meager violence

Apr 06

A Children’s Story

image

There was a heart. And it was small. Wedged between a rusty car wheel and moss-grown log beneath a swaying trestle bridge. It lived on the muddy bed of a river that flowed dark and thick with the waste of man, and beast, and world. The scourge of the town, no one paid any mind to the river except to dump their unwanted things. Even withered possums would not drink from its waters, nor did the toughest thistle grow on its grime-slick banks. The river ran slow and stagnant with a black hate so that the gentle sun was unable to touch the bottom depths. And the heart just sat there in the muck of humanity as it had for years upon years, beating ever so slight within a pale, sick skin.

A traveling doorbell salesman, defeated and head-heavy, stood upon the old bridge on a low Fall night, looking over the old river, and wept. Not a soul in that town had use for a doorbell, for not a soul wanted to be bothered with visitors, or goodwill of any sort. He uncapped a fifteen dollar bottle of bourbon, cursing to the skies above, “Goddamn this town!” and poured the whiskey down his throat until his own heart pounded, and beat, and beat, and beat so hard it shot from his chest like a great cannon ball of war. It landed far with a hard splash into the sludge below. The salesman followed, sinking like everything else around him. Only hope can float, and the salesman’s briefcase stuffed of doorbells knew this. It, too, threw its own heavy self to heed the same action of the heart and body. And as those parts before, it sank with a dismal run to the bottom, jarring that green-slime log that held the sick heart hostage for so many years. The heart bumped around the murk like a drunk fish, thumping a bit harder as a faint yellow glow formed around it, rising slow but eager to the surface. It came to rest in the foamy shallows on the east bank.

A pleasant October sun showed bright and orange the next morning. A young girl, fair of skin and hair, with eyes blue and bright as polished sapphires, trekked the gray river edge to rid herself of a shabby teddy bear she had grown tired of, and too wise for, she had felt. She stopped and stood on the east shore just downstream from the trestle, looking to the bear one last time, pretty eyes pregnant with tears. She wound her arm high with the stuffed animal clutched in her short hand, and just before deliverance into the black waters she saw the heart, a little bigger than before, pulsing there in the dull pools showing that slight gold. She bent and touched the heart. It was fever-pitched and soft, as was the nearest water it beat within. The bear was left there on the bank where the heart was found. The little girl tucked it deep within her jacket pocket, near her own thumping chest.

The town’s people were of the unhappy sort, caring for one another as a late, hard frost on new Spring roses. But on this day they regarded the little girl with kind looks and nods as she walked the streets toward home. Some might have even smiled at her—might have. A good feeling came over her, and she felt she could just walk those streets forever with that good feeling hanging around her.

After the girl fed her pappa supper that night, she rose from the scarred kitchen table to tend the dishes. Pappa sat there with a curious spirit and grabbed her hand, “Honeybell, just sit back down for a patch. Ain’t no reason to rush to cleanin’ just yet.” Then they chatted like that, alone with peace and each other, until bedtime. Him telling easy stories of youth, and her listening, feeling that good feeling, with the heart buried deep and snug, expanding inside her apron pocket.

Honeybell hid the heart beneath her pillow before pappa tucked her in for the night. She could recall not another time in her being a sense of such unequaled perfection. When her pappa shut the door to shadows she took the heart from under the pillow, held it close to her body and whispered, “I love you, heart.” And the heart bloomed of fire and heat, welling up to twice its size. The girl giddy with that good feeling hugged the heart close until heavy eyelids shut her into a dreamless sleep.

Honeybell woke at sunrise, board-stiff on the wood floor. The heart had outgrown the child’s bed through the night. Pappa stood over her with eyes wide and stiff as a barn owl’s following a mouse in pitch black. “Honeybell, darlin’, we musn’t speak of this…of this…heart…this huge, beautiful heart that lies before us.” He knelt low, smiling big, and leaned his face against the flushed heart. Its thump turned loud and shook the bed springs. “Where now did you find this, darlin’? Tell pappa.” Honeybell sat up, relating the previous day’s events from morning ‘til bedtime, and even as they spoke of that good feeling surrounding them, the heart spread and pounded until the bed legs snapped with a crack like a Winter’s bone.

Pappa excused Honeybell from school on that Monday morning to keep watch of the heart while he worked the lines at the Rancor Town Apathy Factory. She promised not to leave its side no matter what happened. Folks slowed their usual rushed and negligent pace to a passive saunter going by the house of heart. Some greeted pappa a good morning, and all grinned—confused of a sort, but grinning all the same. Pappa knew their source of bewilderment and just nodded back, chest tight with excitement. He followed the path along the dirty river to ponder and beam, away from looks of suspicion.

Only three hours into the twelve hour work shift, an announcement came over the factory’s P.A. system ordering the lines be stopped for an immediate employee meeting. The speakers squealed, “Uh, good morning, Apathy employees. Recent figures from the past twenty-four hours have shown that production of apathy and general ill-will is down sixty-three percent. The workers laughed, and not a single one of them knew what was funny, or why. The overhead voice continued after a bout of its own laughter, “Yes, yes, I don’t know what to say, except that we have decided to dismiss all production of Apathy products until further notice. Everyone is free to leave with pay until told otherwise.” The floor roared with cheers, and the mass emptied from the fifty-acre facility.

The crowds thickened on the streets the nearer pappa got to home. From a block away he could see a warm, red light rising above the trees on his end of the street. Where the home stood just hours ago, now lay the massive heart, surrounded by house scraps and concrete shard, pulsing, the reverberation echoing as distant dynamite blasts down roads and through green belts for miles and miles. Thousands of bodies, some from bordering villages, clambered and clawed toward the heart in a mass ecstasy. The streets choked full of eager beings, extending first for a couple miles across Rancor, then across many more miles through the county. Pappa searched for Honeybell amongst all the legs, arms and eyes. She was nowhere to be found around the breathing mound of towering flesh. The girl had kept her promise.

Doting hoards grew fast like mold in July, as did the heart. The people, like stupefied lambs, would not, and could not, break themselves from its advancing path in all directions. Soon it stretched across the state, then across the country, and then across oceans, wiping out everything and everyone until finally Earth was nothing, and everything, but a full heart circling the hot sun, resonating through the universe.

Heart won. And things were quite a bit better than they had ever been before.

words and photos by Jay Halsey

HUNTING NOWHERE 

the west hills squat behind cloudbank
and grey temptation:
they speak of gospel by not being seen.
two-day hangover slips like nails through wood rot
into three-day habit.
and yellow daisies
lean low to the road’s edge,
less wild as they once grew before:
their roots spread thin anguish.

 
what we see as truth now
is only how the winds slap our face;
and they will shift for eternity
on the immortal bones
of cracked lands.

 
it’s the small indecencies of life
that can drive an otherwise
content soul to destitution or madness,
not loss of love
or sickness
or death.



a numb mist spreads itself
like a comfortable bath.
the sun cowers.

 
the veins of us clog
out here
upon highways of picked scabs.
and where the grass does not grow
the weeds prosper—
it is the right
and only way.
yet we kill them off,
deemed as nuisance.

 
the rain ruins the dust,
and the dust is mad.


very mad.


photos and words by Jay Halsey

HUNTING NOWHERE 

the west hills squat behind cloudbank

and grey temptation:

they speak of gospel by not being seen.

two-day hangover slips like nails through wood rot

into three-day habit.

and yellow daisies

lean low to the road’s edge,

less wild as they once grew before:

their roots spread thin anguish.

 

what we see as truth now

is only how the winds slap our face;

and they will shift for eternity

on the immortal bones

of cracked lands.

 

it’s the small indecencies of life

that can drive an otherwise

content soul to destitution or madness,

not loss of love

or sickness

or death.

a numb mist spreads itself

like a comfortable bath.

the sun cowers.

 

the veins of us clog

out here

upon highways of picked scabs.

and where the grass does not grow

the weeds prosper—

it is the right

and only way.

yet we kill them off,

deemed as nuisance.

 

the rain ruins the dust,

and the dust is mad.

very mad.

photos and words by Jay Halsey

Nov 13

old men with cracked teeth rise early beneath heavy skies for food vouchers and aspirin: on the hunt for one more dawn. they squat in lines and wait for movement with sick mothers and sick babies, and sick lips and eyes and hands.
 
the axe trims the heart,
and the heart drifts
towards shallow streams
and the drowning fish on top. 
 
they still worship at churches, and the bottle, laughing at slow shadows and Death’s dangling tit.
 
belief is a pastime
like throwing rocks
in a black well.
 
they no longer care about the news, or fancy caskets, or what the walls have to say on Friday night, but reflect with a dull chill just the same. 
 
no tragedy. 
no glory. 
no use. 
no creation. 
 
they aren’t stopping for Hell, and Heaven isn’t on the map. 
 
words and photos by Jay Halsey

old men with cracked teeth rise early beneath heavy skies for food vouchers and aspirin: on the hunt for one more dawn. they squat in lines and wait for movement with sick mothers and sick babies, and sick lips and eyes and hands.

 

the axe trims the heart,

and the heart drifts

towards shallow streams

and the drowning fish on top.

 

they still worship at churches, and the bottle, laughing at slow shadows and Death’s dangling tit.

 

belief is a pastime

like throwing rocks

in a black well.

 

they no longer care about the news, or fancy caskets, or what the walls have to say on Friday night, but reflect with a dull chill just the same.

 

no tragedy.

no glory.

no use.

no creation.

 

they aren’t stopping for Hell, and Heaven isn’t on the map.

 

words and photos by Jay Halsey

Sep 12

[video]

Jul 26

a summer evening after work.
the sun a cruel god moving
its torment through slow minutes
and then slow hours.

the beer is cold and beautiful
like past loves.
it fills something.

thinking of ages and bending
to self-created complications from a
neglect of the soul,
as the uselessness of the breeze
beneath a wise tree is evident.
the heat wins
and losers lose.
I lose at cool.
it doesn’t matter.

because I’ve pissed into front rains
and bargained with dim stars.
the heart’s mighty fist has broken
the walls of stagnation.

and I know when our teeth
collide 
she is close enough.


are you afraid of the heat?


words and photos by jay halsey

a summer evening after work.

the sun a cruel god moving

its torment through slow minutes

and then slow hours.

the beer is cold and beautiful

like past loves.

it fills something.

thinking of ages and bending

to self-created complications from a

neglect of the soul,

as the uselessness of the breeze

beneath a wise tree is evident.

the heat wins

and losers lose.

I lose at cool.

it doesn’t matter.

because I’ve pissed into front rains

and bargained with dim stars.

the heart’s mighty fist has broken

the walls of stagnation.

and I know when our teeth

collide

she is close enough.

are you afraid of the heat?


words and photos by jay halsey

Jun 30

[video]

Jun 25

the spiders all live in my bathroom,
and the hush strangles the air
like an old inmate I never wanted.



the sun spreads itself open
with the itch of something 
that is crucial and wide,
but the day-in, day-out
is grinding and continuous.
the smoke of the fire 
sits heavy and useless.



a soul-sick dog is pushed
into hot morning fade and dandelion.
ripe, hard vine blankets the empty bottles,
and the empty bottles shrug
as wind-beat litter piles like monuments
and proof of a beset existence. 
a rusty bowl of water
is hardly enough to sustain.



 

 
there is very little left
to kill.
the murder of the fruit tree has been
with hands that look like mine.
and yours.



 
and somewhere in these
small, familiar deaths
there is a magic so wondrous,
so bright,
so perfect,
that it must be 
true.



which makes it all a bit better.
and worse.

much worse.




words and photos by Jay Halsey 

the spiders all live in my bathroom,

and the hush strangles the air

like an old inmate I never wanted.

the sun spreads itself open

with the itch of something

that is crucial and wide,

but the day-in, day-out

is grinding and continuous.

the smoke of the fire

sits heavy and useless.

a soul-sick dog is pushed

into hot morning fade and dandelion.

ripe, hard vine blankets the empty bottles,

and the empty bottles shrug

as wind-beat litter piles like monuments

and proof of a beset existence.

a rusty bowl of water

is hardly enough to sustain.

 

 

there is very little left

to kill.

the murder of the fruit tree has been

with hands that look like mine.

and yours.

 

and somewhere in these

small, familiar deaths

there is a magic so wondrous,

so bright,

so perfect,

that it must be

true.

which makes it all a bit better.

and worse.

much worse.

words and photos by Jay Halsey 

Jun 23

it begins with a knot in the gut.
like pregnancy,
or the need to excrete.
the stars in the sky are drowning beneath
fluorescent tides as we go about our rat routines.

we are dying in and out of a life
mired in small, never-ending futilities
and sundry hoaxes,
where we latch onto tragedy
like suckling calves at the tit. 
we champion common men
and common women
to terrible levels of undeserved applause.
and once they slip from the pedestals
we erected for them,
and because of them,
we shoot them down.
we finish them off.
we hate them for being human.
we hate them for being 
just 
like 
us.
and we move on to the next round of fools.

it’s a vicious cycle
where the affairs of our creation
become the instruments of our destruction.

we are dying in and out of a life
where nothing matters 
except how well we deliver 
what we have been taught.
even if this entails
more murder in the streets
more disease
more hunger
more dumb
more dumber
more money for the ones who have too much
more of nothing
or anything at all that will make
a real difference.


we dance the rat dance,
and the mosquitoes are full of us,

yet we are not.


words and photos by Jay Halsey

 

it begins with a knot in the gut.

like pregnancy,

or the need to excrete.

the stars in the sky are drowning beneath

fluorescent tides as we go about our rat routines.

we are dying in and out of a life

mired in small, never-ending futilities

and sundry hoaxes,

where we latch onto tragedy

like suckling calves at the tit.

we champion common men

and common women

to terrible levels of undeserved applause.

and once they slip from the pedestals

we erected for them,

and because of them,

we shoot them down.

we finish them off.

we hate them for being human.

we hate them for being

just

like

us.

and we move on to the next round of fools.

it’s a vicious cycle

where the affairs of our creation

become the instruments of our destruction.

we are dying in and out of a life

where nothing matters

except how well we deliver

what we have been taught.

even if this entails

more murder in the streets

more disease

more hunger

more dumb

more dumber

more money for the ones who have too much

more of nothing

or anything at all that will make

a real difference.

we dance the rat dance,

and the mosquitoes are full of us,

yet we are not.

words and photos by Jay Halsey

 

Jun 18


the disease spreads.
the old theories have fallen down
upon themselves
like toothpicks in flame.
 
our sorrows become profits from fear,
when they should wield swords
or guns
or at least great notes of triumph,
but there’s already enough bloviating
and not enough action or explanation.
 
the institutions of forged innocence
are completely free of charge;
dripping as dog slobber
in the heat of August.
the masses exhale,
and the smoke hangs long after
the shot.
 
high-paid heads swell
while the ones with heart shrink.
 
this is the way
and hate is the utility.
 
more beer
more whiskey
more strong coffee
more good music
more children free of suspicion 
more conversation and bigger porches
and sunlight beneath the black eye
 
less perfection
less dull
less clean for the sake of clean
less me
less you
less shoestring lives
carefully and strategically
tiptoeing into a
lukewarm emptiness
 
this should be the way.
 
when we kill our gods
idols
and governments
the world will beat harder and faster,
warmer
and brighter.
a hard fever is
the only option.
 
this will be the best way.
 
so arrive when you like,
and please,
do not 
wipe your feet.

 
words and photos by Jay Halsey

the disease spreads.

the old theories have fallen down

upon themselves

like toothpicks in flame.

 

our sorrows become profits from fear,

when they should wield swords

or guns

or at least great notes of triumph,

but there’s already enough bloviating

and not enough action or explanation.

 

the institutions of forged innocence

are completely free of charge;

dripping as dog slobber

in the heat of August.

the masses exhale,

and the smoke hangs long after

the shot.

 

high-paid heads swell

while the ones with heart shrink.

 

this is the way

and hate is the utility.

 

more beer

more whiskey

more strong coffee

more good music

more children free of suspicion 

more conversation and bigger porches

and sunlight beneath the black eye

 

less perfection

less dull

less clean for the sake of clean

less me

less you

less shoestring lives

carefully and strategically

tiptoeing into a

lukewarm emptiness

 

this should be the way.

 

when we kill our gods

idols

and governments

the world will beat harder and faster,

warmer

and brighter.

a hard fever is

the only option.

 

this will be the best way.

 

so arrive when you like,

and please,

do not 

wipe your feet.

 


words and photos by Jay Halsey

Jun 14

THE SOFT SUN OF TOO LATE
 
grass grows greener on sides of bland interest
for the same reasons people live in mansions 
and follow popular radio.
a heart flourishes on the tough, hard earth 
where squirrels copulate among thistle and stray cat corpse.
old things cling to other old things;
they go nowhere. 
and I see the same cars
driving to the same places 
from my dark porch.
 
—the view is fine from here—
 
you could get drunk on cheap beer
while listening to Waylon
or Cash
or Motorhead,
and shit more soul
than the average man 
in the average department store
or theatre
or restaurant.
we only believe what we want
to believe,
and it has been wrong for ages;
yet it blooms as hemlock
and poisonous mushrooms.
the humans look like
cardboard.
 
as machine becomes smarter
the crowd becomes dumber.
 
two wilted flowers 
lean against each other
within the cracks of a
six lane boulevard.
and it is beautiful.
it is the most beautiful thing
you will ever see.

the soft sun of too late.
 

—the view is fine from here—

photos and words by Jay Halsey

THE SOFT SUN OF TOO LATE

 

grass grows greener on sides of bland interest

for the same reasons people live in mansions

and follow popular radio.

a heart flourishes on the tough, hard earth

where squirrels copulate among thistle and stray cat corpse.

old things cling to other old things;

they go nowhere.

and I see the same cars

driving to the same places

from my dark porch.

 

—the view is fine from here—

 

you could get drunk on cheap beer

while listening to Waylon

or Cash

or Motorhead,

and shit more soul

than the average man

in the average department store

or theatre

or restaurant.

we only believe what we want

to believe,

and it has been wrong for ages;

yet it blooms as hemlock

and poisonous mushrooms.

the humans look like

cardboard.

 

as machine becomes smarter

the crowd becomes dumber.

 

two wilted flowers

lean against each other

within the cracks of a

six lane boulevard.

and it is beautiful.

it is the most beautiful thing

you will ever see.

the soft sun of too late.

 

—the view is fine from here—


photos and words by Jay Halsey

Jun 03

 


it’s good to sit here as another day is drained

then the glass
then myself
choked dry with contemplations and routine abuses

waiting for something, and roused by nothing

wondering, what’s next?

the fat male mosquito moves
slow and spent
across the patio
it’s just him and me and the drooping sun


the air is cooling, a puddle shrinks to dark resin, and day is leaving both of us

he knows what’s next, and after that


it will just be me

sitting here

words and photos by Jay Halsey

 

it’s good to sit here as another day is drained

then the glass

then myself

choked dry with contemplations and routine abuses

waiting for something, and roused by nothing

wondering, what’s next?

the fat male mosquito moves

slow and spent

across the patio

it’s just him and me and the drooping sun

the air is cooling, a puddle shrinks to dark resin, and day is leaving both of us

he knows what’s next, and after that

it will just be me

sitting here

words and photos by Jay Halsey

May 25

[video]

May 11

[video]

May 07

[video]

Apr 30

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” ― Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

photos by Jay Halsey

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” 
― Jean BaudrillardSimulacra and Simulation


photos by Jay Halsey