These Things Fall Into My Mind

By Ilyn Welch

Adult coloring and maze books bore me. I forgot how to crochet. I don’t have a personal watercraft in my life, and never will at my age. Perhaps I’m a ho-hum individual.

But five to seven days a week, I am fortunate enough to walk two dogs during the quietest time of morning, starting about 15 or 20 minutes before official sunrise. This is a two-part activity, walking one pet at a time, as one pooch is snippy and does not care for the other; they coexist separately within the multigenerational family compound.

In all, the walking process takes about 45 minutes; I never deviate from the daily route. While the dogs smell the good news on shrubs and hydrants, and put in their two cents, I’m constantly trying to promote circulation: marching, running in place, stretching each stiff leg, kicking as if warming up for lyrical dance.

As blood pumps into my brain and limbs, awakening the body from hot-flash-plagued sleep, things fall into my mind. Thoughts, sounds, words, visions. My eye sees something, and my mind takes it, twists it, makes it strange. I see an abandoned pair of shoes, and I wonder, Where are the feet? Who stepped out of them? Was it a human? Are they okay? Seeing a smashed snail in the park path, I’m internally crushed, imagining the creature’s pain, the sudden elimination of life, the possible cruelty inflicted by a child or worse an adult, what made them cruel—the transferred trauma. [Insert Patricia Highsmith joke here.]

Sometimes my brain replays scenes from Psycho. It is all relevant to me.

On brighter-mood days, I admire trail patterns the living snails leave, their Lilliputian magic. These imprints are made by typical garden-variety snails. Conical land snails also scavenge in soil. On park sidewalks, I marvel at the array of colorful chalk drawings and messages, among them lengthy Latter-Day Saints scriptures a few steps away from the word fuck.

Though the walk is always the same, I rejoice at never seeing these familiar things in the same way twice. Each season brings beauty and distinct shadows. When the sky presents a low marine layer, I’m treated to ultra-saturated colors.

Eventually, when I get to writing, some of this experience gets distilled to the page.

I wish I could more easily record my thoughts as I walk in place and juggle one dog or the other, but I must watch out for coyotes. A Dictaphone would be good. In addition to employing the cut-up literary technique for songwriting, David Bowie utilized a Dictaphone to record the immediate recollection of his dreams, all for churning creative material. Did the Thin White Duke use these methods to construct such lyrics as “Fast food, living nostalgia/Humble pie or bitter fruit”? Sometimes I manage to tap out a mistake-riddled note on the phone, but later it looks more like a paranormal transmission. Which can work as a loose cut-up.

Of my twisted thoughts, when I imagine a masked bandit dropping out of an oak, slitting the throat of a speed walker, I often ask myself, Why do these things fall into my mind?

Which makes me think of another lyric, “These sounds fall into my mind,” from “The Bomb!” Some might find me crass (guilty!) for invoking a perennial house-music track, but I behold it as a euphoric hymn celebrated in church aka LGBTQ dancehalls, of which THE ONLY LYRIC—the repeated “These sounds fall into my mind”—is categorized as a mondegreen!

Nobody told me! I recently learned that the mishearing of a poem or song phrase is known as a mondegreen. A name for what we’ve all misinterpreted since our verbal beginnings, my personal contribution to the misheard being “Thy kingdom come, thy will be dumb.”

The Kenny Dope-produced “The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)” is mostly a chopping up of Chicago’s “Street Player,” the latter song’s lyric “Street sounds swirling through my mind…” the basis for this ever-changing mondegreen.

Before I knew better, I misheard the lyric as “These THINGS fall into my mind.” Others have asserted the lyric is actually “Be my pussy toniiiiiight,” which is crass and divine. It’s like the ancient childhood game of Telephone.

The subject of folkloric childhood games brings me back to my daily walks, during which I’ve lately been contemplating the legend of the Basajaun, a hairy wild-person figure specific to the mountainous Basque region of our world, and how it’s considered a folk memory of early contact with Neanderthals who passed on their farming and shepherding skills to humans. Coincidentally, the historically agricultural community where I live is also home to a sizeable Basque population.

Before I get more off course, yapping about the folk memories and yarns living in my brain (my folk-motif tipping point into storytelling will remain a secret), I should address the question: How do I use the things that fall into my mind?

When my life allows for a session of pantsing like that garment is on fire, by way of the keyboard I transfer the notes, focuses or conjurings germinated on my walks. Then these things become something else. Or not. A thought might be gone, fractured, refashioned, inverted. Whatever processed results that manage to get committed to a page can be curious.

If a significant amount of writing is committed, it’s best for me to put it away, reading again a day, a week, months later, even a year. Whenever that occurs, I must first walk and broil up a fresh batch of things fallen into my mind before stacking my bones in front of the desktop to excavate old files. Upon resurrecting a piece of work, and finding an astonishing sentence, I’ve be lucky enough to say, “I don’t remember writing that. Did I write that sentence?” Could it be a subconscious folk memory? Is it the relic of a cultural value? Is it a document of self-observation? Whatever the transmission, it is at least a building block for more writing.

Bad Makes Bad by Ilyn Welch Published by Shotgun Honey Books

Ilyn Welch

Ilyn Welch (she/her) is an Inland Empire resident. She writes crime stories, horror, and creative nonfiction. Her stories have been published with Vautrin, PANK, Shotgun Honey, Pomona Valley Review, in Step Into the Light, a Bag of Bones Press Anthology, and in the 2022 Writing From Inlandia anthology. Her crime fiction novellas, SIGNS OF PAIN and BAD MAKES BAD, are published by Shotgun Honey. Ilyn has an enjoyable quarterly day job as an editor at Sound Collector Audio Review. Find @IlynWelch on Instagram, @ilynwelch Threads and