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Mark McClelland, 06 Feb '13

        I come upon a boxed monkey in the street, on the double yellow line, traffic whizzing by on both sides. The poor creature is screaming, and turning the box over with his jumping. The automobile drivers honk at me, and are forced to swerve a bit, but I persist, squatting down and wrapping the box in my arms. Hugging the heavy bulk, straining to bring it up, I stagger through close openings in the flow, over to the sidewalk.
        In mounting the curb I lose my footing, falling on my face on the box, snubbing my nose. Riders in cars behind me hoot with laughter. A red-assed monkey in a tree at the side of the road moons me, waving the inflamed back end at me and farting.
        The monkey in the box has not calmed, but is bouncing and shrieking more now, punching the top of his head up against my chin. I look to unwrap the duct tape and twine keeping the beast contained. Working the twine off on one side, stepwise, the monkey keeps pinching my fingers between box and cord. If only I had a knife.
        I look about me and spot an old 45. It's the album my mother bought as a child, broken on the way home. Teresa Brewer, in shards.
        The monkey suddenly loses my interest. I sit down among the shards and flip through the pieces. I look for song titles from the middle paper of the record, but find only black paper. Plain black paper.
        Taking a deep breath, I go off meanderingly into the trees, the noise of the monkey fading behind me. Fading, replaced by the hum of water through the lab tubes, the bubbling of fish tanks and chemistry experiments, the philosophical mutterings of gorillas, fading at last gone, I am free of the dangers and silliness and the hurting my fingers and chin.
        I look about, realizing the dreams of yesterday afternoon's fevered nap. Sleep lurks around me, but the scenery hides it. There's sleep in there, around me, but I don't think I'll seek it out. Don't want to. Rather live the dream, live by the bright colors, the softness of the woman taking hold of me. From behind, moving around in front, wearing a signboard, an electric signboard on which the words "Catholic" and "Republican" are streaming across.
        The sleep, the colors, the soft woman are no more, and I awaken next to you. You who have taught me, you who are really here.

Comments · 7

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  • Mark McClelland said...

    The first of a three-part series. Stream-of-consciousness "freewrite" from about 20 years ago, when I was a college student transitioning out of both Catholic and Republican.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Mark, a very enjoyable lucid debut! Look forward to reading the next part :)

    Small typo - 'and old 45' > 'an old 45'

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    Strange but quite fascinating; captures the random nature of a dream well. Welcome to Burrst.
    I like that the first real hint that this is a dream (for me) is a red-assed monkey in a tree mooning...

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    Thanks for the feedback, and for the kind welcome. I'm delighted to have discovered this site -- short no-rules pieces are some of my favorites, and it's hugely valuable to have such a great community.

    Anthony, it looks like one cannot edit a burst once it's been posted? I went to fix the typo (thanks for pointing it out), but on the edit page I can only change meta-data or add audio.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    @Mark McClelland at the moment you can only edit bursts within the 24 hours after you post them - but that is changing (possibly this weekend) - you'll soon be able to edit them anytime.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Susie Shircliff said...

    Love reading stream of conscious because it's like a meditation. "Sleep lurks around me, but the scenery hides it. There's sleep in there, around me, but I don't think I'll seek it out. Don't want to. Rather live the dream, live by the bright colors, the softness of the woman taking hold of me" That is my favorite. It makes me think of how in a dream when you start to realize you're dreaming everything around looks like a predator waiting to wake you up. Kudos!

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    Thanks, Susie!

    By the way, I like this observation in your profile: "I love a good story and sometimes they are just hiding under the simplest moment, waiting for you to catch them with your words." It's like unpacking a photograph, getting at the bits of life that led up to it.

    • Posted 6 years ago