October 29th, 2010 / 3:51 pm

Seven Obituaries: Brevity, HTMLGIANT, Birds (in poetry), and more!

Mr. Shameless S. Promo (???? – ????) was found slumped over his Apple iPad, dead from a Twitter overdose on Tuesday morning. Friends of the deceased have confirmed his last few days were spent “tweeting his little ass feathers off like Tweetie on a coke binge” over having landed an interview with a D-list, female lit blog personality. In happier times, Mr. Promo could often be found regaling comment threads all over the online indie lit scene with off-topic anecdotes about his forthcoming book, like the time he tried to get a blurb from Dennis Cooper (“and he goes, send me the naked JPGs and we’ll talk, ha ha!”) or how the publishers that dropped him were such useless incompetents (“Man, I’m flogging this goddamn book all by myself. But I mean, if I don’t do it, who will, right?!”) A well-known online lit journal editor familiar with the deceased was quoted as saying, “finally the hail of submissions ranging from the inadequate to the outright offensive that has been raining down on us like napalm since this tool discovered Submishmash will cease.” Mr. Promo is survived by his official author website, complete with a “personal blog” which is in actuality a list of live reading dates along with hundreds of links to his writing in various low-ranking publications, including articles that pretend a service to the community but are in fact mere justifications for his annoying and ineffective marketing practices, as well as his Vimeo book trailer, quirky interviews in several group lit blogs, and a Facebook fan page with approximately 35 fans (mostly spammers). In lieu of flowers the family have requested pledges to their Kickstarter project to help them publish Mr. Promo’s oeuvre, including selected Gmail chats and tweets. A writer and close family friend said, “okay so with the family doing it, it will be a little like self-publishing, but waaay better because he’s dead, so it’s like, posthumous and stuff.” –Ani Smith


Joyce Carol Oates (June 16, 1938 – October 28, 2010), writer of stories and books no one has ever read or will read but yet still continues to publish, died yesterday evening in her home in Princeton, NJ.  Oates was sitting in her office working on yet another mediocre novel about fucked-up teenage girls or zombies or murderers or who really knows because most of have probably only read that one book from Oprah’s Book Club for Middle-Aged Women With Nothing Else Better To Do, and by “read” really meaning bought-and-sitting-on-a-bookshelf because it’s too long to bother with anyways. Or “read” meaning returned, whichever is most accurate.  Autopsy reports show that Oates died from blunt trauma to the head when her bookshelf containing all of her works fell on top of her.  It’s not clear yet as to what caused the bookshelf to collapse.  Foul play is suspected.

“To be honest, I’m relieved,” says one editor, “I was tired of reading all her submissions.  It gets to be wearying, you know?  I mean, her work was like cockroaches, like no matter how many times you killed it more just keeps coming at you.”

Oates is the author of more than hundred novels and short stories (I just made that number up.  I don’t know the exact number, by the time I’d have figured it out she would have written something else anyway).  Most recently, she is the author of Wild Nights, which most likely is sitting in your local bookstore’s bargain box.  No, wait, not Wild Nights, it’s—Little Bird of Heaven. No, wait, that’s not it either.  It’s Dear Husband.  Definitely.  Wait.  There’s also A Fair Maiden, and The Crosswicks Horror (forthcoming) and—you know what?  Fuck it. –Latanya McQueen


A Poem by Brendan Connell

Here lies HTMLGiant, a dwarf by that name,

whose entreaties for attention were both daft and quite lame.

Hocking the books of friends, toadies and sycophants—they strove for attention

—the one thing they lacked sadly, was some small amount of invention.

Tao Lin came, and on their wee wave he did ride,

but when they crashed there was none who would stay by his slim side.

Sundry other authors did bray and did bark,

But youth could not cloud the fact that their minds were rather dark.

The dunces they commented in strikingly high numbers,

shoving forth meager intelligence and truly stunted wit

—oh, the tears they shed when this earth did HTML quit!


Brevity (September 1997 – October 2010), the aging online literary magazine specializing in “concise literary nonfiction,” whatever the crap that is, died yesterday after a long battle with editorial dementia.  Best known for a grey-bearded editor who tried to remain relevant by commenting on blogs he was too old to be reading, Brevity had some of the dullest web design in the online literary magazine world, and seemed proud of it.  Plus, the editor had one of the goofiest names in the literary world.  After years of providing miniature literary experiences to those with ADD, the journal will be memorialized very briefly, between noon and 12:01 pm on Friday, in Athens, Ohio.   In lieu of flowers, please send your answer to this question — “What’s creative about creative nonfiction?” — to people you don’t like. –Dinty Moore


New York Tyrant: The New York Tyrant was found dead at his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen this morning. Local police said, “We thought it was the remains of  a big all-night one-man party. Then we found the note.” You can read the note in full below. –J. Richards

Dear Literary World,

I’m sorry for the horrible 80’s movie bullshit on our covers. I’m sorry for all of the Lish and Lish students I publish to get attention. I’m sorry for putting my TV boyfriend on the cover to sell copies. When we did the Lady Tyrant, I said, “Let’s just get this out of the way so when we publish less women writers in the future (which we will) they won’t be able to bitch at us.” I really don’t like women writers, except for a few, and even those few, not so much. Our newest issue has a girl on the cover and only about three stories from women writers. It was not an ironic move on my part. I never even read stories sent in by women. I have always been intensely jealous of David Eggers and wish I could help children learn to read and write now like he is doing. Because that is what publishing an obscure lit mag should lead to, naturally. All of the shit I publish is obviously linked to the fact that I am a big giant homo chubby chaser who does way too many drugs, not because I want people to think I’m cool but because I want to think I’m cool and it’s easier to fool yourself when you are high on Oxycontin all day, every day. I have no idea how I got a hold of an Brian Evenson or Eugene Marten or Michael Kimball or Blake Butler book for our press. They are fantastic authors and out of my league and I am so very not fantastic. I also want to say sorry to all of those people who I promised a trip to Italy to stay in my “castle” for a week as payment for their services. There is no castle. There isn’t even an Italy. I’ve never been outside of New York. The quality of the magazine has gone WAY down in the past few issues and I cannot even handle showing my face at AWP this year. Just like last year. I wasn’t really sick, guys. I was hiding in my hotel room smoking crack with some local Denver losers the whole time. So I guess that’s it. Will you please play “Saturday Sun” by Nick Drake at my funeral? It’s fitting because it is so lame. Goodbye.



Birds (in poetry) (2000 – 2010) died yesterday evening after suffering major cardiac arrest. It is believed the attack was brought on by severe dehydration and exhaustion resulting from overuse. Birds (in poetry) was a popular poetic device, coming from nothing and amounting to nothing, another lazy image of little merit. It remains a mystery why birds (in poetry) was so popular, as there are so many other animals to choose from, yet there they were, in almost every poem for the past ten, to the point where it seriously feels like you can’t be considered a contemporary poet anymore without mentioning a bird at least once or twice in at least one poem. Birds (in poetry) was found after weeks of not answering its phone, opening the door, or responding to desperate emails from poets wishing to employ this boring and overdone trope. –Drew Kalbach





by Jesus Angel Garcia

A bit bored with the same old, Jesus wants to break a different kind of bread, share some laughs and conversation, a hopped-up pitcher of Northern California microbrew, a handblown peace pipe, whatever, as long as the connection is real. If sex factors into the party plan, fine, but he’s not looking for sticky-sweet kicks as much as that feeling of familiarity – i.e., you-get-me-slash-we-understand-each-other.

Jesus feels like lately there’s too much noise. He could blame Dimebag Darell. He thinks, yeah, Pantera’s awesome and everything, but 24-7? He knows the angels are quietly seething, praying for some old-school castrati ballads, a Mozart chamber concert, even Selena, anything to break the power-chord monotony. But he realizes, of course, that Dimebag deserves the same respect as all the others cut down in their prime – and him, on stage, no less – so a longer leash than most perhaps is justified. Compassion, he reminds himself. Respect for individual differences. Still, it’s loud up in here.

After much hand-wringing, he opts out of indulging yet another self-imposed existential meltdown, complete with months-long depression, overmedication, irritable bowels, chronic fatigue, erectile dysfunction. No, not again, never again, he assures himself. He will be assertive this time. He will handle his business. Before the next chorus of “Cowboys from Hell,” he will connect in a meaningful way.

Jesus flips open his laptop. Facebook.

Despite his maxed-out friend list – he never checks his bulging-to-bursting fan page (too creepy) – and all those cellphone pics with their arty-art appropriations and celebrity doppelgangers, he can’t find anything to like. There’s nothing he wants to share or comment on either. It’s not that his pals – all God’s creatures great and small – aren’t interesting or involved in really interesting stuff. But how many new babies or books or Kickstarter projects can he thumbs-up before he starts feeling like an ingratiating prick? No, FB’s too much like heaven: joyful noise, one might argue, but noise nonetheless. Twitter then, he thinks.

There was a time when the e-bluebird’s chat stream brought giddy relief from his endless numbered days. Kicking back with a case of PBR – breakfast of champions for the great unwashed (admit it: who among us washes before tweeting away the hours?) – Jesus would click through every How-to, Top-10, Best-of, Must-see link and slap his thighs hot pink from all the OMFG LOL humanity of it all. Always a first adopter, the Lord can reasonably say his followers now are legion. The embodiment of a giver, he auto-follows back everyone with personalized welcome notes. “Hey Jude! Thanks so much for thinking of me.”

Snapshot, spew, loogie, atchoo… tweet-tweet?

What better way to know thyself, he used to tell Peter (or Paul). After all this time he still mixes up those guys, calling each of them P-Diddles to save face. If only they’d trim their goddamn ZZTop beards. But Jesus understands. He used to rock the whiskers, too, until Yul Brynner dared him to take it way tight. He never looked back. His favorite T-shirt now, custom-inked on Zazzle, saysFacial hair is so B.C.E. Yet while Jesus does prefer a clean-shaved cheek, he’d never lift a razor to his chest. That’s self-abuse, he’d often tell Alec Baldwin back when the eldest B-bro was bedding Kim Basinger. Alec would simply say, “9 ½ Weeks, dude.” “Yeah, yeah,” Jesus would say. “Good luck with that.”

There are few surprises when you know all. Which is why, in part, Jesus seems to have lost interest in his tweeps. That, and he feels ridiculous with these new reading glasses, staring at his reflection in the laptop screen. Eye strain is no LOL, though. There’s always free porn, Jesus thinks.

Why do his thoughts, not to mention his cursor, invariably lead to sex whenever he’s bored? Heaven’s IT specialist, Saint Isidore of Seville, attributes it to a flaw in the cyborg operating system. She’s the one who had to unstick his keyboard the last time his online activities slipped out of hand. It was embarrassing for them both. He was also called on the carpet by Mary (Magdalene, not his Holy Virgin Mother, you perv) for failing to meet a man’s minimum obligation in the bedroom. She went off on how it wasn’t her responsibility nor her forté (among many many others, she added) to raise the dead. Jesus knew she was right. He couldn’t meet her eyes, but he promised never again. No porn, then. Right. So…

What to do, how to connect? Jesus is at a loss. There is no know-it-all, he tells himself, wiping away his sniffles with the hem of his Lady Gaga “Monster Ball Tour” tanktop. But this much I do know: I need…

Unable to complete his thought, Jesus clamps his eyes shut, grits his teeth and opens up his email. Though the backlog’s deep, he figures he might as well get down to it. Maybe one of these countless notes from his closest friends, business associates and faceless petitioners will put a smile upon his face, grace him with an intimate connection, if only for a moment. Besides, he thinks, there’s no use putting off today what you’ll put off tomorrow, or something like that.

He catches his breath at the number of digits in bold next to INBOX. The universe at a glance, he tells himself. Zeroes and ones, ones and zeroes, human nature, zeroes and ones, human need, ones and…

They’re all the same, he concludes. We’re all the same, he revises.

He sees one way out. A simple app developed by the Holy Spirit, who jokes how it’s his most inspired intervention yet. DELETE ALL. Jesus says it out loud: “Delete all.” His cursor hovers like a mallet about to Whac-A-Mole. Delete. All.



Thank God.


[thanks for sending in some stuff; we’ll pick a winner or two later and mail a book. -Ryan]


  1. DiTrapano


  2. DiTrapano


  3. jesusangelgarcia

      It feels good to live among the dead. Tante grazie.

  4. Trey

      Man I don’t think “there are so many other animals to choose from” is a valid criticism of birds in poetry. “Bird” is not really one kind of animal, it’s a class (Aves). This would be like saying people use too many mammals in poetry. I mean, if you want to say there are too many, I don’t know, owls? in poetry, that might be something at least worth considering, but dang. There are 9000+ species of bird. Only like 5400 species of mammal. Knowledge! I looked most of this up on Wikipedia.

  5. drewkalbach

      you don’t get it

  6. Lucasbuffalo

      SERIOUSLY. and what about Hitchcock’s birds. and what about using too many humans in poetry. and what about the eagle who lifts small goats off cliffs (check it out on youtube).

  7. Trey

      when I get old I’m going to spend my time writing birds into all poems that don’t yet have birds in them.

  8. Baiocco

      that ny tyrant one seemed kinda hate-speechy…against drug addicts

  9. Daniel Bailey

      do unicorns count as birds? i need to know because i don’t want to seem like i’m just trying to be like every other poet.

  10. Trey

      unfortunately yes.

  11. MM

      Eff for flagged? why?

  12. MM

      i’m with trey, drew is being a dweeb. On pre-postdoc frolic in Europe last year, at the Manchester Museum, I came across the big exhibit of birds, and nearly shit myself at all the names, all the colors, all the habitats, all the adaptations, all the onomatopoeia, BLOOMIN’ ONOMATOPOEIA, BABY!!!

      True, allusions to the thou-thou insect species would be much better, but damn they are ugly, creepy. Better yet, what if I barded of all the myriad microorganisms, the fungal spores we can’t match up with fruiting bodies, the slipper-shaped pollen-grains, the radiation-resistant “bugs” (a dumb colloquialism that caught on, i confess) that grow in the cooling tanks of nuke-reactors, the mid-oceanic vent bacteria photosynthesizing by the lava’s light from seafloor-spreading? Poetic in concept, but were I to write them into a poem, you folks would flame it worse than deserved by oblique quotes from Barthes.

      Fuck you I’m keeping my motmot, my mallard, my avocet, and you can go write about lady gaga, okay?

  13. drewkalbach

      nobody seems to get it anymore i guess my humor is just that great

  14. deadgod

      amounting to nothing

      ‘Tis unnatural,
      Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,
      A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
      Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at, and kill’d.

  15. jereme_dean

      I don’t have time to finish the others right now. I’ll post them soon.

      its halloween. please smile.

      The Sex Life of James Chen (November 1, 2009 – May 1, 2010) The Sex Life of James Chen died suddenly from scrotal complications. Chen’s ball sack was stabbed 343 times by his estranged wife (though there were rumors of a feminist funded assassination). The altercation was a result of an argument regarding a $1200 order of vegan cow steak. The Sex Life of James Chen is survived by his inability to find a fuck rhythm, a face that resembles a beast from BIG MAN JAPAN, and that weird garlic aroma all asian people have.

      Blake Butler’s Sense of Humor (??? – August 11, 2010) Blake Butler’s Sense of Humor died from neglect. Butler, a deity in the online lit scene, was quoted as saying, “WHAT THE FUCK IS A SMILE?” Relatives of the bereaved advise NOT to joke about Blake’s uncanny resemblance to lame actors on television. Butler’s Sense of Humor is survived by its owner’s goofy countenance, aggressive sexual frustration & an army of suckerfish sycophants. Funeral services will be held October 31, 2010 at the church of Dennis Cooper’s Broken Asshole.

  16. Jimmy Chen

      my fuck rhythm is in time with billy corgan’s strumming in ‘1979’. about to skull fuck some guacamole. fuck ass you.

  17. Justin RM

      We are so bored and so funny together.

  18. zusya

      is it too late to send in hate-y guest posts?

  19. Dina Rozelle Barnett

      Birds (in poetry) reminds me of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, a classic that is not about trout. Brautigan and birds (in poetry!) have me LMAO. Best kind of reading there is. Thanks guys.

  20. Dina Rozelle Barnett

      No, FB’s too much like heaven: joyful noise, one might argue, but noise nonetheless…
      Delete all!

      Jesus, my man, you made my night.


  21. The Savior System
  22. mimi

      Ah, a man after my own heart (meaning I’m all into the spectacle that is the variety that is life).
      So grand.

  23. mimi

      Does the Eagle know what is in the pit,
      Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
      Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod,
      Or Love in a golden bowl?

  24. jesusangelgarcia

      Ms. Sinner! So good to see you here. This joint needs more swinging skirts. Thank you for the kisses. Yes, DELETE ALL! And yet… here we are.

      Baci baci,

  25. mimi

      Hi Jesus

  26. jesusangelgarcia

      Hi Mimi!