Kevin Brennan

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So much random advice these days

Whatever it is, always dine after.

Push blankets and boards under your rear wheels for traction.

The comradeship between a man and his barber is second to none.

Smiles look ghastly in the candlelight.

Air-condition your proclivities.

Pay up front and wander off.

Make money with clever hands.

Pound out the junk like a noiseless jeweler.

Withdraw from all activity except eating.

Just hold your nose and jump in.

Ignore the clicking of his socket wrench as best you can.

When the rain stops, have lunch sent up.

Express yourself with wry amusement.

You’ll probably need some able-bodied men at some point.

Don’t bother with that damnfool hillbilly music.

Snap up those timber rights before it’s too late.

Break glass in case of moral halitosis.

Conversationally, weather is always of universal interest.

Sweep nothing under the rug but your tired maxims.

                                    Evict broken-winged birds before they bring havoc.

Life Instructions

First, choose a definite hour. Get busy day and night, and go over your control exercises with the oddities of your own particular mind. Haydn wore a special ring, for instance. On rising, change your mode of life to suit.

Never skip even one single day, and do not distract yourself with superfluous muscles. This is key: Study your heavy parts and be sure to devote yourself to the noticeable. Do this for twenty-four weeks, then repeat.

Something is going to play a big part in your triumph, invisibly. It is your forearm, as if designed for the function. The highest priority is to remove any thought of thinking from the action, freeing the mind.

Character is more important than any quantity of genius, which will be, anyhow, dashed against the rocks of disappointment at some point. Character sustains. It is infinitely painstaking. And it offers more advantages undefined at this moment.

Understand the weapon in your hand. Utilize it with confidence. Practice maximum control and always repeat until the empty farce of money is apparent, then you can rest. But only for a short time.

Proceed to the loftiest elevations, always digging deep. If this seems contradictory, go back to the beginning and start over, you have failed. Correctness is like a drill, pushing through strata of shale until you hit, finally, unequivocal bedrock.

A dream is as real as the fear that builds it

Those dreams of dental irritation,
back again with a vengeance,
ruthlessly dragging childhood
fears back onto my nightscreen.

The clemency of fortune had me
floating on autopilot, till, one night,
I sat on a bench of rutted planks
and pulled out seven teeth

Like so many Pez.
When I woke I found I still had
them all, but I’d chewed on my
sleeve till it was a twisted, wet rope.

Sexual repression, Freud would say,
no doubt—vagina dentata his answer
to Jaws, how we’re all, men anyway,
afraid of being consumed by

The thing we want most: Love.
Everything goes back to childhood:
Someone must have deprived us
of it, love, that is, and our teeth did

Fall out, one by one—that weird
sensation of twisting one and tasting
the blood, experiencing, almost,
orgasm, as we yank and hold it out.

I dream later of flying,
spitting teeth down on the grounded
people as I flap overhead,
strafing them with incisors and canines,

Not understanding that when I land,
if I ever land, I’ll have an empty mouth,
i.e., no voice, no agency,
invalid, and gaping with despair.

A dream is as real as the fear that builds it.

Kevin Brennan is the author of seven novels, including Parts Unknown (William Morrow/HarperCollins), Yesterday Road, and, just released, The Prospect. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Berkeley Fiction Review, Mid-American Review, Twin Pies, The Daily Drunk, Sledgehammer, Elevation Review, Fictive Dream, Atlas and Alice, LEON Literary Review, MoonPark Review, Atticus Review, and others. A Best Microfiction 2022 nominee, he's also the editor of The Disappointed Housewife, a literary magazine for writers of offbeat and idiosyncratic fiction, poetry, and essays. Kevin lives with his wife in California's Sierra foothills.