In Uruguay, a drug dog ate my reputation then gave me the mumps. Illegal feelings from an unsung deity, how she prayed with me, this goddess associated with dreams. Rucksack baggage, my dead uncle once called it, his pockmarked body surrounded by guns. A backpacker’s backpack, a knapsack for gats. In Holbox, Mexico, I found a tartar arm in the understorage of our dormitory homestay. In Hopkins, Belize, I found a fist in the basement. I hated the blankness of the blankets. Tarmac arm, the Colombian government corrected me later, said the arm was wrapped in airplane flaps, said this kind of thing happens all the time. And what of his mucus ducts? I asked. What about them? the Venezuelan representatives replied. Nothing, I hushed. Nothing. Plane pieces can pass through you more than once, they reminded me. A man with facial buttons sold me a sack of onion-smelling grass, grass green onions, while out past the pastures of Ecuador, on an unfinal island called Jambeli. The button faced man called the bag a tire. A trash can of plastic wrapped wheels. When I asked him why, he described his mucus ducts. His falling parts. He was falling apart. He was broken. He repeated this three times. I wanted no part in visiting the park with him that weekend. I only wanted to chew through a pool hall wall in private. A trident. A chocolate cough. Bloody forehead. I remember cracking my ankle when I heard it twist. I remember having ripped shins when I heard the purposeless tornado ate her dad. I pictured it, then him, thrown out of orbit, closer than ever, closer than any of us ever will be, to the greediest evening’s moon.


  1. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Benjamin, this passage through Mexico and Central American countries, is so punchy and visceral, the violence in the words is palpable, bringing your living and pulsing paragraph down to a ‘micro yet macro’ level. Your effective use of punched fragments. The scant details and poetic prose. They combine here to witness a whirlwind visitation through several different vignettes placed in foreign situations. I love how “out of our element” we are. How playing with the ‘comfort zone’ begs such a different gaze. Great job with a first draft?!!!

  2. David O'Connor

    Wow, Benjamin, this is right up my alley, the travel, the madness, the fuselage as linkage, and the deferment to sound as guide–absolutely love it, the style and panache. If you go back to it, I wouldn’t do much, maybe just focus on flushing out some of the details, see what other images link–love the first and last line, don’t touch them, maybe slow down in the middle and help the reader anchor for a second or two, although personally, I love the speed and swirl, great stuff!

  3. Koss Just Koss

    Darkly lyrical, your anima and animus at play. Great stuff to smell, taste, be allured and repelled by. Love.

  4. Meg Tuite

    Hi Benjamin, Best first line I’ve read in a damn long time. It’s already got me on a trip and mumps and loss of reputation. Gorgeous! And then rip-roaring through paint strokes of violence and deeper into ‘plane pieces can pass through you more than once, they reminded me.’ DAMN!
    Each sentence is its own and collides with all before and after. Brilliant and spinning mad tornado! LOVE!

  5. Len Kuntz

    Hi Benjamin.

    There’s so much to love throughout this piece. Your imagery is fantastic, the word play (blankness and blankets), humor, quirk, and what I took as the theme being both a loss and search for oneself. Bravo.

  6. Ryan Griffith

    Benjamin, I loved the hallucinatory feel of this piece, the beautiful crazy energy driving it. Strong rhythms and language throughout. I loved it!

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