New Suburban Lit


This morning, as I started my car, I had the strange feeling that I had forgotten how to drive.

As I approached an intersection, someone honked their horn and yelled at me, "Hey asshole, did you forget how to drive?"


I was watching a game show on the Spanish channel. People had to race to a microphone and then sing a karaoke song. Then someone had a bunch of crap poured on their head.


I was at a party with my wife and some friends. We were on an outdoor patio and there was a gathering of snakes on the hillside just underneath the patio. We leaned over the railing and watched the snakes slither against each other as we drank. We chatted and laughed at each other's jokes. Every few minutes we would get silent and watch the snakes. We began to realize there were too many snakes.


While watching a true crime show on television the other night, I heard the announcer say that one dangerous man had killed four people in six months. I quickly found myself thinking: I could kill more people than that in six months.


Random profanity has always pleased me. Once, in the city, when I was walking to work, someone came up to me and said: "You are the unslickest motherfucker I have ever seen." Then he calmly crossed the street while flipping off all the cars. It made my day glow with a happy tint.

We had some people over to the house recently and I couldn't stop saying that. "You are the unslickest motherfucker I have ever seen." Everyone was gone before dessert.


They say the house around the corner from ours is a crack house or a speed house. But don't they always?

I wanted to say hello, slightly high on the feeling of being "the new folks". A slow young girl answered the door and asked me to help her with her Spanish homework. I don't know Spanish but I went in anyway, out of curiosity more than anything else. I helped her with two of the easy words but floundered when I could only count to six. She offered me a Mountain Dew. I noticed the fridge was nearly empty.


I had a dream that I became really concerned about smells. I started to buy air freshener spray for the bathroom and incense for the living room. My wife would smoke pot and I would spray lemon water on the couch when she wasn't looking. I looked in the mirror and noticed that I had Michael Jackson's new nose.


I don't let my son play with the other neighbor kids. One of them always has a cast. I believe the ten-year-old twins across the street smoke cloves.

My son is still innocent. He calls his penis his "private." Sometimes we play baseball in our front yard. His goal is to someday break someone's window with a home run.

- - -

A Doggy Bag

I'm sorry, a what?

Doggy bag?

Like, a bag to give to your doggy?

To PUT your FOOD IN?

What do you do? Open the bag and let your dog poke his nose inside and eat the left-overs? Wouldn't a box be easier?

Or do you actually stick your hand into the bag and lift the food out with your fingers? This dog, you let him eat out of your hand?

What if he becomes too excited and bites one of your fingers off? You would have to get a rabies shot and cut the dog open to get your finger back. You would have to push aside all the guts and slop through your discarded spaghetti and meatballs. You'd have to locate the missing digit among all the mess and wash it in the sink with soap and hot water. With your OTHER HAND! You may have to ask your neighbor to do it if you are bleeding too much. But will you be able to even operate a telephone?

Or do you take the bag home and turn it upside-down, emptying the unwanted food into the dog's dish.

Do you take your hand and mix in the people food with the dog's Kibbles-n-Bits, so the mutt doesn't notice?

Do you give it to your dog at all? Or does it sit in the refrigerator for three weeks before you throw it in your garbage?

Do you know what happens at night when you sleep and drool all over your pillow while dreaming of the girl who works at the feminist bookstore, who wears shirts that stop right above the belly button, who never waves back at you when you walk by her store window, who once let out a loud sigh when you introduced yourself at the neighborhood cafe, who you imagine could tune up your car in the afternoon and still make you orgasm twice that evening, who once you saw petting your dog when he escaped and you fantasized for a moment that you were the dog, on all fours, tongue lunging in and out of your slobbery mouth, your tail wagging back and forth like a metronome to a speed metal song, your little dog thang sneaking out of its cocoon all pink and passive.

You dream she lets you lick her hand, then her face. She bends down and you put your paws on her shoulders, balancing your dog body carefully. She picks you up, her hand gently on your canine ass, and carries you into her apartment. The dream suddenly shifts here and you are falling down an elevator shaft wearing a Boston Celtic uniform and an afro wig...

And what happens while you are dreaming this?

Your dog goes from alley to alley, brooding silently and fondling small cats and passed-out drunks legs, shitting on his dog enemy's porch, knocking over FOR SALE signs, and begging for food at the 7-11 before finally returning to his master's domain to attack the garbage can, tearing it to shreds, frothing insanely now, growling lowly in the pit of its stomach, hungry for the bag, the bag he saw you come home with three weeks ago and half-heartedly throw into the refridgerator, a bag that was clearly marked DOGGY BAG and even had an illustration of a little red dog on it.

He finds it. The food doesn't taste good anymore. It tastes like the inside of an icebox, complete with mold. He wonders why you torture him. He tells himself you make him do this, you make him into a vicious hateful beast. You make him rape, pillage, and beg.

It's your fault. You should have thought about your actions, these subtle things you take for granted.

While you sleep in your own spit, he thinks about killing. He will do it soon enough.

About the author:

Kevin Sampsell is a writer, small press publisher (, and bookstore employee ( in Portland, Oregon. In the past year he has been published in 3rd Bed, Bridge, and Little Engines. He was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Firecracker award (for his chapbook, Etiquette For Evil). His new book is called A Common Pornography.