Brooke Larson

from Paper Axe

Brooke Larson is a writer, collagist, and sometimes wilderness guide. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and is finishing a PhD in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A book of her essays, “Pleasing Tree,” is available from Arc Pair Press, and an artist book of her poem-plays, “Origami Drama,” is forthcoming through Quarterly West.

Diana Manesi

One letter

Dearest Cassandra,

      The first time we met the next night we spent it fucking. You fucked me so hard that I felt loved. I wanted to feel loved so much I was prepared to be a nymphomaniac spinster that wants constant attention. Running away from you meant running away from scary memories. I was sexually hurt. I didn’t have anything to do with myself. You pissed your inner guts on my breasts, coated my limbs and starred into my eyes until a feeling of vertigo took over, no more alleys, rooms, doors, corridors, just heights, stairs, elevators, letter birds. Everything was letter birds streaming out of your ass into the labyrinth and back. Still your inner self remains a mystery. This means that I cannot put your words and acts into language. I can only guess at your feelings. Guessing is not really knowing. I cannot hide my cheap intentions. I tried manipulating you, I wanted to extract your tears, pour them out, drink them and make my pain pretentious. I am listening near you, that voice of centuries ago.

      Language comes with joy. It should not be imposed, heaven help anyone who acts as if they want to write statements of absolute truth and glory. Last week I met with my academic publishers they said that I need to dissociate our voices, mine and yours, since it confuses the reader and makes the whole thing something vaguely passable. I hate mediocrity. I hate this truth that manifests itself as the fact that human life is just a negotiation with killjoys, and pain, of course pain, pretending to be in pain, being in pain, I still can’t get in terms with my pain. If it happens that you do not want any further contact with me for one or two months, days, years, I know human desire is erratic and things happen, I shall not stop writing you. What is writing? This is writing. This is it. When I write you my whole body is in control, every inch of me gasps in astonishment, your body comes on top of mine, is this how human is? What stays as a gentle reminder of your presence when you burst out of the room is your ability to make me miserable when you are kilometers away.

      So much I have reconstructed from the labyrinth of notes in painting your pale pink skin. In my spare-room your face flashed like the tail of a comet- three dots- across my trembling letters. Now it is pale pink distance and space, an expanding space in which I took flight as an arrow and the arrow seemed to cross the impossibly wide labyrinth, it seemed to arc on and on in space and not quite to stop. Despite all changes due to emotional swings, gut- spoken headlocks, all the times, you and I have been in different parts of the world, flung out of space, this writing is fuel for love. The pain I write I feel and the pain you write you feel, the pain of displacement, of exile, of separation, of a feminine woman that dies of exhaustion cause she can’t speak manly enough, it’s just the unfeeling tools to build our world. Wish me good luck in this delicate endeavor, it was more than enough for once to have had your arms and lips on me.

Love,
Ntiana

Diana Manesi began writing and recording diaries when she was 11. She stopped once she reached adulthood and went into academia. For many years she engaged with feminist theory, social anthropology, and cultural studies. As years went by she wrote various academic essays. Gradually her relation to language and words began to shift and she decided to revisit her diaries. In the last years, she began experimenting with poetic form and playful prose. In 2017, she published her first poetry collection in Greek, entitled “One and whole: One bite” by Queer Ink Publications. Recently she began writing in English and wishes to continue exploring the margins of language and its relation to the world. She currently resides in London where she teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths College and is about to complete her thesis. Whenever she can she travels, attends poetry workshops and loves making her own milkshakes.

Kat Meads

Niece Notes:
Love & Such

West Coast
Sunday

Dear DeeDee,

In my first-round Virginia Woolf infatuation, I came across a photo of the author leaning against a stone doorway, right hand stuck in the pocket of one of many layers of clothing, left hand crooked and rising toward her chin, right foot kicked out behind her. You likely know the one I mean. It is now everywhere published. New to my eyes, the most riveting aspect of the image, besides its seeming informality, was Woolf’s tilted head and facial expression. I made a photocopy because I thought it captured the writer in one of her mad/near-mad moments and eerily conveyed the essence of that mind state—off-kilter, vulnerable, ever so slightly on guard. I was wrong, of course. The photo was taken at Knole, Vita Sackville West’s ancestral digs. And it wasn’t a visual of Virginia mad; it was a visual of Virginia in love.

Love,
Aunt K

***

West Coast
Tuesday

Dear DeeDee,

Confessional poets—and, let’s be honest, the suicides of confessional poets—turned a sizeable chunk of your aunt’s college contemporaries into anguished romantics. The fragmented self’s fragmentations exhaustively examined. Psychic wounds owned up to and flagrantly exposed. Such unabashed, unashamed and uncensored revealing left us awestruck—and envious. But whereas self-evisceration on the page came off empowering, in life mode that kind of sensibility got folks ostracized, hospitalized, electroshocked and dismissed as a functioning member of the body politic. Regardless, before we aged out, awe carried the day. And what has any of this to do with your kin? Not much, except as illustration of the path not taken. However miserable the living, none in our family seem to have opted to speed the finale. Our collective MO tracks more ornery—and more resigned. In the face of failure and disappointment, disaster and heartbreak, the Meadses, as one non-relation put it, “set their jaw and hunker down.”

Love,
Aunt K

***

West Coast
Thursday

Dear DeeDee,

Your grandparents and I first met your mother when she and your dad drove in for the weekend—a visit that couldn’t have been without anxiety for your dad, concerned as he must have been about receptions. (Not in terms of what we’d think of your mother; rather, what your mother might make of us.) The day was dreary and damp and so our living room looked more dreary and damp than usual. Adding to the dampness, I’d miscalculated their arrival time and was just out of the shower—a crushing turn of events. I’d desperately wanted to make a good impression on your mother and how could that be accomplished with a “wet head”? They sat close together, your parents, on the couch, your mother with her standout elegance looking like someone from another world (as she was). And yet she behaved as nervously as your father, holding his hand, working hard to make us like her, as if any other outcome were possible. It was obvious she adored your dad, and anyone who adored your dad had the inside track to our affections. But the truth is, quite apart from her adoration of our son and brother, we fell madly in love with your mother that afternoon. Every last one of us.

Aunt K

***

West Coast
Friday

Dear DeeDee,

Did your parents share they’d considered building a house on a back acre of the farm? Their choice would have made a spectacular lot. Surrounded on three sides by old-growth oak and pine, they would have looked out into open fields: a wide view from a protected spot. They would have lived Appleton’s prospect-refuge theory of geographical contentment to a T. Since the woods hadn’t then been cut for timber, you’d have had a choice of massive trees to climb or field rows to run. In any direction—north, south, east or west—you wouldn’t have felt penned in, not in the slightest. I understood your dad’s wish to return home and work with your grandfather and because the idea meant so much to him felt grateful to your mom for supporting the plan. Your grandparents would have gladly given over the acreage, thrilled to have your parents live so close by. But the farm couldn’t support two salaries then, perhaps never could. It was hard for your grandparents—hard to acknowledge their helplessness in the face of incontrovertible fact, extremely hard to disappoint your dad’s hopes. I know it was hard because whenever your grandmother talked about that conversation, even after your grandfather died, she cried.

Love,
Aunt K

***

West Coast
Saturday

DeeDee,

You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that while previously I’ve not been shy about discussing the end of my own marriage, I’ve said little about your parents’. Avoidance, pure and simple. I’ve been circling the subject of their split because, despite the time gap between then and now, I’d rather not admit (or believe) it happened. Your parents’ divorce was infinitely more distressing than mine—on your dad (of course), but also on your grandparents and (yes) on me. Because we believed in your parents’ coupledom, you see. Believed in its rightness, its fitness, its resiliency. Proved wrong, we not only lost the regular companionship of your mother, we lost faith in the accuracy of our perceptions, in our interpretation of the manifestly true. In terms of age and wedding dates, your dad and I divorced out of sequence. I was twenty-six when I called it quits, a mere year and a half into the contract. Your parents’ union lasted twelve times that. I so vividly remember opening your dad’s letter outside the Northampton post office. Where I stood on the sidewalk. The level of snow clumps on either side. The thin, high voice of someone behind me. I assume your father wrote not trusting himself (or me) to discuss it over the phone. He gave no reason for the separation in the letter. Neither he nor your mother ever shared the reason/reasons. For me to speculate here would be heretical, disrespectful of that discretion. But I do brood about their breakup. To this hour, I brood and miss your mother terribly.

Love,
Aunt K

Kat Meads is the author of 2:12 a.m. – Essays (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2013), a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year finalist and the recipient of an Independent Press Publishers (IPPY) Gold Medal. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Prague Revue, Identity Theory, Hotel Amerika, Zone 3, The Southern Review and elsewhere. Her essays have received four Notable citations in the Best American Essays series, the Dorothy Churchill Cappon prize from New Letters and the Editors’ Choice Award in Nonfiction from Drunken Boat. She teaches in Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA program. (www.katmeads.com)

Tessa Berring & Kathrine Sowerby

MOUNTAIN RANGE

Lying down, she looks like a mountain range. Someone told her that once and she likes the sound of it. Says it over and over. Imagines bees and wasps fighting over the wild flowers that grow on her slopes. But there are dishes to do. And questions to answer – how do you make the bubbles so small? That has nothing to do with her but an answer has to be found all the same. She stares into the sink and wants to take her clothes off and start shivering. To shiver is to survive. To shiver is to be muscular. Like the shirt ripped at the sleeves that she will never throw away. ‘Come here’, says Someone else. Look at the bees! Look at the way sunlight hides! But she is lying down again and listening to the ticking of the metronome that makes silence go faster. That catches up with the drip. Make me a cup of tea, she thinks, but never asks. Her name is Maxime. She likes marzipan and brown bread. She never wears stockings, open-toed shoes or anything yellow. Her life is not hard – the kitchen floor is hard and Someone else can be hard to understand. But no one is hurt, not yet, and no one has come to the door for a long time. Or is her name Clara, as in Clara with the pale blue carpets? The thing about skin is that it is alive. She is Maxime on odd days and Clara on even. If only she could find the rubber bands to remind her what day it is, what name, and when to roll out the carpet that matches the parakeet’s wings.

Outside is a scarecrow wearing gloves and a polka dot blouse. It has no face as far as anyone can see because it was drawn so faintly. Clara will go over it. Over and over until the face is ruined and apologetic. It is raining and the yew is as poisonous as ever but at least in the bath she can make waterfalls, pools, rivulets, feel the slip of fish, watch them blow bubbles with their little ‘oh’ shaped mouths. But she can’t stay in too long, not Maxime. She gets cold so quickly. Clara is chewing celery and thinking about the man with teeth stitched on his lapels – son of a dentist and a bit too shamanic. She couldn’t stay long, there was nothing to say and the kitchen was so sticky. Maxime! Are you awake? Of course she is, damn cat scratching at the door. But she leans her elbows on the table while she drinks tea and whispers in her ear, ‘Stop waking me, you baby’. Clara never feeds the cat. She opens the door and doesn’t think for a second when the cat might return. But Maxime can whistle, she’s won prizes but keeps that a secret, and the cat comes running. Then it sits and licks for hours. Maxime watches until she is bored, then goes and looks for spoons and disinfectant. Clara is still chewing celery. It reminds her of the river. It was blue on one side, brown on the other and belonged to no one, especially not the fools that paddle down it. Tip the boat, says Maxime. But it’s an even day so nobody hears her.

Someone else is swinging on the washing line. He looks lonely like that, dangling above the ground. They should take a picnic to the river, swap names, find a new person – or a dog. Some dogs believe they are children and are always hungry, eat whole loaves and bones buried by foxes behind the gladioli. Others know there is nothing better than sticks and chasing. They are the boring ones. Clara likes to think that but envies the concentration in their eyes. And the yellow sandals. Can they be hers? They seem to fit so she must have been wrong about who is who. Again! Down to the river. The most feared things can become the most favoured and all she wants to wear is yellow. But the dress looks ugly. What was she thinking? And only yesterday she bought a lion with plastic whiskers and a rabbit fur mane. The river is deep. She wades into the blue side, feels the water round her knees, her thighs. The stones are smooth beneath her feet and when she moves they move. Someone else is already swimming. A dog is barking. Or was that the day before? She thought the scarecrow might keep visitors away but they insisted. There’s always the back door, she thought. The current is pleasing like the pull of bathwater.

Lying down, she looks like a mountain range after heavy rains and pink morning sun. Drips trip over goose bumps on her stomach and thighs. Standing up she looks like… not the scarecrow at least. But back to the river, there are fish nibbling her heels and Someone else is splashing and moving. That’s swimming, she thinks, or as close as it needs to be. She wants to turn away, take off her clothes and swim underwater. See where she surfaces. When did it all become so polite? So divided? Clara dreams about salt cellars. Salt cellars that look like corn on the cob, glazed and shiny on the windowsill. They are empty. She goes looking for more salt but only finds boxes and boxes of paper plates and sunglasses. The sunglasses are thick and brown. More like goggles. She dives into the river and forgets to breathe. Maxime is already at the waterfall. Her sunglasses are pink, rose tinted. She has always been polite, she thinks, then says, then shouts ‘I have always been so polite!’ She wants to learn to spit. She wants to resurface where the water is dark brown like furniture polish. And ticklish like the dangling roots of all those little trees. If she pulls on them, will it all fall apart? Is that what she wants? Mud. That’s what she wants. The weight of it, the feel of it drying, caking on her skin. Lying down she looks like a mountain range. But it has been a long day and tomorrow will be different.

Tomorrow is just more of today, thinks Clara. More of today, she tells the postman. I should be walking, she says to the rose bush, as she waves him away. Come back. Why come and then go? She knows the salt cellars were only a dream. Only a dream, says Maxime. But she can feel the indents in the palm of her hand where she held them. Salt is on the shopping list. It brings out the flavour. Someone else said that, because they read it so it must be true. Like mud. Oh cheer up, says Maxime. But Clara wants to sleep for a while longer. Clara wants to go to back to bed, even though it’s almost today, and pretend it isn’t. Pretend it is yesterday. Pretend that the dream hasn’t started yet. Get ready, salt cellars, you’re up next! Where is the remote control? Maxime pulls at Clara’s feet. They are narrower and longer than hers. Wake up and take your turn, she says. Clara doesn’t move. Footsteps shake the house. Someone else? Someone else, she shouts. Is that you or the cat coughing? And everyone is up because that’s what happens in a house. Even the scarecrow. Running to see where the noise is coming from. Bubbles are fast too but quieter than expected. And the day starts with a cardigan. The name of the dog by the river. Here, Cardigan! Here’s a stick and a bowl of rice with an egg cracked over it. How easy a dog is, thinks Maxime, who has not gone to sleep yet. ‘How easy a dog is!’, she shouts at Clara who is still asleep and dreaming of a dog who is scared of light and reflections, who runs away and bites through things.

Someone else is covered in mud. Maxime squeezes the bottle underwater and tries not to listen to the metronome. Time is running out! And she is not used to the noises of this day. What if the postman comes? Which cupboard does the salt live in? Someone is here, and not just Someone else. She can sense it. ‘Clara! Cardigan needs a walk and I can’t find my sandals’. Clara screams then comes downstairs. ‘Come on then Cardigan. Lets go to the river, the blue side’. Lets throw stones, hold onto our hats, things like that. Have you got a hat, Cardigan? Clara likes to ask questions to the dog, who can never answer back. Come on! Fetch your stick! But Cardigan stands in the doorway, looking out and refusing to move. Not so easy now, Maxime! Clara pulls on Cardigan’s lead and tries to look like someone who finds all this easy. And can she hear footsteps behind her. Maxime? No it can’t be Maxime. The dog is way ahead, concentrating hard. Clara walks faster, faster. The river is loud. Have the footsteps gone? Is this still the dream? She asks herself, No, of course not, she replies, and why ask that when you know you are out of breath from running? Bird rhymes so perfectly with bird, and the wind sounds like the wind. But what becomes of air when it is trapped inside old tree trunks? Lean over, press your face against the bark. Let’s stay here a while, shall we? Cardigan is panting and lies down at Clara’s feet. Maybe it is easy after all.

Clara thinks of a kiss that might have happened near here, of moving her hand the way another hand moved. Like a mirror. That was long ago. Root rhymes with root but when you say it too often it twists into something unplanned and tomorrow. And the river is loud again. Come on, Cardigan. They stand up together and the water is brown and breathless. Is that Maxime on the other side? It can’t be but she waves all the same. Manners are important, the way paths are important. And pillars? Cardigan looks at her as if she knows. The way Someone else looks at her as if she knows. (so many knowing looks – what happened to the secrets? Where did she put them?) But she does know a bridge. It’s that way. Or the other way. ‘Is there someone I can phone’, she says. The river is loud and her voice is lost. Look at all the fish leaping! There was a time when Clara only knew about concrete, and Maxime only knew about grey. There were no fish, no dogs called Cardigan, only thick smoke and things that were always falling down. And while that was sad, the memory is pink and full of the tiniest bubbles ever measured. The kind that fizz on your tongue. They wore bracelets there, and shoes with robust soles (you can’t go out without them so don’t even try). Someone else might have loved it – the signposts, the sharp bends, the washing that span round and round in huge machines. Fish are fools to leap so high, thinks Clara, watching their every splash. They should keep quiet, stay under, learn to love the dark and just lay eggs and oh.

Cardigan pulls Maxime across the bridge. Where did Clara go? Is this not more of today? The metronome plays tricks but is always right. ‘Don’t touch. Time is delicate – listen’. Then back across again the way they had come. ‘What’s the matter, Cardigan?’ Then she hears it – a telephone. Clara is asleep. She sleeps whenever she can these days. Lying down, she looks like a mountain range. She jumps when the telephone rings or the doorbell or when Cardigan whines and pulls the blanket from her legs. I just want to be left alone, she says, then why won’t anyone write to me. Maxime? Maxime is clinging to the broken bridge. She didn’t see the sudden wave because rivers don’t have waves. It was unexpected and swept the concrete supports downriver just like that. Cardigan jumped and made it. Run home, shouted Maxime. Bring help! Her toes are touching the water beneath her and she doesn’t know how long she can hold onto the wooden beam. It is slippery like disagreements. There have been too many of those lately. But now’s not the time… The telephone won’t stop ringing. Hello! Is someone there? Don’t be silly, she mutters, there’s no-one here for miles. Clara is never up at this time. Cardigan won’t have a clue. ‘He doesn’t have a clue, poor thing’, she used to tell Someone else. Oh Cardigan.

Maxime drops, and the sound she makes is utterly lost in the rush of the water, blue on one side, brown on the other. Clara wakes with a start. Where am I? What time is it? Someone else? She slides off the edge of the sofa and finds some shoes. Are these mine, she wonders. She asks the room, ‘Are these mine?’ Bird rhymes with bird and root rhymes with root, and the kitchen floor is caked in mud. Lying down.. But no one is lying down and the metronome has stopped. Maxime! Maxime! Clara goes to Maxime’s room. It has no furniture, just angles and a windowsill. There are postcards. Of fallen buildings, of mountains covered in wild flowers. Someone else comes in dripping wet and talking on a telephone. He says ‘Goldfish don’t need much, just a glass bowl’ then ‘Where is Cardigan?’ then ‘Pillar, Pillar, Pillar’ Maxime hits the pillar and wakes up. The bath is full and cold and her wrist hits the tiles. Hard. And who left the tap running. She turns it with her toe and sinks her head and shoulders under the water. Maybe it will be warm down there. Maybe there will be coral. Lying down she looks like a mountain range on a submerged planet. Far away. Like the bridge. She checks her hands for scratches. How long was she holding on for? She shakes her fingers and drips fly everywhere, though everywhere is too much. Cardigan?

The dog is quiet. It licks the air and finds the taste of metal. It winces as if remembering something. Something bad like helicopters circling. Cardigan doesn’t have a clue. He closes his eyes and the light fades. Cardigan! Wake up. But Cardigan doesn’t wake up, and the day begins with a sheet. Cardigan, his name embroidered at an angle in the corner. But first Maxime wants a towel, she wants to get dressed and go through all the documents. She wants to pick out all the words that rhyme and tie them in rubber bands. She wants to find the root for goodness sake! She looks behind the television but it’s all wires and she is dripping. Clara? She shouts. Someone else? But nobody answers and the clock says middle of the night but it is light and now is not the time for writing messages in swirly handwriting, what’s there to say anyway? You’d like the river, plenty of fish! Maxime’s teeth are chattering and the bruises on her knees are coming up patchwork. The gurgle of the plug. The musty towel and who left the window open again? And on the other side of the door, the cat scratching. Maxime kicks it. I wish you’d drowned, hisses the cat. So do I, thinks Maxime. Or says. It’s hard to know in an empty room full of angles. She lies on the floor making puddles at her foothills. Ear to the ground.

How easy a dog is, thinks Clara, and starts crying. The empty room is cold and grey. There are no pictures on the walls. Just nails and hooks all over the place. It is a whole new day and only Clara is left. Shall I put down traps she thinks? There is furniture to rearrange and cupboards to empty. The documents that Maxime tied so tightly. And too many chairs and the picture of wood nymphs that she promised to keep forever. Hard to tell who is who anymore – like rain. And the metronome has stopped ticking. Out of the window is the mountain range. Can I go there? Clara drags the suitcase from under the bed, tunes the radio, turns the volume up. She pulls underwear from the drawer and a sweater from the bottom of the basket. Sniffs it. Fine. But Cardigan, there in the corner. Can she leave him? Lying down, he looks like a mountain range covered in snow. Clara looks out of the window. How far the hills look. Tea first. She fills the kettle and watches the bubbles become louder. ‘Turn the radio down’, she shouts. Someone else? Someone else draws figures in the mud drying on the kitchen floor. She’d forgotten. Someone else. Lying down he looks…She lies down next to Someone else, but not too close, and draws a river split perfectly in two.

Tessa Berring and Kathrine Sowerby are artist/writers living in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland. Their collaborative work has been published in DATABLEED, Zarf and forthcoming in 3:AM Magazine. They performed their poem in 4 acts, Tables & Other Animals, at the Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh, 2016 and Cat, Dog, Rat was a performance/installation at Bone Digger: Golden Hour Presents at Summerhall, Edinburgh, 2016. Handmade publications include Tables & Other Animals and BAZOOKA.
More at https://tessaberring.tumblr.com/ , https://kathrinesowerby.com/

Antonis Katsouris

ALWAYS WELCOME*

– – there’s always some group-therapy for your literary symptom(s)

the aquarium of aphrodisiac aphorists
the minaret of manicured metaphorists
the nursery of nervous narrators
the parthenon of perfumed parodists
the clique of charismatic correspondents
the elysium of exhausted experimentalists
the arcadia of acrobatic acratics
the tea-party of timorous time wasters
the esplanade of eloquent essayists
the menagerie of myopic mythomaniacs
the brotherhood of barefoot bards
the pagoda of prosperous pessimists
the carousel of cacophonous critics
the hive of hilarious haiku-hackers
the maison of mesmerizing memoirists
the vacancy of vitriolic versifiers
the alcove of alienated appropriationists
the panorama of perilous poets
the exile of elusive elegists
the lifeguard of lilliputian laconics
the refuge of repressed realists
the quartet of quotable queers
the plaza of platonic plagiarists
the cabinet of colossal columnists
the glory-hole of gregarious ghost-writers
the circus of clandestine cynics
the unity of undefended utopianists
the eden of euphoric experts
the mass of miraculous mysticists
the diaspora of dilettantish diarists
the feather-bed of fairy-tale fetishists
the terminal of turbulent twitter-tricksters
the north of nocturnal nihilists
the labyrinth of laborious list-lovers


*after an idea of S.H. & D.L.



Antonis Katsouris is a parodist, and a list-lover. He lives in Athens.

Daisy Lafarge

Bedbug

One morning I woke up with bright pink bites. They stayed for what seemed like weeks without fading, in a blotchy archipelago from coccyx to hip bone. My lover took to counting them like a rosary, saying “bug, bug, bug, bug, bug”.

The bites appeared around the same time I met the pale girl.

The pale girl was also small, and I’d first found her tucked between the mattress and mattress slats of a giant bed. She had been decidedly put there, by the person whose bed it was, but neither of us knew when that had happened, or how long she’d been there. She wasn’t angry about it, and didn’t even seem to have noticed where she’d been. She spoke very quietly, like a door with a well-behaved hinge. Together we counted back to the last thing she remembered—feeding the cat two weeks ago. She’d been underneath the mattress for two whole weeks, but now seemed embarrassed to be out in the open air, taking up space. I quietly wondered how she’d managed inside: hadn’t she needed to piss? To shit, drink, eat? It seemed impolite to ask. It was as if her body had simply dropped out of itself, her functions suspended on pause.

By that point she was relieved, but a little on edge. The person whose bed it was was coming back soon. I didn’t know who they were exactly, but I knew the bed belonged to a tyrant.

If they came back and found us there, they’d put us both in the bed. Maybe for two weeks, maybe more.

I wasn’t so much scared of being put in the bed, as of becoming like Bug – taking it all so meekly.

Ah—didn’t I tell you her name? The pale girl’s name was Bug.


Speculative Nomenclature of the Female Subject

For some time, all the writing was false. Whenever I sat down to try, the syntax kinked stubbornly around the pronoun ‘she’ until the thing I was writing became a writing about her, whoever she was. A female subject.

They came in all manner of pomp and circumstance. Some injudicious divas, others gothic confidants or pseudo-Cistercian grandmothers. I never set out to write them, but they gaggled at the tip of the pen, and one of them would always manage to squeeze out. Before long, she’d have made the poem in her own likeness; we’d draft for six days, and on the seventh, publish.

I didn’t mind, really. It was kind of relieving to have the pressure taken off like that. And I liked the way they wrote poems for me—it did me a lot of favours, even though they were the ones with imagination, they liked to remind me. They had all the good ideas.

They did seem to want something from me, though. Their names got more and more presumptuous, and less and less like actual names. By the time I got to writing about the one called Silence, even I wasn’t fooled. What was the difference between Silence and silence, other than her tentative pronoun?

It was becoming risky. I didn’t know enough about speculative nomenclature to keep it up for long. For example, that morning I had written ‘despot’ instead of ‘depot’, and cracked a monstrosity into the quiet November morning.

I began to plot against Silence. The only thing I could think of was to replace her with an object, which I didn’t want to do. It’s like one of the subjects had told me: poems about objects are vulgar.

The solution came about by chance. A woman called Want had started to poke her way into my poem, and it would be hers in a matter of minutes if I didn’t do something quick. My sister was on the other side of the table, eating fun-sized marshmallows from the bag. I reached over and grabbed a pink one. Wrote W-A-N-T in spindly letters. It was difficult to do as the nib kept sinking in and snagging on the pink. Then I pulled it in two, and gave half to my sister. We gulped them down. She got W-A and I got N-T. It’s like the DNA bases, she said with her mouth full. A-T-C-G. Science taught us how to isolate.

And it did taste good, like Milk of Magnesia. We used to creep into the bathroom at night to steal sips from the bottle. And after: the soft metallic of our breath on the pillow.

My sister asked if the process was genomic. I noticed that at some point the poem had righted itself. There was a lamppost in it now, and some inclement weather. All seemed well. No, I replied. Not genomic, but psychodynamic. Ultimately, the subjects had been expressing a desire to attach or ‘dock’, and we (my sister and I) had helped them make a healthy transference to the gut, which was the nutritive seat of the soul.

She shrugged and reached for another marshmallow. It was marked—

S-I-S-T-E-R



Daisy Lafarge lives in Scotland. In 2017 she was awarded an Eric Gregory Award, and her first pamphlet ‘understudies for air’ was published by Sad Press.

Emanuela Bianchi, Maria Damon, Alan Sondheim

Nemesis

In the mythical genealogy of Hesiod’s Theogony maternal fecundity is primordial, and yet always remains marked by a certain obscurity. As Nicole Loraux observes, two mothers, Gaia and Night, are daughters of Chaos, the primordial cleft or gap. Night, “aware of nothing but division gave birth – without love – by fission only – to progeny encompassing everything negative in the Greek imagination.” The offspring of Gaia are all the gods, mostly born from a male and female parent, with their active, masculine rivalries, hatreds, and violences, exemplified by the castration of Ouranos by Kronos, and the eventual victory of Zeus over all. Night, on the other hand, will give birth to plural groups of feminine goddess (Hesperides, Fates, Keres, Nereides, Oceanides, Horae, Charites) as well as the well-known abstractions, such as Doom, Death, Age, Nemesis, and Strife. Further, “Strife bore painful Toil and Forgetfulness and Famine and tearful Sorrows, Fightings also, Battles, Murders, Manslaughters, Quarrels, Lying Words, Disputes, Lawlessness and Ruin, all of one nature, and Oath who most troubles men upon earth when anyone willfully swears a false oath.” This propensity for self-splitting is thus rendered an obscure and relentless rumble, an evil and awesomely powerful function, characteristic of a particularly feminine side of genos which masculine, paternal genos must take as its singular duty to subjugate.
Emanuela Bianchi, “Genos Between Nature and Power.”

less _a_.

and less an
incident, becuse of her feelings nemesis (o my private goddess of private emptiness), righteous hincident, bec use hve been h ve inst enemies –my enemies with their breath sweetened with the cloying toxicity of imagined sincerity) pst ted by, the resurgence Atheni st nd n g t outset Peloponnesin Wn W Wr. By brokenness fore and aft, left and right, high and low, by emptiness and brokenness in the starry night 
fifth century r. present, by cant of darkness, depth of kettlehole murk. We all imagine truth; none imagine truth looms.Femina factora, Nemesis weaves truth on her four swords. She constructs a loom of them, warps it and weaves from the lies told by the male gods; she turns their breath-lines into the thinnest thread and makes a gauze of truth. This gauze, when held against the sun, shows a rainbow.

less an incident, than the failure of truth.

The eyes of e, the I of is. The meting of what is owed. Pleased to mete you your measure of metre, of verse, of tears, to turn you into a vessel of wet salt grief. somewhere down there, CHITON is thinking, i’m glad i’m here, i’m glad i’m in the salt walk of the deep byte, maybe i’ll survive, i’ve done it for 10s of 1,000,000s of years, maybe 100s, i don’t want you anywhere near me, nemesis is your business, your impropriety, not mine. go away, i’m grazing rock.

N of negation, M of ocean, S of the deep bite. Corrosion of karmic tumble, over and over, in the salt waves, dashed against the wet sand with repeated vigor. Hurl, and hurl, splattered again. (here the chiton emerges, Cryptochitonstelleri,the giant western and fiery chiton, the platelets, almost trilobitic, monolobotic, holdfast against the splattering, against Nemesis Aura Auracular, Dear Maria, I will not close these parentheses!

Aura Auracular, the breath of speech, the gold of guile. She comes for you, blasting your face with the heat of her gaze.

Around her supple ample dimple body she wears a chiton woven of spun gold, which she bartered from the Fates in exchange for the souls of a few dozen lying men. Aura Auracular, Azure Abomination Nemesis stands upon two giant western fiery chitons, Gumboot and Meatloaf, as they graze the rocks for food. She is half submerged, half hovering above the sea in her motherly wrath. You can see her from a great distance in her billowing shimmering dimpling gold robe.

Nemesis, supreme in her negation of all supremacy, s deserved.[cittion needed] Ld come to me tion Lter, wh ter, w her laughter of whipped fawns and her smile of avenging radiance,
“to give wht is due”,[2] from Proto-Indo-Europet
Proto-Indo-Europe Proto-Indo-Europen nem- c rnessed rcing Grypes
obstinte enemy Aur cing . She, oh flowing liquid honey of melody, te d hd hrnessed r (Griffins)
newly spun robe, gold spun of molten honey, of melody, of stinging nettles, of thistle-down, ge;

to live under a shadow of pleasure. the avenging gun-toter. the slung noose of inevitability.slung lungs, where Chiton lives, now a name for this particular chiton, of which one forms all proper names:

the proper name of the is The.
The proper name of proper is Proper.
The proper name of nemesis is Nemesis.
The proper name of alan is Alan.
The proper name of of is Of.
for which we have Chiton to thank:
The proper name of chiton is Chiton.

She Who breaks the Aura, She Who divides; / ;

She who she who she who breathes at your neckhairs.
she who she who she who reaches for your belt,
she who she who she who undoes your sandal-laces,
she who she who she who trips you in the sand
she who she who she who carves her fate into your skin

then you lso hthe cestus, the following Colossus on his knees hustling clumsily after her, flogged m rri no
then you isolate the censorious overlords, pin them to their sharp words with their sharp tongues and your own sharp swords, all four of them, right through their heartless hearts
fer, for Aurto bl r, your deceitful sleep woods; your heart of Chiton;

Aura Auratic who breaks the digital bonds, creates Shadow,
She Who obscures;

deceitful in your abjection, but not so our divine Nemesis, she who walks on skulls to get to heaven, she who lifts up the abjected maids violated over and over by Zeus, Apollo, Ares.

Apollopes, Sears Ares; Aura Oracular’s Memesis, swollen and dim minds.
So he says, you’re saying that she’s saying that no one remembers their mind? No one, she replied through you. Mary and Todd said that’s where imagination comes from, from Lincoln’s logs and files, already hacked:

res Nemesis below blows your mind when you’re looking away from the horror: mend mesurement – constitution surement more than you can handle, and certainly more than you can imagine. 
H shdowy ttributes dowy digit l, this or with word, pregnant with word, but word and with shadow, pregnant with word and with shadow, casting her long lines across the city, the long lines raying out from her navel, where she stands at the center of the city, in the shadows of the word, her belly bulging, gives birth to Legion.

The Gatha of Legion:
The Improper Name of The is the.
the Improper Name of Gatha is gatha.
the Improper Name of of is of.
the Improper Name of Legion is legion.

Too hot, too hot, too hot panting in pluribus Onan, Nemesis sees your every doubled move in her many eyes, reflected in her poly-prismatic swords, so many of you, miniaturized, doing that shame thing, many times multiplied, doing that thing, she will give you your justice

will give you your Justice, just as Justice is legion, con-fined, among the nemeses of Nemesis, con-founded:

My name is Legion. I shall conquer Nemesis. I shall release Aura Auratic. No one can help being really terrific, AA comes with so many depth! To see her is to love her fantastic fast! She is so much good goodess!

good goddess tht Nemesis, vert whom,Nemesis? Wh ding wrns us by 
cubit-rule rns bridle neither do dre known (Retribution)
tribulations and tintinnabulations, raining on the city in the sight of Nemesis, trials for the worthy, the hypocrites and the major dons of the republic, their days are numbered and not so plentiful.
Discussion: ped fther Zeus, gseventh century: ther gve fter she
chnging, which only mentioned in Kyprich nging, Kypri, Kypri,
worshipped personified, seemingly different Personified rt
literture building does not ture temple ppe Attic
Why would a father rape his own daughter? why would he try to prevent her changing into a goddess, who brings retribution to all those wronged by harsh lust? Why would anyone do anything in these harsh times? Why, Improper chiton, is anyone capable, cap-able, in these yet harsher times?

Rhmnous 470s, chronology cult stmnous mnous sttue tue Pheidis
mni mde s, who expl de ins th plusibly usibly ttributed out The
rtilly role lly re identified p Helens mother ws entirely
forgotten over PersiHelens Persins, Persi ns, bse se context
story Helen [2], hs now politics politic politicl identity into
l Rh Rhmnous. bringing either mrricult ge mnous. Menelos [3].
Here joined severto Menel os severl other opposite side sever
se. here most implcc cble ble v
when is new politics of retribution going to rise in the east like our radiant Nemesis, our Name is Us, our Is Is Is of half-spoken aspiration?

Aswirl in a soup of incantatory words, we reach for a non-ground of non-being, hoping in non-hope for a survival of some small grain of embodiment. We fear we are drowning in crazed floods of language.
We say, precisely as follows, We See No Sign Of god, No Sign Of nemesis, all sign of Chiton, of which We Say:

chiton is the proper name of Chiton.
Chiton is the improper name of chiton.

NM, Nemesis-Memesis another meme. Memes are half-spoken, abject when they’re dressed. NM and AA love each other; AA says, “That’s sure more than a meme!” Right now it’s dark outside, furious storm, thunder coming. The gods are saying I’m right as rain! Men think they’re deities, AA, Abigail Aubergine knows otherwise, says deity men violence, the It/d. deity men violence. It/d [1.33.3] Of rble Peidi Nemesis. [1.33.7]
Neither nor ny ncient wings they Love. I ce ske cleke cle ke
clerness. Your protective wings of shadow and silk.
Greeks rness. will go onto describe pref he hy
represented being led Led originlly meNemesis origin ment
distributor fortune, resentment”
alchemized into clean steel-gold action.
From nt rd, In Greek trs tr
trgedies gedies fourth onw ppevenger some met ppers chiefly
physic venger metphysicppe physicl mythology, rs ys egg
discovered void bird form respected goddess, brought much sorrow
Boeotid BoeotiBoeoti BoudicaBoudiccaBoadicea furybody of
transcontinental colonization, subaltern rising to the elliptical top,
She of thegold lace and steel glides forward into the center of the fire, She calls on the dead to avenge the living. (The Greeks say, they’re in the EU, they’re tired of nasty family dramas chewing up everyone, women brutalized, there’s no excuse for that. The Greeks say, they know better, the drachma dolmas, doldrums dolorosa. The Greeks drag us into the 21st century. They say look at your usa, we have usG for many times now. Your usa has nasty family dramas.
No muses for you, usa! all art will ebb, all evil flood. Our Nemesis is beauty inverted. She’ll take your gold and good riddance!

AA, Azure Antigone, agrees. Devoid of scalars, improper Fractions, names. myths and ruptures repeat repulsive relatives’ recallings, rehearsed, reversed – reverance required, reality relinquished… immeasurable, infinite, incomparable, incommensurable, immoderate, immodest, immolating, impish…

Although too bore ffliction believed one should ever th”
(Theogony, 223, though perhps ps mort ls subject line). As
“Goddess Rhmnous”, wmnous”, mnous”, poet Mesomedes wrote hymn
honored pl rk-fced e”Nemesis, winged b ced erly times rly ncer
life, representtions resembled Aphrodite, sometimes berepresent
tions bers be epithet nme relepithet relted nmein, rel rticulrly
concerned mme mtters love. ning. myth tters sprung up ground? Myth mother on sprung ground, epithets hanging from her shoulders, mossy with froth, swaying as she trudges

All the numbers spell out a future that falls through a space in the cosmos.
All the letters gather together and ask please do not make such a mess.
chiton Calls Them Out, The Recounting Of Nemesis:

[Nemesis recounts rncient rce Typhoeus dTit ughter Phrygi. With
equns) [i.e. equl speed (the Unvoidsteivoidble) [Nemesis]
pursued Argive
venomous hymns to no avail. a tiny reticule opens to reveal a blinding light that devours all guilt. Aura Argive Absolved Absolutely Astonishing, All Animals And Androids Amazingly Absconding, Astounded! Adrble) stei let whip l[Nemesis] lter seduced Zeus], ter ck
snowbeten Tprep ten Turos red uros nother love flew nd] sid sves
id until ves ched [ Tit nes (T (Turus) urus) snowbe
an ice palace where evil is allowed to pretend it’s in ascendancy… snowbeaten paths attract all malfeasers… and Nemesis seals the door on them.

AA says Hello. And ZZZZ of the Four-Sworded Loom says Goodbye!! Goodbye!! Goodbye!! Goodbye!!

chiton

slung lungs.

goodbye.

Emanuela Bianchi is a philosopher and assistant professor of comparative literature at New York University, who works at the intersection of Ancient Greek philosophy and literature, feminist/queer theory, and contemporary continental philosophy. She is the author of The Feminine Symptom: Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos (Fordham, 2014), co-editor (with Sara Brill and Brooke Holmes) of Antiquities Beyond Humanism (Oxford, forthcoming 2018), and has written numerous articles in journals including Hypatia, The Yearbook of Comparative Literature, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, Philosophy Today, Epochê, and Angelaki. She is currently at work on a manuscript provisionally entitled “Emergence and Concealment: Nature, Hegemony, Kinship.”

Maria Damon teaches poetry and poetics at the Pratt Institute of Art. She is the author of two books of poetry scholarship; co-author (with mIEKAL aND, Alan Sondheim, Adeena Karasick, and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen) of several books of poetry; co-editor (with Ira Livingston) of Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader; and author of two cross-stitch visual poetry chapbooks, Meshwards and XXX.

Alan Sondheim is a Providence-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’s busy writing codework and theory at the moment, along with some new cds, shows, and videos on the way. His work can be accessed here: http://www.alansondheim.org/

LOUISA DOLOKSA

On Superpowers and Beautiful Women

Question: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

Answer: I wish I could transform myself into a beautiful woman. I would like to know what it feels like to walk through life with the certainty of beauty, the certainty of womanhood. I would then live a year of my life as a beautiful woman. I would shine bright, seduce and destroy and I would be loved, because I would be a beautiful woman. After a year, I would return to myself, and only think about having been a beautiful woman from time to time. The thing I am, the comfort I take in its excess and lack, is not worth sacrificing, for the sake of a beautiful woman. Still, I wonder, what life would be like for a year as a beautiful woman.

Answer: If I could have two superpowers, I would turn back time and relive select incidents, or even my whole life as a beautiful woman. Take careful notes. Before I turned back time and relived my life as a beautiful woman, I would have taken careful notes too. I suppose , I would turn back time, relive my life, take careful notes up until my decision to relive my life as a beautiful woman, then turn back time and relive my life as a beautiful woman, all the while taking notes. Would I still take notes as a beautiful woman? Do beautiful women take meticulous notes, do they have the time, do they have the strength, the patience for meticulous notes in the midst of the world’s constant demand for their beauty?

Answer: If I could have three superpowers, I would turn back time and relive my whole life as a beautiful woman who could ward off people’s desire with one hand, spin it with the other, and take notes with the other. Then I would compare notes. I would then like to meet someone who also has superpowers. Someone with the ability to transform me into a rather small, invisible nebula. I would enjoy spending eternity, eternally combusting amidst the charred pages of my notes, visible only to myself and through reflection, but capable of sound, particularly of meaningful whispers. I would whisper my observations to others who like I once was, would not be a beautiful woman. I would take every step to assure them that they are not going crazy before I told them my observations. I would introduce them to the right people. I would soon have company, maybe even lovers. We would all compare notes. If we had fingers, they would have been sooty, from exchanging each other’s charred, meticulous notes. If we had bodies, they would have been sooty, from rolling around, and biting, and scratching and licking and sucking and pulling and lightly caressing each other, on a bed of our compared, charred, meticulous notes. That we had once lived our lives as beautiful women, will matter much less than that we have lived our lives not as beautiful women.

Thank you for your questions.



Louisa Doloksa is a bowel artist, poetess and performative fattie. She enjoys talking about her empathy related bowel issues, her emotions, and the political experience of fat femininities.

JENNY WU

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG ARTIST

1.

When I used to live in the city I had a balcony on the twentieth floor. I discovered on a balcony diagonally above me there sometimes appeared, among the potted plants, a gray dog with a white M for eyebrows, and I would whistle up to him and whisper, “Hey, hey.” He would stick his long snout, then his whole face, through the railing and his ears would flop in the wind and he would glance around at the street, the sky, sometimes at me, and smile in the sunlight. I thought, “Hey, dog, are you having fun?” His gray fur matched perfectly the color of the stones of the building. Sometimes birds flew so close I thought he could bite them if he wanted; we really were way up in the air.
           One morning I was out there again, and I noticed this dog had gotten on the ledge. I whistled, he glanced at me, he glanced at the street. Before I could even wonder he had leaped to his death.

2.

The egoist’s sonnet: “I am, I am, I am, Iamb, Iamb.”

3.

People like to say there was something in the water of America. There was talk of social diseases. An old local politician was revealed to have sat in his seat in the governmental assemblies for thirty years without speaking out once. He was shy.
           Zimbardo’s studies on shyness show, from their perspective, doctors and psychologists and theorists, who were not shy, prodding and yelling at shy test subjects, verbally beating them into effeminate submission. Nearly 1 out of 2 American adults in 1975 confessed, in an anonymous study, to being shy; at first this was classed as a neurosis, an anxiety, a cognitive problem caused by some insidious socio-biological decline in Americans, especially American men. What followed were humiliating studies in which shy people were forced into parties and scrutinized, much like they already suspect they are being scrutinized.
           The researchers suspected that people were overestimating their shyness; maybe not half but only 1% of men are actually shy, they postulated. They sought out the 1% who were so shy they could not leave the house, who had driven themselves crazy. This 1% was easy to spot in a crowd.
           The researchers studied shy children and decided that adult shyness is a case of arrested development, cowardliness. Then the scientists compiled their evidence and began to fear that actually 100% of all people have traces of shyness in them; they themselves noted, at a scientists’ convention, moments of their own unease, when waiting in line at the coffee station, during silences in conversation with those obviously ill-matched for conversation (whether due to differences in intelligence or specialization). They began to fear that the disease was spreading, started spending nights partying (one party lasted 72 hours straight), laughing and dancing just to prove their worth, their charms, their wiles.

4.

A wall on which someone has written, “All walls must fall.”

5.

Marc, an amateur director, got people who weren’t actors together to make a film. The script was full of wine-party scenes, full of cigarettes as props, since Marc didn’t really know how to write yet; the scenes were really just exact replicas of real life. (Really the script was just a bunch of people standing around talking about how they felt.) But even though the “actors” were doing what they normally do anyway, they were tense and self-conscious, so Marc plied them with wine. The “actors” got drunk for real and started getting emotional, as though the lines and the drama of the script were real. Some related to their characters in powerful, inexplicable ways. Some wept. Some really did fall in love that night. Most, by the end, recalled something repressed, yet significant, from childhood and made some casual promises to devote their lives to art.

6.

“I’ve gotten better at reading poetry. I’ve gotten to the point where I can read a series of random letters, even foreign glyphs, and see a picture, grasp a meaning. The best poets can read an oriental rug.” Marc was extremely high and enamored by the rug he was sitting on. It looked, in terms of a feeling, exactly like Matisse’s red studio.

“To accurately plant an image in the reader’s mind, you must express things a tad inaccurately. In order for the reader, for example, to see Gregor Samsa as a man, the reader must first see him as a bug. In order to convey that something was merely okay, one must necessarily say, ‘It was phenomenal; no, it was deplorable.’ If the reader is imagining a beautiful woman, the writer behind the curtain is no doubt describing, in fact, in the most realistic terms possible, the coloration and softness of the skin of a peach. If the writer says ‘one thousand years,’ the reader perceives one pregnant second. In order for a reader, for example, to envision a copper-colored room, one must describe it as a rose-colored room. This problem concerned Duchamp.”

—Marc, On Imagination

“A small discrepancy in data of one or two units out of millions, accreted over a million years, becomes a big discrepancy.”

—Marc, On Time

“There are some people with fundamentally disoriented minds. They’re the ones who do not equate north with up and south with down. They will say they are going ‘down to New York,’ or going ‘up to Miami.’ I do not trust such people. Really though, you can say you’re going ‘down’ to Miami but you can’t say you’re going ‘up’ to New York. If you believe that you’re standing up straight on the spherical earth then you are always at a point where going anywhere means going down.”

—Marc, On Space

“What is it to read poetry? True poetry gives you a feeling even if in a foreign language, even if language-poetry, even if concrete poetry letters scattered across the page. Read the pattern on the rug and get that poetical feeling. La lingua ch’io parlai fu tutta spenta / innanzi che a l’ovra inconsummabile / fosse la gente di Nembròt attenta.

7.

Marc was in the hospital, and all he wanted to do was listen to gameshows and P. J. O’Rourke on the radio. I thought often about the dog on the ledge; in my mind there was a film reel constantly replaying the image of a dog falling head-first, inch by inch, down the facade of a building in grayscale.
           Marc had cancer. I sat by his bed: an attempt to comfort my friend by listing all the names I knew of great men who also died of cancer.
           “Matisse had cancer of the stomach.”
           “Is that so…”
           “Rilke, I believe, succumbed to leukemia.”
           “Mmm.”
           “Napoleon, too—a great man—again, stomach cancer.”



Jenny Wu lives and teaches in St. Louis. Her recent stories appear or are forthcoming in The Ogilvie, Dream Pop Journal, Pour Vida Zine, and elsewhere.

CLINTON CRAIG

Goldwater

Please click here to read: Clinton Craig Goldwater



Clinton Craig received his MFA from Western Kentucky University. This fall, he will attend the PhD program at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. His work has appeared in Tammy, Microtext 2 (Medusa’s Laugh Press), and Crow Hollow 19. He is from Flagstaff, Arizona.

Schematics for a Labyrinth: Pinball Cannibal

by Aria Riding

I have a position at the Department of All Roads by way of nepotism. A budget like the one at my disposal spreads legs, and I use it to pay for my girls and boys–thalidomide babies and carnival slaves with sewn-on fish tails, inside-out people, and the festering in-growns: their nails and hair grow in… A teensy fetish for driving disabilities. This is neither here nor there … I’m just breaking the ice, as we do. What do I do? Think of me as abstract and winding, lonely, rarely explored, unchecked. A great poet. A businessman poet. A bureaucrat. An artist. Manifest destiny. Covered by me. I am what Homer paved the way for. The bard of asphalt. The open road. Sit down by my side, I’ll tell you a tale, I’ll spill my guts …
    I want to sing to you what your tax dollars paid for. My first attempt at full-disclosure was a digital tone-poem in texted dick-pics that corresponded to the keys on a piano; if you played it and broke the code you would find yourself with a Dewey decimal number … take that to your local porn library and find the laser disc … find a laser disc player and viola: you will see my team exchanging hi-fives as they gang-bang potholes they have filled in with migrant workers. I was reprimanded for being tone deaf to public perception of public opinion about what perception of public opinion should be presented to those it perceivably represented … in this day and age.
    Undaunted, also unsupervised, I was able to push my next project through to glorious completion: The Memorial Freeway Leg of the Open Wounds of the Unknown Soldiers … some traffic-related (but used in preponderance were the wounds of Orientals whose deaths had been held over from the railroads for future transportation projects)… the Memorial Freeway devoured its passengers, sucking at them with the wounds’ lips, tugging them to the edge of the tarmac with the rolling, lolling tongues of the wounds, where they were swallowed into the soft, swallowing shoulders, and liquefied. The freeway regurgitated their fluid remains into its sluiceways through which they rushed in a torrent and cascaded down onto the vehicles in underpasses creating a rancid blanket of traffic jams. I eliminated sidewalks. I did that.
    After a few false starts, my road crew drilled a chasm reaching to the center of the
earth; it is not well-marked, the budget earmarked for signage was limited (some Pollack Quack floating in ponds of porkbarrels didn’t like my billboards of limericks, and cut the majority off my bill); the point is you’ll never know the exit ramp that leads you there until you are there … think of it as a tunnel of love … or something molten … something that burns and melts you … is it romance? I don’t know, but there is no recovery; and a core of liquid metal grows day by day in the center of the planet … drawing magnets … attracting meteors and space debris … hurtling at my highways.
    My overpass of tailored skins was transportation design perfected, but could be used only once … a little Kawasaki covered in stars and bars decals drove through the inaugural ribbon and sped into its billows … which immediately tore like a shirt tears from a wrestler … to me it feels like that motorcycle is still falling, but don’t tell that to the families of those who were canoeing through the bird sanctuary below instead of attending my ceremony; in any case, after some re-branding, my Piece de no Resistance reserved a lauded and celebrated spot in the Civil Engineering Hall of Fame as the first interstate tollway canape–it’s still there … you have to see it on the way to Mount Rushmore, faces long since replaced by the faces of stockbrokers, and constantly being updated … in five years they say they’ll bring in the Chinese guy who writes your name on a grain of rice (if he isn’t already busy, being a wound somewhere; but he is) … anyway, behold: 5 billion connected skins bustle and whorl with the upward trending winds that are … probably … centrifugally encouraged by the ever increasing central magnetism of the planet, wind which sometimes forms into tornadoes drawing vehicles into the endless teats of my overpass’s expanses of flat, deflated breasts and flinging the migrant seamstresses always sewing at the tears, clambering up and down it like pirates or ants, into the middle distance.
    That was the pinnacle. My friends. It grieves me to confess to you, my loyal customers: I have failed and failed again to raise my mark. After flying so high, all my subsequent achievements have without exception been ground down to sand by my pacing feet. My friends, my public, you for whom I continue … at the very least–to make every commute perilous, drive along obliviously, uncritical of being the undifferentiated recipients of less inspiring fatalities. My boulevard of song cruises witlessly, awaiting death. It would have not been a bad sophomore effort, but I paved it out in what should have been my prime, like some hack bushwacker.
    With my cul-de-sac of Buoyant Hearts, I fared only a little better: your vehicles still ricochet ceaselessly from each other, no U-turns, no escape, metal crushes passionately against metal, to the whimsical throb of your blood being shot out between your grinding bones, but I know where I stole all these ideas from … and aside from adding Ballard to bouncy castles and bumper cars, and all you riders’ desperate desire to turn around and get out, and the conflation of fun rides and reality, and the non-consent to inform the livers/players of their participation, I didn’t much improve life’s little masquerade.
    Bruised, and battered, but I told myself, Not bested, I attempted to rejuvenate my career by paying homage to the tropes of the past, while nodding to the values of the future: I plowed up my all-but-completed Lover’s Lane and replaced it with the Polyamourous Interchange of our Lady of Perpetual Isadora Duncanness … lined with skulls, all piked and presented, of the lovers and lonely hearts exchanging partners as they are garroted by the streams of star-lit scarves flying perilously behind between around and under all their convertibles. The Driver’s Safety Board lauded it and the Newspapers picked it up: Headline: Necking’s New Meaning. I loved the poetry of it, and have to give those writers a lot of credit for coming up with it at their post car-crash eulogies, but at the same time, something about reading it told me … it was to one-to-one … I’d stumbled at the finish; I could feel it in my guts. I fell into a funk.
    And stayed there, planning nothing.
    Until one day, the shotgun in my mouth whispered to me that being the first person in a decade to live long enough to commit suicide would be a national tragedy; Yeah yuh igh, Ohy heaah, ahho, I chimed in, Tha thuh ig iwoy o ua oo aich eyehe eah oul rui ay who’ eehey; What? whispered the shotgun, cocking its eyebrow, I didn’t understand that. I stopped fellating it and pulled it out of my mouth, and repeated: Yes, you’re right, Only Friend, also, the big irony of my non-traffic related death could ruin my whole legacy. Just one little tiny trigger. Could bring the whole thing crashing. That’s when I realized that I had been thinking too small. To jump-start myself I designed a new city, and built it around us. I fashioned it after the body and its nervous system; it is you, it is designed as your system, a system designed after our system … is it perfect? Leaving a residential parking space your car is fired from one of the city’s arterial branches into a pinball game, a game of chance, perhaps you are transported from axon to dendrite in neural spasms, perhaps a whole interchange shorts out, leaving all of you, my faithful motorists, cut off, frozen in the anti-electric charge of death, later to be tilted into the open graves which will eventually become the extra lanes of traffic we require to meet the needs of a burgeoning population of future traffic fatalities. Have you ever heard, This city is a drug? I said, I am a poet, I know when to be inspired. In my Addictive Thoroughfares, your cars are injected into the roads themselves to idle in euphoric jams until a vein of traffic bursts and infects the freeway with a carotid black scar pile-up. Everything is sensible, everything is intuitive: To get to the dump, just travel inwards: follow the digestive tract, call it Main Street, in through downtown, stop in the shopping districts so you can consume some things to get rid of at the dump, and then head on in through the first suburbs into the bowels of the old city, the city my city was built on; follow and follow and follow, the road gets windier; the sun stops shining; past the urban farms, past the livestock and crops grown in perpetual darkness, past the sad roadside carts of the indigenous population of insurance salesmen selling hedges and the gang members selling wheat, keep traveling in; you will travel in so far you reach the outskirts of my city; know it by the clouds of burning gas; by coming this far you have benefited the economy: the municipalities make their livelihood betting on which of you mortally anti-clutter activists may survive the random spastic acid eructations spurting from the terrifying exploding car washes of the lower intestine. If you get there. Population you.
    A way out (and out of sight) is paramount to the designs of any responsible urban planner. All blueprints are drawn up around the exit strategy. The people pour in through it without seeing it for what it is. The magnet of the highway draws us together, not to embrace, but into the tragedy of pre-plotted destinations, the certainty … of their fear and despair. The graves of arrival… The graves of certain arrival. Can only be stayed by the executing hand of metal rending sinew. The surprising crashing hand. That’s where I come in. And come in. And come in. For you, next to your commute, but hidden, I exile myself to my own Alley of Isolation, where no air leaks in, nor any other agent that might threaten to pollute my exhaust, and asphyxiation promises itself to me, born on the mounting fog of my own highly combustible pheromones. Soon I will reveal to you the ingenue of regurgitated architecture, my Gray Program; I have redesigned your suburbs out of your own waste and the waste of your children and forefathers, while you slept, I reached into your drains; my passion spills over, my cup, which I pour up around you, brimming with the redigested bile of the bland forms walls … and walls over walls and inside walls forms … you. I develop. I redevelop… Awake! Look out. Eyes formed from your own septic waste gaze upon a wasted city, built on a wasted plane, waste from waste, timeless, in a waste of space; undifferentiated pools of fat masses form en masse on weekends barbecuing each others’ ground organs … my gray cycling, and recycling; my program remains, self-perpetuating, almost limitless, almost as limitless as waste, and I, I am weary, but with a careless step … my desire to retire is eviscerated on the spires of my speeding churches careening down their lanes of knelling bells, and my respire it expires, and I am just roadkill on the highway to paradise.
    The streets went on. Claiming lives without me.


WORDS-LINKS: Corporate cannibal. My rules, you fools.

from Corporate Cannibal by Grace Jones, Adam Green, Ivor Guest, Mark Van Eyck.

The best thing about restructuring is staying alive.

from Whimsy by Tom Snarsky.

EXPLICATION

by Anne Boyer

I am no expert on phenomenology or anything, only there is that problem of how to turn into body that which is okay as air. To “monetize” is to make spirit material. Blogger offers this service. Fiction implies intent, narrative structure, guiding intelligence – a lie is so often an error, an accident, a leaking self-protective fantasy. Character can mean at least two things here: good character (the poet’s lack of it), and character, as in a fictional construct. “Who needs” is surrender.

What I can’t have I often pretend that I don’t want. Dante is the Italian poet, and he is the only character the work requires because he sets the literary precedent for spiteful visions of love in semi-arduous forms. Because he is a great poet he can vouch for the author of this work: she is devoted to understanding but works from a kind of green chaos of circumstance. Often the poet thinks of the phrase “beau desordre” but has a difficult time finding out much about it because her French is poor. She turns the concept of lyric disarray.

She turns the concept of lyric disarray into a former lover. Though the poet suggested she didn’t need characters, she introduces one. The lover Bo might not even be named this anymore. This lover might be based on someone real, but I am afraid there is not much esteem here for the factories that manufacture odes. There is not actually a Prime Minister of America and America is not a city. The Prime Minister is in a play called Das Kapital. Cell phones are actually radiant. People use these phones as beacons and guides.

Why telecommunications are so important is an embarrassing secret. Why milk, not manna? Because my cell phone is not like money, it is like some sort of nourishing excretion when the right voice comes out the other side. The poet considers her literary works a symptom, a perseveration, a kind of anti-social insistence in repeating, again and again, what no one wants to hear – to her, then, all the poets are perseverating animals. Then there is the story of how the poet was writing and her daughter made an obvious statement: “Everything tastes better in a spoon.”

Everything tastes better in a spoon because it is a small measure. Then there is a small measure of quotation, the first line of Bernadette Mayer’s Eruditio ex Memoria. This has so much meaning, because Antonin Artaud is actually my doctor. But so is Bernadette Mayer. And, believe it or not, this project bears a certain resemblance to that project, except the entire history of Western Civilization is not written on paper but in the poet’s head. At this point the poet actually merges her lecture notes with the poem: I am tired of telling you lies.

Egon is a character in Ghost Busters, but also one of the poet’s lovers, one who left ringlets on the poet’s linoleum. The poet is so often making up absurd names for speculative cultural artifacts: she has a taste for westerns. She can’t be trusted because she has flights, goes off into her interior in which everything is corrupted by a habit of fancy. But to see the ringlets—the labor of love left for her—is to wake her up again, bring her back to reality or what someone in her lecture notes called “the petrified life.” There is some nonsense here. There is a hatred of the thesaurus. “The duty of the poet is to cheer up content providers and bore despots” is an allusion to Walt Whitman who wrote “The duty of the poet is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots.” Content providers are no more or less like slaves than anyone else. Despots remain despots. In this cosmology the despots are near to the natural men who assert their free expression over everything though the natural men are often only despots in miniature.

She keeps repeating herself. She keeps quoting country songs no one knows. She makes these technology references like Bluetooth and reference to things like streets and boulevards and maps and city planning like she has gone into a trance and come back as a global positioning system. But the streets are sexual because they are a place for display and Bluetooth is sexual because it allows people and their machines to hook up to one another. Don’t you understand anything? This is a poem about sex / this is a poem about work / this is a poem about information and the hollowed life.

 WORDS-LINKS: The recipe tonight. A spoonful of madness

EN PANNE

de Denis LHomme

Le cerveau est tombé de la calebasse. Toute la noix de coco s’est dissipée dans le sol et lui l’incapable n ’a pas pu réactionner sa bobine. La bobine a glissé sur le sable en emportant l’enfant d’une journée laborieuse. Pourquoi promenait-il sa volonté dessous son bras gauche? Il nous l ’expliquera bientôt à condition qu’on le laisse tourner et retourner sur lui-même comme une toupie endormie à l’intérieur. L’ amour ne veut plus du monde, il s’ en écarte pour laisser parler une plainte infinie qui lui a traversé sa planète. Et depuis tout souffre de panne! Sauf le bébé qui aime et compte sur son maman. Je suis ce mal à ma tête…

WORDS-LINKS: BRAIN SCATTERS ITSELF

PEOPLE STARING AT MENUS

by Amanda Ackerman

Oh my dear ones: the snow in the underwater city.  The snow, formed from seawater, the way it fell on the coral beds.  We shoveled the water.  You should have seen it because I cannot describe it.  Even if I were to tell you the story it would not matter because we live when all stories compete with each other for dominance and attention.   We live when all jobs are as tedious and repetitious as all other jobs despite differences in earnings and position.  They lured us out of the underwater city with promises of food and work.  Powerful incentives.  I did not want to leave but you are in trouble if you cannot function in the present day even if you are asked to give up too much.  Blood.  Culture.  Genealogy.  Beliefs.  Snow made of seawater falling on a “shifting mosaic” of corals and sea plants.  In the underwater city we played instruments resembling harps and clapper sticks.  I promised I would not describe this.  Now I am very conscious of myself as a person and see myself as that principally. We began to divide our time between land and sea.  We stopped using our bodies the way they were meant.   The sea beds were erupting crags the plumes of see-through jellyfish: no I promised I wouldn’t.  There is always the story of how we came to reside in this particular place.  Of course we split.  It was like scraping cells out of one’s own body.  It became impossible to get to the beach to fish.  After a day of regulated repetitive work we would order takeout and go down to the river to eat it.  I did not mind being hungry.   Actually I kind of liked it.  Feuding, trespassing, poaching, warring.  There were new settlements.   I never divorced her: she simply disappeared.  We wouldn’t have qualified for a divorce anyways with these new laws.  To justify a divorce a woman needed to be barren or an adulterer and a man had to be abusive or fail to support his family.   I became a craftsman.  I joined a guild.  Nature is cruel.  We can’t be too romantic about nature.  But I did believe there was a moral order to the universe.  If there are two conflicting stories – you have to find the balance between them.  Better to survive in the world.  Better to survive even in these new emerging economies.  Better to learn how to speak the language so we can tell you.  I became a food writer.  I liked to preview a menu in advance.  I didn’t like surprises.  We lived in a time when we could look anything up.  Just the other day I needed to know what “samphire” is [it’s a salty tasting garnish usually growing along the British coast].  This is a story that has multiplied thousands of times over the past century.  More billowing proclamations.  The sun went down – and on this particular evening I decided to walk home from work instead take the rail.  Had I become ugly?  Had it been too long since anyone told me I wasn’t?  Was that it for me?

WORDS-LINKS: STERILIZATION,

HUMANS ARE WELL DISCIPLINED FROM,

SEAWATER