T-Shirt, Bumper Sticker, Mask: Who Am You?

We know this. Ever since human beings got to talking to each other (and themselves) the fundamental question — Who am I? — has gotten a lot of play. I’m getting up there in age, but I still ask myself that question at least twice a week (usually in the shower looking down).

So, yes, “Who am you?” as my father sometimes asked me when he was either exasperated or, occasionally, impressed. “Who am you, boy?”

Humanity has tried all sorts of ways to answer that question, or at least to facilitate the means by which folks can at least lay claim to attempting an answer. One can argue that all the weird stuff in cultures beyond satisfying basic needs is definitely in the “Who Am I?” facilitation category — haircuts, clothing, special scents, artistic endeavors, piercings, how you dance, what your team is, etc.

Continue reading “T-Shirt, Bumper Sticker, Mask: Who Am You?”

Queequeg

I had been ill and disjointed for many weeks and that can be quite an assault on the mind. I am writing in the year of coronavirus and the beginning days of what is quite properly being called an uprising and it’s worldwide. My illness carried with it all the signs of coronavirus covid-19 SARS-CoV-2, but with a powerful preponderant emphasis on gastric turmoil and effluvium. Those symptoms would rise up and then subside every few weeks beginning in late April. This ebb and flow went on for three months until we realized it was all due to my handling a cardboard large trunk of old correspondence brought up from twenty years of basement storage. Letters, cards, drawings, and photographs were fully populated with mouse droppings, fur, and urine scented nestings. Likewise, I am sure that every packet or two of memories that I took up to sort through emitted strange, ephemeral mixes of old dead rodent bacteria and virus along with mold and mildew spores and the very dried saliva of death itself.

Continue reading “Queequeg”

Entering The Spouter-Inn

Ishmael enters the Spouter-Inn and encounters a curious, hard to discern large oil-painting, all the while speaking in the second person past: “But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast.”

Such brilliance describing a mysterious “besmoked” image, somehow connecting storm and night and ship at sea. “Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant.” And eventually landing upon the idea that it was somehow a whale about to impale itself upon broken masts.

Continue reading “Entering The Spouter-Inn”

The Carpet-Bag

Who would have thought that Melville was such a sweet heart and so sensitive. I realize I’ve only read the first two chapters of Moby Dick, but certainly his early intention is to be gentle and loving towards his reader and to approach his story with grace and humility.

I am 713 pages from the Epilogue, but so far I am entranced, although I must admit that I’m as well a bit flummoxed by all the biblical references. Quite early on I decided to keep my mobile phone nearby which contains the “Dictionary.com” app because there are a good many words unbeknownst to most of us here in 2020.

grapnel, hbo, gregale, Euroclydon, cope-stone. I did not know who Lazarus and Dives were either.

Long and Dense into the Future

All this confrontation with mortality and a world spinning out of control with anger, confrontation, irony, and the true demon of humanity all around us. You get to a certain age and start taking stock. It’s all so weird especially when you live in the future like some of us do.

There are so many things I need to do before I die. Most important is the need to organize all my work and make sure that I print out all the goosey stuff in my computer — much of which was ignited by inspiration but has somewhat disappeared with other ignitions and inspirings piled away on top. I think of the present as the only thing important and the future as music that I am already listening and food that I have been eating, but the past is just piles of stuff and people pretending they know what happened; piles of words and sound and sparkling images. Futility and bass solos.

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“Air Conditions” and “Wherever Below Her Might Actually Be” at Bull Magazine

In the midst of this wonderful pandemic vacation — which is definitely not very vacationy for any writer anywhere in the world, although not very different than the work days we all stumbled through back there in the good old days — it was a nice surprise this morning to find out that Bull Magazine had posted two my flash stories at their website. They are each worth the read. One is about Death and the other is about Love.

Two Stories by Dog Cavanaugh

They’re flash stories so you can rip through them in less than five minutes. Hopefully they are worthy of your time. I worked on them for over a year. Kind of weird to continually re-write a two or so page story endlessly.

Wanna put in a plug for Bull as well. One of the best things about the 21st century is that fiction about being male has finally got more depth and meaning. Most of us guys here and now are pathetically complicated emotionally and strive hard to be good fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, friends, and co-workers. The fun of stories about us is that we often fuck up in that striving. You can definitely read about all of that at Bull. I would like to close this quick note by stating emphatically that I’m not so sure it was the case that you could read about the actually complexities of being male back in the last century. From James Joyce to Raymond Carver, dudes were trying to open up, but for the most part they failed to truly get to the bottom of things. It’s not enough to write about sex and booze and love. What is it that Joyce says in Ulysses?

“Love loves to love love.”

Good golly, there’s got to be more to love than love … Read Bull for more.

Slo-Mo Creativity and Flash Stories

If you could watch anyone who considers themself a writer at work, you would likely wonder what they were doing. Writing stuff for others to read — from books to poems to stories to online articles to technical papers to freakin’ product brochures — tends to be an extended, measured and prudent process that involves looking out the window, organizing your email, watching porn (usually actively), reading back issues of People magazine pilfered from your dermatologist’s office, working on a blog post started six months before, checking on your fantasy sports team, thinking about lunch (or dinner), napping, scrawling something “deep” in a notebook, eating cookies, going to the grocery store, wondering why you just read the latest New Yorker short story, and making lists of stuff you need to get done when you finally have time.  

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Geometry of the Unknown: Animals with Nowhere to Go

A third storey window view of woods, a hidden railroad, a distant field, pieces of stream brimming with rainwater and life. In just the past few days, the skeletal dormancy of winter forest, sketched brown and black all season, slight olives maybe, smeared white mashed to gray, cold dark shadows growing and breaking and growing again — all glistens now in new light, soaked emerald and jade nippling everywhere, early green plugged in, glow-pulse and skimmering in watery mist and fog, slow-motion rain — a spring like few others in the knowable history of the modern world.

The sky is a lake joining everything. We are afraid or worried or wondering what’s next, influenced by everything that media has to offer. Continue reading “Geometry of the Unknown: Animals with Nowhere to Go”

My story “Litter Entries” made the cut in the Margarite McGlinn fiction contest

I’m quite happy to report that my short story, “Litter Entries,” has been posted online at the literary publication Philadelphia Stories website. It did not win in the Margarite McGlinn Fiction Contest, but did indeed make the final cut as an Honorary Mention.

“Litter Entries” operates on a lot of levels. It takes place in a fictionalized version of LOVE Park in Philadelphia. I began to write this piece in 2012 before the park got completely remodeled. For awhile I figured I needed to add all that change to the story. The new LOVE Park is nothing like the old one. However, I realized as I wrote and re-wrote that Continue reading “My story “Litter Entries” made the cut in the Margarite McGlinn fiction contest”

The Anger Pastime: What’s Woke May Actually Be Broke

Yesterday I used the anger emoji Image result for facebook angry emoji on Facebook for the first time ever.

crying-face_1f622Generally, when I am confronted on social media with something that affects me adversely, I use the crying roundface emoji. The more diabolic something or someone is online, the sadder I feel.

In the end, sadness usually seems like the only legitimate choice—at least, that’s the way it was up until yesterday when I chose anger.

All of which leads me to wonder Continue reading “The Anger Pastime: What’s Woke May Actually Be Broke”

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