Dead Planet XXX

“Categorization, the mental act
of treating individuals as identical
members of a class, is an abstraction
whose accuracy must be always
open to question.”—John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

[“First, you find a little thread, the little thread leads you to a string, and the string leads you to a rope, and from the rope you hang by the neck. What kind of thing was coming down—and what did it have to do with him?”]

Rick: “Okay, what should I do now?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “You can't top this deal. They said they'd let us both breathe some.”

Rick: “What does that mean?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “It means, Rick, we gotta play it low. We don’t know each other anymore. You don't look like anyone I know, right? Goodbye. And stay away—you’re nothin’ but Trouble from now on. With a big fat capitol T.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Yeah, who’re you?”

Rick: “Who am I? Who are you?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “I'm Friday. You’re Saturday—I don’t know shit about tomorrow. I'm here today—but you’re the tomorrow man. Get it? Friday, Saturday, Sunday—what’s the difference? You know, you're not anybody anymore. Not Dix Handley the Heavy’s friend or Marty “The Martian” Augustine’s friend either.”

Rick: “I know what you mean. I’m on my own.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Maybe I’d be your friend—if the price was right, tho?

Rick: “Oh, great. Then you can be my friend, all mine—nothing but love & kisses. How much?

Dix Handley the Heavy: “What d’ya got?”

Rick: “A cigarette.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “A C-note gets ya zip.”

Rick: “How about a James Madison?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Maybe—maybe not.”

[Rick hands him the bill Augustine found on him. What’s good for the Boss—is good for the Heavy.]

Dix: “What do I have to do?”

Rick: “I want you to be around. Just in case I need some muscle. I don’t trust the Lizards an inch.”

Dix: “Maybe.”

Rick: “Maybe if your boss says maybe.”

Dix: “Maybe.”

Rick: “Let's see how good you are at spelling. Can you spell the word "Los Angeles?”

Dix: “LA spells "Trouble."

Rick: “That's a good boy. Now you practice saying that. Because one of the best ways to be friendly with me—is to know what LA means.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I just heard about LA on the vidscreen a couple of minutes ago. How’d you know?”

Rick: ”Twenty years, I lived in LA. Did in a lotta droids. LA doesn’t exist anymore.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah?”

Rick: “They’re parking it—in Saturn orbit. Along with the rest of Earth. There goes the Terra Mob.”

[Rick leaves Marty & Dix sitting there—their jaws hitting the floor. He takes off in his Jag hover-craft—heading back home. Thinking about things.]

Dead Planet XXIX

Dead Planet XXIX

“Every identity is distinct.
No matter their overt similarity,
one of any two objects in a class
of objects is an individual.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

[The Predictress materializes in Deckard’s apartment. The Lizards have put him under house arrest—after not getting anything outta him in the orbiting Snake Ship. Nor with Marty "The Martian" Augustine. The kid’s REM training—has made Deckard a hard nut to crack. Phasing in & out of brain patterns randomly—a real mess of alpha, beta & delta humanoid buzz & static. Hard to pin down—or predict. It’s been 3 weeks since the Pyramid Affair. Deckard can’t visit his pals in his hover-craft—he’s grounded & being monitored every minute. His escape from the prison-ship being planned—resulting in no leads either.]

Predictress: “Well, Deckard…here you are.”

Rick: “Well, well, here yourself, sweetheart... If it isn’t the Fugitive Predictress—welcome back to the Laughing House! [Both laughing]

Predictress: “They were blocking us.”

Rick: “Do me a favor, will you? Keep away from the patio & windows. Somebody might... blow you a kiss.”

Predictress: “Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. A liar's kiss that says I love you, and means something more.”

Rick: “Whoa, honey. The kid must’ve shared some of his Earthboy hormones & wisdom with you—while you two were gone. Those Nexus boyz sure are devil droids—aren’t they?”

Predictress: “I apologize, Rick. You’re right. He made me realize there’s more to being an android—than just the usual cyborg-asexuality. He’s learned a lot about being human—living with a guy like you. And he gave me—some of it…”

Rick: “Listen, sweetheart. Get yourselves to nearest droid-zeit bus stop—and forget you ever saw me. If you don't get outta here—things might not work out the way you want.”

Predictress: “We can’t—we need you.”

Rick: “If you need me—then you’re the only ones on Mars who does. Everybody else has been tryin’ to shut me down—pretty soon permanently, that’s my guess.”

Predictress: “The kid told me—you’ve got only one real lasting love.”

Rick: “Well, it isn’t him—I can tell you that.”

Predictress: “He knows that. He said you're one of those selfish, self-indulgent males—who thinks only about himself. Your car, your zoid-gun, yourself. He said the only reason you do push-ups every morning—is just to keep your belly hard.”

Rick: “I gotta do that, girl. I gotta be able to still see my dick. I got pride, you know. Sorta. Kinda.”

Predictress: “I could tolerate flabby muscles in a man—if it'd make him more human. He said you give a lot in a relationship—but after Rachael you gave up. Us woman-droids—what is it we can do to make you love again?”

Rick: “WTF—there’s more than enough Rachael dames hanging around. They get me in trouble—then they get me outta trouble. Either way it’s a losing proposition—I’m getting’ too old for the game.”

Predictress: “The same with the kid?”

Rick: “What's this all about? I'll make a quick guess. You were out with the kid—and you thought love was gonna be more than just a four-letter word? But with the kid—it’s a two-prong proposition ain’t it? Was he too much for you—he can go on all night long if he wants. Did he go queer on you—or something?”

Predictress: “No. But I looked into his future.”

Rick: “Yeah? What did’ya see, hmm?”

Predictress: “I wasn’t there. But you were.”

Rick: “Well, don’t worry about that. I doubt that’s ever gonna happen—at the rate things are happening around this joint. I don’t expect either one of us—to survive this Lizard War. You two might—you’ve got ways to come & go. I’m stuck here—nowhere else to go.”

Predictress: “They’ve lost Los Angeles. No bus stops—in & outta there anymore. The Lizards are tractor-beaming Earth outta orbit—terraforming it on the way out to Saturn. It’s gonna be their new homebase—it’s gonna be Lizard Alpha for the incoming Snakes.”

[Deckard doesn’t say anything—Marty & the Martian Mob ain’t gonna like this one.]

Deckard: “Do you always go around with no clothes on?”

Predictress: [smiling] “The kid likes it that way.”

Rick: “I can see why. I’m happy for both of you.”

Predictress: “We followed what happened to you. Your coma—the reptilian interrogation. You were under for three dayz—the kid thought he’d have to get you a new tux & bury your corpse.”
Rick: “Sounds like him. You better get goin’. They’re monitoring this place bad.”

[Predictress dematerializes into thin air]

[A few minutes later—the Creepazoids bust down the door]

Lieutenant Snake: “C’mon, Rick. We know she was here. Why don't you tell us what you know? Then step aside like a nice fella—and let us professionals do our job.”

Rick: “What's in it for me?”

Lieutenant Snake: “Like what did the Predictress say? She was blocking us out. What did she want?”

Rick: “She told me she wanted to go to bed with me. We just had time enough for a quickie—and then she's gone.”
Rick: “An ordinary private eye gets nailed—his droid partner escapes. It rings bells all the way to Titan Town & Venus City. There's gotta be a pitch—I’m just some private dick—the kid just another usual suspect. What was the big deal? Maybe we got into a pyramid by mistake—so what, big deal. We got outta there as fast as we could. All hell breaks loose—it’s still goin’ on. WTF—I don’t know nothin’, boss.”

Lieutenant Snake: “You lie. Nobody can get down that quick, Deckard. Not even a private dick like you.”

Rick: “I was horny, that’s all. You’ve grounded my hover-craft on the roof. No dames or chicks come see me. She teleported herself onto my face—android-precogs are good at doing quickies, you know Lt. Snake?”

Lieutenant Snake: “You were with her the night she disappeared. With your android buddy boy. She knows a lot of things. She can see into the future. She was part of Tyrell’s exo-archeology team. She must have talked and told you something... If she knew something—you'd know it, dope. C’mon, what was it Deckard—something about the Lizards? They wanna know bad. She knows too much—what are we gonna do with you, asshole?”

Rick: “I dunno. Do like everybody else. Beat the shit outta me. What good would that do, Lt. Snake? You know us humans by now. We’re just a bunch of stupid naked apes—compared with you guyz.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Lizards live longer than monkeys. That’s all. You monkeys are clever—you can’t be trusted.”

Rick: What does it matter? My retirement gets interrupted, my hover-craft gets grounded, my life gets roughed-up, to put it mildly. If you hadn’t made a play for this solar system again—none of this would’ve happened. So let's pretend—you didn’t take over.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Well, we're gonna steer away from these penny-ante runaway cases like yours for a while. I've got a line on something better.

[Rick raises his eyebrow—acts disinterested. Acting disinterested—not taking the bait right away. A cop’s hint on purpose—about something big. An invitation—worth following up on.]

Rick: “Can I have my hover-craft back? And my zoid-gun?”

Lieutenant Snake: “Why not? You’re just small-change now. You’re free to come & go now, Deckard.”

[Deckard’s really curious now. He wants to know what’s up. Or what’s comin' down. Something’s up—that’s for sure. Lt. Snake smiles & leaves.]

Dead Planet XXVIII

Dead Planet XXVIII

“The psychological senses of
certainty with which a belief is
held is no guarantee of its
accuracy and may interfere
with attempts to correct it
based on new information.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I tell you what we're gonna do, Deckard. You're gonna take that goddamn J.C. Penney tie off and we're gonna have an old fashioned man to man drinking party.”

Rick: “Well, that's okay but I'm not taking off the tie.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What'll you have?”

Rick: “What are you drinking?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What I'm drinking is called Aquavit.”

Marty: “I'm drinking what you're drinking.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well God bless you. I like to hear that. People these days go, "Oh, I want a little of this. Oh, and a little of that and a twist of Venusian love juice." Shit!!”

[Marty & Decker schmooze. They make a deal. Marty used to be a big wheeler-dealer—running a big slice of the Martian Underworld along the Venusian Yakuza & the Titan Mob. Since the Lizard Invasion—his action has been kinda cramped & closeted. But Marty has connections—and the Black Market continues despite the Draconian heavies. The Creepazoid Cops are waiting for Rick as he leaves Marty’s swanky Amazonis beach house on the outskirts of Hellas Town.]

Creepazoid Detective: “Your name Deckard?”

Rick: “No, my name is Sniveley, uh, P. U. Snively..

Creepazoid Detective: “Come on inside, Deckard, we wanna talk to you.”

[A Lizard disk-ship lowers down—levitating over the gritty red blacktop running along the dried-up edge of the ancient Martian shore]

“This way,” Detective Smirk takes Rick.

[Deckard loosens his J.C. Penny tie, walking up the shiny metal gangplank to be interrogated. Creep Detective Green and Lieutenant Snake watch from behind the mirror]

Creep Detective Green: “There he is, a real cutie pie.”

Lieutenant Snake: “He's a smart-ass.”

Creep Detective Green: “That's what I meant.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Why don't you learn to say what you mean?”

Creep Detective Green: “Here he is, Lieutenant, a real cutie pie.”

Lieutenant Snake: “He's the cutie pie, you're the smart-ass, you little honky Lizard bastard.”

[repeated line]

Creepazoid Detective Smirk: “Okay, Deckard. We’re going down to Liz Headquarters.”

Rick: “That's OK with me.”

Lieutenant Snake:: “Listen Green, in case you lose me in traffic, this is the address where we’ll be taking Deckard. BTW you look great.”

Creep Detective Green: “Thank you.”

Lieutenant Snake: I'd straighten your face a little bit. The Lizard green is getting’ kinda stinky, you know what I mean? BTW Green, I'm proud to have you following me.”

Creep Detective Green: “I’m good at following you. My, my, don’t you a pretty monkey asshole.”

Lieutenant Snake: “Yeah, my mother always tells me that.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: [to Joanne] “Look at that face. Is that a face for a magazine cover? The profile. You're beautiful, and I love you. I sleep with a lot of women; I make love to you. The single most important person in my life, next to my family. Is that right, Joanne? Huh?

[smashes a coke bottle on her face]

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Get her out of here!”

[Marty’s droid-idiot bodyguard drags the body outta the business office, the door dialing shut behind them]

[Marty turns to Rick]

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Now, that's someone I love! And you I don't even like! You got an assignment, cheapie private dick: Find my fuckin; money! Or else.”

Rick: “You know, Marty. If I could just get you to understand, that when a guy retires, he like is outta the loop. It’s like sex—from then on he’s like kinda impotent, you know what I mean?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I don’t care if you’ve gotta limp dick or no dick at all. You’re still a dick—and once a dick always a dick. Like I want my money back pronto like yesterday—so you’re late pleasing me already, know what I mean?”

Marty puts his feet on his desk—lights up a cigar.

“Where the fuck is that droid bodyguard of yours anyway? The Lizards have been crawling all over Mars lookin’ for the kid. Him & that Predickless dame. Grill ‘em & find out what happened to Tyrell anyway. Is he dead? He owes me a million bucks from a raw deal, you know?”

Rick: “I dunno, Marty. I’ll need some time, that’s the bottom line. Tyrell is either on Titan—or the Lizards killed him. Everybody’s nervous about it.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, I know, Deckard. I got balls too, asshole. And my dick still works. But if you don’t find my money—well, you won’t be worried about balls anymore, kimosabe.”

[Rick nods, leaves Marty’s beach house. The Creeps tail him—all the way back to the Hellas Towers]

Dead Planet XXVII

Dead Planet XXVII

“A memory is an abstraction from
reality and, as such, is not perfectly
accurate. Always keep in mind that
the nervous system records not
sense-impressions but our reactions
to and interpretations of them.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

Rick: “That Lizard, he recognized me.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “How'd you know he was a Lizard?”

Rick: “I can smell one a block off.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Oh, don't worry about Dreck. He's on my payroll. Practically a partner. Me and him, we're like that. [Cabby holds up his twisted index and middle finger together like a Lizard’s crooked claw]

Rick: “Experience has taught me never to trust a Lizard. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: [laughs]

Rick: “Marty, when I think of all those Lizards & Creepazoids you come in contact with—downright slimy Snakes—I get all creeped out, Marty. The Creepazoids are bad enough—they’re just renegade droids. But the Lizards—they’re just slimy no-good extraterrestrial Snakes. Who knows where the fuck they’re from?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Oh, there's nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of exo-human endeavor.”

Rick: Huh?

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What if I told you the Lizards and Snakes are Old Guard Slimebags? They’ve been around a long time—like all the way back to the jizzy Jurassic. And then some?”

Rick: “So what?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well, put yourself in their crocodile skin for just as second—if you can stand it. Like this whole system was theirs for a long time. Then something happened.”

Rick: “Yeah, like what? Some Exterminators got rid of them?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, kinda. Now you’re catchin on, Deckard. There were a couple of solar flares that fried Earth real bad—even if they knew it was coming, it was the end of the game for their Zoo World. Earth was a Lizard Planet—and they made the most of it. They had atomics—just like us. It’s the same old Evo-Devo Techno-Trip—you know, like Tyrell & TerraCorp were into.”

Rick: “Yeah, so what?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “C’mon, Deckard. You should know all this Solar System Crap by now. What did they teach you in school anyway—besides how to fuckin’ play with yourself?”

Rick: “Yeah, I know. Shit happens, that’s all. The same with the Tikal pyramids—the kid mind-melded me with all that shit. That’s what the Lizards are worried about—the Mayan Mob might want in on the action.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Can you blame ‘em? Look at me—and my setup. I’d had to adjust—that’s the name of the game. The same with the Venusian Japanese Yakuza—and the Titan Mob. We’re all in the same racket—it’s always been that way, Rick.”

Rick: [Yawns. Lights up a Lucky Strike.]

Tyrell (Lizard Lord): “Haven't you bothered me enough, you stupid banana-head?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well, Deckard isn’t makin’ much progress. We won't either—if we don’t find out where that Nexus droid kid is. He’s not very far off, that's for sure. As long as we keep an eye out on Deckard. He’s a tricky one—that Deckard dick. He’s plays dumb—even when he’s dumb. But he’s got some of the Nexus shit in his mind—that REM stuff the kid got him into. Other than that—Deckard hasn't got enough guts left in his cowardly body to keep a weasel alive.”

Tyrell (Lizard Lord): “Don’t underestimate weasels, dumb shit naked ape-human. You’re just a naked ape weasel yourself, banana-head. You’re lucky we keep some of you humanoids around for our dirty work. Otherwise, Augustine—you’ve been history a long time ago.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: [Seethes in disgust, especially self-disgust & loathing. His Terra gangster pride & Martian warlord masculinity gets insulted by the Lizard Lord prick every time they talk. People had been cheated, robbed, murdered, raped—all in the name of Marty “The Martian” Augustine & his associates on Venus & Titan. But the Lizard Empire is ten times worse. It goes 24 hours a day, every day in the solar year. Ever since the Invasion. And that's not just the exception—it’s the fuckin’ usual. SSDD—the same on every planet in the solar system. But the Lizards were smart. They kept an ersatz police force, good or bad—to do their dirty work. Supposedly to enforce monkey law & order—who could do it better than Marty “The Martian” Augustine? Collaboration with the Lizards—insured silence & a cut in the Action. At least for now anyway. Nobody to monkey-shine anymore, nobody to play monkey-games. The struggle is over—even before it begins. The jungle wins. The predatory Lizards take over.]

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Here's to the drink habit. It's the only one I got that don't get me into trouble.”

Rick: “One way or another, we all work for our vice.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Why don't you quit your fuckin’ cryin' and get me some decent bourbon?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Easy, Big Boy. Nobody talks to me that way. Not even the Lizard slime-droids. Fix him a real drink, will ya Rick?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Don't fuckin’ bone me!”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Relax, kid. I need you as my Heavy. For me—not against me. You’re my junkyard dog & most trusted bodyguard. Save your male hormones—for the next job. It’s comin’ up pretty soon—the way things are lookin’ kinda nice.”

[Marty is a shift-eyed one. He plays his cards—smoother than a Mississippi gambler on the Delta Queen Starship. It ran in his genes—all the way back to his Memphis bootleggin’ granddaddy—way back on Earth during the Depression ‘30s. The Lizards were a new twist—they were wise to his crooked cards & signals. He needed time to figure things out.]

Dix Handley the Heavy: “I’m so goddamn broke, I'd fly you to the North Pole for a lousy $50…”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “We’ll get by, Dix. Just play it cool—and do exactly what I say. The Lizards gotta have a secret Achilles ankle—we just gotta find out how to manage it, that’s all.”

[Rick looks at Marty the Kingfish—strutting around, bragging about the odds. But he doesn’t trust him—Marty didn’t get where he was—playin’ by the rules. He had to play by the Lizard Law now tho—whether he liked it not. Tyrell & his scientists—plus the corporate pirates from TerraCorp. They’d been Earth’s last hope. They had their hands on the exo-weapon racket—but they didn’t know yet how it worked. That’s where the kid & the Predictress came in—thru the backdoor. All that pyramid tech stuff— needed Nexus finesse. And then some…]

Rick: “Let's cool it for now. Wait till we hear from Titan Town. What they got planned—if they’re still alive. We gotta stick it out—here on Mars & Hellas Town for awhile. Later we gotta get down & dirty. This Lizard game we’re all playing—it’s just a holding pattern. The Snakes & the Creeps got their own plans—and it don’t involve us. Sneaky plans for the whole works. Relax, Dix. Play dumb—and go with it. Everything will happen—quickly all at once. Have a drink, have a smoke. Go in comfort, kid.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I can see you're a man who likes his pleasures, Rick.”

Rick: “Well, Marty. What else can we do, hmmm?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “In some ways, I suppose Tyrell is the most dangerous of them all. He was a hardened high-tech corporate dictator in the first place. A genuine true-blue ruthless TerraCorp hooligan anyway. But now he’s either dead or avatared by a lizard-droid. Without a single drop of human blood, feeling or fuckin’ mercy. Lizards are for lizards. Us goddamn monkeys—we aren’t worth shit right now, right Rick?

Rick: “There’s nothin’ we can do right now. I’m waitin’ to hear from the kid—and the Predictress. They took the interzone express somewhere—we’re not in contact anymore. For all I know—we’ve lost them. Like Tyrell. Unless they found a wormhole—or something. Why should they even wanna come back?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: The Lizards—they probably got them. Look what they did with Tyrell. They sucked out his brains—and gave him a Lizard soul. All his fuckin’ Nexus droid-devils—didn’t protect him, did they? So it don’t look good—him getting’ outta there. The Martian Mafia is shit & shambles—the Venusian yakuza are underground hiding.” Dix Handley the Heavy: “Organized interplanetary crime—what a fuckin’ joke. It ain’t Organized anymore—it ain’t Interplanetary anymore. It’s cold-blooded fuckin’ Lizard Time out there no—and they’re dumbing us down fast. The Snakes out-snaked us guyz, Mr. Augustine. They’re more cunning & cold-blooded than even you are.”

Rick: “Yeah, well, the TerraCorp gangsters knew all that, Dix. Deals were made—we’ll probably never know how many backroom deals came down. But here we are now—all of us outcasts and deviants from society. Goodbye monkey-brains—hello Snake Eyes.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “How about the TerraCorp heavies—the corporate mafia? How could they chicken out that way? Surely they knew you can’t make deals with Snakes?”

Rick: “Forget it, Dix. TerraCorp was the first to fold. Then they seduced Tyrell over to the Dark Side of the Force—with all that ESP-Reverse Engineering stuff. Throw in a little genetic tweak-tech & backtracking here & there—then all of a sudden you’ve got a Nexus droid marine & space navy. Plus all that Krell bullshit down there—in skanky Mars City underground. Oh well…”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “It ain’t fair—we fuckin’ screwed ourselves being greedy.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, you & Rick are right. We screwed ourselves big time. The dayz of buying off the judge and playin’ games with an imbecile jury—all that bullshit’s over now.”

[They all sit mulling in the beach-house twilight. Listening to the soothing fake surf sounds—rolling in & out. But also there’s an omnipresent faint whizzing sound—Lizard disks cruising the coagulated Martian sky leaving snake-trails behind their surveillance drones.]

Dead Planet XXVI

Dead Planet XXVI

“Memory is identity”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Do you ever think about suicide, Deckard?”

Rick: “Me, I don't believe in it.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Your droid-buddy is a murderer and a thief.”

Rick: “That's a lie. I know he didn't kill Tyrell.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Let me tell you something else. It's a minor crime, to kill a Lizard. The major crime is stealing somebody’s money. Your friend stole my money—and the penalty for that is capital punishment.”

Rick: “What money?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Who were the three DiMaggio brothers?”

Rick: “Vince, Dom, and, uh, Joe?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Joltin' Joe, yeah.”

[Augustine pulls out a $5000 bill from Rick's vest pocket]

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What's this?”

Rick: “A picture of James Madison.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “It's a $5000 bill.”

Rick: “I know.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Where'd you get this?”

Rick: “A box of crackerjacks, came as a prize.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, right.”

Rick: “Nobody cares but me.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well that's where you’re wrong, Deckard. You'll never learn, you're a born loser.”

Rick: “Yeah, I even lost my dick.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Excuse me, I don't see any dicks around here. Except you, Deckard.”

Rick: “I’m a retired dick, Marty.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Could you spell that?

Rick: “L… A… P… D… Retired Dick, hmm Marty?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Oh, we're all outta that one around here. No more LA. No more Earth. Why don't you wise up, Rick. None of that means shit out here—it’s the Lizard Belt now. We deal with those guyz now—not Tyrell & TerraCorp anymore either… They’re history, now…”

Rick: “You don't happen to know that for sure, do ya Marty?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What do I need a private dick for, Deckard? I've got a girl.”

Rick: “Ha, ha. He's got a girl, I’m just a dick.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Okay, wise guy. I do need a private dick. And you’re the only one around this joint. Come back tomorrow—and I’ve got a deal for you. I’ll make it worth your while, Deckard.”

Creepazoid Guard: “Oh. Hi, Mr. Deckard. Say, you're up kinda late.”

Rick: “Come on, lay it on me.”

Creepazoid Guard: “Okay. Let's see, I been doin’ this ‘Barbara Stanwyck’ routine, Mr. Deckard. I've been working on Barbara Stanwyck in “Sorry, Wrong Number.” It goes kinda like this…

[opening voice over]

[Prologue: “In the tangled networks of the New Great Lizard Empire, the vidscreen is the unseen link between a million lives... It’s the servant of our common needs ~~ the Confidante of our inmost exo-secrets... life and happiness wait upon its bluish shimmering screen... and horror... and loneliness... and... death!”]

[as Barbara Stanwyck]

Leona Stevenson: “Operator! Operator! Operator!”

Voice of Operator: “Your call please?”

Leona Stevenson: “Operator! Operator! Operator!”

[as Burt Lancaster]

Burt: “You can't live on dreams forever, Leona. Waiting only weakens you and your future. My advice, Leona is: "If you want something, get outta bed & do it now!"

Leona Stevenson: “Operator! Operator! Operator!”

Burt: [to Leona] Can you hear me, Leona? I want you to do something. I want you to get yourself out of the bed—and get over to the window and scream as loud as you can. Otherwise you only have another three minutes to live…”

Leona Stevenson: “Operator! I've been dialing Martian Hill 35097 for the last half hour—and the line is always busy. Will you connect me, please?”

Voice of Operator: “Sorry, Wrong Number.”

Rick: “Not bad, for a creep, Creepazoid. A little more feeling tho—like “What does a dame like you want with a Lizard like me? Get it, ha ha!!!”

Creepazoid Guard: “Thanks, Mr. Deckard. I’ll keep practicing on it.

Rick: “Okay, just remember that and you'll be alright.”

Dead Planet XXV

Dead Planet XXV

“The function served by
a tool can be inferred
by its design.” —John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

Creepazoid Hoodlum #1: “You jerk, you clown!”
[strikes Rick Deckard]

Creepazoid Hoodlum #2: “Come on, clown, sing us a chorus from "Pagliacci! Before we off you…"

Rick: “You'd be killing a horse—that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is…”

Rick: “A friend of mine will be stopping soon to pick me up. He's a Nexus droid kid.”

Creepazoid Hoodlum #1: “A droid kid? That's a funny kind of a friend?”

Rick: “Well, he's a funny kind of a droid.”

Rick: “You like money. You've got a great big dollar sign there where most humans have a heart.”

Creepazoid Hoodlum #1: “Alright sister, that's a mighty pretty head you got on your shoulders. You want to keep it there or start carrying it around in your hands?”

Rick: “Maybe we could compromise and keep it on my shoulders. I think that'd be nice, don't you?”

Tyrell (Lizard Lord): “You have my sympathies, Mr. Deckard. You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else—the perfect mediocrity; no better, no worse. Individuality's a monster and it must be strangled in it's cradle to make our friends feel confident. You know, I've often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped—but there is always present the underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.”

Rick: “I'd like you to call this number and ask for Mr. Teoxi will you? He’s at Uaxactun 666, Tikal City, Belize. Tell him that Maurice requires his services.”

Tyrell: “Sounds pretty mysterious. What's it all about?”

Rick: Oh, just a couple of minor things, Tyrell. Which hardly bear much looking into. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Saturnian god Zydd-Zod who tried to discover the true nature of the Oort Belt Cloud; he stares up at the dark-hole heavenly body until it makes him blind. There are many things like this—including love, death, and... maybe we'll discuss this later someday. Please remember to make that call—if I'm not around anymore.”

Rachael: “Rickie, you've got to run!”

Rick: “Eh, what's the difference?”

Narrator: “At exactly 3:45 PM on that Saturday afternoon in the last week of September, Rick Deckard was, perhaps, the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill at the running of the fifth race. He was totally disinterested in horse racing and held a lifelong contempt for gambling. Nevertheless, he had a $5 thousand win bet on every horse in the fifth race. He knew, of course, that this rather unique system of betting would more than likely result in a loss, but he didn't care. For after all, he thought, what would the loss of fifty or sixty thousand dollars mean in comparison to the vast sum of money ultimately at stake.”

Creepazoid Prison Ship Guard: “Somethin' wrong?”

Rick: “Yeah, you're wrong, creep.”

[Zaps the guard with the zoid-gun Rachael slips to him]

Rachael: “It isn't fair, Rick. I never had anybody but you. Not a real husband. Not even a man. Just a bad joke without a punch line.”

Rick: “That’s okay, kid. Thank gawd, you’ve got a little bit of Rachael in you. I was sure you'd see it my way—if I just kept cool. Take good care of yourself, sweetheart. Maybe next time…”

Rachael: “I'll take care of myself, Rick. That's my specialty.”

Dead Planet XXIV

Dead Planet XXIV

“The perception of time is a
categorical perception that
identifies the plenum of events
as broken into cause & effect.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

Rick: "Okay Rick,” I said to myself. “You're a tough guy. You've been zapped twice, downloaded, beaten silly with a droid gun, got drunker than a couple of dizzy Uranian bi-droids. Now let's see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on."

Rick: “I’d caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black hole opened up at my feet. I dived in. It had no bottom. It felt pretty good down there—hangin’ around in void like an amputated leg.”

Rick: “My throat felt shitty. But the fingers I was feeling it with—they didn't feel anything. They were just a bunch of bananas—that looked like fingers.

Rick: “Rachel was still a beautiful Nexus dame. She looked down at me. I knew my face looked like a bucket of mud. It felt that way anyway. She gave me a drink. I was the kinda guy who needed a drink right then & there so bad—I’d take a drink, if I had to knock you down to get the bottle.”

Rick: “It was a nice little prison ship. Cozy, okay for the average Klingon convict. Only you'd need a sub-atomic raygun & anti-grav compass to get the fuck outta there. The prison ship was all right, I suppose. Was it big enough? It was fuckin’ big as Buckingham Palace.”

Rick: [about my zoid-gun] “That's just part of my clothes. I hardly ever shoot anybody with it. But I feel naked without it. So, where is it, Rachel?”

Rachel: “You're the detective, you tell me.”

[She wasn’t the lovey-dove Nexus sweetheart type anymore. But I lost the original Rachel a long time ago—back on earth. The Gulf Apocalypse Zombies got her—down there on the Redneck Riviera. But that’s another story. Who knows how many production models were out & about now anyway. The one in front of me was just a slot machine. She’d just as soon slit my throat—for a lousy C-note plus tax.]

Rick: “Now it was all beginning to make sense—in a screwy sort of a way. I get dragged in and get the Lizards shoved at me. I get pushed out and get the Lizards shoved at me. Everybody pushes me around—then everybody pushes out again. Nobody wants me to DO anything—not really. Okay, so put my check in the mail. I cost a lot—for just doin’ nothin’. I’m just a burned-out useless—retired bounty hunter that’s all. Throw in a vacation trip to Titan Falls—won’t ya, while you’re at it?”

Rachel: “You shouldn't kiss a girl when you're wearing that zoid-gun... leaves a bruise.”

Tyrell: “Okay, Deckard. Let's get it on the record... from the beginning.”

Rick: [I’m starting to remember now. Tyrell & Company teleport some Creepazoid Shock Troops into the Hellas Towers. They overcame the kid’s bodyguards down below. They storm my condo—smashing down the shield-doors. The kid & the Predictress—make a break for it. They use some kinda—droid-dimensional doorway to escape. I get left behind passed out—floating in my anti-grav Lazy-boy chair. The kid & Predictress couldn’t sober me up in time—without being sober the zeit-phaseout would’ve offed me. Now I’m with Rachel the Lizard Queen—and her Creepazoid bodyguards. I can think of better places—I’d rather be than here right now. Oh, it was about seven o'clock. Anyway it was dark.”]

Tyrell: “Tell us, Deckard. What were you doing at the pyramid back there?”

Rick: “Me? I'm just a crummy homing pigeon. I always come back to the stinkin’ coop—no matter how much it stinks. I'd been out poking around some old Martian ruins, you know—lookin’ for some fuckin’ old Martian antique or something like that. So I could sell it at the pawn shop—you know the one. The Hellas Town Junk Shop? Run by a guy named Dominick—whose wife ran out on him. WTF—I don’t know what I’m doin’ here. I forget why. Only reason I took the job was—‘cause my bank account was trying to crawl under a duck.”

Rick: “What were you saying, Tyrell?”

Tyrell: “I made no remark.”

Rick: “Remarks want you to make them. They got their tongues hanging out waiting to be said.”

Tyrell: “I'm afraid I don't like your manner.”

Rick: “Yeah, I've had complaints about it. But it keeps getting worse.”

Tyrell: [Effeminately] “How would you like a swift punch on the nose?”

Rick: “I tremble at the thought of such violence.”

[Rachel slides & slithers around the room. She contemptuously pushes aside the Creepazoid shock troops. She glares at them—and glares at me too.]

Rick: “You used to have a better figure, Rachel. A pretty face—a really beautiful smile. But look at you now—you’ve gotta a face like a Sunday School picnic. All messed up & angry. You have any idea what kind of face that is, Tyrell?”

Tyrell: “I wouldn't know.”

Rick: “I try to picture her in love with somebody—but it just doesn’t work anymore.”

Tyrell: “They change a lot. Nexus droids tend to really “kipple” pretty bad on us. It’s a stage she’s passing thru—I’ve got a development team working on it, Rick. You should’ve seen her when she was fresh outta the droid-tanks. All pink & pretty—your Rachel was the first experimental droid-diva we came up with. She was cute wasn’t she—in her lace pants?”

Rick: “I don’t suppose there’s enough murders these days—without TyrellCorp being able to come up with some cute Nexus chick or guy just right for the job. Making detecting her—as an attractive murderess real difficult, hmm Tyrell? How many young men has she fooled—with a droid femme fatale name like Rachel, here? Most young men wouldn’t be able to even find out in time—before it was too late.”

[Tyrell frowns. Rachel snarls. A Creepazoid shock trooper gets ready to cover me on the way to the rapid transit underground.]

Rick: “I seem to stir up trouble don’t I?”

Tyrell: “You know, I think you're nuts. You go barging around Mars—without any clear idea of what you're doing. Everybody beats the shit outta you—they smack you over the head, fill you full of truth-scans. And you just keep right on—hitting between tackle and end. I don't think you even know—which SIDE you're on.”

Rick: “I don't know which side anybody's on anymore. I don't even know who's playing today. I could care less.”

Rachael: “Sometimes I hate men. ALL men. Earthmen, Mars men, Lizard men, Creepazoid men, young men... Men like you Rick. Private dicks like you who runaway from life. Hiding here on Mars—with your droid boyfriend. What a loser, your are.”

Rick: “The story of my life…”

Rachael: [hiding in the closet, laughs—then she comes out into the light] Oh, I'm sorry, darling, I couldn't help laughing; but you should know by now how Lizard queens play rough. They soften you up, throw you off guard—and then they gobble you privates.”

Rachael: “That was a dirty trick—absconding with the kid. But maybe it'll teach you not to overplay a good hand. Now he doesn't like you. He hates men like you.”

Rick: “That’s not what he says. I’m on his wavelength. You think he loves Lizards like you? Get real, Miss Snake.”

Rachael: “That was only the first half of the speech. The rest of it goes like this: I hate Earth women, too—especially the "big league blondes." Beautiful, expensive babes who know what they've got... All bubble bath, and dewy morning, and moonlight. But inside: blue steel, cold—cold like that... Only not that clean.”

Rick: “Your slip shows, dear.”

Rachael [after Rachael points with Rick’s gun] You know, this'll be the first time I've ever killed anyone I knew so little—and liked so well. What's your first name?”

Rick: Rick, for short.

Rachael: Rick Deckard... named for a dick. You're such a nice private dick. I've got a name for a duchess: Rachel Lockridge Grayle. Fake tho. Just a couple of mugs you & me—we could have got along.”

The kid: [via telepathy] “How are you feeling?”

Rick: “Like a duck in a shooting gallery.”

The kid: “I saw Tyrell’s body in the bunker. He was doubled up on his face in that bag-of-old-clothes position—that always means the same thing. He’d been killed by a bunch of Lizards. Or, by somebody who wanted it to look like a Lizard job. Nobody else would hit a man that many times with a sap.”

Rachael: “It's a long story and not pretty.”

Rick: “I got lots of time and I'm not squeamish.”

Rachael: “I find young Nexus-droids—*very* attractive.”

Rick: “I imagine they can meet you halfway.”

Rick: “Tyrell died in 2025, in the middle of a Lizard Invasion. His droid-wife Rachael finished him off.”

Dead Planet XXIII

Dead Planet XXIII

“No two objects in the universe—
no two events are identical.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

"For the purpose of simplifying semantic confusion—call me Teoxi, sixth son of Uaxactun, the last absolute monarch of Tikal,” the kid said.

It was the kid—but it wasn’t the kid. He turned around there on the balcony patio—and looked thru me. He looked thru the Predictress as well—scanning her clairvoyant Powers of the Primordials.
The kid spoke without moving his lips. He had assumed additional powers at the pyramid—that I wasn’t aware of. He stood there in front of me—like the man who wasn’t there. And yet he was there—and somewhere else at the same time.

The far future version of the kid—was still bleeding into the present. No, that was incorrect. It was the far distant past version of the kid—his Tikal background & training, his native American poise & bearing that stood before me.

The dead planet—many of them including Earth—were similarizing themselves in my living room. The Tikal kid was telepathic—down 10 stories below armored men were guarding him. The elevator & staircases were covered—something was controlling the radio waves from the other pyramids.

“The Shadow Effect—that darkened the Oort Belt Cloud. It’s back again. It wasn’t an accident—it was an attack,” the Predictress said to me.

“A lizard attack—with their creepazoid shock troops,” I heard the kid say in my head. “They can initiate similarized temporary versions of themselves—just as you & I did back in the pyramid.”

I listen with a grim sense of suspicion. I like it better when it’s just me & the kid. Dealing with Tyrell’s sub-surface Mars Underground City thugs doesn’t turn me on at all. The whole pyramid thing—it's totally subliminal to me. All I have to show for it—is a fuckin’ tremendous headache.

I walk over the wall—open up the bar. I program a chartreuse Neptunian gimlet—and kick back in my anti-grav Lazy-Boy floating lounge chair. I’ve had enough Martian bullshit—the same with all these Egypto-Indo-Magellanic helter-skelter space operas.

“Fuck off—both of you. All three of you—or whatever. Let me relax a little bit—kid, get my bong will you?”

Both of them—laugh at my louche Earthman bitchiness. I give a shit about all these crummy similarizing schemes & games—WTF I have my hands full just taking things one step at a time. How did I get sucked into all this goddamn fuckin’ superbeing shit anyway? I’m just a two-bit private dick—I don’t need some lousy fuckin’ fake Martian Maltese Falcon hangin’ around my neck.

I kick back—close my eyes & click on an old black & white YouTube flick. The big wall screen hums—Humphrey Bogart stares out at me from Casablanca. His big sad knowing eyes sizing me up—sipping a drink like me.

“Well, kid, here’s to you,” he says.

Except it’s Tyrell. A Peter Lorre lizard is lounging behind him—nasally whining about something. And Conrad Veidt is there too—along with a cadre of his slithering nazi creepazoids.

Tyrell is their captive now—they’ve similarized him on the vidscreen. Static crawls across the screen—zigzagging the surface now & then with nervous jittery little water-spiders of ultraviolet evil X-rays.

Tyrell: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca Mars, Rick?

Rick Deckard: My health. I came to Mars Casablanca for the waters.

Tyrell: The waters? What waters? We're in the Martian desert.

Rick: I was misinformed.

[Even the lizards laugh—the creepazoids smirk]

Tyrell: What is your nationality?

Rick: I'm a drunkard.

Tyrell: That makes you a citizen of the galaxy.

[All laugh]

Tyrell: I know a good deal more about you than you suspect, Rick Deckard. I know, for instance, that you're in love with the Nexus kid. The same with Rachael. It is perhaps a strange circumstance that we were both in love with the same woman. The first evening you came to give her the Voigt-Kampff test— I knew there was something between you and Rachel. Since no one is to blame—I demand no explanation. I ask only one thing. You won't take the droid away from me. The letters of transit—it’s all right for you to go. But I want my droid son to be safe. To stay here on Mars with me. I ask you as a favor, to leave Mars if you want. But don’t take him away from me—like you did with Rachael.

Rick: You love him that much?

Tyrell: Apparently you think of me only as the cold, ruthless leader of a corporation. Well, I'm also a human being. Yes, I love him that much.

Rick: As much as you loved Rachel—your “assistant?”

Tyrell: You took both droids away from me. Rachel is gone—the kid is all I have left. If you’re truly interested in the kid—let me have him back now.

Rick: I'm the only "person" I'm interested in.

Tyrell: Deckard. I'm going to miss you. Apparently you're the only one here on Mars with less scruples than I.

Rick: No matter how clever you are, Tyrell. You’re still a lizard. The kid is your exit visa... The kid is my exit visa too. You saw him levitate the pyramid back there.

Tyrell: You play dirty, Deckard.

Rick: You’re the dirty one, Tyrell. In fact, you’re just another dirty old Lizard replicant queen aren’t you?

Tyrell: I think not. WYSIWYG Mister Deckard.

Rick: Nice snaky avatar troll indeed, my dear. What did you do with Tyrell? Or did he escape to Titan?

Tyrell: [Narrowing his snake slit eyes] My dear Deckard—you underestimate the influence of the Lizard Dynasty. I don't interfere with them—and they don't interfere with me. On Mars, I am master of my own fate! I am...

Creepazoid Cop: [whispers urgently in Tyrell’s ear] The Lizard Lord himself is here, sir!

Rick: You were saying?

Tyrell: Excuse me.

[The vidscreen goes blank]

[I yawn—switching channels over to the Dooley Wilson site. "As Time Goes By" (1931) is playing. From the 1932 Broadway show "Everybody's Welcome"—written by Herman Hupfield & performed by Dooley Wilson (piano and vocal). Hummed by Ingrid Bergman—variations showing up often in the filmscript.]

Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for?

Dooley Wilson [Lizard playing piano]: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting humans—the world will end.

Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.

Dooley Wilson: You know how you sound, Mr. Deckard? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.

[I sip my drink. Shrug.]

Dooley Wilson: Monsieur Deckard, what kind of a man are you?

Rick: Oh, I’m just like any other man, only more so.

Dooley Wilson: Mister Deckard, there are no exit visas sold on Mars. But we know that your Nexus kept boy can exit with you anytime he wants. That’s the reason we permit you to both remain alive.

Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you show up on my vidscreen? [Yawn]

Dooley Wilson: There is *another* reason.

Rick: Play it again, Sam. For old times' sake.

Dooley Wilson: [lying] I don't know what you mean, Mister Deckard?

Rick: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Dooley Wilson: [lying] Oh, I can't remember it, Mister Deckard. I'm a little rusty on it.

Rick: I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum...

[Dooley Wilson begins playing]

Rick: Sing it, Sam.

Dooley Wilson: [singing] You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh / The fundamental things apply / As time goes by. / And when two lovers woo, / They still say, "I love you" / On that you can rely / No matter what the future brings-...

Rachael [rushing up] Sam, I thought I told you never to play...

[Sees Rick. Dooley Wilson closes the piano and rolls it away]

Rachael: Rick, I have to talk to you.

Rick [drunk] Uh-huh. I saved my first drink to have with you. Here. [passes her a drink]

Rachael: No. No, Rick, not tonight.

Rick: Especially tonight.

Rachael: Please...
[she pours a drink]

Rick: Why did you lizards have to come to Mars Casablanca? There are other places.

Rachael: I wouldn't have come if I'd known that you were here. Believe me Deckard, it's true I didn't know...

Rick: It's funny about your voice, how it hasn't
changed. I can still hear it. "Rick, dear, I'll go with you anyplace. We'll get on a shuttle-craft together and never stop…"

Rachael: Don't, Rick! I can understand how you feel.

Rick: [scoffs] You understand how I feel. How long was it we had, honey?

Rachael: [on the verge of tears] I didn't count the days.

Rick: Well, I did. Every one of 'em. Mostly I remember the last one. The wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look in his face because his insides have been kicked out.

Rachael: Can I tell you a story, Rick?

Rick: Has it got a wild finish?

Rachael: I don't know the finish yet.

Rick: Well, go on. Tell it - maybe one will come to you as you go along.

Rachael: It's about a girl who had just come to Earth from her home on Titan. At the house of some friends, she met a man about whom she'd heard her whole life. A very great and courageous man. He opened up for her a whole beautiful world full of knowledge and thoughts and ideals. Everything she knew or ever became was because of him. And she looked up to him and worshiped him... with a feeling she supposed was love.

Rick: [bitterly] Yes, it's very pretty. I heard a story once — as a matter of fact, I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of a tinny piano playing in the parlor downstairs. "Mister, I met a man once when I was a kid," it always began. [laughs]

Rick: Well, I guess neither one of our stories is very funny. Tell me, who was it you left me for? Was it Lazlo, or were there others in between or... aren't you the kind that tells?

[Rachael tearfully and silently leaves. My face falls into my hands sadly, knowing that I’ve said all the wrong things]

Tyrell: You despise me, don't you, Rick?

Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

Dead Planet XXII

Dead Planet XXII

“The process of scientific thought
consists of increasingly less
inaccurate predictive models
based on observation. When the
model is not subject to change
due to further observations, it is
no longer scientific.”—John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

“Hellas City is gone,” I said.

The whole city wasn’t there anymore. Disappeared off the surface of Mars—not a smidgen of the spaceport left.

The kid didn’t say anything. He pointed to the anti-grav array on the screen. It told a different story. A zone of space roughly the size of Hellas City shimmered & wiggled—like the heat-wave mirage of some ghostly city in the desert.

Once set in motion—the time-energy construct must continue. Where had I heard that? Oh yes, it was Dr. Hayakawa & his Null-A staff—back in the pyramid.

(The exo-psychologist had said: “You’re assuming a doppelganger principle? If one second of time is removed from the past-to-future manifestation of the Martian mind—it will distort its mass-energy to manifest a different, parallel personality. Once set in motion—that particular Martian mindset must continue.”)

“It’s an automatic cloaking device,” the kid said.

Which made sense. The Tyrell-Terra Corp war-fighters would throw up defenses right away. On the screen the photons carrying the false image of the outer edges of Hellas Town—were dancing in aleatoric chill patterns to disguise the City.

The City was visible on our instruments—and continued to be visible all the way back to when that space-time memory inside our heads was real. The City existed for us—but not for the lizards or creepazoids.

Even that was highly unlikely tho—I said to myself. Knowing what I knew—thru the grapevine about lizard tech & the mirror boyz. Knowing what I didn’t know—thru the kid’s disjunctive jazz-static between his ears. Performing similarity effects—was the name of the game apparently.

The kid took us for a bee-line—straight to the roof of the Hellas Towers. Whatever battery of tests Tyrell & Hayakawa & his Null-A staff had put us thru—had got something going. I still didn’t know what it was—but I was used to being in the dark. My identity was pretty much—blended with the kid sitting next to me.

In the back of my mind—I heard Tyrell saying there wasn’t time. The pyramid the kid & I were in—the key to what? The real Rosetta Stone was the kid—that was my guess. And he was playing it dumb.

As we angled down onto the roof—somebody was waiting for us. It was the Predictress—she’d been able to use her powers to get a fix on the kid’s droid coordinates. Seeing into the cyborg future—knowing precisely when we’d get back.

The kid didn’t act surprised. Droids treated other droids—differently than they treated humans. They were on the same wavelengths—at least according to Dr. Kair’s neurohypnotic unit.
The Predictress had an ultra-sensitive mind—like long-range radio telescopes that could detect distant nebulae, Messier objects, quasars. She had a anti-grav array in her brain—like our shuttle-craft dashboard.

We landed and all three of us—got down the stairwell entrance into the Tower quickly. All three of us were now beyond—the other side of the blind moment. The Predictress & the kid seemed to know a lot more about what was going on—than dummy human me.

“It’s happening again,” the Predictress said.

I turned to the kid—he was already in a droid trance. He was standing there on the balcony—looking west toward where we’d flown in from. The lizards were attacking the pyramid we’d been in—a smoky shadow-shape thing was happening to the power-mid.

The eye had detached itself—from the base of the ancient structure. It was folding out of time-space—while the rest of the ship was going up in flames on the horizon. The Predictress made some kind of wry comment—the kid nodded in agreement.

Dead Planet XXI

Dead Planet XXI

“The Map is not the Territory,
the Word is not the thing it
represents. Our sensations
are not reality, but an abstraction
from reality.”—John C. Wright,
Null-A Continuum: Continuing
A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A

“How many pyramids on Mars?” Tyrell asked.

Dr. Hayakawa was saying, “The pyramid Eyes have recorded a tremendous influx of memory energy. Deckard’s droid connected to them—with Deckard’s co-mind. Their double-conscious triggered some kind of sequence in the surrounding pyramids. Like a combination—to all the memory bank vaults.”

Hayakawa paused. “Our readings show a dozen activated pyramids. We’ve labeled them “power-mids,” the Null-A scientist said.

Thru a slit of armored glass, Tyrell saw the silhouettes of the heads of Hayakawa & his staff.

“What happened?” I asked. I was awake again.

“Your young droid gave us all quite a start,” Hayakawa said.

“Never mind that,” Tyrell interjected. “How many power-mids?”

“We have a dozen on the vidscreens now. The one Deckard & his droid are in—that’s our Rosetta Stone. We need to get in there & see what happened.”

“Not enough time,” Tyrell said.

(Was Tyrell still on Mars? Still in the Underground City? Or had he teleported to Titan? Deckard thought these thoughts to himself. Or rather he thought them to the kid.)

The pyramid door dialed open. In came the kid—looking exhausted. The Martian fugue or mind-meld or whatever you want to call it—it had been a double-whammy for both of them. Mostly him tho.

“Let me help you up,” the kid said.

He got me to my feet & I steadied myself hanging onto the kid’s shoulder. Too much similarized nervous system stuff—makes Jack a dull boy.

“Let’s get outta here,” the kid said.

We passed back thru the doors—they all dialed open & closed for us without hesitation. The whole pyramid seemed to recognize the kid. The minor levitation stunt & all the Mayan shit—I was passed out on the examination table. I didn’t remember anything—not a fuckin’ thing.

The kid was different tho—more somber, more subdued than usual. I noticed he had his zoid-gun out—was it lizards or creepazoids? No, it was something else bugging him. He blocked it out—weird how he’d never done that before with me.

“Are you okay, kid?” I said. We were at the outer lock-door—it paused, then dialed open. There was our hover-craft where we parked it—it was Martian daylight outside.

It was weird. All around the pyramid—the red sands of Mars had folded back. All the debris & rubble had been pushed back—as if the pyramid had moved or something. Had something happened—when I was knocked out? In that semi droid-trance back there?

Looking up at the temple wreck—shit, it wasn’t a wreck at all anymore. The thing actually had a metallic sheen to it—it glowed & I could hear a distinct low hum. Up at the apex—there was something very weird going on. Something hyperdimensional.

Whatever it was—the kid didn’t wanna talk about it. He was all business—strapping me into the passenger seat. He flipped down his visor—had one last look-around. He climbed in—and we were off.

I heard Tyrell’s voice on the intercom—shouting something about the power-mids. How we needed to activate them all immediately—the kid & me.

The kid flipped the intercom off. He did a steep loop around the pyramid—and then low back to Hellas Town. I needed to know what Tyrell was talking about—I asked the kid WTF was going on.

“Shut up,” the kid said.




Roethke Series
1. Roethke
3. Neptune Theater
4. Post-Roethke
5. Blue Moon Tavern
6. Stoned

The Gymnast
Little Fugue
Blue Moon Tavern
The Courier
Dwayne Jerome

Mount Rainier Notebook

Roethke Series

1. Roethke

“O the beauty
of usage!”
—Sylvia Plath
Poem for a Birthday

Let me float in this pool.
The ladies won’t mind.
My heart a stopped geranium.

The water in my lungs.
I’m blooming upside-down.
My breath a still hydrangea.

Cemetery stones console me.
Beneath Saginaw grasses.
I hibernate down here.

Dead poets have no eyes.
The cemetery is full of those.
Who think they are birds.

I’m a root, stone, dream.
I used to teach poetry.
It’s still all I think about.

2. The Blue Moon Tavern

“This is a dark house”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

It’s a dark tavern.
Not big, by the freeway.
I drink in a private corner.
Thinking of something else.

So many U-District bars.
Full of young eely delvings.
Oozing the wiggling glue.
Roethke would love it.

He sleeps in a pool.
On Bainbridge Island.
Three perfect mint juleps.
Now a Zen garden.

Elizabeth Bishop.
She replaced Roethke.
Lived awhile here.
Last Exit on Brooklyn.

3. Neptune Theater

“Once I was ordinary”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

It was 1969.
Nixon was president.
Viet Nam raged on.
Things were gloomy.

After Cambodia.
They closed it down.
The Freeway clogged.
No traffic moved.

On the brick wall.
The Blue Moon Tavern.
Spray-painted: America
Gets What It Deserves.

That Xmas night.
Watching Romero.
Night of the Living Dead.
At the Neptune.

4. Post-Roethke

“Now coldness comes”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

Now 40 years later.
Nixon is dead.
Viet Nam is over.
The Neptune still here.

Roethke is dead.
Ted Hughes is dead.
Overhead the monsoon.
Rain of forgetfulness.

Blue Moon still here.
But Last Exit gone.
Hippie U-district gone.
But war is still here.

The living undead.
Nixon-clones smile.
They learn from us.
Correct their mistakes.

5. Last Exit on Brooklyn

“The wax image
of myself”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

If you live long enough.
And don’t burn your
Candle at both ends.
You might survive.

Funny how time works.
A thicket of shadows.
A dartboard for love.
All those lost lovers.

If you survive them.
Along with Nixon.
And the war in Nam.
The devil loses.

But the burners.
They’re always hot.
Ring after ring.
Turning up the heat.

6. Stoned

“I lie on a great anvil”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

This is the city.
Where I got stoned.
Beneath a scudding sky.
Just call me road-kill.

This is the city.
Mother-lode of pestles.
It grinds you up.
And spits you out.

This is the city.
A quarry of silences.
Stoic, taciturn, loaded.
Happy as a slug.

Thru a stone eye.
The daylight is dim.
Seattle is sameness.
Full of spare parts.

The Queen of Hearts.
Offed my head long ago.
Dead men have no eyes.
Love an elusive loser.



“It happens.
Will it go on?”
—Sylvia Plath

The air’s full of fish-hooks—
Lots of questions & answers.
I don’t feel very Ariel-esque
The Archives are unraveling.

I remember too much—
The Zen garden on Bainbridge.
The Friday nights at Blue Moon
Getting ditched by my lover-boy.

Now he’s in LA—
Running off with a rich divorcee.
She dies & no he’s wealthy.
Been down there ever since.

Without any of him left—
Not a toe, not a finger, a kiss.
Just some dirty, winding sheets
And some hangover blues.

It seems like just yesterday—
Even tho its ancient history
In this noir city without tears
Beneath the crummy sky.

The Gymnast

“I hardly knew him”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

He’s a gymnast.
King of the rings.
Prince of high-bar.
Trampoline royalty.
My lucky animal.

I follow him.
Up here to Seattle.
His Boeing dad.
UW sophomore.
Sunny armpits.

A dunce-cap kid.
Monkey-brain boy.
Blowing me kisses.
Breathing hard.
I get to know him.

Cross-eyed, spaz.
Charley-horse, jerkoff.
Sky always falling.
Caught in his pubes.
Slug-tracks on my lips.

My kept-boy lover.
Worthy of an Emmy.
Me Duchess of Nothing
Comets & mollusks.
I hardly know him.

Little Fugue

“Lopping the sausages!”
—Sylvia Plath, Little Fugue

Seattle’s black clouds oozing—
Overhead like scudding snot.
Which I try to ignore but
After awhile I get depressed.

I like sunny skies—
Not film noir featurelessness.
Moody weather all the time
Makes me feel blue inside.

My gymnast lover—
I can’t stop feeling him up.
Even tho he’s helplessly hetero
All his anxious girlfriends.

I can hear young chicks—
In his voice when he loses it.
High-pitched like Maria Lopez
Or needy-greedy Isabella.

It really turns me on—
At least at first but then things.
Get very femme fatale for me
Hanging around all the time.

Like in The Waste Land—
The girlfriends who come & go.
Speaking of my meaty Michelangelo
Built so nicely a brick shithouse.

All the horrible complications—
My bulging eyeballs at the keyhole.
Fingering the tumult of runny Trojans
Full of his runny Grosse Fugue.

Deafness is another curse—
I can’t stuff my ears with enough
Wax like Odysseus to avoid going
Crazy like Sirens do to my crew.

My red badge of courage—
It isn’t pink, it isn’t pretty.
It’s blood red like a big thick
Delicatessen veiny sausage!!!

I should’ve known beforehand—
It wouldn’t possibly ever work out.
The sinister noir clouds overhead
Like vacuous dirty sheets.

I remember him eyes-closed—
Tangy as tangerines & groaning.
Letting me make him lame
Limping with his voodoo hickie.

I survive thwarted love—
As best I can living with him.
I get lots of babypaste tho
I even feel pregnant…

Blue Moon Tavern

“The wax image
of myself”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

If you live long enough—
And don’t burn your
Candle at both ends
You might survive.

Funny how time works—
A thicket of shadows
A dartboard for love
All those lost lovers.

Can I survive them—
Along with Nixon
And the war in Nam
And the war now?

The back-burners—
They’re always hot
Ring after ring
Turning up the heat.


What a thrill—
Pealing him back
Like a nice Onion.

Skinning it back—
Like a nice scalp
Savage Apache desire.

Squeezing him like—
A bottle of champagne
Ready to fizz.

A secret door—
Nice & cheesy with
A greasy hinge.

A hum-job—
For my cute
Homunculus man.

A last shot—
For my young
Cute Kamikaze kid.

How he limps—
Dirty boy with
A thuggish grin.

Lady Lazarus

“Dying is an art”
—Sylvia Plath,
Lady Lazarus

I’ve done it again—
Each night ten inches
I manage to get him off.

I pull the phone—
Outta the wall so that
None of them can call.

His distended face—
Like a hanged man
Banging the headboards.

Who needs a napkin—
To clean up the mess
To dab my dainty lips?

His bedroom eyes—
Cross-eyed for me
Going totally spaz.

Soon, soon his flesh—
Will be part of me
Deep inside me.

He’s like a cat—
With nine lives to
Lose each weekend.

This is my fate—
Being white trash
In a trailer court.

He’s my Hercules—
I’m Baclanova
Queen of Trapeze.

I peal him back—
The big strip tease
His lovely foreskin.

Others may object—
But I only crave
His cheesy smegma.

The second time—
He squeals like a pig
Porky Pig sticky pearls.

He loses it nice—
Dying so very well
Squirting his brains out.

I do him to feel it—
It feels realer then real
Real to the last drop.

It’s easy enough—
To make him theatrical
His babypaste baritone.

Comeuppance cums—
In broad daylight
His brute face weak.

It’s a miracle—
Each time he shoots
The back of my head off.

There’s a big charge—
Blue veins & voltage
Lots of male electricity.

He’s my socket—
I plug him in
His flesh & boner.

I kiss his ass—
I kiss his pouty lips
I eat him some more.

The Courier

The slime of a snail—
The mucous of a mollusk
The snotty track of a slug.

It’s better than a gold card—
Better than American Express
It’s genuine, I accept it.

It’s the royal seal of Icarus—
The blue wedding band of light
The key to the swanky penthouse.

It’s all to itself way at the top—
Like snow & ice on the high tips
The Alps stretching up to heaven.

It’s a sudden disturbance—
Smattering, shocking, sinful
News from a rude young courier.


“That loves me, pumps”
—Sylvia Plath, Paralytic

I can still taste him—
My Tri-Cities trick
Thick as my wrist.

A draft-dodger—
Refused Viet Nam
Spent a year in jail.

Wife divorced him—
Left for Hawaii with
His 2 young daughters.

Such a hustler—
Back in the Seventies
He needed some love.

Sleeping in bed—
My mouth full of pearls
I did him again.

Eyes, nose, ears—
A Greek korus smile
Just like Kritios.

Statue of an ephebe—
Archaic athlete in marble
My Pasco boyfriend.


“A palace of velvet”
—Sylvia Plath, Gigolo

Gigolo godzilla—
He tricks rather nicely
For a cul-de-sac kid.

Stuck in Zillah—
Down by the Columbia
His lizardly smile.

His father owns—
Vineyards in the hills
Kyle’s his youngest son.

Spoiled, lazy—
I gulp down jellyfish
His aphrodisiac squid.

Bored as sin—
I give him some time
Staying in town awhile.

Rings thru his nose—
Ears, tits & cock
He’s so primitive!!!

A gigolo palace—
A house of mirrors
A hush in his pickup.

The Godzilla Church—
Has a Lizard in front
I’ve got one on wheels.

Dwayne Jerome

“After whose stroke
the wood rings”
—Sylvia Plath, Words

Up in the woods—
There in Seward Park
Echoes travel far.

Thru cedars, firs—
Lake Washington below
A mirror, Alpine lake.

Ditched by his girlfriend—
I see her running away
Down the path past me.

There he is standing—
Morose on the hill
Smoking a cigarette.

If sap could cry—
They’d be like tears
I feel sorry for him.

Words are useless—
I solve his problem
Up against a tree.


“Color floods to
the spot, dull purple”
—Sylvia Plath, Contusion

He bruises so easy—
The color of bruised fruit
A purple hickie tells all.

I see him in the shower—
At the local YMCA gym
Guileless young animal.

His queer roommate—
Gives me the evil eye
I thought I was invisible.

The kid’s so proud—
Like a peacock in a zoo
His lover over-protective.

I really can’t blame her—
Fat, ugly fag who stares
His vampire lips tremble.

The kid so vulnerable—
The garish purple blemish
His uncut young manhood.


“Stiffens and odors bleed”
—Sylvia Plath, Edge

He’s not perfect—
Not accomplished yet
Illusion of Greek necessity.

No folds flow down—
From his nonexistent toga
He’s bare-assed instead.

He’s got big feet—
Pimples on his forehead
Incomplete coiled inside.

He’s got a lot of it—
That unfinished look
But nothing to cry over.

He stiffens, odors bleed—
He blushes in the garden
Next to the clematis.

He’s sprained his neck—
Maybe it’s his funny bone
Or is it his charley-horse?

Eddie limps a lot—
He’s at the edge of things
The chaises-lounge knows.


“The doom mark”
—Sylvia Plath, Contusion

The pit in my stomach—
It growls & sucks obsessively
Makes me crawl up the wall.

I’m all washed up—
No more deep sea pearls
Words so dry & riderless.

The blood jet is poetry—
But it’s petered out for me
Mere dribbles my cup of tea.

I yearn for fluidity—
But my days of oozing are over
My bilge pump is drained dry.

What then is the remedy—
Praying at Chartres Cathedral?
Crawling on my hands & knees?

I’ve already tried that—
I’ve been doing it for years
Wanna see my knee-cap calluses?

I jest, of course—
It’s just fake pantomime show
To make Joe sorry for me…


“Morning has
been blackening”
—Sylvia Plath
Sheep in Fog

The Seattle hills—
Steeped in foggy whiteness.
The people & staircases
No longer disappointing.

The busses cleave fog—
Leaving a trail of exhaust
From far away one can see
The blue-brown trails above.

Streetcars moving thru—
This morning darkness but
Now the ferry’s down below
How they come & go.

Here I am left alone—
Beneath viaduct stillness
Where he once met me
Welcoming me home.

Forty years later—
Past Pound, Olson, Spicer
Elliot Bay is still there
And I’m still here too.

Mount Rainer Notebook

Snail Tracks

“Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Lost Son," ll. 8-11

So nonchalant—
So, well, “so what?”
That’s what it was like to him.
Yawn, then to sleep, next to me.

No big deal to him—
More like breathing, eating
Ho-hum, with a guy so what?
But I couldn’t sleep afterwards.

To him it was nothing—
It wasn’t even like taking a…
Just something he did for me
When & if he had to.

After his first wife—
Living alone by himself
In-between his usual girlfriends
“I need a woman,” he said.

I didn’t tell him—
I didn’t have to because
He knew what I wanted
I wanted, I needed a man.

Slug Dream

“The salt said, look by the sea,
Your tears are not enough praise,
You will find no comfort here,
In the kingdom of bang and blab.”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son,” ll. 32 – 35

Once here at home—
After he parked his BMW
In the back by the lake
Up from the cabana.

I could hear it—
For blocks away it was
So loud that motorcyle
That butch bike.

And then he’d be—
There at the door with
His helmet off and his
Pants next, then bed.

That’s the way—
It was bang & no blab
When he needed it and
Knew where to get it.

Later lying next to him—
I fell asleep & had a
Slug track wetdream
He was that strong.

Mother Nature

“Who stunned the dirt into noise?
Ask the mole, he knows.
I feel the slime of a wet nest.
Beware Mother Mildew.
Nibble again, fish nerves.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Lost Son," ll. 66-70

I’ve seen pictures—
Embryonic transformations
The way a foetus changes
From fish to lizard to man.

Knowing I’ve got it—
Deep inside me his seed
His foetus moving fishlike
He’s my sullen lizard man.

That’s what I was dreaming—
When my nocturnal emission
Startled me wide-awake
He was changing inside me.

I know it sounds kinky—
I wasn’t a teenage punk
Not anymore with pimples
And wetdreams every night.

It was Mother Nature—
Letting me know I was queer
It was my body next to him
Letting me know the story.

Light Within Light

“The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son,” ll. 161 – 167

I told him about it—
He looked at me & laughed.
“You’re as queer as a fuckin’
Three-dollar bill, aren’t you?”

He was like that—
Not taking it seriously
Not with a guy anyway
Maybe with a chick tho.

He didn’t wanna know—
What the dream was like
Or what was going on when
I lost it in bed next to him.

He got on his bike—
And was gone like that
That’s how things worked
Slam, bam—so what?

I remember the dream—
I was floating in the air
I was turning into a reptile
A Pterodactyl with wings.

Coming Again

“A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still. Wait.”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son," ll. 168-172

The next night—
The same thing happened
I woke up in the middle of
The night thinking about him.

Except this time—
I was a Snake in the jungle
Bomba the Jungle Boy was
Simply aghast, ashamed.

It was hiding there—
Underneath his leopard
Skin loincloth—without
Anything else to do.

It was embarrassing—
I had to control at all.
It was simply spontaneous
Out of his jungle blue eyes.

I woke up in bed—
What an unearthly mess
Had something got broken
Inside my brain or guts?

Slug Bait

“I saw the separateness of all things!
My heart lifted up with the great grasses;
The weeds believed me, and the nesting birds.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"A Field of Light," ll. 45-47

My cat believed me—
He was hiding under the bed.
The neighbors believed me—
There was something unsaid.

I heard it go “Sprong!”—
Surely I was having a stroke.
The next night the same thing.
It was like a psychic charlie horse.

The next time the bike—
Loud & rumbling in the back.
I didn’t tell him about my thing.
I wanted to know for sure.

He stayed overnight—
We made love as usual.
And sure enough my wetdream
Came back just like before.

Except this time—
It even woke loverboy up.
Seeing me go spaz turned him on
So, he let me have it again.

The Uneasy Man

“The wind sharpened itself on a rock;
A voice sang:
Pleasure on ground
Has no sound,
Easily maddens
The uneasy man.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 40 – 45

Naturally or unnaturally—
It maddened me each night—
Waking up creaming about him
Tasting him in my troubled sleep.

My profane lips—
Smeared with the misbegotten
Progeny of his young manhood
All those sons & daughters.

His reaction was shrug—
“Lucky you’re not a woman.
You would’ve been pregnant
By now, not what I need.”

He was so seminal—
And so very goodlooking.
He still had muscles just like
When he was a college gymnast.

Sleeping on his side—
My hands up over his back.
Then down over his pecs and
Back up his washboard abs.

“Mother of quartz, your words
writhe into my ear. Renew the light,
lewd whisper.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 54 – 55

When we made love—
He went thru all the changes.
Snake, lizard, snail, slug & then
Finally a goodlooking young stud.

But when I dreamed—
It was the other way around.
It was de-evolution back to the
Primal push & groan of it all.

Or maybe it was me—
Waking up quick with a jerk
Hearing myself moaning that
Way deep in my sleep?

I could hear him—
Writhing inside my head
Down my throat and deep
Into my stomach each night.

It wasn’t anything new—
I’d always felt that way about
Him since the first time I saw him
Nude doing it in the shower.

Living with Roots

“I lived with deep roots once:
Have I forgotten their ways —
The gradual embrace
Of lichen around stones?”
—Theodore Roethke,
"Plaint," ll. 13-16

I lived with roots—
Got to know them well.
From the late Sixties thru
The Seventies on & off.

He was a Northwest guy—
Born over in the Eastside
Across the Lake Washington
By Kirkland & Bellevue.

So that his roots—
Ran deep in Seattle and
The Pacific Northwest
I could taste them.

It was awful tasting—
Tangy & slimy like a slug.
It was very pretty, my dear,
I couldn’t get enough.

His lips were thin & cruel—
But once I got him going
Then there was no stopping
His excruciating whimper.

“My flesh is breathing slower than a wall.
Love alters all. Unblood my instinct, love.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Renewal," ll. 7-10

His second wife—
Was a wealthy divorcee who
Lived on Capitol Hill, played the
Piano, had long wrap-around legs.

She was bored—
Not very happy, needed to be
Entertained and they got along
Quite nicely without me.

They moved to LA—
With the sea, sunshine and
Different lifestyle and they got
By quite nicely without me.

By then you’d think—
My nerfariously rude wetdreams
Would’ve ceased their nocturanal
Vivacious visitations nightly?

And it’s true—
They had petered-out over
Time and pretty soon I hardly
Remembered their noisome angst.

Listening into Silence

”And she is what I would.
In this light air,
Lost opposites bend down —
Sing of that nothing of which all is made,
Or listen into silence, like a god.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Swan," ll. 15-20

I didn’t dream much—
At least I didn’t remember them.
Even tho I saw him every once
In awhile now & then on holidays.

Once he drove me—
Up to Mt. Rainier in a sleek
Rented Pontiac all the way up to
Paradise & Jackson Visitor Center.

It was like starting—
All over again with his attitude
As if he’d never had sex before
With me & acted so peculiar.

It was a turn-on for me—
Like he was a virgin lover again
The look on his face was pure
Hetero hesitation & why bother?

Weaving our way—
Up the mountain, past streams,
Switchbacks, too looming cedars
And firs leaning down over us.

Strange Piece of Flesh

“I've become a strange piece of flesh,
Nervous and cold, bird-furtive, whiskery,
With a cheek soft as a hound's ear.
What's left is light as a seed;
I need an old crone's knowing.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"Meditations of an Old Woman: First Meditation," ll. 15-21

It was August up there—
Mostly young sweaty dirty hikers
With their backpacks and sore
Muscles, their stinky boots.

The ski season at Paradise—
Wouldn’t be for awhile and so
It was nice contemplating Rainier
For the perch high on the cliff.

Dilly-dallied in the gift shop—
Had lunch up there a mile above
Sea-level, played the tourismo
Game, chatted about the past.

We took a side-road—
Back down where the skiiers
Would’ve parked their cars,
RV’s & family station-wagons.

He pulled over to the side—
Turned off the engine, he’d
Been thinking about me and
I’d been thinking about him.

“I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
(I measure time by how a body sways.)”
—Theodore Roethke,
"I Knew a Woman," ll. 22-28

He unbuckled his seatbelt—
Let the seat go back then
Closed his eyes, saying that
It had been a long time.

It was like yesterday, today—
And tommorow all wrapped-up
Into one, the sun was slanting
Down behind Mt. Rainier.

It was so quiet up there—
So different than the city
Far down below with all
The commotion & traffic,
The hurry to get somewhere.

It took forever & a day—
Or maybe it lasted hardly
Any time at all, I lost any
Sense of time & all that.

Drivng back tasting him—
Down thru the dark woods
And shadowy highway home
Knowing a dream waited for me.

“The edge cannot eat the center.
The grape listens.
The path tells little to the serpent.
An eye comes out of the wave.
The journey from flesh is longest.
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 56-63

Ariel seems to dovetail—
Like a young Icaras down, down
Down into this notebook, notes
On nothing particularly at all.

It’s snowing outside—
Rather the the usual raining
Now in November when the
Monsoon rain comes down.

Time for a warm fire—
Sitting around sipping tea
Not thinking about anything
Other than how seasons change.

A rolltop desk—
With these pages of whatever
Scribbled & typed in the middle
Of the cold night (2010).

The snowy quietness—
Like Mt. Rainier that weekend
Last year by the Visitor’s Center
Up there by Paradise Resort.