Carnage Dreams and Twin Peaks

Danielle Zaccagnino

My anxious mind is an endless reel of torture porn,* a buffet of body horror.

                                                                                    <*a genre of pure

                                                                                    gratuitous gore. see also:

                                                                                    splatter, splatstick, gorno>

          (For years I believed a teenager slit my sister’s throat. I didn't look for the scar or confirm

          the memory with any member of my family. The assault was, to me, a given of our


          (My other recurring dream: my father crawled out of a sewer, night after night, covered

          in bruises, looking to me for help.)

          (Now my brain is like a greedy socialite; it won’t reuse the same dark fantasy twice.)

          (In another dream, a stranger broke in to strangle me.)

          (At a gas station, tried to choke me out, knocked me unconscious against a wall.)

                                        [[My favorite show is Twin Peaks.]]

                                        [[Like my friend, Laura Palmer was raped

                                        by her father. And just like in real life,

                                        no one could see

                                        who he was, including me.]]

                                        [[a demon named Bob]]

                                        [[a mystery that was never meant to be solved]]

                                                                                    <Psychologists call these

                                                                                    intrusive images.>

          (a tongue like chunks

          have been bitten out)

          (I tried to escape a killer by strangling him with a wire, like Audrey Horne in a back

          room at One-Eyed Jack’s. His neck was too thick, or my wire the wrong kind. The dream

          was nonlinear. I tried hiding, climbing out the window, an Uber to Detroit. In every do-

          over, I died.)

                                                                                    <Is it frustrating to read

                                                                                    the contents of my mind?>

Don’t worry. There are bright pockets too.

                    [a freewrite: how do I explain this to you? / put your hand to my forehead / a pink

                    leather dinosaur / zipped up club kid / derby girls rolling roughshod around a

                    sticky rink / a peacock sea / a Barbie balloon in Ken county]

          (Michael Alig cut apart Angel’s body, stuffed it in a trunk.)

          (A rigid blade sliced through my body the way Gordon Ramsey fillets a fish.)

                                        [[Twin Peaks is a master class

                                        in balance]]

                    [a freewrite: a wrestler in a wedding veil / a jalopy / a gun turns out to be a fish /

                    the moon is like a baby the earth pushed out / cauliflower clouds / salt & pepper

                    shaker rain / if we put half of my brain / with half of yours / what would happen?]

                    [a kissing booth / dark dirt & croissants / a gingerbread man, his honey-filled

                    brow / a carnival chorus in a red shimmy dress / carbonated flash word-salad &

                    where we've sailed]

                    [gold figurines / in game shows & stirring sauce / buried in your spaghetti, a little

                    whale / i want three lives, or four / but i would settle for two]

                    [a dizzy-eyed bird with a lopsided crown / vandalize the mountain sculpture /

                    make it up with lipstick]

                                                                                    <Has the pendulum swung

                                                                                    too far? I’m just trying

                                                                                    to get by.>

                                        [[My favorite character is Nadine. She lost her eye

                                        after a honeymoon buckshot accident, suffered a loveless marriage,

                                        attempted suicide, but

                                        underneath all that, she was full

                                        of pure joy. Glass-crushing, milkshake-loving,

                                        cheerleader/wrestler, man-throwing Nadine.]]

                                        [[though Bob is the reason I watch]]

          (A copper wire in my chest. I tried to pull it out without breaking off pieces of bone. He

          lifted it up and it caught on the thyroid cartilage, the central ridge that we see as an

          Adam's apple.)

          (Someone lured me into a warehouse party, a therapeutic experiment, “radical inclusion.”

          Once you’re there, you have to take part. Trapped in a room, I heard screams. My best

          friend in a closet. I was next. They told me I had to take a drug, a brown sticker in the

          shape of a circle. I stuck it on someone else, a bald man, and ran down a staircase. A rape

          dungeon. The only way to escape was to take over the game. It had to keep going; only

          the roles would change. I had to stay focused.)

I’ve never been a violent person. I’ve never been in a physical fight, and I would run if offered the chance, but I'm unashamed of my thoughts.

                                                                                    <I’m just trying

                                                                                    to be less intrusive

                                                                                    to my images.>

When I was ashamed of them, I avoided them. When I avoided them, there were compulsions, there was fuzzy, circular thinking, a drain on my resources.

                                        [[In defense of violence on TV: How else

                                        would I feel normal?]]

The effort it takes to block thoughts out is much greater than the effort it takes to process them, though processing them sometimes seems unbearable. Darkness is like an upside-down puzzle. I can’t get started until I find its borders.

                                                                                    <It’s not safe to simplify

                                                                                    so much that you suppress

                                                                                    your fears

                                                                                    or your ability to get past them.>

                    [a dynasty / of bicycle lane raccoons / magma in the shape of a tree / the fluttering

                    wild of an infant drone / my head pops like a megalo-phone / and a dragon flies

                    up through my throat]

                    [a woman with blank white eyeballs and glitter brows]

          (attacked by a fat pterodactyl)

                    [flying into space first class / a ballerina beams flowers on the stage / builds

                    mountain ranges / on my skin]

I still can’t wrap my mind around what humans are really capable of.

          (I could name 24 hours of sleep and exactly where to find them.)

                                        [[“An evil that great in this beautiful world. Finally, does it matter

                                        what the cause?”]]


Fear permeates my subconscious

                    [everything about tomorrow is a balloon / I love it like a balloon & and I live in

                    the balloon / a tickle fight on an eggy night / his buttery butt / makes him slip

                    across the ocean]

but I can sleep inside a tornado.

                    [I filled out the paperwork for a new job, but in two minutes the office would be

                    taken over by demons from an alternate dimension. I was herded out the door.

                    Soon I realized I hadn’t even turned in the forms. I needed to get back there

                    before it was too late. Agent Cooper worked out a deal: the manager would let me

                    back in and Cooper would fight one of the demon men. He treated the creatures

                    like friends, but he chose the one he was a little less fond of. There was some

                    punching, Cooper was thrown on the ground. Then the demon peed on him,

                    crazed and giddy, a stream that made a wild arc in the air and seemed to last

                    forever. Cooper shot an electric bolt straight up the middle of the monster’s body,

                    like zipping up a human suit. Everyone agreed that that was the winning move.

                    Cooper apologized to the man he didn’t choose. A little girl offered the dejected

                    demon a puppy. The tree topped with a brain was there. I was so happy I got to

                    see it in real life.]

I’m giving up on performing wellness, work that tired me more than it helped me.

          (Trapped on an aircraft. My captors werewatching. I begged my neighbor, carve my

          secrets into bone, the underside of my scapula. No one would see but I’d still have

          written them.)

          (Fists shaking. Powerless all over again. Something like a panic attack. Bobby Briggs

          punched my mother in the face. Nobody believed me. My husband is trying to wake me,

          he pulls my eyelids open, but it keeps going. Her bruised cheekbone. Blue and the wrong

          angle. This has never happened before. I’ve never been filled with so much violent need.)

                    [& eyelids under those eyelids / eyelids all the way down]

                                        [[“Where’s Bob now?”]]


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