1. Fifty lines and pfft! we're done.
2. The poem that kills the brute and skins the peach.
3. Liquid light – how do I explain this? – it follows my hand across the curve of Kansas, aloft along the Falcon's rusty chassis – and my thoughts, this peyote I took, is, it's, it's the taste of brine in my brain, and a spiky, bruised, electric cactus wombs itself around one hot, bright contrail, from a living hand, from MY hand, man.
4. I mean, so what?
5. I am in here, and you are wise to believe me.
6. He wanted to be the boy who would not beat his dog.
7. How I do it, the lies it requires, and the lies I love to tell.
8. I still see what she wore when she started school, those rainbow-finger gloves, and the wet, green leaf, stuck on her bare leg.
9. She leans against the pillar, smoking, and feels nothing but contempt for his pretense, his professional serenity, his hippie guile, his white-boy dreads, his ecstatic sufi-do.
10. I loved, then hated, those training wheels, squeaking and scraping on the weedy macadam.
11. My best work yet is a nutty, sizzling blur of show-offy phrases and gimcrack mystery, obscuring torn skin and cracked pinlights.
12. Gone, and she leaves behind a drift of burnt paper.
13. I forgot about her cancer.
14. Nothing can be known without a predicate, but nothingness can never be known; well, not through and through, anyway, not completely.
15. Born into the stench of Christmas perfume and rancid meat.
16. Scalded – yeah, that describes it, just red and hot and peeling and ruined.
17. With every word I take you the wrong way, away from the truth, and yet you stain my page with Cheetos and tears.
18. He was doomed from the start: bright as a cop's headlight, lost as baby's first bowl.
19. In 1954 I was just an idea, and that's a fact.
20. Reporters wrote and talked and made us care, and we all felt like luck was governable by earnest feeling – but it didn't matter, the baby died anyway.
21. The poem that finally makes my rep will be a crack-up at the edge of the paved and orderly world; it will striate and heartstab, bind and crinkle, strap and kinker, in my cicero'd, dank, and glitterous woo-wee voice.
22. Taper, burnish, dais, pancake, torpor, strewn, Caledonia, air pocket, and stipple –but not limn.
23. A day of missing keys, bits of tooth swallowed with a teaspoon of blue rinse, and then a bent fender.
24. Broadcloth covers a rapier.
25. Brainiac my ass, he let his life go to shit.
26. They carried my Dad across the creek, his braced and lifeless leg nodding along, senseless of sweat.
27. We picnic on Krakatoa, and mistake sulfur for sunrise.
28. Two is too many, one is no wonder, but nothing is good.
29. Not this one.
30. But this one, o skin of my skin, this one: the one that reveals the unruly and awkward and awful we that we are, we truly are.
31. Why do you require skeins of story, need so bad to see a hero beaten, then redeemed?
32. Reel is what we do, then we thread it up and run it again.
33. If it isn't gen-u-ine ukelele love, then forget it.
34. My first spin, at twelve, was the carnival tilt-a-whirl – and I was so scared, I lost all hope and dignity, crying for it to stop, in front of everyone, her included.
35. Imagine if toes could curve and hold like fingers – would they still feel stiff and alien? would we have companions living in millisecond lag time, a quasi-independent set of entities at our command, twin semi-sentient soles, a pair of foreign feet – would we never feel alone?
36. How sad he is, the bottler in Spain, his factory swallowing a river of used, broken, and faulty bottles every day, a torrent of glass treated rough but delicately stripped of debris, only to end up a cascade of clear shards in a crunchy blizzard of silica dust, to descend into the purifying furnace below.
37. I make an art of discontinuous.
38. Life is a rollover, a click, and sooner or later an unexpected quit.
39. Ripping yarns, and now there are pieces everywhere.
40. I mean, REALLY: so what?
41. I try again: I move a molten hand, and make a pale pink trail, then a magenta glow-worm, against the pure prairie sundown on I-70, against the pale wash of aqua green along the horizon.
42. He waited, antsy as all get out, waited for her to finish washing, to shake her fingers dry.
43. The corporeal are polysyllabic, but the dead know naught but vowels.
44. Stare at stupid and it bares a tooth, stare at smart and it turns the page.
45. Ink, sacred and ordinary, is rare earth in slow, thick water, and dry before we finish the thought.
46. Camp with me by the sea, and sleep on battered sand.
47. Some lines pop like popcorn.
48. We live in the ruin of ever after.
49. I tell a secret story in everything I attempt; a story, constant reader, you need not understand, or track, so long as it is true.
50. All writers are liars.