to rest on the hill in the grass, panting and squinting lazily in the sun drenched clovers. I stood near him, admiring his massive and regal skull structure while simultaneously realizing if I were to let him go free he would almost immediately have been hit by a car, or picked up by animal services. I looked to the park bench at the bottom of the hill and considered taking repose from the summer walk as Jack had.
    That's when the leash went slack towards the opposite direction, away from where Jack was resting only a moment before. I looked north down the parallel tracks and saw a glistening and nearly black gopher scurry up through the unkempt flora.
    The gopher wasn't fast enough.
    Jack gained quickly on the twenty five foot dash up the hill. His tongue was back inside of his mouth. His thick architectural head, matted in paint strokes of white and black and brown fur, looked more determined than any dog's face I had seen or will ever see again. The sun shined bright on him on that nearly cloudless Midwestern afternoon. He was moving fast enough to blur his body.
    He caught the gopher by its neck with his wide and muscular jaws, and lashed his head upwards. The gopher's slick fur and seal-like blubber whipped up like a pendulum of carefully constructed animal matter, with legs and feet and muscle and blood and a skeleton with fragile vertebrae; specifically fragile when too much fast and angled trauma is applied to the to neck of a creature.
    Jack tossed the gopher high in the air, towards the train tracks. The limp body bounced against the edge of the fence, rattling the grayish blue chain links. The gopher toppled and barrel-rolled down the white gravel hill on the other side of the fence, next to the tracks.
   I ran to the fence and stared through the mesh at the dead animal dusted with powdered rock; it was nearly a quarter buried in the fallen stones. "Oh shit" I muttered in a low droning tone.
   Jack stood at attention with his snout pressed against the fence, his tail whipping back and forth at a vision blurring speed. He snorted and shook his head, letting his wet cheeks and jowls slap against his pearl yellow teeth and his shiny mauve and spotted purple gums.
   I wish I would have let him have it: the gopher. I wish I would have let him study it, poking and prodding is with his superior nose, that glistening wet furry ebon lump of an animal organ. I wish I would have seen it and I wish he would have at least tried to eat it.
   "Come on, Jack." I finally said, yanking his leash.
   He looked up at me next to the fence, his tail still wagging. His front legs collapsed as he pushed his head into a matted net of grass. He pushed and strained his muscular terrier legs and body against the green and tan web of friction. He snorted again, then rolled over on his back and remained that way.
    "Come on, Jack." I said and yanked his neck again.
    Finally he stood up.
    We walked back to the apartment.
    He was a dog of noble Roman origin, trained and bred for glorious combat. He was a dog with a biologically canine lineage, but only a short paper trail in his inevitable breeding from wolf to domesticated sport dog.
    As we neared the apartment, I said to Jack, as if he actually had the ability to talk, "We're not going to tell Steph about this. She would probably freak out. Deal?"
    Jack stared up at me panting and squinting in a way that made him look happy and oblivious.
    "It's a deal."

Aaron C. Molden

Thursday, May 22, 2014

To Bathsheba, in Jerusalem: with Longing


The battle was won and the warriors made camp.
They drank wine, slaughtered and feasted on fatted calf,
one of the few left in our army's herd.
One warrior was left to clean the dishes.
The next day they rode towards the city,
fast and joyous, whooping and howling
for the men they had slain.
We took lodging in a city that night.
Some of the warriors took wives.
Some of the warriors decided to stay.
Some of them left their new brides
riding fast into the sun,
howling a warrior's howl,
hoping someone from the band of warriors
heard their cries of desperation.
In a night of intense and chilling darkness,
while huddled next to the fire,
I asked Micah why he left his new bride.
Why did he rejoin the group?
He said the day after they took their holy vows
and consummated their nuptials,
he woke up in her bed and stared out
through the wood window frame
and saw his new bride watering the desert grass
with an urn made of red clay.
Why would she water the grass?
We are in a drought.
He said she would not have made a good mother
and then Micah fell asleep, quietly weeping.
I remained awake for the rest of the night
thinking about the question.
No one in the army could clean their clothing.
We had not come across a river
or a pond or even a small puddle of water
outside of an urban landscape
in nearly twelve days.
Micah's clothing was clean
catching only its third night of wood fire.
I thought of you all night;
of your smile,
of your fleshy hips
and ample bosom.
Of your the deep midnight mane-hair,
your bouncing and fidgety body.
I thought of your eyes
and of your pursed pink lips
and of shapely navel
and of your milky thighs
and even of your delicate toes.
I thought of you
until the only thing I could do was fall asleep.
Micah made the right decision in returning.
I did too.
This is why I write to you.
I long for the next time we meet, darling,
after our legions take the Ammonites.
With Love,
Uriah

Aaron C. Molden

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scars


    She had scars protruding across her thighs. She told me they were self inflicted late one night while we were sitting on our used couch in our apartment living room. Her friend, Rebecca, wanted to get rid of the couch because she claimed they held too many bad memories. It was mauve and upholstered in a course vinyl fabric. I had my arm wrapped around her and her head was resting against my collarbone.
     "In high school I use to cut myself." She paused for a moment, listening to my deep and steady breathing; feeling my chest rise up and down against her cheek. "It use to be the only thing that actually made me feel alive." She pressed her nose into my chest, bare at the neck between the collar of my button down shirt. She took several deep breaths.
    If she had told me this in high school I would have been shocked, but somehow riveted by such an audacious act of self mutilation.
    Sitting on our couch that night, alone in our new home, I only felt confusion in such an inexplicable act of blood proof. "Of course you are alive." I finally muttered, not quite knowing what else to say.
    She took another deep breath. "Do you want to see the scars?" She asked quietly.

    The first time we bathed together, I noticed the scars on her milky thighs blushed a bright pouting pink when they were immersed in the steaming hot water. They were only faint rippling contours on her legs before, no different in tone and girth than an elbow compared to a knee cap. In the hot water, they swelled to the color and impression of fair lashed flesh. She noticed I was staring at the scars. "I cut myself on our couch, once." She said quietly. "On Rebecca's couch." She was looking down into the steaming water in the cream colored claw footed tub. She folded her feet around my bare lower back, immersed in the same steaming water. "There was blood everywhere." She added in a low monotonous tone.
    I stared at her from across the bathtub. Leaning forward, I grasped her hips, pulling her closer to me. A small wake trailed her body in the water as I moved her towards me. I kissed her neck, her cheeks, her lips, and her eyes. I heard the drizzling sound of the water pouring off her when I picked her up and laid her face down atop my naked and saturated body. Her wet hair draped across my forehead while our lips breathed in and out of syncopation, only a half an inch from each other. I grabbed the clef between her thigh and buttocks and pulled her even closer. I pressed every inch of her wet naked skin I could manage against mine.
    "Thank God." She sighed.
    I kissed and caressed her chest and neck with my face.
    "Thank God." She said again. "The clean-ability rating of that couch is rated W." She said with a sudden distance in her voice. "Otherwise the blood would have never washed out."
    "Steph?" I held her still against me. "Steph? Are you okay?"
    Her body went limp against mine. I went limp too.
    "What do you mean?" She asked. "Why wouldn't I be okay?"
    "What?" I asked emphatically confused. "Are you happy?" I asked, suddenly desperate for words.
    "What are you asking me, right now?"
    I lay there in silence. Her head rose from the tub, and though I was looking away from her, I knew she was staring at me. I didn't know what to say; how to answer. I had asked genuinely if she was okay, wanting to hear her answer. All is farce unless you have someone to speak to, so why should it not be someone who loves and cares for you: your boyfriend, your friend, your roommate? I simplified the question when I was met with her confusion and boiled down my concern to a yes or no question: Are you happy? And I was met with a counter offense of a question: What are you even asking me, right now?
    "Uh..."
 
    We heard from outside of the bathroom our roommate, Max, enter through the back door of the second story house apartment. He was with someone. The sound of their feet walking up the old wood stairs of the house. The sound of the painted red door clasping and closing in the jamb after they entered the kitchen. He had a girl with him who was obviously drunk due to the stumbling, yelling, laughing and barking noises being emitted through the walls and doorways. Steph and I laid still in the bathtub during the cacophony.
    "Let's do a shot." in a muffled cadence.
    "Do you think I'm pretty?" Could be translated in a faded timbre.
    "This looks like my old couch." Were the last word I heard from her that night.
    "Let's do another shot." Max said and then there was silence. After that, Steph and I listened as they entered Max's room. And finally, Rebecca's faint moaning.
    Steph pushed herself away from me, plunging my head beneath the cooling bathwater. She reached for a towel and dried herself off. She put on a robe and laid down on our bed. A couple of minutes later, I climbed into bed with her and kissed her behind her earlobe. It smelled like vanilla; I could not smell her skin.
    "Not tonight, Jed." She said in pained, but quiet frustration
    "What?" I asked, still confused.
    She pushed her body away from mine. "I want. To be. Alone." She spoke in metered exhaustion.
    I laid there for awhile. Then finally found my sleeping bag in the closest and slept on the floor in front of our; her; Rebecca's couch.

Aaron C. Molden  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Break Part Three: The Fall


Part Three

    When he fell, Bobby had a pair of keys to his house and a Nokia cellphone that was hinged in the middle -it broke in half upon impact- in his right pocket. In his left pocket he had a sharpie marker, a ball point pen from Lafayette Savings bank, and  a small green Mead notebook; the pages were worn and old and the spiral bound wire was bent in on both sides. In his back left pocket he had an old tan wallet with seven dollars, several loose receipts, and small bits of paper in it. The one piece of paper I read had the name and mailing address of a girl in Colorado. I thought for a moment about taking the seven dollars.
    "What do you think this is?" I asked Sarah, who was peering into his wallet with me.
    "It's the address to his pen pal." Sarah answered.
    "Pen pal?" I asked slightly baffled.
    "We did that writing program with Westside middle school in seventh grade for English class." She said. "You don't remember that? The girl he was assigned to moved to Colorado when we went into Eighth grade; her dad got a job out there."
    I squinted, watching her head eclipse the sunlight above me. The overcast clouds had by now passed and I was mesmerized by the glowing wisps of her hair dancing in the breeze for a moment. "Yeah. I remember. What about it?"
    "He kept writing to her. They're still pen pals." After Sarah uttered these words, she looked over at Bobby's body laying limp and unconscious on the unfinished concrete floor of the roofless bunker buried in the ground.
 
    The fall had been hard. He was sitting in the edge of the foundation, pointing his legs outwards at a forty-five degree angle; craning his neck and shoulders forward, peeking into the depths below him. While teetering on the edge, a gust of wind caused him to lose his balance. He couldn't managed to catch himself and jack-knifed against the concrete only ten feet below him. He landed on the back of his neck with his head curled towards his chest like a nautilus shell of flesh and bone and brain; a brain controlling his muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, digestive, lymphatic, and reproductive systems as well as normal and irrational human thought. He accomplished one third of a high dive before landing on the pavement. Neck first, as I mentioned, then his head bounced and wobbled on the cement floor. After that his toes tapped the floor causing the rest of his body to act as a brittle spring before he finally slumped over unconscious.
    "Boing!" was the first thing Zeke yelled at Sarah and me as he ran over to us. I have never heard anyone say the word :"boing" in such a distressed tone.
    Sarah and I had left Bobby and Zeke at the construction sight to explore the woods that surrounded it. We were sitting up against a tree and I was trying -rather desperately- to figure out how to kiss her. There were some embarrassing moments, but as far as I could tell, I was doing pretty well.
    "Boing!" is what Zeke yelled as I was just mustering up enough courage to move in for the kiss.

    Zeke was standing on ground level looking into the bunker at Sarah, me, and a very injured and unconscious Bobby. "Guys, what are we going to do?"

    During the thunderstorm, the back awning of the patio was a waterfall. Standing under the eave, peering into the rain falling in front of her, she wondered where her son might be.

    Sarah's older brother was driving laps around our neighborhood in his air-brushed Honda low rider with a custom green and silver coat of paint. He had installed a Nos cartridge in it earlier that week and had been aching to push the button from the moment it was at his fingertips. The car was too low to the ground for him to drive very far on the deteriorated pot holed roads of that early spring. He was resigned to peeling out in quarter mile stretches on his imaginary rectangular tracks lined with houses where families and children lived.
    He was trying to impress the girl in the front seat with him, a Sophomore from our high school. Steve, Sarah's brother, had graduated two years earlier and was working at a factory where he wired together lamps and other home furnishings. When he came upon a kid riding his ten speed bike down fifth street, he swerved slightly towards him, as if to indicate that he planned on hitting the adolescent. The kid panicked and, twisting his handlebars sideways, crashed his bike against the curb.
    "Hmm." Steve smugly mumbled. "Fucking hilarious."
    Sarah was planning to call him first to come pick us up, but the battery on her phone was dead. Using it as a flashlight in the tunnel had drained it to nothing. I doubt he would have helped us out anyways.
 
    The sun shine had diminished and the dark grey cloud coverage was only becoming more congested above us.
    "He's breathing, right?" Zeke asked.
    "His chest is moving up and down." I answered.
    "How hurt do you think he is?" Sarah asked in a shaky and worried tone.
    "We need to get a hold of someone." Zeke said.
    "Yeah, but who? I don't want to get in trouble." I said, and began to flip through Bobby's wallet nervously. "And how? Sarah's phone is dead, Bobby's is snapped, and I didn't bring mine."
    "I have my phone, but there is no signal around here." Zeke said, looking into his screen. "I would call my mom if I had signal.
    "Don't do that." I said immediately. "We fucking stole her car, and I'm pretty sure we're trespassing." I pulled out another piece of paper: a worn post card from Arizona with a cactus and cow skull on the front.

Hey Little Brother,
I was fucking this chubby Mexican girl down in Mexico while I was there. She didn't speak any English so there wasn't much talking going on between us. She did know how to fuck, though, and we did it on the beach a couple times. When I was leaving at the end of the week, she didn't seem to care that I was going. I found out on the bus ride back into the states that she had given me crabs. A nurse from the army based near where I stayed was on the same bus and checked me out downstairs in the bus bathroom. Ain't life grand! Be safe baby brother. I'll see you soon.
Your big brother,
Kevin

    "What about Bobby's older brother?" I mentioned. "Does he live in town?" The postcard was dated almost exactly a year prior.
    "I think he goes to college out of state, if I'm remembering what Bobby once told me." Sarah said, sitting against the wall farthest from Bobby's body, chewing on her fingernail. I did not realize it at the time, but Zeke had wondered off looking for a signal for his phone.
    "Do you think he might be on spring break?" He was on spring break. He had gone back to Mexico for the second year in the row and he, inevitably experienced a second round of medicated pubic shampoo, but there was no way for any of us to know this, and contacting him would have been impossible because the only one who had his phone number was Bobby, whose phone was destroyed in the fall. Sarah didn't answer and I realized quickly that the course of action I had mapped out mentally at the time was quixotic; I sighed.
    The clouds above us were only getting darker and thicker.






Aaron C. Molden

Monday, April 14, 2014

Brain Wave Poem


I have a hard time reading poems,
even though I find it easy to write them.
What is the point of reading
about how a flower looks?
Its colors
its shapes
how the light hits its contours
at just the right time of day
in a golden and green landscape
with rolling hills stretching your vision out
for miles and miles.

Does it matter that the sky
is a vast gradient of blue?
The deepest blue at the top
and the faintest blue
sewn along the horizon.
The sky has been misted carelessly
with a squirt bottle full of white clouds.

And what if there is another person there
in that poem I might be reading?
A pretty girl with a breathtaking smile
tilted at just the right angle
looking back at the viewfinder.
She has curly golden hair.
The light
the sunlight
it casts shadow and tone
on her hair and her face and her figure
and her clothes rippling in the breeze
at, oh, let's say, three o'clock.
What if it is warm enough for her to reveal
the beautiful fleshy contours of her skin,
wrapped in an tan elastic bathing suit,
nearly seamless and camouflaged?

What would I get out of reading a poem such as this?
Nothing happens in the poem and it simply makes for a better picture.

A man in a corduroy sports jacket
with a photograph of his sweetheart
enclosed in his wallet; sleeved in his back pocket,
holds up a print of a painting.
The painting is by Andrew Wyeth.
He says it is like reading a Frank O'Hara poem.
He then holds up a photograph of a sardine
Laid out fleshy and oil soaked on a white counter.
He asks how they are similar.
He asks how they are different.

The only people using iambs these days
usually own very expensive acoustic guitars.
I say this in all jealousy of there acoustic guitars.
Meter is about music,
and music, in my opinion,
is easier to accomplish
when there is a guitar in hand.
This is a different class
with the same man
in a corduroy sports jacket.

Honestly though, would the poet know
the name of the flower they are describing?
Is it a Chrysanthemum?
Is it one of the one thousand varieties of Salvia,
such as sage or that purple one we see
sprouting naturally nearly everywhere?
Maybe it is a bulb variety,
such as a tulip or a daffodil.
Would the poem include its scientific name?
It's Latin name?

And what about the girl?
The girl in those vision stretching landscapes.
The poem doesn't know,
neither does the painting
or the photograph I am referring to.
The reader,
be it you or I or anyone else,
must decide this for themselves.
This poem makes us formulate that connection.
It is a chance brain synapse among trillions,
and sometimes I find it hard to read.
But sometimes I do not.

Poetry is an art of self
when you give it no rules.
Yet somehow
somewhere
it manages to find guidelines, sometimes.

Otherwise
it rightfully sinks.

Aaron C. Molden
  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Break, Part two: The Miracle


Part Two

Zeke's Statement:
    We had to climb through a lot of shit. When the car arrived at the gravel parking lot I realized how long we would end up walking and it was going to be a long time.
    There was a tunnel that we climbed through, underneath the railroad tracks we had been walking on; there was water going through the tunnel. My foot fell into a half of a foot water that had industrial waste and shit in it. Like real shit, animal shit, maybe human shit. It was disgusting. 
     Jed was being a dick, but Sarah helped me out of the puddle. When we got out of the tunnel I saw that we had to climb back up again on a steep hill covered and concrete. I was already sweating because we had to inch our way through the tunnel with our arms and legs pressed into the curved sides of the wall
(The priest interjects.) How was Jed being, as you say, a dick?
    Well, he kept telling me to man up. I had never crawled through a tunnel before. I've never even been in a real cave. There was no place to stand except in the gross water. I'm not use to climbing against walls and I said so. When I said that, Jed called me a pussy. That's when my foot slipped into the puddle.
(The priest interjects.) Can you tell me where this tunnel is?
    Yeah, it's right near the construction site where they found us.

Priest's notes:
    After I made it through the rain tunnel, I began climbing back up the hill on the other side of the tracks. It was covered in garbage embedded in carelessly poured concrete. Broken glass bottles of clear and green and brown were littered about. Aluminum lawn chairs with weaved plastic or white and synthetic colors made in factories were shredded at the ells where the were wrapped. A couch upholstered crimson red in sheets of gleaming waterproof plastic, stood upright, sideways, turned erect by gravity in the latter day flow of concrete which eventually set and posted the piece of furniture perpendicular to the earth and sky.
    I have never seen something so unusual, yet so mundane and with out purpose, except for possibly and Oldenberg sculpture.
    There were also discarded lumber scraps that numbered too high to count. It was as if for a brief moment this was the place to go in order to bury your waste into a concrete hill. There were still trees of sycamore, evergreen, and cottonwood, but the bases or their trunks were completely encased in the craggy pebble spotted gray and dried sludge. This is where the four teenagers ascended to find and acre of wood in front of them. Past that is where they finally reached the construction site.   

    "I was in two places at the same time, once." The man said. "This body" he pointed to his chest, "and this brain" then to his left temple, "at the exact same time.' 
    "My buddy, Max, doesn't believe me. He always argues with me when I bring it up. He always says that it is totally impossible for anybody to be in two places, physically, at the same time. But it happened and I'll never say that it didn't. Hell, a couple of days ago, we got so heated about it that we started throwing punches. That's how I got this shiner." He pointed to his right eye, which had a faded mauve circle around it that transitioned into a jaundice yellow aura on his face.
    "I know it sounds insane, but it happened. I was alone in both places, except for these kids who were off in the distance, but I'm fairly positive they didn't see me, so you're just going to have to trust me." The man took a pack cigarettes out of his pocket. "Do you mind if I smoke?" He asked.
     "Can it possibly wait just a little bit longer?" 
     "What do you mean by it? Is it me? Is that what you are saying?"
     "I want to hear what you have to say, but if you could not smoke I would really appreciate that."
     "You don't want me to smoke -I get that- but am I allowed to smoke?" He asked, leaning into the wooden desk he was facing. 
     "Technically, yes."
     He put the cigarette into his mouth and lit it with a gold plated Zippo with a buffalo etched into the broad end of its reflective surface. 
     "I guess those are better than Father Daniels cigars." The priest said quietly, reaching into the leather satchel next to him on the wood floor. He gracefully brought out a small black tape recorder. 
    "What is that for?" The man asked suspiciously. 
    "I want to hear you out. The church would like to hear what you have to say about your supposed miracle."
    "I never said it was a miracle. It was certainly out of the ordinary, but I never once said it was a miracle." The man muttered quietly, then took a drag of his cigarette and shrank into the back of his chair. 
    The priest stared at the man patiently for a moment. The man would not make eye contact with him. "Okay." The priest said. "The church has filed this as a possible miracle. That is why we are here, together. I want to hear what you have to say and the worst thing that could possibly happen is nothing at all." The young priest was dressed in the starched black and white suit of a man of God. His hair was dark brown and perfectly pomaded; set in its glacial place. He leaned forward, cross legged, towards the man slouching in front of him.
    The man took another drag of his cigarette and looked at what the priest was wearing.
    "Would you like something to drink?" The priest asked. "We have a kitchen just pass the rectory, downstairs."
    "You guys have a water tank down there, like a Culligan?" The man inanely asked.
    "Heavens no. We just drink from the faucet." The priest smirked. "We have a lot of drinks, though. Perhaps some juice or tea."
    The man put his cigarette out in the small, but ornate copper ashtray in the back right corner of the desk. "I feel strange asking this, but do you have something a little bit stronger?"
    The priest's face went flat. "It is the middle of the day." He stated and was met with a moment of silence. "I'll put on some coffee."
    "Okay." The man said quietly, failing to hide the sound of disappointment in his voice. 
    There was a bottle of scotch on the top left shelf of the kitchen. It was Sunday, and everyone else in the church was in service. The lodgings were all but empty.
    "Thank you." The man stated with reserved appreciation.

    The priest, who rarely drinks -unlike Father Daniels, who is just as comfortable sitting on a bar stool as he is standing in front of a pulpit- found himself grabbing two glass tumblers from the kitchen cabinet. He was not a man that could not appreciate a good scotch. He poured the two drinks neat, in hopes that the sweet sting of the liquid would vie on the side of moderation. 
    The man took a sip of the drink, and let the intoxicating feeling settle over his body. And then he began to speak. "I always forget that the weather never ends. I have it instilled in my mind that with everything in life, there is -no matter how tragic or sublime- a beginning, middle, and end to everything. But that is not true of the weather. It adapts and changes. It fluctuates and flows. You can broadly define its cycles, but those cycles shift as well, like a brain wave not operating on the same visceral level my mind, or anyone's mind is synced up to, because of our memories or predictions. It was cold and windy on that March day and everything around me that entire day was gray, green, and black." He took another drink. 
    "I'm listening." The priest said as he looked down at the notebook he was writing in. With his free hand he reached for his scotch -which he could see peripherally to his left on the desk- and took a sip as well.
    "I was walking through the alley between the Jacques building and the building next to it, where there is a frozen yogurt joint. It use to be a place that sold Purdue apparel. That alley use to be a perpetual shit hole -pardon my French- but the city put in a new drainage system and paved the alley. It doesn't collect any water when it rains anymore, but there are still people that it treat like their personal dumpster. They even hired some artist, or fartist, to paint the walls. It's all colorful and geometric." The man said.
    "Like the Quran?" The priest inexplicably interjected while continuing his near feverish note taking.
    The man looked up, confused by the question. "What?"
    "Is the mural Islamic in nature." Unaware that his question was divergent of anything the man was thinking or talking about. 
    "What the fuck are you talking about?" The man said with enough disgust in his tone to break the priests note-taking concentration. 
     Looking up, he saw the man's faced furrowed with annoyance and confusion. The man finished the last of his whiskey. The priest looked down, in order to reprocess exactly what he had been just been writing.

The young priest's notes:
    The Quran does not allow images of humans, most importantly, the prophet Mohammed. I have not read the Quran, but I have seen illuminated script and design of their art.
    I have also seen a cartoon that presents the Prophet Mohammed with a turban that is also a nuclear bomb.
Syriana. Bombs. Gas. God. Movies.

    Two things occurred to the priest, after rereading these notes: that both glasses of scotch were empty and that he had not really been listening to what the man in front of him was saying. He looked up at the man, trying to re-adjust to what the man was talking about, but -being a light drinker- the scotch had made him light headed and unfocused. He was well aware of the curtness in his voice, and it made him cringe thinking about it the next day, when he said to the man "Why are you talking about the weather?" And then he realized, suddenly why the man was talking about the weather.
    "Why the fuck are you talking about Muslims?" The man countered.
    The young priest had heard this man's story echoed through the voices of his congregation and neighborhood. He broadly and abstractly knew what happened and why there are those who believe, truly believe, it was a miracle. He remembered what the man had said to him earlier. "I never said it was a miracle." The priest realized that even though their are many who believe what happened to this man was a miracle, the man himself truly did not believe it was a miracle. The man viewed what happened to him and what he saw as an accident. An unfortunate accident. And it was an accident because of a gust of wind. Weather. That is why he is talking about the weather.
    "Priest." The man finally said. "You're all red."
    "We... We should end the session for the day." The young priest muttered. 
    "I'm not coming back to this place again." The man said. "No offense, but it kind of gives me the creeps." 
    The young priest took a deep breath and began to feel level-headed again after a short wave of intoxication. It was, after all, only one drink. "Okay. Where would you like to meet?"
    "I don't know. Why don't you meet me downtown after I get off work tomorrow. We'll go to Hunter's."
    "This is a pub."
    "Yeah priest. It's where the rest of us congregate."
    The Priest thought for a moment, and decided to overcome his initial thoughts of possible debauchery. Father Daniels was a regular patron of many drinking establishments in the downtown area and his reputation as a respected man of the cloth was no worse for wear. He decided he would meet this man downtown after he got of work, believing this kind of social atmosphere would leave the man feeling less defensive and cagey. The priest would simply not wear his collar at that time. 
    "What do you say there, Priesty boy?" The man said playfully. The change in the air of the man took the young priest by surprise. 
    "I suppose." He finally answered.

   Upon entering the subterranean bar on the corner of Third and Ferry Street, Zeke consumed three Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys and spoke to three patron's of Hunter's Down Under that night before he said anything passed "hi" to the young priest -whose name he still could not remember- he had walked in with. He also took a shot with one of his co workers, who was sitting at the bar counter. The co worker offered to buy both Zeke and the priest a shooter of something called Slow and Low. Father Clayton was the young priests name and he resisted the idea of taking the shot at first; he had not taken a shot of anything since college. He quickly and quietly conceded to taking the drink when Zeke mentioned to his co worker, Mike, that he was a man of the cloth. Mike mentioned that he was good friends with Father Daniels and if he offered Father Daniels a shot the Father would happily oblige him.
     "Lighten up, Padre, you have friends here." Mike said as he handed Father Clayton the shot with a resigned and satisfied look on his face; happy he had persuaded the Priest that there was no other option besides drinking the liquor he had bought him.
     "Slow and Low is a prohibition term. During prohibition they didn't have standards and practices on how someone makes alcohol. So speakeasies would take their rot-gut batches of whiskey and sell it for cheap. When they served it, they would stir it first with a stick of rock candy." Zeke said after all three of them had saluted their two ounce glasses and swallowed its contents.
    "It tastes kind of like cough syrup." Father Clayton said, staring at the Indianapolis Pacers game being broadcast on the old television behind the bar. He could feel the drinks intoxicating numb travel down his throat and spread into his chest.
    "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right priest." Zeke said with his arm on Mike's chair.
    "Can we get a table?" Father Clayton asked, clearly annoyed.
    "Yeah alright." Zeke answered. "Have a good one, Mikey. I'll see you tomorrow."

    "Will you talk to me about the miracle?" The Father leaned back in his chair with a frustrated look on his face. He had set his black tape recorder out on the worn wood table.
    "You know, I don't know if I should." Zeke answered. "I mean, my life doesn't have anything to do with the church. It kind of freaked me out yesterday when I saw you in that get up. The formality of it, I mean, it just isn't my style."
    "Think of me as a journalist. I know I have that uniform, but I'm just like you. Wearing that uniform solves one particular thing in my life that I no longer have to worry about." He pressed stop on his tape recorder. "My mother and the women of my congregation always act strangely when I am wearing it."
    "You just defined why I am not a religious guy."
    Father Clayton smiled. "Let's stick to the subject at hand, and forgive me, but I am required by the church to define it as a miracle."
    "To tell you the truth, the main thing I remember about that alleyway, was that there was a pile of spent red nitrous oxide cartridges on the pavement."
    Father Clayton stared at him while writing quietly in his notebook with a calm smile on his face.

Priest's Note:
Possible drug user.
Regular drug user.
Nitrous Oxide?
What does that do to a person?
Where is it located and dispensed in larger quantities?
Who is the demographic this drug is catered to?
When are they doing it?
Why are they doing it?

   "They weren't mine, but I've seen them before." Zeke stated bluntly. "It mostly makes people act like idiots, so I would mind if you didn't paint me in that light."
    The Father abruptly stopped writing his notes. His face went blank. "Well." He said with empathy. "Please tell me your story. Why were you talking about the weather, yesterday?"
    "I... I..." Zeke took a drink of his beer. "It's a habit. I'm from here. The Midwest that is."
    "I'm from here as well." Father Clayton said with changing to tone and inflection in his voice. "Tell me what happened."
    The man leaned forward, suddenly agitated, and waved his hand pathetically in the air. "What do you want me to tell you? A kid fell in a hole and got hurt."
    "How did he get hurt?"
    "I don't know, priest. God ate a bad burrito and a gust of wind knocked a goofball off his ledge." Zeke said in sarcastic defeat.
    "Bobby is his name." The Priest added. "Bobby Fischer."
    "I thought that was that chess guy."
    "He isn't the only person with that name sake." The priest was clenching his notebook when he wrote these words within its pages: Praise be to God.
    The chair creaked as the man sighed and leaned forward. "Jesus, man. What do you want to know? You seem to know more about than I do. You're the one calling it a miracle."
    "Describe what you saw passed the alleyway. How did you know where those kids were? If your claim is true; that instead of there being what is normally just more alleyway passed the two buildings you were standing between, there, in fact -in that one moment- was actually a different place. There was a place miles away from where you saw it at. How did you know where that place was?"
    "Well that last question I can answer pretty easily. Those kids were at a construction site that I worked at several years back. That was the second place I was in. It was suppose to be some high end, private suburb, but the company ran out of money well before it was finished. They just abandoned it." The man drained his beer and grunted mildly.
    "How did you know for sure it was that particular construction site?" The priest asked.
    "Hey man, I know my own work." Zeke answered.
    "Alright. Now we're getting somewhere."


Aaron C. Molden