Not good enough.

Resistance (3 Jun 1994)

for Yukio Mishima (1925 - 1970)

Waiting. Dawn. Patient, practicing. Kneel. Draw. Strike. Release.

The sky greys; the sun is coming and the clouds will part for it. The waves wash over the rocks below. The birds, the waves, the bells far away in the town-- all are there, audible, but only faintly. It is mostly silent.

A thousand times, the pretending. Kneel. Draw. Strike. Release.

Fingers across the belly. Taut, hardened, a lifetime of work and war and strength supporting it. Resistance. Will it be too much? I have always cut true, with focus, but will my resolve and my strength be enough to do it this one last time? Others have been soft enough; will I?

In my mind, imagining it since I was a child. Kneel. Draw. Strike. Release.

When I finally fought back against Yoshi, as a boy, he struck me once in the gut. I fell instantly, dropped like a bird caught on a wire. The pain was more than anything I'd imagined my body could feel. I thought it would never go away, but eventually it did. Will this be that, again? Will the pain feel like it never ends, even though eventually it must?

Deep breath, inhale, and slow exhale. Kneel. Draw. Strike. Release.

The ronin-- the one who cut me deeper than any other ever has, who took me to the brink of death-- could tell me. His attempt on my life was his last chance to regain his honor; when that failed, he took the remaining path. His blade caught me in the abdomen; the scar is still there. He was fierce, and brave, and strong, but his blade did not sink deep enough. Resistance; my resistance was too great.

Grey becomes pink. Kneel. Draw. Strike. Release.

If that resistance is too great this morning, I will fail. I must do this thing right, like all other things I have done. My death must be as perfect as my life. I will not need my second. Soften. I must soften, inside, for the first time.

A hint of bright orange on the horizon. It is time.


My skin pimples and my hair rises in the cold, but I do not shiver. I focus, fingers against abdomen, feeling the ronin's old scar, feeling resistance, feeling it soften before I


My second inhales quietly behind me, once, slowly. Resistance. Less. The stone wall becomes reed. The mountain becomes sea. The tortoise becomes rabbit. The shield becomes rice paper. And I


It enters like the hand of a ghost, and takes a firm hold on my spirit. The blade moves effortlessly. And there is


The veil parts. There is no resistance.

There is only perfection.

Failure (7 Jun 1994)

Why I suck as an inventor

My heart made a little painful leap in my chest and I watched, in slow motion, as the frictionless-field generator slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor, where it shattered into a million reflective pieces.

Why I fail in the art of war

I raised my spear once more, preparing to impale the heart of my opponent upon it, when the light of an explosion illuminated his face. For just a moment, I was sure he was my brother, and my hand hesitated. Then it was too late; the resemblance disappeared, but his sword had already entered my chest.

Why I will never be an architect

I think you'll find my design for your new condominium complex meets all the requirements, and that it carries fully the new aesthetic you were hoping for. It is seven-dimensional, allowing much more living space per unit as well as more units in the complex overall. The curves drawn one physically towards entrances; the angles force one psychically towards exits. The organic flow is accelerated by alterations to the gravitational constant and the value of pi. It is alive. It is vibrant. It speaks in tongues.

Here, let me show my working model.

I don't think I would make a very good detective

My fee is two hundred dollars a day plus expenses, and you have to sign this waiver accepting responsibility for any crimes I commit while in the process of solving your case. If you try to sleep with me, be warned: I bite.

Chief obstacle to my being a gigolo

My wife won't touch my dick if she doesn't know where it's been. She has to watch, you see. It's part of the deal. You get a discount if she can put it on videotape, as well.

My failure as an astronaut

"Oh, look, that star looks really pretty. I'm gonna set a course for it, okay? I'll wake you up when we get there."

Probably shouldn't consider becoming a cowboy

When we lit out from northwest Kansas, we had two thousand head of cattle. By the time we hit Laredo, there were seven hundred left and I had me a ninety-page book of recipes for beef.

Surgeon? I don't think so.

Well, really, I know I'm supposed to hold life sacred but, really, when you get right down it, the world wouldn't really miss _this_ guy if I just let him die here on the table. Really. You know.

it's the littlest ones that move the fastest (27 Aug 1993)


"We're in, control."

Sniffing. Not enough to go on.

"Remember, there's five of them. Let's do it."

Whisper of fabric and rubber on tile; past metal.

"There! Counter top! -- Yes. Good aim, both of them."

Breathing between steps. Shifting a thing of red plastic.

"Nothing here. Wait, one was sitting right here two minutes ago."

Spotlights. No, that's not what they're called. Floodlights? Flashlights?

"Here's two more. Bagged 'em both; one in the head, one through the neck."

Scampering feet on cobblestone. Cobbler. Peach cobbler? Scampering.

"Corner, guys. Check back there, and watch the ceiling."

Running out of negative space, definitely.

"It's moving, the little fucker."

Lights? Too much sound.

"Say goodnight."


Sore (4 Aug 1999)

Soreness in his neck. Bad posture brings it on. Tension. He slumps too much, too often. His shoulders bunch up and everything feels like it's pushing up into the bottom of his brain. That's the sign that he needs to take a break. Soreness in his neck.

Soreness in his hand. Humidity brings it on. Tendonitis. He types too much, too fast. His knuckles turn a deep red when it happens. That's the sign that he needs to take a break. Soreness in his hand.

Soreness in his eyes. Too much time in front of a monitor brings it on. Strain. His screen is too high-resolution, too close. His face feels like there is a slow chili burn going, dragging his lids closed to protect themselves. That's the sign that he needs to take a break. Soreness in his eyes.

Soreness in his feet. The wrong shoes bring it on. Pinched. He always picks the wrong size, and never realizes it's too small until later. His feet get all hot and tight when it happens. That's the sign that he needs to take a break. Soreness in his feet.

Soreness in his mind. Dipshits bring it on. Assholes. He spends too much time around incompetents, too many of them. He wants to tell them to shut the fuck up when it happens. That's the sign that he needs to take a break. Soreness in his mind.

He rubs his aching neck with his aching hands, looks down at his weary feet with his weary eyes, and lets his shrieking mind wander. A break. A break. He hears five voices, each asking for a break. It is not enough that he take a break and share it among all of them, of course.

Five breaks. He will take five breaks.

Immediately, the shrieking torment begins to fade. Patience, boys; we'll go over the wall soon enough.

Inventory (19 May 2000)

} Kia writes:
} the dropout

        brand new $20 bill in his pocket. fuck school. school takes your
        money. work gives it to you! fuck homework, i'm making $8.25!

} the paraplegic

        keeps his old hi-tops in a box on the desk. i was gonna go pro.
        i was gonna go pro. i was gonna go pro.

} the juvenile delinquent

        butterfly knife. illegal in this state but you can get them just
        about anywhere. too bad everyone else packs guns.

} the rapist

        kept her panties. thanks for the memories, doll.

} the transvestite

        oh my god, a girl has to carry *so much* to look her best, jesus,
        it's just not fair how much it takes to maintain expectations.

} the junkie

        glassine envelope filled with just enough to make tomorrow possible.
        day after? that's a whole 'nother problem.

} the skinhead

        great-grandpa was at a rally and march in '38. took a picture of
        him. i'm not really as into it as my friends are.