3/8/12

The Page Cannot Be Found

You can visit almost any internet writer’s blog/website, browse their list of publications, and at least (~) a third of the links lead to a web page that cannot be found.

Stories this writer worked hard on, sent to at least (~) 10-20 online journals only to be rejected, but finally were accepted by a journal this writer has read at least (~) every issue of and, when published,this writer proudly posted on their blog/website that, indeed, one editor found something about one of this writer’s stories he/she thought worthy to include in the next issue of his/her journal (or, if not his/her journal, the journal he/she is a contributing editor for).

This one publication no doubt, at the time, brought this writer a much needed boost of confidence in the otherwise hollow venture of achieving a modicum of temporary literary immortality, gave this writer a little courage to continue writing and sending that writing to more editors for consideration,made this writer feel less ashamed by/afraid of his/her own writing and of rejection overall and more understanding of the idea that not everyone will like his/her writing, but that there is probably, eventually, someone who will.

In a sea of rejection, a lighthouse… That’s stupid. Fucking 'sea of rejection'. Fucking 'lighthouse'. Stupid.

This writer, at the time, most likely grew obsessed with sending his/her writing to all the 'major' online literary journals, to feel minutely 'famous' knowing other people would potentially think differently about his/her work (indeed, think at all about his/her work), as it is now published in this one online literary journal.

But this doesn’t always happen, at least not as immediately as this writer initially hoped. Other writers’ writing also appears in this issue, and this writer will no doubt be overlooked by the vast majority of other writers and readers.

One day, though, someone may find themselves trawling this writer’s blog/website, having read something this writer wrote (a) year(s) ago in the archives of a still-publishing journal, feeling at least (~) mildly interested enough to read more.

This someone, however, visits this writer's blog/website and comes to the list of publications and finds the title of a story or poem they think seems interesting, and this someone clicks on the link.

This link leads only to a page that cannot be found.

This story is lost, the link dead.

This missing story has a story of its own, a story of the story its writer did not take into consideration—a story of loss, of prediction in retrospect.

The ephemerality of creative conquest, preservation of finite pleasure.

This someone, trawling this writer's publications list, maybe feels thankful he/she is emotionally obligated to feel only a vague sense of disappointment at not being able to read this story or poem that seemed interesting, and feels lucky to not have written it.

This someone quickly finds something else to click on.

_________


Here are some stories I wrote that no longer appear online, in reverse chronological order:



THREE ZOMBIE FRAGMENTS
Published @ No Time to Say It
(August ’10)

1 /
The momma zombie breastfeeds the baby zombie on a bench at the playground.

A bunch of toddler zombies are climbing the monkey bars,their arms ripping in dusty bursts off at the elbows, shoulders, hands still clinging to the bars.

They run to their momma zombies who tell them they’ll be fine, and to keep playing.

Other toddler zombies running around fall face-first into the slide, tearing their faces off like band-aids.

One toddler zombie gets tangled up in the chain of a swing,struggles a moment, clawing at the sand, his fingernails falling out in the loose sand, getting buried a little like brittle, gray seashells.

The momma zombie breastfeeding her baby zombie looks at the palm of her zombie hand, her empty zombie hand, the imaginary zombie teeth her baby zombie never got to grow, the baby zombie teeth that never got to fall out of the baby zombie’s mouth.

The momma zombie thinks of the zombie tooth fairy, its wings withering off its rotting back, absent-mindedly flying into closed bedroom windows, bumping into them again and again, saying, “Ahhh.”

The baby zombie bites into the momma zombie’s breast with its gums like a brain if the brain was a silicone implant, tearing the brown,shriveled nipple off, gnawing on it like raw bacon, silicone gel oozing from the tear in the momma zombie’s breast like a clear, curdled milk.

2 /
Near a small lake, in the middle of the park, some zombies lay on their bellies, sunbathing.

One or two occasionally sit up to squirt suntan lotion onto the zombie lying next to them, rubbing the lotion into the zombie’s back, the lotion oozing like milky pus into the cracks of the zombie’s rotting flesh like white lava pouring from a volcano in the sky and flowing through the crevices of an arid plateau.

The zombie moans as the zombie who squirted the lotion rub sit in sensually, tenderly touching the zombie with its fingertips, moistly and stickyly.

The sun beats down on the zombies sunbathing, and a little farther down the lake there is a hill where people sit watching zombies on a stage performing a scene from Hamlet,two zombies pretending to be clowns, gravediggers:
SECOND CLOWN: Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or
a carpenter?
FIRST CLOWNAy, tell me that, and unyoke.
SECOND CLOWN:Marry, now I can tell.
FIRST CLOWN:To't.
SECOND CLOWN: Mass, I cannot tell.
FIRST CLOWN: Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull
ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when
you are asked this question next, say "a grave-maker":
the houses that he makes last till doomsday.
ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when you are asked this question next, say "a grave-maker":the houses that he makes last till doomsday.
Zombies sitting on the hill watch blankly, thinking about brains, using their brains to think about brains.

Eventually, both the zombies pretending to be clowns digging a grave forget their lines, surprised they’ve remembered as much as they did,and begin to drool.

The sun begins to sink in the sky.

3 /
Across the park, a zombie sits under a tree reading Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil,staring intensely at the pages, blinking, its dead zombie eyes like mouths chewing every word.

The zombie’s dead zombie eyes swallow, and the zombie’s brain like a belly digests Nietzsche’s brain, and Nietzsche’s brain tastes good in the zombie’s brain, as the zombie sits under the tree contemplating its existence, what it means to be a zombie, what it means to be.

The zombie wants more brains like this, brains that taste so good in its zombie brain, its dead zombie eyes chewing every last crumb of every last word on every page.

The zombie hears something whistling and looks up to see a Frisbee flying toward its face, and the Frisbee hits the zombie in the face and the zombie’s head moves when the Frisbee hits it.

“Sorry,” the teenage zombie who doesn’t catch the Frisbee says to the zombie who gets hit in the head with the Frisbee.

The zombie looks around at all the other zombies in the park, some playing Frisbee, some breast feeding their zombie babies, some sunbathing, others eating the brains of the few humans left.

The humans’ bodies lie in the grass in the sinking sun,their bellies ripped open like whales leaking intestines, their limbs torn off and devoured, their skulls eaten out of like popcorn bowls.

The zombie looks at the other zombies eating human brains and thinks, “So barbaric.”

The zombie goes back to reading its book.


AQUARIUMS
from The Immortals Act Their Age, a Novel of Stories
Published in The Catalonian Review
(December 09)

It logically seemed more logical to pick up a magazine and just read it.

Better than staring at the receptionist’s window, with its frosted glass and, more ominously, slid shut.

The chairs were no help, sitting there not doing anything but holding other people who had [n]othing to do with Seth’s condition.

Seth’s condition could’ve sat in one of those chairs, they were so close.

Seth’s condition could’ve been one of those people waiting to get up.

But his
condition decided it was just safer to float there, and wait.

Waiting was always the best part about floating.


Conditions
didn’t have to do anything, really.

Conditions
could just look like they were levitating, or something.

People would just stare at someone’s
condition and wonder what the hell it was it was waiting for.

Conditions
could contemplate the bigger things in life, like, “What am I waiting for?”

Seth’s
condition sometimes found it might look silly to someone who didn’t confuse not having something to live for with not having anything to read.

The people waiting in the waiting room, hiding their faces behind magazines, they were wondering what Seth’s
condition was waiting for.

They wondered about themselves, too.

Seth’s condition couldn’t’ve been the only condition there, could it’ve?

It was almost exactly like everyone else’s: Their conditions were imaginary, made of ice, and someone kept them in a glass box on a shelf above a radiator.

One day, when they were children, they saw their imaginary conditions melt into a clear liquid, the kind used in aquariums.

But [n]othing floated in theirs.

Then Seth’s condition came along and floated into the waiting room of Seth’s primary care physician Dr. Coffin’s office.

And these people, they weren’t sure how they felt about it, hadn’t yet gotten used to adjusting.

They knew Seth’s condition was there, but where were their conditions?

The receptionist’s ominously frosted glass window slid open.

“Seth’s condition?” the receptionist said.

Seth and Seth’s condition both looked up at the same time, and, in stereo, said:

“Yes?”

“The doctor will see you now.”

“Here goes,” Seth’s condition said.

Seth took Seth’s condition’s hand.

“Don’t be nervous,” he said. “You’ll do just fine.”

“Thanks,” Seth’s condition said.

Seth’s condition floated through the waiting room and over to a nurse who waited for Seth’s condition at the doorway to the examination rooms.

Everyone else almost forgot where they were, why they were there.


Seth picked up a magazine, flipped through it, wondered that, too.



TOUR GUIDES
from The Immortals Act Their Age, a Novel of Stories
Published in Ghoti
(Issue #19, July ’09)

The infants stood almost an hour in a circle around a ONE WAY sign someone had run over who knows when, staring at it like a dead animal.

They weren’t sure if it was dead.

They poked it with a stick.

It might as well’ve been a DEAD END sign, like the one at the other end of the street they lived on: Progressive Ave.

The infants had nowhere else to go, to be.

They found the ONE WAY sign, some sticks.

Someone had run over the ONE WAY sign with their car and drove away—someone, they assumed, who had somewhere else to go, to be.

The ONE WAY sign laythere at the living end of their little street, its rectangular aluminum headflattened into the cracked soil of a dead patch of grass, bent over at the baseof its stem like a rusted sunflower a fairytale giant had stepped on.

They figured the sign was dead.

They thought of this thing, this ONE WAY sign, as something meant to perform a function, assomething communicating an idea, a philosophy that would guide people in theirlives, other people, people who had somewhere else to go, to be.

Somewhere else the infants didn’t have.

Not to ignore its place in the world, not to downplay thesign’s purpose, the infants wondered how the sign felt expressing a message noone who came down their street could understand until they came to the DEAD END sign at the other end, where no onecould only turn back to correct no one’s mistake.

Almost an hour, they stood in a circle around the ONE WAY sign.

One of the infants, a boy, lifted his head and looked overthe others’ shoulders to see if no one else was coming.

The infant boy saw Brenton crossing the street a block away,wearing a dark hoodie, his hands tucked in its kangaroo pouch.

The infant boy thought Brenton seemed anxious aboutsomething.

The infants were all alone, had nowhere else to go, to be.

They stood around staring at the dead ONE WAY sign.

The infants couldn’t read the sign.

They poked it with a stick.



GANG PREVENTION: CANCELED
from The Immortals Act Their Age, a Novel of Stories
Published in U.M.Ph! Prose
(Issue #1, June ’09)

Watson and Bermuda got to the Histogram City Community Center,and there was a sign on the door that said: See Title.

They stood there a moment, looking at the sign.

They read it over and over, knew by now what the sign meant,so they didn’t spend any more time reading it, and just stood there staring at it.

Watson and Bermuda looked at each other.

They turned around, walked back out into the parking lot.

The infants were playing basketball on a small court beside the Community Center.

The court was just blacktop with no boundaries painted on it.

The basketball hoop didn’t have a net, just hung there from the rusted aluminum backboard like a mechanical angel’s iron halo.

None of the infants had on decent clothes or sneakers, and they all made fun of each other for it.

They played ball together, all pretty rough about it,slamming into and dropping each other like anchors wearing mob-issued cement shoes.

They all got up again, went right back to playing ball,hurting each other without ever really fighting big.

Watson and Bermuda sat on the sidelines on rusted, warped metal bleachers, watching the infants play.

The sun was real big, hot.

“You think Lucas’s sick?” Watson said.

“He’d call,” Bermuda said.

“Would he? No one else showed up.”

“But he’s our counselor. He should call.”

Watson felt himself getting angry.

He made fists, his hands mouths grinding their fingers like teeth, and his blood got thick, hot, felt like lava.

“No, he’d call,” Bermuda said.

“Then why didn’t he?”

Bermuda didn’t say anything.

“He’s fucking with us, that’s what. He thinks we’ll just be patient and depend on ourselves? Fuck that.”

Bermuda felt he was having a stroke, couldn’t focus on anything but: “He’d call. Maybe something bad happened.”

Watson got up off the bleachers, hopped down onto the blacktop.

He walked over to the infants playing basketball.

Bermuda watched Watson go without thinking about what he was doing, didn’t notice the gun Watson pulled out and shot at three of the infants with.

He didn’t notice the other infants scattering away, leaping over the chain-link fences enclosing the court, fences with long gashes in them like runs in a stocking Watson once pulled down over his face to anonymously rob the corner store.

Bermuda didn’t even hear the loud pops the bullets made when compressed air coughed them up out of the gun.

Watson climbed up the bleachers and sat down beside Bermuda,who, the whole time, was trapping himself inside, getting angry about it.

His palms were slices of bleeding bread his fists bit into.

Bermuda snapped out of it and looked at Watson, thought he was maybe asking the infants if they’d seen Lucas.

“What’d they say?”

Watson didn’t answer, just sat there with the gun in his palm, squeezing the grip, cocking and uncocking the hammer.

“Let’s go,” Bermuda said. “I want to go.”

They got up and went to Bermuda’scar, drove around looking for Lucas, and when they found him they weren’t sure what they were going to do.

Watson and Bermuda hadn’t yet learned self-control.

That was this week’s session.

There was [n]othing they could’ve done to stop themselves.



GOOSEBUMP BRAILLE
from Snowing Fireflies (Folded Word Press, 2010)
Published in Tuesday Shorts
(June ’09)

Sexually insulated, like eating fiber glass cotton candy,the walls cold, the window a cracked spider web, their scars scotch-taped.

They hold each other, know too much to understand anything.

His fingers caress her arm, reading sentences on her skin.

The same sentence which says over and moreover:

Don’t Touch…



OZ MINUS OZONE
Published in KORA
(March ’09)

1 /
There were still some landmines that hadn’t gone off yet.

It became a kind of hopscotch game with the teenagers.

Sometimes when they looked up they could actually see big holes their parents’d carved into the sky with industrial-strength,gasoline-powered hunting knives, abandoned structures around which their parents erected scaffolding like skeletons to stand on.

To the teenagers it felt like living inside a big blue bowling ball, and there weren’t any fingers big enough to plug those holes.

All the town’s shacks appeared to be buckling under their own weight, as if some great giant had come through crushing everything under its fists.

A lot of the town’s shacks looked soggy, even melted, like big birthday cakes with chimneys for candles too top-heavy to stand up straight anymore, sunken into the roof’s frosting.

How deformed the whole place looked, it made people who lived there think the whole town years ago just fell from the sky through the holes in it, into the giant poppy field the town now occupied, sprinkled into what could’ve been a brilliantly choreographed blueprint if it weren’t just dumb luck where everything crash-landed.

Soon after what everyone believed was just a random accident of existence, the town’s place in the world and in itself, the sky paused in midair, and it still to this day hung there above everyone’s heads, dangling ominously like some extraterrestrial golf course on the end of an infant’s mobile.

The sky haunted the townspeople.

None of them knew why.

It was so long ago.

Even the parents who’d carved the sky’s holes’d forgotten all about what they’d done.

2 /
The landmines were mostly duds, but some of the teenagers were lucky enough sometimes to step on one that was still active, still alive,and for a second it felt like a turtle was going “Ouch,” and wiggling a little under their feet.

But really it was a living landmine blowing up, and the blowing up of a living landmine was like a trampoline, so then some of the teenagers were lucky enough to be flung up through the holes and out of the planet.

Some of the townspeople suspected scarecrows of planting the landmines.

Sometimes a landmine would get up on its little legs and crawl away to another, more secret part of the poppy field.

Sometimes scarecrows came down off their crosses at night and snatched one of the teenagers’ parents and crucified them.

In the morning teenagers would cut class and head out to the field.

“Get away from there,” a vague and disembodied voice would call out.

The teenagers would look up from hopping around landmines.

“What was that?” one of the teenagers would say.

“Sounded like, like my dad,” another teenager would say.

That afternoon, walking up to his shack, a teenager might see a scarecrow standing behind the screen door holding a cup of coffee, his mother’s head on the scarecrow’s shoulder, her arms around the scarecrow’s waist.



ATLAS HEAD OVER HEELS
Published in Corduroy Mtn.
(November ’08)

Then time came when the whole world’s water swallowed the whole world’s land, all except for one spot, one tiny patch of land big enough for one person to stand on.

All the world’s people built a ladder, seeing the water advancing toward them from all directions, and they figured that to be the best way out.

The ladder wasn’t strong enough, and first the rungs snapped, and then the support beam things the rungs tight-roped across themselves to buckled.

Under the weight of everyone in the world who had a chance to climb the ladder it collapsed, and everyone in the world who’d climbed it fell on top of one another.

The ladder wasn’t nearly tall enough anyway.

The water was getting closer, slowly rushing inland, and they looked at it and got scared and started trampling each other.

One of all the world’s people, Stacks, suggested they make a ladder out of themselves, and he offered the woman standing next to him a boost up onto his shoulders.

Her boyfriend got offended and went to kick Stacks in the balls, but she grabbed his pant leg.

He stopped, and she convinced him to help her up onto Stacks’ shoulders and then to climb up onto hers, and then Stacks had everyone else in the world climb up onto her boyfriend’s shoulders.

Everyone said, “Okay.”

All the world’s people started climbing each other as the whole world’s water was in the distance slowly rushing from everywhere toward them, thinning out some as it reached the shore of their shrinking island.

Whole cities, neighborhoods, buildings, homes, schools,hospitals, movie theaters, community centers—the whole scene was a full scale model of a miniature disaster.

The water stopped at Stacks’ feet, and he tried to not think about it or flinch under the weight of the world’s population he was kind enough to let go on over him.

Stacks held his breath until the water stopped at his feet,and it went over his ankles a little and then he blew all that air out,hoisting his brows and blinking real fast.

The last person to climb the human ladder got to the top of the sky.

It was a teenager named Gorman.

He climbed onto the shoulders of a heavy-set politician who hoped he would be the first one out.

The hole in the ozone was basically a submarine hatch.

It was just out of Gorman’s reach over his head, and for a second he thought about jumping up to grab hold of the ledge, but then he thought that was stupid.

He yelled down for everyone in the world to stand on their tiptoes, and by the time it got all the way to Stacks the guy who wanted to kick Stacks in the balls’s girlfriend said, “Tears for Fears rocks.”

“What?” Stacks said.

The girlfriend looked up at her boyfriend and said, “What?”

Then “What?” was the message on its way up toward the submarine hatch of a hole in the ozone, to the guy, Gorman, up there stretching and who couldn’t reach the ledge of the hole, and who thought maybe jumping would do it.

It was like a rosary of echoes climbing a prayer’s noose up out of a sewer.

“Stand on your tiptoes, I said,” he said. “Keep it clear.”

An estimated 6.5 billion people passed that message down carefully like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a sip of water, spitting it into each other’s mouths and hoping the person below them didn’t drool or swallow it.

The message made it down and arrived missing not one drop,nor did it contain new drops of anything superfluous like saliva or tears, and Stacks used all his strength to get up on the tips of his toes under all that weight, and everyone else in the world got up on their toes, dug them into the shoulders of everyone else in the world they were standing on, including that guy Gorman, the teenager, at the top.

Gorman stretched out and, with the extra height he got from the world on its tiptoes, he touched the lip of the hole in the ozone, and there was a hatch, a manhole closed over the sewer the world was.

It was real dark all the way up there.

Gorman felt like he was in a submarine.

“Be careful,” the heavy-set politician Gorman stood on said.

Gorman popped the hatch and took a deep breath, and his face got sucked off his head, his whole body slurped out into space.

Down below no one had any idea what was happening, and the yall tried keeping as still as they could to prevent the human ladder they were from wobbling.

More than 97% of the world’s population was afraid of heights.

They were surrounded by water.

A lot of people were thirsty.

The politician under Gorman held Gorman’s legs and got sucked out into space with Gorman, and the person under the politician clutching his legs got sucked out.

One by one, beads from the rosary of echoes were popping off, rungs from the human ladder flung out into orbit like splinters floating in water around a bowling ball.

Lots of people down below had to pee.

“What’s happening?” Stacks yelled.

Everyone was anxious, holding on tight, clutching the legs of whoever stood on their shoulders, clamping the heads of whoever’s shoulders they stood on between their ankles.

One by one, the whole human ladder and all its rungs got sucked up like coke through a straw, snorted like coke through a rolled-up dollar bill.

The boyfriend on his girlfriend’s shoulders, and her on Stacks’ shoulders, they didn’t let go in time and they got sucked up with the rest of the world’s population, but the girlfriend’s legs slipped out of Stacks’ hands.

“No,” Stacks yelled.

The hatch slammed shut after the girlfriend got sucked out.

Stacks stood there a moment, looking around.

He was the only person left in the whole world.

He wondered if maybe the boyfriend and girlfriend got sucked up so forcefully he simply couldn’t hold on to the girlfriend’s legs and they were torn from his grip, or if maybe he really just let go, on-purpose like.

He didn’t think he could answer that question honestly.

He looked down at his feet, water covering them up to his ankles.

He heard a faint sound, like someone screaming, getting closer.

He looked up, and the heavy-set politician hit the Earth like an asteroid, landing face-first in shallow water near where Stacks was standing, shaking the ground, splashing big waves toward Stacks.

Stacks jumped back.

He slowly walked over to the politician’s probably dead corpse, and nudged it a little with his foot.

The politician didn’t move.

Stacks turned him over.

He nudged him again with his foot.

The politician’s eyes opened wide.

“AHHH,” Stacks yelled, afraid.

“UHHH,” the politician’s dead corpse went.

Stacks sat on the politician’s dead corpse.

He rested his elbow on his thigh, and his chin on his closed fist.

He thought hard about why he might’ve let go on purpose.

The sun was going down, and it was getting cold out.

_________


Here are a couple poems that no longer appear online:



THE AMERICAN CONSUMER
from How Much the Jaw Weighs (Anonymosity Press, 2011)
Published in Dogmatika
(March ’09)

Intentionally targeted by ad campaigns
to be the best possible version of myself

acting out someone else’s fantasy of owning my capital,
I work harder to produce less efficient clones to rally

around a poor and starving theme collapsing
into its own hunger like a nomadic cannibal sitting
in one place, eating itself.



DEFIBRILLATOR FOR DEADBEATS
from How Much the Jaw Weighs (Anonymosity Press, 2011)
Published in Dogmatika
(March ’09)

Hatred born of a fist’s womb
resonates through snow like crystal

ball shavings, glitters like grated
futures whose flakes have already

fallen into the roads of my palm
which lead this ambulance nowhere,

and doing chest compressions
on mannequins like honking the car

horn frantically beeping for Death
to get the fuck out of the way.

6 comments:

xTx said...

to be fair, i'm not a journal. heh.

when i redid my story links on my blog, i came across this too. but, it was for mostly my 'early' stories so, kinda wasnt too bummed about it.

Eric Beeny said...

Hi x, I just meant that's where the story appeared. I know what you mean re links, but it's still hard to let go, even of 'early' stories. No matter how recent a story is, it's always 'early' compared to how you might feel about it as time passes. I don't know. It really doesn't bother me that much, just some thoughts I had about it.

Charles Lennox said...

This is timely Eric as I've been recently thinking of posting my "dead link" stories online through my blog. Glad you did this.

Eric Beeny said...

Hi Charles, nice! I really like what you've done, getting rid of the blog completely and just posting the publications. I've been thinking about doing that for a while, but its like trying to stop eating chocolate chip cookie dough, or something...

Ethel Rohan said...

LOVE this post, Eric. I hope you're well. xoxo

Eric Beeny said...

Thanks so much, Ethel...