Category Archives: Writings

The Mondo Vixen Massacre is HERE

Vixens

The Mondo Vixen Massacre by Jamie Grefe

 I published a book and it’s time to promote. If you find yourself clicking through, find yourself in the mood for something funny and crazy and cool, please consider buying a copy of THE MONDO VIXEN MASSACRE. Here’s a note I put on my Amazon author page, a note that explains or opens up the process of how this book came about:

 I wrote this story in October 2012 while living and working in Beijing, China. I was teaching Creative Writing to international students and decided to finally make the leap from writing short stories and poems to something bigger, something more intense and cinematic. It was time. 
 
I grew up watching B-movies, exploitation movies, cheesy flicks–everything–and still return to some of my favorite filmmakers in those times when I just need to experience something timeless and beautiful. I love the work of Jim Wynorski, Russ Meyer, Joe D’Amato, Roger Corman, Claudio Fragasso and others, old and new, cheap or Hollywood slick. As the storyline for this book started to take shape in my mind, I fed myself a steady dose of those B-movies. I took notes. I asked questions. I made flow charts and outlines. And then it hit. I saw poor Tom Clay caught in the middle of the most unrealistic and brutal home invasion imaginable. It was those wicked vixens. I had to write, was compelled to write and thus, the story of “The Mondo Vixen Massacre” took root. I wrote the first draft in two weeks and spent significantly more time editing and refining it. I had a special music playlist to help guide me through the scenes (I’ll share it in the near future) and fell in love with this long-form world I had created. I fell in love with these vixens and cheered when Tom took things to the next level. I hope you’ll cheer, too. 
 
When Eraserhead Press acquired this manuscript for publication in their New Bizarro Author Series, I knew I had done something right. Of course, you, dear reader, will have to be the ultimate judge. You’re the one who completes these words. I wrote this book in order to please myself and to give you the psycho-ride of your life. You don’t have to love B-movies to enjoy this book, but you do have to prepare yourself for buckets of gore and other fluids that don’t come out easy. Maybe there are layers here that cannot be conveyed through the movie medium, subtle layers that only books can achieve, slices of mondo madness that will linger years after you finish this book. Or, maybe you’ll want to wash your hands after giving this story a dip, wipe off all that gore. 
 
I am seriously grateful for your support and hope you spend a few afternoons losing yourself in this fantasy world. Thank you for helping an unknown indie author make his way through the trenches. And always, feel free to reach out and drop a line. Let’s grind.

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Goblins: An Essay on Troll 2

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I am in the middle of a lyric essay project abusing various “B” and exploitation films, horror and science-fiction gems under lyric essay umbrellas to make new meaning, to make more enormous the possibility of what these films could mean, of what they do mean to me.

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A film that stuck with me for years and years since seeing it for the first time on Cinemax as a young boy is the Claudio Fragasso (and Joe D’Amato) masterpiece, Troll 2. I even bought a copy of the script from one of the actors. I have it here now, don’t even want to read it for fear of being swallowed by its mysteries.

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Today, I revised a flash lyric essay on Troll 2 (to potentially be included in this horror lyric essay project), posted it to Shredded Maps. If you are a fan of the film or someone interested in the possibilities of synopsis-design, creative (re)/(mis)interpretation of film, how film blends with/influences memory, then please enjoy my lyric essay, GOBLINS:

I am at the house—again—to ignore a bag of bread, shell casings; guests stare, gnaw the perimeter like trees that get tangled in your hair when I bring you cake. You are hungry, tossing potato sacks down stairs. Let us sit at the table and wonder, we can conjure how to stop time. Rum raisin is not my prayer. You would know this if you didn’t fall asleep on street corners or use your belt and stave hunger, stay the father. I once saw my grandfather come out of the mirror. We built molotov cocktails in the bedroom and set priests on fire—the driveway is where goblins burn. Humans burn. Priests burn. We know how young men run through forests and drink milk, become branches or paste for maidens to eat. We hobble around the camper. I’ve brought popcorn and corn cobs for us to suck until we explode in gorilla suits with pink star-trails and organ flare. It’s not enough—melt. It’s not enough—save my mother from eating an apple. I’ve taken showers in green, hid under covers and shoo away teen boys who feign love for girls who take trips in vans to Nilbog. My grandfather is an angel. Goblins don’t exist. Repeat. This is not your kingdom of shadows. This is Provost in hell. We are a modern family: the van, sunlight, clover leaves and pianos lure mouths open—this is about not eating food. And if we speak, we shut our eyes to hear. And if we scream hard enough, our family just might sprout magic windows and stones of love. Press your hand against the stone. Press your hand against my heart of ham. Feel blood run. I’m made of sap, leaking son. 

*

Other works in this series:

Things

The Maze

The Cabin of Your Lace Slasher

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On Fire

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She says four cars burned last night–“you can’t imagine the front, there is nothing here”–and I can’t help think of my mother’s leg leaping on fire, how orange spreads up ravine slopes when the air is dry and no one is at home to douse it with water.

*

He walks me through the five floors of the office complex. We are in Shinjuku. He has been instructed to show me all the fire exits and a rope ladder bundled that will extend to the street. I wonder if I would be the last to leave the scorch. But he speaks in a different language and I only understand the word “fire,” so I smile at being young and we walk to the roof and stare at the city for hours.

*

I’m checking crime reports for a city I might move to in America. When I hover my mouse over the icon of where a crime took place, it reads, “arson.” Another hover and it seems someone is starting fires in trashcans, parks, lighting houses on fire. I wonder if someone was sleeping in the house that burned or if they had a ladder, but it does not say. Maybe no one was home. Maybe they were asleep.

*

I want my child to sit in front of a fire, but not too close to be burned by fire. I want my child to see a bonfire, to hear crackles and simmers or even to throw a log on the fire so it burns longer–so it burns away the dark. We will sit there, just sit and be fire-watchers. But I don’t want to think of how fires destroy buildings or legs or faces or rooms without escape ladders.

*

He orders a microbrew and I order a Coke, because today I am driving and the wind has picked up. We are at a bar in a mall. There are booths to my left and one young man is covering his mouth, looking away. He is not eating the food that has been served to him. A man next to us is talking about the sea and about going to sea, working the sea and how many books he reads before he sleeps below deck in foreign lands drifting, afloat. I see why the young man is not eating his food. Across from him, his friend or a relative, another young man, has had his face almost completely burned off, melted, leaving but a fleshy pink sheen to where a nose or a forehead or a mouth should be. His whole face is a blur of smeared skin.

*

“If it wasn’t for the old man,” she tells me, “all the cars would have burned and maybe even the apartment building, too.” The old man, I think, the one who watches over the cars, who helps us park when the lot is full, who finds a space or makes a space for all the cars to park. He must have a family, too or knows how it feels to watch things burn.

*

But we are not prepared when fire happens and how could we be? Should a life be built around the possibility of what could happen and how should we keep these things in mind when in the end everything burns?

*

My child is growing and her warm hands hold mine tight. She has a strong grasp. And in my mind I am back in Shinjuku at the office when a fire hits. She is there, too, but although she is the youngest, she does not have to wait until the end to climb down the rope ladder, because ladders like this one were made for her. Yes, there is a ladder that will carry her safely to the ground and I will make sure that ladder does not break, even it means dipping my face in the flames or stamping out brush as it burns from orange down to black. I will be water. My arms must be water for her.

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Lia Purpura: “the form is a necessity of thought.”

Split Pink

Although this article of notes on the lyric essay is from 2011, I am only now just discovering it and find this particular passage most engaging and illuminating–helpful in the craft of composition:

This is Not a Lyric Essay (Robert Root, read by Harvey) The lyric essay might be considered as a kind of blurting of words: unplanned, spontaneous, first and final draft, charged. It has a kind of inadvertence. The lyric can be felt in the blood. Place is a lyric essay. Deborah Tall said of the lyric it partakes of the essay in its weight, in its desire to engage with facts, in its passion. The form is simultaneously essay and poem and music; attends language with precision and rigor but with a different vision from poetry about what it might achieve. The lyric is an entity in itself; embodies a sense of wholeness; is an essence; is not decorative. As Lia Purpura says: the form is a necessity of thought.

via AWP Nonfiction Cheat Sheet: Friday Afternoon.

Specific phrases that I admire are:

1. “The lyric can be felt in the blood.”

2. “…embodies a sense of wholeness; is an essence; is not decorative.”

3. “As Lia Purpura says: the form is a necessity of thought.”

I have read certain essays, felt them on a level below the intellect, a level that pierced the skin or stayed stuck on the skin, skin sticky with how the essay just wouldn’t fade after reading.

Certain works, too, shine with a wholeness and a brevity, a sheen that bubbles up around them, a lasting power that incites more questions than answers. Textual power via ambiguity, images, fragments, the slice of a thought or a thought too wide and fragmented, that it must be cut to lend more power to the content it is expressing.

“…the form is a necessity of thought.” By this, is she suggesting that the form crafts the thought or that the thought crafts the form? How do different forms influence or meld the way a thought’s meaning is attributed? Or, is this merely a call out from the traditional five paragraph essay of composition textbooks, a call to experiment with how, for instance, a personal narrative shifts and shatters under varying forms?

On the Margin of Our Graspable Self: Epigrams and Aphorisms

It is possible, that the gust of a new life bursts into your zone of the expected, thus tearing all of your fragmentary accomplishments to bits.

At home, too long, with words and words, piling up like some kind of garbage heap – yet, you throw yourself all too willingly into the heap, hoping to irk out some kind of angle, some kind of chirping opinion.

To those on the periphery, to those whose step-by-step leads them to trip over their own tail and lie down in early hours on a painful pillow.

Waking up and opening the window to the sounds of the familiar. Having put oneself in this place, it is hard to shout obscenities at anyone but one’s yesterday-self.

The silence of a room can draw us near to the decisions that we have made: the mistakes of yesterday, the hopes and how they transpired – how we have edited our choices.

Where has my golden strength gone at this hour of the day? To what pleasure do I owe the arrival of this new friend: confusion.

Seeing past this moment, we can see what we can see. But, what of what we can’t see? How will that affect us?

A remainder of those whose words we read, trickle down inside us, to that invisible area on the margin of our graspable self.

…….

Mumei Yume (Jeff Jefferson)

The following piece was crafted and executed by Jeff Jefferson. He is our first “guest blogger.” Please welcome him to the stage.

The title of the piece is Japanese, but you’re not likely to hear it in conversation. No one speaks of unnameable dreams these days. Special Dental Team wrote a song about it and Jeff Jefferson used that song as a guiding light, as a beacon, as a sword.

Mumei Yume
by Jeff Jefferson

The cowboy won’t return.

He never brought growth without gnashing teeth and that pre-thrash moment when the neck hears warm breath about to end. Energies unlike wide trees in the forest’s plain of here and here and here, in which each are ordered not like soldier gravestones, but still ordered, don’t ignore but rather will always lack awareness of not being surrounded by tiny nibbling beasts, each the same cloned destructive suckling mouth at the stalk and the base. Grassblades do not seedle because degenerative bacteria green like the pusgreen around them and promise growth like a cold steel barrel against forehead skin.

He won’t return to this existence that’s nothing like time standing so still that it’s gone, in which a lifetime never deliberates within an instant. Quality wasn’t equal to quantity in that. Infinite regression did not analyze exponential complexity. These never existed, so he will never regress to a place among their ranks, nothing like the way a bullfrog won’t regress to her tadpole lifestyle.

He strolls through trees and mosquitoes with a huge fly buzzing and biting after him. He expects meditation to trance him away from time and death’s urgency into a mental conception of his life before it. He meditates daily, transforming his psyche to a mountain, cliff, or its trees, feeling vast, even when wind shrieks sometimes. He makes it his tool, like a teleporter.

He sits on a folded blanket with stinking cowboy hat and works toward meditation. Flies still buzz at his sweat, so swatting them becomes a calm. The sun sinks, a conception outside those nonexistent non-spirits preceding life that never threatened living material to further existence. The cowboy feels superior spiritual awareness to everyone on earth, and carries this importance with him. His brain and dreams fill with images of spirits everywhere at day: spiderlike mammals that nibble beaks at toes and roots, threatening “live or die.” He remembers himself one of them, and misses it.

Unsleeping, he calls meditation. He has no Eastern books. He’d been waiting for sleep when he found it, wired awake just after sundown and bright stars, and closed eyes with nothing in his brain. His torso sank into the dry dirt like down into the crust and its massive shelves that move the earth, gaining everything until tentative stick limbs pecked a mount up his leg. He leapt screaming at the scorpion and himself. He crushed it. He learned to practice and repeat, calming himself spiritually. When he rides, he hovers steady just above himself. He thinks he’s alone and unlike anyone, and stays alone. He’d had visions of forests that recurred, so rode here and left that ride outside. He’s sure of his existence before life.

Mosquitoes and leaves brushing like spiders tracking their tiny legs along them fail the cowboy’s meditation. As he quits, a body rushes through distant brush, and before he spots it, the creature barks alien chills through the air. The cowboy knows deer, but never heard this bark. It rattles violence through his brain, screaming with tinny reverberation like through a washboard megaphone. Archaic sonar. He jumps, and it’s dark, and the deer crows again. They stare at each other until the deer bounds away. The cowboy shivers alone like a motorhum in the dark.

Prelife spirits didn’t threaten that deer. It might’ve been a bobcat. Everything’s quiet. There’s nothing around: nothing moaning and silent, yearning for what’s come before, promising sleep, rest, and its motionless quiet. There’s nothing brushing bony fingers like anemonae along his shoulder, just as cold breath did not hush the deer to crow. The cowboy grabs his blanket and tries to return.

Nothing mattered, before, other than finding the spot. He hiked deep inside with daydreams for his divining rod, landing at a tree that looked right. This “right” was every bit as random as the word. Now he wants to escape. He’d lost his direction in this search, so rushes “back.” West seems right, so he follows after set sun.

Philosophies nothing like ghosts don’t haunt the woods, regretting their eternal stillness and quiet with palpable mourning that pulls the cowboy with suction back inside. He doesn’t fight anything as he leads himself with hunting knife; he brushes cobwebs away with it, not eyes everywhere that peel through skin to a cowardly skeleton. Nothing flashes the cowboy’s dry bones to his brain, only himself. Nothing is hunting him, especially not a bobcat. Nor forces that aren’t.

His horse waits for him, nibbling grass, tied up with the cowboy’s possessions. They’re lost from him. He won’t give up looking for them because nonexistent energies couldn’t threaten bears with starvation to hunt in this darkness.

The cowboy hears trainwhistles somewhere, and their dissonance cuts notes in half. He runs where it’s going and backtracks when brush blocks him off. He’s too slow. He can hear the train’s bulky body chugging through its tunnel, but he misses it.

Railway slats run too short or too long for his stride, so he gallops south like he’s gumpy and lanky. There’s a wide path, free from trees, around the tracks, and that’s what he takes out of the woods. The sun rises soon after. He starves all day for his horse and supplies, but they’re gone from where he tied them. He rests there until next morning, hoping the horse will return, but remains alone.

Guns would help. He wants them. He can’t kill shit with a hunting knife, but he marches through the plains. There’s nothing here remotely like ghosts threatening death, teasing him with the threat to live or die. These plains are familiar.

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Encroach (1-3)

1.
Stagger, sway only into the last haul.
Jagged feet of my own that realize
such a haunting dread of displacement.
The self subsumed by currents, by the Bleak.
A path through the dense green thickness
and now an opening with branches like tendrils
tendons tickling scraping the face gently.
This, the first limping leg of the journey.

2.
And then, a gap, the pouring mist
comforting and painful, swaying between the two
Must seek some shelter, but the green now overgrown
sticks the side with a glint of anticipation.
The first to get soiled are the feet, damp feet, earthy.
At last, the residence in its wholeness, yet the front visible
wet wood alive absorbing the pouring mist.

3.
Laughter from the inside of the mouth (or is it a cry).
It is difficult to decipher.
The coded speech, the crackling glimmer of a smile, breaking and forming.
He stumbles now, bumping into things and trees overwhelmed by the forgotten Bleak.
Reels akimbo and slips into the overgrowth, its green mushiness comforts him.
But, he has yet to reach the house, is it a house? Stands. Limps.
This time it is his right leg, no knee, which cracks whenever he steps, so he drags.
The door is close and the porch, of course, screeches as he applies pressure.
Wet foot cracking knee slip and he recklessly smacks the wooden floor,
a tooth loose upon impact.
The door, a handle? No handle, of course it is an extension of the wall. Mirages appear
from time to time, this time now a door and then a porch. Still, this must be the second
leg of the journey, the limping creaking snapping whining journey.
He manages up a bit, a wheeze. His long gray hair frazzled now, matted oddly damp.
This is the rain soaked paradise, a house, the house
he knows and has seen this residence. Turning head and
glancing slowly back, a slight prickling pain in his side sees
the yard, the overgrown green and across the wet bleak firmament,
another residence, sparkling wood damp…all that dampness.