Death Of A Pseudonym
THOMAS AND THE MANY-HEADED SELF
A pair of shed antlers rests immortally on a hollow shelf in the corner of my stairwell. Beside it stands a black regal model of a pirate ship, about twice the height of the antlers, with Pirate Ship engraved on the small plaque at its base.
Placidly I stare at this too conspicuous layout before me.
I think about how everything is transient, everything second to the sea and yet of the sea. The moose and the deer and the elk, the architects, the silent custodians and the wood work, the insiders and the outsiders — no matter how you cut it, all that is correlates unfailingly to the mysteries of water.
My physician asked me, what is my single favorite work of art.
I said water.
No work of art is ever completed. Even after death, or dormancy, art is the culprit of our thirsty haunted lives. Peeled skin that falls to the ground is no different than shed antlers or the declining sinews of a rugged brig, its sails forming new superposition as the ages blow around it. The antlers were once borne across yellowed fields by a vital frame, later belied their carrion, and exist now as naked bone whose face perpetually mutates beneath that curious mix of sun and shadow cast by the miniature ship close-by. All of these are works of art. I could watch the interplay of light, transfixed, and learn that even though time may be measured by hand, it too has legs.
And I, like all human beings, am full of shit.
As such, a little over a year ago, when I realized I wanted to take writing more seriously, I invented a pseudonym that would allow me to hide from the world. I saw in my birth name inadequacy, lusterless contour. I wanted to rewrite myself, locate the point at which my roots were cut and from there build an inextinguishable beacon for elevating my wild notions. The elusive family away from home might take notice, and I would never again in life have to reveal my untetheredness. Little did I know, hiding was no solution, and this shape-shifting entity that had brought about my displacement was not the problem. The problem was I had not yet delved deep enough inwardly to be able to articulate the reasons for my ingrained self-aversion.
No more of that.
An addict of organized chaos, I have felt the urge to gather those few published poems and stories that will forever be associated with the name “Thomas L. Winters” — a self-made nobody. These are the outpourings of a soul half-comfortable with presenting itself to the public; honest in its secretive work but not in the authorship of that work. My name now reflects who I was when I was wrenched into the open world, as I traveled from the seabed to the sea’s surface, from the root to the vivid blade. In truth, I remain a nobody and I like to think that that is precisely the reason I am capable of being anybody.
Organized chaos. Antitheses blurred.
Maybe all we are indeed is nameless dust in some imperceptible wind, all of us one great swath of nobodies, and, from this conjecture, it stands to reason that uploading my inchoate writings to cyberspace is certainly futile, but consider also that nothingness weighs, counts for something. When I meditate diligently I see the value in committing a piece of my nothingness to the vastness outside of myself, even if in the end that nothingness amounts only to dust, or the butterscotch sea foam that collects round the legs of a warped jetty. Or compost, or cog in tomorrow’s mad cultural breakthrough. If Mother Nature is our true parent, then perhaps the greatest statement any of us can hope to make is rejoining her in the eternal guardianship of mood, acquiescing to her dignified rumbles and laying ourselves bare for the fury-to-come.
Here lies a past self, an ego, a pixel in the mold…
Around this time last year, my first proofed short story became my first-ever published piece of writing, in Grotesque Quarterly’s second issue. I like to refer to this short as psychological horror in which the mundane becomes perverse. I remember my goal having been to create an unreliable narrator who was absurdly meticulous in his observations, and while I think I managed the absurdity I also ended up publishing something that meandered too often into non-narrative territory bogged down by an excess d’adjectif. Although I’m not as fond of Where Has My Mother Gone? as I was when I wrote it, here are a few choice excerpts:
I‘m not coulrophobic, which is probably why I enjoy this cover so much:
Buy Grotesque Vol. 1 Issue 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36340728-grotesque
Thomas L. Winters has a pome in a San Francisco-based zine. The title of the short indented piece derives from the name of a small town in Nova Scotia.
My golden retriever Bella died in mid-December of last year. A couple weeks or so before her passing, I penned an emotional poem that came to me as I stood by her in my yard during the winter night, supervising her safe return indoors. At that point her bones had gone brittle, and her hind leg was nearly devoid of ligament. Caring for an invalid and beloved animal is an experience you must endure to truly understand the peculiar sort of melancholy that sweeps your perception as a result of it. In all honesty I don’t enjoy revisiting this poem.
December Bella has also appeared more recently online: https://issuu.com/riggwelter/docs/issue_13/8
As the previous poem might suggest, I am quite familiar with the wintertime and its indifference to humanity’s survival instinct. Growing up in Canada, for a period each year of my life thus far I’ve reveled (or at least tried to revel) in long and often excruciating winters. (Could I have been more cathartic in choosing “Winters” for a pen name?) The relationship I have with the snowy season is one of predictable vacillation — I grow contempt for it after a month or two, and once the summer grips the country the demoralizing nostalgia kicks in. The following poem’s refrain is meant to be harshly provocative not for the sake of it, but to illustrate the truth that there is nothing quite like the uniquely barren dead of a Canadian blizzard’s aftermath at sunrise. Especially when you’re faced with no choice but to leave the house.
Read You Know Nothing in full online: https://sandyriverreview.com/2017/12/12/you-know-nothing/
The Sandy River Review 2018 Annual (pictured above): https://issuu.com/sandyriverreview/docs/srr_2018_color_issuu
The only comic script Thomas ever wrote resulted in a two-page psychedelic science fiction-and-horror tale, which had been intended to be developed into a graphic novel somewhere down the line—an expansion that never came to fruition. Illustrated by one Felix Behr, Freeze is positively handcrafted, confounding, and, characteristic of Thomas’s writing style, an attempt to seamlessly blend strangeness and minimalism, often with rough results.
This “75-word story” started out as a short story concept but I lacked the motivation to take it over a few hundred words. I adapted what I had into something of a vignette about two mysterious anarchistic characters who sport designer shoes and may or may not be imperishable.
Memoir Mixtapes is a diverse magazine focused on publishing autobiographical works concerned with the human being’s greatest spiritual ally — music. Thomas L. Winters has a pome in their third volume that is part and parcel with his love for hedonistic punk rock, and, equally, his inebriated travails, which are more of a sharp learning curve than anything.
Read On “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop in full online: https://memoirmixtapes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/27-Thomas-L-Winters.pdf
Cadaverous publishes horror-themed literature. Having always been fascinated by the dim and supernatural underpasses of the heart, I gathered a few of my more pronounced cellar dwellers cobwebbed coffin rustlings (or approaching such ilk) and sent them wherever they might be accepted. Below are two of those pieces, and a “six-word story” about one of Nature’s many fine creatures the pumpkin to boot.
In Corvus Review lies one smoky reverie in which the old boy Winters is the outcast observer passing no judgment on a room full of contradictions & Ugly Beauticians (Beautiful Uglies?). Being the hopeless perfectionist that he is, T. W. could not help but notice a syntactical error: “exchange between” should be “exchange of.” But nobody’s really paying attention.
Typically I avoid rhyming when I write poetry, but deep down there is a place in my heart for the art of the rhymed lyric, and sometimes it manifests when I least expect it. One of my earliest poems was such a manifestation. I was thinking about bad dreams and oracles, how sometimes my dreams feel realer than my wakeful reality, the sensation that I am being inducted deeper than I thought possible into what I can only describe as a slab of an absurd and very much alive superdensity. On one occasion this stuff took shape in the conception of the “Space Witch,” a dark matriarchal celestial being whom I know nothing about other than that she operates within the dream realm (singular dream inside a collective dream?). In moments like this I wonder whether the poem does not choose its own form and direction, and I am simply its accessory guide and sculptor, the hand by which its spirit is styled into temporal existence. The composition of the following piece advanced like a swelling orb a cosmic blaze I must purge in order to breathe easy.
Listen to a reading of Space Witch, Thief of Dreams by Lucas Webley: http://twocitiesreview.com/2018/09/from-issue-19-space-witch-thief-of-dreams/
Lastly, a variation of something I wrote on a since-scrapped page from a notebook:
We are collective consciousness, dispersed out of its crown an unremitting flow of disparate consciousnesses, oblivious, by and large, to the exponential collaborative order that binds us, at once sole and none and all, some strange trinity of being. We are impossible, like drops of water excreted from the full body of stone.