Featured Writer: Michael Score
Continuing our recent trend of artists from the East, we bring you one short story and one poem by the multitalented Michael Score.
Trigger Warning: The poem "21st Century Automatic Man" explores gun violence and mass shootings.
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I found god's grave at the intersection of heathen and belief. A tombstone of a dried dead tree in the dead white desert. Broken and rusted road signs littered the ground. Half burned and rusted. Bullet riddled and dusted. The words “forget me” carved into the tree trunk. I remember it because I got into an argument with you about it.
You were trying not to cry. “It says forgive me. I know it does.” Hiding tears in your voice. I traced the carved letters with my fingers.
“It says forget me. You know it does.” My face next to the letters. My voice doesn't travel beyond the pale dead pine. I can feel you hear me all the same.
“It doesn't. It says forgive. It's about forgiveness.”
“What's the difference?” I couldn't find the divide between the words. I wondered if they had always been the same to me.
The wind blew soft and sharp. I heard the whistle through the dead branches. I wanted to dig up the body. See what the bones of the lord looked like. How many teeth, how many toes. How many scars he decided to leave behind other than us. What color its soul turned the ground around it. You wouldn't let me.
“We don't have shovels. We walked here.”
The earth dried, cracked white clay salt flats. Amazing a tree was standing here at all. Even the debris laid flat. We'd have to leave it. The want was still there. To hold the skull of someone who felt like me was too strong. How could I forget this? A laughing epitaph or a crying good bye?
“Forgiveness is remembering.”
“You don't forgive just to forget. You forgive so you can still remember. In a new light. You take control of the emotions, you re-frame it in a new context. It becomes your story and not theirs. If you forgot, you would still feel the same way even when you remembered it. Forgiveness is power. Recreation and acceptance.”
“And what's the point of forgiveness if we're all forgotten? We're all just empty letters on a dead tree.”
“We're here though. Talking about it. Remembering.”
I feel the clouds move overhead. “Maybe we should camp here.” A sly grin on my face. I can't help but to joke.
“Don't fuck around, man. We gotta go.”
“I don't think we're gonna see this place again. Wanna carve our names into the trunk? Take a souvenir?”
The branches as dead as the world it was in. Some childish notion that this tree would have power, grant a wish, make a person stronger, floated for a moment. I cracked a branch off and we watched dust pour out into the wind, into the world. It never seems to end. The pain of it all. I feel the dry tinder of the branch crack in my hands. Crumbling like a decayed clay pot. Nothing to hold on to. Nothing to take. God's grave is nothing more than a stain on our hands.
“Are you done?”
I look at the dust flowing through my hands. Your words echoing in my head, through the wind. I feel eternity pass us. The broken, refracted sun shining gray through the still clouds.
“I never started.” I can't seem to get the dust off my hands.
We walk forward. Into the dust, becoming the mirage.
21st Century Automatic Man
All life is sacred
depending on gender,
nationality, and sexual preference.
Innocent until breathing
then to be easily discarded,
by rapid or slow fire explosive metal injection.
From across the newly washed,
rebuilt, pleading and screaming rooms.
Don't mind the blood stained textbooks
critical of the world and people in it.
Only those who survive the rampant violence
are truly fit to read them.
How much longer til these new patriots can be
cast in gold? Eleven and eighteen foot high statues
of the new twenty-first-century automatic man.
Bronze cast corpses underneath his foot,
of the eternally thought of and prayed for.
Our new national monuments of the forever broken.
No detail missed to encase this upcoming unlived generation.
Babies are meant to be born,
Children are meant for target practice
for the well licensed and undistracted.
between the hours dictated by bureaucratic
decisions to be blown apart with laser-guided precision.
Whether by fuel-air concussive device,
or classical ballistic intention,
The worlds greatest nation is a self-loading paradise.