If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Friday, February 27, 2015

Donal Mahoney: In the Wake of Technology

Forty years ago, David Germaine had been an editor with a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in a large city. After that, he had worked at many smaller papers in smaller cities because if one wanted to work for a newspaper, one had to go where the work was. And David loved newspapers.

As computers took over the newspaper business, reporters still wrote but often it was some new software that “edited” their copy, checking for spelling and grammatical mistakes but not always with accuracy. At some papers not yet fully transitioned to computers, human editors were still needed. More and more, however, as the software continued to improve, editors in cities, towns and villages grew fewer in number. And mistakes in newspapers became greater in number. 

David is now retired and living on a small farm, "far from the madding crowd," as the title of a novel by Thomas Hardy once put it. He was surprised, then, when he received an email from a publisher whose books he had arranged reviews for over the years at different papers. Once again, the publisher was seeking publicity for a new book. This time, he wanted to know if David could get in touch with some of his old friends at that Pulitzer Prize-winning paper to see if someone would review his book and generate some potentially profitable publicity. As with newspapers, book publishers, those still in the business, exist to make a profit. 

David thought about how long ago he had worked at that paper and he wondered about the people he knew there. He hadn’t heard from any of them in years. So he turned to the Internet to see if he could find some of them. What he found made his response to the book publisher easy to write in some respects but not so easy in others. 

“Mark, I’m afraid the book editor I worked with at that paper has been dead for years. In fact, an Internet search indicates the movie critic, television critic, features editor and Sunday magazine editor are dead as well. 

"The editor-in-chief, however, is still alive. I made a few phone calls and found that he is on a respirator in a nursing home in New York and will move into hospice soon. He always hired the best young people he could find and then worked them to death until they left for a better or lesser position. He was a brilliant editor but a miserable human being. Still, I’m sorry to see him go.

“I thought maybe the paper’s gossip columnist could help but he’s passed away too. He was hit by a truck while crossing an intersection. It’s true he ruined many a reputation and was mourned by few. There was no funeral according to the news item I found. His wife had him cremated. But he’s still thought of by many as the best gossip columnist ever to work that vile beat.

"Everyone else on that paper, I suspect, is dead as well or at best retired. Except for me out here in the country and the editor-in-chief on the respirator, I don’t know of another survivor from that staff. It’s still amazing how many Pulitzers they won.

"For some reason, I’m still in pretty good health, free of stents and joint replacements, perhaps because I quit drinking and smoking in 1959. That was the day I married a woman who bore five children in a little more than six years. She’s dead now too. She had a stroke in the kitchen making waffles two days into her retirement. She never got up. I saw her arm move on the floor but she was dead by the time the paramedics arrived. It’s just me in this big farmhouse now but I’m pretty good with a microwave. How did we live without microwaves in the old days, another miracle of technology?

“Although I’d love to help with the book, you can see I’m not currently in the swim of things at any paper. And as you know, it’s not a good time for newspapers. Many of them have died and others are on a respirator. People get their news on the Internet now or on television although some folks buy a paper just to read the funnies, obits and sports scores.

“If anyone I worked with back then is still in that newsroom, I’m afraid it’s because co-workers haven’t caught the stench yet or found the dust.

"I wish you the best with the book. In the attachment you sent, I can see that it underscores the role euthanasia now plays in end-of-life care. In the newspaper industry, there’s no need for euthanasia. Papers are dying regularly as a result of technology while the lives of people are sometimes saved by it. Even though I subscribe to the one newspaper still published in our area, I go online first thing in the morning to check the obituaries and sports scores. But I never did read the funnies.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

John Pursch: Miss Rhoda Dendrite

“I feel a tarantula of sartorial toroidal backplane
Beauregardial conclave contamination girth-wide
propeller notions crawlin’ up muh backside
et this very momentous hocked-up caisson,”
mumbled Roto Stellar Plebeian Monocle Head,
the Second Pearl of Dirty Sandwich Skylight
Seashore Pasture-Blaster Quotient Filth,
alias Forthright Frankfurter the Unknown Goblet-Spewin’
Canned Testicle Tumbler From Bicuspid Salad Slouch Control.

“Whale, my simian approximation ova
hand-crampin’ crampon stew stoolie pageant
runner-up from East Side lechery’s societal embargo,”
began his sun-kissed sidekick,
Miss Rhoda Dendrite Hand-Tendon Calling Saucepan
Deliciosa en Triplicate per Furry Hound Ferocity
(told separately to flashy underarm decortication
mist enforcers from healthy huffing sway
hosiery haunts clear acrostic the floozy’s
frozen Hindlegian Hannibal Quartet
of Quicksand Island Onset Sheen).

Bet before she could even squirm out
an altered whirl of ordinary concocted syllables,
why thet thar Second Pearl of Hamwich
he chest bolloxed his fat yap clean open
and opined at tweed the spice of soundly
graven adversarial traduction:

“Queued a lewd lead-in
if I does spay so meshelf,
heaven fur such a wobbly
wand wieldin’ beautician has yerself
from lonely isthmus carrion kits
in deepest pie land tractor ruts,
whad bean owned and solid sold
so mangy times to turd party semblances
of actuarial merchant magazine salesmen
on chunky vomit junkets from Nude Hexagain
stakeout border parole confabulation trysts.”

Rhoda tugged her happy popcorn tourney t-shirt,
courtesy of curtseyed biplane miscreants
in leering Cheerio outfits
(wad with skirts clear up to their
so-balled navel engagements
in entrecotes fer fuzzy vestibular henchmen
wrench socket routines gone crampy
this dime-droppin’ time o’ the slippery old
toothless mouth of Trenchfoot March);

well, she dud indeed shabbily grab
the hopalong copper tune’s itsy bitsy flashpoint’s
iterative gerrymandered periscope ground
to say her hairpiece afore randy ole Rotating Frankfurter
could fart up another blast o’ heated peanut heresy,
but wad weed this adhering gushy preamble
tokin’ up so much oven smoke,
well I just overwrote her familial diatribe
strayed into its own redaction mythos byproduct!

Wade, wade, canoe ya nose that jest wooden be fair,
Ferris, or even felicitous, of antsy heft sway
descending author (latter loan spittle bowl me)
so here comes Rhoda ‘round the human cartwheel
of fortunate imbibement circumstellar
Punic brothel wax retardant
smothering bottle hamster tongue…

and hair’s wad she had to slay:

“Firstly, lemme tank hallow the tropes who fought
so bravely at the Battle of Scuttlebutt Bridge last night;
heavenly swan o’ ewe deserves a metallic udder
of condemnation and savory mystical
counterparts to clover fer your assets
in the hairy after partisan heifer warfare
(known farcically and wide-eyed as the
Glorious Cavalcade of Ascending Doughboy Holes).”

Here she paused to truncate
each and heavy ivory-collared short arm,
wad amounted to over a thousand headless corsets
and bloomin’ corsages of anything but bloodless
strumpet soup tureens, wet with spurtin’ sallow pustules
flowin’ ground the cock crow’s towering sin fer nose guards,
cantaloupes, and miraculously whipped
shaving crematoria vacuums.

Ceremony thus completed,
she canned her retinue and curried comely on:
“Snow whar wuz I? Whoa yeah: puddin’ that
Goblet-Spewin’ Testicular Tumbleweed
name o’ Roto Frankfurter the Second
Pearl of Sandy Hamwich
in his proverbial placemat burial clown!
Howitzer coulda hand one sever forget-me-snot
wince they gut such a juicy target inner sleight o’
ninety-nine tracer bullet bonanza blunt?”

At this admittedly long-drawn
and quarterly bastardized sled ride
of a sledgehammered lead-in,
Frankfurter couldn’t help but blanche,
quail, crap his boots, ooze the rankest
postprandial demitasse of heavyweight insipidity
known to mangy breasts from hair
to Chatty Mandarin Duplicity’s Two-Bitten
and Distraught Conquered District
(Flea to Bituminous Cuckoldry).

Bet croppin’ his hairline
black to the stunned saga
wooden-a-shaved him from
the compounding garter-foundling
(nod to menschen fondling)
tat war crumblin’ his whey.

And so good Rhoda,
Miss Dendritic Overshoe herself,
in truly dewy dime-droppin’
drag-crazin’ beer-quakin’ frenzy,
filially delivered whad can homely be culled the cure de crass,
mire than sham biologically loppin’ luft the swollen head,
green-sleevin’ that pure solid Frankfurter
oozin’ moustache mustard, mumbly-Peggity moutardant
sand feathered featurettes of sighing gland solipsism
from pier to shinnying wharf rat riot gear
in cheesy cold townhome Cleaverland,
bakin’ the eyeballs clean outa Cistern Butter Frack-along’s
snowy grifter populace entrainment camps,
‘cross burbled wire in wizened tertiary sailor nuts,
flossed to geese retainer continental scum tracts
and foul-weird thrivers on repast immortality
deduction fruit encampment drool.

John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in many literary journals. A collection of his poetry, Intunesia, is available in paperback at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/whiteskybooks. His pi-related experimental lit-rap video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l33aUs7obVc. He’s @johnpursch on Twitter and john.pursch on Facebook.

Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


As of June 25, 2015, The Bactrian Room is closed to submissions.


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