I've been away for a while, and I've missed
you.  When I sat down to write I believed
all was special again.  My life was not so
worthless after all.  Everyone should be
so lucky.

I want to say that it is raining today, but it
seems artless. The freeways here in Los
Angeles are gorged and the cars have wings
... City of Angels how you smother me like
a hen. Are you really trying to fly?

However many promises of sun, however artless,
it is raining. I am thin, constantly craving.


Still afternoon, cold,  indulged in the city perfume
beckoning like long legs and no panties,
I wish to banish the memories of this great
black spider spread across the desert, and I
nightmare as I gasp for air between
a woman's thighs.

Shh, now heart. Quiet, you fool. I know you
are excited, no need to shout. Los Angeles
is a cathedral, I am on my knees. Wonderful,
wonderful rain, may you never stop.


It was a young thing to do, those days before
school when morality was godless and I
unsnapped her bra to watch firm flesh with
eraser nipples bounce into my hands.

She smelled like earth after a garden had
sucked its nutrients into fruit, and she
didn't cry when I said bravely that I
did not love her. She pet my hair
that looked licked by a dog, and
whispered she did not love me either.
It was a perfect package, and we did not
love each other often then.

The ceiling looked ghostly surreal afterward,
as if I could fly right through and nothing
could hold me to the earth.  Like I had
something to do, you know?

The next morning it was time to go away,
and I had refused to wash my hands because
I liked the smell of that earth, and my mother
was giving me the eye while I mouthed
through Rice Crispies.

By the time the cereal was gone, I wanted
nothing more to do with my past, and when
I placed the bowl into the sink under the
wary eye of my mother, pretty bright face, foam
curlers, I decided I wanted nothing to do with
the past.

It sickened me.


I met a strange boy there, at that place of bricks
and ivy and pretentious things, a man, really,
though he was my age.

School holds a lot
of boys, but few men, and I thought this
a novelty to have such a friend, and I asked
the masturbating monster who then roomed
with me to get out, and my new friend
moved in. How great his dreams, how nice
the equipment he had to capture those dreams.

I loved him; his loves were his heart.
What good passion. How fast he seemed,
blurred days, cold wind of night, the persistence
of a dead god's memories
that would not leave him alone.

His blood seemed to explode from
his heart as he drifted
in the sea of history, his enemy age,
becoming old before twenty, me, in his
presence, seemingly becoming younger,
his eyes nourishing my eyes, osmotically,
moving high to low, let there be equilibrium
of the free, he said.

Pray now, under your desperate embrace,
he does not snap, spewing marrow. Though if he
does, call forth the dinner song, what a
splendid feast tonight ...


I realized then, I had to kill him. No, no, no,
listen to me! I had to.


God, how late the night was when I stumbled
through the mist, up the medieval stairs, and
into the bleak room.

I was exhausted; where was my beer?

Excuse me, my friend, this thing I have to kill,
I did not mean to interrupt you. Did I ever
tell you how I hate it that you make love to
your books? Spreading the bindings a
quarter inch too far to get at every last
morsel of meat? Love is supposed
to be a pleasure, not a cannibalistic feast.

He did not answer, and I felt like pissing
on him, this Christ-thing in a glass ... He
and his book he was writing looked an
aborigine that just speared a giant
lizard, now cooking it on an open flame.
The book had four slightly burned claws,
the tail settled into my friend's lap. He
was feasting on the white meat of the
breast. He turned a page in the book,
intestines, fetid smell, but he did not
turn away. It seemed to spur him on.

Does he ever get full?


I wiped my chin of drooling beer, sitting
back in time for this long-haired man
who was now 35 before I was
21, turn in his chair, knocking me down,
and he started to scream, deafening my

"Kill me! Kill me! Kill me! Kill me!"

He was spewing blood, you see, a man
on a speeding bike in the dark with a
thousand spears through his eyes with no
lights and only the birth-want to become a god.

Oh, is that all?  That's easy.

So I killed him.

His eyes were blank, and I turned away.

Just give me another purpose to fulfill ... please.

Los Angeles is a cathedral. I am on
my knees.

I turn my face to the sky, feel the spit
of rain, time to think of pretty things.

          James Hammons


JAMES HAMMONS holds a B.A. in History & Psychology from the University of Redlands and an M.F.A. in creative writing and film from the University of Southern California.
Work includes How Is This To Live In, a collection of short stories, Alchemy Press.
Options include: THE ARRANGEMENT -- original screenplay, Jay Weston Productions;
DOWNHILL -- original screenplay, Arama Productions; BRING ON THE THUNDER -- original screenplay, Jay Weston Productions.  James Hammons lives in southern California.