Robin Williams, In Memoriam

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

And so we shall speak

of when we know, and how

what memories come quickest

and which bewildered fact

came crashing down

as we lay in bed, fighting sleep

–all cells screaming

–agony of red corpuscles


Death in its particulars

swells to metaphor

this particular choice of ending


and then the why’s diminish

and the answers to our several questions

seem already obvious

in the asking

the trite and true–

depression, exhaustion, the man was

simply tired


When a great clown dies

laughter rings false for awhile

and tears feel painted on

and while the carnival moves on

there’s something awkward in the motion

the elephant walks without feet

and the acrobats tumble through no air

and the trapeze, instead of springs

rests on the soft and rotten

Breathe, we must breatherw

filling lungs replete

with atmosphere

as the candy melts

and the hay turns black

and celebrity is finally skin

impermanent without

and hollow within


“Pete Suicide” by Ian Ayres

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson


“Pete Suicide”


My revolver

So easy to get

Cocked in fist

On the way to the grave

Wide open for morning

Loaded and ready

Bullets to blast

My brains to the clay

Of Mother Nature’s womb


Skull full of stars

People that cross

Lost in a garden

Of slab and dirt

Hands from graves

Reach out to shake

Me up so late

Embalmed hands

Amidst the wilt


How I love the Dead

Putting down roots

Echoing whispers

By the time you get it together

You start to fall apart . . .

Skeletal, you know

A jaw drops

Moss will grow

With unknown approach


Living to die, dying to live

Tombstones scream

Or winds grow shrill

Among final faces

Of resting places

My constant family

Who embraces chill

Beneath my feet




Among the Dead

To a bed

Where I sit

Smoking a joint

On that tomb

Sculpture of stone

Near a baby’s



A seedling


How I yearn

To hold you


Your crumbling

New name


Not even a weed


So I sing

A lullaby

And reach out

To cradle you

In my arms

With your rattle

Of bones


Birds Fall


Birds fall

From the trees


From disease



Death is

The rest of

Your life


Some call me a necrophiliac

Who bones the boneyard

Others, a ghoul

Who haunts the Dead

Whatever tickles their tulips

Licking dew drops of lust . . .

Did you know divorce kills?

Divorce kills children

For the rest of their lives


Under-aged children

Kicking the emptiness

Of a beer can

Can no longer feel

Superior over anything

Nothing but luck

Before granite claims

Years of avoidance

In unfulfilled hearts


Finding a family

Like me

In the dead of night

To dance


In moonlight


Every vertebrae

Of our spines



Is white dust

And soul found

In gathering


Ready to be

The one

In the box



To remain


I can always

Be found


Knowing dark


My mind


Jizz Angels by Alex S. Johnson

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

Two Maggot Angels were chilling in the interstices between Heaven and Hell. One was named Bob, the other, the Sigil Formerly Known as Wormfood.

“How’s it hangin,’ Sigil Formerly Known?” asked Bob.

“Pretty low. I can’t get a job anywhere. Went to the employment office, but there was a line around the block. Hard out there for a Maggot Angel.”

“I hear you loud and clear. Me too. Maybe we should change our status.”

“Change our status? How do you mean?”

“I mean maybe there’s a glut on the market for Maggot Angels. I heard a rumor from a guy…but let’s go get a Bukkake Cone.”

“Solid. They’ve got a Bukkake Cone stand at the Plaza Odium. The place is a little smelly since they started excavating the carnival graveyard and there’s piles of clown corpses everywhere, but, between you, me and the fly mob, there’s nothing like a cool Bukkake Cone on a hot day.”

The Maggot Angels walked to the Plaza, which was only a mile away. They ordered medium cups of Bukkake–strawberry flavor–and sat thoughtfully for awhile, spooning up the creamy goodness. 

“So let’s hear more about this Jizz Angels concept,” said Sigil Formerly Known.

“Ain’t no thing. Well, I’ll level with you. It’s more than just a rumor, it’s happening. I don’t want to jinx it by telling you too much now, but let’s just say a guy could get pretty rich pretty quick if he got in on the ground floor.”

“What does a Jizz Angel do?”

“There’s a lot of waiting involved. What they do, basically, is wait, usually behind a large piece of furniture, while someone whacks it or sinks it in balls deep. Then, when they cum, a Jizz Angel floats over their head and sings a little song.”

“A song? Like, what kind of song?”

“I don’t know, folk songs, grindcore, Dolly Parton. Whatever rocks that person’s particular boat.”

“I don’t know, dude,” said Sigil. “It sounds deeply random.”

“As opposed to Maggot Angel?”

“Yeah, but at least Maggot Angels have been around for a while now.”

“Evolution is a bitch, my friend. We rose from the decomposed with wriggling wings, and now it’s time to change that public persona. Why, in no time at all, this Jizz Angels thing is going to go universal. I hear Jehovah himself is down with it. And Satan, damn, he wants to corner the franchise and start mass-producing Jizz Angels as fast as he can get his claws on their souls.”

“Well, if folks of that stature are involved, there must be something to it.”

“Hells yeah there is,” said Bob. “Look, I’ve got a video here.” He pulled a cassette from beneath his wormy pinions. 

One Week Later

“Sign me up,” said Sigil. “I think I’ve got what it takes to be a Jizz Angel, and no mistake. Also, I spoke to some buddies of mine and they’re very, very curious.”

And the two Maggot Angels joined hands and burst into an a cappella duet of “Wrecking Ball.”



Shakti Vivisection

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

Shakti Vivisection

lap dance of the gods

so do it right and get

the bump and grind core 

action now


Standing in the midst

of the burning crowd

electric anger cooks

between the shoulderblades


The ax falls down

and the hunt is done

the animal cries its hurt and shame

for what it has become


The hunter moves

shameless, naked, alone

behind her countless masks

deformity, conformity, spears and shadows

wretched fools die once and ever more

sweep of the robes unfurling

gold-rimmed cloth descending

venom carved from the block

goes back to Brahman


Eyes rimmed by black

the moon’s skeleton

brimming forth with golden light

traces its magic

and the old man lies down

in the meat of the jewel


As the young dilate on their thrones

with passion still contriving

as stars trickle amber oil

on the anointed

Jesu Christos in mourning for the dolphin

Fishers taste the blood of mermaids 


Begin from the beginning

where the end fashions its daggers

the world engine screams

like an eagle descending

Joe Oroborus soft detective

mucked up and mired in the turbines


All is consciousness

All is light

All belongs to the


Of the divine

Chant its many names

Imploring it, no more

Please keep the dragon from my door

And let me drink of liberation

From the vessel of your eyes

Fame by Alex S. Johnson

Posted in fiction on February 18, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

There’s a microphone, and then another. I find myself behind a podium in a hall that is decorated with posters of luminous worms and crawling creatures from the Id. A small crowd gathers. Among them are a few I recognize and many I don’t. A few are carrying books with titles like Humongous Tit Monster and Savage Ass Lice. I discern from the muttering among the Boschian grotesques that there is discontent in the ranks. But with whom? I pinch myself again to ensure that it’s all real and not some crazy dream. Someone offers me a large hunk of hair, the size of a small dog. What am I to do with this snarled mass? She shrugs her shoulders. I nod, trying to assimilate the new information. “Thanks,” I say. “You’re welcome.” Her eyes are like whirlpools of blazing jelly. It’s hard to determine her tone. Is she being sarcastic or is this a genuine token of affection. I take the hair and stuff it into my shirt pocket.

The microphone snaps and screams. “Hot mic,” I say as it transforms in my hands into a timber rattler. Horrified, I toss the mic into the crowd. It lands squarely on the girl’s bald patch and eats its way into her skull.

“Traitor!” she screams. I look around, trying to find the target of her rage. “Heretic!” I realize that she’s pointing directly at me. I feel something scrape my shins. Looking down, I see an army of robot toys with leveled knife attachments.

“Let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions,” says someone behind the girl. The robot toys fall on him and he is borne away protesting. “The man didn’t do anything!” “No?” screams the girl. “Then I suppose my hair just yanked itself out and got replaced by a snake! And this bastard had nothing to do with it!”

“What did he do?” asks another voice, which is immediately muted.

“He’s trying to steal our fans!”


“Yes!” says a kid, about 25. He has worms streaming out of his eye sockets. His clothes are shredded and he smells of moonshine from five yards away. “He tried to segregate me!”

“Segregationist!” The crowd grows louder and angrier.

“Look,” I say, attempting calm. “You called me out here to this press conference to ask me questions. I tried to answer them as best I could. Then my microphone turned into a snake. I suppose it happens sometimes.”


“Shit talker!”

“You–literary person!”

I can’t help but smile as the crowd shrinks. The longer I look at them, the smaller they get. From this altitude they resemble oddly shaped insects. It’s difficult to hear their tinny, helium-laced voices. Finally there is silence.

So much for fame.

In Which I Meet R. Crumb by Alex S. Johnson

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

We stand at the cusp of two decades, the “Me Generation” poised reluctantly to pass the torch to the “Greed Generation.” An overcast day in late August and a crisped fairgrounds in Sausalito, California. I’m 14. My father, Steven M. Johnson, has brought me here to see in person what I’ve only read about. This is the Whole Earth Convention, the live manifestation of the catalog, then quarterly review, that detailed for the first time trends that many years later went mainstream, indeed global. Personal computers. Software. Smart drugs. Cyberpunk. Sustainability. Deep ecology. All beginning with a vision by Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand of the earth from space.

I am only just aware of Brand, the Merry Prankster who got off the bus with a head full of good hash, obsessed with the idea that everybody, not just freaks and heads, needed to see our planet as it actually is–a globe without borders, enfolded in a fragile atmosphere that sustains billions of lives. The iconic NASA photograph that graced the first Whole Earth Catalog would be the catalyst for so many features of our physical and mental landscape we take for granted now, from recycling to the Internet. Because–well, just look at it. The thing speaks for itself. No barriers based on politics, religion or ideology. One planet, one home for all of us.

But for me at 14, all this is well, not irrelevant exactly, but superfluous. Because while I can see Brand himself walking about amidst the crowds of aging hippies, along with people like Woodstock luminary and premier acid clown Wavy Gravy, I’m more interested in a stoop-shouldered guy with Coke-bottle glasses and a bow tie who looks like he stepped bewildered from a 1930’s jug band and is still getting his bearings. In other words, R. Crumb.

It’s a family ritual by this point–when the Whole Earth Review arrives in the mail, my dad and I immediately scan the table of contents to see if there is fresh Crumb. We know what we’re looking for, and what we’re going to get–the satirical comic version of comfort food. Crumb’s take on the eco-green gestalt is much more pessimistic, and his jaundiced parody of the NASA photo depicts an orb of disease-puckered, purulent flesh rotting in the firmament. He’s not so easily taken in by the glad handing longhairs who shortly will shear their locks and put away the God’s Eyes and the patchouli oil  to emerge as Yuppies, turning peace and love into commodities. He is a realist, a skeptic, and a fan of big thighs and nuclear-proofed butts. In other words, my kind of guy.

We make our way over to a group of fans clustered around Crumb. From his pained expression, it’s obvious that the Crumblebum has already reduced them to clusters of heavily cross hatched ink sprouting desultory appeals for autographs. “I don’t give autographs,” he’s saying as my dad and I move in.

“Are you Robert Crumb?” asks my dad.

The last of the great medieval thinkers looks for the source of the voice. “Yeah,” he mutters.

“My son and I are big admirers of yours.”

“Thanks,” he says. The air seems to coagulate around us and you can practically hear a faucet tap somewhere squeezing out a single drop of water.

My dad clears his throat and gestures to me. “I raised my son on your comics,” he says proudly.

“Poor kid,” says Crumb.

And that is it–our encounter with the creator of Zap, Weirdo, Hup, Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, Devil Girl, Mode O’ Day and so many other characters inhabiting the permanent pantheon of comic book fame. It is brief, awkward and anticlimactic.

“Well, what did you think?” my dad asks.

“He seems like he’s trying to squeeze himself out of his own skin,” I say.

And then I realize something that will serve me well in the future: Crumb’s greatness is in the work itself. The art. The magnificent, limber girls his comic alter egos subject to degrading sexual assaults, all vain and ultimately pointless in the face of their superiority to him. The man is not to be found in the flesh and blood and bone, but in the inked simulacra. And I can’t wait to go home, if only to anticipate the appearance in the mailbox of new issues of The Whole Earth Review, in which, months from now, braless women with enormous thighs will torment the libido of a former greeting card artist from the midwest who cannot escape his cravings for old jazz records and healthy Amazons.

And as for the whole earth? It’s still riven with religious and sectarian and political conflict, now more than ever. Not a week goes by without reports of random violence, school shootings, massacres. The social media, the grandchild of Brand’s eureka moment, is awash with hostility and flame wars. Far from bringing us all together, our technology exposes the fault lines in painful relief. But there is still Crumb, and satire, and lovingly rendered ass, and for that, I am thankful.

Book Review: What Price Gory by Terry M. West

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 17, 2014 by Alex S. Johnson

There are few things more satisfying than a good short story collection, if in What Price Gory, Terry M. West has provided just that. The horror film director-turned-writer ably delivers eight tales of the weird and macabre that range from the traditional Lovecraftian to Edward Lee-style splatterpunk and some gloriously strange places in between. I think my favorite from this book is “Cecil and Bubba Meet a Succubus,” which relates one of what we can only hope is a series of episodes featuring two Texas rednecks, a gipsy curse and, in this case, a metrosexual parapsychologist and a “suck a bus.” Then there is the title story, a dark allegory of the writing life, the creepy “Held Over” and the E.C. Comics-meets-Dante poetic retribution meted out in “Midnight Snack.” West’s prose is distinguished by its careful attention to craft and detail, his ability to re-conceive hoary terror tropes in ingenious new ways, and most of all by his sly wit. Fans of Stephen King, John Shirley, Joe Lansdale, Joe Hill and Karl Edward Wagner will find much to enjoy here and I recommend it without reservation.