The Steinach Operation

A place of semi-natural vigor.


NaPoWriMo Day 30

April Is The Mulest Month

I felt really happy last night,
which was strange. Spent all day
cooking. Thought about nothing
but the history of the dish, the
combination of flavors folded in
at just the right moment. I was
in the zone--even the empanadas
were perfect. The Mules were in
the other room watching baseball,
ruining their dinner. By the time
everything was ready, they'd fallen
asleep, and I ended up eating by
myself. It was kind of nice.


NaPoWriMo 29

The Mules Know What Goes Around Comes Around

I just stole a ton of supplies from
work. I try to chalk such things up to my
unreasonably low salary and the fact
that my boss is a complete douchebag.
But I still feel guilty, despite snagging
some pretty sweet color-coded folders.
I'll use them to organize the batch of
resumes I'll soon be sending out, only
to get another half-assed job. My positive
attitude is killing The Mules, who've
started following me to work and chatting
up the security guards in the lobby.
They know I see them doing it; they're
so passive-aggressive. We're playing
some kind of game, but I can't quite figure
it out. Are they trying to make me feel
guilty or have we finally reached
the next level of involvement?


NaPoWriMo 28

If The Mules Wanted HDTV, They'd Look Out The Window.

I flip on CNN after work...lots of talk
lately about Congress's mandate for
withdrawal in Iraq. My new LCD Flat
Screen has over 2 million pixels, and the
footage of the desert looks amazing
when I watch with all the lights turned off.
I pretend that it is a movie and things
aren't going well for our heroes, but that
in less than half an hour, an armored tank
will come busting over a dune and go
ballistic on enemy forces until only
the good guys are left standing. Some
would call such an ending superhuman,
far-fetched, might even ruin the movie
for them. Apparently CNN agrees--the anchor
always says goodnight before the rescue
scene, and The Mules snatch the remote
out of my hand, turn it to the Discovery
Channel and settle down to watch Planet Earth.


NaPoWriMo Day 27

Touché, Mules.

A buddy of mine goes fishing most Sundays,
and in an effort to appear less interesting,
I agree to go with him. Even get all geared up:
hat, vest w/ multiple pockets, waders, etc.
I'm responsible for the cooler of Natty Light (hey,
I play to my strengths). He likes to use live
worms for bait, which grosses me out
and means I have to drink a lot before I can
stomach slipping them on the hook. He
immediately lands a big bass. I couldn't feel
more like a pansy. The Mules try to remind me
that being bad at something I look down on
should actually be self-affirming.


NaPoWriMo Day 26

The Mules Make Strange Bed Fellows

I got into an e-fight with a friend
today while procrastinating at work.
She said that I knew dick about baseball,
and I responded by telling her that she
did, in fact, look fat in the dress she
wore to the bars last Friday. Both of us
were wrong. It was really about the time
we made out after seeing Shaun
of the Dead. We never really processed
it, so it's been simmering for a while.
For being as drunk as I was, I remember
that night pretty clearly. And by clearly
I mean there was a Mule on one shoulder
telling me to grab her ass and one
on the other shoulder reading quotes from
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From
Venus. Maybe if he'd read me Taming of the
Shrew things would have gone better.


NaPoWriMo Day 25

The Mules Got High And Kept Saying "Leguizamo"

The Mules and I took a road trip
to see a couple of Shakespeare plays
in this outdoor amphitheatre. It was
cool. I would've liked it better if
the director contemped them up a bit...
you know, Claire Danes and Leo style.
But The Mules were happy with the
authentic costumes that the actors
rocked and the expert tone and phrasing.
I dug how Juliet arched her back amid
the throes of death. During intermission,
I noticed The Mules giggling. When I
asked them what the hell was up, they
showed me a sketch of a t-shirt they were
seriously going to silk screen. A picture
of Hermione on the front, and on the back:
"A Winner's Tail" with an arrow pointing
down. Nice, I thought to myself. Real nice.


NaPoWriMo Day 24

Getting The Mules Sometimes Depends On Which Translation You Use

I have to chew gum to keep from
grinding my teeth. It's like having
a small blue tongue slipped over
my real tongue. Like clothes are
a small body slipped over my real
body. But I don't wear clothes until
they disintegrate, so I'm not sure what
my deal is with the gum. Maybe
I'm overthinking this--Orbit is delicious,
and the flavor does last longer. It even
whitens my teeth--people can see
the difference. But I can't help noticing
that, despite the virtually blinding
gleam, The Mules have really been
pushing soft foods lately, like they are
trying to tell me something.


NaPoWriMo Day 23

The Mules Do Whatever It Takes

The lilac bush blooming at the bus stop
really brings me back to my childhood,
though I don't remember a lilac bush being
in my childhood. Maybe it is a childhood
that I wish could be conjured by such
a thing. I'd climb the ladder of a rusting
aluminum swing set to clip a few bunches
for my mother. She'd be putting a pie
together in the kitchen, and she'd call
out the window for me to be careful.
But in a tone that implied that one should
take certain risks in order to please one's
mother. The Mules, who were in the dog
house chewing on a rawhide bone, would be
going ape shit at the end of their chain
not two feet from my ass. To make it seem
all the more dangerous.


NaPoWriMo Day 22

The Mules Are Pro Choice

I like to play out a scenario where I'm
the father of Anna Nicole's baby.
We're in Nassau, and I'm craddling her
in my arms in some luxury suite.
The Mules are outside making sure
US Weekly can't get a shot until hair
and makeup arrives. They're good like
that. The car is on its way--we're headed
back to the States today. On the plane,
I whisper into Dannielynn's ear all the big
plans I have for us once the inheritance
comes through. I try to explain how hard
life is for most people, how easy it will be
for us. But where the daydream breaks
down is when I get to the part about
telling her what kind of person Mommy was,
why Mommy isn't here. What comes out
instead is how jealous I am of that lucky
son of a bitch Howard K Stern.


NaPoWriMo Day 21

The Mules Take My Hypochondria Seriously

I never clean my Nalgene bottle.
Like, ever. It makes me wonder about
my overall health. I've been feeling a little
stomachy lately. Despite appearances,
it's not my intention to die young. I used
to not worry about dying. But now I have
this sense of my own fragility, like my plane
is going to crash or I have secret tumors.
I don't like leaving the house. The Mules
bring me Life magazine so I can look at
the pictures, but I'm not sure it's working.


NaPoWriMo Day 20

The Mules Are In The Details

To work off some bad energy
I went on a solo hike up in the hills.
It had just stopped raining, and the
forest air was crisp. I was hoping
to see a moose or a bear lumbering
around, maybe reconnect with nature
a bit. It was either this or a meditation
class at the Y; I thought this would
be more manly. I ended up seeing
a few chipmunks, but that's about it.
I brought a pair of binoculars, and when
I looked across the valley, more trees,
just farther away. I kept scanning the
ridge--The Mules are indistinguishable
from elk at this distance.


NaPoWriMo Day 19

The Mules Know Less is More

I was having a nervous breakdown
about how I feel absolutely out of
control regarding just about every
aspect of my life. I called some
psychic hotline and blew a hundred
bucks getting my star chart read.
Which didn't help at all and ended up
making me feel even worse about
my financial situation. I'm now selling
my flatware on eBay. It's bad. I
blathered to the The Mules about it
until like 2am going on and on about
the war on terror and how many bad
choices I make, how I really need to
prioritize. I looked over and they were
working on a substantial puddle of drool.

NaPoWriMo Day 18

The Mules Prove Capitalism is Research-Based

I picked up a copy of Psychology Today
at the supermarket. The headline read:
EROTIC LOGIC. I doubt I would have
grabbed it otherwise. Turns out my brain
is pre-programmed to think women are
more into me than they actually are.
And that somehow this blurred reality
is a survival skill. Who knew. The Mules
made a collage while I took a nap, mixed
the text from the magazine with pics from my
Victoria's Secret catalog. They should win
the Nobel Prize.


NaPoWriMo Day 17

Sargent's Portrait of The Mules

A friend and I went to this Americans
in Paris exhibit at the art museum.
We stood in front of Madame X for half an
hour discussing her whiteness, how she
gripped the table she was leaning on so oddly,
how she couldn't stop staring at something
off-canvas. My friend was convinced that
she was watching her lover flirt with
the parlor maid--the guy in the next painting over
wearing a plush red robe. But I'd seen that
look before and only pretended to agree.


NaPoWriMo Day 16

The Mules Seal the Deal

I was out on a date at Papa Lucci's
and we ordered a nice bottle of red,
not that I know much about wine.
Things seemed to be going well--
she kept brushing her foot up against
mine under the table. Which, I have to
admit, was pretty hot. I hadn't been
with a woman for quite a while,
and I was definitely nervous. The door
to the kitchen swung open, and
The Mules ambled over to our table
playing violins. She was amazed how
dexterous they were with their hooves;
I couldn't get over the thin, well-manicured
mustaches they were wearing.

NaPoWriMo Day 15

Mules Against Drunk Driving (or M.A.D.D.)

I was out for a jog in the park. But since
I don't jog per se, and I was still
a little hung over, it was more of a
trot really. It was gorgeous out--the sky
a blue only a hangover could see,
and the clouds were moving easily overhead.
It felt like I was in a flying dream, the kind
where you benevolently swoop over rooftops
and baseball fields. I saw a mule-shaped
cloud and thought it would be fun to ride,
but when I put my leg in the stirrup,
I fell down hard onto the sidewalk.


NaPoWriMoDay 14

The Mules Were Eerily Absent That Summer Afternoon

I mowed my lawn like a Franz Kline painting.
When I asked my neighbor what she saw,
she climbed on her roof for a better view.
This was actually very thoughtful and more
than I was hoping for. I kind of wanted her
to dismiss it so I could feel culturally superior.
When she got up to her roof, she dropped a dead
bird down in the center of my lawn. There,
she said, now it looks like a Rauschenberg.
It was so moving that I was immediately
suspicious and snuck a peek up her skirt.
Not a mule part for miles. I was in love.


NaPoWriMo Day 13

The Mules Teach Us the True Meaning of Easter

I was eating one of the black
jelly beans and decided to check out
my tongue in the mirror. I looked
like a plague victim or a giraffe.
It made me feel natural
and important. The Mules kept
knocking on the bathroom door.
I remember being sad when it
dawned on me that I would have to
stop eating these things.


NaPoWriMo Day 12

The Mules Like What They See

I went into the park at night
and climbed a huge magnolia. I was
a little worried about a cop spotting me,
but figured I'd just get a talking to.
I could watch everyone below without
them knowing: a couple walking along
holding hands, a man throwing a tennis
ball for his dog. I could feel The Mules
watching over my shoulder. I don't know
who I was expecting to walk by
or what I hoped to accomplish, but
whatever it was, it wasn't happening.


NaPoWriMo Day 11

In My Fantasies, The Mules Can't Save Me

I watch this awesome show on the
Discovery Channel about crab fishermen
in the Beiring Sea--someone nearly dies
in every episode. I like to imagine myself
in that pitch-black ocean after getting knocked
off deck by an icy wave, bobbing in my orange
rubbers. All the sea creatures just beneath
my feet, my cronies tossing ropes
that never hit their target. My lungs would be
too cold to yell--the storm would be too
loud anyway. Nothing can swim well enough
to save me. I'm by myself on the surface,
just for a moment, before I sink.


NaPoWriMo Day 10

The Mules Give Surprisingly Thoughtful Gifts

For my birthday, The Mules gave me
a t-shirt that said My Legitimate across
the back. I never wore it in public--
just around the house or to bed. There were
toothpaste stains all down the front,
and it was usually covered in cat hair.
I made it clear that I hated it without actually
saying that I hated it. They never
seemed to mind, which made me hate it
even more. On New Year's Eve, home
alone, wearing the shirt, I watched
the ball drop and made a resolution to be
more emotionally available. And kept it.

Dan Boehl's WORK now available.

Go to Pavement Saw and buy it.

Grand Mal!, his collabs with the artist Jonathan Marshall, is also available here. You can read about it here.


NaPoWriMo Day 9

What The Mules Do In Vegas

I found a cheap ticket to Vegas.
Didn't even pack a bag, just left
straight from work where I'd been
tearing it up on-line. I checked into
the hotel that pretends to be Paris—
it's so real that The Mules were
confused and started hee-hawing
in their perfect dialect. We played
some poker, had tons of free drinks,
even came out on top. We rode the
Moulin Rouge rollercoaster like
five times. It was so much fun. And
you wouldn't believe what happened
back at the room, but I promised
The Mules I wouldn't tell a soul.


NaPoWriMo Day 8

The Mules' 1-Step Program

Sometimes I like to talk to the
town drunk. Maybe because the whiskey
on his breath makes me feel better
about myself. We take long walks
along the river front, and he
tells me how great his life used to be. How
every night before he goes to sleep, he
prays that he'll freeze to death
on some bench, but every morning
wakes to this incessant braying.


NaPoWriMo Day 7

At Least The Mules Look Good in Suits

I felt lonely and rode the subway
for hours, staring at myself
in the window. One of the ads above
read: Get Ready For The End
Of The World
. It was for some dumb
movie. The Mules were playing
Secrect Service agents, so I
already knew how it would end.


NaPoWriMo Day 6

Les Mulets Aident Nous Concentrer

I'm taking a French class
at the local center for adult ed.
The Mules spent a year in Lyon
and sit behind me conjugating être.
I doze off and dream of kissing
a Parisian woman at Sacre Coeur,
but The Mules wake me up before
I find out if she's wearing a bra.
I pretty much knew she wasn't
and tell them off in Pig Latin.


NaPoWriMo Day 5

The Mules Are Hung Like Mules

I bought a disco ball at the shop
next door that's perfect for my porno.
Once I figure out how to install it,
I'm going to put an ad in the paper
that reads: I want to fall in love
with you on film. I'm optimistic--
The Mules are in front of the mirror
practicing their money shot.


NaPoWriMo Day 4

The Mules Let Us Win

I left work early to make it
to my rec league basketball game.
My boss had been blaring John
Denver's "Cool An' Green An' Shady,"
and I was so ready to hit the court
and let off some steam. When I was
high-fiving the other team after our
satisfying victory, several of them,
instead of hands, had hooves.


Sawbuck 1.3

Poems by Bruce Covey, MTC Cronin, Julie Doxsee, Jason Fraley, Anne Heide, Melissa Pakalinsky, Terese Svoboda, Bronwen Tate, Jon Woodward, and me.

NaPoWriMo: Mule #3

The Mules Dance the Flamenco For Us

The bar is thick with Duende.
I step outside for some fresh air
and find a beautiful woman doing
the same. We can still hear the music,
and she asks me to dance. I don't
know how and light a cigarette instead.
Luckily, The Mules do a beautiful job.


NaPoWriMo: The first two Mules

I was out of town yesterday, so here are me and Sarah's collabs from yesterday and today:

The Mules Help Us Navigate The Night

The sky was a roller shade.
I pulled it down and walked right in.
Kept my eyes closed to maintain
the illusion of blue. But everything
I imagined was black. Even the stars
rearranged themselves like furniture.
I had to trust The Mules that the
feng shui was happening.
The Mules Help Us Live Forever

I was walking along the beach,
the surf up to my ankles,
when The Mules showed up to our
daily drowning. I wasn't in the mood
to be saved, but they insisted.
I'll drown tomorrow, I thought to myself
again. I'm pretty sure they heard me.