Friday, January 31, 2014


                   Acts of Love   

            The sky cracks open, sooty and loud and wet.  Marty, our wiener dog, goes nuts, spins in circles and the only means of stopping him is to tackle the critter and hold him tight, like a vest bomb. 
“You’ll crush him that way,” my wife says.  Marty is panting and his moist black eyes bug out, but then, I tell myself, they’re always bulging.
            We’re supposed to be talking about us.  That was the plan before so much thunder and lightning ripped through our spackled city.
            I got my wife this condo because she wanted a place with lots of windows.  She claimed she had nothing to hide.  Now, there’s violence outside every pane.
            When I ask if she wants to start first, she counters by saying, “I thought men didn’t like to share their feelings?”
            “I guess I’m different.”
            “I guess you are,” my wife says.
            A twisted branch of lightning strikes the window, glowing radioactive through a sheer blind.  I remember my wife’s negligee being that see-through, the outfit she wore a few months after our honeymoon when she said she’d be sure to keep things interesting, when she promised we’d never grow bored.
            Glass clanks over at the cupboard above the sink.  My wife’s become an efficient drinker, takes her scotch neat, no ice.  Only needs a tumbler.  If I weren’t around, she might not even use that.
            Marty’s gum-colored tongue laps my chin.  It’s like that time a friend sent me a YouTube video of a beheading overseas, and an anxious wave of nausea rippled through my gut and I spewed a wild, toxic stream but had the wits to turn the video off and hit delete before the sword was lifted.
            She raises her glass to her chin and it seems I can see vapors like heat shimmers from the pavement misting her skin, but that’s impossible and I know it’s just the effects of nervousness I’m feeling, that and this rattling storm.
            I can hear the choppy gulps as she swallows even though she’s trying to be subtle and make herself out to be a judicious drinker.  I could point out that it’s only 11 am on a Saturday morning, but I don’t.  Push my wife just a little, and she becomes a runaway.
            “Okay,” she says, slumping down in the egg-shaped chair opposite me, “what do you want to know?”
            It’s a gut punch to find us here, in this gutter, playing games after so many years.
            “Maybe you could start by telling me when you first fell in love with him.”
            She snorts a twig of laughter through her nose.  “Don’t be an idiot,” she says.  “It was an affair.  I’ve never loved him.”
            Lightning nests my wife’s hair in the window, forming an electrified crown of thorns.  Wind smears the glass with rain tears.  “If you want to end it,” my wife tells me, “just say so.”
            Now who’s being an idiot?  Everything I am and everything I’ve ever cared about is stitched into that woman, and I knew from the beginning that I’d have to teach her how to love completely and selflessly.  I knew there’d be crashes and destruction.
            She flaps her hand.  “You can keep Marty,” she says.  She lets the last topaz pearl splash onto her tongue.  “I think I’m becoming allergic anyway.”
            I lean forward.  I take in oxygen so it falls all the way in. 
I tell her she’s a coward.  I say my words softly, without nuance or inflection.  I tell her she always wants the painless route out.  I say, “If you think I’m letting you off this easy, you’ve got another thing coming.”
            She’s up and across the room in a flash.  I hear the drawers screeching open, clothes hangers clanging off a metal rod as she packs.
            I put Marty in the closet and lock the door because he’s seen enough.

            Under the sink, by the cleaning solvents is where I put the rope and duct tape and Taser I bought for this occasion.  I know I’m about to cross a line, yet I tell myself it’s worth it, that this is unavoidable, just another act of love, necessary but not at all desperate.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


…I did a podcast interview/reading on Bud Smith’s Unknown Radio Show yesterday.  Bud is a great guy and hails from Brooklyn.  I’ll finally be meeting him next month at AWP, which is held here in Seattle this year.  AWP is a big writer’s conference (10,000 writers attend), mostly indie writers and poets.

Anyway, the podcast did not go so well.  I was terrible.  Got nervous.  Don’t know why.  It was over the phone.  Maybe I need to read to actual faces.  I have to get a lot better.

…I did the shameless plug for my upcoming story collection on Facebook yesterday.  A few people said I shouldn’t be worried about promoting myself, but it does feel rather self-indulgent.  I’m going to do it here, however, so maybe it won’t be such a worry after I’ve done it a few times.

The book is 120 pages, 54 stories, 90 percent of them less than 500 words.  I thought I’d sell a lot more copies than I’m currently selling.

Today I have to complete an interview for Connotation Press, the publishers of my book who are kind enough to have me as their featured writer for their online magazine this month.  I’m really lucky to know Meg and Ken.  They’re great people.

Oh, and here’s the pre-order link for my book, if you’re interested, and thanks so much if you are!

Monday, January 27, 2014


…It’s Monday and it definitely feels like it.

…Did you watch the Grammy’s?  I did, for the first time in years.  It’s certainly more interesting having lots of performances and cutting down the time for acceptance speeches.  Still, it seems like there’s a lot of mediocre music out there.

…I’m reading “Tell The Wolves I’m Home.”  It’s quite good.  I’m learning some things.
…Some inspirations I like to start the week are these:

-“Some days I feel like my shadow’s casting me.”  Warren Zevon

-“Laughter is the language of the Gods.” - Buddhist saying

-The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why at age 90 he continued to practice, to which he said, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

-“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E.B. White

-“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”- Beverly Sills

-"I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."- Leo C. Rosten

-"Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's the dealing with it."- Randall 'Tex' Cobb

-“The great thing and the hard thing is to stick to things when you have outlived the first interest, and not yet got the second, which comes with a sort of mastery.” - Janet Erskine Stuart

-The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”  - Sarah Ban Breathnack

-"Responsibility to yourself means that you don't fall for shallow and easy solutions--predigested books and ideas...marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short...and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be "different"...The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.” –Adrienne Rich

-“It is a good thing to be rich, it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends.” -Euripides

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

"I don't see why we ever think of what others think of what we do – no matter who they are. Isn't it enough just to express yourself?" Georgia O'Keefe

Friday, January 24, 2014


I Call Your Name

I search for you
in garden soil
the color of coffee beans,
where it’s sandy in places,
clay-like in others.
I use my bare hands,
careful not to cut you with a spade or hoe.
I free worms from their squiggly fetal positions.
There are rocks and bigger rocks,
a swath of petrified electrical tape,
the arm of a G.I. Joe,
something that might once have been a wrist watch.

I dig for hours
until my scalp is scalded and my shirt is a damp sheet that reeks.
I hum your favorite Dylan tune as I scrape and carve away clumps of dirt,
my fingernails cracked and bleeding.
I call your name.
I sing it.
I use your name and tell you how wonderful you are and always will be.
I use your name and say it’s not your fault about what happened.
I use your name the way some people use pillows, baths or comfort food,
and I use it selfishly, just as the broken must when medicating in mourning.

By nightfall
I’m sore and too exhausted to move anymore.
Breathing hurts.
A headache burrows through my right ear
while my bones scream at me for my foolishness,
because I knew I wouldn’t find you here,
not here
or even in a casket somewhere.
When they brought you back from the war
you were only medals and army gear,
a bundle of the photographs you’d taken along
 and a few well-read letters.
They said the explosion was massive,
that the fire engulfing you had been a monster to put out.
They said how sorry they were for my loss.

Now I weep for you under a milk-blue moon.
I call your name,
then I don’t.
Instead I shout a father’s cry, “Son!  Son, I miss you so much!”
I yell it over and over,
praying you can hear me and
that heaven is real after all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


...If I never hear "Brave" or "Roar" again in my life, that will be a good thing.
...Here's something I wrote a while back:

                                                           Abundant Sunshine

            There was something wrong with the baby.  Sunlight could kill it.  My wife blamed herself, thinking it was payback from all the drugs she took in college.  When I said, “That’s crazy talk,” she reached up and slapped me.
            The baby had my nose already, but her forehead.  It looked like a normal newborn, squished and rashy. 
            Doctors said it was an extremely rare condition.  One said there were ways around it.  Another, “Things could be worse.”
            The baby’s mother and I fought about how to proceed, fought so much that we didn’t seem married anymore.
            And then we weren’t.
            Whenever I visited after that, there were always other women in the house.  They wore old-fashioned capes and matching bonnets, never smiled or spoke.
            My wife thought the child possessed, maybe even a vampire.  Canisters with burning incense tossed off a bonfire smell.
            I hired a lawyer.  I called the county.  They all said the same thing—everyone rears a child differently.
            So I gave up, made her happy, and moved to a country near the equator.  I found a new woman and got married.  Every day of the year we have sun, abundant sunshine, but no kids. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


…Was your  weekend a chilly one like mine?  Yikes, it’s cold out.

…Since it’s the start to a new week, let’s learn some random things:

-People watched  1 billion movie trailers on YouTube for the first three quarters of 2013.
The first movie trailer was for “The Pleasure Seekers” in 1913

-Top Five Restaurant Chains in Billions of $’s:
#1 McDonald’s  $35.6
#2 Subway  $12.1
#3 Starbucks  $10.6
#4 Wendy’s  $8.6
#5 Burger King  $8.5

-In 1964, four in ten adults in the US smoked; today fewer than two in ten do.

-Last week a former Miss Venezuela and her husband were murdered by robbers and their five year old daughter was shot in the leg when the robbers placed spiked in the mountain road, slashing their car tires.
Last year in Venezuela, 24, 800 murders occurred in a population of 29 million.
By contrast, the US has 14,600 murders in a population of 316 million.
Arrests are made in only eight of every 100 homicides committed in Venezuela.  More than 60% of victims are shot five or more times.

-45 million photographs are uploaded to Instagram every day.

-There are almost 48,000 Afghan and Iraq vets that are homeless

-“The Wolf Of Wall Street” broke the record for most F-bombs in a movie with 506.”

….This is some advice I need to reminded of quite often:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live a life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”- Henry David Thoreau

Friday, January 17, 2014


…Still reeling a bit about my book release.  Is that okay?  I’m very excited.

…Watched the first episode of “Shameless” last night.  It has a different vibe, but it’s still great.  Also re-watched the first few episodes of “American Horror Story” with my son, who has never seen it, and I realized just how brilliant that show is.

…Here are some funny and interesting things my Facebook friends had to say of late:

-Slip the panties right to the side, ain't got the time to take drawers off.

If you and I have never slept together, and you'd like to fuck me while I'm still in my twenties, now's the time to try. I turn thirty in 17 days, and I'll never be twenty-something again, so like, what are you waiting for? I'm not promising anything, because these days I am way more into turning down sex than having it, but taking me to dinner and a movie, or perhaps buying me a nice outfit, would really help your chances. A movie + dinner + an outfit = an (almost guaranteed) kiss on the cheek and a really long hug, or, at the very least, a high five and a ruffle of the hair (yours or mine, top of the head hair only).
PM me or post below. I am open to negotiation. Pitch your woo.

-Just went to an emotional wedding. Even the cake was in tiers.
-Best quote of the week...."hey mom, do you want to smell my armpits? " (enthusiastically running downstairs after applying mom's deodorant)

-I wish I could be one of those oblivious people. U know, the ones that pull up in car line to let their kids out, the kid isn't ready and takes about 5 min to get out of the damn car meanwhile the rest of us r waiting behind Miss Oblivious who is sitting there w that stupid sweet smile looking at her stupid sweet child who is still zipping their school bag cuz they obviously had no idea they had to get out of the car to get into the school.I'd love to b that oblivious with th...e sweet smile on my face and have that child who believes the world waits for them. I'd have less stress, less wrinkles, my kids wud probably like me more and I'd probably be a much more pleasant person. But I'm not. I'm the deranged woman behind u doing everything I can not to lay on my horn or jump out of my car, grab ur hair and smack that stupid smile off of ur oblivious face because its hard enough to get my kids to school b4 the damn bell rings and u r taking up precious minutes smiling at ur stupid disorganized kid. Yeah, I'm that person.

-TA literally just asked, "What about the Holocaust bothers you?"

-So as he awoke this morning, I asked my husband if he had seen my post on Facebook. Drily, he replied, "No. I de-friended you."

-MANSPLAIN 101: When man sees woman carrying STROLLER up the stairs in subway and instead of offering to help her (she seemed to need assistance) he said, "the elevator is behind you." I helped her, and then told him to suck all my dicks.

-dating advice i have learned so you don't have to:

-if a guy tells you that he gets off from being sat on and does not do penetrative sex, leave his apartment immediately
-if a guy tells you he has been arrested eight times, do not let him move into your dorm
-if a guy either brings you a bottle of port or does butt workouts to old jane fonda tapes, he is gay. i don't like to make broad statements regarding sexuality, but in this case, i am correct.
-do not kiss people you used to have feeling for.  I have done this three times.  It only leads to confusion.
-if a guy plays, “heard it through the grapevine,” he is planning to get back with his ex.
-do not sleep with someone who has outright told he has done meth.  He is not jesse pinkman.  You can tell yourself his is, but is not.  I repeat, HE IS NOT JESSE PINKMAN.

-do not have unprotected sex with a guy who is missing a very important tooth and/or tells you he has done heroin in thailand and/or has a tattoo of an umbrella on his back.  If one person has all these qualities, then congratulations, we’ve both made the same bad decision.-do not kiss people you used to have feelings for. i have done this three times. it only leads to confusion.
-if a guy plays you "i heard it through the grapevine," he is planning to get back with his ex
-do not sleep with someone who has outright told you that he has done meth. he is not jesse pinkman. you can tell yourself that he's jesse-do not kiss people you used to have feelings for. i have done this three times. it only leads to confusion.
-if a guy plays you "i heard it through the grapevine," he is planning to get back with his ex
-do not sleep with someone who has outright told you that he has done meth. he is not jesse pinkman. you can tell yourself that he's jesse pinkman, but i repeat, HE IS NOT JESSE PINKMAN
-the only person the "but he's in a baaand" excuse works for is mick jagger-do not kiss people you used to have feelings for. i have done this three times. it only leads to confusion.
-if a guy plays you "i heard it through the grapevine," he is planning to get back with his ex
-do not sleep with someone who has outright told you that he has done meth. he is not jesse pinkman. you can tell yourself that he's jesse pinkman, but i repeat, HE IS NOT JESSE PINKMAN
-the only person the "but he's in a baaand" excuse works for is mick jagger

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


…Here’s a link to pre-order my book, if you’re so inclined, and if you do, you’ll move way up on my Favorite Persons list:

…Some writers I really admire said some nice things about the collection.  I hope they weren’t just being nice:
"Len Kuntz can do with five words what other writers can't do with fifty. Urgent and electric, his writing pulls you so close you feel it humming against your naked skin."
-Mel Bosworth, author of the novel FREIGHT

“Len Kuntz's flash fiction is everything flash fiction should aspire to be -- surreal, macabre, humorous, and never anything less than totally alive.”
-Howie Good, author of The Complete Absence of Twilight and other books

“Len Kuntz skewers the surreal or mundane of effective storytelling. He masters this through uncanny short prose by compressing emotion for heightened, maximum effect. He eschews excess; the stories don’t need it. His words, precise as a knife blade, are original and excruciating. Kuntz never loses sight of overarching mysteries. He accomplishes more in three pages than most writers will with three hundred.”
-Robert Vaughan, author of Addicts & Basements

“Len Kuntz is a master of efficiency. In his debut collection, the characters come alive and then come undone in the space of a few hundred words. Every few pages reveals a new world with new heroes, new villains, and new heartache, and Len's careful, tumbling sentences will pull you into each one. The stories in this collection are wounds: raw and shining.” 
-Aubrey Hirsch, author of WHY WE NEVER TALK ABOUT SUGAR

"Kuntz is a writer who grips his readers and shakes them to their core. The Dark Sunshine digs deep. Each story rattles with raw emotion, unearthing dark recesses of truth and beauty. A stunning debut."

-Deborah Henry, author of The Whipping Club, selected for O Magazine July Summer Reading Issue and named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012

Monday, January 13, 2014


Slow Down

My feet were so small then,
little squirrel paws or beach bird claws,
frail as star burst,       
yet I would trail after you nonetheless,
shouting for you to stop, to slow down,
hoping you might wonder why.

Later on
my toes grew but
my feet stayed small,
baby feet really,
no bigger than rearview mirror fuzzy dice
yet still not enough to catch you.
On occasion a boyfriend might notice
and then grin wide and leaky black
and my skin would shrivel
remembering how you’d outrun me—
your fast escaping love.

Now my feet are levitated.
Earlier they were swollen.
I’m not sure how you’ll see this, but
in a moment that door will open and they’ll bring in a needle
and, soon after, hack my legs off above the ankles.
I have to imagine you’ll be relieved,
yet my imagination’s let me down before.

What I’ll do, though, is first thing when I’m wake I’ll yodel.
I’ll call out, “Ollie Ollie All-in-free!”
And hopefully you’ll hear me.

Some of the Things That Frighten Me

Satan and dentists and clowns.
My mother’s cat claw fingernails and the grime beneath Father’s.
Snakes and rats and old people’s blue-veined hands.

Now it is
mornings and Wallingford, our calico, staring at me as if I’m an axe murder.
The unmade bed, warm on one side,
the sheets tangled up with nothing.
The bed.
The bed.
The big unmade bed.


Rainy day chores,
the sky bleak as a Carver poem,
a McCarthy novel,
and I am sent to the root cellar for jarred peaches.
Pop is in Medical Lake fixing a broke down Peterbuilt
and I’m wearing his too-big overalls that smell of grease and piss and are clownish on me.
In the dark, surrounded by dirt and jar upon jar of canned peaches,
I reach into the pockets,
one side soft and lacy, the other slick and smooth.
I flick a switch and lift them to the light,
underwear and flask,
my father’s lonesome diary.

The Prophecy of Superstition

Step on a crack,
spilled salt,
an owl at daytime—
That a boy so young could be so superstitious was something.
“Keep on like that and you’ll end up in the nut house,” Mother would tell me.

down-sized since March,
single again,
I sit on the edge of this mattress
with all the time in the world on my hands,
lonely as a cave
but validated nonetheless.

Friday, January 10, 2014


…Good news!  I signed my second book contract just now.  It’s another story collection called, “The Dark Sunshine” and will be coming out from Connotation Press next month.  Yeah, next month.
For the longest time, I thought this project was dead in the water and then all of a sudden everything took off and exploded.
I’m very excited.  Please do me a huge favor and be excited with me, for me.
Tomorrow I’m going to let everyone in the world know about it.
So now I start worrying about…
Will anyone read it, buy it?  How much does it matter?  (A friend told me 80% of all story collections sell less than 100 copies.  Yikes!)
How should I “market” it?
What’s the fine line between talking about the book and bragging about it, getting on people’s nerves?
…all that sort of thing is worrisome to me.
Ultimately, the way I’m going to look at is like this:  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a nine year old boy.  I’m something of a writer now, finally, after all these years.  I get to do it full-time.  I’m lucky enough not to have to worry about making a living on the side.  I’m lucky enough to be part of a writing community, both locally and online.  I’ve had a ton of encouragement and support.
I’m just very, very lucky and right now I’m very glad.

…”Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing, the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude to any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way.”- Viktor Frankl, Nazi concentration camp survivor

Wednesday, January 8, 2014



…I’m almost finished reading Tim O’Brien’s essay collection, “If I Die In A Combat Zone” about his time in Viet Nam.  It’s riveting and revolting and beautifully written.  Makes a person despise war even more than they would have before.  I wish I could write as well as Tim O’Brien.

…I’ve had a run of bad luck to start the year.  Some of it is my own fault, some not.  I’m hoping for a turnaround any day now.

…My mother’s been dead two years now, but I think of her often.  I feel quite distanced from her.  In her final years I rarely saw her.  When I did, it was always a game of acting—attempts to paint normal across the black past, the crimes and misdemeanors, the tortures both physical and mental.
It seems to me that it’s pretty hard to hate a child.  Especially your own.  It would be very difficult to hurt a child, especially your own.  The only rationale for such a thing would have to be mental illness, which is what I assume my mother had during those dark years.  Believing this allows me compartmentalize the experiences, to keep them contained in a place far away.
I don’t really know why I’m thinking of her now, or what trigger my thoughts.  Must have been something. 
Did I love my mother?  I suppose so.  Your duty is to love your parent, despite everything. 
One of the things I found odd was how differently she turned out as she aged.  Gone was the paranoia and suspicion, the lurking anger, the treachery.  So if it left her, or if she kept it in check, was she really mentally ill after all?  Of course, I’ll never know.  But that’s some of what I’ve been wondering.
Parenting your children, teaching them well, setting a great example—those are the most important things one can do.  Holding in check “the sins of the father” is key as well.
Someone suggested I write a memoir about my family growing up, but I find that idea impossible.  Most of the stories I write have blades of truth in them, and that’s why my characters are always getting wounded.  As I’ve said before, I just don’t know how to write a happy story.
So that was a bit of a rant and now I’m done.  I promise not to be so maudlin in the future.

Let’s us have a great day, what do you say?

Monday, January 6, 2014


…It’s pretty frigid in most parts of the country.  Hard to fathom being homeless.  What a cruel torture that would be.  This year one of my resolutions is to complain less and be more grateful for everything I have.

…How are you?  No, how are you really?

…Here are a few things I’ve learned  that are sort of interesting:

According to Forbes, last year's biggest musical acts in terms of earning for 2013 were these:
#6 Justin Bieber -- $58 million
#5 Coldplay -- $64 million
#4 Toby Keith -- $65 million
#3 Bon Jovi -- $79 million
#2 Lady Gaga -- $80
#1 Madonna -- $125 million

Top 5 countries of origin for international students in the US:
#5 Canada -- 27,000
#4 Saudi Arabia -- 45,000
#3 South Korea -- 71,000
#2 India --97,000
#1 China -- 236,000

2013 Top Baby Girl Names:
1. Sophia
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Isabella
5. Mia
6. Ava
7. Lily
8. Zoe
9. Emily
10. Chloe

Boy Names:

1. Jackson
2. Aiden
3. Liam
4. Lucas
5. Noah
6. Mason
7. Jayden
8. Ethan
9. Jacob

10. Jack