Category Archives: Prose

“Quarry” by Sterling Arthur Leva

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“Quarry” by Sterling Arthur Leva

I invented time travel for one purpose and one purpose only: to murder Jackson Pollock.

When that glorified finger-painter hit the scene, he opened the door for every talentless dribbler to proclaim, “I’m an artist, man!” The effects of his work would be long-term and nefarious, indeed: technical skill, diligence, and honing one’s craft would become largely irrelevant as malformed clusterfucks of color gained prominence. It was nothing personal against Jackson, though: how was he to know that his drunken masturbatory experimentation would forever taint art as we know it? No, it was nothing personal; the fucker just needed to be stopped.

I knew I had to get to Pollock before LIFE did that infamous spread, in which some philistine journalist asked the rhetorical question, “Is he the greatest living artist in the United States?” Fucking LIFE, man. I couldn’t allow this to happen: I had to make sure he wasn’t living period. But I didn’t want to deprive the guy of his entire life. I’m not a savage, after all, and I wasn’t about to go back in time and off his pregnant mom or strangle him in his stroller or anything like that. I just needed to get to him before his silly artistic ambitions took hold.
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“The Little Dragon”: A Children’s Book by Sterling Arthur Leva (Age 13)

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“The Little Dragon”: A Children’s Book by Sterling Arthur Leva (Age 13)

I recently moved. During the process, I unearthed collections of poetry, satire, fairy tales, and a couple children’s books that I wrote from ages five to fifteen. I decided to start posting some of the stuff for documentation purposes and to perhaps illustrate that I may have peaked artistically around age ten. The first piece I present to you is The Little Dragon, which is basically a mini-Bildungsroman with flying lizards. Enjoy.

The Little Dragon Cover PageThe Little Dragon Title PageThe Little Dragon Page 1The Little Dragon Page 2The Little Dragon Page 3The Little Dragon Page 4The Little Dragon Page 5The Little Dragon Page 6The Little Dragon Page 7The Little Dragon Page8The Little Dragon Page 9

The moral of the story? Moving is a drag.

Wait For It

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Wait For It

People don’t pray to me too much anymore. Not like the good old days, at any rate. Mostly just the occasional dingbat or screaming loon seeking divine direction for some two-bit revenge scheme. Sometimes I provide it, sometimes I don’t. I mean, after all, I’m a god damn trickster god, dig? Unpredictability is part of my charm.

But ol’ Hermes don’t get called on too much these days. It seems the desperate are more inclined to take their business to the major players: Yahweh, Buddha, hell even Satan gets more clients than me. I just ain’t in vogue in this modern age. Maybe my asking price isn’t high enough– I’ve never been interested in collecting souls, just punch lines. I just love a good punch line. I ain’t shook about the lack of clients though, because every once in awhile I get a real gem of a gentleman caller, reeking of resentment and pettiness and malignancy, and it makes up for all the down time. Lee Harvey Oswald was one of my favorites– that was a hell of a punch line, wasn’t it? Told him I’d make his little assassination dream come true and provide a patsy to boot. I stuck to my word, didn’t I? I guess I may have interpreted the deal a little differently than he, but that ain’t my fucking problem.

There are some lesser known good ones too, some real unsung heroes of tricksterdom that I lent my services to. I remember Foster Conley and his rumblefish restitution racket. That was a real knee-slapper. You see, Foster had this wife that he couldn’t stand. She was always on his case about this or that, chiding him over house chores and salaries and keeping up with the fucking Joneses (who, incidentally, lived next door). Foster may have been able to bear all this horseshit off his old lady if it wasn’t for her god damn fish. You see, she had this expensive as hell aquarium with these prized rare fish sporting stuck up names like Goya and Francois that she coddled and cherished and it drove Foster nuts because she treated those cocksucking fish better than him.

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Clowns

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Clowns

I am a grown man and I collect clowns. Statues, dolls, paintings, photographs, knick-knacks, flower vases, ashtrays, coffee mugs, music boxes, picture frames: anything having to do with clowns, I dig. Now, I am fully aware that this is not typical behavior for a somebody my age, and if I had one clown item for every time a friend, family member, or girlfriend has voiced this sentiment, well, I’d probably have the same amount of clown items that I do now. Which is a lot.

I keep clowns everywhere. I have so many clowns in my room that people who know me have dubbed it “The Clown Room,” a title that I probably find more endearing than it is intended to be. I even have a couple in my car: a painted statuette of a magician clown nestled in my center console and a clown on a swing that I rigged up from the rear passenger window so that it actually swings while the car is in motion. The latter is an exceptionally cute little conversation piece:

“I just love your Cadilla—Is that a clown on a swing?”

“Yes. Yes, it is.”

“You know, where I’m going isn’t too far of a walk. You can let me out here…”

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Harping On Truth

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Harping On Truth

I was given the assignment of answering the question, “What is truth?” in a paragraph. This is what I wrote, in case anybody wants to cheat off me. 

What is truth?

Truth is that which philosophers, artists, historians, humanists, poets, writers, and composers have sought for centuries. It is an elusive intellectual quarry, a topic that is not only difficult to define, but perhaps impossible to fully comprehend. Truth can be paradoxical: it belongs to us all collectively, yet to none of us individually. There is no my truth, no your truth—there is simply truth. Truth is immutable, omnipresent, and definite. Truth is the complete absence of subjectivity: one may not argue with truth, lest they be a fool, for it is a losing endeavor that only a fool would undertake. Truth can not be swayed, it can not be bargained with or bought off or bribed. Truth does not bend to the whims or the aims of mortals; do not mistake the employment of lies, delusion, and treachery with the conscription of truth, for they are not the same. Truth is beauty: unblemished, incorruptible, perfect. Truth is god, and all those who seek truth seek god, yet not all those who seek god seek truth.

So what is truth?

Truth is a perfect chord upon a perfect instrument that can only be imperfectly comprehended by imperfect ears, but if you listen closely enough, you can usually make it out all right— even if you can’t quite put it into words.

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No Nostalgia Sundays: Exorcising The Spirits Of ’77

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No Nostalgia Sundays: Exorcising The Spirits Of ’77

I’m a punk kid—-always have been and always will be. I may dress a little nicer and hide my tattoos a little better, but at my core, I still hold the punk rock ethos dear. It molded me in my formative years and proved the launching pad for which I got into other schools of music, art, and literature.

When I got into punk rock as a teenager, there was an unhealthy dose of hero worship that came along with it. I wanted to be just like all of the cats that I listened to on wax, particularly the 1977 ones: Joe Strummer, Johnny Thunders, James Chance, et al were my teachers, and I was an apt pupil. Aesthetically, musically, and, most importantly, philosophically, I tried to follow suit as best as I could. In hindsight, I missed a few key things.

For one, most of these guys either died tragically or withered away into anti-prolific obscurity. For two, it wasn’t 1977 and I wasn’t in New York or London, man. That didn’t matter though: I was for all intents and purposes an honorary member of that time and place, at least as far as I was concerned.

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No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition): Oakland Fucking Proper

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No Nostalgia Sundays (Time Travel Edition): Oakland Fucking Proper

My second year at Berkeley, I lived in Oakland. And not Lake Merrit or Rockridge or any of the nicer parts where other college kids or members of Green Day lived– no, I lived in Oakland fucking proper. With the exception of some of the kids in the punk house a few doors down*, my roommates and I were the only white people on the entire street. We totally stood out and I totally dug it. My roommates did too, until they started getting mugged regularly.

I had hated the experience of living in student apartments so much that I made a conscious decision to arrange living conditions for myself that would be as far removed from that paradigm as possible. In Channing Bowditch, there had been rules, there had been order, and there had been write-ups. On Apgar Street, there would be chaos, there would be disorder, and there would be drive-bys.

Three guesses which one I dug more, man.

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No Nostalgia Sundays: New Shoes (And Real Old Poetry)

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No Nostalgia Sundays: New Shoes (And Real Old Poetry)

Summer of 2003 was not a good one for me: I had lost my first love, caught my first pair of handcuffs, and was just generally blowing it all around. I had been an adult (on paper, at least) for just a handful of months and I had already begun to muck things up pretty badly. In hindsight, however, it may have been one of my better summers out of the ensuing decade. Not to say that this one was good, because it totally fucking wasn’t, but the sad reality is that I was merely getting started with my misadventurous journey, the trend of which would be things growing ever worse (and never better).

I had turned eighteen with little fanfare, from others or myself. The only thing that seemed to change for me when I hit that dull milestone was that I became a little more aware of the fact that I was expected to figure out what I was to do with my life, or at the very least make the appearance of doing so. But I didn’t really want to get a haircut and I wasn’t really qualified for a real job, so I had to pick something that was more aligned with my lifestyle back then.

Basically, something that would complement the odd hours I kept and the bad habits I was into, but also had some semblance of respectability. The obvious choice was to become a writer. It seemed to me that writers were encouraged, perhaps even obligated, to live a reckless existence, and I, all of eighteen whole years, was already way ahead of the curve on this one. Yes, I thought to myself, I will make a fantastic fucking writer.

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No Nostalgia Sundays: Pistolwhip’s Passing (And Poetic Parlor Tricks)

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No Nostalgia Sundays: Pistolwhip’s Passing (And Poetic Parlor Tricks)

While attending university, I spent more time in barrooms than I did in classrooms. I don’t think this was a conscious decision on my part, it’s just that classes were held on set days for predetermined periods of time and bars weren’t. Most students seemed to prefer boring places to study like the library or cafes, but I was always of the opinion that bars were the best places to get schoolwork done– even if I’d end up getting so drunk that I’d forget my completed assignments when I left.

The funny bit about all of my bargazing was that I hated all the bars in Berkeley, and yet I found myself at Kip’s and Blake’s and even the fucking Bear’s Lair nearly every day. I mean, the Bear’s Lair didn’t even serve liquor, for Christ’s sake (as in the Japanese wine, which they also did not serve).

I would usually choose Kip’s out of the bunch because it was the scummiest and I preferred dive bars over the more frat-friendly establishments. The bartender there also made an all right Irish Car Bomb and, after becoming accustomed to my drinking habits, would oblige me when I would order two or three at a time for myself. One time though I walked in there at eight AM while the dude was cleaning and tried to do the same. He looked at me funny and told me that he didn’t open for six hours or something and that I would have to come back. I was really perplexed; why would a bar not be open that early? When I moved to Oakland the next year, I found that the people there seemed to agree with me, because the bars were always open around sunrise when I needed to treat some shakes.

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Dear Dionysus XXXVI: Beansprout Dracula

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Dear Dionysus XXXVI: Beansprout Dracula

Dear Dionysus,

I don’t want you getting the impression that the only women we interacted with over there were prostitutes. That wasn’t the case at all. After a week or so of trying and failing to have any sort of meaningful interaction with German girls (solely for Franky’s benefit of course), we started to have a bit more luck.

Our luck started with kabob.

You see, Dionysus, we would stay out to all hours of the night drinking, and we’d inevitably get hungry, except the only spots open that late were kabob stands. They were like the German equivalent of Del Taco, except a little less accommodating to a vegetarian of my convictions. I didn’t touch meat then, mate, which meant that I usually A) sucked it up and went hungry or B) drank more beer because, after all, beer was food, really.

One night we were hanging around one of these kabob stands, and were already a little tipsy. Franky and Yorick were devouring their Döner which, despite it’s revolting appearance, was rather appetizing– according to them at least. We had been bar-hopping, although none of the bars were very interesting and we didn’t stay at any longer than a drink or two. We had no idea where we were going to spend the remainder of the night.

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