Ben Hersey

Excerpts from The Autograph of Steve Industry

Who was the last person went to the mall with you?
            Memba when all the malls were ranches? You’d be in Medford, it’s November and your sweatpants are tight and you have the elastic anklets pulled up to just under the knees and everything is bitter off the Mystic River and all that bitterness is making your face cave in, cave in, cave in like so much shattered stain glass so that your jaw is scaffolding against, like a, a Canadian goose’s idea of a scab? So you go in the mall all horny over fake-girls with maybe five bucks in your sock. Ranch days, baby. Shit changed after the Galleria started and the Square One and those other cathedrals up Rt 1.
            Every time I get to the mall, I’m there with everyone I’ve ever known. Nostalgia, the pelt. One time I saw Richard Simmons at the Galleria Mall. This was right around the time it opened. A lot of people were there and the light was both woodsy daybreak but also so urban neon. Just being there felt like it was WSBK-TV 38 Boston but higher, like when the future used to seem like a snake’s mouth gagged with frosting – that you had to walk through. He was screaming and glistening, a small mongrel far off, but from where I was I couldn’t understand a word. I remember being dressed in black and green vest, which was unusual for me. Earlier in the day, Marissa, a Goth girl I worked with (Sbarro’s) told me “green was my color…definitely.” Her voice was still vibrating in my chest. I was on the second level watching Richard Simmons motivate people on a platform in the distance. I had a job at the mall and I was on break. The feeling of being packaged into my own afterlife was strong and not really unpleasant. I wanted to cup a mannequin’s breast over the way I was feeling. My mind was still hard at work (I didn’t know it then) censoring my body. When the shutdown was made official, three months later, (my girlfriend, Tara, got pregnant) (abortion) I quit and didn’t go back there for a decade. Truthfully, no truthfully, the reason I stopped going to that mall back then was that I found myself going further and further up Rt. 1 to get to where I needed to go, to be who I needed to be.

Name three things you do every day:

1. All profits go to Dunkies. Slurp the battlefield mucus and the coffee sauce of the God-jet directly into my mouth and brain. Complete amputation. Gore.
2. The present complexity: highway falcon-owls fully committed to the parent debt of lost causes remain high up. Car insurance or enjoyment squirt? Blow out the particles of flavor at the trusted attendant. Drive off for hours.
3. A death experience during my afternoon pause. Place a scratch-ticket in the part of me that thinks and searches for phrases. Pluck the winner and blow.

What websites do you visit the most?

If you were a character in a horror movie, would you survive?
            Snakeskin masks at Pet Smart on the brain as I overheard the other day a guy on the 104 in Malden say “immateriality of the phalanx.” “Immateriality?” Are you serious? You have to be some serious kind of ass-wad to incorporate that kind of bullshit into your day-mare. Sealed ass-holes begging to take a shit, that’s what that is. That’s my horror plot.
            I think about killer’s being smarter than even having to use words like that (or any) but instead their words just are what a word means.
            What a murderer whispers into your dying ear: 
            “Doobie doobie do.”
            Or: “Sha-do da ding dong a ding a ling a lang. Sha-boomp ba bon, a ding a ling a lang.”
            Life is a cock-sucking dream. With regularity: me skipping school going to the Do-Wop Diner in Malden and eating the whole Ted Williams Grand Slam Breakfast.
            The voice of a murderer in every open and motioning mouth.
            A killer’s mouth with the voice of my grandmother’s even though the gloves the killer wore would belong to a goalie with a number one jersey and lighter pads. I’m irritable today.
            I just waited twelve days between the last sentence and this one. I paid special attention today to the misuse of verbs by the band at band practice. Gardenhose was tightening his bass drum and said he had dranken twelve beers last night. Looking back at this business of horror movies and killers, dying must be like that, the lick of illuminated aluminum, baby. Death is a cracked verb.

Were you afraid to go in the ocean after you saw Jaws?

            Eventually, I figured out that the bowling alley was a much better destination for lovers. I’ve loved many a woman candlepin bowler in weekend jeans. Saundra’s were acid-washed and showed off a couple of tight black-diamond butt-cheeks that made my lower back hurt. Hard to look like a strike machine lead singer when you got those power trips dancing to your left. I was crime-dog drunk and when I’m like that a woman’s energy goes triple-dimensional. Next thing I know she’s talking to me from within me: “I like the way you creak.” Sorry, what? “Your jacket. It creaks when you sit there. Good sound.” How she heard it, no idea, but it does not matter. Love had arrived. Lovers have to be in love when it’s time to love, no time for chitchat. I’m So Drunk is the ultimate love song. To Saundra, from Steve:

Animal candy,
Sugar basted – cookies,
There’s a ghost - at the bar (I always point to myself when I sing that)
And I’m trying -- too hard!

I’m so drunk!
I’m so drunk!
I’m so drunk!


Good enough for her,
she just left – with a beer stain on her shirt.
Double entendre
Her name was Saundra. (Depending on where we are – I point the mic at the crowd here)
Have I see myself – since yesterday?

I’m so drunk!
I’m so drunk!
I’m so drunk!


I love you baby!   

Ben Hersey is a writer and performance artist living in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. He will be on tour with Heather Christle in late February/early March of 2012.

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