(While it must be said that what follows has been authenticated as the work of one Jake “The Bat”1 Ferguson to the full degree allowable by contemporary dating, handwriting and text analysis, probability charting, and materials sampling, as well as allowing for considerations of witness concurrences wherever even the slightest hint of probable reliability exists, none of the actual Cave Man “Constructions” have survived, (the reconstructions attributed to Saul T. Hamburger (believed to be the pseudonym of notorious alcoholic and facial release artist Robert Brigham during his Copper Badger period) and to Andy Warhol the Younger are referenced here for comparison. The existence of the originals, however, beyond the time of their creation, although not into the present time, has been further called into question more recently at both the 2009 Tokyo Hybrid Arts Summit and the 2010 Sao Paolo Cortazar Surrealism Olympics.)
Discovery elements dated August 6, 1997:
1. Construction #1 (currently on loan to the Dusseldorf Institute for Closed Display
Procedures and thus unavailable for inclusion here)
3. (exhibit 1)
4. Construction #22
5. (exhibit 2)
In light of the reluctance of my participation, I must declare that I do not like brown and brown is real and that makes me cry. No one should cry about things that are not real. I think I should stop, but I do not. My favorite shirt is wet now, and I think about washing it. I have stopped crying, but I think about my shirt, which has mascara on it, and I start again. I think about crying and washing my shirt, and there is something soothing about all the water. I know that I am not crying about brown or about my shirt or about things that are not real, but I do not understand what I am crying about.
(It should be noted that the original “Cave Man Constructions” were not, in all likelihood, constructed by a cave man, but instead refer to the primitive nature of their assemblage as well as the raw and essentially primary, if nevertheless complex, implications of the implicit world view contained by them.)
Discovery Elements dated July 1, 1996:
1. (exhibit 3)
3. (exhibit 4)
4. (exhibit 5)
I’ve been waiting a long time for my owl to return (exhibit 4). I heard him last night get caught in the lattice skirting the cabin’s porch. I think he was after one of the baby chickaree’s (exhibit 5) that nest in the roofing. The first time I talked to the owl he spread his huge wings and opened his beak with that pointy tongue inside as if to say Don’t fuck with me, and then he just waited. He’s a Gray Owl, and they are known to be more comfortable around people than other owls. The second time he recognized me and just waited while I approached and started talking to him. I told him about the yellow dog3 and he listened.
Wooden behavior is unnatural, but trees are not. Why do they say this about me?
Those who suspect the Cave Man Constructions of impersonating a hoax should be amply forewarned that proof comes in many guises and need not always be recognized as proof, particularly in the early stages of reticence.
A thing made of doors and walls with no purpose existed there beyond containment. Perhaps we might have called it a maze or a surgical jungle. We could have taken things out of it that were mistaken and placed things in it that were no longer of use to the various deceased.
Discovery elements dated September 17, 2003:
1. the body of a short (5’ 2”) brown male, most likely a complainer
2. said male’s still extant “hunting” pigeon
3. (exhibit 6)
On the afternoon in question, Alexander the Grunt (exhibit 6) and Officer Dooty were preparing a statement. The statements they made about the statement complicated the conclusions one might otherwise have drawn from the statement. Only the unexpected clarity of their perceptions about the copper wire remained irreproachable. With the exception of the arrangement of the coils, it would not have appeared that any sexual congress was being attended. Judge Scooter admitted later that his imaginary Taiwan (exhibit 7) had been pleasantly absent from the proceedings. He sat at his bench (exhibit 8) and ate his porridge with an unnecessary relish.
His was a brilliant patter of children’s heads. There was a famous painting (exhibit 9) of this very consideration, appropriated by the Nazis during WWII, which now exists only in a sepia photograph (exhibit 10), but the disguised children in the faded document appear to be overgrown. Under careful scrutiny of an enlargement, one gets the impression that one of the portly children is carrying a framed copy of the photo in which he too appears.
Discovery elements dated April 12, 2004:
1. exhibit (7)
2. exhibit (8)
3. exhibit (9)
4. exhibit (10)
The discovery of the missing exhibits inside the facsimile construction made by Warhol the Younger has completed our misunderstanding. They contain elegant and irreverent references to the hoax. They do not resolve the confusion concerning the creator of the original cave constructions, but allow us to dispense with questions of ownership concerning the facsimile and its internal exhibits. The recent death of Warhol the Younger places the remainder of this matter under the jurisdiction of the probate court. Officer Dooty will escort you to the egress. Judge Scooter has further determined that the potentially nonexistent cave constructions are the endangered habitat of the previously established Gray Owl and as such cannot be destroyed. You are instructed to conduct yourselves accordingly.4
1 executed with a pair of needle-nosed pliers with tiny claws on the wings
2 To Grandmother’s house we go. To change her diaper and clean her bedding and talk to her as if she remembered. It makes us feel better to treat her this way. We don’t really know what it does for her.
3 a bit of wild scrum on the peripheries
4 statement read to the court by Officer Dooty
About the Author:
Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. An interview and18 hybrid works appear in the Spring 2011 issue of Bitter Oleander. In 2011 he has been nominated twice for Best of the Net and once for the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award.