When “Catalina Fight Song” Sticks in Your Head

pushing petals to the weekend

keep something sweet and free

pushing petals for the weekend

so you can smile at me

 

die every minute

don’t discuss peace

they’re high in the bathroom

their hope is out of reach

 

pushing petals for the weekend

so you can fly with me

I’m dying in the evening

sweating in summer heat

 

pushing petals to the weekend

Gonna get our kicks for free

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Been A While by Ian Gordon Galbraith

Here’s a slice of my life:

There’s a super moon tonight with an eclipse and I’m hoping we can see it but I love you enough to hold you close and then also to let you go.  I don’t pimp a butterfly, you know?  There is so much to write about.  the junkers next door who gave the dog urn that you use as an elegant ash tray even though it usually stands proudly on your desk like some grim chalice of unknown power.  There is the time we found the dog and we almost adopted him but his mother came and took him away.  Was that symbolic>  I hope not.  I like you.  You make me nervous.  It’s the best.  People have started photographing me, us, I don’t know what it is or what’s up but it keeps happening.  usually in coffee shops.  Doesn’t seem fair, shouldn’t that be a safe space?  People are strange.  I am a lover.  I am fighting desire and oppression I am practicing detachment but I love you all too much to give you up.  Is this the beginning of something or will my life finally end.  I’m twenty-five, they say I’m just starting but than again, I feel so much older than I used to.  It’s disgusting how much I miss you.  I’m never angry anymore but sometimes I don’t feel like… still I won’t give in you know?  I’ve yet to sit down and write.  I get poems out, or spit songs that could one day be good yet right now they still are doing the whole semi- sucking thing.  And I think about all of you back home and I wonder what you are going through, is everything alright in San Diego and Orange County?  Is LA being kind to you?  Will Newport make you feel satisfied and whole after a lifetime of insecurity and depression?  Does the spectrum pay you enough for the lifestyle you like to live?  It seems like you are always spending.  Mangos and ice cream, beauty products, cocaine.  Always the cocaine.  And then there’s you in west Hollywood and you out in north Hollywood and you out in Inglewood suddenly and finally maybe leaving for good?  Are you out?  Are you leaving?  Jack be quick, jack be nimble, I love you too.

What can I say what can I do?  I left my native land and went to the north to fight against something.  Capitalism?  Convention?  Maybe I’m still just at war with myself.  Hopefully not at war with love, feeling it, feeling fine, so good, so good, so good, almost, yes, divine, divine, amazing, ecstasy…. please let me be the only one for you.  But I forgive you if I am not enough.  It is enough.  I can stay here, I can move on, I can do both I can do nothing, let me sing you a song.  I can get better I will get better, don’t let me do no wrong.  Tomorrow when I wake up, let me be a better one.  Godspeed you me, godspeed you you.  I should capitalize more.  God is watching.  God is me, God is you, I am God, I am Buddha, I can do anything.  Those words from a cancerous professor who pretty much just hated me.  Said I tried to hard.  I tried to kill myself but not hard enough.  I am still alive and I always will be but you’ve got to outlive me because I really love you.  Do you get it?  Don’t give up.

Goodnight

Ian Gordon Galbraith

An alleyway incident pt. 2

A pair of blue shadows stood flickering and edged towards me. The hooded man stood up and let the cold of his eyes glint in the dark. Beneath him the girl lay still. Her eyes burned unholy and neon green. Vapor trailed from her mouth- I had caught this schmuck in the middle of a hasty resurrection ritual. His poor timing and lack of situational awareness painted him as an apprentice. Someone new to town. This fuck didn’t know the rules yet.

“She’s mine. My kill and I claim her.”

“You know I’m just walking home.”

“You look weak, are those spiders your familiars? You look very weak.” He said.

“I’m broke. You try fielding an arcane study on this budget.”

“The kill is mine.” He said again.

I wasn’t about to take it either. I never did have much traffic with murder. As I said before it ruins the magic for me.

Next door I heard a ruckus in the bar. It wouldn’t pay to be caught next to some murdering mind magicked death sworn Mage, not outside of this bar at least. I did my best to defuse the situation. I could probably take this one creep and his weird blue shadows, but I couldn’t handle a bar full of Irish mer canneries and their friends. That would go downhill fast. It would be a storm of knives, the crack of a shotgun and then silence.

“Keep the kill, let me pass.”

“Tribute.” He demanded.

I rolled my eyes,

“I just said I was broke asshole.”

Fucking tourists think they can to town and start conjuring the dead like its nothing. I wondered if this guy even knew how hot this alleyway was.

“Pay it or I will take it.”

“You don’t want to dance here.” I said

“I think I do.” He replied.

The blue flickering shadows soared towards me reaching out with bubbling ghost flesh that hardened into talons. A pair of bird spirits maybe, or something he’d built in his free time. Either way they stopped short and drew back before me. The twin Geisha ghosts I’d been given by my old mentor rose from the slick, black concrete and growled beneath the pouring rain. They appeared fierce and ethereal- choosing in this moment to bare rows of sharp diamond teeth.

“I’ve seen those.” He said.

His shadows buckled and vanished. My geists stalked around him snarling.

“I did say you didn’t want to dance here.” My voice was a soft whisper. “You should leave.” I told him.

His eyes shone bitter blue- mind magic, cold though and tempered with death as well as something that felt and smelled older.

“This is my kill.” He repeated.

Some people you lead to water and they’ll still die of thirst.

He sent a barrage of memory damaging magic towards me. It flickered blue and swift like silent lightning in the dark. It caught the rain and echoed off of it. Now it was all around me but I just grinned.

“Every old lady in Boyle Heights knows that trick schmuck.” I held up a charm of the world tree- a surprisingly potent investment from Tibet. “Your cheap spells won’t work on me.”

“Aye but I hear bullets do.”

I didn’t bother turning. It was the Irish. Now we were proper fucked.

The hooded murder Mage turned to face them though and that was his last mistake. A red dot found his forehead and sniper found his shot. The bullet flew wordless and left him brainless. He fell like so many potatoes tumbling in a sack and collapsed across his kill. It was his kill. Her eyes still glowed- halfway through the conjuring and still she burned undeath across her brow. Perhaps she hadn’t been ready to be dead. I knew I wasn’t.

Rough hands seized me and put a bag over my head. My hands were bound and my geishas slunk through the shadows frightened and embarrassed. They were a fine gift but as my teacher had warned, only as strong as they’re weilder. Right now they were as blind as I was. I felt those same hands drag me up stairs, across floor and then down stairs once more. I was tied to down and left wiggling on the floor, my eyes still covered. The geists nuzzeled me from the shadows but could do no more.

“Keep a watch on that one while we fetch them corpses from the street.” Someone said. And then I was alone in the darkness.

Slow and full of steady caution I heard the scurry of my spiders. The young came and whispered to me. I knew their tongue. They told me the mercs were outside and that something had their attention. Vampires I hoped. The spiders said they weren’t sure. A larger one began nibbling at my ropes. I promised him the sweetest blood I could fetch from flies if he’d hurry. Then they began to lift the veil from over my eyes. The guard wasn’t looking- I set my geisha geists upon him. He went down the scraping crunch of stone upon stone- rows of sharp diamond teeth grating against each other. There was no body left. The spiders lead me through an exit where everybody just so happened to be preoccupied with a ruckus in the alleyway I had come from. I didn’t bother finding out what, I slipped through the front and winked at the bouncer stationed there. I started running and was gone before displeasure and recognition played across his ugly face. Behind me trailed spiders and before ran those the spectral dogs- the geisha ghosts. Free for the time being.

Seventy-Five

Image

SEVENTY-FIVE

by Ian Galbraith

an Ivan Brixton Story

They woke up and smiled at the sun.  The cool air came rolling in off the sea crisp and clean as you please.  The orchids in harvest no longer- the autumnal switched for spring and birth.  I was a newborn in the age of predator drones and also peppermint lattes.  Things were great.  Every time I went out I had a swell time.  I went to school and I came home.  Did what my folks told me.  I did it all alright.  Finally I finished with school and everything, I went out to a bar to celebrate.

The place was called daffodil and it hardly smelled right for a rose like me but all the other graduated blossoms were heading in and I decided to follow my friends.   It was a nice bar.  I got a cool glass of spring water because you can get that in bars around my town.  I know, not everyone is this lucky.  I suppose all I can do is smile right?

Anyway we’re all sipping ours and one of my friends, Harold he is playing games with the sun heads, flipping coins and fooling at cards.  I play a few rounds with Harold but my hearts not in it.

“You look restless.”  Harold says.”

I nod my head but I am miles away.  A million miles away probably two billion if its even a foot but if its two billion… then its a lot.  And now my head which I’m done nodding and now I’m holding in place, that head is sort of spinning… then I see this flower at the end of the bar is she’s drinking alone-

“Deal me out Harold.”

“Whatever Frank.”

“Thanks.”

I walking over to her feeling like pollen in spring.  Feeling fresh like the day I was born.  I feel immaculate when she turns and smiles.  She winks.  I’m totally grabbing a seat next to her.  She is an absolute rose.  Not even like that loser in Gatzby was supposed to be neither- I’m talking solid rose right now.  She wasn’t some lame lousy Daisy but a real live rose.  She sure had petals to squeeze!

“Hey.” I say.

“Heyyy.” she says maybe sort of buzzed.

“Imma Frank.” I say faking a wee slur.

“Heyya Frank immma Dolly.”  She says.

“I’m in love with you Dolly, do you feel it?”  I ask.

“Yes,” she says and shudders, “It’s overwhelming.”

“It makes my soul quiver to tell the truth.”

“It’s like telepathic alchemy drugs.”  She says.

And with that we leave hand in hand.  Roses walking Petal in petal talking that sweet- sweet roses talk.

Years later we’re all settled down and something happens.  I mean they always said it would but I never thought- well I’ll just say it plain.  We got caught by the Kreacherkin.  They took us.  A dozen of us and a few of our neighbors too.  They stuffed us all into wet refrigerator trucks and shipped us off to god knows where…  It was so dark inside man I nearly lost it but I had Dolly by my side and I had to keep up my rep as a stud.  I had to be a Rose and take care of my Rose, even if we were all just stuck senseless in plastic bags with our roots cut off and tears dripping down our limbs.

Finally light reached us and the strong hands of the Kreacherkin pulled us from the truck.  They wrapped us up together in tight bundles of twelve and shoved our feet into little plastic test tubes.  The Kreacherkin know no bounds nor decency.  I didn’t believe they were real until they stuffed us- wrapped in plastic inside another one of their sinister cold closet ice chest death traps.

[several hours later]

A dozen roses lay on a counter.  Behind the counter a girl in her twenties with leather pants and a nose ring works the register.  She is constantly moving between the fridge containing pre- ordered flower orders and the espresso machines at the shop.  People come up to her- they pick up flowers or coffee, sometimes both.  A young couple approaches the counter during a lull in business-

“Hi I have an order waiting.”  The boy says.

“What was the name?”  Asks Counter girl

“Ivan.”  The boy says.

“12 roses and a mocha?”

“That’s me.”  He says and smiles.  He squeezes his girlfriend’s hand.

“The total is 75.00.”

“Oh no!”  His girlfriend exclaims.

“What?”

“That’s two much for flowers!  Far too much for these!  They’re only roses Ivan…”

“Crazy.”  The girl behind the counter mutters and goes out back to clean up for the day.

And so the young couple leave and they don’t buy a single thing.  The flowers lay on the counter and there Frank and Dolly lay beside each other.  Frank- he feels alright- for now; but Dolly… Dolly is fading.  The soft is leaving her.  The goodness drips slow across an unattended flower in an independent coffee shop where just now there are no customers.  The girl behind the counter returns.

“Fuck it.”  She says and tosses them out back in the dumpster.

Every morning and then some

My friend dr. Nix used to have one waiting for him. Every morning when he woke up. Waiting.

Man he would think to himself, just -man and then he would think to himself, sort -what am I doing here? Oh yes I’m doing this- and then he would, because it would be right there and waiting for him.

Afterwards he would blow his nose, stand up and walk around. A rush of blood to the head and break feast served- he stared out the window of his color tv. Things were more beautiful in there and they were safer too. In there he was god and the coloured skies would bend to his pleasure. Outside the throne even was up for grabs.

Any way the days would go by and he kept doing things that way, he would do them his way. I saw him now and again. Once and a while I even went up to San Luis obisbo and saw him there. Busy and crazy with some girl. Holding a chemistry job and taking classes. His habit flew on fine with everything. It was a mad world anyway.

The boon of Erebos

The hillside rolled with a subtle incline almost as smooth as a sigh and the figures marched upward.
A yellow sun hung over a blew sky, my
Father and his friends unloaded their gear and set up camp.

“It’s never been this crowded before.” My godfather said.

My father turned and gazed up the gentle- daunting slope. I followed his gaze.

“They must have heard how nice it is this time of year.”

I looked out on the land and watched the procession.

Then without warning I darted into the brush and followed them… From a distance.

I saw them at the top of the hill their hoods off, their languid faces weeping long black tears in bright sunlight. They clutched in their hands bright metal, sharp metal, engraved and grim yet nonetheless beautiful knives. Before I could blink they drove the blades they each clutched deep into their throats and dropped dead in a fantastic array. It was the sign of Erebos. That’s when I realized the shadows held dark things. Wicked nymphs watched me and giggled- the ceremony had been of their design and now the noon of Erebos was bestowed upon them. I said naught- but turned and fled.

Nanowrimo part 1

Part I

 

Chapter 1

The sun comes through my window like long, skinny veins and I rub my eyes.  Outside the second story the sky is like a painting.  It stretches out over Redondo in vivid blue.  The sun shines strong- lower in the streets cars rumble.  I hear next door- the girl that lives there is singing, 

“I am yours now, so now I don’t ever have to leave.”

I’m rising and feeling my bones, they’re creaking.  My left ankle is a long jagged scar and it hurts in the morning.  I guess its a reminder though- no one should fly to high.  I stand and fix my hair.   

My body looks lean and yellowing in the mirror.  The mirror is clear around me.  The sides are caked with dust and the corners drip in old blue droplets of long dried paint.  More scars.  More warnings.  Fly not too close to the sun.  

Next door the girl is singing, 

“It’s been- a- while and you- found someone better.”

I’m digging in the drawer.  Its empty.  I have jeans on.  My eyes are blue in the mirror.  My shirt is white.  Like a skull.  The only socks I can find are pink.  They must be Susan’s… I pull my red- ‘where’s Waldo?’ flannel on and walk downstairs.  

Next door the girl is singing,

“maybe I had said-“

I’m washing dishes.  Banging breakfast items together.   Ignoring the beat of my own heart, the pumping of my own blood.  

The girl is singing, 

“something that was wrong.”  

Last night was terrible, there was a reason I was waking up alone.  

The girl next door she’s singing, 

“can I make it better-“

I turn on the news.  

The girl sings, 

with the lights turned off?”

My cheerios taste like cardboard, my television turns my thoughts to butter.   I let them melt as I light my pipe and let just this part of the morning slip and fade.  I don’t need to be here, but I am.  I look down at my hands- they’re shaking- my fingernails are getting long.   I’m looking at the dirt underneath them with my TV on blurting the loops of the news.  

There was a shooting at the naval yard.  Thirty people died in Somalia.  Britney Spears is marrying her adopted lizard.  

The news goes off.  I’m over it.   I’m not working today.  

I decide not to fix myself coffee.  Instead I’m looking at the toaster and I’m drawing a bath- I’m putting some slow music on, some sick, dark, sensual stuff.  Music to make love to, to die to, music I should have lived to.   I’m carrying the toaster and adding bubbles to my bath.  

The bath is looking really enticing.  Its all pink bubbles and aromatherapy goodness, there’s some sick tunes playing on my old macbook- I get in the bath.  One foot, then the next-  I’m sliding in and feel it all rush across my body.  The clean makes me feel alive.  I feel newborn, sinless, perfect, and next door the girl sings,

“I can give it all on the first date, I don’t have to exist outside of this place.”  

I’m grabbing the toaster and plugging it in.  I lay down deep in the bubbles and drop it in.   

 

One by one

Oh the secrets I could spew
If I had the right to
All the pale dark mysteries
Behind a sad set of eyes
And all the baggage their limbs could conjure
But I will not violate confidence
History may as well forget
The tragedies I know
So long as life repairs the damage done
To the owners of each secret
Life by life
One by one

The mad Greek cafe in baker

It took me a rootbeer on the side of the road at a Greek place in baker to figure out I was starving. My face looked haggard, eyes were shot and wild. I caught myself staring and looked away feeling nervous about making eye contact. Even if it was just with myself in the mirror. I was wearing board shorts, a stolen golf cap a beautiful decay tshirt. The punks heading west all move through place alongside truckers and regular garden variety tourists. Another busy day for baker at the mad Greek cafe.

I’m ok in this, my last ten spent on a gyro.

Then I’m zooming down the Mohave and heading home. The long 15 stretching before us. A long hike till Ncr territory.

Excerpt from a Novel

                        How Harry Got His Fix

A Short Story by Ian Galbraith

            That one Friday we all did heroin old Harry didn’t make it out alive.  We were all hooked on the stuff except Harry because Harry had only done it a few times and the rest of us were just tossed on it.  I did it everyday.  My dealer Tommy did it every hour.  His buddy Calvin never stopped doing.  Throwing Harry into that mess was a bad idea.  Someone should have thought better.  I guess if there was a god he would have done something about it right?

            So we were there at Calvin’s and just shooting up and smoking cigarettes.  I felt great, fully loaded and floating down memory lane with Tommy.  He was saying it had been like forever that we knew each other and we were reminiscing on it all.  Really I’d only known that kook for a year but you know how it goes with dope, time just flies.  Harry was in the corner with Calvin tying a knot round his arm and getting ready to spike up a vein.  Then out came the needle and it went right on in there and Harry did not feel no pain.  He sank back on the floor and mumbled something about being the next Lou Reed before he started convulsing. 

            Harry rolled around on the carpet yelling and screaming like an animal.  I was too stoned and loaded to do anything at first.  We all were.  We just sat there with our mouths open.  Finally somebody said something.  Calvin turned around,

            “Guys I didn’t do it wrong or nothing.  Man I fucking swear—“

            Calvin was starting to get pale and sweat began to drip down his face.  He began to fidget with his collar. 

            “Holy shit!”  I said.

            “He’s dead.”  Tommy said. 

            None of us spoke.  We just looked at him. 

            Harry was on the ground.  A needle was sticking out of his arm, a thin trickle of blood coming from where it entered his arm.  His skin was turning white, his eyes were rolled back into his head and his tongue protruded from blue lips.  Harry was dead. 

            “What do we do?”

            “I dunno.” Tommy said.

            “Calvin—“

            “We have to pick up the body and move it.” Calvin said. 

            “Yeah.”  Tommy said. 

            “The cops?”  I asked.

            “The cops can’t find it Tommy.”

            “Your right Cal.”

            “You know what will happen if they do— right Tommy?”

            “Yeah.”

            Calvin walked over and took Harry’s wallet out. 

            “We’ll split this.”

            “Keep it.”  Tommy said.

            “Yeah man its your house.”

            “Your not going to tell anyone are you Ivan?”  Calvin asked.

            “No.” I said, “No man.  Never.”

            “Get his feet Tommy.  Ivan, get the door.” 

            “What about the blood man?”

            “We’ll get that later Tommy.”

            I opened the door.

            “Toss me the keys, I’ll open the suburban.”

            We hustled Harry’s body into the car and I felt numb.  I’d know Harry for eight years.  It felt like a while.  Time flies when you’re on dope.  I felt like he’d been my friend for an eternity.  We did the high school circuit together.  Kept in touch through college.  Shit.  I was the one he first used with.  Some of this was my fault.  Maybe all of it.  I kept my mouth shut though. 

I thought of how Harry had been asking how he was going to get his fix today, like was it a shot or a pill or was he going to have to smoke some tar.   I told him we’d figure it out when we got to Calvin’s. 

            Well he got his fix all right.  A straight death trip through the eye of the needle.  Fucking hell.  What were we going to do now?

            “Alright lets take him out to the desert.”

            “No dude that’s going to cost so much.  And what if we get stopped?”

            “Fuck off Tommy- I’ll pay for the gas then!”

            “Hey Calvin—“

            “Ivan get some tarp from the garage.  The blue shit.  We need to wrap him in it.” 

            “Dude go- go get it yourself.”

            “What’s with you assholes?”

            “My friend’s dead Calvin.”

            “Lay off him Cal, I’ll get it.” 

            We closed the trunk and Tommy went to get the tarp.  Calvin lit a cig and scrutinized me from behind his tired, sunken eyes.  Finally he spoke,

            “What’s your deal?  You think I killed Harry tonight?”

            “No man.”

            “You know I didn’t.”

            Tommy was coming back now, Calvin turned to face him.

            “You know I didn’t— Tommy— Ivan— we all killed him.”

            I couldn’t say anything.  I was numb.  My tongue didn’t move in my mouth.  My gums were dry.  Felt like they were bleeding.  I could feel my heart beating in my chest wild and erratic. 

            We killed Harry.  He had a girlfriend and a kid.  We killed Harry.  No one can ever find out. 

            “Fine,” I said, “We killed him.  But your finger was on the trigger Cal.”

              Tommy covered him in the tarp.  Harry looked like a bunch of camping supplies.  He didn’t look anything like a dead junkie. 

            “It’s gonna be like this, were taking him out to the desert, we’re digging a hole, and we’re going to burn the body.”

            “Tommy—“

            “I’m sorry Ivan.  It’s the only way.”

            And that’s all there was too it.