poetry | short stories | plays
The Opulence Of Invention
Visionary poetry for a new age
In his debut book of poetry and illustrations, E. P. takes us to a literary circus of twisted beauty, with daring feats of wordplay, cinematic dreams and surreal fantasies. A place where ideas form into beasts,
both fantastic and unfathomable.
We are then guided through dark forests of myths, into tombs of history and back out into the sunlight where rock stars and artists tell their tales. We drink to freedom, above us only clouds.
At last we move from imagination to realization. Your guide awaits.
*130 pages with illustrations. Kindle EBook is FREE with paperback that you can gift to friends. #TheOpulenceOfInvention
~ read selections from the book ~
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*Illustrations from The Opulence Of Invention. 6 of 13.
Clown Wasteland formed over time on the outskirts of a teeming metropolis like frosting on the edge of a cake. First came the massive cargo face erupting from desert sands, vomiting agents of insanity down its sticky tongue. The agents looked like people, but were more colorful and more dangerous. These agents beckoned onlookers with manifestoes and promises of easy living while they built temples of detritus with the dreams of lost children.
The clown hierarchy was rarely seen and operated behind the eyes of the cargo face, surveying the wreckage wrought by their manifestoes with a maniacal glee. They would occasionally release fractal spores into the sky, an invitation to distant lands to reject nationalism and become one with the governing madness of their expanding empire.
Like Spahn Ranch, young idealists heard of Clown Wasteland and began arriving from the suburbs seeking shelter for work. Or did they just crave community and a way out of responsibility? The Clowns handed them manifestoes and welcomed them to their sugary kingdom, and soon the suburban idealists became as colorful as the clowns, though paradoxically mute and despondent. This was because the idealists were no longer contributing to humanity, their life force diminishing gradually in childlike confusion as they devolved in a chromatic haze, submitting to the regular allegiance injections and rainbow incarcerations. The individual dreams, goals and ambitions of the idealists were subsumed into a collectivist swamp that could only feed more chaos. Like lost totems of possibility they gathered dust waiting for the manifestoes to work.
There was a machine in the center of town that all the new recruits were forced to enter, the Dual Gender Discombobulator (DGD), a smiling device that mixed the x and y chromosomes of the recruits like a genetic food processor, spitting out a confused wreck of a clown who was deeply unhappy, yet perfectly malleable. The proud individuals who refused to enter the machine were confined for all time into the rainbow prisons and mocked mercilessly by the clowns and the newly-converted recruits. ‘Why, the fools are rejecting the future in favor of themselves!’ This was anathema to the clown hierarchy, who stomped out these hosts of heresy like pretty, obsolete petals in a field of endless, devouring weeds.
Many idealists starved (for it’s quite impossible to eat inactivity), and their bodies were taken to the Lake Of Many Colors to become future ink. You see, everything eventually decays in these charlatan communities because clowns can only steal from dreamers and deface civilization. They are not artists like you and I.
Many new recruits were tasked with building colorful gears from the lake, not realizing it was a cannibalizing endeavor; fashioning crude parts made from old, congealed versions of themselves. The clown hierarchy realized that busy work was useful for keeping the recruits in line, even though the gears had no real purpose. The DGD for instance, required no gears to run, powered solely by the life force of those who entered and from barrels of imagination stolen from the nearby metropolis.
Well, rumors of Clown Wasteland started to reach the capitol, and it was only a matter of time before boots hit the ground and the military was dispatched to ‘clown zero’ to assess this new danger to civilization. The soldiers arriving were stunned, surveying the apocalyptic scene with unease and revulsion. How could they save people who didn't know they were imprisoned by their own ideologies? All that the soldiers could think to do was to keep the clowns and their idealist puppets tight in their gun sites, heavy rifles sweating in the sweltering desert.
Some of the idealists became suspicious of the motives of these clowns, and they found their way out of the colorful riddle fences circling the expansive haze. Struggling with thirst and exhaustion, they came at last to the distant solution of the manifestoes, a rainbow mushroom cloud. But of course, never-ending war was always in the fine print.
Sergeant McCarthy brusquely cordoned off the scene with some riddle markers and radioed back to the metropolis, anxiously awaiting further orders. He could only wonder, what was the endgame of these clowns, and why did it seem like they were biding their time?
-E. P. Mattson
Copyright © 2018 E. P. Mattson, All Rights Reserved. Clown Wasteland digital painting by E. P. Mattson.
*Get Clown Wasteland as a print or on swag in the store.
~ ~ ~
the other leg followed and they were gone
The wall was a blank expanse of polished stone. It rose up at least a thousand feet and stretched out as long as a mountain range. No one knew what was on the other side.
He’d watch from a stone outcropping; the ones who were ready approached it casually, almost indifferently. Their pace would quicken as they got closer, and then the unbelievable. One leg went up, stretching like a water flume, stretching comically to an inhuman height all the way over the wall. The other leg followed and they were gone.
At the university, he was one of the few who didn’t study the wall. Deep in his work, the chatter collected and dispersed about him, chatter about the wall. Like swirling, feeding birds the students collected and dispersed. They fed on tiny walls, and left mounds of broken stone like husks of seed. Walls teetered on every beak. Once in a while, the chirping would seek him out. Tentative, searching, they’d study his inscrutable face. Then they would ask him. Their laughter was smug, relieved. Why are you studying that? 'What’s so great about the wall?,' he’d bark back in anger. It’s not the wall, it’s what’s behind it.
Now, he found himself spending a lot of his free time staring at it. When before it would make him sick to see the obsessed walk about town with heads always angled to catch some sight of it, tiny walls blinking on their eyelids, he soon found himself wondering about it more. The trees rustled, the river rushed, the hills would slide, only the wall was quiet. It seemed to mock him, you know nothing about walls and now it’s too late. One leg went up, the other leg followed and they were gone.
He watched late into the night. When they approached he studied their movements. They seem to quicken just before. They approach it like it isn’t there, like they can’t acknowledge it if they want to cross. He would try it himself, mimicking their strides, replicating the ghost of every movement. Each time the wall prevented his crossing. Who was he fooling? He was just as obsessed now as any of them, probably more so since he’d ignored it for so long. He returned home in the morning, two walls in his eyes, a wall in his heart, and a stout, heavy wall in his gut.
There were others like him. They would catch sight of each other as they cowered before the huge white face. It was their shame that kept them from meeting, shame at their inability to scale the wall. They saw in each other their own shortcomings, and self-hatred gnawed at their insides. Smaller walls encircled each of them like white larvae.
The trees rustled, the river rushed, the hills would slide, only the wall was silent. He sat on his outcropping of rock. Finally one morning, someone different approached, a lone silhouette carved into the white stage. The stranger looked remarkably like himself, he thought, though feral, driven, with wild eyes and dark hair. Holding up a metal shell on a wooden pole, the stranger stabbed at the ground and brought up the earth. Deep in his toil, he worked ceaselessly as the student watched, measuring out this exotic behavior and sifting it through logic.
Eventually the student left the stranger and returned home. Asleep and dreaming, the wall slid close as it had a thousand other nights, settling deeply into his chest, pounds falling like endless, white bricks. His hands reached up imploringly, desperately, scratching at the miles of stone, neck straining under the crushing weight, fumbling fingers feeling the perfect, impervious grooves. Narrowing his eyes, he was startled to watch a giant head sprout from the top of the wall. The head craned down on its rubber neck and leered at him; hot breath burning his skin. Blinking through tears, he realized it was his own vacant face staring back.
The town had grown quiet, as its population was thinning after graduation day. The only sound was a lonely, scraping rasp far off in the darkness. He roused himself from sleep and walked out into the cool air, looking for the stranger from before. There was only a dark hole where the stranger stood. His stomach tightened and breath came in short gasps. All the seconds of his life formed into one twitching insect teetering on the edge of that hole. Every voice that ever whispered in his ear became a deafening drone, as the wind whipped over the wall like an endless train that took a lifetime to pass by.
He stumbled down inside.
Falling, the mole hit the ground in pain. Crawling sightless, he progressed steadily through the tunnel. Soon the towering wall was behind him. He did not know it yet, but it hardly mattered now, as it was completely forgotten. The darkness began to gray. Climbing up toward the light, he quickened his pace and a wondrous happiness rushed through his body. The cave opened up, and the sun exploded in his eyes.
-E. P. Mattson
Copyright © 2018 E. P. Mattson, All Rights Reserved.
~ ~ ~
narcissus is dead
A man held a mirror to his face. Opening the world up behind him, his life now played out on a glass stage with a cast of backward actors. His travels recorded the multitudes as they poured out behind him. Dangers would loom and subside as he walked. When he brought the glass to his lips the steam gave proof of his life. The mirror was his true and only addiction.
His pace began to quicken. Yes, soon he was running. Running down boulevards and city streets. Running against traffic lights and into busy intersections. His mirror held firmly before him, blinding him with his own face.
Listen. At least he knew he had lived without fear. Without that crippling emotion that governs men’s lives and robs the taste from their lips. It was an ordinary bus, no ambulance came. But if you look closely at the asphalt on the freeway you can see his broken smile in the shards of silver glass.
-E. P. Mattson
Copyright © 2018 E. P. Mattson, All Rights Reserved.
E. P. is currently wrapping up a collection of six 1 act, comedic plays about primal fears.
The entire cast consists of 4 men and one woman, ages ranging from 18-75 with each actor playing 4-5 characters. The 1 Acts run between 8-12 minutes for a total performance time of around 1 (1/2) hours. Set design is minimal, but there are costume changes and extensive use of sound effects.
The sequence of the 6 fears are:
Fear of Being Obsolete
Fear Of Poverty
Fear Of Death
[ Intermisson ]
Fear Of Damnation
Fear Of Being Ostracized
Fear Of Being Yourself
Though the themes are dark, there is humor throughout, as the characters enact scenarios created by their own worst fears. Or as Job in The Bible puts it, "for the thing which I greatly feared is come on me, and that which I was afraid of is come to me." Are we the architects of our own disasters? And is the tyrant created by the victim? These are the questions posed to the audience.
Contact E. P. for licensing performances of the play via the Bio page.