it's always the same face

cuckoo spit: a frothy secretion exuded on plants by the nymphs of spittle insects.

Sheeyit, said Randolph, we's got us all kinds'a cuckoo spit in these parts.
But why's they nymphs all over them leafs, wondered Randolph to himself silently, looking askance. Randolph sat down on an ancient tree stump, the rings rubbed smooth over the years. In the distance black clouds of starlings darted through the sky, the round orange sun stretched out tired and dropped below the horizon. Randolph scratched his knee and looked at a healing, pink scab on his knuckle.

Somewhere, in a convention center, Curtis Spittle of Thermos Falls, Idaho, handed out Reverend Nineball "Prayer Mysteries" to passers by, many of whom quickly deposited them in the nearest waste bin, where some time later Mr. Spittle dug them out, saved the ones that were clean, so he could leave them under windshield wipers in the Applebee's parking lot next door.

Sheeyit, said Randolph, there must be a million things I don't know. The sky by now was quite dark, filling with rain clouds, the air filled with sounds of distant traffic and an intermittent train whistle. Every day I look in the mirror to see what I find and it's always the same face looking back at me, Randolph thought. He remained on the tree stump as it began to rain, fat drops of cold water splashing on his head.


how do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho

Five strangers introduce themselves in a crowded convention hall. Hello, my name is Bob my friends call me Bob my wife calls me Bob my kids call me for money and I represent the Affiliated Tooth Powder Consortium of Hedgehog Flats, Arkansas; how do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho (hoo boy). Greetings, my name is Curtis Spittle of Thermos Falls, Idaho, and I represent the Reverend Nineball "Prayer Mysteries" series, which you might have seen stuck under your windshield wiper a time or two at your local shopping mall; how do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho (go to hell). Folks, allow me to introduce myself I'm Pete Patoot of the Sunshine Denture Alternatives Project, yes in fact we are working this very moment on a new kind of dentures made of recycled plastic and huckleberries and the test cases we're running in Vietnam look veeerrrry promising; how do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho (what the hell?). Me? Oh, I'm Kathy McVeigh no I'm no relation of the Reno Rental Truck and Manure Company of Waco, Texas, and I'm here this week to present an exciting new line of products we're calling Blammo Storage Boxes, as we say, "they're blammo!" How do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho (duck!). I guess that leaves me I'm Theocrates Miller of Yonkers, New York, representing the Q-777 Instant Mashed Yams company, a business venture of the Upstate New York Yam Growers Cooperative; how do, howdy, hello, howzit, ho ho (I gotta get in on the ground level of this yam thing).


lying in a large pile of leaves

Ernest lay in a large pile of leaves. Mr. Oil Stain approached and said a silent prayer. Mrs. Chainsaw sat under the oak, its branches bare and brown, and stared straight ahead, tears welling in her eyes. Professor Leaf Rake remained a respectable distance away, reciting poetry to the wind. Mrs. Abscessed Tooth was not there. She was at home baking, as she did whenever she was nervous.

Mr. Garden Hose approached the large pile of leaves, poked Ernest with a stick, and grumbled, you're always trying to get our attention, aren't you? Well, I'll have none of it!

I think he might be dead, said someone as a crinkly yellow leaf lofted into the cold, brisk wind.

I'm just a man lying in a large pile of leaves, replied Ernest.


don a tutu and do the splits

You should be watching football, said Mrs. Hutchings-Claymore. No, I should be cleaning out the rain gutters, said Mr. Hutchings-Claymore. No, no, you sit and eat cheese puffs and drink beer and watch football, said Mrs. Hutchings-Claymore. I would rather sip sparkling cider, eat celery sticks, and clean out the rain gutters, said Mr. Hutchings-Claymore. You will sit your ass on the couch and drink beer and fart and scratch yourself while watching football, said Mrs. Hutchings-Claymore. I will shave my back and don a tutu and do the splits in the front yard, said Mr. Hutchings-Claymore. I will smash the television with a sledgehammer and pour buckets of white paint over your bowling trophies, said Mrs. Hutchings-Claymore. I will watch football now, said Mr. Hutchings-Claymore.


suspended momentarily in air

You must drink more whiskey, said the advertising executive to the gathered crowd in a nursing home.
What did he say? Did you hear that?, asked Willis, an 87 year-old retired plumber.
I SAID YOU MUST DRINK MORE WHISKEY, said the advertising executive, his blue and gray striped silk tie resting on his left shoulder.
Floor Hickeys? Mormon Keys? Musty Wise Guys? Young man, you will have to speak up, exclaimed Bridgadette, a 92 year-old former go-go dancer, her voice a graceful whisper, suspended momentarily in air.
In the corner, a record player spun a scratched polka record, tubas blaring and accordions wheezing repeatedly in a perpetual loop.
GET OUT OF YOUR WHEELCHAIRS AND GET DRUNK, said the ad executive, his face red, bits of spittle exploding from his inflamed lips.
An overweight tabby cat sauntered into the TV room, mewed and rubbed its legs against a wheelchair tire, and then flopped onto a small pile of coarse white hospital towels in the corner across from the gramophone.
Quincy, an 82 year-old retired letter carrier, waking from a short nap, stretched his arms wide to his sides, leaned over and asked the cat, young man, have you seen my flask?

pour everything into a large wooden barrel

Recipe for Authentic Hungarian Style Ham Goulash:

Three smoked, cured hams (preferably without bone)
Three white onions, peeled
Three cloves of garlic, peeled
Three tablespoons of kosher salt
Three pinches of black pepper
Three bunches of lemon zest
Three hours of free time
Three gasps of air
Three horrified stares with hands on cheeks
Three Hungarian peasants who know how to cook
Three pasta rollers
Three people versed in the art of rolling pasta
Three buckets of fresh rain water
Three cows
Three sewing needles
Three burlap bags of celery
Three bushels of Hungarian paprika
Three roller skates
Three times a lady
Stir, mix, and chop with three hand blenders on the surprised gasp setting
Wait for a while
Pour everything into a large wooden barrel
Cook over an open flame in your back yard until done, about three hours
Invite the neighbors. All three of them.

veinte questions

Uno: Mr. Vats of Glue, why are there rats in your mouth?
Dos: Mr. Leveraged Buyout, why do I hear muffled screams in the trunk of your limo?
Tres: Mr. Redundant, why do you sit in a corner and cry, your sobs echoing off the walls?
Cuatro: Mrs. Tampon, why do you flit like a hummingbird in the kitchen while you cook?
Cinco: Reverend Butthole, where can I find a good deal on tires?
Seis: Dr. Rancid Milk, why do you lie dead in a pool of blood?
Siete: Mr. Question, do you ever look in a mirror and burst into fits of insane laughter?
Ocho: Mrs. Wilted Lettuce, why did you slit the throat of poor Dr. Rancid Milk?
Nueve: Judge Leadfoot, why do you sleep while justice dies a slow, painful death?
Diez: Senator Urine, how much did your leather shoes cost the peasants of Guatemala?
Once: Se├▒or Vanquished Peasant Village, why do you heave mirrors at black cats as they scurry past?
Doce: Miss Unhappy Childhood, why do you miss your childhood?
Trece: Mr. Gargantuan Tooth Gap, why do you insist on calling chocolate pudding "chocopud"?
Catorce: Professor Leaf Rake, how do you maintain such a positive demeanor?
Quince: Mrs. Chainsaw, why has no one seen Mr. Chainsaw in four months?
Diez y Seis: Mr. Garden Hose, what are you sawing and nailing at night while the town sleeps?
Diez y Siete: Reverend Pie in the Sky, could you please share your recipe for cheese surprise?
Diez y Ocho: General Yowza Yowza, as you scan the horizon, do you notice the clouds gathering buckets of rain?
Diez y Nueve: Doctor Three Eyebrows, if two dogs run toward each other at two hundred miles per hour and collide head on, will the resulting force as they strike weld the animals together, resulting in one dog?
Veinte: Mr. Bags of Blue Paper, why do you go from door to door selling religion to hung over roofers and road workers?


a small plot of dirt

Ernest set up a booth at the county fair. Behind him he cordoned off a small plot of dirt behind yellow police tape.

Mrs. Chainsaw stood in line gripping prayer beads and talking nervously with Mrs. Abscessed Tooth.

Mr. Oil Stain fumbled with his car keys in his trouser pocket and thought about high school football. "The world's gone crazy, waiting to see a bunch of nuffin,'" harumphed someone. Professor Leaf Rake replied, not knowing exactly who had spoken, "we must remain open to the opportunity to learn."

Mr. Garden Hose reached the front of the line and barked, "well, you damn fool, this better be worth getting off the couch for."

"It is just a small plot of dirt," replied Ernest.

this is a postcard

This is a postcard of the inside of a nostril. Note the presence of black nosehairs, snot, and remnants of a tissue, plus miscroscopic bits of fingernail. Wish you were here.

This is a postcard of the inside of a bucket. Note the tangy taste of grapeseed mixed with paint thinner and cow's milk. Wish you were here.

This is a postcard of a postcard factory. Stooped women in hairnets push wire mesh bins from one corner of the factory across the cold concrete expanse to the other side of the factory. Wish you were here.

This is a postcard of an industrial-size dryer in a laundromat. A fruit pie wrapper and two pair of pink Jockey shorts litter the chipped green concrete floor. An old woman pushes a wire mesh cart of laundry from one corner of the laundromat to the other. Wish you were here.

This is a postcard of a 100-yard long stretch of highway between Colfax, Washington, and Pullman, Washington. The highway is black with a double-yellow line down the middle. To the sides of the road are impressive expanses of wheat stubble and several bird carcasses. Wish you were here.

This is a postcard of a postcard of a postcard. Wish you were here and here and here.

the bottle on my nightstand

You must drink more whiskey, said the doctor to the diabetic.
I try, said the diabetic, but often I am too full from eating pork rinds and drinking buttermilk.
You must drink more whiskey, said the doctor to the diabetic, or you risk losing a leg.
I will try, replied the diabetic, but I cannot see the bottle on my nightstand, and I lose my way at night as I stumble to the toilet.
You must drink more whiskey, said the recording.
I do not like whiskey and it makes me dizzy and lethargic, replied the diabolical beast.
You must drink more whiskey, said the advertizing executive to the homeless waif.
I will drink more whiskey when it is time, said the homeless sous chef.
You will drink more whiskey now, said the drill sargeant.
I will kill your dog, said the plebe, a warm bottle of whiskey clutched to his chest.
I will drink whiskey and kill your dog and drive to the pier and torch an abandoned warehouse.
All I asked is that you drink more whiskey, said the priest between sobs.


her chance to see the world

One day a strong wind gathered and dislodged Pasty, the family's pet fly strip, from the metallic Phil's Soothing Foot Wart Pads sign on the cinder block wall of the gas station in some effete town somewhere. The fly strip flew twenty yards and became attached to the back of the hitchhiker's faded jeans jacket as he walked out of town eating a well-chewed ear of corn.

Pasty, sensing this was her chance to see the world, held on as tightly as she could. In the distance, back at the gas station, a bewildered gardener emerged, scratching his bald dome and peering into the back alley.

a very large pile of corn cobs

Would you like regular or premium, asked the old librarian. Is this where I can see the world's largest pile of corn cobs, asked the bewildered gardener.
No, it is not, replied the old librarian.
I am sure I was told that there is a very large pile of corn cobs here, said the bewildered gardener.
Sigh, said the old librarian.
Sigh, asked the bewildered gardener.
It's in the back alley, said the old librarian.


Graduation Speakers

Valedictorian: Kevin Hitler, "Seize the Day: Make the Future Today"
Salutatorian: Buffy Stalin, "Don't Let the Small Stuff Get You Down"
Class President: Todd Pot, "Dude, Where'd We Leave Our Diplomas?"
Class Vice President: Jennifer the Hun, "Remembering Mom's Milk and Cookies: Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned Around the Kitchen Table"
Class Treasurer: Chip Capote, "Oops, I Did It Again"
Special Guest Speaker: Tim Jong Il, Speech TBA

a brief lament

Oh, my soapy suntan, swooned Susie the candlemaker as she doodled on a map of the polar ice caps with a pencil. I'm ever so uncontained and gradually disappearing.


coughing fit

cough cough cough cough cough cough cough cough cough coug coug coug cough cough cough cough cohabitate couch cough cough conch cough cosigner cough cough coochie coo cough cough cough cootie cough coug cough copulate cough cough cog cog cough contra coug copayment cough cough constipation cough cough cough cope cop cough cough couch couch couch couch cough coup coup de ville cough cough cooperate cough cough coulee cossack cough cough cough cough cunt cough cough contradict cough cough cough coagulate coug coup cough cough cough cow couch cough cowl cough cough cough syrup cough cough cob corn cough cough contract cough coug cou co


Ten jacks players gamble and smoke under a full moon.
Nine submariners tell lawyer jokes.
Eight bowling ball polishers recline in the yard discussing politics.
Seven tennis ball manufacturers bake apple strudel in the kitchen.
Six basketball officials stand in an aisle of cheese puffs at a truck stop and fret about world hunger.
Five onion ring breaders sweat profusely.
Four carriers of bowls of hot and sour soup lean on a windowsill in Elko, Nevada.
Three crosseyed rabbits run into traffic in Shanghai.
Two mincemeat pie eaters finger flatware nervously.
One tax auditor walks into a diner and says gimme coffee you gotta gimme coffee.

a happy tune of yesteryear

How much is that doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie hey numbnuts are you even reading this doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie hey are you fucking doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie hey douchebag doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie hey dickhead needle doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie doggie in the window?

wow what a drag

Fanny sat on her Florence while on vacation in Ludmilla.
Jim Bob ate pine needles while receiving dialysis at the truck stop.
Pee Wee drew cartoons of elephants while pooping his diaper in sociology class.
Uncle Thurburt belched rhyming couplets while drinking egg nog out of a dog dish.
Cousin Winnie smoked hashish on the roof of a VW camper van while naked.
Jim Bob drove his truck into a brick wall while eating a bowl of cereal.
Fanny vacationed with Ludmilla and Florence in Nancy, where they ate horesemeat sandwiches.
While Uncle Thurburt was away at a retreat for auto insurance salespeople, he received orders to join his marine unit in Iraq.
Pee Wee sat on the floor in a puddle of urine while listening to Seven Habits of Highly Successful People on tape.
Jim Bob pulled glass shards from his beard.
Uncle Thurburt hid out in Cousin Winnie's van and ate chocolate chip cookies and drank beer out of a dog dish.
Pee Wee pooped on the floor during a political science lecture.
Jim Bob phoned Fanny in Nancy and asked Florence to put Ludmilla on the line.
Jim Bob used a pine needle for floss.
Jim Bob turned Uncle Thurburt in to the authorities.
Uncle Thurburt drove a VW camper van into the surf at high tide and flooded the engine.
Cousin Winnie said wow what a drag.


A Night at the Hams

Bridge Over the River Ham; Seven Hams for Seven Brothers; Ham Wars; Raiders of the Lost Ham; The Ham Commandments; Ham Hunter; Hamloose; Revenge of the Hams; 2001, A Ham Odyssey; A Clockwork Ham; Apocalypse Ham; Hamfinger; Easy Ham; Million Dollar Ham; Back to the Ham; Ham at Tiffany's; The Wizard of Ham; Napoleon Ham; Gone With the Ham; The Maltese Ham; Pulp Ham; The Great Ham; What About Ham?; The Day the Ham Stood Still; Bill and Ted's Excellent Ham; Brokeback Ham; Das Ham; Life is Ham; Ham Story; Invasion of the Ham Snatchers; Raging Ham; The Silence of the Hams; An American in Ham; The Good, the Bad and the Ham; Mr. Smith Goes to Ham; It's a Wonderful Ham; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Ham; Brian's Ham; Ham Doesn't Live Here Anymore; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Ham; To Catch a Ham; The Birth of a Ham; A Ham for All Seasons; The Longest Ham; The Last Temptation of Ham; The Passion of the Ham; Polterham; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Ham; Monty Python and the Holy Ham; Hamfellas; Hamface; Roger & Ham; La Dolce Ham; The 40-Year Old Ham; The Ham Strikes Back; When Harry Met Ham; A Passage to Ham; Good Night, and Good Ham; Almost Ham; The African Ham; Hamspotting; Looking for Mr. Goodham; Dirty Rotten Hams; Au Revoir Les Hams; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Ham; House of Sand and Ham; New York Hams; Short Hams; Hams Don't Cry; Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Ham; Ham Actually; Blazing Hams; 9 1/2 Hams; Field of Hams; Dances With Hams; The Sound of Ham; The Ham of Monte Cristo; There's Something About Ham; All the President's Hams; Charlie and the Chocolate Ham; Chitty Chitty Ham Ham; The Manchurian Ham; All Quiet on the Western Ham; Last Exit to Ham...

ham ham ham ham again

Stand by your ham; I'm gonna wash that ham right outta my hair; somewhere over the ham; do not pay attention to that ham behind the curtain; everyone deserves their fifteen minutes of ham; I'm just a coal miner's ham; all in all, it's just another ham in the wall; 99 bottles of ham on the wall; Humpty Dumpty fell off the ham; the hambone's connected to the ham; do you take this ham; here's looking at you, ham; the running of the hams; this one time, at ham camp; Adventures of Huckleberry Ham; Ham Solo; Oh, Danny ham; dog is man's best ham; A Midsummer Night's Ham; Everything You Always Wanted to Ask About Ham But Were Afraid to Ask; Schindler's Ham; ham up your butt (drum rimshot); ring around the ham; don't squeeze the ham; Hammy Sosa; the ham heard round the world; Of Mice and Hams; Snow White and the Seven Hams; if I only had a ham. It's fun to stay at the H-A-M.


a vital means of survival

Chicken Burrito arrived in these parts thirty years ago when the Rabid Paunch people, who subsisted on artwork made from macaroni and paper plates, still roamed the hills. Chicken Burrito dealt a deadly blow to the Rabid Paunches when he settled on a two-play paper plate, robbing the peace-loving native people of the Land of Big Teeth of a vital means of survival. Chicken Burrito married Cheese Burrito and had many children, populating the Hairy Armpit Valley with hyperactive Chicken Cheese Burritos who, when left outside too long, turned rancid and very, very bored.

Off in a corner, Mr. Garden Hose thought, "so what if he's got hisself a damn hole in the ground, I got me better stuff'n that."

them mud puddles down there

A line of people stood waiting to see Ernest. Once each person reached the front of the line, Ernest whispered in his or her ear.

Mrs. Chainsaw giggled nervously while she waited. Professor Leaf Rake and Mr. Oil Stain talked about high school football. "I bet he's got sumpin' to say 'bout them mud puddles down there at that grocery store," whispered someone.

Mr. Garden Hose approached Ernest.

"Well, what the hell's it gonna be," barked Mr. Garden Hose.

"It is just a hole in the ground," whispered Ernest.