William Vlach

Writing

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

When I was ten

I asked the bracero 

how to count in Spanish.  

Young, smooth tan skin, 

he smiled, and taught me.  

I laughed when he 

got to eight.  It’s like 

sneezing, I said,

Ocho!  Salud, 

he answered.  

Salad? I asked.

The men were cutting 

wheat, pushing it into 

the baling machine-

Five wire bales

are harder to flip

up onto the truck.

The elixir of hay 

fragrance makes me

giddy to this day.

I hope his grandchildren

are safe on this 

DACA Day,

June 18, 2020:

Gracias for the

sneeze and awakening.

What to do While Sheltering-in-Place

I’ve taken to cloud monitoring.  Sad days when there are blue skies.  It’s mainly the movement.  Big old chunks break off from bigger chunks.  Flail here and there in slow motion.  In silence.  The edges are full of detail as they threaten to interact with other edges.  Sometimes they mingle and seem happy.  This goes back and forth.  At times it’s like great superstates battling.  Like the Orwellian Oceana, Eurasia, and Eastasia, the battles are at the edges of empire— Vietnam or Afghanistan.  Other times it’s like a great silent seduction.  Once in a while they take a leak on me.  Other times their orgasms echo though the skies.  None of this is Zeus or Odin.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not gone ‘round the bend mythic or evangelical.  It’s just that they are wonderful and I’ve not noticed since I was a boy on the ranch and had flopped down in the fresh green wheat stalks and looked up.

Kill the Buddha! will be published this week…

St Arthur’s Court Publishing, London will be bringing out, in ebook, Kill the Buddha! the week of 3/30.

Publisher’s ‘Blurb’ for Kill the Buddha!

#noir #Thriller #serialkiller #novel #mystery #SanFrancisco #noiralley #bookstagram

Set in the homeless and ‘startup’ gentrification wars of contemporary San Francisco, serial killer Ben X, the son of a 60’s damaged father and an unknown mother, sets out to slay the civil service employees of the city. He has vowed revenge for the loss of his family home. Ben covers his tracks with what he calls Buddhist bromide, New Age clichés, that lull the unsuspecting into catastrophe. In a manic first person narrative, this monster’s violence is complicated by his sexual masochism, family protectiveness, and a flare for the cutting insight.

As he progresses in the killings, he finds he has a psychotic ability to read other’s thoughts giving him even further motivation and rage. His family expands from his brain damaged aphorism-saying father to a young refugee whose mother was captured by Federal authorities. Living in a homeless settlement, other figures appear— Marie, a kept woman sadist, a chain saw killer of the homeless, and his ultimate target, the mayor of San Francisco. In this white knuckle quest for revenge, Ben X’s surprising family roots are revealed.

Echoing the shockers of Jim Harrison’s The Killer Inside Me, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Girl with the Golden Tattoo, Kill the Buddha! Is both a contemporary violent noir and a twisted psychological thriller.

Shadow of the Therapist: Origins of ‘Kill the Buddha!’

#psychotherapy #therapy #psychotherapy #jung #SanFrancisco #noir #Thriller #novel

#noiralley #BookTwitter #bookstagram

His shoulders cave forward, shaking, as he cries. The shooting, the bullied kids, the wife battling disease. The overtime. Unfair promotions. He is, at last, broken. The therapist’s job is to, first and foremost, to hear him. Make that feeling resonant connection. Therein lies the healing. Or her— the one with the rambling alcoholic husband. And the others…

They ask— doesn’t it get to you?

True that.

Want do you do to help yourself?

Which self? I don’t reply. That other self, I whisper to myself.

Carl Jung, the great dream psychologist, theorized that the negative aspects of the self that are denied by the usual community standards are plunged into the unconscious.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_(psychology)

There they reside, safe from the community and self’s disapproval. But they are also, without one’s awareness, prone to creating physical disturbances, anxiety, and most disturbing of all, projection. With the latter, all that internal garbage gets projected onto a mate, community, a race. The homicide of genocide is also an economic and psychological suicide.

This therapist who listens and feels and, at times cries, in a session, subsumes his crazy self, rage, self destruction and the rest in stories. The helplessness of psychotherapy into a trickster priest. The need for calmness and healing into shoot ‘em up Westerns. And now, the seeing daily the tragedy of violence, has become the tale of a serial killer. But, in an unconscious move, this serial killer has a heart. He is complicated.

As are we all.

Elegy

Elegy

for Helen Ernst née Julius

There were many Helens:
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, educator, leader

One Helen, the earliest—
Her name—Eléni
Granddaughter of
the bringer of fire— Prometheus.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

There were many Helens—
Another one: beautiful Helen of Sparta,
absconded to Troy.
Many Helens…
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Our Helen—
Who watched her father
through the door window
as he lay dying
on the hospital bed-
The Great Flu pandemic.

Our Helen-
Who touched the bumps
on her Mani born
grandfather’s neck—
Bullets from The Balkan Wars.

Our Helen—
Who listened to Greek
music in the Napa orchard.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who held her baby brother
Who flirted as a Bobby Soxer

Who watched her brother
blow dandelions out over
The Carquinez Straights—
Missing his mother.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who studied at Cal
Who joined the service
Who fell in love
With a son of Cambridge
Who tried to rescue her baby brother
from violent war.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who proudly studied at Stanford.
Who wrapped packages
for the Greek children of war
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who wanted to make things right,
at times intensely,
because she knew
what Chaos looks like,
feels like.

Who watched over her family
Who lost the man she loved
Who lost the brother she loved
Who welcomed a lost nephew
on Greek Easter.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

If we allow…

These Helens
are here, are now,
in this place, at this time.
There were many Helens
And yes, there are many Helens…
Here, now-

-efcharistó, Auntie Helen, theía mou, efcharistó
[Chorus] parakalo

#Elegy #poem #GreekAmerican #poetry

The California fiery sky.

The picture above is the Autumn twilight sky in the California Valley as the San Hill Cranes descend. Mount Diablo in the background, like Mount Fuji, is a perfect backdrop for the landing cranes. The first Western novel I wrote, The Guns of Revenge, used the theme of fire as both destruction and transformation. Fire, twilight, and transformation are mythological foundations of California.
#Western #WesternNovel #Californiafires

Reading from Father Coffee at Folio Books—

Great fun!

Reading from Father Coffee Monday, 11/13 in Noe Valley!

Selections from The Gospel According to Father Coffee

Father Coffee's sermons began to take on a darker note after the carnival left. "You think," he said in a tenor brogue, "that your life is hard here in this outpost. You think that your husband doesn't pay attention to you. Your wife doesn't give herself enough to you. Your children don't pay attention to your feeble parents. There's never enough money. People get sick and get old and die. Well, let me tell you. We were not born from darkness and silence. When we were born, we were released from a world of suffocation, anguish, fiery pain and gasping for air. And no matter how you lead your life, merit and demerit, you will return to that state of unremitting despair and relentless pain. This life is fine, fine and dandy. No matter how bad things are, you are not where you were. And not where you are going. The worst of times are the best of times."

There was a rise of sin in the village. It was gradual, but Father Coffee noted the increase in the weekly confessions. The ancient ritual that began with Bless me Father, for I have sinned, was now followed by a new, more extreme litany: Father, I beat my wife, and Father, I kicked the dog, and Father, I committed adultery with Mrs. Miller, and Father, I had relations with a goat, and Father, I used the tractor to run over my neighbor's new Pontiac. There were enigmas outside of the confessional also. Vincente, the only teetotaler rancher in the area, smelled of a bad red Portagee wine at the 9: 00 o'clock mass. After the priest carefully placed the host on Mrs. Caldera's tongue, she immediately began chewing on it. In the sacristy, Harold, the intellectually challenged gas station attendant, gargled holy water. Father Coffee walked through the town to find out what the hell was going on. The barber complained that the kids were especially unruly, swatting his clippers away. The pharmacist described a massive increase in requests for bromides and digestive disorder medicinals. The school teacher said the children had forgotten an entire academic year. On the street, dogs purred and cats growled. He saw Mrs. Fitzgerald and the grimiest bum in town, Arnold, taking turns gulping out of a cold bottle of Schlitz. The next day the bull died. He lay dead on the yellow field next to the factory. Billows of blue white smoke poured out from the factory's tall thin chimney stacks. Smoke shadows crossed over the great dead bull. The ranch men stood around the Andalusian lump of power and majesty. "The factory fluoride killed him," Cain, the young ranch hand, said pointing up to the billowing smoke. "Santa Muerte," Manuel, El Bracero, said as he blessed himself. When they opened the bull's dead mouth they saw two rows of perfectly white teeth. "Floride!" Cain cried. People had questioned Cain because he was incredibly close to his bossy mother and had never married. He figured that was none of their business. Besides, the priest had never been upset in the confessional about his sexual behavior, just giving him a few Our Father's and a couple of Hail Mary's, not bothering to tell him to go forth and sin no more. Cain brought Father Coffee out to the field to give Last Rites to the magnificent animal. That night Father Coffee tried something new. Instead of launching from the church peak, he spun in a circle in the garden cemetery. He had seen a picture of the dervishes in the Saturday Evening Post and wanted to try it. He spun upwards, then over the town. From his vantage point, he saw town children vomiting, husbands hitting, wives crying. After seeing the dead bull and the factory smoke, the priest guessed it was some odd evil emitted from the factory. Father Coffee turned east from the town, flew over the factory and plunged into the tallest chimney stack of the Dow Chemical Company. As he nose dived down he prayed, Let me be your breath, Dear Jesus. He inhaled. His lungs nearly burst from the fiery factory made napalm smoke. The next morning, still coughing, Father Coffee calmly walked to the plant holding up an olive wood cross. The workers quickly opened the gates for him. He walked around the great factory until he found the main electrical plug. He quickly leaned over, grabbed the python-like black electrical cord and yanked. He had unplugged the factory. The machinery ground to a halt, there was silence and thereafter significantly less trouble in the town.

* * *

Father Coffee did not question his night flying. He figured if he thought too much about it, self-consciousness would kill it. Besides he had his hands full with his three wards. The church housekeeper, Mrs. O'Hanorahan, had become obsessed with the three boys’ bad behaviors. The epitome of their juvenile delinquency came the morning they tied a rope from the cross at the peak of the church and took turns swinging by their feet around the building like they were performing the Danza de los Voladores in Veracruz. The oldest, Jackie, flew and screamed in delight. The youngest, Timmy, crashed into the stained glass window portraying Christ's agony at Gethsemane. Mrs. O'Hanorahan held her faithful broom ready for the middle boy, Bobby as he swung around the corner of the church. She smacked the flying screaming Bobby which reversed his course and sent him the other way around the church like a boy tether ball. Before the third smack, Father Coffee stopped his housekeeper by standing in front of her holding a cross as if she were to be exorcized. She walked away, broom in tow, muttering, "Ah, bless me St. Patrick, 'tis a fool's parish."

The broken stained glass window and flustered housekeeper did not deter Father Coffee from delivering his weekly sermon the next Sunday morning. "Please note the broken Christ," he said, pointing to the colorful stained glass shards below the cardboard covered window. "He was in agony at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Now he is not. How can anyone be in agony if they are tasting a good green olive? I know, I know. An acquired taste. But, still. A good green olive overrides agony. Any day. Gustat bonum, est etiam in malo olice. Even a bad olive tastes good. What if Christ would have grown tired of sweating blood and eaten a couple good ripe green olives. We wouldn't be worshiping a cross. We'd be worshiping an olive. Veracruz? Nay, Vera Aceituna! The True Olive. Wouldn't history be different if Constantine saw an olive instead a cross? Chew on that one. Go in peace. In the name of the Kalamata, Nicoise and The Holy Martini. Amen."

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