by Shawn Phillips

Five - Soilent Xylocaine



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A demi-god of technical support once said that, if it weren't for the modern Mecca known as Seattle, we would still be using lithographs and typewriters. Yet among all the sudden modernization there is still a soul in the Northwest. I can smell the soul calling to me, pleading, for it is secretly in pain. The moment I stepped into Washington's eastern greenscape...

The grasses shot upward, grasping until he became absorbed into the earth. Every cell fused with trapped nitrogen waiting underneath for release. Everything moved in fast forward on an eight millimeter reel. Worms uncoiled and dug into his pale flesh, burrowing to the racing heart, the sweating heart, black perspiration oozing from the valves. Through the layers of bituminous dirt and mineral part for the vision of the land's soul, and it is a sorrowful soul.

She hung, no, drooped in leather bindings from an unseen ceiling, her dark fern green hair wilting, the plumage, spotted with browns, limped to the stretch of the landscape. A garden hose, bolted over where her mouth would be, stretched upward beyond her bindings. Breasts, once pert, sagged with negative Ritalin above a starved belly and abused labia, extending into worn limbs buckled into more cold bindings, the grey skin marred by wine-coloured scuffs, cuts, and streams.

But what caught his eye were the midnight tears that had just begun to bead on the tops of her ashen cheeks. The image reflected in those droplets were just coming into focus... familiar...

The belly began to scream in a trio, pulling him back by his ears and throat, back through the lignite, the bones, the sod until he was forced to breath oxygen (you'd notice how difficult this was if you were force to switch from oxygen to nitrogen, then once becoming accustomed to it, forced back to oxygen).

Tossed upward, he bounced off the bark of the closest tree to his exit, landed on his knees and fell on his face. Carefully turning over put him face to face with a pale blue sky. Pebbles, morsels of moist dirt and blades of grass were expelled from his lungs in hoarse fits of coughing, only to land against his nose and cheeks.

"A living, giving corpse so weak
A sacred path, where do we fall
Desire, anguish, fear of life
Makes martyrs of us all
Delusioned prayers fill the air A hopeful soul is hard to see Human cruelty frozen in time
A world so hard to feed"

Front Line Assembly - "Prophecy"


I stand, coloured blurs emitting fumes surround me in a rectangular fashion. I am seeing every minute pass by as mere seconds, one step and the morning traffic rush has come and gone. I wonder what day it is.

There is a newsstand. I will buy a paper.

A generous in cellulite man with thinning hair hidden underneath his cap greets me with his toothpick. His breath is foul from cheap tobacco. It makes me think of an uncle I do not recall.

"Hey, buddy. That'll be two-fifty." He sounds like a beat cop accusing me of date rape.

I pay the man with the first thing that comes out of my pocket, a used fuse from my extinct motorcycle. He gives me two coins in change and takes a sip from his Styrofoam Starbuck's coffee.

Try as I may, I cannot focus on the date at the top of the pages. Nor any of the words printed, or the photographs for that matter. But I am reading in between the lines, reading what everyone else seems to ignore. The news beneath the news, obscured by marketing to the readership. And I see the enemy, for I have become the nemesis today. But for now, I wait. I wait, and read the news that no one reads, looking for the pieces to fit.


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