THE HAND REPORT #5: The Battle of Bierce Ridge
by Rick Weaver


     "The South, like emphysema, looks good on paper," squinting Blue Boy stated.
     I heard his words. I also heard his chew squishing in his mouth. For three hours his chew was squishing.
     "I am not from the South!" exuberantly exclaimed the skimpy Blue Boy.
     "Congratulations," barked the scabby Growler.
     Blue Boy scampered his pampers to the gruffy Growler. "Congratulations yourself, you old grump. Congratulations for being an old lump of mumbles and a pore full of booze, you marble misplacer."
     Growler angrily simmer-gripped the simpleton kid and squeezed 'im til he simpered. "Insisting on congratulating you, young blue blood, young bud of Spring's fragrant pheromones and fingerbangs. It's you, Master of Coming Age that needs congratulations, salutations, affirmations, graduations, gradations, asphyxiations, confirmations, instructions, inductions, in order to advance from your underripe adolescent two-pump incubating town crybaby status to rise to half-mast and become Mamie's Man of Meager Achievements. May you grow to resemble lightly the Rest of the West and exit this Mouth of the South and henceforth henpeck a dozen homely-hemmed spring chickens until one of the dirty dozen decides to share the snore chamber with your fragile eggheaded exhalations. I accuse you of the Gold Rush, young slumping stump, for you rush when thrusting into virginal gold and lose your load before the show's program has even been handed out by the all thumbed usher. You're an old cadger with an empty cage, kid, 'cause if I am gazing upon a teen-ager climbing to the top hat of his prime, then virility never entered your vestigial bloodline of pathetic pumpers incompetent in the saddle and soaked behind the ears from the clammy palms of loneliness and lack of risky frisk taking and leg nape scruffing. Soft from the cradle right down to the navel."
     Blue Boy cried seven tears underneath his lemur ski fur, but his stoned face offered the Growler no confirmation that he had gotten through the soft shelled skin of the Boy. He retorted, "So maybe my family tree fell in Autumn long before my time, but I can't guarantee that that was what you were insinuating, because while your words may be well real words that one has heard before and can understand each word on their very own independent of their sentencing and construction built in a vocabulary of a regular man-of-letters and the tone seems to express hostility even malice in the direction of the person who stands before you to receive your mean sputterings but the way you string them together barely makes a hair follicle of sense. I'd go as far to say your words are nonsense, the dejected ramblings of a charlatan on a pisser of a bender who had one too many at the very least one hundred years ago."
     Suddenly, I was compelled to interject, "Fill your cavities and lock your jaws, soldiers, we've got to listen to something other than our babbling brooks of salivating sure-as-shit horse-shit arguments. We've got to listen up, up here on Bierce Ridge, to the sounds from the valley below. We must listen for the enemy; their war stompers; their foot foppers; their pilfering patter; over yonder I suspect the mean mugs are marching over Hocking Hills, over there to over here, here being where the three of us stand, the three of us being the last of the Southeastern Blitz Brigade, the last and certainly the most loquacious of the whole jolly bunch sometimes referred to by our peers and fellow foot soldiers (now all dead, may it be noted) as that 'toothy bunch'. That 'kooky bunch of bananas hamming it up on the hammock of life's stale loaf' they'd goad us unendearingly. If I could only shake one of their silly corpse hands now, to thank them for their special brand of brave bullying and to remind myself that they are dead and I no longer have to fear their aggressive hurling barbs but alas, now those ruthless mean mugging head hunters from up North at Funk Olympia severed all the hands of our battlefield brothers and loaned them to the Diplomat, who has them boastfully displayed in the break room at Windy Oro U. If only I could look them in their pocket peepers, left or right socket no matter, and say-"
     The gravel-viced Growler: "ENOUGH! ENOUGH with your conversational Crohn's. You're giving me 'a run for my money' - 'a taste of my medicine' as they say. As I see it: ENOUGH! Can stand no more the monkees or straw on my back. Can stand no more of your 'over heres' and auricular Oro anecdotes. 'Never enough?' as Smyth may say? Well, I say, TOO MUCH! Impatiently I await your mouth's receding low tide. I await the moment of Hornet Fred's prophecy. You both know the prophecy I refer to, I am sure. While in solitary confinement at his extended stay on the island of Erromango, Fred scratched the following prophecy into a steel cable using his fingernails and filed tooth dust:

     'And so it shall come to pass
     after the final year of the frogs
     when air and water alike
     are no more
     and a great silence
     and dust
     and fingernails
     coupled with the broadcast of a
     geyser of tooth dust
     from the mouths of
     two dozen
     tortured messiahs
     to madness
     the callous
     of a pharmacist
     with the
     of a beaker
     and a dust cloud near his grin
     and a dust

     our eternity
     our wages

     the dust and the allergies
     are too much to bear.
     yet an ah-choo is an impossibility
     for we are trapped - bound together through our skins by steel cables in the small room
     of a great silence
     and tooth dust

     and fingernails'

     Yessir, I sure as a slave's whip can't wait for that one to come true. 'A great silence'. Now that's poetry! That's brevity! Taut, masculine, laconic, concise, functional, lyrical, and to the point. A direct hit! So very unlike your idiot mouths filled with scrapple bile, sputum, and flivver rubber. TOO MUCH TOO MUCH. Language is a bust! Don't you damned windy-headed fools know that by now? A bust! Used up and useless. Chewed like Blue Boy's three hour squishing chew. Sticky, bland, viscous, banal, tedious, ineffective, confusing. The less one spoils 'a great silence' with farting rot opinions the better I say. How I look forward to the decay day of 'a great silence and unerring suffering'. ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH. TOO MUCH."
     Too much turned into too late, for the enemy popped up seemingly out of nowhere and took the three of us by storm. They nailed us through our pockets and caused our pocket peepers to roll down Bierce Ridge and we tried to scoop them back up but could not get a good grip. Too slippery and squishy. Truth be told, this battle, the Battle of Bierce Ridge, lasted no more than five seconds, but what a battle it was. I'd do it all over again if I could.
     The only one of us who actually retrieved a peeper proper was Blue Boy. Blue Boy rolled his peeper, simulating squishing sounds with his own mouth. We were really proud of him for saving one of the peepers. He seemed a bit disappointed that the peeper he had retrieved was not one of his own pocket peepers, but you could still see him 'glow like a Por-Bajin garden' with sweet fern satisfaction at being commended for his pseudo-heroic deed of scooping up and commandeering a peeper. Well, good job Blue Boy, good job, I say. He rolled his adopted peeper just the way Smaples instructed at Therapy Bowl. Nice style. Nice form. Just like a clod.


     Back in the early days of my shouldering doom and shocking post-conception, I beckoned and bargained with the guitar string to pluck the fifehole's declaration of war. I forced the war 'over here' by using my skull face to express that which I thought appeared to be to the opposite sex to be a charming and seductive phantom proposal to be or not to be mine, but turned out to be the uncontrollable surfacing of a fixed polygamous marriage of suppressed symptoms of a severe, chronic food poisoning. Years of bliss gave way to years of 'blecch' in a muslin maze of bacterial nasalized speech. A blown nose in the port-a-potty installed at the man-made lake on the camping grounds of Indian Meadows. You could call it that.
     So now I go where they tell me. Go figure. That's why I'm nailed by the pocket. Nailed and half-mast daydreaming about Smaples, my wooly trousers rising ever so slightly in the sunshine's shadows obscured by gravity-defying pebble clucks. Oh so narrowly erect thoughts of archetypal Smaples pounding and pondering the viscera in the abandoned laboratory set of a monster movie remake. I was wholly nailed through the pocket, peeping over his shoulder (with the peeper I proudly yanked from the sweet-toothed Blue Boy), watching Smaple write the revolution right before my very peeper (not mine technically, and not technically Blue Boy's. Must have been the Growler's peeper, who wasn't protesting our use of his orphaned eyeball. That noxious mange was the first to go. After he died of natural caustic, B.B. and I quarter-toned him and slid him and some jungle juice into jars to ferment and also disinfect the 'lone lecher'. After he was properly pickled, we sold him to White Man (years before he become the genocidal ghoul we now know him as (see Hand Report #1 & 3)). The White Man was masquerading as a upper middleman dressed in the Belfast Coat-of-Arms and fleece Gap walking his ginger mutt and sipping Toddy. He bought the pickled warrior for a kopeck on the cheek and a hand or two that had fallen off his lanky limbs (we were working hard to get our hands going again, after the enemy had severed mine and then after that I ate Blue Boy's 'for a good time' (Blue Boy himself had scratched that phrase, 'for a good time', in the men's bathroom at the bottom of a 'maximum capacity' commode at Indian Meadows. I spied the message (with the Growler's peeper) and lucked out; I was the first responder and Blue Boy overeagerly (a little too overeagerly if you ask me (a breach in seduction)) dialed me, and declared, 'You are our winner,' and invited me over to gobble up his peepers.)), and enjoying every moment of Smaples' visionary chicken scratch. Unauthorized to do so, I now reprint the opening lines of Smaples' oafish magnum opus The Pound Pond:
     'Before the viscera, there was the ghost viscera. And before the pounding, there was pondering. Viscera grew from ghost viscera; pounding grew from pondering. This was the time of the 'unity formations', the time of the stagnant becoming static. To comprehend how one ponder grows upon another, we must imagine a quilt frozen on a frozen bed in a chilly remote location. (The quilt once kept them warm, but they are long gone, led away by a deathly chill chamber.) When a ponder is pondered, it enters the universal bloodstream and steps in the same river not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. Moving water is an illusion, all pondering is permanent, suspended and never deviating from its original ponderin' form. Deformation and decay are illusions, all mutation is truly growth: a ponder grown upon a prior ponder. To ponder is to pound; meaning a ponder becomes a pound (say, for instance, a pound of gold, a pound of stone, a pound of pond) and pound it does. The consequences of a poor ponder can weigh heavy on the cosmetic vine. No harm can be done to harmful ponder pounders; they pound and pound the same way until the end of time, which comes never, for our collective existence is a sculpture unrelated to time, made up of individual pounds that cannot be subtracted. We can only add new ponders to the pounder tower, only add new 'cosmetics'. When we climb the vine, we never fall, for we are eternally fixed in position, getting pressure pounded by nonmoving ponders and adding our own nefarious ponders to the perdition pond. Some call this gravity, I have always called it, correctly, the Pound Pond. The purpose of this book is create an archive of every ponder that has ever occurred, listed in no particular order. Starting with and continuing with what ever ponder pops up into my pocket peeper. Let's begin:

     Looking It Up
     Showing It
     Looking Up
     Looking Me Over
     Look Out
     Feeling It
     Check It To Feel Change
     Showing Up
     Look Off Of
     Begging Second Change…'

     And so on. A pretty bold and ambitious beginning to such a gluttonous work, wouldn't you say? Smaples sure got me thinking for myself. I started thinking up my own ponders.
     And to his endless list of lifeline ponders, I now include a few of my own:

     Viscera, Ghost
     Curlicue Cacti
     White Mine
     Young Justus


     -Rick Weaver
     July 13, 2013 (Hand Hotel)