b r i a n     s t r a n g


blood motel

the confines

blood motel

The sudden need for company chills you to the bone. Inside of a dream—you spend months in a motel. Bitten back to the plaster, the boards attach themselves to your limbs without reason.

Made of moths. Made of mouths. Made of months.

You are still in the motel. You are no longer in a dream. Hold onto the bloody rail or what precedes it in thought. You groan at the alien invasion, the species that attach themselves like weeds, that buckle the walls here, that destroy the surfaces upon which you stand.

In the earth below the floorboards, the names weather away. You lay stones over the holes to prevent further damage. In the earth, you lay the names to rest.

Follow the thread to level ground. But the motel begins to tip and spill its contents into your waking life.

Untranslatable occurrence.

Your elaborate heart begins a period of late mastery, of late betrayal. And the rooms in which you live become more crowded every day. Late arrivals ask for more wine. You leave the motel for good.

Draw a line without elaboration, a balance to lifeís deteriorations. The unimaginable numbers of them, the paradoxes of whatís underground. A bell rings and continues intermittently—one for every hole.

The lines continue and now go in circles.


There are men and women under the hills. It begins to rain very hard now. The paths circumnavigate to avoid this area. The dampness follows you indoors where at night you hear the rustling of linens in the boxes under the hills, the shillings from their wormy mouths, the crackling of spiders, the writing of a diaphanous hand. You begin to dream of them. You fly over the hills and can see them through the soil; you see them in the ocean at night. And you wake chilled, in the rain, wild-hearted.

But this silly construction of macabre melts away. You feel them rise up through your feet and know that the atoms of you are composed of them. You feel a part of them. All around you is the roar of organic material. Feet just like yours have walked these organic paths for many years, out in the rainy night, just the night and rain. And all around you is the pulse of warm blood. And you kiss the ground all the way through to them.

There are many more copies of yourself—so many that you cannot count them. Itís an idiotís walk on this path in the idiotís rain and thereís no way you can get lost. And you donít. You are crowded onto it by the crush of people exactly like you. And you will one day take your place beside them as they are beside you at this moment. In your nights of sadness and terror, you find that youíve come to relish the dream of the motel.

But you realize that you, too, are an insignificant copy. And this thought brings you no sadness or terror. You walk into the rain, meet the rush of trees and wonder about the original. Of what are you a copy?


The ground here is infested with ticks because of the rain this season. The oak leaves harbor thousands and thousands, all exactly the same. On the ticks are ticks as well, feeding on the blood passed down from host to host, ad infinitum. Each is exactly alike, only smaller. And you, too, feed on the blood of your host. You stay in a succession of motels, all exactly alike. And each town is a copy of the one before it. Each person you meet is exactly the same as the one before it. Each meal you eat is made from exactly the same materials.

Under foot, you find your source in the salamanders, the grasses and coiled ferns pushing up through the soil, the snails and leaves on the ground. There are no copies. And there are no originals. There is only the blood and it is all the same.



the confines

                                                        for Andrew Joron


A winter figure. Top hats and topcoats fall to the floor. Through the cutting windows of séance, the party is astonished. Instinct emissions bounce along the top of the fog, ache in the bones of the set jaw. A pacing animal in a tightening noose. A subdivision border. For three days the screens went completely blank but then it appeared again, a transmission from within the house. An apparition—with vines twining its legs and sunflower eyes rotating from east to west—asks you to stand on the platform. You can wait no longer and you pass from one telephone pole to the next and from one tree to the next. Feel the lifeblood and outstrip it. We don't sense the confines until they are gone. You watch a bear, dressed as a man, lope away smoothly in the night.


In a subterranean workspace a man, dressed in heavy clothing to minimize heartbeats, turns dials back to zero. He wears patches over his eyes but is getting clammier all the time.

Wake and meet the porters who will carry you below. It dawns on you that the synthetic chirp you hear is actually organic, emanating from tiny lungs. Fruit drops from the trees and it lies deeply; the man in the cellar collects it for further study. Thick insect hairs sprout from his arms. He feels the days pass from east to west and resolves to see the sun, removing the patches from his eyes, knocking the contacts from his temples and letting the needles fall below zero. The inverted silos sink deeper into the earth, their missile contents rotting in their carnation mantles. The currents fade to a soft hum.

The city is becoming a collective unfolding iris. Citizens collide on the street, mating and rekindling. Sore in the head, the subterranean man has a metallic taste in his mouth. The marks on his temples have faded and his fingers clutch strands and fronds. Though on the surface of the earth, he finds himself beyond comprehension. Everyone is exactly like and unlike him. Gradually, he gives up faith in methodology. This has been an escape from petty abuses and locked doors, tangled obsessions and languishing psychoses. He speaks with devastation, oriented toward understanding, despite the mounting sleep deprivation.


In a public toilet, a man with marks on his temples stands naked from the waist down. He scrapes at his legs with a razor, shaving away the insect hair and cutting himself badly. Inky rivulets run behind his knees.

Disposition is not a natural fact. You think that you are still in the midst of something hollow, associated with the grasping hand. Without end, you work in a field with nothing overhead.



Brian Strang, co-editor of 26 magazine lives in Oakland and teaches English composition at San Francisco State University. He is the author of Incretion (Sputyen Duyvil) and machinations (a free Duration ebook) among others. Some of his recent writing has appeared in Volt, Xantippe and One Less.