in which Horrible Child ghostwrites for phantasms.




With utmost pleasure and joy in our state
We delight to inform you of our new condition,
The which for viewers tuned in to listen
Is fit to shake the will to elate.
Nowhere in annals of memory present
Is that can compare with the cause of our mood,
Morsels for valiant hearts yearning for food
To supply best beating and pride unhesitant.
News of utmost import we hereby impart,
Clues to the puzzle of our species’ every day.
The fog that shrouds being will very soon pay
Dues of surrender to a pierce-bright start.
Stay tuned and rejoice in the news that we are
As of this moment entered into glorious war.


Perhaps we might wish to verify this
before announcing to our breath-bated viewers
that seeds of hate have shot into skewers
which now in open air do spread their kiss.
Let’s ask our star reporter in the sky:
What do you say, your higness, are we warring?
And on the sea, what do you from there espy?
And our man on the ground? HQ to ground!
technical trouble—no image or sound


Horrible's #3 Sonnet: The Teeth of Peace to keep their even bite
Require every now and then a flossing.
The young protest; they don’t yet know mossing,
But seasoned folks know the straight and white
Want, like any self-respecting gate,
Renewal through benign scraping—
A brush with just paint just won’t stave off gaping.
Teach your kids before it gets too late!
The tactic at first may seem a bit unfair,
Its jerky motion counterintuitional—
Truth is, it’s a dandy constitutional
And sure beats meeting the dentist in her chair.
And if a bead of blood is sometimes drawn,
Our winning smile demands that selfless pawn.


Cherished man on the ground do you now read me?
From your perspective, then, are we at war?
Thank you for join
ing us, Ground, Sea, Air—
The results are in from our polling of forces:
Giddyup arrows! Cruise feet! Fly horses!



Excuse me, HQ?

Come in, Sea.

I think we might want to clarify—

Just a moment—

What some call a dirty trick is Casual Licketysplit in action.

As acne depends on the skin to break out from
And sweet things spring from inedible dung;
As sure as sure’s soil is where we reap doubt from,
Peace is the hook on which our shingle’s hung.
Peace is our secret weapon.
In this we follow the yin and yang principle
Followed closely by many eastern generals
In great wars of the past, fought for peace.
Peace is the ace in the hole dug each night
By the groundtroop for hiding his soul from assail;
And during the darkness it’s peace that shines bright
From the snapshot he carries that tells him his tale.
Peace, you are what we fight for,
First cause and effect of right war,
Without you we would have none,
You are our secret weapon.
Three cheers for you and thanks,
For you have given us our tanks.
So give and be given, lucky benefactor,
And never be a strange attractor.
Indivisible lovers till met remain strange,
Dirt comes to scour to see its way clean.
Oppositions meet in a flash of exchange,
Black will greet white with never grey seen.
You’re the point to which we stick,
The clinch and key and corner brick,
You are the stamp that we must lick
To mail our promise with due tact or
Return yours if it comes cracked, for
We’ve placed all on this one bet:
What will be you’ve surely let—
And the rest we can forget.
Cut your losses! To the banks!
Close the open ranks
We’re going one on one
Fearless we course through the veins of confusion,
The way to the heart that will yield salt solution.

Can you give us a sense of the mood where you are?



February 19, 2004

“All the way and then some. What’d I say?”
“All the way and then some.”
“Ten-four.” We knock knuckles. “Used to say that right before the jump, to each guy. And I’ll tell you something else: May your chute always open/May the winds be calm/May your drop zone be clear. “
“That’s beautiful.”
“What is this, a plane?”
“A bird.”
“What are you drinking?”
He orders, the waiter is a human who fastens tumblers to our “hands,” we clink, drink.
I ask him, “Do you think the world will ever find peace?”
“No! Oh, no. Do you know why?”
“We don’t know how to hate. They don’t teach us how to hate. We used to get them, prisoners of war, we had those sons of bitches, and they look at you like they have you. They have you! They hated us. And we— You know when you start to hate, when you see your buddy get blown up. Then you start to hate—but even then, you don’t know how to hate. You get mad. You want revenge now, you can get very angry, I’ve been angry, but those sons of bitches hate you. They hate you!”
We drink.
“How many in a plane?”
“Fifteen each side. You wait for the light to go green. Light’s right over the cockpit. Drop Commander’s watching, it’s red, it’s red, then it goes green—you’re over your drop zone: green. And then you get out! As long as it’s green, you jump.”
“What do you do when you get down?”
He looks at me. “You head for your objective. First you get out of your chute. You look around for your buddies. Then you head for your objective. We land, look out there— See that intersection out there? Now the pool tableUNDER CONSTRUCTION : that’s our objective. You’re the last one down?” He shrugs. “You’re the last one down. You break a leg?” He shrugs.
“What do you do if someone breaks a leg?”
He’s looks at me for some sign of a brain. “You head for your objective. That’s why you’re there. Why did they drop you?”
“Do they come back for you?”
“You’re down there! They may send in backup. If it’s a coordinated operation. Why are you there? We were well trained. They can train you. I’ll shoot you. Put me down on Fifth Avenue, they’re heading at me, I’ll shoot those sons of bitches. They’re shooting at me, I’ll get mad, I’ll be angry. But hate you? I saw my buddy killed when I was seventeen, I’m angry. But hate? I’ve taught hundreds of men to jump, but I never taught them to go out and hate those people, you can put me on Fifth Avenue. But you can’t make me strap a bomb to my ass and go out there and blow up. I’ll kill you. But I won’t strap a bomb to my ass, take it from a veteran. I did it. I did it because I love this country. You ever hate anyone?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Because you never learned to hate. You always loved something. Hate they gotta teach you, and there’s got to be room in your heart for it.”


There are very few people out and about.
Most of them are in moving vehicles.
From the make and model and speed of the vehicles
I would have to say the general mood is one of optimism.

Are these vehicles obeying traffic signals?

That depends on whom you talk to.
We can rule out the opinions of the colorblind, first of all.
Also there are various cabals
to whom these signals may mean different things.

What about our efforts to protect the enemy?

These have not been entirely successful due to the efforts of our attack,
which have been stymied to some degree by resistance from the enemy.

Is that the “defense” we keep hearing about?

Again I would like to reaffirm that we are at war,
which is to say we are in a state of war,
we are in a war, and we have gone to war.
You can see just where we are—
The bouncing is quite vivacious—
We need these helmets to protect our lives from ending
due to skull contact with the walls of this enclosure.
But the danger we face, we face for you—
Our helmets are your helmets.
It’s going better than we planned, if different.
A giant leap for war everywhere.
We knew it was coming and so we made a plan.
Where we tread, all are sure to follow,
such is the universal craving for a better life!

We said that about the last war.

Significant advances have been made on the field.

We planned as we could in advance for this day
in case it arrived, which we all can see it has.
What we have here is a plan of war, for war.
And now that it’s here we can see it as it is
and also see our plan for the arsenal of hypotheses
and best guesses at deeds, indeeds, and yesses
calendared for war in the can, that it is; a can
which having been opened is more prone to chanceUNDER CONSTRUCTION
than we could ever have sussed in advance.
From imagination we ourselves must ween
and to the latest breaking news hold fast.
The mastered maps and blueprints of our hope
we chuck and sub with free fangled cope.
Nothing beats the news to guard

against ourselves when we’ve prepped hard.
Big is this day that eclipses all projection
and bids us lay aside attachment and dejection,
as future yields to present, present to past.

The promises we exchanged for faith

In which case the plan of war must be looked at to determine
if indeed it corresponds to the war that is occurring, and if it is
found to diverge in any way in its scenario from the unfolding
actuality that is the war we are fighting, then this plan must, to
the extent it is still a plan—which is the case in direct proportion
to the number of tomorrows remaining in the war—be revised.

On the other hand we mustn’t leap to conclusions.
In a state of war conclusiveness would be an anticlimax
which the enemy may perceive as a relaxing of vigilance.

Here is a picture of the enemy.

We interrupt our report on the progress of this awesome war to bring you word
from the horse’s mouth regarding a curious type of person.

I object to the sham proceedings that constitute this shameful war.

We interrupt this interruption
To bring you word of a fierce eruption,
a feather in the cap whose wearing
nifts our courage and our caring.
If you look behind me you will see
the fires of war raging furiously.
Special lenses show them good!
An explosion in the city is worth two in the wood;
it is more verifiable and less tragic.
To spoil innocent nature would be bad magic
when we could damage the damaged hood
where the so-called enemy intelligence stood.

I’m sitting here talking to you and I can’t help thinking
something which in times of peace I would never bring up,
and indeed it might not even occur to me, but it appears to me
—and of course in times of war we all think things
and think others think them and say things for various reasons—
but it seems to me you bear a remarkable, not to say astonishing,
not to say creepy and uncanny downright resemblance—

Well in fact—

Not that I suspect you—

Oh no offense taken, my wife says that all the time.
Even before we were married,
when the enemy looked quite different,
she thought I looked like the enemy even then.
I didn’t agree with her at the time,
but today I have to admit I bear a striking resemblance.
In fact when I was shaving, only yesterday morning
(in times of war I tend to shave less frequently
Because there is so much to attend to,
no time for vanity, not that shaving is vanity—
particularly in times of war it is essential to maintain a semblance of—UNDER CONSTRUCTION
not quite normality, no—not the semblance of normality—
the sense of well-being e
ssential to actual well-being—
semblance, that is, of control, of dignity—
so you can look your comrade in the eye and say:
“I shaved today! I’m still in possession!”
So you can look the enemy in the eye and say:
“I shaved today! Did you?”

Have you ever considered plastic surgery?

This has been considered, but vetoed by my wife,
who is used to my face as it is. And let me ask you this:
If I were to shave—and my wife were then to dream of my shaven face—
how would we know it’s really me she’s dreaming of
and not the enemy, and then where would we be?
But it was you—it was your voice, it smelled like you—
Smelled like me? In a dream? Very suspicious.

War brings out the best in human nature.
We will see how, when the fog of jumpstart
yields its grim gusts to memory, the braveheart
youth who serve our prescient legislature
shine; how the policy and principles
and strategy we’ve stuck to burst in flowers,
wreathwild in the nuptial sun and showers.
Boundless good will wed invincibles
and the happy cause leave none uninvited.
A caravan of envious efforts will scurry to emulate
our best example, even as we consummate
the long-due union of might and righted.
Kindness will unfold and take its throne,
Its scepter tap all heatbeats into one.
The enemy is not cooperating.
Why this should be,
we are investigating
to the best of our ability.
The enemy is not cooperating,
which impedes our investigation

and calls for firm berating
of their noncooperation.
Their stubborn hating
is costing a leg and an arm,
and until they start cooperating,
and show a little charm,
we must keep communicating.
The enemy is not cooperating.

It seems we’re not all of us in agreement about this war.
Well I guess it takes two for a lively debate, so good,
we’ll make the most of it. Everything’s going our way.

We turn now to take a moment to ponder in detail
what must persist in all our minds,
fervent as any appetite that never fails.UNDER CONSTRUCTION UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Does the coming day favor hunker or hike?
I speak of course of the Weather, whose changeability
does not phase our interest. Flood, drought,
stunning cold and smiting hot alike
are for people like us of equal need to find out!
And so, without softening of hardship or prettying of ills,
here is what you’ve come to expect:
The truth is: Nowhere can we find a defect!
Our whole sphere’s dappled with bonny hills,
it’s a perfect day for war on every front.
Clear skies and corporate air bless the hunt!

Escalate the air attack!
Triangulation from the sky
saves strangulation eye-to-eye.
What better use for soaring salience
than undertaking strategic dalliance?
Fly high and proud and hit them back
before you feel one blow!
That’s what wings are for—to show
the wingless how their hopes will blow:
tethered, they can only stay low.
Fly! Fly! Bombard the visible world!
Hit it where it flaunts and lies furled!
Hit it from an altitude that makes an ally of gravity!
Hit it from the heavens that show its gods’ depravity!
Higher than oxygen, faster than sound!
Defter than plunging hawks over faithless carrion!

Have you changed your plans in any way because of the war?

Oh no. If you’re prepared, you’re ready.

We have subjected your dream to analysis
And have determined that it was only a dream.

But what about my money?

Your money is safe, it will outlive you.

What about my plastic?

Kidstuff. Not to worry.

Should I liquidate?

We’re at war. Live dangerously!

There is no question that war as we know it is not what it was.
Like anything worth a word to define it, war is beyond description.

What did you mean by “worth of a word”?

If that word is for example the acronym of the nonsecular holdings
of the enemy in our banks, then a word is worth many billions of pictures,
and so has been confiscated as of today and will be applied toward
the eventual benefit of the enemy.

And will this word be spoken or written in benefit of the enemy?

It will be shouted from whatever rooftops remain horizontal after the war,
regardless of at what altitude these rooftops may be,
with the exception of those that are underneath floorsUNDER CONSTRUCTION
remaining at any angle to the horizontal up to and including 45 degrees.,
in which case this word will be spoken in a normal voice
through powerful loudspeakers and also translated.

We are fighting a war for the history books.
We are airdropping Polaroid cameras and film
on the observant quarters of our enemy’s cities.
This will truly be a war to remember.

Polaroid? Does this mean that no Kodak moments are expected?

That is an entirely erroneous conclusion.

How so?

That is a two-part question which requires an answer in multiples
of two or three, depending on the quantifiable quality of each part.

War has made me what I am.
Before, I was untellable.
War’s the can that holds my Spam
and makes me sellable.

What is the nature of the new intelligence?

Perhaps we should call off the war.

If we did that we would no longer be at war. And since we are,
to not be would be a contradiction. Let me ask you, rather:
what is “defense”?

Self-protective action in response to offense.

And what is offense?

The stuff of war! Our enemy’s not pulling its weight!

But you were saying

Oh yes I was saying, well I say many things
but all joking aside, I really meant what I was saying.UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Then we started talking about something else.
But now we’re going to get back to to Point A.

In war it is important to keep your eye on your objective,
without which you feel youself adrift on the Seven Seas of Possibility:

Let’s Just Say That
On the Other Hand
Of Course We Could Always
Let’s Write That Down
What If
There Are Those Who

And of course there are many winding rivers and subterranean lakes,
manmade ponds, dams and public swimming pools
and shells in which anyone may hear an oceanlike sound.
It is important to stay crisp and delineated.

Now as you know I am an expert on this subject,
having acquitted myself many times in the past.
When you deal with war you want to keep two things in mind:
the past, as I have just explained, and the future.
The future is particularly important at the outset of a war.
You want, at that time, to be always thinking ahead.
Imagine a Siamese beast, careering over treacherous terrain.
Call this terrain the World, or Time,
and note that both heads of the beast are sleepy.
Careful consultation of previous and projected reality
reveals but one thing to do in order to maintain
maxiumum forward proximity and porous stick-to-it-ness.

And this is no less truer of ourselves than them.
One looks forward, one looks backward.
Just take turns, is all I’m saying. The bottom line is:
Take turns. Without rotation what you get is stagnation.
Without division of duty what you have is undivided duty.

What’s all this I hear about war?

A time to shoot and a time to be shot
A time for those who’ve got a jot to give a jot
to the whyfores we fight,
making darkness full of light
making friends for life of foes
playing footsie with all toes

What can I do to make up for lost time?

So many ways to fight a war
As many as we are, there are
In the ground or in the air
Over here or over there
Like a bull or like a bear
In your suit or underwear
In a circle, with a square,
On a whim or on a dare
Chewing cud or creme eclaire
With a grin or with a frown
On the beach or on the town
In bathing suit or evening gown
Or even in your buff or crown
(crowns of gold, crowns of leaves,
crowns console the crew that grieves)

Must we fight? Fight we must! For
if we don’t we likely won’t not perish,
not to mention all the things we cherish.UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Would you watch your treasure rust? Or,
seeing it in need of speedy treatment, grab
a can of stuff to muff its oxidizing?
No trick to pick the latter for best mising,
no time to send out samples to the lab.
Second-guessing has a way of undressing
Purpose just when the Musts have arrived,
making them wait too late; having contrived
fitter attire that requires careful pressing,
Purpose descends to greet its guests and finds
them dull. Time of nettles makes quick behinds