© 2020 Keith Hamilton Cobb
In Print, eBook, and Downloadable Audio
These short pieces were a long time in coming. Many of them were around three laptops ago… But now they’re here, and that’s about all I’ve got to say about them… Except perhaps that, over the many years that I’ve picked them apart, put them back together, slapped them around, and let them sit, they were fun to write. Perhaps they’ll be fun to read as well. Perhaps you’ll have a look, or a listen… and let me know.
Audio Excerpt from the story, God’s Children
Random clips taken at Soundsmith Studios with the soundsmith himself, Leer Leary.
“The Odd Purgatory of My Personal Perception” is a collection of stories that have been kicked around on one laptop of mine or another for the past 15 years. Some have said that they are not stories at all. Maybe they’re right. Some call them erotic short fiction. Others have said that there is nothing erotic about them. We’ll see…
Fourteen selections… or so… Small noises… Big silences… Awkward, unbalanced, verbose, meandering prose in bite-sized pieces…
And it’s coming soon.
Above: Recording work on the short story, “God’s Children,” also excerpted below.
…She was God’s child, so he had thought; one of the ones that the Universe looks after because, for whatever reason, they didn’t end up here upon this seething orb of self-serving fuck-ups with the tools to fend for themselves, so he thought… Dumber than a box of rocks, he’d thought, but as delicate and as lovely as an orchid. And she smelled like vanilla ice cream. She was the sort of vacuous that could be beyond sexy when the sexy wore it. And he had not been looking for a lover that would be anything more than that: sexy, immediate, and unencumbering ever after. He had few other reasons to subject himself to a barroom’s sensory barrage of boisterous humanity. Everywhere else, feeling the oppressive weight of its incurious tumbling on, he navigated around the dumb motion of the masses as best his own too human condition could manage. The only thing to be gotten by braving the concentration of festering crowd psychology that a Friday night tavern contained was the prize of some pretty diversion intent on receiving him without superfluous ceremony; something sweet and soft to distract his embattled heart and sate his hunger for an hour or two without making of itself a nuisance in the a.m., and she came dancing up to him from out of the aggregate of noise and dark and compressed bodies in a joint in Seattle, and stood at the bar staring at him, blankly, as her hips swayed to the bass beat of The Isley Brothers singing “Caravan of Love…”
Another me could’ve found a way
To hear the things you didn’t say,
And know what all you needed done,
Not you, but her, that other one.
I would have read the other’s mind,
Ignoring you she hid behind,
And held her when she needed touch,
And left her when I was too much;
And proven worthy of her trust,
Her grace, her company, her lust.
But I scarcely knew that she was there,
And, of the you I was aware,
She did the other you no good
To be not as the other would;
To disguise her so as I’d not see
What she was needing most of me.
But there was no other me to seek
The other you who did not speak;
Who just expected me to know
Her other heart she did not show,
And somehow to commiserate
With her who I first saw of late.
The one me did all he could do,
Having too late met the other you.
We could say a lot when we weren’t busy talking.
We could watch the truth of us like television if we wanted
To trust that much. It’s precious few
Who will undertake to keep safe another’s
Most might commit to being nominally responsible for some portion
Of its contents
Declared and described clearly in the language of wants,
Even while knowing that store of goods, truly assessed,
They can sort of sign on for something that is
Sort of defined,
In denial or
It’s changeable. And if it doesn’t work out,
No harm, no foul. Though it can be noisy and messy.
But a few,
Who trust in their own unspoken voice,
Knowing those meant to hear it will, can be
Somewhat more still, and
Can hear a lover’s heart speaking itself hoarse;
Telling its everything.
For them, there is no worry. Only the obvious. And
It has no words either.
It’s an Aquarius Full Moon tonight.
Somebody told me that’s what it was, and I saw it, hanging
Bold and unapologizing in the sky, when I let out the dog to do his last of the evening thing.
Being an Aquarius, I suspected that
Ought to have meant something to me. In fact,
I was sure it did. I Googled it and found a lot about it having to do with compassion and
Service and selflessness, yadadayadadayadada. But
For all that,
All I could think of was that
We looked up at it the other night, you and I, and decided that
It wasn’t quite there yet. And that
Later I reached across the cab of the truck and took your hand. Or was it before?
It was like a boy. And
You held my hand, simply, but
As if maybe you know a little something
Of boys, and how they’ll
Sometimes reach across the cabs of trucks on warm nights when
The moon is nearly full,
Putting every one of their fears, frustrations, and doubts into the hope that
There’s just a little love over there. And how they’ll wanna
Weep when they find it; wanna
Hide in it, that
Hand they’re holding, but
They’ve been acting like men too long. Tonight,
It’s an Aquarius Full Moon. I wondered
If you saw it. Then
I wondered where you were.
no iconography that will suffice
to depict clearly Its device.
It takes no rise from words or deeds,
but, being, oddly, It concedes
an insouciant assurance
of Its perpetual occurrence.
This thing, it seems…It Is…volition.
And that’s the whole of Its condition.
With ceaseless verbal diarrhea
I’ve been to war with that idea.
Demanding that This Thing respect
the shock troops of my intellect,
I took that huge unquantifiable
to blows with my sure and reliable
This Thing just was…It would not fight.
I, rhetoric weary, acquiesced.
In my submission, It expressed
That farts in breezes mean as much
if I with language hope to touch
divinity, or would advance,
with my corporeal arrogance,
to some more conscious point of view.
And yet…This Thing, should it imbue
all my relentless diatribing,
and like endeavors towards describing
what It is…with Its own essence,
then It’s expressed in my incessance.
And so It is…And so I Am,
accidentally if at all prophetic,
But grateful, and, as This Thing is,
“Roman lay sprawled on his face about the bed, half dreaming, less than half awake, reached for her, his fingers finding, feeling the contour of an uncovered hip, his touch her stirring, turning from him, a long, irregular breath, exhaling, pressing her back against him, and he wishing he could be outside of himself on mornings like these; outside of himself, invisible, and watching the two of them together, waking, and behaving like two do when their only acquaintance has been made by the trial and error of an unplanned, first time tryst; when the light of the morning reveals that they are beautiful.”
I heard the old man on the train talking about his new hip replacement
In explanation of why
He got up so carefully, slowly,
Graciously exchanging seats with the waiting family of five.
“How long have you had it?” and
The man began to speak to me about it as if no one had asked in a long time,
He said, wide-eyed, almost hopefully,
“You know about hips?” and
I told the man, smiling, almost apologetic,
“Well… not that kind…” I was just asking.
The man told me –
He seemed eager to continue the conversation –
He thought I might be a doctor the way I inquired,
Which got me thinking,
While the old man spoke,
What would now be different if I had, in fact, been
A physician sitting on the train reading my book
Who had gone to school for nine years to become one, and
Then had practiced for several more, and married, and
(Like the couple with the two children and grandma in the next seats over,
All looking quite content on their way to the baseball game) and
Now I was indeed inquiring,
Asking about the man’s new hip
Because I knew all about them, and
I genuinely cared about others, and
My heart was huge, and