Monday, August 18, 2003


The two little stories are from 1978 or so. The poem is from 1982.

The Pupa

The discarded pupa of a former caterpillar retains its consciousness and watches the newly-hatched butterfly floating off. Ugly shade of gold, thinks the rotting shred of membrane.


Albert and I were committed to the task of pronouncing every possible word within the range of the human larynx. Already we were up to three syllables.

"Sneeleeblit," he said calmly, and transcribed it immediately.

"Narhardar," I enunciated.

"Chunflocklick," said Albert, sharply accenting the last syllable for some reason.

"Charkarlar," I said, and Albert smiled at me in acknowledgement of the forming pattern. "Zarparvar," he said.

"Parwarlar," I said.

"Sharblarstar," he said.






"Cheebskuntwig," he said, breaking the pattern. He always liked to be first in doing that. So did I.

"Shakflitskein," I said.

Then he said: "Lakbrotstut."

My mouth opened, and dried. I felt a surge of adrenalin in my chest. I sprung forward, reached back, and slapped him across the face. My hands trembled. He began to laugh evilly.

Now we are speeding through all the possible words. I am looking for a word that will have that effect on him, and Albert is looking for another one that will have that effect on me. I look him in the eye and pronounce every word clearly. I want to hurt him as badly as he wants to hurt me. Why else would we have begun the experiment?


When all pain is gone from the world,
far in the future,
someone will begin
to market the world's newest
synthetic Pain.

Pain will come in different sizes
and two varieties:
Physical, and Emotional.
It will be eaten.
(Its taste will be minty,
and not unpleasant. Other flavors
are sure to follow.)

Pain will come in bar form
with the brand-name imprinted
as on soap. Pain will be
uncolored white,
except for children's doses
(which will feature
smiling cartoon animals).
Pain will be wrapped
in whatever they use for paper then.
On every bar
will be featured
one prominent word:

There will be Pain
in every household.
People will ask,
How did we ever live without it?
No one will be able to tell them.

New varieties
of emotional Pain
will be introduced:
Anxiety. Depression.
And also physical:
Migraines, Arthritis, and
(by prescription only)

Some will start
taking other products
to counteract the Pain.
Some will not.
They will sit there,
chewing on Agony Appetizers,
feeling nostalgic.

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