Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 9
Winter, 2012
Featured painting, ©2011 by David Ho : where it hurts, oils on giclee canvas.

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Sholder Greye

excerpt from Confessions of an Eccentric Old Man

Treating of the Darkland Woods and Mysteries Therein

The town in which my doppelganger was burned as a wizard was located in a clearing of the Darkland Woods, a mysterious forest which perhaps was partly responsible for encouraging the superstitious unreason of the inhabitants of that town, for it was haunted by a great many elemental personalities and spontaneously generated demonic presences. My knowledge of these creatures of Mud was always limited because they are so very rare and difficult to get a hold of, that the Society of Equals never really achieved much research into their nature and means of existence. They are more of Mud and Earth even than Woman, for while Woman possesses, in however little quantity, many of the Astral qualities and attributes of Man, these creatures possess none of them. They arise purely from the Mud, and they descend back into it, having achieved nothing in their brief spans of existence but a cheerful, mindless play. They romp about the forests, chattering and chittering, chasing after each other, pursuing carnal oblivion, and clothing themselves in the leaves and sticks of surrounding Nature.
The Darkland Woods was thronged with such elementals, and I began an investigation of them that was to last for several years. I successfully disguised myself as one of their kind and pursued much of the same mindless games as they did, hoping to gain some understanding of how these games related to the Earth from which they came and the Sky under which they were played. I examined the internal structures of these creatures and found them to be grossly aberrant from those of sublimer Man: organs incomplete and distorted from the divine image of their counterparts in Man; hearts black and charred and pumping but weakly, only enough to nourish the body, but too weak to survive for long, hence their shortened lifespans; brains smooth and whole, without the convolutions and folds and the division between Sky and Earth which thou wilt find in the brains of Man, their brains were all Earth. These traits were peculiar, and they gave rise to speculation, some of it quite exciting. I wondered if perhaps, there were counterparts to these elementals of Earth, if there were elementals of Sky, undiscovered as of yet, but whose brains would be wholly devoted to Sky, and whose hearts would be white and pure of Earth's dirt, whose material would be the Cloud and air of Sky rather than the Mud and feces of Earth. I jumped for joy within my heart at the prospect of such creatures, for such a creature, I was certain, would be the ultimate goal and transcendence of Man, that if Man could achieve what such a creature possessed, then Man would have attained perfection. I decided that I would attempt to discover these creatures out, if it would take all of my remaining lifetime to do it in. I knew it would be an arduous task, but little did I know just how arduous! and how, in the disappointing end, futile!
One of the most curious aspects of the elementals of the Darkland Woods was their unceasing fascination with humans. They loved to observe the townsfolk and play at imitating them in their games. They would watch for hours as a woman came to wash her family's laundry at the river. Then, when she had gone, they would crowd down to the very spot where she had been working, and proceed in grotesque parodies of her actions. They could not seem, no matter how hard they tried, to grasp the subtle mechanisms by which humans performed their tasks with the greatest of ease. What for a woman was the routine task of dipping her clothes into the water, wringing them and scrubbing them with lye, and then rinsing them and folding them, etcetera, &c., for the elementals was a difficult, unnatural effort, which required the exercise of muscles they simply did not possess. O gentle reader, would that thou wert there to witness their exertions! They flopped about like marionettes on strings, lifting mattes of leaves, which represented the cloth, and dunking them in the river, then falling in after them, and emerging frustrated and laughing to scrub dirt and rocks into them until the leaves crumbled apart and drifted away to the winds and waters. They just could not manage it.
If they could not master the simple art of scrubbing clothes, then imagine, dear reader, how they must have fared when they donned disguises and trod into the world of humans to attempt to interact with them on an equal basis. Their greatest goal was to enter a house of pleasure and perform with the ladies there just as eloquently and professionally as any Man, or better. Of course, such a thing was far beyond their ken, but nothing would prevent them from trying. The town was accustomed to receiving a certain strange visitor from out of town at random times during the year, who would enter the town and deliver himself straight to the house of pleasure, and afterwards, leave in great and stumbling haste. This visitor was composed of three elementals standing on the shoulders of each other and trying to keep a good balance at such an ungainly stature. They would enter the house and demand the most beautiful whore that there was to be had. They had with them much gold, which they had spirited from the homes of various villagers, and they spread it about liberally. The whores were quite amused by this strange visitor, for he fumbled and troubled so much, that in his visitations, he never did so much as draw out a stiff member before falling flat on his face and cursing and swearing, and making post haste away from that place, vowing that the next time, he would be the suave and debonair human which he envisioned himself. Then he would break apart, and wrestling and laughing elementals would hop about into the forest, ready to play whatever new games caught their interest.

Sholder Greye is a pen name for Yarrow Paisley, whose work has appeared in Gone Lawn 4. Yarrow's fiction is included in the anthologies Bibliotheca Fantastica from Dagan Books, For When the Veil Drops from West Pigeon Press and Dadaoism from Chômu Press. Information on Sholder at sholdergreye.yarrowpaisley.com.