David F. Hoenigman – prose


Squeal for Joy (an excerpt, pt 2)

the vulture is black and white but colors explode around us. some look like fish. some look like men or elephants. piles of colorful toys. the goldfish man goes back inside to continue torturing and humiliating the tied up green man. some variation of the murderess lies dead and mutilated under the table. in hell there are office chairs. something gold hanging from the ceiling. and a pink door. can I meet you again? can I explain why I think you shouldn’t be ashamed? the green man was passed out. the goldfish man wakes him up. the long needles still criss-cross at odd angles through the flesh of the green man’s face. he’s tied to an office chair before a pink door. the green man’s legs kick. perhaps they’re waiting for someone to return and the goldfish man is only trying to be friendly. the coward sits in a gray office no bigger than a closet taking photographs from envelopes. photographs of faces. the murderess. a black object man. the green man. a goldfish man. the other goldfish man. the devil. the face of the devil in the photograph seems to trigger something in the coward’s mind. when I open my eyes or however it is in the afterlife, I want it to be that music and I want you to be doing that dance. the vulture leaves the trumpet next to the sleeping runaway. the runaway’s dreams are green and purple. a silver man with angel wings walks across a tightrope. the vulture is abandoning the runaway and the silver man. the tightrope will snap and the little silver wings will desperately flap but the man will crash down on the heads of the black and white men women children. all that will be left is snow and a trumpet. a skeleton and a trumpet. the trumpet a makeshift tombstone. the vulture silently pushes the three-wheel truck away from the sleeping runaway. on the side of the truck is a picture of a mermaid. blood pumps through a vulture brain. a decision is made. he looks back at her while pushing the truck. when he gets far enough away that he thinks the revving of the engine can’t be heard he jumps in. the runaway doesn’t wake up. the runaway gets smaller as the truck pulls away. the truck gets smaller as it pulls away from her. the coward answers the phone. he doesn’t look at all like his father. he’s in an office no bigger than a closet. everything is brown gray. whose voice does he hear over the phone? I thought everyone he loved was dead. the black object man is clanging around in the hallway. is he coming to get the coward? will the coward turn into the lightning bug and tear the black object man to pieces? the coward looks up at the ceiling as if he’s hearing rats scurry through the walls. the flower man who stayed behind with the tortured green man tears off one of the green man’s arms. more screaming. the flower man falling backward with the arm. the flower man laughing holding the arm. I’d forgotten that I’d been calling him the goldfish man. the goldfish man laughing holding the arm. tropical fish in a tank. a tube spurting bubbles. the silhouette of the lightning bug man at the door. the jellyfish octopus blood on the wall. people beat drums and clang cymbals as they blur past. but it doesn’t feel as though they pass. it feels as though they’re running through the dead center of my soul. have you ever thought how this would end? or how we’d say good-bye. you didn’t think that we could stay together forever, did you? another eternity will eat our eternity. other beings will invent another airplane. a woman beats a drum. a man clangs cymbals. there are children in the car. there are children chasing the car. the mountains seem to have been leveled and the children’s feet kick the dust around. what were you and I doing that day? silver was beaten to death. black and red came along and kissed him. he dropped purple to his knees. something collects up all our souls and begins again with another ocean. the vulture becomes an old man. he buttons his shirt. nothing anyone’s ever done has ever mattered. I feel it at night. or when I first wake up in the morning. I see myself there. a silver man plummeting. the devil bounding around in the hallway. carefree. the expression of one at a party. joined by the furry animal eared goldfish man. opening all the doors and sticking their heads into all the rooms. blue red yellow orange green flesh color peach black yellow purple green. I wish I was somewhere else. my existence is a puff. the devil and the furry animal ear goldfish man find the body of the goldfish man who stayed behind and ripped off the arm of the tortured green man. he’s lying in a pool of blood before the fish tank. and the body of the girl who could’ve been the murderess. and the green man and his detached arm. the fish are white and orange. the living goldfish man squats down to examine the dead one. something drips. do you remember my metallic presence just outside your window? there are bursts of white and then red. the devil running away. the surviving black object man at his heels. a blur of black. a blur or purple. it’s hard to tell if they’re running up the stairs or down the stairs. a child in the hallway. the failure escaping with his shopping bag. the devil and the lightning bug man finally alone together on the rooftop. the devil is purple but seems to be glowing green. the old man vulture walks down the road. lights a stupid cigarette. children everywhere. standing around doing nothing. one has a bicycle. the vulture buys ice cream. children everywhere. did you ever think how this would end? the children look ready to die. the vulture’s hearing voices. ice cream doesn’t change anything. the children look ready to die. ice cream melts. people become skeletons. had I broken a spell? I’m trying to be your savior. don’t you worry about the barbed wire? don’t you worry about the devils ripping your soul apart? in the end I didn’t care about the truth or friendship. noise stops and there’s only thought. circus clowns on a beach. stupid clapping. I had hoped to see the origins of the universe. there was only a woman hanging up her laundry. I went to the rooftop to rip the universe apart. the devil seems to be falling but really he’s backing into a corner. from the rooftop we can see an ocean of buildings. the buildings are full of bodies. most of them alive. the black object man catches up with them and pulls a gun on the lightning bug man just before he would’ve killed the devil. three men on a rooftop. an ocean of buildings. the middle of summer. at some point the devil had pulled out his long merciless needles. the lightning bug man starts to cry. the black object man shoots him in the leg. the lightning bug cuts the black object’s throat. the child joins them on the rooftop. watches the object bleed to death. the lightning bug man rolls around in pain. bleeding from his leg. children are everywhere. they dance under any condition. a woman hangs up a sheet on a clothesline. above the line her fingers. below the line her shadow through the sheet. the woman looks about to cry as she’s talking to the vulture. the vulture looks thinner in his old age. thinner and almost at peace. he’s wearing clean clothes. he speaks softly. the sky is white. the vulture is whites blacks grays. there’s the ocean and bicycles and ice cream. I love you most when I think of time. when I consider taking a photograph but decide not to. we return to the clowns on the beach. someone swinging from a trapeze. people clap. people who’ve all died many many years ago. everything swimming in that ocean also dead. the stars will explode one by one. the devil begins to realize he could be watching the lightning bug man die. he’s purple buts seems to glow green. cautiously keeping his distance. on his stomach and bleeding the coward lightning bug man. bleeding from a gash in his leg. the gash seems to be coughing out blood. the devil stands him up then lets him fall. the coward screaming in pain. almost like a dying fish. the devil walks away from him and stands with the child looking down at the body of the black object man. the child walks over and begins kicking the dying coward. the child is ten or eleven years old. the devil kneels down. torture needles in each hand. takes a deep breath then inserts the needles through his own eardrums and into his brain. it changes the color of the sky. he looks over and now the lightning bug man stands up straight and tall holding the decapitated head of the child. the lightning bug coward man screams. it changes the color of the sky. he charges the devil, kicks him in the face and the devil falls backward off the rooftop. he wildly waves his arms and falls and falls. the failure finds the devil’s twisted body in a pool of blood. squats over him and laughs in his face. somewhere up there the child still kicking to death coward bug man. a group of children find a green man hanging by a noose from a tree. the vulture goes through his routine with the chain again. his sad defeated routine. an audience of dead people squint their sunny afternoon eyes. I wish I had kissed more girls. the vulture kneels. the chain around his chest. whatever you do or don’t do time is adding up. I’d be happy to forget you altogether. later that night the vulture downing a bottle of wine. the bottle ripped from his hand. the vulture in a fight. thrown out in the street. throws a punch. the vulture against four men. finally staggering off. yelling in the dark street. kicks something over. nearly collapses. staggers out to the ocean. the world can end at any time. I know you’ll never fully trust me. I know time is trying to destroy us. at night the ocean is pitch black. the vulture hears voices. he’s sitting on the beach. looks up at the sky. shivers and loses his marbles. starts digging in the sand. black black black black black. black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black. black. black. black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black. black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black. black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black black. black black. black gray gray gray gray gray black black gray gray. gray gray gray gray gray. gray gray black black black gray gray gray gray gray gray gray gray. gray gray gray gray gray. purple purple purple. purple purple. purple purple purple purple purple purple purple gray gray gray. purple purple purple. purple purple. purple purple purple purple purple purple purple. a blue nearly cloudless sky. a white fence. a white pipe. flesh color. the black taken away by silver. a red ribbon down the center of white and blue. lovely movement. kindly showing pink. brown. a single stream. a white pipe against gray brick. green leaves against a pink wall. red enfolding flesh color. a yellow conversation. kneeling to face the red. white peeled away but also left to dangle. lovely movement. an empty white container. anticipation. laughter. unfinished. from the bottom looking up. layers of pink. unhesitant. a dark absorbent blue. pink covering flesh color. given. protected. affecting us in ways we don’t quite understand. the blue becoming darker. all the colors accepting each other. proceeding. welcoming. greenish yellow things on shelves. a certain one returning. another white container. a nearly forgotten pink curtain. an obedient gray. an expected dark blue. happiness filling the container. a noise. a texture. a happiness. an intimacy. white covering flesh color smiling before pink. a row of green shapes. a row of yellow shapes. a row of orange shapes.


David F. Hoenigman is the author of Burn Your Belongings (2010 Jaded Ibis Press) and Squeal for Joy (2014 JIP). He’s the founder and organizer of Paint Your Teeth, an avant-garde live performance event regularly held in Tokyo. He’s an assistant professor at Meikai University and also writes for The Japan Times. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he has lived in Japan since 1998. He’s currently working on his third novel Man Sees Demon.



About gobbet

gobbet is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the very best experimental poetry and prose. Intellectual perversity and explorations of dark themes are positively encouraged. We are only interested in work that is progressively experimental. We want to see risks, and we want to see them pay. No previously published work. Prose should not be longer than 1000 words. There are always exceptions. Send 3-5 poems. Include a short bio. Send submissions to gobbetmag@hotmail.co.uk Work will be published every 5-10 days. We also intend to publish anthologies of selected work published in gobbet. We will do our best to reply promptly. Most submissions will receive a decision within a month.
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