13 statements about the United States of Chimerica made by the Bird King during a press conference in the basement of his ruined palace

1. Jesus made the United States of Chimerica from the hide of a gator he killed with his bare hands back in the winter of ’81.

2. The people of the United States of Chimerica are watched over by a straight-talkin’ angel with hillbilly eyes and a crown of nuclear missiles.

3. Chimerican iconography 1:
Ronald McDonald smiling beatifically whilst firing a shotgun at a spinning globe.

4. Chimerican English is the language of commerce, war, touchscreen dreams, charity, love, power, landscapes, mindscapes and escapes.

5. God told Abraham Lincoln to establish the NRA. When the End Days come, the Statue of Liberty will hunt down those who won’t kiss the gun.

6. The flag of the United States of Chimerica is usually referred to as “the Scars and Stripes.”

7. Chimerican iconography 2:
The all-seeing eye, held in the teeth of a piranha.

8. On Independence Day, George Washington gave birth to the Empire State Building and a plague of dollars descended on the USSR.

9. The Boston Tea Party was orchestrated by Jesus, disguised as the Mad Hatter.

10. The Chimerican Intelligence Agency has exterminated all non-human animal species and replaced them with Simubots™ equipped with cameras.

11. Chimerican iconography 3:
A bald eagle crucified on a pylon. In the background: a burning bush, in the shape of a man.

12. At night, Ronald Raygun delivers triumphal nightmares in the subterranean maternity ward of the Pentagon.

13. We all live in the United States of Chimerica.

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Eve in the House of Mirrors: 13 fragments

1. On the morning of her eighteenth birthday, Eve woke to find herself transformed into a gigantic chess piece made of zeros and ones.

2. Eve gazed so long at her smartphone that she found herself falling into it.

3. She fell for a time that may have been short or long or infinite. During her descent she became conscious of her nakedness.

4. Finally, when all the numbers had run out, she landed in a pool of herself. Her lungs filled with the words that made her story.

5. The words rearranged themselves and became other stories. Eve’s head popped off, revealing another, smaller, younger Eve inside the shell of her body.

6. The younger Eve was a child. She kept a secret: her twin sister was coiled up in her head, like a snake.

7. Eve (a child pretending to be a woman or a woman pretending to be a child) stood in the House of Mirrors. Even when standing still she could feel herself falling.

8. The mirrors gave back her image, augmented, altered. Her eyes were magnified. Her mouth was a red contraption that exterminated wolves.

9. Something like a plucked turkey followed her. It wore a broken crown. Whenever she turned to look, the shadows shielded it from her gaze.

10. All of the voices in the House of Mirrors belonged to Eve, though she didn’t recognise them. Most were in a language she had forgotten.

11. Many of the objects and creatures Eve encountered in the House of Mirrors had no names. They blurred and warped in her gaze.

12. Deep underground, hidden from Eve in a room with no door, a man and a woman were exchanging gifts. The space around them vibrated.

13. In Room 13 Eve found the architect’s plans. The House of Mirrors seemed to have been modelled on a bird cage or a construction site.

This piece is dedicated to my collaborator on the House of Mirrors project, Viviana Hinojosa.

Alice in Hell: 13 slithy variations

1. Having made Alice from one of the Mad Hatter’s ribs, Humpty Dumpty told her she could do anything, except speak. “How bothersome!” she said.

2. In the church, Alice was horrified to be presented with a talking lamb. “EAT ME!” it bleated and, as the Red Queen cut its throat, “DRINK ME!”

3. The chess pieces represented people Alice knew. The white were the saved; the red, the damned. She picked them all up, one at a time, and kissed them.

4. Alice was forced to kneel and pray to Our Lady of the Hearts. As she bowed her head, a priest lopped it off. After a cursory funeral, a red rose was placed on her grave.

5. On Judgment Day, Alice found herself under the scrutiny of a murderous legal system. When she shouted, “Nonsense!” the sun imploded and the White Rabbit’s watch stopped.

6. Virgil appeared to Alice as a white rabbit and guided her through Hell. Satan, in the form of a vanishing cat, weighed up her soul.

7. On reaching the eighth row of God’s infernal chessboard, Alice was assumed into Heaven, where she ruled with a rust-red fist and a vacant stare.

8. Those present at the tea party were not permitted to leave. They would remain there forever. They smelt Alice’s innocence and hoped she could save them. She smiled at their naivety.

9. Banished from Eden, Alice fell down the rabbit hole, past the circles of Hell and into the yawning mouth of the Jabberwocky.

10. After the Harrowing of Wonderland, Alice lay her head in her sister’s lap and slept.

11. A blue caterpillar sat in the Tree of Knowledge. When Alice talked to him she forgot who she was and what the rules were.

12. Although she had been baptised in a sea of her own tears, Alice knew that she was lost forever.

13. The White Rabbit’s watch started again. Years passed. Poring over the book of Alice’s life, scholars couldn’t agree on what it might mean.

Stories

1. Stories

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They told us stories. We didn’t believe them. They told us that was to be expected. We said the stories weren’t true to life. They asked what we meant by that. We explained that the stories didn’t resemble our own lives. They said that didn’t make them untrue. We asked them what the point of the stories was. They asked why there needed to be a point.

—–

2. A tree

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It was a tree. The light fell on it strangely. He said it looked like a mass of snakes. She said it was a monster. They both laughed and looked at each other. It looks alive! she enthused. Of course it’s alive, he laughed, it’s a tree! No, I mean alive like it’s watching us. We’re watching it, not the other way around. They fell quiet and kissed, briefly, then walked on down the lane.

—–

3. An old building

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Being an old building, and in a state of ruin, it had a story to tell, he explained. What is its story? she asked. So he told her. Later, as they sat by the pond, she couldn’t stop thinking about the story he had told her. It didn’t sound like the building’s story. It sounded like his story. She tried to imagine what the building’s story might actually be. But the silence of the stones had given nothing away.

—–

4. A tower

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Having smashed down the door, they surged inside and up the spiral staircase, hungry for the prize lying prone in the mirrored room at the top of the tower. Decades later, they still bragged about the part they’d played, the violence of their youth, the wounds they’d suffered. But none of them could agree on who the enemy was or the nature of the prize so treasured and so hard won.

—–

5. The end

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You found yourself in a theatrical Hell, where the melodramatic torments of the damned brought out the critic in you. You started writing. Every word was a stake through the heart. Satan straightened his tie and made his exit, pursued by a bear. An ersatz angel tore the curtains into shreds with his claws and the audience booed with delight.

13 phantasmagoric floats appearing in the Bird King’s Chimeric Carnival

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1. Days of Innocence
Fluorescent maggot men dance the flamenco.

2. The Eyes of Medusa
Pythons and immobile pole dancers in grey body paint.

3. Golgotha
A drunken mechanical Christ grinds your bones to make his bread.

4. Big Ape Bollocks
Alpha males slug it out in a cage made of the bones of the beaten beta men.

5. The Other Side of the Mirror
A Hell of revolving doors, with screaming Red Queens.

6. The Triumph of Time
Hands pointing to blank faces, numbers crashing down.

7. The Dark Room
Thousands of photos of an empty bed.

8. The Mannequin
A smashed window in a department store display.

9. Punching Judy
A shrieking bride clobbers her red-nosed husband.

10. The Bald Prima Donna
A fireman, leaping from the window of an invisible house.

11. The Cocoon
A gigantic filing cabinet shakes violently, as if something inside is trying to get out.

12. Capitalism Makes Happiness
Play-Doh recreations of disaster zones.

13. Limbo Dancers
Grey shapes wavering, neither here nor there. The music has stopped. The crowds are vanishing.