American Dust Revisited

by Brian S. Ellis
Publication Date: January 2013
Trade Paper; 136 pages; 5-1/4″ x 8″
ISBN 978-1-938753-06-0


American Dust Revisited was nine thousand miles in the making.

Author Brian S. Ellis traveled to and through nearly every physical and mental state in America, breathing in the dusty experience and coughing up his unique perspective. Ellis shared his life and words with people of all walks along the way, each step a contribution to this, his third collection, the most expansive and explosive yet.

Ellis is a lyrical and authentic storyteller. In this variegated voyage, he explores the elements that drive us, and those we drive ourselves. He illuminates the forces at work in and around us, prompting us to audit our own choices. What and when become far more relevant in the context of how and why.

Ellis redefines the distance between here and there, between past and present, between them and you.

Selections from American Dust Revisited

Song of the Dog

Song of the Dog

Something went wrong the first time I first left the front door of my first house and the time I never came back. Something in the world made me disease and the orphan that lived in my body took over. I learned to hate doors because of everything that happened after them. They called the orphan interesting but all I heard was ugly. They used the word special but all I heard was alone. I was rat nest hair unteachable in their sunshine problem. I was every summer nine years old four a.m. watching infomercials trying to scrub the love of death from my eyes.

Nine years go by. My mouth is a carpeted bathroom.
Everything I have to say is stained.

Nine years go by. I spend my nights alley and curbside. I make a living making sculptures out of other people’s discarded belongings. People tell me it’s very artistic to make beautiful things out of trash. I tell them that they clearly don’t know shit about recycling because there’s no such thing as trash. That was the only thing my mother could tell me to keep me from crying about what my teachers called me at school. My body is a dumpster I sleep in. It’s why I dream in fits about chain link fence. Why my lust barks at abandoned Victorians. Why I identify with paint rust. It’s why we mouth the word dust whenever we see photographs of ramshackle farms. I can hear the words of twisted aluminum cans whispering to me as I don’t sleep. I know the begging of seam bare sneakers and their prayers are why I never feel indoors. All the traffic mangled bicycle wheels are banging down my dreams. I hear the stories of those who have survived the worst and I cannot help but think of torn plastic bags emptying their soaking cardboard histories onto the highway. I cannot sleep in beds. My body is made of death and all of my words are rotten and I am thin enough to be your insides so I’ve come from the bottom of your mouth to tell you that you cannot make ugly things beautiful. We were never ugly to begin with. I am not broken because no one can tell me what my use is. Twenty-seven years ago I was not broken, Seventeen years ago I was not broken, Fifteen, Ten, Five, Zero, Zero, Zero is the number of people on planet earth who can tell me what my purpose is. Purpose is a song wailing out of every dirty noun trapped at the end of the night. This is the scream of the cornered. This is the song of the dog. Purpose is a song that does not end. Our origin lies somewhere in the future.

The Things I Don’t Have

The Things I Don’t Have

Hunger does all the writing.
Hunger is the hardest worker.
Hunger is the only part of me clean-shaven.

At night, Hunger sits on my chest.
Stares into my open mouth,
paws my face like a cat.
Wakes me up from dreams about coffee
asks, Why are we so poor?

We are poor because we are defined
by what we don’t have.
The poor paint their mirror-selves
in the ichor of nothing.

At night we wander hallways of kitchens.
Every door is a dead refrigerator filled with teeth.
Hunger is always willing to walk with me.
He asks, Is the opposite of parents sex? Or children?

The opposite of parents is strangers
who take our names.
People who use up the color
of the words that mean us.
Who make our names hollow.
The way that some make the word love hollow.

I make everything hollow.
Hunger tells me,
It is my magic. I make everything taste beautiful.
He gives me a handful of teeth,
I swallow them all at once
each incisor and molar bursting into sand as I chew.

I will always be your friend.
When all else leaves you.

Hunger smiles,
removing my right hand
and climbing back into my mouth.

Napoleon-In-Rags Is Talking Shit about Your Band in the Kitchen

Napoleon-In-Rags Is Talking Shit about Your Band in the Kitchen

There is something dead on the table.
Cluttered with the lost appendages of forgetfulness:
glass bottles, tin cans of liquor,
the shed accessories of nudity.
If there is a deficit between the ages
of you and everyone else in the kitchen,
you will grow older by that difference.
You were twenty-five when you pushed
through that door. By the time you perch
on that stool you’re thirty-two.
And then there’s this guy, in a beret.
He’s leaning on the stove,
which is, in fact, your stove, but no one knows that yet.

On the other side of your life,
music is being strangled by the darkness
your ankles are drowning in weekdays
and you spend most nights
trying not to look your bedroom in the eye.
You finally found everything your adolescence
was missing and it tastes infantile.
And then there’s this guy,
in a beret
he’s really leaning on the stove. He’s got the room.
He’s holding court. He’s got time to suck his teeth.
His facetious knowledge of the zeitgeist
makes your mind feel like a sieve.
You want to argue the mechanics
of his deconstruction of the newer generations
but the only thing you’re an authority on
is recipes for your own sadness.

With your self-pity polished to its sharpest:
the eleven thirty-five of the universe—let’s call it.
You want someone to give you credit
for the years you spent as ghost.
The torture of trading your wisdom
for the secret of invisibility
is that you can’t show it to anyone.
Even if you were going to corner Saturday Night
in the piano room the way you’ve always dreamed,
what are you going to do?
Point at the nothingness that is your chest
with a finger that is not there and say,
See? See?

Saint Amphetamine

Saint Amphetamine

Protect me on this night,
Saint Amphetamine.
The world is a greater darkness than I knew.
I burn my senses on your touch,
and now my intestines are littered
across six hours of midnight highway.
The darkness climbs into the darkness’ arms.
Darkness’ arms climb into a suit of darkness.
The suit of darkness is hung in a closet of darkness.

Protect me from the moon,
Saint Amphetamine.
It was three-quarters of a silver dollar
over the Missouri River, taut as nickel strings
but now it’s a mirror of a forest fire
low to my northwest,
daring to breathe the dawn side
of my medicine face.

At the gas station in Murdo, South Dakota
a one-eyed cat is screaming its head off
at anyone who comes near the door.
At first I thought the bad eye was the moon—
but it’s just a full glass of spilled milk,
the milk eye is heavier than
the rest of the head. Its head is twisted
nearly resting on the concrete.
As far as the cat knows
the horizon is a line that divides the self in half
and the stars live next to the earth.

Inside the gas station, everyone is dead.
The clerk is a photograph of a human;
he is either pondering Mount Rushmore,
or the fact that time is a lie.

There is a man in the far corner.
He is wearing an oversized T-shirt
emblazoned with the outline of
Taz the Tasmanian Devil
in red, plastic, jewels.

He is trying on every pair of sunglasses
on the sunglasses rack.
He will never see the light of day again.


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