I have heard many silly taunts in my extensive time, and they are never more clever just because they rhyme. Ignorance should whisper like a muffled chime. I am not proud though you are too proud to see that when the Grand Bungler created you it also created me. I am not mighty or dreadful. I do not overthrow. Those are your birthmarks. You are your foe. Poison, war are a scaly brood for which I have no need. They hatched in the nest with you, and you are the fodder on which they feed. Chance is a monkey whose mischief ends at the tomb. Fate and sickness are encrypted when you are in the womb. You are the slave of desperate men and kings, who look like lice to me - or other insects without wings. I am a lantern at the end of day. I am not the Magnificent Fumbler, who gave you feeble DNA. I bring peace after you have done your worst, and while I may eventually die, you will die first. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Tag Archives: Death
Kinda Like Loam – A Testimonial
When Uncle Wood died, we were bereft. No one knew what to do with his wrinkled corpse. He hadn’t made any plans for his burial. We were stuck.
So we turned to the internet for solutions. Surprisingly, there are lots of laws restricting what people can do with corpses. Fortunately, we found Raven Breathless’ Kind Like Loam (patent pending). It’s the almost natural way to speedily decompose unwanted corpses.
So we shipped Uncle Wood up to Block Island and about six weeks later a bag of Kinda Like Loam arrived at our home – just in time for Christmas. The bag was really heavy, but once we removed Uncle’s titanium knees, iron lung, plastic heart, and the sharp blade he used as a tongue it was much lighter. But where to dump him?
Having ruined so many Thanksgivings, no one wanted to sprinkle him near the house. So we settled on Dr. Pepper Park, where we found a thriving cherry tree and poured out Uncle Wood at its base. We chose a cherry tree because Uncle’s nickname was Soft Wood. It just seemed perfect.
And it was. Within 5 days that tree died, and after a burst of heavy rain some of Uncle Wood ran into the Roanoke River. All the catfish turned belly up. And when you poked them, they exploded. The air smelled like Uncle Wood and rotting fish. It was exactly what he would have wanted.
Thanks so much, Raven Breathless. Now we can’t wait for Auntie Blister to die.
Saffron Crow, Special Correspondent for Corpse Disposal
Great! Now You’ve Exasperated Death.
You’d think I’d be rich – these days being what they are. You’d think I’d be living like a bankruptcy attorney during the Great Recession. But I’m not and that’s your fault. Oh, I’m busier than ever – what with the many spectacular ways you’ve learned to efficiently kill each other – I’m just not getting paid.
In the old days, the family made sure I was paid. Depending on the society, they would put coins on the departed’s eyes. Most cultures had similar traditions. Humans knew how to show appreciation. But as you evolved, you got stingy. I am officially exasperated.
So I’ve opened my own business. It’s on the internet and Block Island – in the same strip mall as Drinkie McFalldown’s Wee Irish Pub and Ted’s Definitely Used Cars. Bring in a corpse. Any corpse. I don’t care. But the person must be dead before entering the building. And for the low price of $200.00 I will give you fertilizer – a few weeks later.
Using the most advanced social sciences and certain secret spices I have perfected, that corpse will decompose before you could ride a horse to Canada – turning into a fluffy, almost environmentally-safe, Kinda Like Loam (patent pending). It can be used for any horticultural purpose – or unclogging toilets. Did your hippie uncle love pot? Turn him into Kinda Like Loam, spread him across your weed patch, and then smoke him. All you need to do is bring me a corpse and $200.00 (cash only – I no longer accept crypto). Testimonials to follow.
Raven Breathless (formerly known as Death)
The Passenger – So Many Questions
Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger opens with a dead woman hanging from a tree. She committed suicide on Christmas day. So that’s brutal, but then you remember who the author is.
The Passenger is a beautifully written Southern Gothic. It’s also frustrating – taking detours that may be interesting but don’t lead anywhere. For example, one character has a wordy monologue about who really assassinated JFK. It’s only mildly intriguing because this terrain has been trampled for decades. So you wonder – was McCarthy being paid by the word?
After the suicide, the story jumps about 10 years to 1980 and a small plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. Excellent, more death. Perhaps McCarthy can work the Holocaust into this. Spoiler alert – he does.
Bobby Western (think Western Civilization) is a salvage diver. He is sent by an unknown client to investigate the crash. He and his partner, Oiler, dive into the literal and metaphorical murky waters, use a torch to open the plane’s door, and find 9 drowned passengers. The plane’s black box is missing. It is clear there was a tenth passenger, but that person has disappeared. When he returns to New Orleans, government agents show up asking vague but concerning questions. Oiler goes to work on another assignment and dies. Was he murdered? Is Western next? How come the plane crash is never mentioned in the newspapers? Is Western being followed? Who keeps breaking into his apartment? Can he do anything about it? If he can, will he? So many questions, and McCarthy isn’t interested in answering any of them.
This story is really a meditation on the shitshow that was the twentieth century. Auschwitz and Hiroshima are the “sister events that sealed forever the fate of the West.” It doesn’t help that Western’s father was a physicist who helped build the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Western’s sister (Alicia) is the young woman who committed suicide. She was schizophrenic and stopped taking her meds. In flashbacks we jump into her mind. She’s a twentieth-century Alice in a demented Wonderland, and these chapters are stunning. They show McCarthy at his formidable best, and the novel is worth reading for these sections alone.
Western is haunted by Alicia’s suicide. He loved her very much. Maybe too much. Incest is hinted at. He’s also extremely troubled by his father’s work on the bomb. If Alicia is a modern-day Alice, Western is a twentieth-century Hamlet. He certainly has daddy issues, and suicidal Alicia just might be his Ophelia. Plus Western is supremely indecisive. He doesn’t know if he’s being hunted by a killer or haunted by a ghost. He’s trapped and doesn’t care. “If all that I loved in the world is gone what difference does it make if I’m free to go to the grocery store?”
So who is the passenger? Who isn’t? The passenger seems to be any creature buffeted by storms trying to survive without necessarily knowing how best to do that.
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
London Fields: Sex, Death, and Darts!
Martin Amis’ London Fields was published in 1989, and its obsession with the end of the millennium is humorously bleak. Or is it bleakly humorous? I don’t know. But there are other obsessions in the book, too. Oddly (to an American), darts is one. So is death. And sex. Definitely sex. And death. Definitely death.
The story is a disturbing love quadrangle. Keith Talent is a violent, misogynistic cheat. Guy Clinch is an inept, credulous romantic. Samson (Sam) Young is an author. And because this is a “modern” novel, he is also the narrator, but he is not “one of those excitable types who get caught making things up.” So does that mean he’s honest? Or does it mean he’s never been caught lying?
Nicola Six (think Sex) is the black hole these men don’t try to escape. When she was a child, she had an imaginary friend named Enola Gay, and Enola had a little boy. Yeah, Mr Amis does not paint with pastels.
Nicola has always been able to sense when something will happen, so she knows she will be murdered on her 35th birthday. She’s looking forward to it. Oh, yes, nearly forgot – the world, and everything in it, is shabby. Except Nicola. She’s resplendent and wants to die.
From the beginning we know who the murderer is. We also know Nicola is the “murderee” (she is definitely not the victim), and we know when she will be killed. As Sam explains, the story is not a “whodunit”. It’s a “whydoit”. It succeeds either way.
But why is Nicola obsessed with death? Is she heart-broken? Is she bored? What does Nicola say about it? “I am a male fantasy figure. I’ve been one for fifteen years. It really takes it out of a girl.”
Nicola is every sexual fantasy men have. But is she just drawn that way? Like Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We only see her through Sam’s filter. When Nicola reads a chapter Sam has written about her, she doesn’t recognize herself. But that doesn’t matter to Sam. It’s how he sees her, and he’s writing the story. So does Nicola welcome death because she’s too good for this shabby world? Or is it the only way out of a story in which she does not recognize herself?
Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor
The Dray Horse
He gave the last full measure of devotion without receiving recognition or promotion. Living on the muted end of a video call a dray horse working quietly in his stall until found back turned to a virtual door, glued to his chair, feet fixed to the floor, staring searchingly into the electric blue as if it could tell him what is true. A conch squeezed tightly in his shell bothering no one until he started to smell. His cramped cubicle was in the last row. It was a long way away so I would not go. Instead I sent work to him by email which he would respond to without fail but then there were unusual delays. To be fair, he'd been dead for two days staring into the vast electric blue as his work lined up in a virtual queue. Now the accountants have correctly said he shouldn't be paid for the days he was dead. So I hope his family won't give me flak when I call to get that money back. Accountants - they're not virtual or new. That's what I see inside the electric blue. Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief
Putin Promises to Die
On April 1, 2022, Vladimir Putin announced to the world he would die that night at 9:00 p.m. “I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do. I don’t see any need to continue living. I’ve always wanted to control everything and everyone so why not control death as well.”
“Do you promise to die?” A reporter asked. “Because you have a habit of saying one thing and doing the opposite.”
“That’s not true,” Mr. Putin said, as security pummeled the reporter. “If I say I am going to die tonight, peacefully in my sleep, then that is what will happen. Do any of the remaining reporters have more questions?” They did not.
The world rejoiced at the news. “This is wonderful! Everyone will be much safer now,” one man said before being poisoned.
“Can you believe him?” I asked. But the man was already dead.
On April 2, 2022, the world woke up smiling and so did Vladimir Putin. “But he promised,” everyone said in shock. “How can this be?”
That afternoon news from the Kremlin leaked. Mr. Putin’s promise to die had been a ruse. “Apparently,” said one reporter, who is now missing, “Mr. Putin had eyes on the wife of one of his generals. His announcement was intended to lull the general into a false sense of security. Instead of dying the night of April 1st, Putin was having sex with the general’s wife.”
“Dammit,” the general exclaimed. “He got me again.”
Tengo Leche, Free Lance Reporter and Social Anxiety Scholar
A New Year
Humanity misperceives me. You seem to think that I get paid for each soul I guide to the river’s crossing, and you have been extremely generous over the last 2 years. But I do not get paid by the soul. I don’t get paid at all. Something in my nature compels me to help you find your way to whatever awaits. I don’t understand it either.
The covid pandemic (like every pandemic before it) has reaffirmed one of my core beliefs. You are not worthless, but you are weak. And your lives are shockingly short. I encourage you to act accordingly. Look out for yourself, but also look out for your neighbors – because if your neighbor’s life means nothing so does yours. And as covid has shown, no one in the world is a stranger. Everyone is your neighbor.
See you soon.
Raven Breathless (f/k/a Death), Senior Human Rights Correspondent
Life is Short and Other Slogans
I’ve been around nearly as long as life, and I’ve seen it all. Which, at times, makes it difficult to say something original. But that’s o.k., because I’ve noticed humans crave the usual. You prefer slogans.
So here are my slogans:
Be kind when you can. Don't be cruel - ever. Get involved, but not if you are going to violate the first two slogans.
If you want to make your community/world (is there a difference?) a better place, you don’t have to go it alone. There are billions of you humans. I am sure some of them may be willing to help. So make allies.
As my good friend, Luna, says:
If you are going to turn the tide perhaps it would be best to have the moon on your side. See you soon. Raven Breathless (fka Death), Senior Human Rights Correspondent
Ms. Breathless Responds to Donne (Exclusive)
As mentioned in our last post, Raven Breathless (formerly known as Death) gave Pungent Sound her response to the Haughty John Donne and asked (told) us to publish it. Now some may wonder why it took Ms. Breathless 400 years to respond. As Neil Gaiman (who is not the worst writer we’ve read) points out in his stunning graphic novel, The Sandman, Death is one of the Endless. Time is an entirely different concept when you are Endless so really 400 years is a pretty quick response. Plus, she has been dreadfully busy over the last 400 years.
To our knowledge, this is the first time in the epoch of life that Ms. Breathless has responded in writing to anyone or anything, so this is quite a coup for Pungent Sound – similar to when we discovered Shakespeare’s lost play As You Lick It. Please enjoy.
Death Responds to Mr. Donne
I have heard many silly taunts in my extensive time, and they are never more clever just because they rhyme. Ignorance should whisper like a muffled chime. I am not proud though you are too proud to see that when the Grand Bungler created you it also created me. I am not mighty or dreadful. I do not overthrow. Those are your birthmarks. You are your foe. Poison, war are a scaly brood for which I have no need. They hatched in the nest with you, and you are the fodder on which they feed. Chance is a monkey whose mischief ends at the tomb. Fate and sickness are encrypted when you are in the womb. You are the slave of desperate men and kings, who look like lice to me - or other insects without wings. I am a lantern at the end of day. I am not the Magnificent Fumbler, who gave you feeble DNA. I bring peace after you have done your worst, and while I may eventually die, you will die first. Raven Breathless, Chief Contributing Editor-in-Chief. First Published in Parody.