Cosmic Seashells.

Suggestion
of the cables
between, ties

that bind, wires
that make the cosmic
community, connected

through the circuit
board
they consider reality

(down here),
just as my unearthly,
robed friend said.

Coincidences
blossoming. Telepathic
dreams. (You will

make it to shore
to collect the cosmic
sea shells, answer questions,
live down
and through and up, stretch
on and beyond
to defeat the enemy.

Trust me.
Just trust me.)

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Through Your Alien Eyes.

Keep telling
yourself

“its okay,
it’s okay. I love you,
understand you, I forgive
and release you. No matter
who you prove

to be, who, what you
are, when you find
yourself: I will welcome
you home
with open arms…”

Remember, remember:
you’re just an actor,
playing. These?

Just masks
you hide behind, afraid
of how it all fits
inside

your alien eyes.

Of Gravity and Burning Flesh.

An insomniac
morning dawns
as I awaken out
of a nightmare’s
vice-grip.

Images censored,
hiding behind a wall
swaying like a tease
at the tip
of my mental tongue.

Sadness,
terror lingering, fed
by the prospects
of the day. No exit,
nowhere to go
but down

further
into this frigid well,
but I’m going to try
and fly across the hungry
void anyway.

To survive,
I divide inside.
So confusing
trying to understand
why, I know.

Is it the spark
of that stubborn part
of you always fighting
the impulse

to get
your hopes
up, rising against,
lifting, carrying
yourself all the way?

Remember
forever: gravity
is god here.
What goes up
must inevitably

bow down, looking
up with wide, hungry
and obedient,
blowjob sort of eyes

before the feet
that make the greater
distortion in space,
that which pulled you in,
attracted you.

Still,
somehow you have thus
far managed to dodge
that fate.

Predictably, you find
a path across the chasm,
never to hit
the ground, a smooth,
lateral sway to land

on warm earth,
proceed on forward
towards
confidence with caution:

after all,
this may be a trick,
some grim illusion seducing
you into letting
your guard down,

relaxing defenses,
believing just to postpone
and further pack the punch

behind the inevitable
enlightenment, true
and bright and burning
your fucking flesh away,

hardens and cools
your soul

until you become the enemy:
a greedy
sadist void of all empathy.

Cold, Dark Virginity.

You are a vessel.
You are a spore, a seed.
Not the contents.

No, just packaging
and delivery…

Never were you
what was in the safe,
nor were you ever
in a state even vaguely
associated with it.

No, you were always
just the combination,
a means to an end,
yet the flame that saves
an unlit candle

from wasting away
into cold, dark virginity.

Galaxies and Continental Drift.

From this height,
distance, dimension,
you can hear and see it tear
at the seams,

see the shell
begin to crack,

blackened
blood spilling betwixt,
flooding the fissures
like the cosmic
dark energy, driving

dissociated shards
like continents, further
apart, tearing them limb
from limb, casting
them out, pushing
the boundaries
of the known, just

like galaxies
and continental drift.

Chasing the Bloodcurdling.

Screams slice
right through the walls,
floors, ceiling,
attacking
on all fronts
at once, violently

jarring her from
her dream, back
to cold, hard reality,
abandoning
her, leaving her to fend
for herself in the crossfire
of throats
and tongues,

violent verbal strikes
to the eardrums, soundtrack
to the waking hell
in her head, sparking
morbid

recollections
of her youth, beginnings
amputated
of their ends,

the severed:
hidden.

Gone is the comfort
of not knowing
what she does

not know, the bliss
of being blind
to her own
ignorance,

now she must
put the shovel
to the foot
of the grave,

chasing
the bloodcurdling,
throats ripped raw,

plowing on
towards rupturing.

Choreography of the Truth.

That moment
when you have to verbally
tell your fingers, insist
to them, as they hopelessly
hover above the keyboard,
plump, throbbing,

trembling,
ever-ready for cerebral
climax:

NO.

You are clearly
drunk, damned digits.

Do not write
that. You will feel
like an asshole
tomorrow and stew
about the shitty nature
of your underlying, suggested
soul all fucking day,

and this kind of scenario
is, at best, clearly
unproductive. At the level
of worrisome, suggests
one should pause
and reflect. In faith, best
to blackout.

Your shadow will grab
the reigns. Truth dances
when those wide, egoic eyes
get fucked up. Take the chance,
find the fucking courage
to look the other way

as the truth betrays
itself, displays
itself before
your naked eyes,

her streaking eyes,
all their wide open,
ocular silos…

Fate of Puffer Fish (Epic Sneeze).

Tongues wiggle, encircle,
vary tempos
and rhythms, exploring
sensations, responses, as hands
add dimension
to the spectrum.

Sensitive
to the limits of the given eyes
or compensate
for the blind.

Spine arcs, smooth and still
skin, tender, quivering
lips suddenly suspended
in the wake of a deadly
gasp, cut.

Like a goddamn
machete swung down
at top speed, abruptly, completely,
severing the line binding
all the body reflects

in movement, sound,
and so on for conscious awareness
bound to the living, however deathlike
mass of flesh: the soul’s weighty,
meaty anchor. Like cartoon

puffer fish swelling
in the necessary buildup
towards the epic sneeze.

Squeeze
your insides around me.

Claw, squeeze, vice
your outsides
into me as, amidst
this passionate, consequently
violent, empathy to feel
out into this outside,

beyond
the self. Once
out, looking back
from the outside in, mind
struggling, resolving it all beautifully,
with an image of simplicity,

through the pure medium
of the debaucherous and rowdy,
brings forth true personal liberty
as a value worth rebelling
against the puppet-
masters the end.

We shall be one,
honor thy feather
for the puffer fish.

Duck to Water.

Comfort is a stranger
in places
as intimate
as the skin,

so how could I ever
have the hope
of belonging, feeling
like a duck
to water (again)?

Given the polluted
fluid I have found myself in,
not sure that I even want to belong
in the herds
that collectively
make all of you.

(Bullshit
groupthink herd
mentality, all souls
here stuck
in a state of CTD spinning
ever tighty, forever
downward, into the blackened
hole at the bottom
of the) as we (sink).

Perhaps I am
better off alone, out
of place, struggling in elements
not my own. It could very
well be a merciful buffer
given what I feel
(been told) is to come.

Why be one
with a world of madness
plowing down
the road of suicide
like amphetamine-fueled
lemmings, distracting themselves
with constant internal strife?

Tickets to the interactive
circus. Not only that, but front
row seats. Embrace
opportunity. Watch
and take notes
for one, for all.

Document the downfall
so we can see
where we go wrong.

(For all our flaws,
brother, take heed:
we fought till the end.)

Must we live through this again?
Asphyxiated gills, foreign skin

I (we) must fight
for a home (of strangers),
claim our place, fight
for mind and heart again.

The Berenstæin Anomaly and Cosmic Exchange Students.

It’s September and Claire texts, after we’ve talked about my most recent dream about her, to ask if I had ever heard about “The Berenstain Bears” conspiracy. A conspiracy? No, I tell her. I remembered The Berenstein Bears, at least visually. Though I had no recollection of the characters or stories, I know that I had seen them in cartoons or books when I was younger. Clearly she had spelled it wrong, though; she had spelled it Berenstain. I decided to gloss over it and just spell it the right way, though when I did so my iPhone gave it the old dotted red underline. Clicking on it, it suggested the spelling Bernstein, which I knew damn well was wrong. So I spelled it her way, and the spell-check for some reason accepted it.

When I got around to looking it up in an act of “deep Googling” I discovered that many people were certain they remembered the The Berenstein Bears despite the fact that the books now, and claim to have forever been, named The Berenstain Bears. Allegedly (as I have read countless references but have been unable to find the original post) this perplexing shit with the spelling first came to light on the world wide web in 2009 when a user known as Burke had asked, in a forum called Dreadlock Truth, why they had changed the name. Only later, perhaps, would it become clear that not everyone shared his certainty that it had been changed, and in some cases quite the contrary. Some, and for all I know most, recall it as Berenstain. Others apparently recall it being spelled Bernstein, and even this “lesser error” is still accepted by the autocorrect and spellcheckers of both my laptop and iPhone. In the meantime, weirdos such as Claire and I are lost at sea, clutching onto the memory of Berenstein. The natural question, of course, is: why?

One possibility is the psychological equivalent of autocorrect. We all have poor memories, we are told, in comparison to the actual past events in question, as must actively “re-member” events stored in memory every time we glance back at them. Some suggest people can also easily be led to believe things that are not true or recall things that never happened in the first place. Still, it would appear more difficult to explain cases of shared false memories, right?

Not necessarily. Some might suggest the scenario took place as follows. Parents read the books to us as children and the way they pronounced the name (“Barren-steen”) stuck with us. As a consequence, this is how we came to say the word aloud or to ourselves while reading the book. As we grow out of these books we are conditioned by a culture that subjects us to too few names ending in -stain and more than enough ending in -stein (Einstein, Frankenstein, and so on) that upon reflection on our childhood memories of the books the brains of many of us autocorrect our memories of how the name was spelled. As a consequence many of us not only falsely recall the spelling of the name but falsely recall it having been spelled the same way.

Fiona Broome calls this the Mandela Effect, earning its name from a large number of people who recall Nelson Mandela dying in prison when it fact he remained alive until 2013. There are other examples, too. For instance, there is the line Tom Hanks famously says in the movie, Forest Gump. Some recall him saying “life is like a box of chocolates”, though in actuality he says “life was like a box of chocolates.” An auditory equivalent of autocorrect could explain the Gump anomaly, perhaps suggested by a chain of false quoting through the amount of satire the line has been subjected to. I never actually saw the movie, though I am quite familiar with the impersonations and the quote which I recall as being widely quoted as “life is like a box of chocolates.” Some remember the Challenger explosion occurring in 1984, others in 1986. Some remember having seen a painting of Henry VIII eating a turkey leg. It never existed.

There are other proposed possibilities, however. For instance, there is the time travel hypothesis, first offered in 2011 on the humorist website The Communist Dance Party, where it was posited that the anomaly had to do with time travel and the Butterfly Effect. More specifically: sometime after the mid-1990s someone had traveled back in time, altering the history though not the memory of human beings, though in manners so slight we hardly notice them. It was akin to Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder,” which echoes the logic inherent in the Butterfly Effect to explain how we could return to the future after time travel to find one different from the one we left. In Bradbury’s story, however, the only ones who noticed a difference were those who had actually done the time traveling and created the paradox. The hypothesis makes little sense to me.

As it turns out, I am not alone. In an August 23rd, 2012 entry on “The Wood between Worlds: Blog of the world’s worst scientist” there is a post, entitled “The Berenstein Bears: We Are Living in Our Own Parallel Universe”. Reese, the blogger, recalls the books as the child and, upon seeing the obituary for 88-year-old Jan, now joining her husband and coauthor Stan in death, the blogger noticed the apparent and, to his eyes and mind, quite obvious misspelling of the name. Upon a little investigation, however, he found that everyone he came across spelled the names of the authors as Jan and Stan Berenstain. How could this fucking be? Even the old book covers had it spelled that way. Reese mentions the apparent similarities between the Berenstæin Anomaly and the ending of Bradbury’s tale, though is quick to assure us that contrary to Bradbury’s seemingly cautionary tale time travel cannot allow for the alteration of the past. “What happened, happened,” as LOSTies might echo.

Instead, he concluded that there are two universes which he arbitrarily dubs the “stAin” and “stEin” universes and that some point after 1992 the similar but nonetheless distinct universes collided. He then posits that the universes merged and that all now live with these inconsistencies between our memories and the history of the universe we currently inhabit.

Reese, like Burke before him, had made the mistaken assumption that we all shared this specific inconsistency between memory and history. It turns out we do not. If we posit that these two universes collided but never merged, however, this might explain why some of us recall things differently.

When two objects make contact, there is always an exchange of material. There is a term for this in physics, but I’ve forgotten it and my googling has thus far proven to be fruitless. It is also known as Locard’s Exchange Principle in the field of forensic science: “every contact leaves a trace.” Such a collision between two universes would result in a cross-contamination of consciousness, sending some but by no means all members of either universe into the other. The anomalies would therefore suggest that weirdos such as Claire and I are members of an exchange program between parallel universes and constitute the trace evidence for the collision that spawned it.

When I texted Claire back to tell her I had looked into it and found it interesting, she told me she liked the idea because it gave her an explanation for why she felt so out of place. It was something I had always sensed about her, that she felt like a fish out of water much as I did, that she belonged nowhere, but this was the first time in memory she had ever verbalized it to me. I told her I preferred her explanation to the one that my little inhuman friends had pounded into me throughout my life.

She agreed. She liked her explanation a hell of a lot better.