the ten thousand {internet book}

I've started a long-term side project called The Ten Thousand. My goal is to tell 10,000 picture stories.

to read them, please follow my:
twitter, instagram, & tumblr

a half made cloud {video}

Maybe I’m just stoned but this feels profound. The midnight sky above me, expanding infinitely, so soundless, and my trashy little city below it howling like a dying animal.

I wear my ugly heart inside my throat like a goiter. 
I stroke my curved bones, ingrown, all out of place, staring at this body that surrounds me, laid out on my bed, drowsy, a half made cloud floating through the sky because it’s filled with drugs
and lazy dreams.

How many poems are there 
about people feeling fucked up and deathless because the disaster of their lives is so complete that it will never be resolved?

Here’s another one.

the loneliest tattoo {poem}

I was subbing for a 7th grade class when I saw a student walk in with a big tattoo on her forearm. The tattoo was of two words written in cursive. I thought it said One Love. In 7th grade, the students are twelve or thirteen years old. 

I asked her what the tattoo said and she showed it to me. It said One Deep.

What does that mean? I asked.

She said: I don't have a brother is mom is...messed

please don't get your goddamn heart broken {video}

Sometimes I'm the one that texts her, and sometimes she's the one who texts me. Half an hour later I hear a knock on my door. It's Helen of Troy. Damn, Helen of Troy looks good. I crawl into bed while she gets ready in the bathroom.

Wearing nothing but a sleepy smile, she steps into my bedroom and walks toward me on tiny footsteps, her figure moving like a silk curtain in an open window. Silently she crosses the foot of my bed and looks at me. Her shadow falls over me, radiating a dark heat that only I can feel. And then she lies down beside me. I lick my lips and am literally melted alive by her warm legs and fingers, her round waist and wet body, the tiny paradise we make beneath the covers.

I can’t believe that I’m actually fucking Helen of Troy on a semi-regular basis. I’m amazed. I speak to her in iambic pentameter. I buy her cheap necklaces and earrings that she accepts out of politeness. Occasionally I feign indifference towards her, because some girls are really into indifference. She tells me to stop trying to impress her. Sometimes we stay up and watch the sunrise.

In more intimate moments she tells me how her mom was raped by a swan, and I tell her I’m sorry that happened, that’s fucked up. She tells me she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She tells me that in a little bit she has to go back home and I say “why” and she says “because.” The discussion never advances beyond those two words, although sometimes we repeat them over and over for a long time.

This isn't magic, she says. She isn't a princess or queen, she's Helen the Bank Teller, and I'm not going to rescue her from anything. Don't make this complicated. Don't turn this into some bloody, ten year war. Don't start writing epics. Faustus, please don't get your goddamn heart broken. This kind of stuff happens all the time. They are as common as stones, these love affairs.

city limits {video}

Driving across thousands of miles of interstate, past cheap hotels and midnight filling stations, over bridges and the endless fields, under sun and starlight, into the new city at last. To get to New City, you cannot avoid traveling a long road, more interminable and unknown than even the curving burning halls of Dante’s infernal city. To get to New City, you must abandon all hope, forgetting yourself more and more with each approaching step. No more old names to whisper when you’re alone in the dark. No more hometowns or mothers. No scroll of sins to drag behind you. Nothing to know and nowhere to be. Surrounded by light.

another year {video}

There is a cliff so steep that even the stars fear it. It is there and nowhere else that you must throw yourself: to edges, to air, to naked light.

I stand at the foot of my bed and watch myself sleep.

Throw away your life, your heart, your hands. Blow kisses at the wind. Give up these tiresome streets, and move through the world like an underwater eel.

Stuff the walls of your brain with cork and xanax and smoke until you make yourself a nest of perfect silence. Speak in a soft voice, too tender to be heard. Close the door of your bedroom and stay there, for another year.

what it feels like to die {video}

Approaching the moment of truth, a blindness fell from her open naked eyes and bright light entered her. 

The light bleached away all bodies and shapes until the only thing she could see was the hum and blur of spinning particulates. 

Every name she knew and mumbled fantasy, every song that had made her cry, every ache of bedroom love, every wail of astonishment, every lonely sigh, every curse word, every earthly thing that ever touched her was in a moment dissolved and obliterated.

She did not feel regret.

Regret is something that only the living know. 

The last thing she felt was the sad mysterious lovely grace of vanished things.

She drifted into the air.

days of the week {poem}

Eight days before yesterday I learned that lacrimae rerum is a latin phrase coined by Virgil which means 'the tears in things.'

Seven days before yesterday the drive-thru guy at Taco Cabana told me they were closed for extermination and I resolved to eat healthier food.

Six days before yesterday I drove to Galveston at four a.m. and sat on the beach alone watching the sunrise and then I went swimming.

Five days before yesterday I drove to work early in the morning and saw that the moon was still out and said ‘hello moon’ and had a sudden vision of a billion million different human beings dating back to the early cave people who had probably said the exact same thing in a billion million different languages.

Four days before yesterday I had a dream that I robbed a bank and suddenly ordinary things seemed so beautiful to me because I knew that I’d get caught and would be going to prison soon.

Three days before yesterday I thought I saw a boob on tumblr but it turned out to be a man boob.

Two days before yesterday I asked a kid who was staring at the wall what he was thinking about and he said 'jeans for a gorilla.'

The day before yesterday a bird took a giant green shit on my car's rear window.

Yesterday I did resin hits.

Today I taught an elementary special ed class and a six year old boy pulled his dick out during the days of the week song and made a loud rooster-type scream.

grim reaper blues {video}

Sweetheart soon this world will turn from day to dim to dark, and all this love will be a long extinguished flame. That touch, that clinging heat no more. Solid bodies the living wore now dissolved to whirls of unremembered atoms. Your warm hand I once held on the neon Ferris wheel now turned to every other nothing, gone like a parking lot carnival.

I shouldn't worry so much about it. I should try to be more like the sinking sun, steady in my regretless departure. I should let this day fade on its own terms and gladly accept the night with sleep in my eyes.

For many times before I too have felt myself half in love with easeful death. I have read the dead and dying poets. Like Lorca I have seen the crocodile’s patient gaze hidden in the water. I have driven down the highway stoned in no good direction. I have looked into coffins and felt their peace. I have stared up at the night sky and wondered where it ends.

In the midst of life we are in death, like the old saying goes. Death is as regular and ordinary as the rubber in a pair of shoes. One day I'm gonna die and so what, so will everybody else. But it’s hard when I start thinking about all the things I'll have to give away.

when you are not in love {video}

Of course you want a person who gives you affection and support and good sex and excitement, but even more than that you want someone who wants you, you longs for you when you’re away, who dreams about kissing you, who can’t live without you. And you want to want them too. 

This wanting is a sweet kind of torture that feels good in the night but also has an inherent tragedy to it, because it means being dependent on someone else for your happiness. 

When you are not in love, the great romances of your past become like old songs you can play through your head, intangible ghosts. But when you are in love you become a song yourself, or you become like a musical note in a song—crashing constantly into a mangle of vibratory, shimmering tones and melodies—some of which belong to you and some of which belong to the other person. The song will always end eventually, one way or another. Maybe it will be a long song or a short one. You are always in the air. But it is a beautiful way to be. 

When you are not in love, your pining becomes abstract. You don’t lust for one woman, but women in general. Your life congeals into a singular density—your needs, your dreams, your goals. Your hands feel harder. When you stand up you can feel the floor. That is also a beautiful way to be, but you must be able to appreciate the silence it lives in.

my word transfigured heart {video}

The city outside was noisy, but all I could hear was the sizzle of slow burning cigarette paper and my own mumbling heart.  And the good book says: I will take away the stony heart and give to you a heart of flesh.  But I was tired of that too soft heart of mine.  That wet twitching heart, fuck you.  All it did was give me a bunch of feelings.  I didn’t want it anymore.  I wanted to get stoned.  

I peeled off my sticky socks and wiggled my toes.  I wanted to hold the hot smoke in my chest until my chest rose like a balloon, carrying me into the sky.  I smoked the joint until it was nothing but a thin little roach, and then I put it out.

Well here I am again, I thought.  Hanging in the thin air.

My mind was lit up like a pinball machine.  For a stoned moment I felt like I could say the world’s most beautiful thing.  And the good poet says: it shall come as naturally as leaves to the tree.  Like exhaling a lung of smoke, I would simply open my mouth and my word transfigured heart would ease out into the atmosphere.

the deep sea {video}

A thousand meters below the surface of the ocean lies the deep sea.

The pressure in the deep sea is 300 times that of the pressure on land. There is almost nothing to eat down there. To conserve energy, many of the creatures that live in the deep sea have evolved methods of remaining motionless for weeks or months at a time, waiting suspended in the blind unlit nothing for a chance meal to float its way.

Sunlight can’t penetrate water beyond a thousand meters. The rest of the way goes on in total darkness, sometimes for miles and miles. It’s always been that way. The deep sea has never seen the sun, it doesn’t even know the sun exists. I don’t know why V. killed herself and it really bothers me sometimes, thinking about it. I wish that she hadn’t done that. The deep sea is full of volcanic mountains that spew poisonous sulfuric gases, and geysers that are hot enough to melt steel.

A constant shower of organic matter floats down from the upper waters and falls to the ocean floor. This is called Marine Snow. Marine Snow is the largest food source in the deep sea. Most Marine Snow is composed of pieces of dead animals, plankton, and fecal matter. I used to know a few people who sold crack. I’d be smoking a blunt or drinking a beer with them and out of nowhere a junkie would appear among us, holding their arms or picking their face, sniveling and desperate like junkies always are. One time a woman showed up wearing an expression on her face like she’d just clubbed her own child to death because somebody told her to. It was the most defeated look that I’d ever seen on another human being. It’s a war, this life, a war that defeats us all. In front of the woman and everybody else my friend said loudly “Anybody want their dick sucked?” and laughed and laughed and laughed as if life was a never ending carnival of pleasure.

Literature is supposed to be good for something, isn’t it? All this talking isn’t just for your own desperate little ego. Language isn’t some alien world unto itself. Language exists for humans. All this solitary work that eats a hole in your heart and burns your years away, isn’t it supposed to count for something beyond your own hollow amusement? Aren’t you supposed to be reaching people? 

Imagine that my hands are gripped around your shirt. My breath is on your face, my eyes are wide open, and I am shaking you as hard as I fucking can. Come back to the world. Don’t be dead. You once happy inhabitants of the windblown breathing world, you sweethearts of the sun, you moon-eyed moon gazers, come back. And beware. For even now, we are within the deep sea’s clutches.

the first time i shot a gun {story}

The first time I shot a gun was in high school when I went camping with Greg and Jerry in La Grange. In the morning we ate mushrooms and decided to take the guns out and go hunting.

I think we only walked a quarter mile into the woods, but for most of the time I was worried that we'd get hopelessly lost and die in the wilderness like The Blair Witch. It was early fall. Jerry kept giggling the whole time. I remember compulsively wiping away handfuls of drug sweat from my face, the kind of sweat that's thick and dark and heavy like a kind of poison.

At some point it was decided that we should try to get some boars. We'd heard that they were getting overpopulated. Our plan of attack was basically to sit around talking and smoking cigarettes and if we saw a boar, we'd shoot it. Soon we were peaking and seeing boars all over the place. The rocks all looked like boars, and the trees too, and everything with a shadow. There we were, blasting away.

I could hear them snorting and digging their hooves in the mud. Then it got cloudy and the sky suddenly turned the color of warthog's hairy blubber, pressing down on us. We trained our rifle scopes at the sky and pulled the trigger again and again. As far as I can remember we didn't catch anything.

a newer person, slightly older {poem}

Yesterday has changed us, or been changed by us. And the day before that, and the day before that. So we can never be repeated, even if we repeat ourselves endlessly. We are always new, trading older selves for newer duplications. A newer person, slightly older.

my life so far {poem}

The only things I cared about was reading books and getting stoned.  If I had a choice between blue skies and Babel, I would pick Isaak every time.  I kept a joint in my cigarette pack for every inappropriate occasion.  There wasn’t the slightest interest in me to keep my feet on the ground. I wanted no association with reality. The only way I wanted to see life was through a pair of bloodshot eyes, or in the reflection of a white page.  The outside world was a ghost to me.  The only realities I considered worth knowing were the ones I dreamed up inside my skull, and I was dreaming all the time.

dying cockroach blues {poem}

The silent struggle of a half-squashed insect on its back: brainless legs clawing the air. 

Supposedly insects don’t think or feel anything, so I shouldn’t feel guilty for stomping one half to death and watching it twitch for awhile. Supposedly the cockroach knows no unbearable moment of surprise, no sudden passage from life to death, no terror. So I guess it’s pretty stupid of me to feel sad once its legs stop moving.

persistence {poem}

It took me many years to gain the strength and endurance to fuck mountains. I started masturbating with small bags of charcoal and slowly worked up from there.


Chris Dankland took a giant bong hit and instantly felt his molecules dissolve in a warm rush. He exhaled all the smoke in his lungs and then he exhaled his lungs themselves, which had also turned into smoke. He watched his legs shrivel up like the Wicked Witch as he exhaled them too. His gaping mouth spewed white smoke like an old time train. He exhaled his torso, his chest, and then his arms and shoulders. Soon he was just a head on the floor...and then he exhaled his head too. He saw a nearby open window and slithered outside, into the wind. Next stop: stratosphere.