An excerpt from Carnality
Suspect Press features many talented poets, wordsmiths and artists. One of them, Josiah Hesse, has written a couple of novels. Today we’d like to share an excerpt from his debut book “Carnality” with you. Enjoy! Thank you to Amanda E.K. for passing this along.
“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” Patti Smith sang into my ears as I jogged around Red Lake one hot August afternoon.
Cameron, Sebastian and I had all started running together, every morning, around the beginning of the tour. The idea was mine. I thought it would be a nice bonding experience for Cameron and Sebastian (who rarely spoke to each other outside of rehearsals), and it would keep us in shape for our shows each night. But Cameron dropped out after less than a week (saying he had “bone spurs,” or something, despite being able to dance just fine whenever Ginger Rogers was on the TV) while Sebastian came out intermittently for around a year, but lately he’d become more and more insistent on sleeping in.
He was becoming more like Zach every day.
Always up all night with loads of energy.
Always grumpy and sleeping late each morning.
I preferred running alone, anyway.
Whenever I felt overwhelmed by the sensation to touch myself (or someone else), I’d strap on my sneakers and go run for ten or twelve miles. Music helped. MxPx, Five Iron Frenzy and DC Talk were always great for putting a smile on my face and keeping my legs pumping. But that humid afternoon in 1997, I was sick of smiling. So much personality was asked of me on stage, at meet and greets, in interviews—always expected to reflect the joy of living for the Lord. But I didn’t feel that way, inside.
In my head I was terrified, and I wanted music that reflected that.
I wanted music that made me feel like I was being chased.
I wanted music I could channel a panic attack into, putting all of that confusion, rage and desperate need into my legs. Patti Smith’s Horses album was great for that. I’d listened to the rest of the album (about a hundred times) since being introduced to the song “Land” by Sebastian the night we met, including the opening track that begins with the blasphemous lyrics about Jesus dying for somebody’s sins but not Patti’s. So I obviously knew that it wasn’t a Christian rock record. For a while I convinced myself that I was listening to it the same way Cameron and I did any other secular record: Looking for ways to translate the music and style into a vehicle for spreading the gospel. And it certainly was a big influence on our show in that way. But I found myself slipping the cassette into my Walkman so often, sometimes four or five times a day, eventually I had to admit that I was listening to it simply because I liked listening to it.
The ascending rhythm of the guitars was so spooky, it made you feel like something was coming up behind you. Which was a fantastic sensation (so long as nothing actually was coming up behind you.) I was jogging along the southern stretch of the lake, down a gravel road that ran alongside the wetlands; the same swampy, uninhabited stretch of land where Cameron discovered me five years earlier.
Have I grown up since then? I wondered.
I could read now, and I was famous, making loads of money . . . but staring at those miles of dark trees, knowing the dark bogs of snakes, spiders and coyotes that lie within them, I recalled where my head was at when living there half a decade ago.
Terrified of being left behind in the rapture.
Terrified of my own body.
Adrift in a world of chaos with no one to talk to.
It seemed like not much had changed since then.“
To learn more about Colorado author Josiah Hesse visit his website at www.josiahhesse.com