Louise Akers

Louise Akers’ poetic project is an attempt to map the shift of orientation, as well as perspicacity, that accompanies technological advances in war making. If we understand that drone warfare operates on a vertical axis of violence, we can examine its orientation through modes of desire. We look up, we become spotters; we look down, through a monitor–god’s eye view. If, as Sarah Ahmed suggests in her book Queer Phenomenology, a vertical orientation is implicitly heterosexual, what/where are the lines along we can direct horizontal (queer) systems of desire to segment and deflect heteropatriarchal violence? Hijacking the form of the creation myth, Akers draws lines from the antecedents to the operators to the futures of drone warfare as it has become integral to the contemporary US American socio-political/emotional/aesthetic/religious landscape. When territories are surveilled and murder sanctioned from remote distances at great heights, we begin to conceive of space “not as it is, but space as we make it” (Hito Steyerl, Wretched of the Screen, p. 26), thus designating an invisible and ubiquitous theatre of perpetual, US American war. The dialogue is sourced from Gregoire Chamayou’s A Theory of Drone (p.1-9)

Louise Akers is a poet and and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA from Brown University in May of 2018, and the Rosemary and Keith Waldrop Prize for Innovative Poetry in 2017. Louise currently serves as the Books Editor at Anomalous Press.

Maria Damon, Alan Sondheim

adnoun from left field / the field left behind


Thad nun Tapestries at the far end of the monastery wall
The brutal murk sat, portend against the statuary’s fall
I think of Stalin shattered, Hitler’s fall
You should’ve caught his legless sprawl
Chad ad noun: “`meek’ in `blessed are the meek’ is an ad-noun” –oh, I get it! I think.
And where he fell, one might forever seek, empyrean to sink
Along with Hitler’s call, unanswered, no one now, on whatever brink –
A terza rima ruined in a blink! and boy does it stink!
Within the burk of time, we’re all gone in a wink,
Please save us like from the slime, Stephen Hawking,
remember there’s no time sublime, let’s all keep talking!
“the cursed obsequious and that their folly” like, when an adjective is nominalized!
and then resurge the riverrun ‘s elsewhere, the world is cauterized
firewise with redundant undulations, mark my wild surmise!
ad-noun: “The shined of equal 3 paired your vision” impair my vision, three-person’d goad! what are you waiting for?
and shattered, vision’s lost, four killers down. The dank moat
reflecting only monstrous, bulbous, watery bloat
while I and billions like me missed the boat,
baiting, and then there’s more – we with love over hatred racing much have
joined embracing closed friends’ derision” oh may you be ever saved from such.
(Which burns against revision’s ism, raved, and then there’s touch.)
She left the house in pink stilettos and a fuschia clutch.
A date with Stephen Hawking, going dutch.
Nightshaded night’s sweet realms murk now left aubergine yam”
alas, bright Hades sight! meet helms lurk, wow! bereft young Ondine’s ram’s
tusk! Suck’d down the intertext’s gory hole, madame!
Both coddles seethed; she, left in the warren
husk-clothed bodies breathed were bereft of the barren
results of the Warren Commission, history’s repeating by and by,
and bees pervading, invading a starry indoor dome-sky!
Hurtle, bled mates cursed in song on beach! Bother Scylla’s mantissa’s glowed motes,
mortal led hates pursued among each other’s ribald fantasies and low notes”
And here again, the bloated body floats…
Among the plasticined debris, endangered stoats –
A hounded sitter’s word-horde gathered! A crow’s beak? Bother, brother of glowed girl!
wounded fitter’s sword’s swart-slaughtered war’s bleak mother and mother-of-pearl”
A sister’s as good as twelve four-eyed hounds with jaded collars all aswirl!
Was Speer really good or evil damned, a murderous churl?
“Sharp heightened, fathers descend in nacreous smoke-ringed shimmer”
With harps sighted, bothered! Portend in cresote this unhinged glimmer!
With blind wing’d harpies, descend on the smoky ones, asleep in their timor.
East or west, the world is burning, friends,
“heist daughters makes amends” thorn adnoun” and with a little cuddle thrown in
Most daughters make amends, shorn and grown, a bit muddled, like brutal kin::
and who would fault a rhyme that ends in fathers’ sin?
with too much blood and gristle, the planet’s thistle crashed within?
adnoun: mortal-led sitter’s “halo “th east bereft”> barefoot and bereft, but wearing a beret
              swearing and swimming today; they pray for prey empyrian, sink
bitter’s other”> greater than sour, than savory, than dour
as if flour made a difference with pi? three point one point four point carp!
No pi for prisoners, round and round we go, waiting for the next harmonious blow –
And Please defer the lyric as you would defend the harp!
Oh Oedipus, to whom else can we now turn? within your narrative trainwreck we, all destitution, burn!
“Tharp “theist mother”> Th’Adnoun descend”> what part of speech are you?
armour amends”> amour demands paramours’ indecent descents, mortar’d,
hurtled among the Alpine mountains where rulers go to pout, find themselves out,
exhausted, the mad clown calls: How to live among the ruins
im/mortal’d > “th’Alpinic “th’eastern th’ology juices itself out
exhausted, the ad-noun falls
into itself
into itself
into itself

the dark tower hums
the dark tower comes
the text ends here, we’re dead, nothing comes to mind



Maria Damon is Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute. She has written extensively on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, and is currently exploring the interstices of text and textile.


Alan Sondheim is a city-based new media artist, musician, writer, and performer concerned with issues of virtuality, and the stake that the real world has in the virtual. He has worked with his partner Azure Carter among others. Sondheim is interested in examining the grounds of the virtual and how the body is inhabited. He performs in virtual, real, and
cross-over worlds; his virtual work is known for its highly complex and mobile architectures. He has used altered motion-capture technology extensively for examining and creating new lexicons of behavior. His writing stems out of codework, a problematic style in which code substrates and surface content interfere with each other – in which, in other words, the textual body and body of text are deeply entangled. His current music is based on the impossibility of time reversal, on fast improvisation, and anti-gestural approaches to playing.

Tiana Lavrova

Abbotsford


Zanga quarkingly hemorrhagizes integral cosmology memonic octaviously
agentically disquieting lightning-riffic genealogists and their hot seashells
hungarcious xenomorphic intelligentsia where the geometric profiles of all intelligences Galenize ecocentrizing your pungentations tactically hallucinogeneizing imaginophobia where caviaric paint space-antelopes thoughtless unthinkable images Obituating skeletoned to Fraser highwaying Perfect evil Dimensionless protening Eternal Consciousness To hypno-neurones, Astra Athenia of griga, lumbrous self-preservation, spiritual biologists: each tooth is an acromantic heart somingly manateeing thru acramanta corn puffs Affrodils pasteurized scapes of platelets tall-grassed by Luxembourgian sea petals Zoltan hot springs matroyoshka Delphi’s of xhumatic belongingness! zamboni laciniated kittens amnesiate while country sides are plagiarizingly hair-brushed by the tepid sewage of endophilia! Psychocentric chlamydia salamander encumberable probo-possibly I pray fervently to hypochondriac economies before bed staring at the ceiling some hrs later, drenched in the fantasy-prone personality of a yearless girl bridesmaid, who kicks the Bride of Christ’s pew in front of her a domination iatrogenizing the ageing of beings did I mention? humorously humidifying the retrogradation of spirit spores! Sonically-hydrated cloud dunes tossed between the salad thighs of Monetian islets “my armpits breathe out sea foaming sea cedars — sympostically sea cucumbers Air droplets are ingested by every pediatric non-being!” Penniless moguls who wrote the screenwriting for an intellectually talented, underachieving ménage a trois based on real events shackle the hot tub growth in my medullum to thinly combed pond scalps The Hiawathan woman, robed in a sari bought from a hot dog stand, at the laborers union, petitioning public-property for the mass production of the non-existence of suffering a pair of lice for each pre-Socratic element retch sunglasses on the equatorial brain chemistry of fortepianos skeletoned out of decaying wildlife dead spirits Sea lions sangranated from seven-allergic sap morbidly humorize the multitudinous miled monolith laundry basket laying on its craterous side Horses microwaved on moonscapic ceiling fans scraping off petechiae and the mind’s digital bacteria meter is Latinistically delayed and the infinite beings of sexuality pantasize in volleyball courts over flooded with menarche fluid ear lobe tree houses fundicate scaly wrists Crackling the door knob atrophied with ostracized moose mucosae, drug withdrawing home décor universes Teddies bubblingly dished in nanometric plagenic hives lose all control of their bodily functions! free-falling off an emaciated canyon of labels: a natural body without an element shared with humanness, a natural body without being informatically contaminated by humanness Evil demon ravens gutturally howl carcai chemically intertangled on miscarried judgement less social prisms



Tiana Lavrova is an eighteen year old avant-garde writer based in BC, Canada, with upcoming chapbooks via with dancing girl press and Grey Borders books in 2018.

Ed Garland

POST EQUILIBRIUM GLISSANDO SHITSTORMS

a guaranteed presence, a flattened wave of gloss flowing always over not all of the interior – scupper the fat chance of detecting the nice to detect – provide a useful phenomenon to aid meditation but – input being no predictor of output – habits, tendencies – a large yes, a useful thud – not for hereby officially everyone – conjunction with tonal abrasion therapy – less than 50% cotton – planet are these people – a chorus rubbed into the gums or grey area classics under the tongue – Logos, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – yearns, craves, on a threshold below which it never – Bang & Olufsen impossibility – inheritance, theft, and accidental acquisition – a parked whine, a stuck sting – the curve and thrust of lips – likelihood of irregular gobbling – emitting bright wire from the ears – renovated in poor taste – considerably more irksome – mist being visible silence the last thing he insisted – looped snarls as declarations of agreement – conjunction with sine clusters, low frequency phase-bathing, ambient tendrils or sludge curtains – persisting through every interaction and lack of interaction – supervision of a proper chief – lucid, but lacking acoustic wealth – more than 100 days, consult Mumdance


Ed Garland’s writing has appeared in Antic, The Found Poetry Review, and A Glimpse Of. He lives in Wales, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.

Iulia Militaru

A Dance in Four Frames


The formation of the Ego is symbolized in dreams by a fortress or a stadium – an interior yard fenced, surrounded by swamps or garbage, dividing it in two opposing areas, where the subject struggles to reach the imposing and distant castle whose form (sometimes present in the same scenario) symbolizes the ID in a staggering way.

The sun and I in this house, where’s his silence? Dance in my floating above you, above them. I kill, he keeps on writing
sli
(yet
one
more
step
over
us two)
pping
How come you don’t get these pieces?
Laid together by words
Of your girl running in the shadow
On the whale’s edge, now here

The woman takes a bite of spring.
My father loves our silence,
Thought crushed in voices. Listen.
„I’m the sun of his son, the son of the son.”

(Who shall say I’m not, prin tot dansul ei,
the happy genius of my household?)

Sli
(a step
in dance
over
folio. You)
pping
destroy (yourselves) on this folio here. As soon as today, again. Then, our steps alone over the father.

*

Speech is a way of slipping in                        (subliminal)          information
Of helping those that don’t understand (subliminal)

Understand                    [what you want them (subliminal)
To understand].



Speech is a way of levelling things.

*

Against any personal communication.
Against any illusionary I.
Only the cold analysis of the images between us.

The existent is a sexuate body.
*
Frame 1

The surface (uneven, steep, and unwholesome) was inhabited by countless populations. The existent is a sexuate body!

Frame 2

Mars embracing Venus in a sleep of no return. They roll over; hatred for them ends up in a mating dream, with daddy penetrating his little girl’s vagina while she’s insatiably licking mom’s clitoris—a ménage à trois… the day is finally here, she can bite now, she can enjoy them, happily chewing her dad’s penis her mom’s vulva, sucking their blood out, stripping their skin off, exposing the inside to the world they’ve been hiding away from. She swallows them.

Frame 3

Naked women’s bodies. Merely gaunt          one after another              bones poking through the skin. The air close to blowing up with commandments. No one can grasp anything else. The only way of communication sounding rough to the ears of those waiting. Now and then a vagina would open up like a cactus blossom. Commotion bursting out of non-resistance. Swimming all of ’em swimming in a sea of bodies with no place to reach in mind. Where you headed? All a rustle, rustle of listless limbs. Words springing up faster and faster more and more. Not a trace of silence in the dead silence. Oftentimes the night wind buries everything in leaves.

Frame 4

Space as matter’s fundamental form of existence, inseparable from it, having the appearance of a contiguous whole with three dimensions and showcasing objects and processes in their ordered array can fill up. And it did fill up. Objects stifling all room round. They always come in successive waves, incessantly, carried by the southern wind. Countless. Roundish breasts, as full as a hilly orchard, smooth thighs, arms whiter than any recollection of snow, and… hopefully, lips, the mellow kind, a woman’s lips now close to ripeness. That is the fruit he savors, tasty, tender, breaking between his teeth:

Imaginary soliloquy attached to the frames:

bitch! whore cunt scum slut hooker floozy puta pantsy tootsie fluffy mouthy chippy coc(k)(h)otte broad dame madame doxy antsy-pantsy-farty-damsel hobo’s-bimbo ranch-wench cock-wrench tramp vamp hot-to-trot flirt tart fussy-hussy fancy hustler straight streetwalker car-men’s-putana boor’s-burana buena gris-gris grisette drab-to-grab no-jinx-minx pro pro-bono-masterbono pros-tit-hoot charge-a-lot-harlot tax-worker sweetheart-tart smart-head-job-artiste outskirts-skirt dirt

translated from the Romanian by MARGENTO



Iulia Militaru is a poet/ performer and so on, also the Editor in Chief of frACTalia Press and InterRe:ACT magazine. Her poetry collections: The Great Pipe Epic (2010), dramadoll (2012), The Seizure of the Beast. A Post-research (2016) and Atlas (auto)mat/on (auto)BIO/graphy/I© de câteva tipuri principale de discursuri (2017), are everything but poetry. She published poems and digital collages in MAINTENANT, A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art (#9 #10 #11) and Plume (the June Issue 2017 #71). One can find more about her literary work here: https://iuliamilitaru.wordpress.com/

“These frames are part of my continued investigation into the process of self-representation and discourse analysis. A frame is a cadre, a border, a machine and a body, a structure – an internal structure, a skeleton. The resolution of a well-structured discourse inside a frame/ border becomes an image of an alienated body/ a putrefaction (the process of putrefying) which parasites the whiteness of a clean page or the meaning of a phrase. And a meaningless place is born. And silence speaks. Decomposition of a corpse is a continual process, it involves invisible microorganisms/ nonsensical meaningful words. All those microorganisms are reached using a subtraction technique – the unseen appears as a web of in-between relations – annihilation, destruction, and control of, possessing of something/somebody. In words. In a putrid discourse.”

Matt Schumacher


LOST IN THE DEQUINCEYEAN DREAM CITY

Amidst amethyst mists silvered with slivers of moon, our astute wanderer of districts of dubious repute parades us down alleyways where we’ll be waylaid. To back rooms whose labyrinthine hookahs billow so copiously with smoke you can hear chambered within them chimneysweeps’ echoing shouts for help. De Quinceyeans under the influence, pleasantly or torturously indisposed, breathe smoke, thick as clothes, smoke both market and theatre. Swipe an opiumpipe. Suckle the world of its inhalations like irresistible tentacles. Play and be played by the night, its night-blooming bassoon improvising the derangements of the mind. Please proceed past the province of complete pipe dream, whose abandoned buildings house the machinery of dreaming. Chase after fledgling hallucinations in the hatcheries of far-fetched reveries. Brave avenues where the multitudes of evil spirits who follow De Quincey flee his disfigured guardian angel.


REVERIE OF DE QUINCEY RELIEVING POLICE FROM THEIR DUTIES OVER A FIELD OF PAPAVER SOMNIFERIUM AT A RECENT DRUG BUST

I guess you’re here for the opium, blurts the suspect. A farmhouse spills delicate, paper-thin crimson from a dead end road in the foothills. Yet come and see De Quincey, small and shimmering man/hologram, shoo away authorities with a small spectral hand, arresting the scene, bruising dusk blue like Psilocybe Cubensis in lieu of his innumerable absences. See the police extinguished like last rays of vanishing daylight. Eavesdrop on the most notorious opium-eater in literary history left there to supervise 500 million dollars worth of opium poppies growing hidden behind honeylocusts. What can he do, what will he do, with the vast span of all of this contraban? O, the expression on his face—what a wild coalsecence, a concession stand of delight, wonder, and fright—it is priceless! There’s no sphinx speaking here of the burden of the incommunicable. As if a homeless drifter inherited a shapeshifting estate from a complete stranger. For the first time, the English Opium-eater glides the palatial stairs, trods their hidden grandeur, and rising on their spiral, fingers careful not to disturb the zebra swallowtail butterflies resting on their handrails, lets these banisters lead him through vast rooms the hue of cumulus adrift in cerulean heights, meadowsized antechambers which are truly scarlet blooms…



DE QUINCEYEAN SCENES POISON THE AMERICAN DREAM

De Quincey must play many roles in opium’s postmodern one-man show. Unlike a politician, he speaks firsthand to addicts on the street. Everyone I know is on heroin–he quotes an Ohioan, an addicted mother of three. A third of the U.S.—someone you know—gets destroyed daily on opiods, states his resulting article. And you really must see the English opium-eater as shakyhanded teen, codeine fiend with slurred speech beseeching drug dealers on the streets because he resembles your own child, at least what he’d look like were he homeless and missing. De Quincey as a paramedic injecting narcan into an 11-year-old girl who overdosed. De Quincey as a mule for an Ashtabula county pill mill. As an activist carrying a sign which says: NO MORE DRUG WAR! 36 billion a year and a pandemic! As a policeman paid off by the Taliban, protecting an Afghani opium field with an AK-47. De Quincey as a marketer for a drug campaign, making bank, coyly downplaying addiction in favor of relief from chronic pain. As a judge with no training at all in pharmaceuticals or recovery, prescribing Vivitrol. As an Insys executive who forsakes last stage cancer patients to rake in billions, laughing with another executive in a restroom, while the punchline echoes: fentanyl sells! De Quincey driving a hearse carrying away the bodies of the young from what once were their homes. As a bystander wondering what the fuck is wrong with this country this makes absolutely no sense. Thinking someone sure kicked the living shit out of that white picket fence.



DE QUINCEY DIED BEFORE THE MODERN WAR ON DRUGS

Opium! dread agent of unimaginable pleasure and pain! I had heard of it as I had of manna or of Ambrosia, but no further: how unmeaning a sound was it at that time! what solemn chords does it now strike upon my heart! what heart-quaking vibrations of sad and happy remembrances!
–De Quincey, Confessions

De Quincey died in 1859. He never had his front door smithereened by a SWAT team. Never was tased or pepper-sprayed. Never was sentenced like a young black male facing an all-white jury, locked up for life in Oklahoma for trafficking three ounces of crack cocaine. Never watched the white judge recite his sentence, or heard the state really say, We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did. De Quincey wasn’t sickened by prison’s fetid, stale air, the click of locking metal doors. The silence when a penitentiary replaces nights filled with stars. Despite his Orientalist nightmares, he was no scapegoat in Saydnaya. He never fled edicts to kill every drug addict. He never had to meet Philippine vigilantes. Men dismembering and indiscriminately killing children. The state’s greatest hope would be to execute the Opium-Eater without trial, pin on him an incriminating sign advertising his use or sale of drugs, and leave him for all to see, dying in the street. A bloodstained example of what not to be.



A CHRISTMAS WITH THOMAS DE QUINCEY

On a hot July day, De Quincey, high on bath salts, breaks in and decorates a random family home for Christmas. The police break in, too, and find fault, arresting the pale, emaciated poet just when he’s placing the star atop the tree. He’s frisked, booked, and charged with B and E. But wait, the police say… Look at these Christmas lights, this tinsel and these snowglobes! Let no one say this Mr. De Quincey lacks style! Somewhere that damned dandy, Lord Byron, somersaults in his grave, wishing he could be this extravagant, this wild. Then the police become wooden mannequins. They’re merely props that drop through a trapdoor. And Santa Claus—I mean the real Santa Claus—replaces them, ambling in, taking De Quincey’s hand. So saileth away De Quincey in the famed sleigh, into a summer night that drinks the reindeer trail, the galaxy of blinking lights that accompany the siren.



Matt Schumacher, managing editor of the New Fabulist journal, Phantom Drift, lives in Portland, Oregon. His recent poetry collections include Ghost Town Odes and a chapbook of fantastical drinking songs, favorite maritime drinking songs of the miraculous alcoholics.

ANTONIS KATSOURIS

PAINLESS POINTILLISM


At the suburbs of Thebes, I met my Conceptual Father.
.
Clandestine practices and other room rituals of an Agoraphobic-in-Revolt.
.
Try the Proletarian Desire with your clothes on.
.
As the sun rises over Obediencia…
.
From a distance, Vila Violence was perfectly visible.
.
Your Lyrical Laceration, your charms, your air…
.
Systemic Splendour: a rather melodramatic synonym for success.
.
Grow your own Ennui Noir.
.
The contemporary aesthetics of Atelier Abuse.
.
Capitalist Fairy’s favorite motto: We can pay for the coffee so we have the dawn.
.
In my Digital Dreams all doors are closed.
.
The Arrogance Academy is shining under the spring light, freshly painted ego-white.
.
Someone strongly circles the words Coded Conflict.
.
Guiltless magic, with the essence of Enforced Normality.
.
Meet me at the Lower Eden.
.
Dear reader, we are trained to not confuse art with the Bourgeois Nightmare.
.
Avoid eye-contact with the Scattered Signified.
.
Driving to model houses on the hills of Privileged Porn.
.
Provide a separate place for petting Nervosa Negativa.
.
Autobody loves to cancel pathos.
.
From this state of paradox the Punishment Plethora has bloomed.

Welcoming the New Nothing.
.
Resistance Reverie: a glamorous and especially virtuous activity…
.
Systole and diastole of Patriarchy Parody.
.
Advanced Roleplaying is not everyone’s cup of herbal tea.
.
Banality Bureau’s comforting message: Repeat after me, repeat after me.
.
Hatewave brings yellow weather and some aura from Hell.
.
She loved the menu at Decadence Deja-Vu.
.
Survival Set sample.
.
In this Identity Parade, where everyone is performing a prayer… “Please tell me, how do I look?”
.
Did I mention the Throne Room at the Hotel Humiliation?
.
Exit Text. There is a book with this title, too…
.
Are weekends becoming too expensive at Safety Simulator?
.
Rejection Letter: the smart way to move through the world.
.
The Twilight Trauma and the new theory of colour.
.
Readymade Revolution. Available in S, M, L and XL.
.
The Official Forcefeeder promised me more forbidden food.
.
Dear Dead Muse,
.
The Nausea Narration has something for every taste.
.
It’s screen-time again and my Shark-Eyes can’t hide their hunger…
.
Various Dooms updated.
.
“In an era of Political Maximalism, politics invades all phenomena.”*
.
As the sun sets over Ruinette…
.
Never underestimate the obsession of the Hyper-Rich for funereal flowers.


*from “The Neutral” by Roland Barthes


words-links: “patriarchy” from the poster or graffiti “Death to Capitalism/Death to patriarchy.”



Antonis Katsouris is a writer, and the editor of the reading series “The Closet.”

DREAM OF A BUTTERFLY

by Yoko Danno

 

                          affinities between this butterfly
                          and me―an eternity for the insect
                          but a few-second stay on my palm
                          before i clap my hands in worship

The door bell rang, rang and rang. I reluctantly left my couch and made for the door, as if wading through water. I found nobody at the door except a large, black swallowtail fluttering away. I returned to my comfortable seat and took up the book I had been reading. The pages were blank, all the words gone. I couldn’t even remember exactly what I was reading. It must have been a book on a learn-while-sleeping method by a famous lepidopterist.

                          a swarm of butterflies flutter
                          in an illuminated glass dome,
                          light breaking into winged souls
                          in and out of the rose-wet grotto

In and out―I wasn’t escaping to somewhere but from something―in fear of being caught by a net. Out in the field children were chasing pollinators to pin them in insect cabinets―their summer homework. Every time a boy gave a shout of glee, long grasses trembled like nerve fibers, agitated, restless, as if mediated by the sweep of the net. I was kept alive in a glass cage together with other winged fellows―for eons. The door bell started ringing, louder and louder.

                          screaming i struggled to wake ―
                          i was one of a thousand butterflies
                          in an enormous LED light bulb,

                          my voice silently rising like bubbles

My eyes stopped at the margin of a blank page. A ravine was under my nose, and beyond, an overhanging cliff with a few low pines in the shapes of crouching animals. I sat in a chair placed on the grass-covered plateau and played the bass viol. The undertone echoed back like waves of hunger. The breeze felt salty as if coming from the sea. Somehow I thought of steamed-rice balls wrapped in thin sheets of dried seaweed, which I had prepared in the fridge, just in case.

                          the land shook, suddenly as before,
                          nymphs trembled, terracotta soldiers
                          guarding the underground palace
                          shaken in alarm―attention! forward!

The air was warm and humid. I strolled among palm trees , in an ecstasy, perfumed by orange and yellow tropical flowers. When I stood still, holding my breath, wishing the moment would last long, butterflies came to settle on my shoulders and on my palm, for honey. A bell started ringing again―the closing time of the butterfly farm. I had to leave the Shangri-la. On my way home I stumbled over a stone that had tumbled down the hillside. Yes, I realized, there had been, to be sure, an earthquake.

WILD NIGHTS

by Yoko Danno

               Puffing and panting,

               to the hilltop ascending,

               what do I expect to see

               flat surface of a writhing sea?

I wanted to prolong my stay downstairs a little longer so that she might be finished for good in the bathtub upstairs―a horrifying dream. But instead I hurriedly ran up the stairs to pull her out of the water―just in time―while she was still alive. Who was the drowning woman? My indispensable opponent―a flagpole to fasten my tightrope to?

I was struggling for days to write a poem about a woman―without success. The woman appears in the mirror on the wall from time to time when I look at my reflection and sets my nerves afire. I just wanted to ask her how she had managed to escape from her cocker spaniel and the Spaniard, who she said were untiringly stalking her.

She is a big woman, followed by a lot of friends, but whenever I try to observe her closely the spaniel and the Spaniard appear and form a triangle with her. I usually lose sight of her in the ‘magical’ triangle, utterly lost in the fog. Incidentally, a few days ago I read a mystery in which a murderer is ambushed by the assumed victim.

You know what? However hard you try to flee from your giant or your fellow dog, you can’t, because they’re a part of what you are. If you successfully dismiss them, your whole system would eventually fail―that is my fear. There’s no taming one’s nature except practice―practice―practice. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. Whose words?

I feel a current of humid air from the south and hear the calls of birds hurrying home. Cicadas have stopped singing―sign of a storm. Clouds are gathering. The sky will soon be entirely covered without a break―through which I may have a chance to peep into a world beyond, as vast and deep as a madness for flight. Yes, an easy breakthrough is rare.

It is blowing wild, sleet banging on the roof tiles, my old house creaking badly; in occasional flashes of lightning a pair of trees are revealed―the boughs in common, the trunks joined together like Siamese twins, roars of worry howling across the hill, sending shivers up my spine. Visibility becoming poor, how I wish for a clear night!

IN PURSUIT OF A BIRD

by Yoko Danno

I am in my brain,
You are in your brain.
You are in my brain,
I am in your brain.

I feel that time flies faster than ever. Because I digest food more slowly lately? Or am I already traveling around another sun, or another moon? I hope the orbit of my thoughts can be traced more precisely and the geography in my brain explored more in detail. Ethereal fragments of consciousness, along with earthbound urges, should be eventually put together into a meaningful whole. Is there a mastermind behind all of this mysterious integrating process?

I sent a letter to my friend with a wrong address. I didn’t know he had moved. Someone told me he has gone in search of a bird. Where?

In pursuit of the swan, he arrived at the land of Harima by way of Ki, then crossing Inaba he came to Taniha and to Tajima. He followed the bird east-ward to the land of Chika-tsu-Aumi, crossed Mino, chased it through Wohari, past Shinano, and finally in the land of Koshi spread a net at a river mouth…*

The man in the topic was instructed that if he found the bird, the child—an emperor’s son who was unable to speak—would be able to speak. But is it possible, at the present time, to wander over the Japan Island of the 8th century? Let alone to find the bird? I’m told ‘past’ is a mirage, ‘future’ a phantom, and ‘now’ becomes ‘past’ from instant to instant—a flower never stays the same. But then what is the present time exactly? If there’s no ‘now,’ we live only in ‘past’? If so, no wonder he has gone looking for the bird into ‘past’…by the way, I sprained my neck while I was asleep last night.

Ki lies in the Ki Peninsular facing the Pacific Ocean. I once visited there on a school excursion when I was a child. Harima, far down south of Inaba, is the birthplace of my grandmother. Carried in a palanquin, crossing mountains, she married into a sake-brewing family in Taniha, my ancestors’ place. In Aumi is Lake Biwa, home to multiple birds. In Mino cormorants are nurtured to fish for humans. In Wohari I lived with my family for two years. Koshi is present-day Hokuriku, northwesterly coastal area. On my way to Shinano on a sightseeing trip I looked out over the raging Japan Sea through a train window. What has he been doing all the while? Where on earth has he flown to?—the one to whom I sent a letter, I mean.

My letter must be carried around in a postman’s bag in search of his whereabouts. I hope it won’t be abandoned in a box of ‘undelivered mail’ at a post office, since I forgot to write my return address on the envelope. My fatal fault. Once lost, a letter will never be delivered. I may not know whether he has actually caught the bird or not, although I desperately wish to know.

I have recently lost my voice, caused not by a laryngeal cancer, but from hypertension—I need to perform magic in front of old people in a nursing home. Most of the audience is suffering from dementia, but I am warned they are strangely quick-eyed in seeing through tricks. It is rumored they are trained nightly by particular owls to see through the darkness. If only I could regain my voice, I might distract their attention by my mumbo jumbo.

I wonder, however, if we should always expect replies to our letters. Emily Dickinson wisely stored in her small casket the letters to her ‘Master,’ which has kept the world in perpetual suspense and contemplation. Thinking I might perhaps have forgotten to mail my letter, I rummaged all drawers of my desk and cabinet—in vain. There’s no doubt that I posted it—the letter is in my brain.

*Excerpt from “Kojiki” (trans. by Danno), the oldest collection of songs and stories concerning the founding of Japan and the beginnings of Japanese culture, compiled in the 8th century.

SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE IN THE MORNING

by Ed Garland

Water is perfect and toast isn’t too bad and I actually quite like being hungry. I read that somewhere: “I actually quite like being hungry”. A food writer wrote it one Sunday or I was hallucinating. I’ve been saying it to all the parts of myself to see if any of them will take it up as a mantra.

More than I want to eat I want an email to arrive with a hoped-for response to a long-ago request. Doesn’t matter which one of the plenty it is. My hopes rest on everything. They’re large, there’s nowhere else they could go. After the water there’s coffee if I’m lucky, which I am, so there is. The unlucky me would disagree, but I’m not listening and wouldn’t listen and haven’t got where I am today by listening, it gives you tinnitus. My stomach shrugs like it’s not my friend. If I could only change one thing about my life, I probably wouldn’t bother. One year, I thought I was becoming something.

WORDS-LINKS: I devoured a bird / There is no “me” to speak of