1. We pass desperate on the way to Encino. In the passenger seat, you turn all you see into a feast: the clouds, the sun, the palm trees tipping west toward the blue blood of the ocean. You hold a cigarette in your limp hand, but I’m the one you inhale. I’m the one who absorbs your uncontested collapse.

2. You are not one to put on shows with your eyes. Those abandoned planets. You are not one to speak of earthquakes. You unceasingly tremble inside. People look at us like we are arsonists, like every place we go we set on fire. Your crucifix tattoo wards off our demons. For now.

3. Our bones send secret messages to each other as we shiver away from the light. Tonight, we do something that to the world looks like slow dancing, but we’re just holding each other up is all. We don’t care that the music has stopped. Let them stare at us all they want.

4. We stumble into the night. Duck into doorways. Our shadows take turns cornering each other. When we are cold, we siphon each other’s heat. When we are hungry, we eat each other’s silence.

17 Comments

  1. sara lippmann

    Todd, you’ve got another beauty here. I LOVE the subterranean feel of the footnotes — how the language penetrates. your word choice and turn of phrase – -the blue blood of the ocean, we pass desperate, eyes of abandoned planets.

    People look at us like we are arsonists, like every place we go we set on fire.

    There is such raw tenderness: Tonight, we do something that to the world looks like slow dancing, but we’re just holding each other up is all. We don’t care that the music has stopped. Let them stare at us all they want.

    the title holds it: footnotes to our famine (great alliteration). structurally, you establish an expectation that the footnotes will deliver on a subtext that is not in the story — and yet, the subtext and the story feel somewhat conflated. the super story would be about addiction, yes? desperation and actual food scarcity brought by scraping, by not having, by being strung out. The irony to me is — how you subvert my expectation that the footnotes might contain emotional hunger or love hunger beyond a physical hunger. And yet, it seems that the love is not only there, but is feeding each other — the love is what’s getting them through.

    • Todd Clay Stuart

      Thank you, Sarah. You always give such fantastic, encouraging feedback. I truly appreciate it. So many good prompts this time around. ~Todd

  2. Trent

    Yeah, really colorful Todd~
    I love “abandoned planets” and everything in section IV.
    Makes me think of this as a concept piece, in a pulp magazine – sort of like “Mad” but more surreal.

  3. Jonathan Cardew

    Love the form–footnotes. Something pleasing about a numbered story. This line: “the blue blood of the ocean…” Such powerful, precise sentences. You could even expand this.

    –Jonathan

  4. Randal Houle

    Todd,
    Yeah this form work really well with this content, like a fine wine pairing. Powerful and evocative. Looking forward to seeing more of this from you. 🙂

  5. David O'Connor

    Todd, so much good here from the first line (which I love) all the way down to the last (which I also love). I wonder if the title could use another look, other than that, I think this is very ready for the world! Great lines, and solid whole.

  6. Nancy Bauer-King

    Todd.
    This is beautiful. So rich. Excellent imagery. The gradual revealing of the relationship of the characters is stunning. Thank You.

  7. Meg Tuite

    Todd! WOW! Absolutely mesmerizing! Your word choice is masterful and unforgettable: :”you turn all you see into a feast:” “the blue blood of the ocean.” “but I’m the one you inhale. I’m the one who absorbs your uncontested collapse.” Each line has so many levels to it. Like Sara said, there’s the addiction, the feast of what isn’t, the love and need between these two. This is gorgeous! I say send her out! LOVE SO MUCH!

  8. April Bradley

    Todd, this is gorgeous, every word. I wouldn’t change a thing. I just want more.

  9. Jenn Rossmann

    Hi Todd,
    Apologies for chiming in late, with comments that may sound repetitive: this is awesome! Love the match of form to content, LOVE the opening phrase “we pass desperate” with its possibilities for multiple meanings, love the language throughout. SEND IT OUT!

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