Schematics for a Labyrinth: Pinball Cannibal

by Aria Riding

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


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

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

The best thing about restructuring is staying alive.

from Whimsy by Tom Snarsky.

Anne Boyer

EXPLICATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EN PANNE

de Denis LHomme

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

WORDS-LINKS: BRAIN SCATTERS ITSELF

PEOPLE STARING AT MENUS

by Amanda Ackerman

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

WORDS-LINKS: STERILIZATION,

HUMANS ARE WELL DISCIPLINED FROM,

SEAWATER

WITHOUT TOUCHES

by Urban Belina

Photographer Radovan Čok.
Photographer Radovan Čok.

Even when you came, on what ever occasion, there was a Name. And we danced, if only between words squeezed out of two intra-spaces, from the within, where nothing is. And we danced (talked) and we danced (talked even more). And my world transpired and tried to taste yours and we danced, it was still transpiring and curving, and we danced, we danced nevertheless even though there were no touches and worlds were curving back into self, in front, from side in and out, and the hum of words was bending language, and we continued dancing even though we had no words for touch, even if there was no site between all spaces, even if the world was bending, and the world was bending, these two spaces never really touched and we remained alone in the intra-spaces where nothing is. And we danced. Word was running and running, was high-spirited and glorified, we despised it this word. It could not give us a look in the eyes, it could not bend us so that one could be touched, seeing the glow in the colour of other one’s eyes. Did you long to be a word; caressing the touch of dream? Did I long to be a hum that would give the word the wooden roughness of a maladroit touch of two rugged membranes of worlds? And language danced, trying to penetrate into one experience before oneness. And we danced (talked). At times it seemed like one world managed to stretch the world membrane just enough, one could hear soundless resonance of crackle of two leathery skins rubbing: coarse, warm and strident. And still, there were too few. Too few words, lots of words reside in languages, yet still they are not numerous enough when I long to be touched. And we danced. And words were dancing in a ring, the magical chant was long forgotten and you forgot how to call it to life. So all we could do was to dance (to talk). Intra-spaces were numerous, they are countless, yet still I find myself alone in every single one, even if I see many thoughts touching one of the countless intra-spaces of dreams, oblivion or no-time.

Photographer Maja Uplaznik Pantar.
Photographer Maja Uplaznik Pantar.

Always alone. And we danced. And there was water. And sun. And images of oblivion and no-return. And circle. And we danced. But my water did not know your water-state. And my fire was closer to your sun, whilst my sun was shinning on the wind of your trees, yet never reached the trees as such. And we danced, whirled (talked and chitchatted). And there was river, a living river. We both knew it. My river was filled with wateR; your river was filled with water. Yet water is not the same in my world, as it is not the same in any of the countless inter-space visions, each has different water. And my water never met your water and your water shall never bathe me. It seems it would be nice to swim in the river we both know, filled with your water.

But I would more likely manage to swim on smoothed boulders of dried out riverbed, than find your water: words, words, dancing never show the way to your water although I know the way to the river, the water is not to be found. I often go to the river. I often long to swim in your water, yet I always find water known to me, there is never an unknown one there. I had met many waters, I encounter many, yet yours remained and shall remain hidden, the magic charm had been forgotten. I might come to your water when you will come. And you will not forget the word without words any more. And dance; the memory of dance remains (Speaking had once been). Worlds still try to stretch out residing in such expansion that I lost myself within my world and you lost yourself within yours. The world of singularity was supposed to exist because of one person. How could it happen that we both, me and you, got lost in the space of individual world? And I got lost. And you got lost. And the world continues to expand driven by its own volition separated from my volitions and wishes, under the pretext of the mission it had emancipated and is now trying to conquer space, time and word that gives primordial creation. And it conquers words, word after word it is conquering language and more it is becoming his, this language, less it is mine. And more it is becoming his, less power it has to expand. But it does not notice any more, I haven’t noticed and you haven’t noticed that the word, which once had been the source of all creation, now de-creates, destroys, gnaws through.  It sucks power, the word, which is too expanded and used up, emptied out and now takes power, my power, your power, power of the world, that still vainly expands in undefined directions; in self-moving try it extorts closeness, you say touch and the word touch takes the magic and power of touching away. It still wants to touch the other world and always as it comes close, the other world arbitrarily expands to the other direction of space. And my water keeps flowing in my river and your water peacefully rustles where I can not see it, where I can not touch. And worlds conquer time and space and language, they are learning of  sense, growing, living, and all they long for is one single coarse moment of touch, not longing for eternal unity, not longing for hieros gamos, they only wish to feel one fleeting skim on the random point of endless membrane of longing. Sometimes I seem to hear, at least for a moment, the rustling crunch of touching, it seems the worlds had made it. Yet it is just the rustling of used up thoughts of my world, sadly jumping into the River of Oblivion, desperate, emptied, bled white, sucked out by word, abused by language, giving up and for a goodbye resounding only a replica of the thing the whole immense world is tending to. Resounding only a sound approximate of the touching incident, born out of longing for touch with another world, then betrayed, worn out and humiliated, call the last crackle for goodbye and rebound to oblivion.

Photographer Radovan Čok.
Photographer Radovan Čok.

I am thinking of your water and of your fire, and my sun shines still only on the wind that sways crowns of your trees which are surrounded only by the shine of your sun. Maybe your thoughts are crackling also, desperate and alone? You may be lost in your world that exceeded its own purpose and now exists only for existing, and you wander around fragments of a world too vast in search of your own pieces, thoughts that used to be you, meeting with images that had elongated and had been mutilated to such a degree that they have become unrecognisable. And you are thinking of my wind, my sun, the glimmer of my water, thinking of all what will never become yours and keep longing without touches.

WORDS-LINKS: Alice looked up the glass eye of the microscope and saw another eye.

NOTE

Translated from slovenian by Urban Belina.

UNPROTESTING FLAVOURLESS TONGUES

by Ed Garland

Hello he drooled – wet flurry of bland magic clutching tremendous whatever below a lot of and-thens – a row of soggy tufts above the idea of doing something. Some strenuous tomorrows later we flat-mouthed see-you-arounds.

ASHES

by Harold Abramowitz

I took a walk in the alley. I turned, thinking that I would see you standing next to me. It

was funny. I thought there was going to be a fight. I wanted to ask you a question. I put

my hands out. I thought about a million different things at one time. I took another long

walk. I tried to find something that I’d lost on the ground. I was certain that something

was going to happen. But what was going to happen? I kind of needed to know. I put

my hands out. You were growing up very quickly. It was a brand new day. I put my

hands out. I had to keep still. It was a more or less ordinary day. There was nothing

special about the day, at that point. I looked up and down the street. I tried to get a good

idea of where I was standing. I wanted to ask you a question. It was morning. We took

a walk and talked to each other. I was going to ask you a question right before you

started talking to me. I put my hands out. Unexpectedly, I had to steady myself. I stood

on the street, near the alley. I put my hands out. We stood very near the alley. There

was something I wanted to say to you. I put my hands out. The day was cold. I put my

hands out. It was a golden morning. It was going to be a very beautiful day. You put

your hands out. I stood on the street, right next to the alley. I wore a long coat. I asked

you how long you had lived in that part of the city. You could see me from where you

were sitting on the couch in the living room. I had waited a long time for just the right

moment. In fact, it was a perfect opportunity. I put my hands out. I asked you a

question. I was able to keep very still, at that point. There was something I wanted to

ask you about. I put my hands out. The morning was cold. I stood in the alley and

waited for you to come home.

~

It was funny. It was like I could hear everything you were thinking, at that point. I

turned and told you that it was like I could hear everything you were thinking. It was

funny. I put my hands out. I looked at the sky. We knew each other very well, at that

point, I thought. It was funny. We sat on the chairs in the garden. There was a song

playing on the radio. I asked you if I could come over. I wanted to come over. It was

funny. I was still not quite awake. I wondered what we were going to do that evening. It

was funny. I liked the song that was playing on the radio. It was funny. We were

thinking exactly the same thing at the same time. And I could have said just about

anything I wanted to, at that point. I was feeling a little bit frustrated. There was

something I wanted to ask you about. I put the music out of my mind. There were very

many things we needed to discuss. I looked around the room. I wanted to ask you a

question. It was a very nice day. The day outside was very bright. I could see you from

where I was standing in the hall. I put my hands out. It had been a very long day. It was

funny. It was getting later and later, at that point. I was feeling a little bit frustrated. I

wanted to ask you a question. It was going to be a beautiful day. There was something I

wanted to ask you about. I put my hands out.

~

I was waiting for you. It was a bright and beautiful morning. I put my hands out. I was

going to say. I was going to tell you. There was something big coming on the horizon.

You wanted to ask me a question. If I were to wake up early enough in the morning to

eat breakfast, I thought. I could see that we were not going to get a lot done that day. I

put my hands out. The sun rose over the canyon. It was a question of privacy, at that

point. There was a bird in the tree in the garden. I saw that it was going to be a very

beautiful day. There was much to think about. There were very many things to consider,

at that point. I put my hands out. I put my shoes on. I could see you from where I was

standing in the hall. I couldn’t hear myself think. I wanted to ask you a question. I put

my hands out. I was sure that the world was going to explode, at that point. I was sure

that there was going to be explosions and hands and arms flailing. And this was the

world, I thought. It was a real part of me, too, I thought. It was like I was standing in a

corner. I was not going to let myself think of anything more important than that, I

thought. I put my hands out. Yet I was in charge of that moment of the day as surely as I

was in charge of anything else, I thought. Like I was in a circle. I couldn’t believe in a

cloud, though. Could you believe in a cloud? I wanted to ask you a question. I was

feeling a little bit frustrated. I put my hands out. We were never wrong. You said as

much, too. You said that it had been a long day, and that we only ever made matters

worse. It was funny. I wished that I had a plum, something healthier than what I had

been eating, for breakfast, at that point. The summer was going to be warm and

beautiful, I thought.

~

It was going to be a very beautiful day. I put my hands out. It was summer. If I looked

across the canyon, at that point, I might see a million little boats in the sky, I thought.

You said that you were not going to complain, that complaining only made matters

worse. I only asked that things be kept in good order, I said. Everything was going to

happen in due time, I thought. There was no question of running late, of making a mess,

you said. It would not have occurred to me to challenge the way we were doing things, at

that point. You sat on the chair in the kitchen. I put my hands out. The sun shone

brightly in the sky. It was a brand new day. I wondered what we were going to do that

evening. It was funny. The day was brand new. I looked across the canyon. There was

definitely something new in the air, I thought. It was summer, a brand new season. The

sun shone brightly above the canyon. There was definitely something new in the air, I

thought. I wanted to ask you a question. I put my hands out. You wanted to ask me a

question. There was a song playing on the radio. I put my hands out. I was in the house.

The day was going well, at that point. Things were going well, in general, I thought, at

that point. I felt good. I pointed my finger at the sky. I wanted to ask you a question. I

put my hands out.

~

The sun rose over the canyon. You stopped what you were doing and asked me a

question. I thought that I’d put my best foot forward, at that point. I put my hands out. It

was going to be a very beautiful day. In the meantime, time was going by very quickly, I

thought. I could have done a lot of things differently, at that point, I thought. I took the

ring off my finger. I had begun to look at the canyon in a very different way. You said

that you agreed with the way I felt about the canyon, at that point. It was going to be a

very beautiful day. I put my hands out. I wanted to ask you a question. I looked at the

scar on my stomach. I could see you from where I was standing in the hall. You were

something of a fixture in that town. It was hard to think of asking you to move, at that

point. However, I took the coward’s way out. I was feeling a little bit frustrated. I felt

good. I was in the middle of the house. It was a brand new day. I took another long

walk. I pointed the shovel at the ground. You smiled at me. It had been a very nice day

all around the canyon. It was a brand new day. You looked at me. It was like the very

first day all over again, like the world was brand new. However, I was concerned that

you might have felt a little bit   trapped, at that point. It was a brand new day. I wanted to

ask you a question. We drove the car to the edge of the canyon. I put my hands out.

NOTE

DELAY

by Dimitra Ioannou

There must be one  –  sometimes it’s accidental  –  sometimes it’s precocious  –  must be one  –  like all things necessary.

To get help –  to find out what happened  –  some days better, some days worse  –  so many inexplicable.

And yesterday even less  –  if facts are false –  it’s likely to start today.

That whisper before the elbow.

Will be close  –  it will be calculated in application  –  the way it always happens  –   of short duration .

It will be quiet – in 24 hours  –  at least a little more –  the slightest use –  and other possibilities.

Any help is precious  –  there are lots of unlesses –  like all the rest.

That whisper, a few times a day.

And then it will be exactly the same  –  and then it’s too late  –  it’s a bit slow –  most likely.

There will be an  inversion  –  in whatever position  –  seemingly insignificant.

That whisper behind the forehead.

Not to hear  –  not to hear anything  –  they shrivel – with small bites –  in a few seconds of absorption  –  on the same straight line.

That cavity and that cavity  –  on a return move past the lobe, the neck, the collar bone  –  kind of silenced.

That reaction on the skin.

The eyes are getting wet  –  with  rawness –  with raw tenderness  –  that particular silence  –  in continuing.

I have you in my mouth and if I spoke now, if I said all the things that I haven’t said until now, my words would not transcend the tongue.  These parentheses.  That enclose, isolate, pull tight.  You are included in their opening and closure.  That mouth with no organs.  That becomes appetite,  excessive secretion, rejection. There’s hardly any sense.  The words become saliva, a series of vowels, wet vowels that are flooding; imperatively, and you raise yourself slightly.  And what happens now, happens from mouth to mouth.  That correspondence.  That complexity.

IN MY KITCHEN. . .

by Antonis Katsouris

On the door of my refrigerator colored
magnetic letters form once again
Robert Indiana’s LOVE.

*

Cress, curry, coriander
and oregano, salt, and white pepper,
chili, clove and cinnamon.

*

With the coffee filters, the ashes,
the withered flowers, I throw in the trash
your farewell letter too.

*

On the fried breakfast egg,
my yellow heart, and all around my
slightly burnt white fate. . .

*

And Mary, who is drunk again, fixes
her lipstick while holding the kitchen knife
as a real mirror.

*

I look again for something to cook for us
at Betty Crocker’s recipe book “Just the Two of Us”
and I expect you for dinner. . .

*

And the faucet is leaking and leaking
to remind me of the small repairs
that I need to make in my life. . .

*

I look at the dirty dishes of our failed
tête-à-tête … For the last time, I say to myself,
before I begin to wash them. . .

*

The housewife’s vanity;
to rise to the occasion, wearing
my favorite apron.

*

On the table a still life with fruit,
flowers and two magazines to remind me of
Wolfgang Tillmans; or, perhaps, Jack Pierson?

*

I place two ice cubes into your drink
and I melt as they melt thinking of you
in the next room…

*

I’m looking at my collection of
twelve different plates and I think
I’ve found the most beautiful…

*

(in my kitchen
I always know
who I am. . .)

APRIL MINIATURES

(Soft Paganism, Anthesteria and Lies)

by Antonis Katsouris

On her new dress,
one flooded by yellow polka dots
and green motifs,
there stands like a crazy
powdered April Pierrot,
one and only,
the mimosa.

*

A young man of 30 Aprils, presentable and well-off,
wishes to meet
a young lady of 20-25 Mays, presentable.

*

April is the real esthete of the calendar. A faithful servant and keeper of Beauty he is exclusively interested in blossoming (an esthetic value) and completely ignores fruit-bearing (a moral value). For 30 days he sets the tone and the decor by attending to the wallpapers of Paradise, the carpets of Eden, and the ephemeral glory of the Flora. A nocturnal esthete also, April spends his evenings close to the fire burning rare copies of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and secretly reading Psyche (1898) by Louis Couperus.

*

(folklore)
When the gold thread is unravelled
and the rites of April have begun…
When we bury our clothes under the big tree
and our lives are caught together in the spider’s web…
Then I’ll know that our love has become
bigger and stronger.

*

A walk in the garden of April
along with the drunken insects…
And suddenly,
in the heart of a clearing
the back of a headless marble statue,
with two divine buttocks
looking at you straight in the eyes…
Venus or Apollo?
Apollo or Venus?

*

April from the latin word aprilis, contracted from aperilis, which indicates a beginning (perhaps with no end…). On April 1st witticisms and lies become de rigueur and the person who gets deceived gets the title of April Fool.

*

Half hidden, at the garden’s edge,
an  April violet
is winking at me.*

*

April…
And the circus (punctual as always)
has come once again to our little town.
We went on Saturday
and there, for the first time,
we saw a live orgasm up close.
It was very big and dangerous
and it was locked in a cage,
with gold letters on the door reading
Orgasmus Orgismenus.
It scared us all.
And at least it was worth
its full share of
our applause…

*

April’s secret love is yellow… Rare in nature, and occupying only one-twentieth of the light spectrum, yellow is the brightest colour and has April as a patron saint. It is only he who spreads it in abundance wherever he may pass, fulfilling his esthetic duties and ornamenting his lies… Since this is how he sets his traps, tricking and deceiving insects, birds, animals, and people, or even Satan himself – who famously loves to swim in yellow – the utmost (boy? girl?) of the out-of-tune chorus of April Fools.

*

How I would love
to leave
my last breath
amidst the wildflowers
of April…
(pretending)

*

It’s getting dark in the forest and the wise owl gives me its oracle: “Don’t let any temporary setback worry you. Shed any inhibition and follow your inclination – the only guarantee of fulfilling your wishes and aspirations. From April a new, leafy path-without-end will guide you. Follow it.»

*

Lusty, fresh, wet, and excited from the relentless ecstasy around him, April is constantly aroused and comes… comes… comes… without ever finishing. Like a happy Priapus enjoying his protracted erection and adorning it with flower garlands, April will end in May or even June, extinguished by an overdose of sun – without actually knowing if his orgasm came from a masturbation, a fellatio, a penetration (or maybe something else?).

*

An April afternoon
and the smell of carnations is
so delightful, so exciting,
that its flip-side
couldn’t be anything
more than
an unconstrained sneeze…

*

Back in those years, every April, women from good families, shepherdesses and shepherds, handsome adolescents, and young devotees of Diana (see virginity), would rush to hide in fear… To protect themselves this way from the divine rage of Zeus and his gang who would storm down from Mount  Olympus to indiscriminately chase males and females for a quick fling. The female victims of this sexual harassment  would usually bear demigods and new, wonderful creatures and species. As for the boys and girls that dared refuse the gods, so much the worse for them… Since they would invariably spend the rest of their lives transformed into a tree, a bush, or even a beautiful April flower.

*

Who knocks? That April-
Lock the Door-
I will not be pursued-
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied-**

*

The perfume shop Mon Avril recommends:
Eau de Camille by Annick Goutal,
Vanities by Penhaligon’s,
Apres l’ Ondee by Guerlain,
Magnolia Nobile by Acqua di Parma,
Michelle by Balenciaga
(and for every hour) Bouquet Imperial by Roger & Gallet.

*

*Words by Daphne (a tenant of Hotel Women).
**Extract from poem 1320 by Emily Dickinson.

CAKE AFTER CAKE AFTER CAKE

Crumbs, studies and pastiches.

by Antonis Katsouris

Little by little the smell
of Kate’s burning cake
spreads in the fresh country air.*

It took me almost an hour to burn 30 songs onto a CD for M., but I just can’t leave her without music. She likes to listen to these lost songs from the sixties in the kitchen when she bakes cakes for her small patisserie. And sometimes she borrows their titles to give the strangest names to her cakes … Riki Tiki Cake, Blueberry Blue Cake, Color Your Daytime Cake, Mellow Yellow Cake, 10.000 Sunsets Cake, Misty Mirage Cake… My favorite one, full of psychedelic calories and dangerously fattening, is the Fat Angel Cake. She bakes it every Monday and Thursday.**

A spring picnic. What a marvellous idea! The day is perfect. What shall we take with us? All the good things. The small portable ice box with two bottles of white chilean wine. The basket with the chicken sandwiches, the carrot pie, the cake that I’ve just baked and the hot tea thermos. Paper plates, forks and knives, and lots of napkins too. But we can’t go on a picnic without a tablecloth and a car. Do you have a car?

My older sister wears her checked dress; for dad.
My older sister lets her hair to grow long; for dad.
My older sister prunes the garden roses; for dad.
My older sister knits a grey cardigan; for dad.
My older sister returns home early every Saturday night; for dad.
My older sister makes her super Sunday cake; for dad.

(a folk tale)

In the small village I come from, on the first week of May all the girls who reach marrying age have to pass the test of a secret recipe. They bake the groom’s cake and if it doesn’t rise, then it is taken as incontrovertible proof that the girl who baked it is not a virgin anymore -and then what groom would ask her to be his bride? This May I’m not a virgin anymore, but I am an apprentice witch. And my cake will rise of course, as it will rise every May; though this is not important to me. After all, a serious witch never gets married. And if she truly wishes so, she can have all the males of the village. And if she truly wishes so she can have all the children of the village.

I found the table as we’d left it the night before. With the wine bottles, the glasses, the dishes with crumbs from T.’s cake, the flowers that A. had brought (white and yellow carnations), the eyeglasses that P. probably forgot, and next to them my fortune cookie from the chinese take-out. At last night’s cookie game we decided to read them aloud by adding the phrase “in bed” at the end. Ι won easily -a suspiciously subversive “fortune” for a rare monogamous male like me … “Now is the time to try something new” – “in bed”. Everybody laughed knowingly except me and T.. I smiled at him and kissed him. I’ll try it with you, I whispered.**

Like a pebble
Kate’s cocoa cake is sinking
in the transparent water of the swimming pool.*

If Emily Dickinson was a cake, she would be a lemon cake.
If Susan Sontag was a cake, she would be an almond cake.
If Marguerite Yourcenar was a cake, she would be an Academy cake.
If Jacqueline Susan was a cake, she would be a Vanity cake.
If Virginia Woolf was a cake, she would be Kate’s cocoa cake.
If Joan Didion was a cake, she would be a cake with no sugar.
If Ann Sexton was a cake, she would be a cake-with-no-mercy.
If Katherine Mansfield was a cake, she would be a ginger cake.
If Sappho was a cake, she would be a pergamont cake.
If Gertrude Stein was a cake, she would be a cake-well-is-a-cake.

May I offer you some cake?

It was a rainy Tuesday when this rather cute and harmless incident happened. I felt sorry -perhaps too much so- for the drenched postman and I invited him for a quick hot tea which I served on the round table at the entrance hall along with some cake that I bought yesterday from M.. I asked the young courier not to call me “sir”, and as we were making small-talk about the news of the neighborhood, the domestic “accident” happened. A small piece of cake fell on his trousers and I instinctively kneeled to clean it with a napkin. And, without wanting to, I touched lightly his own “cake” – although, thinking back, it might have been just my imagination. I thought that he was turned on but maybe it was just my idea, although he definitely blushed and looked at me with eyes full of embarrassment. We ended our chat as if nothing happened, we started for the door, I reminded him not to call me “sir”, and I told him that there is cake every Tuesday and Friday. It was not raining anymore and I hurried to the phone to call M. and tell her the news about the success of her cake and that from today on I am the second member of the postman’s fan club. The first member is M. as it goes for almost all the fan clubs we have already created; ten or maybe more, one for every unknown young attractive man of our uneasily quiet suburb.**

Make somebody happy today-bake a cake!
A chocolate cake for the man in your life.
Or a white cake with peppermint frosting for “the girls” coming for bridge.
Make a sponge cake for Grandma, as lovely-light as the kind she used to bake.
Bake a cake-have a party.
Bake a cake to take to a party.
Bake a cake just because you feel good today.***

Kate fails for the sixth time
to bake a simple cake
and decides to change her small oven.*

I’ve made up my mind. The older I get the more I hate winter. I consider it my enemy and a very serious threat to my activities and moods, and I’m not ruling out at all the possibility of going into hibernation at a more advanced age. And today the winter that seemed to have forgotten us returned uninvited threatening us with frost and snow. My reaction was predictable; I subjected T. to my hypothermic hysteria. I strictly forbade him to bake his seasonal cakes again. The ones he usually stuffs with dried fruits and nuts so as to remind him of his childhood in that hyperborean land where he was born.
Not even one?, he asks.
I don’t need any of your forest products to be your little bear, I answered him and returned to bed.**

If you have already failed in all of your efforts to arouse the erotic and sexual desire of a new person you’re attracted to, or to rekindle the spark of a fading passion, then don’t get disappointed too fast… You have one last chance to succeed by following the magic recipe below – under its spell that person will be truly unprotected and vulnerable.

Choose a Friday night and start!
First make a poppy seed cake in a round pan. Bake it and let it cool.
In the centre of the cake’s circle light a purple candle and let it burn for nine minutes offering its flame to god Pluto.
Now write down in a pink sheet of paper the name of the person, the number 22  and the symbols for sun, moon, bird and wind.
Burn the paper in the candle flame.
Take its ashes, the candle and the cake and bury them in the east side of a park or a garden.
Repeat the spell for three weeks at the same time and day with devotion, faith and patience.

With a Chios kerchief over her hair
Kate is trying again and again
to make a proper mastic cake *

* From the 33 Haikus for Kate, 2011.
** From A.N.’s Diaries, 2001-2010.
*** From Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1950.

A COINCIDENCE … ISN’T IT A COINCIDENCE?

by D. I.

Doubting perpetually
Everything becomes enormously unstable. Do I have to look at you while I’m talking? Avoid eye contact. I am only imagining; using the mouth and both hands. Love
Supreme to you. There’s something I haven’t told you.
I desire you frantically.
Reliably. Enormously. Does anyone overhear me? I won’t ask this murmuring to stop again. Εven if it stays a remarkably private
Episode.

YOU WILL BE SAFE

by Dimitra Ioannou

You’ll live in the suburbs.

You’ll return home passing by family houses with curtains drawn open. You’ll know who is out and who is in. You’ll always leave the ground floor curtains open so that they’ll know when you’re out and when you’re in.

You’ll cut fresh roses from the garden to put in vases. You’ll hire a gardener. He’ll cut off those branches that hang over the partition wall so as not to disturb the neighbours. He’ll root out the weed. You’ll replace all the withering plants with new ones so as to impress your guests.

You’ll turn off the living-room and dining-room lights by eleven. You’ll close behind you the small door at the top of the staircase and activate the alarm. You’ll sleep with the telephone next to you. You’ll call the security company whenever you hear unusual noises.

You’ll tell fairy tales in front of the bathtub.
You’ll have a small store room for toilet paper and detergents. It’ll be used for their punishment.
You’ll go for a picnic in the forest, ten minutes away by car.

You’ll invite me over for a few days. I’ll have my own room. I’ll wake up later.
We’ll go for bike rides. You’ll make lots of long distance calls.
We’ll see each other little. I’ll vaguely describe my time to you.

We’ll spend one of the last nights together. You’ll order food for three. I’ll pop to my room. I’ll meet you again in the kitchen. You’ll talk without ending your sentences. You’ll be repeating “What was I supposed to do?” I’ll leave you quickly.

I’ll get up at night. Only the sound of the refrigerator will be heard. Everything will be in its place.

I’ll wake up from the knock at the door. It’ll be Saturday. We’ll say good bye. You’ll send me a last message.

She’ll be afraid of you constantly.

*

Translation edited by Chrissa Babouris.

AT THE TEMPLE OF SAD STORIES

by Dimitra Ioannou

I am an old boudoir full of withered roses.¹

– You won’t desert me, will you?
– Never.
– Would you please pretend that you don’t lie?
– Don’t talk nonsense!
– Who do you like better, me or Eddie?
– You, of course.
– Would you set on tears if I start to cry?
– You’re exaggerating.
– Never desert me.

At the mercy of black passion.

– Do you like to sing?
– A lot. When I hold the microphone all the world is mine.
– What do you feel when you are singing?
– I am happy. It’s like being transfered to another dimension; like living a Cosmic moment.
– Would you sing something for us?
– Of course.

Would you take me to your arms once again? / We have enough time. / I’ll close my eyes for a while. / Please hold my hand. / Do you hear? The rain makes such strange sounds here. / Would you take me to your arms till I fall asleep? / Yes, together for ever. / Please hold my hand.

Are idylls the opposite of decadence?


*

“the beauty was never completed in any single detail of the temple: for each detail adumbrated the beauty of the succeeding detail. The beauty of the individual detail itself was always filled with uneasiness. It dreamed of perfection, but it knew no completion and was invariably lured on to the next beauty, the unknown beauty. The adumbration of beauty contained in one detail was linked with the subsequent adumbration of beauty, and so it was that the various adumbrations of a beauty which did not exist had become the underlying motif of the Golden Temple. Such adumbrations were signs of nothingness, nothingness was the very structure of this beauty.”²

*

At Linda’s apartment. She brings her birthday cake. She puts it on the coffee table and tidies up the room. She wears a wig with white roses.

The energy that exists inside a dream until it is destroyed.

– Welcome home.
– I know what you did.
– I don’t want to loose you.
– Don’t cry. No tears for me. No, thank you. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” What a joke! You’re getting old.
– You’re cruel.
– Your time is over.
– Just like that?

Can you go on without geting some kind of response?

You’re like sweet poison in me. / You’re in my mind and the time is the past. / The reason for my passion is you. / It’s too late for me now. / This hypnotic song takes me away. / Only your voice has the power to wake me up. / Where are you? / Will you let me go away?

No, you can’t.

*

– Do you like your role?
– A lot. But I’d prefer that Lida doesn’t commit suicide.
– What do you feel when you’re acting?
– I am never so much myself than when I am not myself.

*

Eddie walks amongst the graves holding a big white rose. Lida’s funeral. The wreath has white roses and a black ribbon.

When, O dusky beauty, you shall rest.³

– Look Eddie! The graves are sinking!
– I wish the whole country would sink.
– The ones that haven’t been washed away by the waters soak. They are all artificial, artificial flowers from the graves!
– I wish the whole country would sink.

THE END

NOTES

1. Charles Baudelaire, “Spleen”, The Flowers of Evil

2. Yukio Mishima, “The temple of the Golden Pavillon”, 1956. Translated by Ivan Morris. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

3. Charles Baudelaire, “Posthumous Remorse”, The Flowers of Evil.