SHORT STORY: Untitled High School

It was the 100th day of the school year. The brisk February air hung thick outside the fogged windows of my first-period geometry class. I sat in my assigned seat, the very back row, second to the right, far away from those crystallizing panes. Every other seat but one was filled. 23 awkward, sleepy-eyed old children trying to cope with the harsh mathematical realities that awaited them on that frigid Monday morning.

Our teacher, Ms. Fontana, sat with an impatient grimace on her face as the tinny din of the morning’s announcements squelched from the speaker above the door. The monotone murmurs of the bored student reading the announcements fell on my ears like some painful lullaby. My heavy eyelids tried to drown out the noise by shutting off my brain’s access to light. It didn’t work. Sleep felt like a guillotine, a quiet peace after a moment of unimaginable horror. But the moment was dragging on, an eternal Catherine wheel on my eardrums.

Once a suspicious silence filled the room, Ms. Fontana backed her chair out from her desk and rose, both her and the chair making squeaks and creaks that were indistinguishable from each other. This new pitch roused me from my tortured trance, my eyelids opened wide, lashed to my eyebrows.

“Good morning, class,” Ms. Fontana said, disturbing the few stragglers still caught in daydream. “Before we begin, I have a little announcement.”

There was a knock on the classroom door.

“Ah, perfect timing,” Ms. Fontana turned and shuffled to the door, a satisfied grin stretching over her thin face. She always loved it when her meticulous agenda kept to her schedule.

The door opened to what I first thought was no one. I didn’t see anyone enter at first. After a moment he waddled into my view.

A raccoon.

A fuzzy gray varmint with pointy ears, a ringed, bushy tail, and a frightened face with big dark circles around sleepy eyes. He was no more than two feet tall, and he slowly stepped towards the room’s center stage on his hind legs.

“Everyone, this is Rocky.” Ms. Fontana motioned her hand downwards in the animal’s general direction. Rocky the raccoon. Sounds familiar. Many of us in the way back stood or craned our necks to see his pointed snout and pliable paws, which gave a timid wave to the class.

“Hi, everybody,” Rocky said with an adolescent squeak.

“Do take a seat, Rocky.” The teacher pointed to the lone empty seat in the room, the very back corner right next to me.

The raccoon got on all fours and scurried his way to the seat in a flash, obviously wanting out of the spotlight. Some kids in the class murmured and quietly jeered. I even heard the word “weird” several times in just those few seconds.

He climbed into the chair and pulled out his math book and a notebook, both of which were quite cumbersome for his tiny form. Even his pencil looked gargantuan in his paws. The standard no. 2 was so long for him he came close to poking himself in the eye on multiple occasions before he started to tilt the top of his pencil in the other direction, away from his face. This made the pencil topple out of his clutch and clatter onto the desk. After several attempts, he was able to hold the pencil in the middle and at an acute angle to the desk. This did a number on his penmanship, which being a raccoon was already pretty sloppy. Nonetheless, he spent the whole class diligent as possible, scribbling down notes and shapes and equations. He never raised his hand, or rather paw, but he never stopped paying attention, either.

The next period was history and there he was again, sitting behind me in the very back row, pouring through the textbook, his mind devouring 400 years of America. I heard him sniffing at the pages with great interest along with a constant rustle of turning pages. He must like history, I thought.

In gym class, I saw him emerge from the locker room comically dressed in an orange gym shirt that was a little too big for him. We all had to wear orange for gym class so in a way he fit in, but it was weird to see a raccoon in an oversized shirt and such bright colors. Rocky innocently wandered over to a random circle of students, which just happened to be the popular clique of that period. He didn’t even get a chance to say anything before the cruel kids started shunning him away, pointing in my direction and saying he should go be with the rest of the weird kids.

I didn’t know what they meant by that. I was sitting on the gym floor with my back to the folded-up bleachers, my eyelids playing a slow-motion game of yo-yo. To me, it seemed like I was by myself, but I was in the vicinity of the foreign exchange student, the asthmatics, and that one quiet girl who spent most of her time in the library. And me, some kid who just always looked tired.

At lunch, I found him sitting all by himself at one end of a bench, nibbling at a sandwich clutched in his claws. Anyone sitting nearby seemed to be making a sort of repellent bubble around him, keeping him at an unspoken, quarantined distance.

He didn’t really seem to notice or care, but it was still a sad sight. I felt bad for him, and it’s not like I had any offers to sit anywhere, so I walked up with my lunch tray and sat down across from him.

“Mind if I join you?”

He looked up at me between sandwich bites and gave a shy smile. I thought I saw relief in his eyes.

“Please. I’m Rocky.”

“Nice to meet you, Rocky. I’m Eddie.” I sat down and stuck out my hand with the sudden urge to shake his paw. He was still holding his sandwich, so he turned, and a tiny furry elbow met my palm.

“Very nice to meet you. You’re the first person to say hi to me all day.”

“Really? I’m sorry” I didn’t know what to say to that. “It’s hard being the new kid. A lot of people are talking about you, though.”

“Good things, I hope.” His jet-black nose twitched a bit at the thought.

“Uh, well…” I shouldn’t have said that. “Not really. Everyone says you’re…weird.”

His snout crinkled a bit and his whole face took a bewildered turn. “That’s not that bad. I wonder how they know about it, though.”

“What do you mean?”

“That I’m an insomniac. I’m up all night and then I can’t fall asleep when the morning comes. My parents thought if I went to public school for a while it would help me get some sleep.”

I must have looked dumbfounded, and I guess my jaw dropped at some point because Rocky reached out across the table pushed my chin up, shutting my ajar mouth.

“Are you okay?” he asked, concerned.

“Oh, yeah—it’s just—wow, that is weird.”

“Yeah,” he uttered as he popped the last bit of sandwich into his mouth. “So, what makes you weird?”

“What?” What a weird question, I thought.

“I told you what makes me weird, now you gotta tell me what makes you weird.”

“But—I’m not weird.”

“Oh, come on,” his face twisted into what I guess is the raccoon version of real talk. “We all have something about us that makes us weird. And you if don’t have anything weird about you, well then that would be pretty weird, wouldn’t it?”

“Hmm, I never thought of it that way.”

“I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll find something about you that someone else finds a bit weird.”

“I guess.” I supposed he was right. But I had no idea what was weird about me. To me, I felt pretty normal. A little sleepy, maybe. And I did have few friends, which is kind of weird. Plus, I was having a very public conversation with a raccoon over sandwiches and fruit juice.

We spent the rest of lunch talking about our classes. We had most of them together. He told me about how he really liked history and how little he really knew about it, and I started noticing the weird looks passersby started given us, especially when we would laugh or get real intense talking about something.

The bell rang and the teenage stampede to the next class began. Rocky jumped off the bench onto the floor and got tangled up in the blurry parade of sneakers and legs. He shrieked and scurried under the lunch table.

I bent down and poked my head under the table. “Want a ride?”

He nodded, and I reached in and picked him up. He crawled up around to my back and latched onto my backpack. Then he gave me two taps on the shoulder to signal he was ready to roll. I joined the throng of students and steered our way to chemistry class, all the while thinking if there’s nothing else weird about me, I can at least say my best friend is a raccoon.


POETRY: Tick and the Tock

reality dies

without wind

the clock smears

hands in circles

circles of waves

rubbing chalk

in fiction


reality without after

die after wind

another circle passes

a tick around

biting tocks in steel

the markings

erased a faint

imprint in time


after reality

die without after

forgotten tock

washed away by minutes

die reality die

The Lily Notion

Happy first day of summer! I woke up this morning to find the first of my lilies blooming in the garden, so here are some photos of this gorgeous flower, plus my poem “The Lily Notion.” Enjoy the solstice!


the lily notion

a passed thought before unveiling

medium earth

vivisecting a color

light infiltrating the wilted garden


the lily notion

nothing but velvet bloom

porous jelly blossoms

a lack of evil regeneration

the garden of time is stillborn

only this static moment


the lily notion

at last a fortunate accident

a green mound shattered

cold bone wrapped around the finger

in shaking confounded death grip

the engine heart screams

sour succulence

igniting teeth

digesting carbon

shapely curves in the bile

a fine slice of degradation


these fireworks at glacial speeds

the gradual shriveling of our pastime moons

fading away once again

hammers heading for the hills

with stifling tornado indulgence

maniacal quivers are exposed

stopped in the back

dead in its tracks


crystal coils are spidered together

energy halted in fetid reduction

the treetops are fogging concave mist

laid before the void

familial vanquishing in another latitude

these spectral images are a foolish bet

scanning darkness for understanding


the lily notion seems to be fading

a hardened imagination

hearts pumped with poison

the Dead Sea of the body

the bee drowns

a slave of thirst

a dark wilt on a young face thrown on the ground bending a distant memory reduced to nightmare, metal frames holding infections, pooling stagnation in the eyes down the spine outward across sinews, snapping muscles perpetually decaying, fermented in overthrown zeal, a renaissance invasion dancing on vertebrae, fusing together tainted blood to stop breathing in buckets of clouds, embracing liquids vaporized in smoke, the smoke is a billion fragments en route to ruin, howling for the pistol still naked on the table syphoning a corpuscle of carbon, dreaming in this field of disorientation dripping off tongues throughout the times a sting a twinge a stellar entropy

the vessel tense after living

intravenous arsenic on the carpet

the bones rearranged


oxygen returning

home in the autumn

sinking in the mud

perfections of progress

the patented noise of elm

running psychotic through the plaza

drunk on distilled letters

lost in the first frost

lavender takeover

stained fibers welded together

stitched by common bonds

the vulnerable root

ripped apart at the differences

colonizing the experience, the great gasp

handcuffed to the story

a specific puncture

weaving a submerged miracle within the conversation

a different wound in kidnapped fluid

the monster close to the muscle

a moment of clarity

in the land of the bodies

no absolute chime


the lily notion is dead

barking from across the fence

lost to desert strangling

the dragonfly shatters

and the crickets freeze

only the wrinkled dirt remains

POETRY: The Ikebotanist

out there



a corleal piety

the end

of dirt

bouncing off blue

in no


eighteen banton wheels

in the distance


in the blank spaces


radio to re


the bolts loose



through a

silent web

the slaced spiral

ing out

of control

the flow

ers arranged







POETRY: Undersome

under the black mountain kiss

under mountain clock yet madness

undersome bulge

undersome black loafer kiss bulge


clock bulge mountain madness bulge

under black kiss mountulge

the clock under black

undersome clockness

yet kiss under madness

yet loafer undersome loafer

under bulge kiss bulge kiss kiss


madness mountain mountulge

yet under

undersome clockfer

clock madness clock under clock

under kiss yet mountain

the mountain

under clock under loafer

yet clockfer yet clock yet madness

madness under madness

under mountain clockfer bulge

black loafer bulge


kiss the clock

undersome bulge the mountain

kiss the madness

yet bulge

yet madness

POETRY: Pretty Words

{Does it appear in the world?}


A poem

is a book burning

a stunted

attempt to define

a structure


but broken

the world

through eyes.

We understand

it appears

as a flock of geese

a foggy wood

a soul

ripped apart.


{What reality?}



is the whim

of what could be.

What would

like to be.

The million

possible ifs

played out

in conscious


Reality is

part imagination come

to life


concrete absolutism



the everything

that can’t be

grasped by one




one who speaks well

imagines vivid views

a seeker

some sort of look

beyond senses.


a moniker

for those wishing

to make

profitable gains

with pretty words.


the assemblage

of letters


abstract thought


the search for truth.


{What relation to the relationship?}


The poet


couples counseling.

The poet is in

a love triangle

with imagination and reality.

They depend on

each other.

Except reality

who will still

be here

when the poet

and imagination die.

The poet tries

to influence them with


A poet with no relationship

is just a person

with a head full of pretty words.


{What are the particles

the complexes?}





and geometric shapes

in rows

punctuation is optional.

The thought

the look

the feel

the sound.

A syntax

of prophetic abandon

after infinite attempts

to convey

what it means inside.


{Doesn’t a poem make you?}



the imagination erupts


onto the page

and someone else calls it

a poem.



I can’t hear paintings

I can’t write babies

I can’t read a soufflé.

MUSIC: Inadequate Objects

This has been floating around the Internet for the last few months, but I apparently never shared it on here.

Inadequate Objects is a spoken word album set to dark soundscapes. It features nine original poems of mine, each one set to an original composition of mine. The mood is dark, apocalyptic, perhaps dismal, and is a merging of two of my main creative outlets: music and words. Hope you like it.


  1. Emergency Exit (6:49)
  2. Body on the Tracks (6:01)
  3. The Anatomy of Rock ‘n’ Roll (3:30)
  4. A Gathering of Faint Shadows on the Wall (7:00)
  5. The Lily Notion (5:14)
  6. The End of the Rainbow (4:55)
  7. The Wound and Will Always (6:03)
  8. Generational Disease (6:37)
  9. Horn of Empty (5:05)

Words and music by Ian Witzel
Voice recorded by Jake Cacciatore at Naropa Recording Studio, Boulder, CO

POETRY: A Gathering of Faint Shadows on the Wall

The body is a vice.


experiments in the light

a unified flicker


on our way to the bar

4 blondes in an arcade

an intensified theatre

suspended security

waltzing with whales

in a car full of left and right

a tumultuous leech is going up to the trees with the elevator oxygen

brothers in crisis


pregnant flowers

enlivened by songs leaking out of silenced ears

kissing the scorched horses off to the calm massacre

floors of gas shaking the war dry

the death of gravel

the aroma of sponges

restless tendons saddled to the backs of jewelled slaves

manifestation grasped from diamonds

lichen balls cradled in

her jewel-encrusted forearms

all in halftone


out on the flight to the lost,

the storm we cannot father,

out across the coquette and fields

just another game show


there are cracks in the prize

lectures falling, fragile

no message to the troops

no blemish in their nature

an interference

uniquely terrified of the council


this is spoiled burden

years spent crept under tables

crawling behind bushes, orbs

praying no one will see

hiding on the stage in front of everyone

all the eyes that don’t see

all the ears selectively programmed


we can never be anything great

until the rabbit hole blows up.


I don’t know how we can keep teaching the wheels to spin

they are castles of jam hardened by war.

When we get to the meadows of battle

the harvest always suffers for it

there will be nothing but daisy chains of rage

gangs of tulips soaked in blasphemy

lawnmower punks tortured by wool.

The hornets ignore the creepers weaving around chain link

they melt away under the friction

we swim in the mucus alone

eating mixed fabrics in the quiet night



poisoned thread spools dilate the muffled seas behind wet tongues

talons scratch atoms of smoke and you never could see the stars

because they are always going to be bigger than you

and I never could see the death running rampant on the streets

because I’ve been too focused on the death inside me



the lottery of the body

underneath a corroded idea where convertibles are irreversible

we always lose ideas

they will be replaced with dirt


the couch folds up centuries of forgotten dust

Intestines flare at the sight of car horns

we scratch away for more life

a scowling dance locked up in the house

an oval amnesia

it was worth being frozen.


The heart is still beating


into chain-link.

A sluice slowing to eventual pause.

A midnight stroll into the clear void.

The same carbon-copy language.

Another day rises

One more tattoo on the soul.

Another cobalt yolk running down the sides of the valley,

bathed in membranes

where all the broken cats crash into acts of vigilance

clawing through compost bins as the

feathers and skin fly around.


The heart is a clock

embracing the verb in the science of breath.

The body is listening,

utilizing persuasion, inhabiting the prize.

The prize is ill-gotten.

wrapped in some 21st century thermal

The arteries are tarnished.

None of this is making sense.

Warm flushes invade the cheeks as muscles blush ashamed of the feeling of being confused by joy.

How can you enjoy? For whom do we need to seek joy?

Are we falling?

Slow drift inside letters

try to steer

float towards the spiral cannon of nothing firing through garbage cans full of gunshot victims, the only creatures still allowed to crawl the streets in agony because we all know the floods of blood won’t make a difference to the invisible armies continuing to march through our living rooms and the news will still tell us they are coming for us and the gun show is still scheduled for next weekend

The fear. The fire, the primetime storm

kicked in the chains

that fear that tends to boil entrails and burn cheeks.

An experiment in legible context.

Sometimes it fills the whole page,

spills over dripping onto the floor.

Wasted words for years wasted

wasting away the mind.

Time lost to fear taking control.

And down into the sea the shadows fall

There will come a time when it’s time to make fear afraid.

POETRY: Emergency Exit


A murmur in time,

the pure destruction,

superb spins of asphyxiation,

the succulent wastes we destroy in time,

knee deep in deals, conscriptions,

the perfection of sterility,

a numb grayscale pounding sunlight into the ground,

into a scream of chaos,

drowning the powerless nuclear whimper,

a bargain for the blind dogs wallowing underground,

sitting on an elevated colander,

listening to a cicada symphony.


This is not an emergency exit.

There is no tattered staircase to climb down.

Just a plunge through the liquid sink,

prepared to swallow rocks.

Pebbles can corrode the senses.

The blind spirits swirl in the shadows,

the active radio is infested,

screaming unfinished insults at children, kin in boats,

the sunlight puddling into dust,

into chaos, a chaos repeatedly warped,

locked in dropkick, filing down a rose thorn.

People initialize themselves for the premiere of a new local preset.

The games of food are routine war zones, cellular bombings, the napalm of the intestine, murmurs bleeding from the beating clock, a curly shine in this jungle heist where chaos drains the rivers and plants beef trees, exhaling tranquil maladies, one little explosion in the pasture dungeon, the sunlight on an undivided highway, choking in extravagant rescue, the postmark of democracy shipping chaos, the chaos of past administrations drifting at the bottom of the jar, the search for the plastic fountain, a quest in artificial annihilation, baked in fade out.


This is not an emergency exit.

It’s not a fake backdrop.

Sometimes you can escape but it’s still there.

It will follow you past the break in the siren’s murmur.

Please decipher the coils of the living, place the chaos in the jar, shake the minister into destruction, into mayhem, into diverted throats, the chaos of our generation will be the epitaph of our mass grave, unmarked for the ages swimming in sludge, heads snapping back at the mere thought of destruction, seeing double as they tow the furniture away, screaming a shining torch, the spotlight for chaos, chaos through the keyhole and past the thick green air to the place where we all fade out, a translucent descent into sand.

Vessels of structured chaos, sunken ships curling at the whirlpool of the mouth, overhead pipes bursting under the pressure, the wires of time suspending chaos above suffocated blankets of hope, drenched in flames, red hot water you can set your watch to, flowing down the hillside, a decayed gravity, an ornate genocide of the senses.

You can walk right into the scenario and experience the lava on the city streets for yourself. The resources are now able to showcase stamp collections long forgotten by the coveted transport sequence. Just start at one and try forgetting the zero. Nothing like getting a different hairstyle every time you want to go to the circus after dark. Try hanging yourself with a helium balloon filled with chaos and loop it back around, back into vibration, into distortion, feeding back into chaos, tapping into the thump, the exploding hearts looping around and around, capitalizing on its own destruction, a senescent ravaging, the purity of extermination is only skin deep, the chaos of inside will only rise to the surface in the sloppy afternoons of revelation and perversion, streaking across the twilight slowly melting onto the canvas,

the chaos stretched thin, taut, tantalizing, a loop of waste for your cactus soul, a place where it never ends, where the chaos is served striped on silver trays caramelized in its own horror show,

We are exaggerating ourselves.

This is not an emergency exit.

It must mean more than night. That’s all the porous enclaves can script before having to call in the professionals. It will be worth the trip to the external notions of time. At least I hope it will be.


chaos in a loop, chaos in a loop, chaos in a loop chaos in aloop chaos inaloop