This month I wrote about my midlife epiphanies: after turning 36, I realized my hopes for the future can stifle my life today.
The Ignatian Review threw a release party at USF for it’s annual edition, and I’m proud to be among the contributing authors. My story tells us why we should all fear babies.
By Emile DeWeaver
Babies scare the shit out of me. It all started with that Chuckie-movie and the creepy patter of tiny feet across carpet before the doll electrocutes the blood out of somebody’s eye sockets.
Well, it didn’t start with Child’s Play; the movie just confirmed my suspicions, but semantics aside, the take-home message here is that movie messed with me. It made me realize something. And it’s crazy that we’ve been missing this because we’ve been asking the right question since the invention of books: where do writers get their ideas? They steal them. From life.
Now, you’re thinking that there’s no way the writers of Child’s Play actually knew a homicidal maniac who’s trapped in a doll’s body, and, instead of calling the police or Geraldo, they shook hands and said, “Who can we get to direct this?”
That’s not what I’m saying. But here’s what they did. They took something real and gave it a twist.
Here’s the truth they twisted. Demons are real. But since the death of Christ, they’ve been unable to possess people, so they possess objects. Their favorite objects are dolls (for obvious reasons.)
What does this have to do with babies?
Have you seen that kids’ movie about dogs where all the animals talk to each other, but when humans are around they just bark or meow, and cats are trying to take over Earth because those are some wily fuckers? Yeah, those writers stole that from the baby conspiracy. Babies can talk. They don’t tell us because the demons have them tricked and giggling at how crazy we look talking jibberish over their cribs. The demons want the babies’ minds to themselves, so they can corrupt them and use their baby powers against us.
What baby powers? A fair question.
You ever hear these yahoos talk about how if they could travel back in time, they’d kill baby Hitler to prevent World War II and save a million Jews. They’re kidding themselves. You ever try to kill a baby?
Exactly. Baby power.
I got my first glimpse of demon-dolls when I was five, but I was too young to understand the conspiracy. My foster brother Waldo was a sissy for carrying a black Cabbage Patch Kid around in his backpack. Or so said all the kids who left Barbie heads on my desk and in my coat pockets. Once, they put one in my shoe, and after naptime, something cold and hard had its mouth on my toe, and it triggered an asthma attack.
Later, I caught Waldo burning toilet paper in the backyard with the Zippo he let me touch once. He squatted on the walk next to the sliding glass door while his Cabbage Patch watched with marshmallow eyes from a plastic patio table that was dirty with leaves and rainwater. And so I told Waldo brother that he and his Cabbage Patch were sissies, and that’s why my friends at school were cruel to me.
Waldo dropped a flaming coil of T.P. onto the concrete and straightened his legs until he stood over me. He had a face like a pie, his hair was girl-curly because his birth father was white, and his breath choked my nostrils with grape candy.
“We’re pretending to be brothers,” he said, “so I can let slide you calling me a fag. But Renaldo gonna’ show you what a sissy is.”
Renaldo was his Cabbage Patch. I’d never noticed until that moment Renaldo wore one of those Freddy Kruger sweaters beneath the smiley face on its overalls.
Waldo grabbed me, and I begged him to stop.
“Talk to Renaldo.” Waldo shrugged before he slid one hand around my throat. “Tell him sorry, and maybe he’ll let this go.”
I tried to say sorry, but I couldn’t breath. He choked me until I passed out and pissed my pants and tucked-in shirt. Waldo and Renaldo turned this into a regular torment, my foster brother asking his doll to please forgive his punk, little brother, Waldo smiling as I flailed to free myself. It was my first hint of demons, and the hold they have on people like Waldo. There’s no telling how many of my friends at school they’d twisted up too, and if you think hard, it explains so much!
I’m a little crazy. You can’t know what I know and keep it all together, but you need to listen to me: remember the movies. The madman is always the madman until you find your body-snatching double growing out of a plant-pod in your girlfriend’s basement.
I promised myself I’d write another book this year, and April is my deadline to begin. I don’t feel like writing a book right now. I have four books waiting to rise from beneath my bed and break rays across an editor’s desk, but I didn’t feel like writing them either. That is, I didn’t feel like writing them until I was knee-deep in writing them… until I was chair-deep writing them… until I was balls-to-chair writing them. “Sorry about that; I’m getting in book-writing mode where all lackluster phrasings must die.)
What I’m saying is a dwarf star’s gravity has nothing on the inertial pull against finishing Chapter 1, but once I reach Chapter 2, I find that inertia works both ways.
I’ve 12 good reasons why I should put off my book until May. What I know: time keeps cruising by the minute hand, and in May I’ll likely have 14 good reasons to put my book off until June. My obstacles aren’t going anywhere until I sit and clickety-clack through the livelong day.
So what can we do to break the initial inertia? I’ve tried a few things. I set a ream of blank paper on a table, slapped the ream with a batter’s glove, and challenged it to a gentleman’s duel. To prepare for the duel — wet quills at dawn — I’ve been listening to Lose Yourself from the 8 Mile soundtrack, swaying to the bad boy beat in the dark. I’ve also tried bitter tea because you really have to cast a wide net when hunting muse.
Does all this work? Will pretending to be Marshal Mathers rapping for his life help me write a book? The reasoned answer is “Ask me a week into April, and I’ll tell you.” The writer’s answer: “Fuck yes, it works.”
For those of you following my alphabet poems adventure, I’m on the letter M. In this post I’d like to share my F and H poems. I promised some I like and some that suck. The first poem is about unrequited love, and I like it for the lines about night flowers. The second poem has a moment or two but it’s mostly corny to me. It’s not my worse one, though, because corny at least has its own charm. Next time, I’ll post my worst alphabet poem.
Death is a Feather
By Emile DeWeaver
Feathers and white winter bits caught in invisible drains,
faking graceful spirals from windy lips, my same tropes
flying. Next time use my own wings. Or does her
father stand at the window hearing our laughter
flow through labyrinthine gardens where night
flowers open petals to the soft light of
fools’ love. Would that we were more like Nocturne’s
flowers, but nightmares keep our petals
folded. Still, eyes speak to the Alaskan sunsets that
flavor your breath and plant thoughts of tongues
filling mouths, fingers
finding indecent spaces to unfold —
flowers behold the blind song of
fog-covered bodies rocking in the pale light.
If You’re Going to Hell in a Handbasket, You’re Probably in Aspin.
By Emile DeWeaver
Hell has no fury like three furies in a
hail storm. Once you go black,
hurry to the doctor because that’s frostbite.
Home is where the
heartbeat fears banks — they can’t all be winners, folks. If you
have nothing nice to say,
Hallmark’s a billion dollar corporation. Don’t kiss a gift
horse in the mouth — it’s presumptuous. A bird in the
hand eventually shits. Can’t
help, now, but think of bushes as
handy banks for my bluebirds. You must’ve fallen from
heaven because your face looks like you fell on it from a great
If either poem looks like fun, consider writing one and entering my contest (see Poetry Contest post ).
Writing every day is for us what strength training is for athletes. It’s hard for them just like it’s hard for us, but daily writing is how we get our sexy writer’s muscles.
Recently a friend challenged me to spend 24 days writing 24 alphabet poems. The rule for these alphabet poems is every line in one poem must begin with the same letter. I took up her challenge for two reasons (and I want you to take up this challenge with me). One, I can’t resist trying to impress a pretty girl. Since I’m not pretty enough for you to want to impress, I hope I can sell you on my second reason. I discovered a secret about prompts that has contributed to my new success among literary magazines. Prompts are perfect for making us better writers, transcendent writers. Prompts can occasion us to move outside of our creative comfort zones and find new ways to express ourselves.
If you’re still with me, join me for a couple days of alphabet poems. Post yours in my comments, and the poet whose work gets the most likes before January 24th wins.
I will serve as the winner’s personal reader for 24 days. Your poems, your fiction, your essays: I’ll read them and give you personalized feedback.
For those who enjoy spectacle, I plan to post my own favorite alphabet poems (because I like to show off) and my alphabet catastrophes (because I’m sure you like to laugh).