Thomm Quackenbush, author

02.20.04 2:08 a.m.

Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.  

-Thomas Babington Macauley

 



Previously in Xenology: Valentine's Days suck.

You're Family
Recovering from another one of those days that is said to put hair on one's chest, Emily and I grabbed Zack and went to The Olive Garden. Keilaina was invited, it should be noted, but was hiding in a bedroom with Mike being a social caterpillar.
As Emily sipped a plain ice tea, she told Zack, "You should make me a mix of songs we should cover." Like the Little Mermaid, she had rediscovered that she had a voice, though it is unlikely that she will be turning to sea foam. I was nonetheless pleased that my naiad was recommitted to "Slowpoke and Pumpkinhead" and Zack shared my enthusiasm.
"What would you like to sing?" he asked, licking the colored sugar off the rim of his margarita glass.
I interrupted, "Because Joni Mitchell is good. Really. Please?"
Emily  
Pumpkinhead: A modern day Christina Rossetti or HD
"I was thinking something more along the lines of the Indigo Girls. They support my inner lesbian and, frankly, I sound sexy singing them," Emily affirmed. She does sound good singing just about anything and I suppose I can't fault her if this is the only way she is supporting her inner lesbian.
"By the way," Emily continued, "When my parents go out of town, I want to have a literary soiree with Conor. We'll all get together and read poetry to one another and get truly sloshed."
I smirked at her, "I get sloshed so very easily."
"Yes, you do," she conceded, "We'll split a glass of wine then."
"When is this soiree?" asked Zack.
"I'm not sure yet, I'll find out when my parents are going out of town and plan it accordingly for then. But we definitely need a soiree like this." There was a bit of emotional fatigue in her voice, as though she were telling us she missed the ocean.
"What better time than the present then?" asked Zack, as he pulled a ragged book of poetry from his pocket and read us a Theodore Roethke poem.
"Do you always have a book of poetry in your pocket?" I asked.
He shook it head. "It's only there when it is the perfect place for it to be."
"Have I ever read you my favorite postcard fiction, by David Margoshes?" I asked Emily and Zack. I suspect Emily has heard it, but she indulged me anyway. "I may not do it justice, but it is better than it being lost. 'I'll skip the usual beginning; the sticks and stones the creative writing instructors talk about that help give the story feel. I'll skip too who I am, where I come from, all the minutia of my life that might make you care about what I'm going to tell you; my voice. I'll skip all that and come right to the point. The groin of the story. Boy sees girl. Boy is attracted to girl. Boy contrives to meet girl. Boy does, in fact, meet girl. Boy tells girl he loves her. Girl looks at boy in a curious fashion, her eyes squinting at the rings of smoke from a cigarette held between two slender fingers on an otherwise bare table. The same ice blue eyes that have looked at many boys, many things, with that cold spider's cast. "Why?" she says.'"
Emily sighed for a moment and expounded, "You know how you sometimes ask me why I love you? That's why. Because you can recite poetry from memory in the Olive Garden."
Zack  
Slowpoke: Hawaii's answer to Bob Dylan
I felt a blush creeping across my cheeks and shrugged. "When you're here, you're family?"
The poetry reading continued, Zack delving into his dog-eared book and I, into Flea's files. "M, can I read you my favorite of Sarah's poems?"
"No," she answered simply.
"But... Even Zack loves Sarah's poetry," I failed to reason, "After reading it, he wanted to have sex with her."
"Exactly what part of 'no,' did you miss?"
"The 'n' part. Why don't you want to hear it?"
"It makes her feel inadequate because I don't write poetry that you put in Flea."
I shrunk, abashed. "Oh. Well. That's reasonable, I guess. But I would if you would write poetry you'd let me read. I like the song you wrote for your band."
"Is it in Flea?"
"Umm... no. I didn't think it was finished yet. But I honestly would. You are up there with Edna St. Vincent Millay."
"And Sarah," she stated flatly.
At the post-meal bookstore, where I hyperactively flitted about poking Zack and Emily in the face and told them I would sic the leeches on them, Emily groaned, "I hate the winter, we need to move to Hawaii."
I lifted my head over a Hunter S. Thompson book. "Yeah, we do. I like poi..." I scanned the page a few seconds and admitted, "Okay, I've never had poi. What's poi?"
"Cooked, mashed, fermented taro root," explained M.
"I don't think I like poi..." I added, "I suspect no one actually does. It's just a joke the natives play on gullible tourists."
"I'm serious, I want to move to Hawaii. I know you have roots and don't want to leave this area but I can't dea..."
"Can Zack come?" I asked as I threw a book across the floor at his feet to catch his attention. He was riveted to a pair of earphones, listening to Patti Smith croon arousingly. He removed the earphones and I repeated my question.
"I have no intention of staying in this area," he said and began to replace the earphones.
"We could hook you up with some hot Polynesian girl," I gleefully noted, "like Lilo!"
"I'm not sure it's not easy..." Zack attempted to reason.
"Of course it is. Every movie I have ever seen - including Saved By the Bell: Hawaiian Style - has led me to believe that you should have no problem. I will listen to no guff from you, swine."
"I told my father all of this - about wanting to move somewhere tropical, not that Zack is a swine - and he said that we should move to Costa Rica. But none of us speak Spanish," sighed Emily as she thumbed through a book about Japanese stick fighting.
"¿Qué está hablando, la muchacha blanca? Hablo español," I interjected from my book.
"But we could live like kings there for very little money," she said to Zack.
"We could be the new Lost Generation!" I exclaimed, as this has always been a goal of mine.
"The only problem is that there are no martial arts schools there," Emily lamented.
"So you could start one," Zack articulated, "Costa Ricans need to learn how to fight. For the revolution."
"But I would have no one to train me."
"Zack and I promise to hit you with sticks as often as possible, guerrera pálida florida-perfumada." To prove my point, I hit her good knee with a book.
"We don't even have to be on an island paradise to do it," he noted.
"¿La Costa Ricans habla realmente español? ¿No tienen su propia lengua?" I asked to my book.
"Thanks, but I would miss Master Barron."
Xen  
Xen: Charles Dodson without Alice Liddell
"Seriamente. No podemos ser reyes de la isla si hablan portugués. Odio los portugueses. Portugual debe ser vacío."
Zack would not let her give up so easily. "But you would be the perfect surf bum. It is what you were born to do. It is your density. Why aren't you doing that right now?"
"Where am I going to be a surf bum, the frozen Jersey shore?"
I shook my head furiously. "Nuevo-Jersey congelada es llena de rayos diabólicos y de pingüinos salvajes..."
Finally noticing what I was saying, Emily asked, "How much Spanish do you actually know?"
"Conozco solamente esa oración y ésta que lo explican. Le singe est sur la branche. Ist es nicht?" I chirped.
Zack nodded sagely. "He's from everywhere."
I threw the book I was reading at a pole in disgust. "Except wherever this book was written. How do you write a biography on Hunter S. Thompson? It's like describing firework," I grumbled.
Emily gave the broken book an appraising glance and then shot Zack a sly look. "You know, I bet Hunter S. Thompson would like Hawaii very much. It's a very... writerly... place to be."
And in this way, it was decided.

Shrimpless Valentines
Emily and I had reservations at Osho for Valentine's Day. Hibachi grilling seemed like a distinctly "us" thing to do to celebrate the concept of love.
Alic... I mean, Emily  
Emily: Okay, a bit of Alice Liddell
We arrived and promptly were told to wait, which was somewhat understandable given the massive crowds. What was not understandable was the fact that Osho had doubled all of their prices for the holiday, though they were providing no additional food or service. Thus, we left, expecting they wouldn't actual notice our absence. We also foreswore them henceforth for being right bastards.
Everywhere else even vaguely nice was quoting us multiple hour waits should we want a table.
"What's most important to you?" Emily asked.
"Being with you. Followed by eating something. Followed by annoyance with Osho. Followed by ice cream."
We had a quick meal at Friendly's, followed by cuddling and watching Frida. Flying shrimp just cannot compete with that.


Soon in Xenology: Sarah. Kristin. Captain Andy. Awesomeball. Brooke. Apartments.

last watched: Frida
reading: Transmetropolitan
listening: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
wanting: To be a Gonzo journalist.
interesting thought: Emily think that they greatest fears prove I am remarkable.
moment of zen: having a Valentine.
someday I must: Write something worthy of HST.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

Anthologies

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush
Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft by Thomm Quackenbush
A Creature Was Stirring: A Twisted Christmas Anthology by Thomm Quackenbush
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