Lost & Found

by S.T.R.O.N.G. Force

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Lost & Found 11:49
Fragmentary memories… torrents of rain, miles of mud and cold gravel. Sunday-funnies dawn, daylight, that gray and lonely suspension filled with the peaceful and tentative waking of birds. Mud across the cobblestones so thick it reflects light. That kind of silence can come at a very high price. How do you drop a piece of hot coal that you are holding in your hand? 1 The air in the room had a flower-shop coolness. O warbler, will you not come to sport among these blossoms? There he sat cracking marrowbones — neat, tough, durable, his sleek fur shedding rain like a bird’s feathers. He looked at me, confused at first, then laughed. “Shit,” he said. “You were scaring me.” His shoes are wet, and a faint cloud follows him everywhere like a personal rain storm. “How can you keep saying that?” I asked. He answered: “When you’re a ninety-eight pound weakling and you have sand kicked in your face, you're going to imagine something a lot worse than Mr. Macho.” Outside, the river roared. This figure of himself as a tormented and terrorized ninety-eight-pound weakling is one he returned to frequently as a source of his buried anger. He was pacing a wide stumbling circle now, head in hands. With the egoism of an only son, he took pleasure in the idea that his saintly mother was thinking of him. The phone downstairs went on ringing. He was not an especially good person, even less an especially wise person; but he signified something that exceeded all human measure of goodness and wisdom. He laughed loudly and told me to take a Creamsicle for free. Those little demonstrations of power tickled him. It was intensely pleasurable. But I also wanted to fucking cry. Caramel cake and blackberry pie. The combination was terrifying. He rinsed off his cup and left it in the sink. 2 Gwenna is a 26-year old real estate agent. She lives on a street lined with trees whose branches are like the intestines of an emerald. She was suffering from facial tics, hallucinations of writhing snakes and ugly handkerchiefs, fearful dreams of shrieking divas of 1989-era Italo House. Wasn’t there something she was supposed to pick up at the drugstore? “What can I do for my soul?” she asked herself. Okay, she thought, I’ll call the gym. The two cops who came twelve minutes later were young, and plainly in process of being wised up. Despite their considerable gifts, failure was within easy reach. “It is always important for us to be aware of feelings,” they said. “Now what do you think of that?” her psychologist asked. They had been walking for blocks, and the only animals they had seen were ones dressed in puffy black parkas and snow boots. All I want is boundless love,“ she remarked. “A pastoral retreat from the city of information.” A chimney, antennae, a warped tin roof. Music from the radio, static. Machines of loving grace. Traffic. The psychologist paused behind his little round glasses. “The weasel is wild,” he replied, finally, with effort. “He cannot choose to desire a certain kind of relationship, any more than he can will himself to read a unicycle, play The Goldberg Variations, or speak Swahili.” Wild guesses felt like fantasy. He was struggling to make sense. Hastily, he added, “The most sophisticated person will be subjected to endings.” She sat for a long while, knowing little more than that she was feeling ill, and that these words kept repeating themselves in her. Her thoughts swirled in tiny eddies, settling first here, then there, moving as the wind does from empty town to empty town. Over 3.8 million miles of streets, roads, and highways tickle America’s nervous flesh. Her expression is snapful; she recognizes what she is up against. She buckles up her shoes and starts. 3 A half-circle of blinding turquoise is this love’s primal scene. The smell of cocoa beans drying in the sun. Her hair down to her shoulders, her hand in mine, I forget my Zone, my suitcase, I become a tourist, which is the pleasantest of conditions when there are two of you, when you have money and you want to make love all the time. We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability? The tangle of neurons that make up a person, after all, are the same ones that generate the disparity between reality and experience. I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love. And so, the car already loaded, I sat beside her, happy to be enveloped in her disregard, the suspension of time that came with it. “Restrictaweed, detectorwood, bells of Hell,” said I, in a ploy to woo her to bed. Maybe he’s insane, she thought. But she said, “Your normal sexual outlets have been blocked for so long that now the sexual overflow is seeping out into all the wrong channels.” I remained silent, unable to think of a sufficient response. I didn’t believe her for one moment. I wanted to kiss her, but I couldn’t. We are never the first in our family to wrestle with a problem. Studies of rats in Baltimore found that most rat activity is limited to a single city block or alleyway. As generations are born and move out of the family nest, rat “neighborhoods” are formed. All of us inherit the unsolved problems of our past. Anyway, the evening ended in utter confusion. We got so drunk we passed into that sometimes blissful, sometimes disastrous state of ambulatory unconsciousness where you have to make phone calls the next morning for your own edification. “Trust me,” I said, “my lips are sealed.” And with that I was off, running across the pig field at the side of the house, skirting the fierce rooting sow with the cruel pink eyes. Here’s to deciding. We can rage against the ending and still enter its initiation. I do hope that in my dotage, though, I will not have to rely on hot dogs for my sustenance. 4 O wonderful night! The floodlights came on from the upper walls. Figures that had been moving in the yard froze, then moved again. The truck went up long grades, down, up. Muscular women swept the streets while their children were raised by the state. Storks were asleep among two and three-legged horses, their heads jittering with air currents. The café downstairs was empty. I was looking through a pair of binoculars at a pair of whistling swans. Whistling swans! Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel? The moon is down. Then in walks the Devil, puttin’ little screaming skulls as the bells of Hell start clangin’. Red eyes, filthy bilious whiskers, swollen belly; with his claw, he excoriates the ghosts — then rips their skin off and quarters them. He was the graveyard-shift manager and those little demonstrations of power tickled him. There is a long cut on his jaw, and he is wearing his Sunday pants and a white shirt with the neckband buttoned. A faint haze of dust follows him everywhere like a personal dust storm. Silent, alone, without an escort, we walked like Franciscan monks; abbot in front, acolyte in back. “Yes!” he said. “What’s scarier than two people in a room with their nightstands and the things they keep on their nightstands? I make it sound like I know an answer.” He reported that eels are generated spontaneously, that human beings have only eight ribs, and that women have fewer teeth than men. I felt no strong sense of moral responsibility for stopping him. “Lucky world. How long will it persist?” the Devil asked. “Look, dumpling,” he said, “dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. I believe in God, God. God, I believe in God.” He was pacing a wide stumbling circle now, head in hands. “A right hand glove could be put on the left hand,” said the Devil, “if it could be turned round in four-dimensional space.” It was intensely pleasurable. Some clinging presence around me: a voice, a scent, a feeling. He rinsed off his cup and left it in the sink, and then he went to bed earlier than usual, feeling a slight cold. Fireworks, all of it — not just the stuff of history, but the stuff of reality itself, the thoughts of God — speechless and obvious: incandescent patterns, infinitely widening. But given the fragility of the recording medium, the moment the record left the machine, it was essentially destroyed.


A dramatic monologue with a score.

This piece is composed of samples. The text is sourced from around a hundred books. The music from a few dozen pieces.

If you recognize a sample, report your discovery to clapp.sam@gmail.com to receive a Free Gift!


released December 18, 2017

Album art found in the parking lot of Chengdu Taste, Pawtucket, RI.
Written & produced by Sam Clapp.
Performed by Beau O'Reilly.


all rights reserved



S.T.R.O.N.G. Force Chicago, Illinois

Music by Sam Clapp to which to buy brats in the superstore foyer, filled with wildfire panic and slab-eternal calm, standing tall in the august April blue (though down, sometimes, it's true, in your room). Hard questions raised in the kitchen, maybe after breakfast you'll say hello. Handsome-hearted mudslinger, live to sing another day on some confusion about the W-2s! ... more

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