The Hacking Powders


An excerpt from my novel manuscript, The Autobiography of Don Whiskers, is over at #thesideshow. Partly based on experiences in Katowice, Poland, Cercedilla (Spain), Madrid (Spain), and Palermo (Sicily). It is part of an ongoing trilogy of nomadic surrealist novels. Part autofiction, part magical realism.

This excerpt begins in Katowice, at the Zoo, with pagan deities:

At the back of the zoo, in the magic forest, once a year in deep night, the pagan deities are resurrected, painted faces & spooky howling, primal yelps, very good, it’s a start, it’s not enough. The zoo is full of highlights, for example, the invisible hippos, complete with diving boards and lifeguards, but no hippos, the hippos are in hiding. Also the sleeping lion, you can sit on the still warm bench and imagine the lion. The bees, however, in full force, non-invisible, landing on creamy mountains of ice cream.

Read/listen to the story over at Five:2:One








The only award I ever won, and didn’t even enter, was for a poem called “Mr Whiskers and the Picnic Basket.” It was published in Hayden’s Ferry Review as a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award. I was completing my MFA at UNC Greensboro at the time. Then it was republished at storySouth in 2004. This time of my life, in Greensboro, North Carolina with the terrific writing community of the UNC Greensboro MFA program, as well as the artist collective The Lucifer Poetics Group, was full of possibilities, wonder, and a sense of coming home as a writer. I mean, that is where my real writing life began. It was also one of the larger turning points in my life journey. Almost two years later, after a lot of personal therapy and marriage counseling, I reduced my life to 15 kilos and flew to South Korea to live. A few months after moving to South Korea, I signed my divorce papers. I also left the United States forever, although I have been back a few times to visit in the last 12 years.

It is 2018. So yeah, 14 years later, that one poem, “Mr Whiskers and the Picnic Basket,” rather suddenly infiltrated my novel manuscript The Autobiography of Don Whiskers, and that manuscript has already been infiltrated many times already. So, in other words, there is a lot of mutation happening. Various forms of alchemy.

For about six years, The Autobiography of Don Whiskers used to be called Never Mind the Beasts, the name of my MFA thesis, mostly coined by a good friend and fellow poet in the Greensboro MFA program, Dan Albergotti.

Never Mind the Beasts is also, of course, the title of this blog, in various incarnations since 2003.

Now my first novel manuscript has become The Autobiography of Don Whiskers. And Mr. Whiskers, from so long ago, is the main character. Of course, it is not quite the same character as the one in the poem. Don Whiskers has become fleshy and fully expanded and full blown. Me and not me.

The Autobiography of Don Whiskers is epic travels and immigration. It begins in Northern Ireland and then travels to Milton Keynes, England. Then Las Vegas, Utah, Washington State, North Carolina, South Korea, Poland, Turkey, England, and then the novel ends in Madrid, Spain. Part two picks up in Madrid. The autofiction of Karl Ove Knausgaard, as well as the surrealism of James Tate, Lukas Tomin, and Leonora Carrington, helped open up possibilities for this trilogy of novels in progress. Part one is called The Autobiography of Don Whiskers and part two, I am already 60 pages into it, is called Hermit Kingdom. It is a hybrid novel, a mix of various genres including prose poetry and flash fiction, but it is quite seamless as well. It is partly autofiction and partly nomadic surrealism. A nice blend.



MAPS (nomadic travel writing)

A very rough draft of some work for my ongoing nomadic travel novel: The Autobiography of Don Whiskers. It will undergo massive collaging and editing later.
Russians to the right; Indians to the left. I go with the Indians. I follow the sign for Hind Street Community Centre. Outside my window there are Indians playing football. And Chinese playing basketball. The Chinese are well toned and strong. They do more than lay-ups. Their lay-ups are good but they can do more than that. The Indians sometimes play football with the Africans. It is a concrete pitch. Sometimes basketball court; sometimes football pitch. 
At night, I sit on my balcony and listen to the ball bouncing on the court. I watch the teenagers sneak into the court for a cigarette and sometimes a joint. Yesterday there was a girl, maybe 14, who was mad at her friends for some reason. She told the boys: “I’m going home.” She was the only one smoking and she walked like a woman of 20 or more. Her 14 year old girlfriends chased after her. They consoled her by putting their arms around her and bringing her back to the concrete court/pitch. Then they all took out their smart phones and took pictures of each other. I am sure it went straight to Facebook. I am not sure what kind of smart phones they used. I don’t think they were Iphones. This is a Blackberry estate. The text messages are untraceable.
I don’t know what the Russians do in the other estate but they all blond. They are blond Russians. There might be some that are not blond. They are plenty of non-blond Russians. But I have only seen the blond ones. They talk on their smart phones very loudly. They all use iphones.


Down the road is Canary Wharf and that is a completely different world. Everything is swanky. It is a whole city of bankers and financial people. They have fancy restaurants and over-priced pints of beer. I like to go there to watch the bankers drinking after work. They are mostly fashionable people. I sit on the grass with my £1 pint of Stella and watch them. I am still learning about fashionable people. I am not sure if I can be a fashionable person. I don’t think I can learn the walk and talk of the bankers in Canary Wharf. But I am getting more comfortable sitting there watching them. I like watching everyone. Sometimes I like to join in. Not with the bankers but with other people, maybe. I think I will go to Canary Wharf and buy my first smart phone when I get a decent paycheck in October. I can wait three months. Three more months will be OK. I need to decide if I want an iphone or a Blackberry or something else altogether. I am leaning towards something else altogether. Then again I may not even need a smartphone. I can only think of getting a smartphone for the maps. I get lost easily.