Originally from Liverpool, I studied literature as a Graduate Student at the University of Minnesota. My short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The London Magazine (the UK’s oldest literary journal), Aesthetica and many others, and they have been shortlisted for the prestigious Aesthetica Fiction Prize, the Strand Short Fiction prize, the Creative Futures Short Story Prize 2019 and the Iron House Chapbook Prize 2020.
My YA Novel, The Little House on Everywhere Street, won the 2019 Acheven Prize for Young Adult Fiction, and will be published by Fitzroy Books in February 2022.
I now live near Canterbury (UK) with my wife and two daughters.

Kat Meads

Something Coming, Something Not

          Mina slept four days and four nights and woke up unrecognizable to herself. She could no longer curl her stuck-out tongue; she could no longer rapidly and with rhythmic charm recite the alphabet in reverse, another of her self-entertaining standards. Her head felt as stale as a cracker left overnight on the counter. Nevertheless she sat up and tried to get on with the business of being whatever she had become.
          At the bedroom door her long-departed mother stood waiting for her. “Well,” her mother said, not entirely a question, not entirely a declaration. Her mother had been an elliptical conversationalist at best, so Mina wasn’t surprised by the scarcity of tonal clues. Unsurprised but, as usual regarding her mother’s utterances, puzzled. Was her mother inquiring after the state of Mina’s health after the long lie-in or was her mother (more likely) insisting Mina declare what next she intended?
          Since there existed (still) a threshold between them, Mina opted not to cross it, instead shutting the door, returning to bed and resuming the dream she’d temporarily exited, two scenes playing on a continuous loop. In the first she packed and repacked a suitcase. In the second she cleaned and reorganized the disordered contents of a mini-fridge, knocking her head frequently on the highest mini-shelf. Tedious, repetitive tasks and, in dream, never ending. Three days and three nights later she woke feeling even more exhausted than she’d felt at the end of her first sleep marathon. Deep cavities of blue hung below her eyes. Higher, her eyelids looked puffy and stung when she blinked. She seemed to have raked her left cheek with a fingernail while dreaming of scraping clean the mini-fridge.
          Her mother sat in an uncomfortable chair in the corner of the room, paging through a magazine that contained only Roman numerals.
          “Well,” she said again.
          Mina shut her eyes—but only temporarily. When next she opened them, her mother lay beside her in bed. For a while they both stared at the ceiling that seemed (to her) full of jumps and starts and flickery shadow but possibly to her mother seemed as blank and bald and empty as the moon.
          Before her mother could speak again, Mina herself did the honors, using her flat voice. “You were always in such a rush,” she said.
          Her mother grunted. Mina took this for basic agreement with the evaluation, but sensed her mother was constrained from further elaboration. Mina’s ankles were swollen as if she’d walked many miles, though in her dreams she’d packed and cleaned from a central command post, her movements confined to leaning down or leaning in. Any hour now, she supposed she’d be compelled to get on with whatever awaited her, events that had her name on them, feelings that erupted from verifiable interactions. She supposed such was the case. Yet not even her dead mother had categorically nixed another sleep-in, if Mina needed another, to prepare.

Kat Meads, the author of more than 20 books and chapbooks of prose and poetry, lives in California. (

Harold Abramowitz

A Whole Host of Events

     The day was going to be beautiful.
     I put my hands out, looked at the sky.
     It was funny.
     A whole host of events.
     And even after all of that time.
     You wanted to lift your eyes up and stare the day in the face. You walked out the door feeling well, looking well. It was going to be a beautiful day.
     It is very weird to be alone, I thought.
     A kind of stranger walked into the room. A whole world in tears. And there had been a discussion of exactly that on the radio earlier in the day. And there were no distractions and there was no running about the room looking at things. A little after the morning. No, the daybreak. You have run out of the very thing that I came here looking for? You were surprised. You were under the impression that things were fine. Then you stole something and tried to find out how much it was worth. You went back to the store and asked the clerk a question. You thought there were very good reasons for feeling angry, at that point.
     The afternoon ended up being very warm. I had a lot of things to think about, at that point. It was going to be a very beautiful day.
     In the morning there was a horse drawn carriage and a warm furnace. Folding out paper and taking a little walk. You are talking a lot, and then you have to go, I thought.
     Why do you ask? You were asking a question. The ground where the snow was resting. It was high in the hills. There was no more asking. You are asking. I am running. I am running in and out of the house and looking around for something good to eat. I am asking directions on the street because I have no friends, and I don’t have any spare change to give to anyone either. I wanted to do things. I wanted to have some good luck. But when it is time to get out of here, you will know, I said.
     You were gallivanting around the house. You took your time. You washed your hands. You loved the way you looked, at that point. You sat in the living room and waited a minute. There was a tub with cast iron feet in the room, and you were about to ask what to do with the tub, how to fill it with water, and why it was there, but you stopped yourself short.
     There was a rabbit on the trail. All the children had seen the rabbit. And eating that much food at one sitting is just asking for trouble, I said. The radio was playing very loudly in the next room. I’d had it. I was playing the piano and wondering why I had ended up living such a dreary life. Why I was so lonely. I longed for something extra to put in my pocket, so to speak. I held my hands out. I wanted to buy something new. It was going to be a beautiful day. And it’s always so cold in here, I thought.
     But the thought of products. Of being beholden to someone else. The moment one has to have that one special thing.
     And I am the product of being born in a weightless room. And who am I to tell you what you should do with your hands, what you should do with your friends?
     It piles up. There are scores of colors. There is nothing left to do at work. But I have to sneak out of this room. I have to sneak out and hit the streets and look for many special things. Colors and other things too.
     Have you ever seen a better position? The clouds in the sky. And everything is so perfect, I thought. I have not wanted to be anywhere else for a very long time. But the time goes by extremely fast anyway. I guess that’s what it means to be satisfied. A whole world of satisfaction. Of people being put together. And if I were the best in the world, I thought. If I were the person I wanted to be, and this hurts me very badly to think about. I had all kinds of fantasies, at first. I had very many things going on. It was really bothersome to think about.
     It was going to be a beautiful day.
     Sunday was your favorite day of the week. You held something in your hands, and no one was particularly good at what they did anymore. No one could ever be counted on to do a good job.
But no one was starving then either. It was audacious and interesting. On top of the wall. The way I stare. The things I can see in your eyes. And it is real love, too, or so I thought at that moment.
     There is something special about you, I said. The nighttime. This is my least favorite time. I have to go. It was going to be a very beautiful day. I will go home and work very hard and do a lot, I thought.
     You sat at your desk and stared out the window. There was something moving in the bush in the garden.
     I put my hands out. I told lies all the time. There was a nest in a tree in the garden. I looked at the tree very carefully, I said.
But you are always looking down on people, you said. The field was full of blooming plants. The field was beautiful to look at in the wind. It was going to be a beautiful day.
     It had taken you a long time to feel the way you were feeling. And it was absolutely essential to feel that way once in a while, too, you thought.
     Even I’d said the same thing, and that had been on a Saturday.

     There was the fix. Or the fix was in. At least that’s what you said, or how it was put. There was a tree and a dog and a fire hydrant. And then the summer came. You were sitting up straight, under no illusions at all.
     But you never call me, I said. The summer had been uncharacteristically warm. I was at home. I was talking on the phone.
And people are funny.
     I lived in a house.
     There was a purse on the floor, and a bag, and a saddle.
     You are after the first thing you see all the time. I find it terrifying, I said.
     Somebody so personable, you were trying to see your way through. It was a strange moment and there were a lot of reasons to be afraid.
     I am going to your house after school. What I was waiting for, I never found.
     It was the summer. You lived in a house. You put your foot in the door. There was a real question of the way things were going to be.
I sit in this chair every single day, I said.
     I can’t believe the things that are happening to me. It happened in a boat at first, and then on the shore. In luxury buses. There were good things that were going to happen, getting ready to happen. I was so happy. I couldn’t believe how happy I was.
     The thorn. I was wearing the thorn and then wondering why I was there. Why was I there? What was I doing in that spot? A figure. The way things are done around here. And there is trouble. I think there is trouble when I’m around.
     A morning. You were sitting in the morning sun. You put your hat on. A table. And vegetables. And coffee too. Sitting in the morning and wondering what to do with the rest of the day. It took a long time to decide. The function of the day. The way the day was going to go. And you felt jumpy and irritated. You were moving all around. Not a word from your friends, though. No relief. And everything cost so much money. And the horror of looking at a life without reality. Without the tides. The terror of the tides. The loud mouth. The making of a million dollars. And then there was one and then there was another one. And then you were told, instructed, in a way, to tell lies.
     I am afraid of the things I see, I said, at one point. I am afraid of the things I am beginning to see. The things that are beginning to come around. And the proof is in the pudding. And this is the answer to the various questions. You see, I was seeking answers in those days. I was seeking answers and asking for the truth and telling lies. I never told any lies, but lies seem glamorous to me today. And why do I think anyone would be paying attention? I asked.
     Why, it would make anyone feel guilty. The expense. The razors and the pins. All the sharp things that were lying around the house. The things that moved silently at night. No bump, you know. Then you smiled. You were wearing a blazer and a cap. A sweater and shoes. You were like a famous dancer, and the way you lifted yourself up and moved around was very special.
     There are special things in this house. There are special things that are surrounding us at all times, I said.
     I should come here more often, I thought to myself. I should put my house in order. I should take my shoes off when I get in the door. I am standing in the doorway, and I am asking myself some really stupid questions. I have a voice in my head, and I wonder how I am going to get any work done that day.
     I am wearing a suit and I have a certain expectation about the way things should be. I put my hands in my pocket and settle in for the night. I was walking out in the rain and telling myself that things were going to be good, that things were really starting to improve.
     There was an argument in the house. Outside the house. There was an argument in front of the house, on the sidewalk.
     Of all things, coming home in the middle of the night and finding out that there was good news. Good things really were happening. I was excited. A whole world was opening up for me, at that point.
     I could have told you that that was going to be the way it was. I could have told you. I should have told you that I was going to be coming home late. But I really wanted to apologize first, before I said anything else.
     And it’s like a dream, you know.
     The way things are. A bed of flowers. A hope chest. A really pretty flower garden. And, at times, it was clear that everything was going to be okay. If you put your mind to it. If you were going to amount to anything, or rather, if your day was going to amount to anything.
And then it happened. No, it happened. It was really happening. Like music. You thought so. You thought so and then it happened. It all happened fast. It all happened in a flurry. A rush of events. Unbelievable events. You thought of the way things were. You thought about the way things were all the time. It was no lie. There was no lying involved. Forcing your hand. Asking for help.
     It was another day. I was supposed to have gone to work. I was asking for help. The best thing I could have said under the circumstances. And in my eyes. There were good things happening in my eyes, or so I believed, at that point. A little complaint. A little bit of a bad omen, I thought, and then there was too much time. But it wasn’t clear if an apology was in order or not. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I’d already apologized.
     And they look at you. With eyes. Or that’s what you were thinking, at that point.

Nominally about story and perception, at its heart, Harold Abramowitz’s writing is epistemological. It asks that attention be given to the mode of telling. He is the author of books and chapbooks, including Blind Spot and Dear Dearly Departed. Harold co-edits the short-form literary press eohippus labs and teaches in the Department of General Studies at Charles R. Drew University in Los Angeles.

Dayna A. Gross


In my past, death has already un-breathed. What once was and is are no longer the thoughts I was born with. Language has brought me back to the point and then away from it again, like an ancient symbol. This is why I photograph and will never be a writer. Writers know how to reveal their contradictions. I want to understand my behavior, why I resist and why I give in. I trust my body is hiding invaluable truths. The sharp pain of these whiskey notes stirs my spirits.

One day I’ll dedicate myself to all types of breathing, just like I’ll commit my existence to the language extreme and unwrapping – no – tearing apart of veneers. What moment is worth capturing? What must I preserve in the fixer, reproduce in the dark room under the unveiling of light? I’m holding onto several answers and they are leaking between my fisted fingers, slowly breathing outward.

    I hold many frames in my mind. I want to capture the instant, but once it’s caught it is in the past, and their unobtainable forms tortures my philosophies to satisfaction. I must prepare my camera equipment and photograph a dancer. Yes, a dancer. I stand up and position myself in front of the bar. I rock my hips from side to side on the barstool. And roll a cigarette. That was when Sade approached me.

Sade undresses and dresses again in front of me, “After I left you the other night, I took the s-bahn home and a man followed me from the station to my apartment. He rolled a joint and we got high. I ended up in a taxi with him. This morning I found a recording of our whole conversation from inside of his apartment, including the part where we had sex and I fell asleep, you want to hear it?” Sade asked.

We both listen to her moaning, but it mostly sounds like a lot of shuffling. I hear his low voice, but can’t make out any words, or country of origin.

“Apparently he had a stutter and tried to wake me up. He told me we had to go, he needed to meet his brothers in the park. We got into a cab and I ended up in my bed alone. I think it was five in the morning. Could you hear that he had a stutter?” Sade asks. “I don’t know his name, I don’t even remember his face, but he might recognize mine. Oh well. He won’t be the first and he certainly won’t be the last,” Sade says while strategically pulling down a red velvet box from a top shelf, her large lopsided breasts spilling over her corset. I look down at the way her heals lift her body upward.

    “Do you mind if I use your recording for something?” I ask. “There are these moments in the world that people know they can be living, but cook dinner and fall asleep to a movie instead. Let them live through your story. Are you ready for your portrait?”

    When I met Sade in the bar, she was accompanied by three men of three different ethnicities eager to capture her gaze. She was intrigued by my intensity and approached my concentration. I was fascinated by her ease and her indifference to her audience. Eventually she asked if I’d like to join her for a threesome, that she’d like to get to know me a little more intimately. I asked her if she would like to meet again for a photoshoot.

    “Can you sit on the edge of the bed? Bring your right foot completely out towards me and bend your left leg a little, spread them a part a bit more. I’m going to put the flame on the ground between your legs, just get as low as you can before it gets too hot.”
    “Oh, but I like it hot, you must know that by now,” Sade says.
    “Okay, then I’ll use the longer red candle I originally had in mind. Now lean back on your forearms and seduce me.”
    “Do you want to photograph me tying up my boots first? I can put one leg high up on the desk. These boots are stunning, I absolutely have to wear them for such an occasion!”
    “Yeah, it’s better if you put your leg up on the chair, but let me set up the candle holder first and light the candles.”
    “I like the color arrangement of the candles, that’s a nice touch,” Sade says.
    “Yeah, each color corresponds to a planet and the days of the week.”
    “Oh, I like that very much.”

    I photograph the woman, amazed at how beautiful her body is, so full. The way she carries herself makes her size flow flawless as if this shape has been sold and desired by women all over the world for centuries.

“Thetis dear? Can I ask you something personal?”
“What is your relationship to your body? Do you feel free in your body? Disconnected from her powers? Or, do you feel confined by her shape?”
“All three I suppose. Depending on my environment and where I’m at emotionally and intellectually.”
“I can see that. I believe you would benefit from unconventional sexual experiences. We live in a very confusing world, where money and sex have no clear boundaries. It’s up to us to explore and define these lines for ourselves, you know what I mean dear?”

Sade’s proportions on anyone else would seem disorderly, but she allows her uneven breasts to hang freely over her leather corset, her thighs much larger than her calves, her upper arms hang loosely from behind, and her eyes, her skin, glow like Icelandic ice caps. Those eyes will never mask her intentions; a youth she will nurture, undulating through time like the ocean tide.

“Desire is confusing. I’ve always wanted to be desired, but in a private way. In a way that doesn’t demand attention. I grew up in a religious home. For the first 18 years of my life I thought I wouldn’t have sex until I was married. Then I decided to destroy as many confining regulations as I could find. But I destroyed it delicately. Gently tugging at the roots, to leave behind as few threads as possible. I don’t think I’m a person who gets off on destruction. I get off on freedom, but in my case, all acts of freedom are destructive. The conflict is forever present.”

“Sweetheart, I’ve been there. I know the feeling. But our bodies our powerhouses of pleasure. And our societies are brimming with executioners and priests of shame. Your body will be a site of shame until you let her play in the wilderness. There’s an abundance of opposition in our world. We can’t let them tell us what to do with our bodies. Learn to balance out the mind with the body, instead of living in this world of logic where we fall into the prison of the mind. Trust your body.”

I concentrate on moving around the room like a centipede and photograph her from various perspectives. A silence cascades over the candlelit room. The only audible sound is her soft breathing and the clicking of my camera. Her gaze makes me feel as if I am the object and she is the predator.

My family would be repulsed by such hedonistic ideas. For them, this way of thinking cripples morality. They don’t want to understand how much they confine and restrict the body, especially the female body. Why do they fear sexuality? and beauty? Common-faced sister is already worried about her own daughter, she says it’s going to be terribly challenging at some point because she can see that she is remarkably beautiful. She’s afraid of the way people look at her. Her daughter is too young to notice it now, but common-faced sister is afraid of how the realization of her beauty can affect her spirituality, like a hand of darkness reaching for her soul.

I press the camera forcefully against my cheek and squeeze my exposed eye tightly, though I truly want to see her through every sense I posses. We move through different postures and positions. I photograph her seduction from all angles until I am no longer ashamed of looking, and move beyond admiration.

I want to capture her world, her private world. The world men and lovers don’t have access to. After clicking and rewinding three rolls of film, I feel exhausted. I’m too acutely vacuumed into this woman’s mind. I’m losing my sense of boundaries. I pack my equipment and hurry off to the supermarket. Uneasily, I search for Spanish oranges.

Dayna A. Gross has been published and shortlisted in the Büro BDP Writing Prize 2020 (November 2020), Angel City Review (July 2020), Another Chicago Magazine (June 2020), RHNK (2017), JFKI (2018), Seeing Her Ghost (2017) among other small press publications. She lives in Berlin, Germany where she hosts an experimental poetry radio show called CRYPTOMNESIA, which streams FM in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Madeline Cash

Sponge Cake

Your mom is birdwatching and you’re thinking about rapists. She points out a woodpecker or something. She use to be a big name in publishing. Now she’s retired. Now she makes sponge cake and points out woodpeckers. The walls are painted eggshell so she’s walking on eggshells as she’s climbing the walls. She has the best landscaper in Connecticut. You wonder if your mom has a rapist. She’d have the best rapist in Connecticut. Her trees are so lush that they’re top- heavy. Their trunks buckle under the weight of their foliage. It’s like their suicidal says your mom. The best landscaper in Connecticut bolsters them with structural reinforcements.

Your mom asks if you slept on the flight here and you tell her you don’t sleep. You try to shower but your mom’s faucet is in French. It says “chaud” and “froid”. It’s too froid. It isn’t froid enough. You think your mom could use a visit to Froid. She asks where your rapist is now and you say he’s in your pocket.

Your rapist is on instagram, hanging out with everyone. Everyone is like, so-and-so invited him. He use to be a big name in raping. Now he’s retired. Now he hangs out with so-and-so and this must have been some fluke thing because he’s a really nice guy if you get to know him everyone tells you. The trees are suicidal and it doesn’t matter what language the shower is in, you never feel clean anyway.

You have trouble breathing at night. Your mom asks where your rapist is now and you say he’s in your lungs. You go for a walk on eggshells. Your mom’s landscaper is the best in Connecticut. He waves you over to see where the trees are buckling. He tells you he got into the country in a shipping crate so small he had to dislocate his shoulder to fit inside. You tell him your rapist is on instagram, hanging out with everyone. He says sometimes life throws a lot at you.

Your mom has a hybrid dog. You scratch its belly and pick up its shit. Once it dislocated your mom’s shoulder by pulling too hard on the leash. She could have fit in a shipping crate, you think. The dog cocks its head at you. It tells you that it use to be a person, a person who threw a quarter in a well during a lightening storm and woke up in the body of a hybrid dog in Connecti- cut. Some fluke thing. You’re like why are you telling me this. He says sometimes life throws a lot at you. You ask what it’s like being a dog and he says it has its days.

Your mom is making sponge cake and you’re thinking about rapists. Yours is a really nice guy if you get to know him. Your mom use to work in Paris. Now it’s only Paris in her shower. Now she’s buckling but bolstered with structural reinforcements. Now she’s blanching the basil and deboning the branzino and she’s mastered the sponge cake which is very moist. Don’t patholo- gize the sponge cake says your mom. Eat up. Life is hard but not as hard as a stale sponge cake. She makes extra for the dog and the landscaper.

Madeline is a writer from Sarah Lawrence College living and working in Los Angeles.

Claire Donato

My Ex-Husband’s Doppelgänger

Once a month, I take a walk with my ex-husband’s doppelgänger, a graphic designer with whom I share a checkout shift at my local food cooperative. At the food cooperative, my ex- husband’s doppelgänger and I cooperate with one another. Can you bring this cart back to its vestibule, I ask my ex-husband’s doppelgänger, who pushes the cart away from the register where I check strangers out. During lulls in service, my ex-husband’s doppelgänger stands next to my register, offering me blueberries. It has become routine, this offering of blueberries. I was thinking about your blueberries earlier today, I tell my ex-husband’s doppelgänger, and extract a blueberry from its plastic shell. As I place the blueberry in my mouth, I think about micro-plastics getting caught in fishes’ gills and, in my mind, envision a fish—a carp, tilapia, or mackerel; a haddock, cod, or rainbow trout—washed up on a sandy shoreline. Its colorful likeness, encumbered by the micro-plastics, is captured from above, as if by a camera drone. Its eyes face skyward. How will it find the ocean? Via this question, a foreboding melancholia plagues me. This feeling feels at odds with the blueberry’s bright hue. As the fish limply drapes across the surface of my mind, I cannot perceive whether my melancholia is in response to it, or to its exterior world. Nor do I imagine my ex-husband’s doppelgänger possesses the sort of interior sensitivity that might attune him to this quandary. For the sensitivity I possess is as rare as hen’s teeth: most days, I smell the past or taste the dead and am awash with grief.

On our walks, which span approximately 20 blocks, my ex-husband’s doppelgänger tells me about his family. In it, there is one mother, and one father, although these two archetypes are no longer married to one another. One archetype—the mother—is now married to someone else. My ex-husband’s doppelgänger does not care for the mother’s new partner. Together, we commiserate. What else is there to do, after all, but bitch? I have to go home for Christmas, my ex-husband’s doppelgänger says, and I squeeze his hand with my eyes, because he will not let me touch it. This is because my ex-husband’s doppelgänger is devoted to a life partner who makes demands on his attention, and so too demands his sexual exclusivity. And this demand is fine by me. I no longer want to fuck just anybody. That period of my life is complete. Now I am in a new period, wherein I desire to walk down familiar streets with someone unbeknownst to me, beginning at one point and ending at the next, as if we are attempting to draw a line between the past and a future with our bodies. When I attempt to draw these lines alone, the lines do not exist. Only in the company of a stranger is the passage of time real.

Claire Donato lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is the author of Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013), a not-novel novel and The Second Body (Poor Claudia, 2016; Tarpaulin Sky Press, reissue forthcoming), and is currently at work on a number of writing projects, including a novel, a collection of short stories, and a full-length LP of songs. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Believer, BOMB, Territory, Poetry Society of America, DIAGRAM, Bennington Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Fanzine, and The Elephants. Currently, she teaches in the MFA/BFA Writing Program at Pratt Institute, where she received the 2020-2021 all-campus Distinguished Teacher Award.

Sara Rosenthal

How to Measure Time like a Contemporary Artist

    -Fingernails, like a fragile sculpture made by Mona Hatoum
    -Layers of wax dripped down the side of candles- I’m sure some artists have played with this, more than sure, yes, here for example of course like Urs Fischer’s dripping wax people, ephemeral and life-size
    -collections of dust from each sweeping displayed like medical evidence in a graph-chart along a long gallery wall, like Mary Kelly’s Post Partum Document
    -a roll of ticker tape marked with calendared minutes pulled forth from my premenstrual vagina in a long continuous strand of unending boredom, like Carolee Schneeman and not like her
    -plucked eyebrow hairs, collected
    -shaved armpit hairs, collected
    -scavenged beard hairs
    -vegetable waste
        -(and orange peels and banana peels and the tops of pineapples and strawberries- all the forms of discarded hair and skin)
               (L’s tomatoes in the fridge)
    -the fluctuating number of minutes spent on social media, or clicking back and forth between facebook page, gmail account 1, gmail account 2, facebook page, always with the feeling that there was something else you had intended to look at, something much more interesting for you to click on, somewhere….
    -steps taken pacing around the house, back and forth from room to room, recorded, in a chart-graph
    -number of pages read and re-read
    -number of words repeatedly used out loud
    -number of repeated jokes
    -number of re-told stories
    -number of video/phone calls to people in other countries
         (recorded lengths of said calls, recorded number of total minutes since x time spent wearing headphones)
    -picked and dying and soon dried wildflower bouquet
    -cigarette butts, pots full of ash- collected, sealed, strung along a thin silver wire, around the top of the room
    –cups of coffee, preserved in their original mug form. A pyramid of these.
    -cups of tea, see above. A mountain of these.
    -imprints on the bed sheets.
    –number of kisses, measure 1: small and measure 2: long.
    -number of hands grasping the back of a shirt.
    -number of neck cracks (recorded, rhythmic audio track)
    -number of sighs (measure 1: pleasure. Measure 2: boredom, ennui.)
    -increasing doneness of 3000 piece puzzle, tracked and recorded in stop motion animation. (The animation so far lasts .4 seconds, only the hot air balloons.)
    -trips to the grocery store- tracked in an exponential graph with x and y axes
    -amount of chocolate bars purchased tracked on same graph
    -empty beer cans, preserved, flattened, used to build a house, an entire house
    -empty wine bottles, preserved, used to fill the house made out of empty beer cans
    -a palimpsest of to do lists on a whiteboard- make prints of each edition, display the prints on transparencies shown through with light, build the transparencies into a circling sequence of images viewed through a zoopraxiscope, like Eadward Muybridge.
    -take a sculptural relief of the remnants of each meal. Exhibit an immersive gallery of pan scrapings, interspersed with butter wrappings. (There will be many)
    -loaves of bread consumed: marked by one end piece representing each loaf, each preserved in taxidermy goo inside a jar, many jars assembled on a table, a table made of wooden pallets picked up from the street, a pauper’s Damien Hirst
    -number of showers taken: acquire a monumentally large canvas. Partition it into at least one thousand squares. Fill each square with a watery print of soap scuzz and bits of skin- all the detritus that blocks up the shower drain. Each mark represents one shower taken. (Can be adjusted per person inhabiting house, one canvas per person. Compare marks. The fingerprint of water consumption).
    -sesame crackers consumed
    -number of times glasses taken on and off, per household, per capita. Chart rising and falling amounts on days spent in bed, versus days spent in the office attempting to do work, versus days spent reading at the dining table, versus days spent going outside, versus late night puzzle-ing sessions, versus mid-day puzzling sessions.
    -Mark these statistics in a performance, each removal and replacement of spectacles inscribed in a long series of blinks- see: Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present at the Met, see: Marina Abramovic: A Living Door of the Museum (least-appropriate social distancing reference)

    -Number of mornings woken up, sequentially. One after the next. Each day. Even if the morning takes place in the afternoon. Even if it takes place at night. Mark each of these with a trophy. Award that trophy to yourself.

-Cut a hole in your timed schedule. See: Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. Watch the plants grow outside.

Sara Rosenthal is a contemporary artist and measurer of time. She hails from Los Angeles, California. She has an MA in Performance, Design, and Practice from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. She has made art on Paros Island, in Jerusalem, in various small towns in Italy, and across the US. She has also lived and worked in Spain, where she researched the art of flamenco. She recently (although time is relative) completed an art residency at Snehta in Kypseli, working with local curator Ariadne Tzika, and presented a solo exhibition called “Vegetal// Flesh” at 2/3 Project Space in Exarchia. Her work can be found here: and @saratrueart

Daphne Xanthopoulou

The Coronavirus Pandemic Was Caused By The Sun,

subtitles: i.¨A digital trace is purely undead. Not because it will never die. But because it will never. Live.”, (from Unsound:Undead, AUDINT, The MIT Press, 2019)
ii. As you step into this unit fully believe you are walking into your own immune system. 2. Treat each room as if it were you yourself, as if it were a direct extension of you. 3. There is not much to know about the Outside, except that on The Outside everything is possible and on The Inside everything is safe (from Directions For Use of the Reversible Destiny Lofts)

Scene I
Ido is combing his hair by the window singing a lullaby his mother taught him before she fell in love with the Bengali belly-dancer and ran away with her to the Dead Lands, where the people that want to experience Death find a way out of the Immortality Regime. The more he would comb his long silky curls, the more they would turn from white to black and once they had reached the darkest black they would start fading to grey and then to white again, and that’s how it would go on forever, from night sky to day sky, from future to past, from male to female, from old to young, ever since we realized that life and death were shades of the same color and that dying and being reborn is as easy as falling asleep and waking up, as effortless as blinking your eyes and as smooth as air enters and exits your lungs.
As soon as this was known, we built Reversible Destiny Lofts to protect us from the Outside in order to reach our full living capacity, which is infinite, and we became The Eternals.

As opposed to us, the “Necros”, were the ones that chose to stay close to nature, away from the walls of our Fortress of Health, to slowly sink into their fatalistic swamp eroded by an illusion of cosmic purpose, trapped in the pursuit of the blinding light of an eternal return, the deluded guardians of the circle of life with the spiral or the ouroboros as their symbols. They would worship the divinities of Life and Death equally, in the same temple. They would consider death as the labor necessary for the production of life. They would bury their dead in a foetal position, with a chord tying their belly-buttons to the Earth, waiting to be reborn as a stone.

Their temple was the forest and in its shady caverns, they would live a life dedicated to the wisdom of nature, write haikus to celebrate every new circle of a tree, they would sing songs to commemorate the passing of the seasons – COMMEMORATE FOR WHO? The mere thought of my mother´s body slowly turning into food for their worm farm, their stubbornness a noose around her neck, condemning to a mad waste of precious genome – It makes me sick!!! That is, if I could get sick. But fortunately, that’s not possible anymore-, τhey would offer their bodies to the fungi and they would site Einstein´s study on the historical importance of worms.

They would preach the temporality of the human life as a mere step on the journey of existence. The Human Window, as they would call it, was only a stage in the journey of the Vital Energy, that has to pass from all forms of life, sentient and insentient and this passing for them is existence, time, the world itself and Eternity. In that sense they consider themselves Immortal too, and that’s how they like to call their hopeless cult. They perceive life as a periodical wave of energy that propagates through consequent bodies, carrying significant information from one strategic cosmic node to another, weaving the tissue of a story of Harmony and Chaos. We, for them, are flies, hitting against the glass of a lab-tube, the restricted children of Science, eternally infantilized, renouncing our infinite possibilities of transformation, depriving our spirits from the knowledge of what lies beyond the Human Vessel, our stubbornly human bodies monopolizing the Vital Force, blocking the “cosmic energy” from circulating in the Universe and ¨doing the Work¨, manic gatherers of a life founded on the primitive accumulation of health that happened during the ¨Readjustment¨and in this way also culprits for creating an imbalance that causes disruptions to the food-chain, species to go extinct.

This is how far their poor mortal minds can go to justify their vertiginous, self-destructive fall through life. They anyway don’t have enough life-time to develop higher systems of thoughts and their science since the Great Split has retrograded to the animistic traditions of the so-called Native tribes you can read about in the anthropological fiction of the 20th century.

All in all, they would succumb to all the spectrum of madness that a human being experiences as a result of their mortality, an imprint of the irrationally imminent shadow cast by the certainty of death. And that far would they go about their tales, to relieve themselves from the unthinkable guilt of condemning their children to the same fate they resigned to. Some of them they would go so far in their envious hatred of our Eternity that they would attack and try their best to hurt our bodies fatally and go as far as murder us in the name of the Sacred Cycle.

That’s part of the reason why it is almost impossible for a Worm-Candy child to ever get through the gates of Eternity having been born in a family of necros.

Καραντίνα, μέρα 11.

Ξυπνήσαμε και βρήκαμε τον Μάθιου στο σαλόνι, κοιμισμένο, με το πρόσωπο κολλημένο στο παράθυρο και το στόμα ανοιχτό. Η ανάσα του σχηματίζει ένα φωτοστέφανο από ατμό στο τζάμι και δεν μπορώ να δω έξω. Ίσως είναι καλύτερα. Την τελευταία φορά που κοίταξα είδα έναν άντρα να πεθαίνει απ’ την πείνα σε στάση ζητιάνου, σ’ αυτές τις περίτεχνες τάσεις ικεσίας που έχουν αναπτύξει εδώ κι η συγκεκριμένη θύμιζε τη στάση Utkatasana της yoga, αυτή που μοιάζει σα να πρόκειται να απογειωθείς ανά πάσα στιγμή τραβηγμένος απ’ τα χέρια στον ουρανό. Αντ’ αυτού, μια γυναίκα, επίσης άστεγη, τον πλησίασε και, αφού του έκλεισε τα μάτια, του αφαίρεσε τη μάσκα και τα γάντια από τα χέρια του για να τα φορέσει. Η μάσκα ήταν σχεδόν κατεστραμμένη αλλά αυτά τα γάντια ήταν καινούργια κι ωραία. Τα πέταξαν στους δρόμους με ελικόπτερο την προηγούμενη Δευτέρα. Βγαίνουν σε όλους τους τόνους δέρματος κι είναι 100% βιοδιασπώμενα και λιπασματοποιήσιμα, φτιαγμένα από φυτικές ίνες που φιλοξενούν βακτηριακές καλλιέργειες φιλικές προς αυτές που ζουν στο ανθρώπινο δέρμα κι εχθρικές προς τον Ιό. Σκέφτηκα πόσο θα ταίριαζαν στον Μάθιου, έτσι που είναι ντυμένος τη διάφανη τζιλέμπα που η Χάνα του χάρισε τα τελευταία Χριστούγεννα, με την υπόσχεση πως θα τον θεράπευε από τις αϋπνίες του και που τώρα βλέπω μπροστά μου πως είναι αλήθεια.

Κατευθυνόμαστε προς τον ήχο της καφετιέρας και βρίσκουμε δίπλα της τον Κρίστιαν σκυμμένο πάνω από το λάπτοπ του. «Έβαλαν πρόστιμο σε μια γιαγιά 92 χρονών στο Alcalá de los Gazules», μου λέει, καθώς σερβίρει καφέ στο φλιτζάνι μου. «Γιατί;», τον ρωτήσαμε. «Την βρήκαν στο δρόμο να κυκλοφορεί χωρίς άδεια. Είπε ότι πήγε να πάρει φάρμακα για την εγγονή της που είναι άρρωστη. Αλλά δεν είχε απόδειξη από το φαρμακείο». «Ω… Μα δεν μπορούσε να τους δείξει τα φάρμακα τουλάχιστον;», ρωτήσαμε συμπονώντας ξαφνικά την άγνωστη κυρία. «Ναι, αυτό σκέφτηκα κι εγώ, αλλά φαίνεται πως δεν είχε τίποτα στα χέρια της που να αποδεικνύει ότι βγήκε να αγοράσει κάτι. Έτσι πρότειναν να ψάξουν την τσάντα και τις τσέπες της και τότε ξέρεις τι έκανε; Δε θα το πιστέψεις! Σήκωσε τη φούστα της και κατέβασε την κιλότα της μπροστά τους και γέλασε στα μούτρα τους! «Τι; Τι λες!». «Ναι, ναι, και μέσα στο γέλιο της φώναξε, “Στην concha μου τα πρόστιμά σας! Χαχαχαχα! Στην concha μου!!!”». Εκεί ο Κρίστιαν έκανε μια πολύ θεατρική φιγούρα με την κουβέρτα που είχε τυλιγμένη γύρω απ’ τη μέση του κι ακόμα κι η Ρεμπέκα σταμάτησε την πρωινή της στερεοτυπική ρουτίνα απολύμανσης και ήρθε κι αυτή στο τραπέζι κι ο Μάθιου ξύπνησε και κοίταξε γύρω του αλαφιασμένος και μετά κοίταξε έξω και είπε μόνος του: «Έχει ομίχλη σήμερα;» και βρήκε ένα αποτσίγαρο ανάμεσα στα δάχτυλα και σηκώθηκε να βρει αναπτήρα, ενώ ο Κρίστιαν συνέχιζε με την ενσάρκωση της γριάς Βαυβώς. «Τι είναι “concha”;», τον ρώτησε η Ρεμπέκα, περνώντας μια μαντήλα γύρω απ’ το κεφάλι του Κρίστιαν και φέρνοντας έναν καθρέφτη στο ύψος των ματιών του για να την δέσει όπως τον βόλευε. «Α, “κόντσα” σημαίνει κοχύλι. Αλλά είναι μια συνηθισμένη λαϊκή μεταφορά για το γυναικείο αιδοίο», της εξήγησε ο Κρίστιαν. Και μετά, με τη μαντήλα τυλιγμένη στο κεφάλι, σήκωσε πάλι την κουβέρτα-φούστα δείχνοντας με το χέρι από κάτω κι επανέλαβε τη φράση: «Στην concha μου τα πρόστιμά σας!!!!!», κοιτώντας τα πρόσωπά μας ένα-ένα για να δει αν γελάμε. «Χαχα, Κρίστιαν, είναι τέλεια η ιστορία που φαντάστηκες, ας βγούμε στο δρόμο να την αναπαράγουμε!», είπαμε χτυπώντας τρυφερά με το κεφάλι μας τον ώμο του. «Κάτσε, νομίζετε ότι την έφτιαξα εγώ; Είναι αληθινή η ιστορία, τη διάβασα σήμερα στο twitter της Ανδαλουσιανής αστυνομίας», είπε ο Κρίστιαν αφαιρώντας τη μαντήλα και στρέφοντας προς το μέρος μας την οθόνη του υπολογιστή για να μας δείξει. «Αλήθεια; Για κάτσε να δω», έκανε η Ρεμπέκα και καθίσαμε όλες μας μπροστά απ’ την οθόνη για να ανακαλύψουμε τι είχε συμβεί.

Τελικά, με βάση την έρευνά μας, η επίσημη εκδοχή της ιστορίας που είχε δημοσιευθεί στο twitter της αστυνομίας ήταν πάνω-κάτω ανεκδοτική, αλλά η Γριά Βαυβώ, όπως ονομαζόταν η γιαγιά της ιστορίας, είχε τη δική της ιστοσελίδα, όπου κατέγραψε τη δική της εκδοχή υποστήριζοντας πως δύο αστυνομικίνες την είχαν ψάξει από πάνω μέχρι κάτω για να βρουν τελικά το μικρό σακουλάκι με τη θαυματουργή ρίζα, που προοριζόταν για να σώσει την εγγονή της από τον Ιό, κρυμμένο στη λουλουδάτη κιλότα της.

Η ιστοσελίδα της Γιαγιάς Βαύβω, πέρα από αυτήν την τελευταία μαρτυρία, ήταν αφιερωμένη στις θεραπευτικές ιδιότητες διαφόρων φυτών, καθώς και οδηγίες για το πώς να τα προμηθευτούμε, τις συνθήκες που χρειάζονται για να τα καλλιεργήσουμε, αναλυτικές συνταγές για την ακριβή χρήση τους, τις ιεροτελεστικές δράσεις που πρέπει να τα πλαισιώνουν, διαλογισμούς για το πριν και το μετά, συστήματα δίαιτας και νηστείας που ενισχύουν τη δράση τους, καθώς και εγχειρίδια σπουδής και ερμηνείας ονείρων και τεχνικές ονειρογένεσης, εγχειρίδια τόσο για χρήστες όσο και για σαμάνους, αφού, όπως υπενθύμιζε συχνά η Γριά Βαυβώ σε διάφορα σημεία των άρθρων της, οι πρακτικές στις οποίες αναφέρεται έπρεπε να εφαρμόζονται με προσοχή, υπό την επίβλεψη κάποιας που θα έπαιρνε το ρόλο πνευματικής οδηγού.

Τα τελευταία ποστ έδειχναν την αλληλογραφία της Γριάς Βαυβώς με τη σαμάνα της νοτιοαφρικανικής φυλής Xhosa, όπου εξελισσόταν η από κοινού τους έρευνα σχετικά με μητροπαράδοτες αφρικανικές πρακτικές ίασης, που πολλές φορές αφορούσε την αποκωδικοποίηση και μετάφραση των γραφικών μοτίβων που χρησιμοποιούσαν οι άντρες της φυλής για να διακοσμήσουν τα χαρακτηριστικά, παραδοσιακά, κεραμικά δοχεία που έφτιαχναν, ενώ οι γυναίκες της φυλής Xhosa διακοσμούσαν με τα ίδια τα σώματα όλων των μελών, κατά τη διάρκεια της τελετής ενηλικίωσης, στα 13 τους χρόνια. Στα τελευταία τους entries, φαίνεται να ανακαλύπτουν ότι ο Ιός είναι μια παραλλαγή ενός ιικού στελέχους που ήταν υπεύθυνο για μια αρχαία, πολυτραγουδισμένη για τους Xhosa τραγική περίοδο στην ιστορία κι ότι έπρεπε να αντιμετωπιστεί με την τελετουργική χρήση της ρίζας του ονείρου, απ’ όλη τη φυλή ταυτόχρονα. Με αυτό κατά νου και όταν ήταν σίγουρη για την ερμηνεία των στοιχείων που συνέλεξαν μαζί με την Cebisa, τόσο από μαρτυρίες και αντικείμενα των Xhosa όσο και από τα όνειρά τους, η Γριά Βαυβώ άρχισε να καλλιεργεί εδώ και λίγους μήνες στην περιφέρεια των Λευκών Χωριών λουλούδια του ονείρου, ώστε να είναι προετοιμασμένη για την αντιμετώπιση της επερχόμενης πανδημίας.

«Από τη ρίζα του ονείρου, που οι Xhosa ονομάζουν ubulawu ή Ubhubhubhu, φυτρώνει το λευκό λεπτεπίλετο λουλούδι που οι σαμάνοι ονομάζουν iindlela zimhlophe και σημαίνει λευκοί δρόμοι/μονοπάτια. Το Ubulawu προέρχεται από τη λέξη ukulawula, που στη διάλεκτο του σημαίνει ερμηνία των ονείρων. Η άλλη του ονομασία, το Ubhubhubhu σημαίνει ραγδαίο και αναφέρεται στην αστραπιαία δράση με την οποία το φάρμακο αυτό φέρνει θεραπεία ενάντια σε κακόβουλες ουσίες και σκοτεινές μαγείες. Οι Xhosa πίστευαν ότι το Ubulawu άνοιγε μια πύλη επικοινωνίας με τους προγόνους…», διαβάζαμε κάτω από μια φωτογραφία που έδειχνε τη Γριά Βαυβώ να κρατάει στο χέρι της ευλαβικά ένα αθώο λευκό λουλούδι.

Η γιαγιά Βαυβώ λοιπόν, υποστηρίζει ότι η ρίζα του ονείρου θεράπευσε την ανιψιά της και ότι τώρα ήταν η ώρα να την μαζέψει για να θεραπεύσει την κόρη της. Πιστεύει ότι σύντομα θα χρειαστούμε πολύ μεγαλύτερες ποσότητες ρίζας ονείρου και συνιστά την καλλιέργεια και τη χρήση της από όλους αυτόν τον καιρό και δίνει οδηγίες επί αυτού, αλλά ταυτόχρονα προειδοποιεί με επιμονή ότι το Ubhubhubhu προκαλεί βαθιά όνειρα, από τα οποία μπορεί να μην ξυπνήσει ποτέ, χωρίς την απαραίτητη καθοδήγηση.

Αγνοώντας όλα αυτά, οι αστυνομικίνες θεώρησαν ότι «η γιαγιάκα τα ‘χει χάσει« και την άφησαν να κρατήσει το «σάκο με το τζίντζερ», όπως σημείωναν στην αναφορά τους. Της έβαλαν μόνο 600 ευρώ πρόστιμο επειδή βγήκε απ’ το σπίτι χωρίς δικαιοδοσία και την άφησαν να φύγει προειδοποιώντας την πως το πρόστιμο θα ήταν διπλάσιο την επόμενη φορά που θα την έπιαναν.

Ο Μάθιου, που αντί ν’ ακούει είχε ανοίξει ένα μπουκάλι λευκό κρασί και χόρευε disco με την ηλεκτρική σκούπα, υπό το διακεκομμένο, φαρμακερό βλέμμα της Ρεμπέκα, ήρθε τώρα να ζητήσει καπνό από τον Κρίστιαν. Ο Κρίστιαν, που μισούσε τη disco και βασανιζόταν σιωπηλά τα τελευταία 20 λεπτά, έβαλε στο χέρι του Μάθιου τον καπνό χωρίς να τον κοιτάξει.

«Μάθιου;», ρωτήσαμε καθώς ξαφνικά θυμηθήκαμε ότι, αν και ήταν αδύνατο να τον φανταστούμε σε οποιοδήποτε πλαίσιο εκτός από αυτό που είχαμε μπροστά μας αυτή τη στιγμή, είχε μεγαλώσει στο Cape Town. «Ξέρεις τίποτα σχετικά με τους Xhosa και τη ρίζα του ονείρου;« και του δείξαμε το αθώο λευκό λουλούδι στην οθόνη. Προς έκπληξή μας, ο Μάθιου το αναγνώρισε αμέσως. «Θυμάμαι τη μητέρα μου να μιλάει γι’ αυτό, στο Cape Town το βρίσκεις στα παρα-φαρμακεία με την ονομασία Silene capensis και το χρησιμοποιούν οι γιατροί-μάγοι που εμπιστεύονται οι ντόπιοι για τα προβλήματα υγείας τους», είπε ο Μάθιου κι έκατσε σε μια καρέκλα δίπλα στο παράθυρο για να καπνίσει. «Πήγες ποτέ να τους επισκεφτείς;», ρωτήσαμε λαίμαργα. «Όχι, δεν ήταν συνηθισμένο για μας. Η μητέρα αναφερόταν σ’ αυτούς μόνο όταν ήθελε να πει κάτι ρατσιστικό για τους ντόπιους. Το λουλούδι το ξέραμε γιατί φύτρωνε από μόνο του στον μίνι γκολφ που είχαμε τον κήπο. Η μητέρα είχε ζητήσει απ’ τον κηπουρό να το ξεριζώνει, ωστέ η οπτική του παρουσία να μην διαταράσσει το παιχνίδι, μέχρι που κάπου άκουσε ότι φέρνει καλή τύχη και αφθονία. Τότε του ζήτησε να το αφήσει να φυτρώνει, αλλά αυτός συνέχισε τη δουλειά του όπως πριν». «Δηλαδή, πιστεύεις ότι το χρησιμοποιούσε για θεραπευτικούς σκοπούς;», τον ρώτησε η Ρεμπέκα. «Όχι, νομίζω ότι οι παραδοσιακές θεραπευτικές πρακτικές είχαν παραπέσει πολύ καιρό πριν, αλλά η χρήση των θεραπευτικών φυτών είχε πλέον ψυχαγωγικό χαρακτήρα για πολλούς ντόπιους που αναζητούσαν κάποιο τρόπο να ξεφύγουν από τη μιζέρια τους. Δεν το είχα σκεφτεί πιο πριν, αλλά πολύ πιθανό ο κηπουρός μας να ήξερε τι ήταν το Silene και να το χρησιμοποιούσε αναλόγως. Αναρωτιέμαι αν είχε κάποια σχέση μ’ αυτό το λουλούδι η ασταθής συμπεριφορά του…. Κάποιες φορές, σε συγκεκριμένες περιόδους, ξεχνούσε να έρθει στη δουλειά, ενώ άλλες έκανε αρκετά λάθη στον κήπο. Οι γονείς μου παραπονιούνταν συχνά γι’ αυτόν στους φίλους τους και ρωτούσαν αν ο δικός τους κηπουρός αλλάζει τόσο πολύ όταν έρχεται η Άνοιξη. Τα πρώτα χρόνια το θεωρούσαν χαριτωμένο κι έκαναν αστεία μεταξύ τους, αλλά μια φορά όταν ο Rolihlahla δεν πότισε την αγαπημένη πρωτέα της μητέρας, που κοσμούσε την πρόσοψη κι αυτή μαράθηκε, τον απέλυσαν χωρίς συζήτηση και δεν ξαναμιλήσαμε γι’ αυτόν…». Το βλέμμα του Μάθιου ταξίδεψε κάπου πολύ μακριά για μια στιγμή. Και μετά, με φωνή αλλαγμένη, είπε, αργόσυρτα, «Μια φορά με τον αδερφό μου ακούσαμε θόρυβο στη μέση της νύχτας και τρέξαμε στο σαλόνι. Είδαμε τη μητέρα στο κατώφλι της πόρτας, με την καραμπίνα στο ένα χέρι και το λουρί στο άλλο, να κρατάει τα σκυλιά που μαίνονταν. Ακούσαμε το αυτοκίνητο του πατέρα να παίρνει μπρος. Η μητέρα μας είδε και μας πρόσταξε να γυρίσουμε γρήγορα στο κρεβάτι μας. Εμείς αντί αυτού τρέξαμε στο δωμάτιό της, που κοιτούσε στην ίδια πλευρά του κήπου κι ανοίξαμε το παράθυρο για να δούμε τι συνέβαινε. Εκεί είναι που δε θυμάμαι πολύ καλά τι έγινε… Ή μάλλον, εγώ θυμάμαι ότι είδα τον πατέρα να κυνηγάει κάποιον στον κήπο με το αυτοκίνητο και να του φωνάζει κάτι απ’ το παράθυρο. Ο άλλος δεν απαντούσε αλλά όλο έτρεχε κι όλο σκόνταφτε κι όλο σηκωνόταν. Θυμάμαι τον πατέρα να χτυπάει μία-μία τις πίστες του μίνι γκολφ με το αυτοκίνητο ενώ κυνηγούσε τον άγνωστο κλέφτη. Μετά θυμάμαι μια κραυγή κι ένα γδούπο και το αυτοκίνητο να πηγαίνει μπρος-πίσω πάνω απ’ το ίδιο σημείο και το γδούπο να επαναλαμβάνεται ξανά και ξανά. Θυμάμαι που τα σκυλιά του πατέρα σταματήσανε το γάβγισμα, τα θυμάμαι να τρέχουν σέρνοντας πίσω τους τα λουριά τους ξέφρενα, να ξεχύνονται στο γήπεδο και να εξαφανίζονται κάτω από το τζιπ. Μετά τη μητέρα να ανεβαίνει στο υπνοδωμάτιο, ν’ ανάβει το φως, να ουρλιάζει και να μας σέρνει στο δωμάτιό μας από τα ρούχα, να βαράει την πόρτα πίσω της και να κλειδώνει για να μην ξαναβγούμε. Την άλλη μέρα κλείδωσε το PlayStation στην αποθήκη και δε μας ξανάδωσε χαρτζιλίκι μέχρι τα επόμενα Χριστούγεννα. Ο αδερφός μου δεν θυμάται αυτήν την ιστορία και οι γονείς μου την τοποθετούν σε μία περίοδο που έβλεπα εφιάλτες και κατουριόμουν στον ύπνο μου. Λένε πως αυτή η ιστορία πρόκειται για έναν από εκείνους τους επαναλαμβανόμενους εφιάλτες, που τελικά σταμάτησαν όταν με έστειλαν στους θείους μου στην Ολλανδία να περάσω το καλοκαίρι…». Ολοκλήρωσε την ιστορία του κι έκανε να πάρει μια τζούρα από το τσιγάρο στο χέρι του, είχε όμως σβήσει. Η playlist είχε προχωρήσει μόνη της κι από τα ηχεία έπαιζε τώρα το Spacer Woman. Η Ρεμπέκα σηκώθηκε κι άρχισε να στουμπώνει νευρικά την καφετιέρα με καφέ. Ο Κρίστιαν, που είχε ζαρώσει στην καρέκλα του με τα στρογγυλά του μάτια να πετάγονται απ’ τις κόγχες τους λίγο πιο πολύ απ’ ό,τι συνήθως, πήγε να φέρει νερό για βράση. Δεν μπορούσαμε να βγάλουμε απ’ το μυαλό μου την ιστορία του Μάθιου. «Πιστεύεις ότι ο πατέρας σου χτύπησε με το αυτοκίνητο τον κηπουρό, που ήρθε το βράδυ για να κλέψει Silene capensis από τον κήπο;», ρωτήσαμε, μην πιστεύοντας αυτό που έβγαινε από το στόμα μας. Ο Μάθιου ανασήκωσε τους ώμους, κόμπιασε μια στιγμή, μετά είπε, «Είμαι σίγουρος ότι ο πατέρας μου χτύπησε με το αυτοκίνητο κάποιον… που είχε πηδήξει πάνω από την πύλη για να κλέψει. Το Cape Town είναι χωρισμένο σε δύο πόλεις με διαφορές ανάγκες και κανόνες. Οι γονείς μου κι οι φίλοι τους φοβούνταν πολύ τους ντόπιους. Κυκλοφορούσαν ιστορίες απαγωγής λευκών από φυλές που μετά τους μαγείρευαν και τους έτρωγαν ζωντανούς… Οπότε τα μέτρα που έπαιρναν οι γονείς μου κι οι φίλοι τους για να προστατεύσουν τις οικογένειές τους ήταν πολλές φορές δραστικά… Σίγουρα όμως δεν θα έφταναν τόσο μακριά αν δεν ήξεραν ότι η νομοθετική εξουσία του Cape Town δεν είχε καμία δικαιοδοσία στα “χωράφια” τους». Όπως και να ‘χει, ποτέ κανείς δεν μας ζήτησε λογαριασμό για το περιστατικό και ποτέ κανείς δεν πήρε την ανάμνησή μου στα σοβαρά. Και κανείς δεν μπορεί να ξέρει με σιγουριά σε ποιον ανήκε η σκοτεινή σιλουέτα που έτρεχε στον κήπο εκείνο το βράδυ…», είπε ο Μάθιου και μετά σιωπήσαμε για ώρα πολλή, κουνώντας το κεφάλι αφηρημένα στο ρυθμό του τραγουδιού. Μετά ο Κρίστιαν, έπιασε να εξηγεί στο Μάθιου την ιστορία της Γριάς Βαυβώ για να ελαφρύνει η ατμόσφαιρα. Τότε εκείνος άρχισε να υποστηρίζει πυρετωδώς τη θεωρία της και να επιμένει ότι πρέπει να προμηθευτούμε το συντομότερο δυνατόν Silene Capensis ώστε να θωρακιστούμε απέναντι στον Ιό. Στο ίδιο πνεύμα, η Ρεμπέκα, άρχισε να διαβάζει τις οδηγίες για την προμήθεια και την καλλιέργεια της ρίζας και ν’ ανοίγει όλα τα threads στην ιστοσελίδα το ένα μετά το άλλο μέχρι που, χωρίς να καταλάβουμε πώς, ο προβολέας άστραψε και στον τοίχο του σαλονιού μας εμφανίστηκε η Γριά Βαυβώ, να κεντάει ένα πόντσο, καθισμένη στην κουνιστή της πολυθρόνα, κάτω από μια σύνθεση από κεραμικά πιάτα, διακοσμημένα με αραβο-ανδαλουσιανά μοτίβα, ντυμένη μ’ ένα λουλουδάτο φόρεμα μασουλώντας νωχελικά το ασημένιο καλαμάκι που ξεπρόβαλλε από ένα χρυσοποίκιλτο δοχείο μάτε. Τότε η Γιαγιά Βαυβώ σήκωσε το βλέμμα της από το κέντημά της και μας κοίταξε στα μάτια.

Η πολυθρόνα σταμάτησε να κινείται. Η μουσική σταμάτησε να παίζει.

Αργότερα, όταν μιλήσαμε γι’ αυτό, η καθεμιά μας έλεγε με σιγουριά ότι η Γριά Βαυβώ είχε στραφεί στα δικά της μάτια, μόνο στα δικά της, κι ότι είχε απευθυνθεί σ’ εκείνην και μόνο εκείνην κι ότι η καθεμιά είχε μια συζήτηση μαζί της που δεν μπορούσε να αποκαλύψει σε κανέναν άλλον.

Μετά από αυτό, συνέβησαν διάφορα πράγματα που δεν μπορούμε ακόμα να βάλουμε σε μια σειρά μεταξύ μας για να συνθέσουν μια κοινή εμπειρία.

Αλλά όλα ξεκίνησαν όταν, αμέσως μετά τη συνομιλία με τη Γριά Βαυβώ, και όντας όλοι μας βαθύτατα εντυπωσιασμένες, η Ρεμπέκα έκανε στην άκρη την ηλεκτρική σκούπα για να καθαρίσει το παρκέ, που ήταν πολύ ευαίσθητο σε γρατζουνιές κι ήθελε φροντίδα. Ζήτησε τη βοήθειά μας για να σηκώσουμε μαζί το χαλί και να καθαρίσουμε από κάτω. Αυτό ήταν κάτι που κανείς μας ποτέ δεν είχε κάνει, καθώς το χαλί κάλυπτε το πάτωμα και έκρυβε ικανοποιητικά τη σκόνη κι ό,τι άλλο μπορεί να χε μαζευτεί από κάτω. Όμως στην τελευταία συνέλευση για το σπίτι είχαμε αποφασίσει ότι θα καθαρίζαμε λίγο πιο εξονυχιστικά για να είμαστε σίγουρες ότι προσφέρουμε η μία στον άλλο την υψηλότερη πιθανή αποστείρωση, ασφάλεια και προστασία απέναντι στον ιό. Έτσι βοηθήσαμε τη Ρεμπέκα κι ανασηκώσαμε όλες μαζί το χαλί. Ήταν πολύ βαρύ. Πήρε πολλή ώρα. Μετά βρήκαμε το πηγάδι που ήταν κρυμμένο από κάτω του.

«Διψάω τόσο πολύ», είπε η Ρεμπέκα. Και μας έπιασε όλους μια δίψα βαθιά. Δίπλα στο χέρια μας, που στηρίζονταν στο στόμιο του πηγαδιού, κρεμόταν ένα σχοινί που οδηγούσε ευθεία κάτω, εκεί που δεν έφτανε το βλέμμα μας αλλά όπου έπρεπε να υπάρχει νερό, γιατί ένιωθες την υγρασία να σε χτυπάει καταπρόσωπα όταν χαμήλωνες το κεφάλι, κι από όπου ακουγόταν μόνο ένα μακρινό βουητό, σαν άνεμος. Αρχίσαμε όλοι μαζί να ανεβάζουμε το σχοινί μέχρι που εμφανίστηκε ο πελώριος κουβάς. Ήταν άδειος, γιατί είχε μια μικρή τρύπα στον πάτο, αλλά ήταν καλυμμένος με βρύα, ποτισμένα μ’ ένα υγρό διάφανο. Αποφασίσαμε να κατέβουμε για να πιούμε με τα χέρια. Ο κουβάς ήταν τόσο μεγάλος που χωρούσε άνετα όλες μας μέσα. Αλλά κάποιος έπρεπε να μας κατεβάσει και να μας ξανατραβήξει πάνω αφού χορτάσουμε νερό. Δώσαμε την αλυσίδα στον Μάθιου και τον Κρίστιαν που μας κατέβασαν και τις τρεις μας σιγά σιγά.


Δεν ξέρω αν μπορώ να το αποτυπώσω, αλλά θα προσπαθήσω.

«…μετά βρισκόμαστε στο νησί. δεν μπορώ ν’ αποφασίσω αν το είχα επισκεφτεί πρώτη φορά στην πραγματικότητα ή στον ύπνο μου. δυο παραλίες. διαλέγουμε τη δύσκολη. ένας κατακόρυφος γκρεμός οδηγεί στην χρυσαφένια αμμουδιά. νόμιζα ότι είναι μόνο η αντανάκλαση του ήλιου, αλλά είναι αληθινά γεμάτη πολύτιμα πετράδια. ζώα που δεν είχα ξαναδεί μας περιτριγυρίζουν, σκύβουν το κεφάλι και πίνουν νερό. ένας άνθρωπος, με καλυμμένο το πρόσωπο εμφανίζεται στην κορυφή του γκρεμού και μας πυροβολεί ένα-ένα. τα πουλιά πέφτουν σα χαλάζι απ’ τον ουρανό. οι σκαντζόχοιροι γίνονται ένας σωρός βελόνες. εμείς κρυμμένες μέσα στην άμμο παρακολουθούμε μέχρι που φεύγει. τότε σκάβουμε στο χώμα και ξεθάβουμε αβοκάντο, βουτάμε τα δάχτυλα στην τρυφερή πράσινη σάρκα και τα καταβροχθιζουμε. θάβουμε τα ζώα, που μεταμορφώνονται αμέσως σε πολύτιμα πετράδια και σαρκόφυτα και στη θέση του κυνηγού, ο μπαμπάς τώρα, στην κορυφή του λόφου, μας κάνει σήμα ότι είμαστε ασφαλείς, στριφογυρίζοντας ένα πορτοκάλι στο αριστερό του χέρι. το δεξί το κρατάει πίσω από την πλάτη. εκεί που δεν φτάνω να δω. ζωντανοί και νεκροί είναι το ίδιο στο όνειρο. η μαμά κι η νονά με τα μάτια τυλιγμένα σε επιδέσμους τρώνε βολβούς τουλίπας με τα ακριβά ασημικά της γιαγιάς Ελλάς. η κουρτίνα εισπνέει και στη σκηνή βγαίνει τώρα η θεία Ευπραξία, με το καπέλο της με τον ταριχευμένο αετό να αιωρείται λίγο πάνω απ’ το κεφάλι της. φτύνει στάχτες από φύλλα δάφνης και διαβάζει με αντρική φωνή ένα κομμάτι χαρτί που φλέγεται: «Μια στρατιά ηλιοβασιλέματα στριφογυρίζουν με τα χέρια σφιχτοδεμένα θέλουν να με τυφλώσουν ουρλιάζουν με τα μάτια τους καρφωμένα μέσα μου κόκκινα σαν αίμα στο χιόνι και θέλω να γίνω ένα μ’ αυτό το κόκκινο και θέλω να γίνω ένα μ’ αυτό το χιόνι μια σπίθα μέσα σε μια πέτρα που συνθλίβεται από μια γλώσσα φλόγες κοριτσάκια από χαρτί που έκοψα ανάποδα κι αντί για γιρλάντα έγιναν ένα σύνολο από ασύνδετους κλώνους, μόνο τα χέρια τους τώρα μόνο τα χέρια μας έχουν μείνει έξω απ΄το νερό, μόνο τα χέρια μας μάς κρατάνε τώρα, μόνο τα χέρια μου κράτα, όλα τ’ άλλα ας ξεχαστούν», και το χαρτί αναλώνεται στις φλόγες κι η θεία Ευπραξία σταματάει την απαγγελία με μια κοφτή άνω τελεία, κοιτάει ευθεία μέσα στα μάτια μου τα μάτια της δεν έχουν κόρη και νιώθω ότι πέφτω. πάνω απ’ το κεφάλι μου η κουρτίνα εκπνέει. την κάνω πέρα και δε βρίσκω θεία. μόνο μια άκρη από φουστάνι ή σεντόνι μαγκωμένη ανάμεσα στα παραθυρόφυλλα. σπρώχνω ν’ ανοίξουν μα τίποτα. ο κόσμος έξω άδειος. ψυχή στο δρόμο. μόνο ένα ρίγος με διαπερνάει, ενώ δεν φυσάει καθόλου.

Είναι 20.00 τώρα. Οι γείτονες βγαίνουν στα μπαλκόνια και χειροκροτούν, παρόλο που κανείς δεν υποκλίνεται και το έργο τέλειωσε πριν ώρα. Τα πρόσωπά τους φωτίζουν όλα τα παράθυρα σαν τρύπες στον ήλιο. Θέλω κι εγώ να χειροκροτήσω μα ο ήχος που κάνουν τα χέρια μου μού κάνει εντύπωση. Τα φέρνω μπροστά στα μάτια μου και βλέπω πως είναι και τα δυο δεξιά και σα να μην έφτανε αυτό, αποπνέουν μια έντονη μυρωδιά από πορτοκάλι. Κλείνω τα παραθυρόφυλλα και τα μάτια μου ανοίγουν, ξυπνάω στο σαλόνι, πάνω στο χαλί. Η Ρεμπέκα ανοίγει τα μάτια διάπλατα, ο Κρίστιαν μαγειρεύει Gado Gado, εμείς καθαρίζουμε το τζάμι απ’ την ανάσα του Μάθιου με οινόπνευμα. Κοιτάμε μαζί έξω για να θαυμάσουμε το έργο (μας), μα δε φαίνεται τίποτα ακόμα. «Έχει ομίχλη έξω», λέμε ταυτόχρονα. «Η θολούρα δεν είναι στο τζάμι, ούτε στο μάτι, η θολούρα είναι στον αέρα», σιγοτραγουδάει ο Κρίστιαν απ’ την κουζίνα, λιώνοντας ρυθμικά σκόρδο στο γουδί. «Δεν μπορώ να τραβήξω τίποτα πια», λέει η Ρεμπέκα και σβήνει την κάμερα. Ο Μάθιου σβήνει το φως.

Daphne Xanthopoulou is a musician based in Barcelona, Spain. She has published some of her writing in Golfo Magazine, Teflon and Thraca and some of her music in Sonospace and Crystal Mine net and cassette labels. In her work she likes to experiment with the notions of queer theory, de-colonialism, ecology, communal storytelling and healing, neo-materialism, cybernetics and consciousness. She is part of Cachichi, a collective that focuses on new music and its intersection with contemporary art and thought.

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.


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

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.

Aunt K


West Coast

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.”

Aunt K


West Coast

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

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.

Aunt K


West Coast


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.

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. (

Tessa Berring & Kathrine Sowerby


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.
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Antonis Katsouris


– – 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


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—


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.