OH! And remember you can also check out these, and other photo projects at our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/jackblankhsh/?hl=en
Another week of art projects while I figure what I need to write next. Coming at you are two pieces I call "Fish Fossil", and "Abstract Emotion". Each is pretty self-explanatory... I think. In any event, I did what I usually do when it comes to painting/digital art: I just played with the image until I saw something I liked, and tried to shape the rest to whatever idea it inspired.
OH! And remember you can also check out these, and other photo projects at our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/jackblankhsh/?hl=en
I planted myself
Where Carcosa shows.
I lost my mind,
But I found my soul.
Shrouded in the hollow
I let the Yellow King hallow
The future I'd grow.
Hearing Cassilda's song
I thought nothing wrong.
In the court of the dragon
I found a welcome wagon,
Where whispers set a task,
I donned their mask,
And finished transformation
To repairer of reputation --
This is my destined destination.
I embraced the yellow sign --
Floating over the line.
A hesitant tensing.
This isn't murder
But soon no need
For any defensing.
Raised my knife,
and unlike Lot's wife
I never looked back.
I'm sure the papers will subtract
The fact of the attack,
Serial kills occur
And say nothing
Of the king's executioner.
"So I put the gun in mouth, and was about to squeeze the trigger when the radio -- I don't even remember putting it on -- the radio starts playing a Mötley Crüe song. And I thought, 'Oh hell no. The last thing I'm going to hear is not going to be goddamn Mötley Crüe.' Anyway, long story short, searching for a song to fit the moment, I lost the desire to kill myself."
The old veterinarian winked at me, "But it'll come back. It always does. You can only euthanize so many kittens..."
As she trailed off I handed her a tray of sterilized instruments, "Okay. On that note, I quit."
Seeing how the veterinary profession possessed a higher suicide rate than one would expect, I decided not to risk the odds. Being an assistant might've been safer, but still, I've been known to get deeply depressed doing the dishes. The endless nature of it... and just knowing that a family is bringing in a beloved pet too sick to... three months later the bender ended.
I woke up naked with a bed sheet stuck to my face, glued in place by a puddle of blood spilled from my nose. Wrapping it around me like a toga I kicked my way through a grove of bottles in search of my clothes. Glancing back, I saw a curvy women with the contented smile of the well-fucked soundly sleeping. Her SS Edmund Fitzgerald tattoo made me curious for the details lost in the blackout days behind me.
Pulling my jeans out of a bathroom sink, I realized I didn't recognize this place. Turning on my phone I asked it for directions to my place. The map app sprang to life indicating I now stood in Virginia. Consulting another informative application I discovered a terminally malnourished bank account. Inside my wallet a single twenty dollar bill with a note written across it in my handwriting:
"Get out before she wakes up. She's going to stab you."
I've pulled such blackout related pranks on myself before, leaving cryptic notes warning me of various dangers, and gaffs -- insulting cult leaders, obscene calls to the CIA, and unpaid pizza orders -- however, I didn't feel like taking a chance. So, making the mistake of trusting myself, I fled the scene.
It took a few days to get things in order. Sure, I starved for the first few days, and maybe I didn't need to rob that waffle house, or the church picnic, but by the end of the week I procured a room at a nearby hotel, and a job at a home improvement store. I didn't expect it to be too long before I could purchase a bus ticket back to Chicago.
Home improvement shops are essentially giant hardware warehouses. They're utilitarian in design with shelves rising ridiculously out of reach; capacious buildings scented with a
a unique blend of sawdust, paint, and metal. Through canyonesque aisles patrons from all walks of life shuffle, body language telegraphing their own personal degree of knowledge: a burly man tanned into leathery jerky assesses screws by eye, knowing the needed size at a glance; a diminutive blonde housewife navigates her confused husband through electrical supplies, explaining to him what they need to wire a sconce; an old man eyes a toilet skeptically. And of course, the myriad customers who would use a hammer to put in screws.
Mainly due to that last type, employees of such establishments are often practitioners of ninjutsu, particularly the skills known as Shinobi-iri and Intonjutsu. A befuddled customer approaches an apron clad employee. The glazed cow eyes of the witless signal to the ninja an idiotic question is fast approaching. Deftly a smoke bomb is deployed, and the employee vanishes from sight. The more skilled might simply slip over to the next aisle, disappearing the same way spies are known to dissolve from view when a bus passes by.
I never got the hang of such tactics, so instead chose a means of hiding in plain sight. I spent most of my shifts hanging around a middle aged employee named Gus. Having retired after several years as a successful contractor, but not yet ready to stop working entirely, Gus worked part time. If a question revolved around home improvement, Gus knew the answer. Friendly to a degree some might call a fault, he assisted customers before they even finished asking anything. All I needed to do was stand near him, pause as if considering what to say, and he would answer for me. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if he suspected my own ineptitude, and merely wanted to keep me from embarrassing myself.
"I heard the manager ain't too happy with you," Gus said.
I shrugged, "Hey, I get why, but I thought it would help."
Gus replied, "You started barbequing in the patio display."
"I thought it would help sell patio furniture, and let's be clear. I was grilling, not barbequing. Don't tell me there isn't a difference."
Gus held up his hands in surrender, "No argument with that."
I said, "I also thought the smoke might help with the birds."
Birds occasionally slipped into the colossal store. The massive entrance to the open air gardening section allowed them to fly right into the building. Whole flocks eventually started gathering in the rafters requiring a teenager in a cherry picker to ascend, and battle them with a broom, shooing the birds to the exit. Sometimes the birds fought back. The teens didn't always win because some battles can't be fought stoned.
Gus said, "Never you mind about them birds. They ain't bothering nobody."
"Sometimes they shit on people."
"Somebody's always shitting on ya you pay attention." He smiled. So did I. You've got to admire that kind of resigned pessimism. If something bad is inevitable it seems like one can only accept it.
"Excuse me?" a young man in khakis and a polo shirt stepped up to me.
I said, "Yes sir. How may I help you?"
He replied, "I'm looking for tiki torches."
"Aisle six." Gus pointed. The man ignored him. He seemed determined to wait for me to answer.
I pointed where Gus had, "Aisle six."
"Thank you." The man smiled, losing his grin when he looked at Gus, then walked off.
"Was that weird?" I asked.
"Nope. You're paranoid," Gus said.
"Doesn't mean it wasn't weird." But I dropped it, focusing instead on helping Gus inventory plumbing supplies.
Minutes later a thirty-something brunette woman in a khaki skirt and white blouse asked, "Hi, I'm wondering about tiki torches."
"Aisle six, ma'am," Gus said.
"Is he right?" she asked, leaning towards me, away from Gus.
"Like he said, 'Aisle six'."
She lightly touched my shoulder, "Thank you so much."
Cocking an eyebrow I glanced at Gus.
He nodded, "Okay. That was a bit odd."
Three men walked by, all in khakis and polo shirts. As they passed us one said, "Hey bro, you know where the tiki torches are?"
"Aisle six," I said.
"Good to see one of us in charge." He pointed at me.
Now, I have never been mistaken for an authority figure in my life. So I felt compelled to suggest to Gus we check out aisle six. He agreed, and we headed over.
When we arrived the aisle seemed to have been taken over by a docile mob of khaki clad white folks. They happily interacted with one another like long lost friends at an inadvertent reunion. However few seemed to actually know one another. Their convivial nature stemmed from the fact they all kept talking about the same thing:
"You goin' to the rally tonight?"
"Course I'm going. Why you think I'm buying torches?"
A part of me really started hoping Frankenstein's monster had been spotted somewhere in Charlottesville, and these poster children for white suburbia simply were organizing a mob to go after him. That would explain the several men milling around in full tactical gear carrying assault rifles. Each eyed the area as if anxiously awaiting the start of their own private action movie.
A man wearing a black t-shirt with a swastika on it asked, "This where the torches at?"
Seeing how we stood not ten feet from a horde of folks already carrying torches, he displayed exactly the extent of observational skill one expects from someone openly wearing Nazis paraphernalia.
So I said, "Nope."
Gus said, "Customer is always right."
"No kidding," I said.
Gus said, "Don't be rude."
"Listen to the n*****," the Nazis said walking away.
"You wanna know where the rope is too?" I asked.
Gus whispered to me, "Don't piss them off. They are looking for an excuse to do something evil. So how about you shut the fuck up?"
In the three weeks I worked with him I never heard Gus swear. I figured he possessed too much class for such language. So when he swore at me the gravity of the situation pulled me back hard. Plus, it seemed safe to suppose that if I spit enough venom at these fools they would use it as an excuse to not only pound me into paste, but to go after Gus, even if he stayed silent the whole time. Yet, that didn't mean I had to do nothing.
I headed for the manager's office.
A fat man flanked by two riflemen breathlessly asked me, "We're looking for torches."
"Aisle seventeen. All the way the other side of the store." I misdirected him, and kept on walking. I hurried into the manager's office. Paul sat behind his desk filling out paperwork.
Looking up he said, "What's up?"
"There are Nazis buying torches."
Paul leaned back bemused, "Nazis?"
"Honest to god swastika wearing Nazis."
"But they are paying for them."
I folded my arms across my chest, "Yeah. So what?"
Paul shrugged, "If they cause any trouble then throw them out, but hey, sales've been down. This could put us solidly in the black." Perhaps noticing the look on my face he added, "Don't do anything stupid."
"Define stupid." But before Paul could answer I ducked out, slamming the door behind me.
I hurried around the store collecting road flares, duct tape, and lighter fluid. I tied flares to the lighter fluid, opened the container, and poised to ignite the flare, planning to hurl the slopping flaming bomb right into the horde of bigots (I wasn't hundred percent certain it would work, but still wanted to try) -- Gus stood at the edge of the crowd helping a bearded fellow in Klan robes choose a cheaper torch fuel. I couldn't hear their exchange, but it seemed cordial enough. The Klansman's wife even laughed along with Gus when he made some joke. After helping them, Gus then took a torch off the shelf, and placed it in the hands of an elderly man in a motorized wheelchair, a small Confederate flag flying over the chair.
"Who else needs help?" Gus asked. Several ignored him, others simply glared, but a few asked him questions he answered readily. With ready steady polite service he soon cleared the aisle quietly.
Two teenagers wearing Confederate flag shirts stepped over to me. One asked, "Whatcha got there?"
I held up the makeshift flame-grenade, "Most badass way to light your cigarette."
"Yeah, here. Go nuts," I handed it to him, "No charge."
"Thanks man." He slapped his buddy on the chest, and the two went outside.
Gus walked over, "You know that've gone quicker if you helped me out."
I nodded, "I don't always do the right thing."
"You're young. You got time to fix what's wrong." He glanced at his watch, "Hey, if we get to it we can finish inventory."
"Let's do that." And we did. It's odd how calming counting pipe fittings can be.
Inventory didn't take long. Then I decided to punch out early. Walking by the smoldering corpses of two teenagers burnt to a crisp, I lit a cigarette wondering where the rally intended to take place. I wanted to watch them rage and holler, waving the torches a kind man, whom they despised, helped them purchase. Too ignorant to be reasoned with, I suspected the delicious irony of the situation would be entirely lost on them. Someone should be there to appreciate it. But listening to my mp3 player on the walk back to my hotel a song I couldn't remember downloading came on.
Norma Tanega singing "You're Dead". The opening lyrics hit me like golf ball hail, "They have no use for your song. You're dead, you're dead, you're dead, you're dead and outta this world." The song went on in such a black sun tone -- "Now your hope and compassion is gone. You've sold out your dream to the world. Stay dead, stay dead, stay dead, you're dead and outta this world." -- and I listened to it fourteen or fifteen times before I got home.
Cracking open a bottle of whiskey I turned on the TV. Reports of the rally soon dominated the local news. People throwing up Nazis salutes, chanting Nazis slogans about "blood and soil", and all around looking like a golf resort turned up for a midnight torch parade. I saw faces I recognized not only from earlier, but regulars I thought I knew. This wasn't some outsider mob of unfamiliar people, a bigoted other intruding from an alternate reality. I would see them again, probably tomorrow, casually investigating lighting fixtures, purchasing power tools, in need of putty, paint, and tiles for the kids' bathroom; I would see them again because they were ordinary citizens, a sinister part of the community, unnoticed or actively ignored -- "Will Smithers is a decent neighbor, keeps to himself mostly, but be careful what you say around him, he's not, uh, fond of Jews."
Somewhere around one in the morning, unable to sleep, I collected my things. Partly drunk, to a degree somnambulant, I went to the bus station. There I purchased a late night ticket. Dawn cracking I left Charlottesville behind. It felt like running from a fight. Never mind the umbrella concept of America -- we're all united (E pluribus unum) -- it's hard to fight for a place that isn't your home; and those same white supremacist fools exist in Chicago. There would be opportunity enough to resist them on home turf, where I knew them on sight better than in Virginia. Or maybe I just like to think I do... the illusory safety of home. But mostly I think I just needed to get back to somewhere things at least seemed to make sense, surrounded by familiar madness.
Glancing at the time I recalled Gus once told me he got up at five every morning, a routine from his days as a contractor that he never lost. Knowing he'd be up I called him.
"Who's calling my phone?" he said playfully.
"Seems early for you."
"I just wanted to let you know I won't be coming in today. Tell Paul, okay? Tell him I quit."
"I got a sneaking suspicion he won't mind you being gone."
"I may have sold a few power tools off the books." I heard him chuckle. It felt good knowing some folks are still laughing.
Took a brief break from writing in order to collect my thoughts. However, that didn't meant slacking off. I decided to put together some new art pieces. I'm particularly happy with the "Liquid Sex" series, a fact made most evident by the abundance of them. In any event, I just enjoyed making these, so hope you like looking at them.
Remember you can check out these pics in the Visions section as well as our Tumblr page (https://jackblankhsh.tumblr.com/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/jackblankhsh/)
"Sound of the Mirror"
Can't help doing a booty tooch
They just fired
The motherfucking Mooch.
And I know I shouldn't
Take pride in another's failure,
Especially since this
Sewer tongue sailor
Was probably a day away
From some epic word play
Dropping cunt bombs
Talking about which moms
His cum filled palms
Are gonna slap like toms --
Drums that is.
Oh, but he wasn't phosphor bronze
Resistant to corrosion.
In the midst of his eclosion,
Emerging from the pupa case
This insect lost before starting the race.
And whatever inconsistent reason
Is given for listing him
Free to fire on this hunting season
It's just another pawn
Tossed like rubbish
On the White House lawn.
"Blue Lives Matter"
Blue lives matter
Guess that's why
If one of them
Happens to die
The whole precinct searches
Sure to plant charges
On a close enough culprit
Before papers print an obit,
But any of us gone?
Shit happens -- case shut --
A big fat but
The few good go silent
An okay implicit
Protecting the worst --
How is that not complicit?
Let evil parade
Morality will fade,
How do you figure
You didn't help
Pull the trigger?
Jim Crow revival
The villain vibe
Lines aligning against
To say fuck you bacon
I'm not taking
Anymore of this horror.
"It's a hard job."
(What the fuck?)
Never heard a surgeon
Make the same claim
To shrug the blame
When death arrives;
But the cops are trained
So the reaper thrives --
Stop a busted tail light
Ready for a gunfight.
Then justify after
The best lie
Based on the splatter,
How some innocent
Deserved the tragic
Like that skin is magnetic
Every one a ticket
To bullet hell
Little or big
Squint at a pig
Get ready to jig
Dancing over ricochets
Praying through the spray
The blue boys sent
Wondering if each shot spent
Can be charged to the victim
Thanks to some obiter dictum;
Send a bill twenty-five pages
With a brief paragraph
Explaining like sages
How this didn't have to happen --
Fuel for the lunatics laughing:
"We regret the murder
Of a twelve year old
But we couldn't chance
Officers getting harmed."
And this is expected
To be seen as the norm
Where the fuck
Is the goddamn swarm
Blood of the blue?
Content to feel fine
By being blind
To what's true
Until the police
Come hunting you.