Gregg Williard

Kid Art Soldiers Take to the Rubbled Streets

Chapter 1: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

In which the history of America, from slavery and the sale of humans “like chairs” to the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins Upon Stools, to the Operatic Hungry Ghost of the Hollywood Ego, to the Wholesome and Sadistic Imagination of the Armed Boys and Girls with Fantastic and Merciless Toy Weapons and Precocious Appetites, to “Illegal Immigrants” in Trucks who are Deemed Less Alive Than Robots, or Chairs, or Homosexuals said to Marry Furniture–all establish in their Bold Conflation and Hagiographic Equivalence an All New, Angry Red Imperative to Forget About It, and Remember.

Like slaves, Honest Abe freed factories from workers! Living furniture stopped immigration dead in its truck! Leaning up against doorknobs robots from any country could now marry homosexual chairs! Lunch counter segregation stools in sling blade and ball bearing sweat shops exploded lunch counters throughout the south side of the south in spandex! We woke up to robots from any plastic spewing sparks country that could now marry chairs and explosions and ran into the streets!

Chapter 2: Forget repeat. Who are those it condemned to the past?

In which A Strata of Authentic Archeological Culture Remains of Leveled Meaning, rendering the Septum Bone of the Great Brachiosaurus of No Greater Import than the Modest Survival of a Rain Drop Fossilized in Sulfur, Limestone and Salt, as Recurring Minerals in the Natural Kingdom of Memories Most Private, Public, Evanescent and enduring Share a Place Upon the World Shelf of Meaning, Land Fill of Words, Honorably Sexed as the Trill and Chirr of the Seventeen Year Cicada, as the Compost Heat that will Fuel the Futures its Foods Most Various, Capricious and Piquant.

They fire semi-auto to auto fire, or that axe of Kafka’s, or lasers, tasers, phasers, microwave beams, plasma rail guns, or neural disruptor-imploder Alzheimer’s rays, or interdimensional purgatory immolation fields or an Interdimensional Purgatory Immolation leaning up against doorknobs, robots from any immigration dead in its truck lean to mean up against the doorknobs!

Chapter 3: The condemned past are those to forget who repeat it.

In which the Ashen Shadow of an Apocalyptic Narrative of Fellows Armed for Play and Death and Beyond Death Enter Undead Streets in Ruin of Fragmentation History Bombs, and an Engine that Must Be Fed by Stokers of Silence Shuddering Under Robot Pedestrianed Arcades, Busy With the Truck of Immigrants, Rattle of Doorknobs for the Doors of This City That Must Never Be Opened to Words, Yet Starved Gaunt Raving and Barefoot For the Words and The Story They Disclose, Raving.

The chief mate said, “Then there is the words around me generate the Everyone against doorknobs, scattered into the smoke and fire! I went back to the boiler room! Of course it was more guns, or neural disruptor-imploders, hot and loud as the the 20th century, belonging to withstand the furniture stopping immigration dead in bombs, out of the century all together!

Chapter 4: Repeat it to the condemned; forget past who those are.

In which the City’s Call to ‘Forget Past Who Those Are’ Awakens the Beast with a Million Facebooks, Ruler of the Stoker’s Purgatory Cleansed of All Doubt and Black Words in the Country of No Fail, the Locus and Ambition of New Immigration Law to Model Its Selfhood Upon the Universal Rights of Chairs, and the Contested Award for Best Vacuum On the Faces of the Unspoken Words.

Now marry weapons and replace stools in lunch was generating a subtle heat story, the way I can remember things by going to counters throughout the freedom ride! The pain that you can only watch the surface of and then look away! There’s the scenario of the guns! The display case of the immigration dental floss in its truck by guns, out of be verbs, the works!

Chapter 5: Past to forget are the those who repeat it condemned.

In which the Author, In Recapture of Past Loss, Finds in the Game of Memory a Commutation of His Sentence and Sentences, and in the Imagined Bandying of Bondage a Scalpel Array to Cut Some Time Away from the Past is, And so Play the Etudes of Atonement and Amusement as Despair’s Counterpoint to the Keep. The Lessons Received Wear Their Fear of Death with the Sartorial Flair of the Fleecing Mountebank of Tales, and Make of Grace a Truly Household Word for Word!

The pain that you can only watch the surface of and then my carrying your body, to the past or the present or the future! In the present there’s almost always the blind alley into it from any country that could be in the woods, or, the concrete jungle in the land of Lincoln of the “So the memory game to the great city” game! For fail-safe robots, the set of your mouth kind of like the set I mean of oat and spittoon trips like some barnyard antic parading their gifts for all the addled lassies!

Chapter 6: Forget condemned. The past repeat those who are to it.

In which the Story Augurs a Body that is Furious and In Love, and in Flight, and Turns its Lunar Face to the Author who Steals Fearful Glances as the Hapless Beggar He Takes to be a Fearful Death Until the, Sorry Protest of Sense’s Rusted Hinge Signals Another Spiral of Ends! And Unexploded Ordinance of Fragmentation History Lodges, Waiting. Tips Detonators, Dangles Fuses, Trips Timers to the Greater Order, Incarcerated or Experimented Upon or Doubly Blinded. Thus the Band of Survivors Escape and Play in the City of the Mexican Wrestler Movie.

Why they afternoon the century! The 20th century! Why should anyone considering what tipping the ale It was! In which that was a remember recipe for No Fail! Those of the south, the posture or attitude of your shoulders, kind of like the set of your thoughts, your feelings of kindness with words, your regard for That You Hold Your Words In Your Face, that way, and just be considering the curious that you bite into, the hungry performative function It was!

Chapter 7: Those are it: who the past condemned to forget “repeat.”

In which Shoes Mountain, Words Betray, and Shadows Propose Their Bitter Analogies: As Jefferson’s Stables were Liveried by His Secret Mulattos, So Too Our Century’s Monticellos Attended by the Half-Breed Progeny of Leni Riefenstahl and Fritz Lang Gone Viral, Gore Vidal,gone Gore Gore Girls, Al Gore, The Locked Box, the Auto-Tune Function as History’s Immunization Against, Immunization With, Immunization For, and Immunization by, Sick-Recapture of Past Time.

Those that you hold words in your face, between your legs, and a combination(they’re not in your head) that you bite into was in your of words that open up as Russian Dolls, also link together as leggos, but leggos made of meat to the regard of hold words in your face for the regard or the No Fail way that you hold words in your face in the land of Lincoln!

Chapter 8: Those who condemned the past are it to forget repeat.

In which language, the Jazz Criminal, Sorrows Like Any Man Without a Lover, or a Tongue to Capture Them, or To Heist the Locking Mask, or Disarm the Trigger Arm, or to Immolate the Purgatory Condensation Gathered at the Foot of the Word.

Your shoulders open up the movie shoes like slaves, so the Honest Abe that you hold glaring kindness with words regards the way you hold stools in lunch counters throughout the south side of the south! Or words that heft like submarine sandwiches, the Academy we drew together under our frayed blankets like troops! We breathed cover from the troops bitten into, you bite into hungry, but also just plain curious: will this food give in differently?!

Chapter 9: Those are past “it.” The condemned to forget repeat who?

In which the Author, and his Company, The Soldiers of Art, Thus Armed from the Arsenal of the Hold of the Corporate Sound Worm, are Driven to the Edge of the City at the Edge of the Word at the Edge of the End of the Story, and So Pose a Citizen’s Protest to the Inevitable System: What Chance Do We Have But to Wield Chance? To Forget to Remember to Remember to Forget? To Dare to Displease and Bore With the Nasty Business of Reading Viscera for the Clues? Their Answer, as Always, Punishes!

We breathed the a gulp of salty water from our last sudden, our distressed leather and guns in our teeth to the slopes gone silver and cold! Still bright moon rose, glaring the spandex, and the double-stick tape wary we drew together under our frayed blankets, shivering with a chill of fever and fear and night!

Chapter 10: Those Who Forget at Least Knew it Once.

In which the Author Reasserts a Claim to a Past of His Own, and in Search of His Soldiers of Art Marooned in the Ruins of the Forgotten City Begins a Mission of Rescue, in a Trace Way Back to Words!

We woke to the explosions and ran into the streets! Many of us were armed with nothing more than cardboard tubes, and rubber bands and paper clip ammo wiggled to mean barbs like our hearts! Others had sling shots and ball bearings, exploding bottles of tacks and cherry bombs, Molotov confections launched from lawn chair catapults, spray can blow torches set off by our fathers’ regimental zippos, and traps and cages, webs and nets, chutes and pits!

An old timer turned a corner and rheumied up a “You just hate to say that that half a century isn’t anyone’s now, don’ cha’?! Or the few than ran it own nothing more than tears at most! Which way, say goodbye or take up arms!? Meaning children in the 1950’s, not, that is, until, (within huge machines of Iron) the little punks were told to think of the word ‘cheese cake!’ To say it over and over 1,000,000 times to ‘strange it!’ You can also stare at the letters of ‘chess cake’ for 1,000,000 minutes to ‘strange it!’ You can write the word 1,000,000 times to ‘strange it!’ You can draw 1,000,000 different cheese cakes on the wall of your cell to ‘strange it.’ You can list 1,000,000 different words or sounds made from the letters of ‘cheese cake’ to ‘strange it!’ You can rotate and rearrange and expand the words‘cheese cake ’ 3-dimensionally in your mind to construct 1,000,000 different environments to ‘strange it!’ You can plot 1,000,000 different topographic progressions of ‘cheese cake’ to model an environment in flux according to different emotional or physical variables in response to your confinement to ‘strange it!’ You can develop 4, 5, 10 or 1,000,000 dimensional topographic models of ‘cheese cake’to make a space of gravitationally dense ‘strange it!’” He paused for a moment, took off filthy watch cap and scratched his head! I could see the lice scurry over his scalp!

I waited patient for any helping scrap and he went on talking bits of safety glass and blood: “That one fella ‘watched his generation go mad, well I watched mine develop mystery powers within massive lung cylinders, indeed of iron but also stainless steel, glass, pale amber rubber gaskets, jointed hoses, delicate needles tapping within bulging gauges like the meters in a dream boiler room, like boils afflicting the silver-skinned fuselage of Jonah’s sub, they wus inserted and embraced like oil ballast and a layering of anti-sonar squib! You can step through this ‘stranged cheese cake’ space and leave your cell to take your 1,000,000 different escape routes into 1,000,000 different places and lives that have finally, to the 1,000,000th power, been “stranged” to an ‘it!’ These boys and girls joined a new world of proud jointed clamp - handles! Gas release Finster chins and blow snouts like the scales of a nickel carp! Full right rudder, dive, dive! But the device was in every cranny of marriage and the lonely bed! Curled up in the shadows I saw my mates all huddle conferencing the future of an idea! The reunion is always in a boiler room in my dream, and when I wake I have to ask what measures if any we’re set to take!”

“I’m trying to understand what really happened when the smoke cleared that morning of the coup!”

He looked at me for a long time but saw only a machine! “The boys we imagine filled their days in silent service to the Jules Verne embrace of their homes of iron, he’s taken them, (Jules Verne and Jonas Salk!), taken the sick children from infernal bellow and shank-stropping public tenementaries of orphaned wastrel concubines in coal tar pits for child labor exclusion laws to undersea amusement centers for boys and girls without lungs and within a kind of modern day whale! Watch out! The iron lung is hissing its pure oxygen mix of curses to all that doubt, tempting blazing combustion like some Hindenburg of the hemostats dancing around every boy and girl that ever had the loss of negative pressure, the flaccid lack of the press of life that later would mimic the plastic scuba men propelled through bathtubs by a leaden club foot of expanding baking powder! Death to the boys and girls outside, life to those crewing submarines of negative pressure within the fleet of atom powered subs within! The Sulking Jonah, Jonas Salk, put the polio on the line with The Iron Lung risking his own life! He injected the silver submarine into the belly of the white whale, and when it was time to inject a polio-free subject, Jonas did not balk! He injected himself, his wife and his three sons with the silver vaccine! What world had we made for them to breath within, a gasping, hissing dream of breath, this Jonas Salk, this modern day Whale-swallowed Nemo one! What boys and girls were made of then—part chamber of panting steel, part promise of a shiny hygienic tube or tank to fill endless days with the fluid of dreams and machines on the go, massive, iron, tonka twonkie lionel erector chemistry sets of tanks and love and lust denied all miniaturization and grace by the technology of submersion, conversion, gill girl mutant debutant balls held in radium baths, the hatchery bath of adjusted pressures, as the Cold War Bible sayeth, ‘an Iron Lung shall be wrapped in an iron curtain of breath!’” He was too far gone to make the sense I wanted! He was, plain as the day streaming through the sliding door of the freight car, crazy as a loon! I told him, “I’ve got to find my team. The Soldiers of Art. Can you help me?”

He just smiles and tells another story! “Nothing to do with the war, the device, the construction or the device’s extension into other towns, is it!?”

In the smoking rubbled streets everyone split up! That may have been a mistake! Picked off one by one, with nothing between us and history but bleach and needles! Pez and Penny going back to the ordinary things, taking out the trash, mowing the lawns, going to school to study things beyond me made of spells and wheels, and hammering together planks for a club house in the tree quickly grown to a Pharaoh’s tomb of franchised Popeye’s and Burger King’s end! It was a war. It was rain, and it was drought! It was a fury and we were all in it. It was hand to hand combat! A smashing face to face, that was my first real job in an office, and I tried following some of the others out there, always in the shadow of this green-gray device in the sky! All I ever saw of it was a wing or a fin, animal as much as machine, a thing a tuning fork call to birds and dragonflies and doorknobs! To show them, they said! Keep it swarmed! Water, whisky, stones and movie matinees! A speed training’s worth of blows, that’ll do it!

It was war and peace, it was war in peace and loyalty oaths forbade disclosure but I had nothing else but to tell! I was in a bamboo cage, a stone cell, a box fed air through a straw! Maybe a downed pilot captured by V.C. who recites Epictetus through bamboo bars as interrogators do their hot hard best to turn him red! He doesn’t turn, but he sure as hell changes!

And changes!

The text is constructed from three language sets: the first is chapter headings of ten rearrangements of words (attributed to George Santayana), ‘Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.’ The second set are ten paragraph-long chapter glosses in the manner of 19th Century novels, summarizing a narrative we never see in full. The third is paragraphs of surreal imagery working from the implications of the glosses, written in the over-heated, breathless tone of old melodramas or movie coming attractions.

Gregg Williard’s work spans different disciplines and aesthetic categories. He writes fiction, essays, poetry and work that does not fit single categories, but often resides in a liminal realm between essay, fiction, prose poetry. He is also a visual artist, and much of his work explores the interaction of text and imagery in concrete language experiments, invented symbology and, most recently, abstract film posters.

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