Porcelain Strawberry (Part IV)

Image by Daniela Huhurez

Image by Daniela Huhurez

What follows is a selection from The Sacred Lost Tomes of The Ryan, the brief and terrible history of which is glossed over here and here.  “Porcelain Strawberry” is the second piece of short fiction I can recall having ever written, not including whatever crap I may or may not have been churning out in my adolescence, and has been presented here in several parts over the past week or so.  It was initially written for an assignment in a creative writing class at the University of New Mexico, and was influenced and informed by Nicholson Baker’s novella The MezzanineBut I won’t tell you HOW…that’s for you to discover, intrepid reader!  Go here to read Part I, click here for Part II, and navigate this way for Part III.  BEHOLD, the Finale, Part IV, below:

strawberry-field-sweet

One night, months later, as we lay together, entwined in one another, I look deeply into her entrancing, oceanic eyes, and I feel as if that moment will stretch on forever. I hope to myself that it does. I have something I’ve wanted to say to her since the moment we met, and the feeling of this moment tells me the time is right.

“I…love you,” I say softly, stroking her delicate cheek with the tips of my fingers. She smiles and kisses the tip of my nose, burying her head in the crook of my neck. But not before a flash of surprised, perplexed fear plays ever so briefly across her face. I say nothing, but I am disconcerted by this, a feeling that haunts the halls of my mind for weeks, festering and growing until I can focus on nothing else.

Images of other men begin creeping into my mind more and more often, no longer restraining themselves to times when we’re apart, and I take to visiting her perhaps too often at her job, sometimes lingering outside the entrance watching, waiting, minutes, hours, before even going in. I try to mask my suspicion and jealousy, but this becomes increasingly difficult. Too often I come upon her talking to some handsome, masculine guy, and I wonder at what’s behind her warm smile with him, the proximity of their bodies, the generosity with which she shows him to various sections of the bookstore. Sometimes I hang back and watch during these encounters, but most often I rush up, putting a possessive arm around her shoulders, maybe kissing her cheek or neck, as I shoot the bastard a contemptuous glare in warning. Usually I am a decidedly non-confrontational person – I generally just don’t care enough – but this is different. This girl is mine.

We are eating dinner at Vincilli’s one evening, our favorite spot for those rare occasions in which we dine out in style, when the already awkward conversation between us takes a turn for the worst.

“I need to talk to you,” she tells me, putting down her fork and pushing away a half-eaten plate of chicken alfredo. Her eyes are surprisingly cold, her face tight and emotionless.

“What is it, babe,” I say, trying to mask my fear and unease with overt sweetness.

“I think we need to cool it off for a while.” Her words are a kick in my chest, a vice-grip on my heart. That familiar, sickly, sinking feeling creeps into my gut. I clench my jaw to stifle the nausea.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she continues. “It’s been great being with you…” She pauses, my mouth hanging open in shock and loss. “Well…it was great, at first, but…but lately, things have gotten sort of…suffocating.” My head falls with this last word. I want to bring it down with a bang onto the table, to cry out, to do something, anything to release this vicious, pulsating tension building up in my skull and chest, climbing its way on sharpened claws down my spine. That’s the same thing Kate said, years ago, the last time I had dared to open myself to another person.

“I just think, y’know, if we saw other people for a while, maybe…maybe we’d remember why we got together in the first place.” Disconnected thoughts run fleetingly through my mind, countless things I want to say, but I can’t grasp any of them long enough to form them into coherence. I feel my brow wrinkle, beads of sweat gathering as my eyes dart wildly across the cluttered surface of the table, unable to focus on any one thing. I certainly can’t bring myself to look up at her.

“Aren’t you going to say anything? Are you just going to sit there, pretending like you didn’t hear me?” I close my eyes, take a deep breath, try to collect myself, desperately grasping for anything that might make her stay.

“You…you’re breaking up with me?” The disbelief in my voice is obvious. “I thought we were going to spend our lives together…I thought we were…made for each other.”

“I thought so too, but…I just think if we could spend some time apart…see how we both feel about…about giving some other people a try…”

“But, I don’t want anyone else. All I want is you. I…I love you.” She smirks at those last words, condescending.

“I’m sure you think you do. But, how can you be so sure? I mean, you’ve only really been with one other person. I’ve only ever been with you, so…so how can we know something like that?” She waits for me to respond, but I have nothing left to say. I can’t focus on the moment long enough to react to it. I feel myself begin to grow cold inside, my heart withering, a brief surge of pain shooting through my body before it goes numb…again. And when she finally gets up to leave, I can’t make myself go after her.

Image by Dambreaker

Image by Dambreaker

Months later, I’m on the phone with her again. Supplicate. Pleading with her to allow me a place in her life.

“It’s too late for that,” she retorts, her voice thick with aggravation. “You fucked that up. I told you I wanted some space, but you couldn’t give it to me. I’ve seen you outside my work, outside my home, every day for the last month. I feel like you’re stalking me, and now you want me to let you back into my life? Forget it, you fucking psycho, there’s no way.” I try to break in, to tell her I’m different, I’ve changed, I’ll give her space if that’s what she wants, if only she’ll remain.

“Get a life,” she snaps before slamming down the phone.

After this, eternity. I find myself in a sick state of self-loathing, plunged down into the blackest pit of misery and dejection, a hole which the light of nothing can pierce. Even that splintering speck of pleasure and superiority I once felt at focusing on the pathetic weakness in others is now gone, and I feel nothing but scornful contempt at the world around me. There is nothing, a perpetual emptiness, in everything I see.

I try to call. Her number is disconnected. I go by the bookstore, pretending to search for something in the Fiction Anthology section as I scan the store for her face. She is nowhere. Nowhere to be found, regardless of how often I return, how long I stay. Gone.

Blinking my eyes, I shake myself free of this fantasy turned dark. I look up, searching for my girl. She has crossed the bustling mall food court, making her way slowly toward the glass door exit. A guy walks next to her; they’re embraced hand-in-hand. When did he appear? Her head rests delicately on his shoulder, his black beanie matching the style and hue of her wooly black sweater. Quickly, I rise. Make way across the sea of tables, following her. Following them. She has changed me, in this moment. She has taken grasp of pieces of my tender soul, my innermost being, and I must pursue her to make them complete. I must possess her.

She will be mine.

Grey Matter by Amy Goodwin

Grey Matter by Amy Goodwin


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Porcelain Strawberry (Part III)

From Kurt Vonnegut: Drawings

From Kurt Vonnegut: Drawings


What follows is a selection from The Sacred Lost Tomes of The Ryan, the brief and terrible history of which is glossed over here and here.  “Porcelain Strawberry” is the second piece of short fiction I can recall having ever written, not including whatever crap I may or may not have been churning out in my adolescence, and will be presented here in several parts over the next few days.  It was initially written for an assignment in a creative writing class at the University of New Mexico, and was influenced and informed by Nicholson Baker’s novella The MezzanineBut I won’t tell you HOW…that’s for you to discover, intrepid reader!  Go here to read Part I, and here for Part II.  BEHOLD, the ecstatic majesty of Part III, below:

strawberry-field-sweet

“Oh my god, I love David Lynch!” I exclaim. “I can’t wait until they put the rest of Twin Peaks on DVD, which they better do…otherwise…” She grins at me, her expression one of admiration or perhaps growing attraction.

“Yeah, Twin Peaks was pretty cool, but my personal favorite is Mulholland Drive. I have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time, but it’s a great movie anyways. I’m not a lesbo or anything, but Naomi Watts is sooo hot!” My mind shifts briefly to the sex scene in the film before returning to the conversation.

“Well, maybe we could watch it together sometime, and I could explain what I got out of it. I think I have most of it figured out, except I’m still struggling with the blue box and the monster behind Winky’s.” Her eyes glow as her smile grows even bigger, and I think I notice her cheeks redden ever so slightly.

“I’d like that. Aren’t you going to drink your coffee?”

Eventually the conversation turns to body modifications when I mention the silver stud piercing the middle of her tongue.

“Do you have any other piercings or tattoos?” She answers by pulling down the top hem of her jeans, which fit her form nicely, revealing a colorful tattoo of a faerie sitting atop a magical mushroom. It is on the part of her left hip just underneath the curve of her belly, inward from the subtle, sexy protrusion of her hip bone, a spot I confess to her is extremely sensitive and ticklish on my own body. I also catch a glimpse of a silver, crescent-shaped stud, the ball on the end glimmering like a diamond, poking out from her navel before she smoothes her top back down.

“I like your belly-button ring,” I tell her, a hint of anxious seduction escaping with my voice. “I think that’s a really sexy piercing for a girl to have.”

“What about you, what kind of body art do you have?” I respond by turning in my chair and pulling up the back of my shirt, displaying the grinning, demonic painted faces that adorn my shoulder blades.

“Ooh, scary! I must confess, I have a sick fascination with jesters and trickster figures, as well. They’re so creepy, but in an oh-so-appealing way.”

“I have my nipples pierced, too, twice in each one,” I tell her, lifting up my shirt again to show them off. She pretends to wince in pain, but I can tell she is fascinated.

After finishing our coffee we decide to go for a drive, chatting and flirting over the trip-hop sounds of Tricky pulsing rhythmically from my speakers. The music grooves perfectly with the coming twilight as the sun begins to descend in a magnificent pool of brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, and purples, the texture of the billowy clouds designing the sky made all the more pronounced by the sun’s rays. I tell her I feel as though I’ve known her since before forever, and she confesses to feeling the same. I spot a Baskin Robbins near the next intersection, and we pull in to share a cup of Daiquiri Ice.

We end up at my place, and I apologize for the mess as I hold the door to my apartment open for her. She smiles mischievously, pulling me inside and pressing her lips to mine.   She is wearing lip gloss, or was, most of it worn off by now, but the faint taste of strawberries still lingers. We stumble over furniture I had forgotten was there as we make out way toward my room at the back of the apartment, grabbing and pulling feverishly at one another’s clothes while kissing deeply, passionately, lovingly.

“I don’t usually do this,” she breathes into my ear as I nibble at her neck.

“Me neither,” I gasp, but can’t help wondering, Why would she do this now, here, with me?

I notice right away that she’s not turned on by the same things as Kate was. I try to recall some of the articles I’ve skimmed in waiting rooms or while browsing magazine racks, giving advice on how to become the perfect lover. As we explore one another, she makes the appropriate muffled moans and occasional ecstatic cries, signifying that she’s having a good time, but she seems distant, disconnected somehow. Each time our eyes meet, she closes hers, or looks away. I wonder to myself how many times she’s done this, with how many different people, and as if she’s reading my mind, she answers.”

“This is my first time,” she moans between frantic breaths. “You feel so good.” I smile and relax, burying myself in the moment and letting my fear and paranoia wash away in a sea of pleasure.

“This is my favorite part,” I whisper as we lie spooning afterward. She coos in agreement, snuggling closer and pressing her face into my chest. I kiss the top of her head lightly, and suddenly it is morning, the warm dawn sun streaming in broken rays through the shade covering my window and painting fragmented orange designs on the floor below.

                “Oh my god, I have to be to work in ten minutes,” she exclaims, jumping up, her eyes frantic as she searches the floor for her clothes. “Quick, get up! I need a ride!”

Image by John Sloan

Image by John Sloan

To be continued…


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Porcelain Strawberry (Part II)

Image by Bill Vernon

Image by Bill Vernon


What follows is a selection from The Sacred Lost Tomes of The Ryan, the brief and terrible history of which is glossed over here and here.  “Porcelain Strawberry” is the second piece of short fiction I can recall having ever written, not including whatever crap I may or may not have been churning out in my adolescence, and will be presented here in several parts over the next few days.  It was initially written for an assignment in a creative writing class at the University of New Mexico, and was influenced and informed by Nicholson Baker’s novella The MezzanineBut I won’t tell you HOW…that’s for you to discover, intrepid reader!  Go here to read Part I.  BEHOLD, Part II, below: 

strawberry-field-sweet

I’m sitting in my bedroom a few days later, staring at the blank wall and trying not to think, when the phone rings. It takes me a minute to retrieve myself from the mountains and valleys of cracked paint before I can answer it. I’m delighted to hear her delicate voice on the other end.

“Hey, it’s me! Listen, this new piece I’m working on is driving me absolutely mad, and I really could use some normal human time. What do you say we get that cup of coffee? I know a great place. They have this cinnamon and cherry mix, you wouldn’t think it would be good, but just wait until you try it!” I wrinkle my nose at the thought of cherries, but accept her invitation anyway. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

The directions to her place are simple and I have no trouble finding it, but I circle around the block a few times anyways to kill time, not wanting to appear too eager. Finally I feel that it’s been long enough, and pull up to her apartment, a duplex with a small, yellowing lawn nearly overrun by ragweed and dandelions. As I walk towards the caged front door, I notice a dead sparrow lying at the edge of the walkway, its eye sockets seeming to stare at me regardless of their hollowness. There are bite marks around the head and wings, and I hope the cat belongs to the neighbors.

“Hey there, pretty lady,” I say with a hint of absurdity when she opens to door. She smiles, apparently satisfied with my meager attempt at humor, and grabs a woven green handbag before stepping out and shutting the door behind her.

“So, how have you been?” I ask, bringing up my hand to fiddle with a loose button on the western-style black shirt she is wearing over a deep purple tank top. I’m dismayed to find what appears to be a clump of shed cat hair clinging to the shirt, and brush it away, wiping my hand on my faded denim jeans and trying not to appear too disgusted. I think she’s saying something about the painting she’s been struggling with, but I’m too preoccupied with the thought of the cat to pay attention. We begin down the walkway, and I move my hand to the small of her back, letting it rest there lightly.

“Better now, though,” she replies, crossing her arms and leaning into me. “I’m going crazy spending all my time in that cramped apartment breathing paint fumes. It’s good to have someone to take a break with.” I ever-so-slightly tighten my grip around her and lead her to my truck, a beat-up brown Toyota that I can’t help but apologize for.

“Don’t be silly,” she says, jabbing me playfully in the ribs with her elbow. “I’m not the kind of girl who cares about nice cars and money.” I smile down at her, catching the scent of strawberries and cream as my nose brushes past her hair.

“Mmm, you smell delicious,” I say, and she smiles, cuddling underneath my arm. For a fleeting moment I can’t believe how easy this has been, and a slight twinge of anxiety begins to creep up inside of me, one of those “too-good-to-be” sensations. I also can’t help but think about other guys she might have been with – is she so trusting and open with every jerk-off who approaches her? The feeling of anxiety begins to turn into resentment, but I quickly push it down, suffocating it.

At the coffee shop I let her order for me, forgoing my usual bitter, black coffee in favor of the cherry-cinnamon concoction she so highly recommends. She asks for them grandé with a double shot of espresso, and once served we sit at a tiny table for two in the corner near a bookshelf, under a large print of Dali’s La Persistenza della Memoria. She catches me studying the minute details of the painting, and asks what I think of it. This reveals that we hold a shared fascination for his work, and I discover that she owns a print of my favorite Dali painting, Idylle Atomique et Uranique Melancolique. We are oblivious to the endless stream of self-important art neuveux intellectuals entering and leaving the café as we sit together in our own little world.

Dali_Idylle_Atomique_et_Uranique_Melancolique

To be continued…


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

farewell to self

Image ripped from poojycat at WordPress

Image ripped from poojycat at WordPress


What follows is a selection from The Sacred Lost Tomes of The Ryan, the brief and terrible history of which is glossed over here and here.  This poor excuse for poetry was written circa 2002 while I was living in Albuquerque, eating all the hallucinogens I could find while obsessively listening to TOOL and reading way too much existential philosophy.


fevered eye inside
the storm, and slowly i
turn away, shoulders
quaking at losses incurred,
missed opportunities passed
in a series of moments,
forever within the blink
of an eye, a point, a
meeting of eternal pathways
in this dream called life.
i turned my back on you,
the only way known to me,
to let go, to step off,
to reach our peak and
continue to climb, to
ascend, to reach for
the evermore, grasp
this abyss with eagle’s
talons and soar over
these path’s contradictions,
molting to shed my
pity for you,
the deepest of suffering.
at one time the same
— if only for a wink —
no more past this moment
will we meet again,
for already you fade into
nonbeing, soon a
distant memory,
a bittersweet reminder of
the sun that has set for me.
no more will i be
downed by the spirit
of gravity, for your
sacrifice has allowed me
to break free
from the being that
can no longer contain
me.  i have learned to
look away,
to look past myself,
to see much beyond our
subjectivity of experience,
to feel the rains of all
things fall down over me,
washing blood and tears of
our innocent battle away and
in this churning whirlwind
of storm can i now let go,
free now to spiral out.

Sacred Spiral by Helen R. Klebesadel

Sacred Spiral by Helen R. Klebesadel


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Obligatory VD Poem

Heart on a Plate

steady rollin broad side
on that Nicos trip
ridin clean past
lifelong wait times

compulsory twain shit

sneak a sneer and
raise the devils digit
just to keep me feelin good

see this grin spread
cross my face so wide
these hands free of your food

we off that food slangin kick
motherfucker
not a holiday too soon!

Busy Kitchen


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Yeah Bitch! Horticulture!!! (Zen and Madness in Yard Work)

IMG_20150204_035245

Last night was a rough one, psychotically speaking. It was all I could do not to reformat my cranium as some sort of post-Post-Modern, avant-garde, recessionist-abstract deconstructionist performance piece. Not to disparage the severity of leaden suffering my mind has found fit to absorb in general, of late. Suffice it to say I am now quite certain and markedly convinced that my Crazy Pills are no longer working — something I have, for some time, suspected, but obdurately resisted accepting — which means the next 31 days until my Starving Artist Insurance Plan will cover the scheduled months in advance new patient exam that is required for my establishment on the panel of a primary care provider who can then give me a proper and necessary referral to who I hope will be an eccentrically brilliant, empathetic, slightly neurotic headshrinker slash script writer with a heart of gold are going to be, shall we ambiguously say, interesting. Run-on sentences only hint at the delightfully unpredictable mania to come! But, dem lows, doh…

Knowing that I must bide my time, maintain the Madness, and resist impulses of self-destruction for this objectively short period of time, I’ve tried to make available to my faculties certain therapeutic distractions. One such welcome intercourse has been that oft-dreaded, inexplicably despised facet of supposed “home-ownership”:

IMG_20150203_043017

YARD WORK.

IMG_20150203_043923

As in all things The Ryan must do, I despise the idea of yard work. However, likewise, once I am able to force myself into the task, I actually fucking LOVE yard work. It provides focus for a brain hell-bent on distraction. It provides activity for a mind/body meat bag prone to lethargy. It provides necessary and welcome physical, mental, and spiritual immersion in nature. It helps stave off the goddamn reliably unpredictable tide of anxious shimmering madness that I am increasingly unable to comfortably surf in flow.

And, occasionally, it results in discovery and intrigue.

CLICK ME! I'm interactive!

CLICK ME! I’m interactive!

There is a vengeful, thorn-bearing foothill paloverde which holds vile dominion over one corner of the front yard. It is a belligerent, malicious, glorified mass of shrubbery from which I removed a bulk of inbred, compacted, endlessly resilient bastardized stems and upstart branches a few days ago, an abomination which I have termed the Stump of DOOM.

CLICK ME! I'm interactive!

CLICK ME! I’m interactive! MORE interactive!

The bitter “fruit” it sprouts dries into these little unassuming pea-pods:

IMG_20150209_025559

— which then distribute themselves to all corners of the Earth in an attempt to propagate the ancient foothill paloverde message of scorn. Many of these have attempted to gain strongholds of their own within the isolated, concrete-locked bed which the mother paloverde calls home. Some have, during periods of neglect, found themselves bold and daring, their audacity to exist and to grow resulting in said DOOM-Stump. But, he who trowels last… >:]

Or, so I thought.

CLICK ME! I'm interactive! And a talking fruit!

CLICK ME! I’m interactive! And a talking fruit!

Apparently — and, with the aid of wind, water, chance…perhaps even some willing or unwitting co-conspirator — some of the pods managed to make their way and find root among the radicles of several tangelo trees on the other side of the yard. I discovered today that said flora had sprouted several malicious, mutant branches of thorn and broadleaf. In a moment of megalomaniacal dietiego* I considered allowing them to mature to see what kind of strange and terrible fruit this ghastly union might bear. Fortunately, Fate intervened, shoving my finger sharply into the prickly, blood-thirsty embrace of a thorn. Since the execrable deviant foliage had therefore subsumed my superlative mitochondrial blueprint (it had absorbed by precious blood stuffs!), I was forced to uproot and destroy it for fear of fathering some unwitting creation, some kind of horrific, intelligent, self-aware brand of citrus that would surely uprise and come to enslave and destroy all of mankind. I can’t have that kind of responsibility on my head, man!

BONUS: I found these fellas.

IMG_20150204_035753 IMG_20150204_035858

“…in the sun she warmed her wings, and listened to cicadas sing…” Not to worry, I returned them safely to the Earth. It’s not your time yet, cicadas! Yeah bitch! SCIENCE!!!


* ‘dietego’ – a portmanteau made up of the words “deity” and “ego”; coined in use by © TR Sanders, February 2015


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How The Ryan Writes, Part II: The Dark Crow Man (Harbinger of DOOM)

Dark Crow

“The Dark Crow Man sits
And stares into Oblivion…
Into Cold… Into Nothingness…
It’s snowing in His mind.
He’s created Himself in
His own Image…”
Lamb of GodThe Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

The part of The Ryan most in need of a creative outlet is the part that finds it most difficult to express constructively. The Dark Crow Man is everything that is wretched and despairing within Us, amplified to abhorrence. The Dark Crow Man wants only to destroy. It wants to rip flesh from bone, it wants to wrench reality apart at the seams, it wants to butcher and devour all of existence in its rage and gloom. It knows nothing of cathartic expression, of transformative release. It is scorn and brooding and the bleak space of void made form, and its vacuity is interminable.

The Dark Crow Man is, like all parts of We, ever present, if not pervasive. But, also like all parts of We, there are times it is suffuse across the whole; it permeates Us, and it is all that We are. We have been consumed by the Dark Crow Man for the past several weeks, to a degree We’ve not before experienced. To be in that place, where the Dark Crow Man resides, is exhausting. It overwhelms and suppresses. In that void made form are eternities of moments through which We did not believe We would emerge.

In that space, We struggle to have voice. The sounds We hear, and those We make, are shrill and piercing, leaden and oppressive. They are savage grunts and primal concrete resonance. We buckle under their weight and the oppression of Our selfsame chosen hell. We are consumed by Our fear even as We embrace it. And so We sit silent ponderous and reflectively reflexive, a volatile, broiling chamber of scorn, loathing, judgment, despair, confusion, and ponderous brooding without vent.

We struggle to have voice. But We are obstinant, and so We do not relent. We are unabating. We embrace the struggle, the process. We fail, but We persist. We will be better, stronger, more enduring in the future.

The Dark Crow Man is Us. But it is not that Darkness which will define Us.

Crow Sunrise


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

EXODUS: Let The Ryan GO!

Moses Reciprocity Bitches

Those people who have experienced some of The Ryan in person, or those who share vicariously in Our shenanigans through social networking from time to time (We love all y’all!), are generally aware that I am an unpredictable basket case, but mostly the cute, fun kind. Not always, but mostly…

However, more recently and with increasing urgency, I have been finding it a more overwhelming struggle to not completely lose my shit multiple times a day in reaction to situations or events. The Crazy Pills that I am on, under physician supervision of course, always seem to keep me in the Fun Zone for a few months, but then it seems as though The Unhinged among us start to slowly assimilate the Happy Lunatics. Up the Dose, Change the Formula, Reset, Play Again.

Happy Lunatic? Or The Unhinged? :D

Happy Lunatic? Or The Unhinged? 😀

As a self-identified, sporadically practicing Buddhist hooligan, I am attempting to include meditation and self-reflection in the therapeutic process. This comes with two disclaimers, the first of course being that you only get out what you put in. Meditation is a practice that must be performed and maintained with regularity to develop both adroitness and results. AHEM, Ryan. We said, “Meditation is a practice that must be performed and maintained with regularity to develop both skill and results!” Secondly, though, meditation is also similar to digging a slow hole to China in that, occasionally, you might happen upon something you didn’t know was there. And, occasionally, that thing might have some force behind it.

Geyser Explode (Ned)

Unfortunately, some of The Unhinged sort of, well, became unhinged at work Friday morning, and I had a “teensy” little panic attack. Fortunately I felt it coming and ducked into the employee dumper slash locker area slash break room (it’s the size of a closet) to ride it out. Again unfortunately, though, when I get overwhelmed my brain stops processing normally, I get confused, and instead of acknowledging and allowing myself to feel my fear, I lash out in anger (and those fools gave me knives…HA!). Anyways, once I felt I was adequately re-leashed, I tried getting back to work. It didn’t take me long to realize “getting back to work” i.e. “getting back to ‘Normal'” wasn’t going to happen this time. I was barely holding it together, I wasn’t performing well, I was treating everyone with undue contempt and disrespect — especially my white bread benefactor K-Dub, a.k.a. KMFSM a.k.a. Kevin Mother Fucking Saunders, Manager.

Futurama I Quit

So I called it. I realize now that the whole thing could have been much more grand and climatic, but I calmly asked to speak with K-Murda for a few minutes, thanked him (and by extension, the entire management team…except you, Rhudy. FUCK YOU. Nah, I’m just playin’ bro…) for everything, explained the situation, and excused myself. No firebombs. No battle cries from the oppressed Irish motherland. No fits of explication or explicitness. I didn’t even get to break anything or knock a motherfucker out! Peace out, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Oh, hey, can I still get my last free employee meal?

The naked truth that We are left with, now, in moving forward, is this. Getting off drugs and alcohol was the best thing for Us, and needed to happen to keep this carcass alive. In the wake of that, however, has been a series of interesting developments on the mental health front. This was the shit We had going on that I didn’t know about. This is the shit I was self-medicating as a compulsive and fervent abuser of glorious and inimical recreational drugs. Many issues were unleashed quickly and therefore dealt with early on out of necessity. Other issues have been more gradually making themselves apparent.

HST and BFM

Always the over-thinker, I have felt mostly capable at introspective analysis, and have felt a greater understanding of myself and The We as a result of dealing with these matters of insanity as they arise. In the words of one Rustin Cohle, “I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.” But, as with all things, it is when one begins to feel too much contentment (stagnation?) that the unforeseen happens.

True Detective Cohle I Know Who I Am

We have been feeling more Unhinged as of late. It is becoming more difficult to exist in the world as opposed to inside Our head. This means We face more of a struggle when trying to venture out into that world and interact with You People. This is easy to do over a computer, because We can maintain Our illusion of control. Things get infinitely more tricky in a face-to-face, hands-on setting, though, because suddenly there are so many other factors involved. Focus becomes infinitely more difficult. And, as of late, and increasingly, We are becoming less able to maintain that focus. Eventually, as some witnessed Friday, We break.

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” — Albert Camus


I am not feeding you all this detail in an attempt to elicit sympathy. I can do that just fine some other time, thank you. Part of this is completely selfish, because I am figuring some of this stuff out as I write about it. The other part, equally selfish, is also somewhat altruistic — or at least that’s what I tell myself. I share these things with people so that they can maybe understand me, but also maybe understand each other and themselves.

Dr Phil I Feel Your Pain

Damn, but pretentiousness feels so good!

In any case, obviously We cannot survive only as Tortured Artists. Not at this point. We haven’t yet developed the resources. The challenge in moving forward, is, how do We attend to keeping the level of disquiet manageable while also seeking out, acquiring, and performing acceptably at a “day job”? Wherever I go, I take myself with me. Wherever I go, there is still the We, and We still must maintain control over the Unhinged. Therefore, I have been looking for opportunities that elude a perhaps more tolerable level of additional stress, even if that inevitably means less pay. Something associated with The Arts, i.e. publishing, entertainment, freelance writing, whatever, would be ideal, but obviously I must also look outside of that intriguing, challenging, and ornately adorned box.  I am very interested in things I can do from home, perhaps, for many obvious reasons, the second most being that I would be able to make some money while also pursuing and developing This Writing Thing. Again, though, in the short term at least, I must also remember to think…um…within, um…what’s the word? Oh, right…”Reality.”

Because, of course, the goal is for writing to one day be The Gig. I wonder how We’re doing so far?

You Want To Be A Writer Why


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

CLICK.

[What follows is an original piece of fiction I wrote some years ago, previously published in Conceptions Southwest, per the citation below.]


CLICK.

Old Wood FloorIn my mind I know what’s waiting at the top of the steps. I always know. Still, I take them, slow, careful, aware of the sickened creak that the weathered boards make under my weight. Once I reach the top, every time, I try to stop myself. Turn back, I say. Don’t walk down that hall. Don’t look through that doorway.

Every time, my feet disobey, carrying me to the room at the end of the hall. A sliver of pale dusk sunlight gasps its way through the crack made by the slightly open door, spilling onto the dull wooden floor. I step cautiously to the door, the light warming a slice of my face, blinding my right eye. A breath, a moment of nauseous realization, a splinter in my finger as I nudge open the door. Then there’s the blood. The sick warmth of the room, the way it crawls, stinging, into my nostrils. My father, barefoot, slumped over his shotgun. I imagine the vacant, listless look in his eyes, just before he hears it. Click–

I found him a week before my tenth birthday, but in the dream I am as I am now–26, sagging shoulders, a belly that crumples on top of itself when I sit. I am rarely shaven, my hair sticks at odd angles that I don’t care to smooth down. I wonder at my own fate, how it might resemble his, vacant promises to myself when I think of my son. He came when I was twenty, living with his mother more out of comfort than genuine affection. I used to write to him often, sending candy or a toy car when I could, but the letters started coming back a few months ago, the mark from the post office in dull red.

I always wake with the click.

* * *

I count the change in my pocket, adding it to the crumpled bills, and the lady hands me a burrito wrapped in white paper, damp with its warmth. Outside I expose an end and bite deep into it, tasting almost instantly the heat of the green chile and the smoky flavor of the carne adovada. It makes my mouth water, and for a moment, it will calm the churning in my stomach.

As I finish my meager lunch, I spot Hefty down the street, waddling his way toward me. He’s dragging something, I can’t see what. His name is Jeff, but on the street we call him Hefty, mostly because of his weight and partly because he thinks himself the boss, always trying to order everyone around, as if he had a reign on the desperate freedom these streets bring. Shit, he hasn’t even been out here that long. I wipe my mouth with the crumpled wrapping paper and push myself with a foot off the wall, giving Hefty half a wave.

Hey Fano, he calls to me, his breath heavy. Why don’t you help me with these?

I see now he’s got two fat, worn tires in tow on a wiry rope, scraping along the sidewalk. Get them yourself, pinche gordo, I say with a smile before moving to help him. What the hell do you need with two tires, anyway?

You never know, he says. We bring the tires to Hefty’s spot down the alley, rolling them behind a grimy dumpster near his folds of bedding.

You get any big tips?

I chuckle, shaking my head. Business slow today, jefe, I say.

* * *

The first time I saw Lucia was at my cousin’s graduation party. It might have been my party, too, but I gave up on school a long time ago. I remember–she catches my eye as soon as I step into the soft yellow light of the den, a haze of cigarettes and mota hanging in a dome over the circle of tattered furniture. She sits on a couch in the corner of the room, between Alejan’s girl and some kid I don’t know. Her smile warms the room as her brown eyes meet mine.

I look quickly away, searching the room for Alejan, asking him where I can get a drink.

A week later I see her again as I leave the construction yard where I work. In the lazy afternoon light I get a better look at her, able to notice the soft earth tones of her skin, her long eyelashes that don’t need makeup, her full pouty lips. She walks up to me as I beat the dust from my faded jeans.

Hey, she says, and I turn to face her, squinting at the sun as it halos her form. Alejan gave me directions, she tells me. He said I should meet you.

I smile to mask the discomfort I feel. He should have let you catch me at a better time, I say, gesturing at my filthy clothes. But what I really mean is, I’m not prepared for this.

She follows me home, and after I shower and change I drive her to Beto’s on the other side of town. A real hole in the wall, but they have good carne asada and cheap beer. Her warm eyes and her subtle, earthy scent make me forget myself for a moment. A month later we live together. It’s a year, though, before I tell her about the dreams.

* * *

I knew something was wrong, she says. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? She lies on the bed next to me, propped up on one arm. I see worry in her soft eyes. Her tiny hand strokes the dampness off my cheek.

I didn’t think it mattered, I say, turning on my side so I don’t have to face her.

It matters to me, she says, wrapping herself around me and pulling me close. It matters if it affects your sleep, if it affects us.

It won’t, I say. It hardly ever happens. I turn and nestle myself into her neck. I try to breathe her in deep, let myself relax in her arms. She holds me close, runs fingers through my hair and along the base of my spine. I feel like, maybe, it’s all that I need. Until she tells me about the baby, a few months later, it seems that it is.

* * *

Hefty goes off to catch the bus to Old Town. They don’t know me there, yet, he says. Better for business if they haven’t seen you hanging around too much.

I wander listlessly after he’s gone, the harsh noon sun beating down upon me at an angle that makes no room for cool shadows. Eventually I return to the alley, sit atop the dumpster, and stare into the dusty crevices between the bricks of the wall, the scent of decaying trash and stagnant water stinging my nostrils. After some time Nico saunters up, a toothy smile painted across his leathery face.

Who put the feather in your ass, I say as he nears me, bobbing his head to a silent tune. He doesn’t answer, and he doesn’t need to. His pupils and the blood-strained space around them tell enough.

Idiot, I say, shaking my head. That shit’s gonna end you.

* * *

Later I check my box at the post office, knowing I’ll find nothing, but hopeful just the same. I keep the box because it’s the only thing I haven’t lost in my life, and because I know if Lucia ever wants to find me, this is the only way she’ll know how.

I remember when she left, taking Benicio. I am gone, on my monthly trip to the unemployment office. I come home to find the empty bones of the apartment, cleared of our few possessions, only the piss-stained mattress lying defeated in the corner of the muggy room. I stay in the apartment for another month and a half before the landlord changes the locks.

It takes me a couple of weeks, but I finally badger Lucia’s new address out of her mother.

This is for the boy, not you, she tells me over the phone. Not much of a father is better than no father, she says and hangs up.

I send Lucia a letter, just to see how things are going. I only half expect her to write back, so I’m surprised to find a postcard from her almost two weeks later. On the front is a photograph of a deep green mountainside pierced by a waterfall, its billowing jets of white water frozen in free fall as they plummet into the misty haze below.

In the short paragraph on the other side, just below the Denver postmark, she tells me about Beni. He’s never been happier, she writes. Don’t worry about visiting, it says, just above her curvy signature. It’s the only letter I receive.

* * *

I hear it–click–and then she’s there, her hand upon my face, her eyes sharp, concerned. She wipes her fingers through the beads of sweat on my brow.

You went there again, didn’t you, she says. You found him again.

I can’t help it, I tell her. My sleep takes me there.

It’s happening too often, she says, sitting up. It’s affecting us, now. Pale blue moonlight peeks through the blinds and fragments her face.

A cry starts up from across the room, and she leaves the bed to check on him. She’s right. The dreams aren’t just inside me anymore. They make this place dark.

Soon the crying stops, and she crawls back next to me. I want to look at her, to see into her through her eyes, but I can’t make myself move. I want to say I’m sorry, to tell her it will stop, I’ll make it stop, to tell her I’ll be better for her, for Beni. I lie next to her, silent, until her breathing takes on rhythm.

* * *

The afternoon crawls, a long, vast nothing. I collect change for a while off the Interstate exit, offering the legal notices section of the paper for a quarter, a dime, whatever beat college kids in their rusty pickups and old ladies peering over the steering columns of their long, sleek town cars decide to spare. This is all I have today, I say with a shrug, and they trade change for the folded paper, tossing it behind seatbacks and rolling on with pitying half-smiles.

Eventually the sun falls to the horizon, sinking into distant mountains with rays of gold-piercing, shadowy building facades. This time of day always brings waves of yellow sickness to my stomach, like eating a bad egg. I turn my corner over with a nod to Jacob, carrying as always his bucket of wilted roses, and trudge toward Central. I count out change for a pint of Dark Eyes at the corner store on 3rd, and the clerk hands me the bag, the condescending darkness on his face unmistakable. I’m the first one to the alley–for most the night is young, but the day has been enough for me, and I’m ready for the warm blanket of drink, ready to walk the short night hallway once again.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This work of fiction was previously published as follows:

Sanders, Ryan S. “Click.” Conceptions Southwest Vol. XXVII (2004): 107-110. Print.


We Are The Ryan. Who? We. On first. Bases loaded…

Beard of Doom

We Are The Ryan. We exist to destroy Ourselves. To understand Ourselves. Destruction makes way for new Life, new growth. New essence. New We.

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.” — Fernando PessoaThe Book of Disquiet

We Are The Ryan. We Are the All becoming One, We Are the particle from which springs All. We Are the light and the dark within, We Are grey spiral and churning and form from void.

SPiRAL O)))

SPiRAL O)))

We Are the Enigma. We Are subjective, the voice you know. We Are everything you seek to understand. We Are the obscured, and the apparent.  We Are pretense and irony and burlesque hyperbolic gravitas.

We Are paradox. We Are contradiction and absurdity. We Are as familiar as skin.

“Mike did not seem to grasp the idea of Creation itself. Well, Jubal wasn’t sure that he did, either — he had long ago made a pact with himself to postulate a Created Universe on even-numbered days, a tail-swallowing eternal-and-uncreated Universe on odd-numbered days — since each hypothesis, while equally paradoxical, neatly avoided the paradoxes of the other — with, of course, a day off each year for sheer solipsist debauchery.” — Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land

We Are The Ryan. We Are irreverence and contempt. We Are the warm embrace of scorn. We Are the sarcastic smirk across the face of the world, We Are the blatancy of state-sponsored slaughter, We Are your voyeuristic thirst for televised lawless disregard. We Are your after-church programming.


We Are laughter at a funeral, we are a selfie in a coffin. We Are ever changing and fickle and impermanence manifest in SQUIRREL! We Are a strobe to heal your seizure and subliminal plastic advertizing. We Are on during the sporting event of the century!

We Are beer and brats and Sunday afternoon, We Are laughter drowning sorrow and a distraction from the dread. We Are hope and denial and a sunset behind a raincloud and beauty within the beast, the underlying and the disregarded and all the We as You wish to see but never remember how to find. We Are the uncomfortable Looking.

“He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” — James JoyceThe Dubliners

We Are The Ryan. We Are the hooligan with a heart of gold. We Are the charming and the loyal and the overbearing and the suffocation. We Are the polished shit, the sweet-tooth addict-craving, the forbidden caramel apple and the last clinging tooth. We Are hillbilly chic. We Are the final confused joke after the laughter has long left.

We Are constant self-appraisal and the doubting trailing voice. We Are awkward sidelong clingings and the echoes of passed time. We Are voice given to scar, a sound bled dried and crusty, flaked desert parched sands and halite in your self-inflicted exploratory surgery.

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960 Howard Dully receiving his "ice pick" lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960
Howard Dully receiving his “ice pick” lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

We Are the child hiding in a corner, the beaten and broken without will to escape. We Are the towering behemoth wielding pain internalized and compounded, formed and redirected. We Are an open wound, gaping, pungent. We Are what must heal from the inside, We Are the cotton-stuffed urgency of everything We never wished to see.

“The Dark Crow Man sits And stares into Oblivion… Into Cold… Into Nothingness.  It’s snowing in His mind.  He’s created Himself in His own Image.”  — Lamb of God, The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

We Are The Ryan. We Are the voice inside, loud. We Are the escaping breath of daring and uncertainty and doubt made whole, driven with guile and madness towards grasping, fickle fingers. We Are what must be said to make room for what comes next, for We Are the road traveled and the traveler, destination and journey and purpose and…

darkcrowmanface

We Are The Ryan.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.