Brian Eckert

Writer. Wanderer. Dreamer. Skeptic. Man.

The Relapse

The old man was sitting on the back patio in his bathrobe, a half-empty bottle of wine in front of him.

He held the stem between forefinger and thumb and swirled the wine around in the glass. He sniffed deeply of the blood red liquid, took a sip, and let the wine linger in his mouth before swallowing.

“Ahhh,” he said. “Good tannins. A bit sweet, but also dry. Wonderful dark color. Malbec is an interesting grape. It thrives in very particular growing conditions. The best Malbec is grown in the area around Mendoza, Argentina.”

“I thought you didn’t drink,” I said.

“I didn’t. Until right now, I hadn’t had a drink in 20 years. But I said to myself, you know what, why the fuck not? You have so little to look forward to as you get older. Why the fuck not?”

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“I will broomstick you”

The Sea and the Old Man

“Before outside contact, New Guinean highlanders spent their entire lives within a few miles of their villages, and as far as we know, none had ever seen the sea, which was just 100 miles away. It seems likely the whole world was like this in prehistory.”

-Jared Diamond

I ask the old man if I can borrow his car to drive to the coast.

“No,” he says. But he will drive me.

The old man used to travel the world selling wine.

“Did you enjoy travel?” I ask him. “I’d like to travel more.”

“Don’t bother,” he says. “Most places are terrible.”

“I’ve always wanted to go to India.”

“The people shit in the streets in India.”

“What about China?”

“In China it’s just the children who shit in the streets. Did you know that in China they fertilize with human shit? Well let me tell you, you learn that the hard way.”

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Cairns

Laws of Physics

Roger knocked on the door. Yvette answered wearing a bathrobe.

“Hi love,” she said, turning her head to the side for a European-style double cheek kiss.

Roger hated the Euro-kiss. Yvette had picked it up from a new French friend. He took solace in the fact that the Euro-kiss phase would pass, like every other phase before it: the cat-eye makeup phase, the barefoot running phase, the tarot card phase, the feminist literature phase, the vegetarian activist phase.

This too shall pass.

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Treefolk

Bessie

The man could not stand the barking anymore.

The little dog’s hysterical ky-yiying smashed his thoughts into a million pieces and scattered them to the wind.

It was possible that he was autistic. He’d known an autistic child who screeched like a banshee when the crosswalk machine beeped, or the microwave.

The beep was all, the yipping was all, all-consuming, all-encompassing.

He could not take it anymore.

He would go see the neighbor.

The man knocked on the door lightly, hoping that no one would answer. But someone did answer, nearly right away.

She was older, attractive, although a closer look revealed her wear. She’d had work done, and had a bit of the clownish look plastic surgery gives older women.

“Hi, I’m your neighbor, behind you,” he said, pointing clumsily.

“Oh are you the one who took that place? I’m Pamela.”

“Chris. Chris Patton. So, Pamela, what I wanted to speak to you about was the dog. I find its bark…distressing. I’m sorry, it’s the nature of the work I do. I’m easily distracted.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

Pamela reacted as though Chris said “telekinesis” or “acrobatics” instead of “writer.”

“A writer? Oh how interesting! What do you write?”

“Independent journalism. Freelance.”

“We could use a journalist down at the meeting tonight. We’re experiencing a youth suicide epidemic in this town. I’m not sure if you knew that, I know you’re new in town. Anyway, maybe you could help. Shine a light, you know?”

“Sure. Maybe I can check it out.”

“Come in for a moment, let me get your number.”

Chris followed Pamela inside the house.

“This is Bessie. She’s the one making all that awful noise. She gets distressed when she can’t see her family…me and my husband. And the grandkids and my daughter, when they’re around. Bessie’s a rescue dog. The poor thing was horribly abused when we got her. Now, what’s your number?”

“841-719-6427.”

“I just love volunteering in the community. My husband works in Farmingdale, that’s about 2.5 hours south of here. It’s too far to commute every day so he keeps a place close to work and comes home weekends.”

Bessie ran out the dog door and started in barking at something. Another dog barked, then another, and another, and soon the entire neighborhood was going.

Chris scrunched up his face at the noise.

“I’ll send you a message about the meeting time. It’s just awful, all these young people killing themselves—I don’t know if it’s the social media, the cyber bullying, or what.”

“They seem to have it all, yet they’re so unhappy. Everyone seems so unhappy.”

Pamela’s surgically enhanced eyes cringed when Chris said this. Chris thought it looked like she was about to cry.

The dog was quieter after that. Chris didn’t talk to Pamela again, although he sometimes watched her out his bedroom window walking Bessie, who sniffed at the grass and wiggled happily.

Pamela always wore a long visor to protect her face from the sun. Chris thought it made her look like a widow in mourning.

Silverton, Colorado

Wolf Creek Pass

Mesa Verde

Durango, Colorado

Four Corners

Grand Canyon

Vegas, Baby

The Road

Mount Shasta

Redwoods

Rhubarb

Pre’s Trail

The Globalist

The Globalist puts arsenic in your tea and lead in your pencil.

The Globalist rounds up infants at night and returns them with chips in their heads.

The Globalist has always been at war with you.

 

The Globalist tells you no; you may not have your steel belted radials, now either go off and die or lend a hand with this circus tent.

The Globalist knows you will come to love him, as he once did.

God damn the Globalist for not making me an offer.

Oh Boy, It’s Raining Again

In the Pacific Northwest

you can get quite depressed

in winter, with its clouds and its rain.

Sure, the plants are all green

but what does that mean

when you’re slowly going insane?

 

The locals don’t mind

the lack of sunshine

it sure beats the snow, they insist.

But at least when its cold

there’s not all this mold

growing up out of the mist.

 

A queer little breed,

these Northwesterners, indeed

between them and the world, a cloud buffer.

They say they don’t mind it

but most folks, I’m reminded

find it harder to change than to suffer.

 

The rain does bring flowers

and sometimes, mid-shower

I venture out into the fray.

Be still, cabin fever!

Soon enough, I will leave here.

Let me make what damp joy I may.

 

Splitter splat

on my PVC hat,

the rain seeping through to my shirt.

Quack,

says a duck, a most unfortunate fuck

who makes his home in the dirt.

 

Dribble drabble plop

the rain it won’t stop.

It’s turning the folks into shrooms.

But oh, they don’t care,

with their recirculated air,

pleasuring themselves in their rooms.

 

Later on in the year, just like that

clouds will clear.

By then, I should be on my way.

Sentimental and sad, I’ll swear,

winter wasn’t so bad.

Perhaps for a bit longer I’ll stay.

Darkness

Night passes much quicker than you think it does.

Fall asleep and you might miss it.

 

Day, in its dawn to dusk tyranny,

oppresses the Darkness,

keeping moon and stars

under lock and key.

 

Suppressed night-knowledge

hidden from children who gaze, like Narcissus, into lighted pools

blinded by the glare of their own setting sun.

 

I wake in the middle of the night of a full moon,

see the world bathed in incandescent light,

and understand there is an entire life I have never experienced.

 

The night is full of strange creatures

who’ve crawled out from under their shadows

longing for the light they will drown in.

 

I breathe damp, mushroom air outside my window, look up at the stars and wonder

how it can all be like this.

The world could be anything, but instead it’s like this.

Horus

Bloodless

I.

Remember yourself on this day;

The way you looked, the way you talked, the way the sun shone on you;

The way you wanted so badly for something to happen.

 

II.

A friend suffered a nervous breakdown the other day and I thought,

“Oh, good for him!”

as if it were a wedding announcement, a

pronouncement of man and grief,

Together forever

til death do them part.

 

III.

Remember yourself on this day;

The way you thought, the way you moved, the color of your face, the color of your teeth.

 

IV.

Visiting my friend, he told me it was a constant effort to disavow the world and

the unpleasant thoughts that plagued him.

 

“Thoughts of this earth, that

live and die like us,

live when they’re fed and die when they’re not,

like us.”

 

V.

Remember the way he looks today;

The way he moves, the way the light shines off of his mother-of-pearl eyes

into rearranging depths.

 

VI.

“I am so

full of information,

overstuffed with book things,

I could explode;

something must come out.

There must be a bloodletting.”

 

VII.

I understand why some people cut themselves, for

the warmth of the blood and the immediacy of its presence;

the feeling of something happening.

 

We offer ourselves up for sacrifice

daily and rise from the promise of our life given.

 

The ritual of happiness, the ritual of work, the ritual of love.

Never real happiness or real work or real love.

Always a blood sacrifice,

Never a sacrificial God.

 

VIII.

Til Death do us part, let us Pray:

The Truth will not make you happy;

The truth is a mouth full of sand.

The Truth will not set you free;

The truth is a 3-legged dog.

 

IX.

“I so often feel a ghost.

I yearn to have my blood back. I miss the weight of it in my veins, a great tide rising and falling with the moon cycles.”

I would see the whole world destroyed, just to feel something.”

Raft