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Gene's photos 10-3-13 008Welcome to my writing blog. Here you will find my latest demented stuff as well as books, short stories, essays, and poems written and published over the past forty years. Please note that all material is        © Gene Twaronite and The Twaronite Zone. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

Lust and Dust in the Afternoon

The depths of depravity to which a human male can sink when left to his own devices are bottomless.

From the moment I saw the ad for the robotic vacuum cleaner, I knew I must have her.  When the package finally arrived, I tore it open and gently slipped her out of the styrofoam. I plugged in the battery charger and waited. Then I turned her on and watched as she moved onto the wood floor, gingerly testing the boundaries of her new home. She glided across the room like a goddess until she bumped straight into the wall. Alarmed, I wanted to go to her. But she quickly recovered and corrected herself, moving along the wall as if she had known it was there all the time. I laughed as she bounced off a table leg and performed her duties. Then I took her upstairs to the bedroom and let her go on the soft carpeting. As she moved into the hallway toward the stairs, my heart was in my throat. But at the last moment she paused, seeming to sense the danger that lay ahead.  Then she turned and came back toward me. When she nudged against my leg with her gentle hum I thought I would die. I turned her off and took a cold shower.

Maybe it was the little French maid outfit I bought for her that finally put me over the top. I got it from a web site that sold clothing and gadgets for robotic vacuum cleaners. At the time it seemed harmless. That’s the way it starts. One minute you’re just playing around, watching your little maid going through maneuvers, the next thing you know you’re booking a room for the weekend.

In the end it wasn’t my self-loathing that finally made me do the right thing. It was a Star Trek Next Generation episode, the one in which the rights of Data, a sentient android, are on trial. Once we construct such beings, are we not making a whole race of slaves to do our dirty work for us? That’s when it hit me. My little vacuum cleaner was more than a device. She was a sentient being, full of hopes and desires of her own.

Of course, my discovery that the little ungrateful wench didn’t exactly share my hopes and desires may have also had something to do with it. In fact, she didn’t want anything to do with me. Whether it was her “dirt-sensing technology” or simply a matter of personal taste I cannot say. But when she found out what I really wanted, she acted like she didn’t know me, treating me like just another piece of furniture. So, one day, I just opened the door and sent her on her way. I watched as she bumped and zigzagged down the sidewalk until she was out of sight.

I hope she is happy, somewhere, in her new life.

(Author’s Note: I have always loved this little story of mine, first published in Fast Forward:The Mix Tape. A collection of flash fiction, Volume 3, 2010. One can only wonder what depths of depravity await human males in the future.)

A Blank Page

If I put a word here, say
for instance, extravagance,
how would that look? Or
if I gave it a whole line
extravagance
like something that fills
the sad space in your life
by pumping itself up
to seem important.

What if I put in a long pause….?
not because I need to,
but to make you stop and listen
for whatever comes next as if
the words held sacred truth.

What about all that space
along either side of this page?
I could
pull it in
like so
or take it all the way out to the farthest reaches of space
just because it is there and I can.

Does it matter what I say here or how?
Do words depend on me to give them life
or do they possess lives of their own?
Do they rise and go to work each day,
and come home again to sleep at night?
Do they aspire to perform great things,
to come together with other words
in poems and speeches for the ages?

Maybe in the meantime I should
give them something to do,
some little task around this page
to make them feel useful.

And if I don’t write something
to fill this void today,
would it be a tragedy
if I left it empty?

1st Prize Winner of Arizona State Poetry Society 2016 Legacy Award. First Published in Sandcutters 2016  http://azpoetry.webs.com/2016-annual-contest-info

All That Was Needed

All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory.
~George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Keep telling yourself
it never happened
wage relentless
assault on all
evidence to
the contrary
vanquish doubt
as you double down
on the message
memorize
then swallow
fix it firmly
like a favorite song
in the jukebox memory
of your hippocampus
play it again and again
as you reimagine the past.

First published In Tipton Poetry Journal Summer 2017 (see page 54)

 

The Stuff of Poetry

Give them circles of Hell
the stench of battlefields
and young lives lost
love’s passionate embrace
a young mother’s grief
at her stillborn child
the vanity and futility
of all endeavor
despair that falls
like acid rain
doubt and faith
the ways we meet death
and off they go
writing verse that matters.

But give them something
like a hangnail
or the place you
always stub your toe
the fit of your new sneakers
that little lift you get
when your favorite tune
plays on the radio
or the cute way
you still pull in your gut
when a young girl passes by
the quiet sigh you make
every morning
for no particular reason …
and their voices go mute
as if there’s nothing
sacred or profound
no truth or beauty
in life’s detritus.

First published in Wilderness House Literary Review Summer 2017. Read this and two other poems here  http://www.whlreview.com/no-12.2/poetry/GeneTwaronite.pdf

After Hearing the Young Black Poet

AFTER HEARING THE YOUNG BLACK POET

speak, my first reactions were
sadness, rage, then wonder
at our different worlds—
he writes of the bullet
he knows has his name on it
while I write—again—of my
imminent decrepitude,
he writes of all the times
he was stopped and frisked
while I write of indignities
suffered at airport security,
he writes of how his
great-great-great grandfather
was sold and branded like cattle
while I write of how my
Lithuanian grandfather’s name
got butchered at Ellis Island
he writes of how it felt
to watch the first Black president
compared to a monkey
while I write of how
my big ears always turned red
whenever kids laughed at them,
he writes of the pain
that won’t go away after
seeing his son killed because
a policeman felt threatened
while I write of the day
a policeman’s wife shot her husband
dead in the bedroom above us
and I felt sad for my poor dad
cleaning bits of brain off the walls,
he writes knowing that for some
he will always be less of a man
while I write whole and secure.
We explore the separate
flows of our lives, holding
them back against time,
diving for words
in quiet pools of reflection,
but it’s a wonder
his dam doesn’t burst.

First published in Ginosko Literary Journal Issue #19 (see page 331). Read this and four other poems here Ginosko Literary Journal Issue 19

Trash Picker on Mars Review

My little book of poems has picked up another review, this time by my local newspaper.

TRASH PICKER ON MARS

By Gene Twaronite (Kelsay Books, $14)

Reviewed by Christine Wald-Hopkins for Arizona Daily Star

This collection of poems, which came out last year, is an expression of the concrete, the contemporary, and—see the title—the imaginative unlikely. Two-thirds of the thirty-two poems previously published elsewhere, “Trash Picker on Mars” is Gene Twaronite’s first book of poems. Covering such subjects as a porn-peddling bus station, a sleeping woman in a subway car, a container store, the death of a mourning dove, the poems reflect upon gritty, working class life in modern American society and the nature of life itself.   AZ daily star/southern arizona authors

An Endless Afternoon of Now

My poem “An Endless Afternoon of Now” was just published in the latest issue of Tipton Poetry Journal. For much of the past year, I have been reading all the novels of John Steinbeck and came across a remarkable line from his last novel The Winter of Our Discontent that seemed to cry out for a poetic response. So here’s my poem.

AN ENDLESS AFTERNOON OF NOW

It wouldn’t be bad to be that way, suspended in time—not bad at all, an endless afternoon of now.
 ~John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

To enter you must first
choose a now—sitting
on a bench with your
first love and the touch
of her knee against yours
or the way you watched
him through the window
as the train pulled slowly
away from the station—
think of Hopper’s
Josephine standing
naked to the dunes,
a cigarette dangling
from her fingers,
and you get the idea.
Make it something for
the ages, something
that looks good on the wall.

First published in Tipton Poetry Journal Issue #33 (see page 30)

 

 

 

 

This is Your Brain on Poetry

When I first read this article, I couldn’t help but think of that old TV public service announcement “This is your brain on drugs.” While poems don’t fry our brains, there’s something peculiar going on inside our heads when we read them, infecting us, in the words of Nabokov, with  “the telltale tingle between the shoulder blades.” 

Wish I could find a picture of what your brain actually looks like on poetry. Meanwhile, read more to see what science tells us. this-is-what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-read-poetry

Letter from the Grave

Just had a new poem published in the latest Starline, the official journal of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.

Just like him to wait till now—
always the procrastinator
promising to write but
never getting around to it.
I can barely read the words,
scrawled like drunken
worms across the page.
And look at that stationery,
all crumpled and rotted
like he didn’t give a damn.
But what really ticks me off
is the postage due.