Published Monthly

The Half Life of a Literary Website
May 2006

There are easier ways to impress intelligent, loosely-moraled women. And there are better lines to toss ladies who have a literary bent of mind. Be that as it may, every time I meet a woman even vaguely interested in myself or my writing, I invariably ask her if she’d like to start an online literary journal with me.

Evidently, starting a website from scratch as monthly showcase for burgeoning small press poets and fiction writers is a bit of a Herculean task. Until I met Holly, reactions ranged from “no” to “hell no”. Holly seemed genuinely intrigued with the idea of creating and editing a web zine and didn’t balk when I informed her sex with me would be part of her co-editing duties.

I met Holly, my future co-editor and sex partner, on the literary webcam site I knew my spiel had a chance of finding a foothold in her mind when, going through her profile, I noticed she placed a high priority on being well read. She also had a link to her live journal and during a lull when no women were stripping out of their clothes, I familiarized myself with her inner thoughts and desires.

I waited for Holly to put her clothes back on and all the other hard dicks to lose interest in her. Then I sent her a witty private message, something that didn’t once make reference to my penis. I positioned my webcam so as to draw attention away from my hairline and to highlight the fully stocked bookcase behind me.

During the course of our conversation I mentioned my writing several times and websites where my stories could be located. Without getting too specific about character and plot points, I talked at great length about my novel-in-progress, the first fifteen thousand words of which I had written and rewritten a dozen times over the past five years.

Speaking over Yahoo voice chat she said “I write poetry”.

“Oh really. Where have you been published?”

“I don’t publish. I’m not real comfortable submitting.”

“Oh that’s too bad.”

“But if you want I can send you some of my stuff and you can tell me what you think.”


No sooner did I agree, Holly emailed something like seven hundred poems. By reading the first three lines of every tenth poem, I ascertained that Holly was indeed an attractive poetess. I’m a sucker for dark-haired word slingers who don’t mind getting naked on cam, anyway. The fact she lived within eighty miles of me made her poetry all the more irresistible.

“Holly, these poems are really, really good. No bullshit. I really enjoy these.”

“Thanks, Vic. I looked up some of your work as well. I really enjoyed reading them.”

“You know,” I said. “We oughta start a literary website together.”

We devoted our second conversation to finding a name for our literary website and also to plan a weekend getaway in Gatlinberg so we could talk literature, perhaps pen a few poems together, but mostly to engage in blistering hot sex and work out all this pent-up frustration six years of marriage had left me with.

We settled on Lugubrious Mementoes. Lugubrious being her favorite word; mementoes being a word I once heard.

In the grip of heightened delusion brought on by staring too long at her naked body on cam, I registered the website Lugubrious Mementoes through some backlot used car salesman of a domain name dealership.

It was at this point, the fact I possessed absolutely no computer skills came to the forefront of my mind. It took me two hours just to figure out how to change my home page background to green.

Enlisting an attractive co-editor was a stroke of genius. She could learn HTML and set up the site, then give me a crash course using really simple words on how to change out the content every month. All I’d have to do is kick back in my tweed jacket, taking hits off my pipe, and pass judgement on the poetic scribblings dribbling into my inbox.

Literary fame awaited. A weekend of hot sex awaited. I emailed all my fellow small press bylines announcing the birth of Lugubrious Mementoes.

Another four hours work netted me a homepage that featured Lugubrious Mementoes done up in large bold type and a quick introduction for Holly and I, our email addresses and a quick summary of the type of poetry and fiction we were looking for (anything quality or anything written by relatively well-known writers). Also, I changed the background color to orange.

Before the evening was through, Holly sent an instant message letting me know we received our first submission. I wrote back immediately with “are you on cam?”. She replied negatively and I quickly lost interest in talking to her, but not before instructing her to learn HTML and to prepare for our meeting in Gatlinberg.

The next day I received a lengthy email from Holly informing me she didn’t have any interest in the designing and maintaining aspect of the website. She wished to concentrate her efforts on the culling, sorting and editing of the hundreds of submissions she knew would be arriving in our inbox from poets all over the world.

I knew then Lugubrious Mementoes would never see a premier issue. I had no earthly or cyberly idea how to even link over to a separate page from the homepage. I couldn’t even form my confusion into coherent questions. There was a website I found offering step by step instructions to using HTML, but my mind refused to adapt the words into applicable knowledge.

I knew my only course of action would be to continue this literary deception long enough to have sex with Holly.

A day later, I drove to the Texaco gas station which harbored the only pay phone in town. I placed a call to Holly. She told me she liked what I’d done with the homepage so far, though she didn’t really care for the orange. “There’s still a lot of work to be done,” she concluded.

I agreed.

“And we got three new submissions!” She said. “One from a guy who’s been published all over in places like Lucid Moon and Children, Churches, and Daddies.”

“Fantastic.” I read the poems earlier. One guy sent five poems about shitting, masturbating and writing poetry. Sometimes simultaneously. Even if I could build a website, the poems I had to choose from would have inspired me not to build the website.

“I really liked the poems about drinking beer in rented rooms and gambling on horses.”

“Yeah, the Charles Bukowski imitators are really coming out of the wood work.”

“Charles who?”

“So, uhm, about our weekend in Gatlinberg.”

“Yeah,” she said, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. I think it’d be better if we held off on that, indefinitely.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, for starters, you’re married.”

“Hell, I’ve been married. She’s okay with it. She thinks I’m going to visit my brother over the weekend.”

“I just think it’s best we keep our relationship professional and concentrate on Lugubrious Mementoes. If you want, we can meet in a coffee house in Huntsville and go over submissions.”

I knew the chances of having sex in a coffee house were virtually nil.

“Is that ok?” She asked.

“Yeah, it’s... fantastic.”

After promising to get the website up to snuff, I hung up and went home.

That night, I accessed the homepage and changed the summary, writing that Lugubrious Mementoes were as open to submissions as Holly’s legs when the fleet comes in. I also offered naked pictures of Holly to the first twenty poets who submitted. I lied, though, and sent the pictures to all two hundred poets from around the world who asked for them.

During the next few days, I received many, many angry emails from Holly. Since they were written in verse, I discarded them with only a cursory glance. I might have even sent her a pic of herself with her back to the camera, cheeks spread.

Time passed. Holly locked her Live Journal. The angry emails and threats of law suits stopped. Eventually, other women offered their services, but none of them seemed capable of doing anything more than meeting at coffee houses and picking their favorite poems about cigarette smoking/beer drinking. After a year, Lugubrious Mementoes disappeared from the internet without so much as a Google reference.

Somehow, I lost track of Holly.

Karl Koweski resides in Guntersville, Alabama, where he explains the concept of okra to Yankees.


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