Earl Johnston

I had lain in bed junked up on as much legal pharmaceutical junk available at any hip enough health food store to warrant any legitimate FDA investigation for days on end stuck in a hopeless rondo of Netflixable fixes to quell the fine and delicate balance I held onto between heartbreak and the sort of rage that would kneecap an entire band of innocents just for crossing my path by accident. That I could almost embrace the world in my arms and feel its immutable torque was like the torture of misapprehensions that I had continued to endure and could not pull myself eventually away from even as I felt myself being pulled repeatedly into the lowest and worst bardos of human existence deserving of the worst of mortals having made the most grievous missteps in life and definitely not fit for those whose footsteps were still being made somewhere above ground in the veldt, the tundra, the desert, or upon the soft blue shores of North Africa. I was like Hamlet who only he himself self-reflexively seeing his own madness self-contrived, self-invented, self-made, self-anointed, self-mocking, even he now cannot walk away from his poetical celestial prison of self—his peerless mind, so noble so true, now murderess. Instead, I had had to drowse myself to death, to Lethe onwards, into the good night, into the good morn, into the good empty day at hand like another and another and another, stultified like a poisoned man whose only final utterance will be to write the words neurasthenic cow, neurasthenic cow, neurasthenic cow over and over until he has stuffed his sweet American conscience into a thimble that sinks, when his good arm will have tossed it into the great ocean’s sublime embrace of nothingness.

Elwyn Leitus McCabe

handsome men walking

The last ship for Parnassus had departed. It had left. Isn’t that a landlocked place? Isn’t it a fabled place? The passengers had ignored me. Some wore scarlet scarves. Some not even sandals. It was all a confusion. A small man touched my shoulder and said, “The best things Man ever did were done before dawn,” and left, carrying straw baskets holding nothing. Half-flirting, I asked a woman holding two children, one under each arm, when there was the departure, the next. “Even though,” she said, “I can see that you’re not looking after my children, there is no other.” I could not understand, besides her admonition, what she had meant. The gangplank was full of people, and I was one of them. It had seemed they were all boarding. There was so much chaos it was almost festive. A man who looked just like the picture in my mind of what a vicar would be, repeated to no one that the times were dreaded, that these were the dreaded times. The bustle of people, the nonstopping commotion, the stink of animals, and the rubbing of clothes, this was all so ordinary. I had wanted to yell, I had wanted to shout that: that it was indeed so plain and so gloriously common. These seething shambles of humanity were indeed quite a place to live among. Inescapable, really. All of us, we all, were being knocked down, pushed, and bent over. Language, and words, and quips fell from our mouths like pieces and bits of straw to the ground would. Nobody minded, and everybody cared. By Zeus, by the nail of Thoth, I thought to myself: I am no one! The relief I had felt for the crushing moment of my life then had been exquisite and I knew that if I should take one more step with the crowd toward the mountain the rough magic spent would become everlasting.