You are on page 1of 86

Quiet Lightning is

a monthly submission-based reading series with 2 stipulations:
1. you have to commit to the date to submit 2. you only get up to 8 minutes

sub scr i b e
1 year + 12 issues + 12 shows for $100




i e t q u

l i g h t n i n g





n rk


sparkle + blink 4.1
© 2012 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-300-20986-7 cover art © Mary Behm-Steinberg curated by the Quiet Lightning Board of Directors book design by j. brandon loberg set in Absara Promotional rights only. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from individual authors. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the author(s) is illegal. Your support is crucial and appreciated.
su bmit @ qui e tli g h tn i n g . o r g

featured artist Mary

1 7 15 17 20 21 31 35 37 41 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 59 62 65 66 67

Marcia SiMMonS M Kitchell Marci Vogel

My Half of the Conversation Elegy to Masculinity The Loss of Incandescent Light Liquid Takes the Shape of the Container When Not in Rome Fig. 23: Wrecked Happy Happy Happy Happy People Pop Star Pancakes The Girl I Was the One I Desired Can't Hear It, Can't See It Took Part of My Calf Link Hung Long Crying Out Your Name... Not So Much Teeth Not Ethnic Enough The Queen’s Palace She Came In Through the Window Sexual As Men A Gift

l.J. Moore DaVy carren Max toMlinSon gina golDblatt Karen Penley nicole trigg

clara hSu JiM Sheehan

hugh behM-Steinberg

JacK Foley

Collision Texts: A Chorus

sor • spon

ed in part by •

Quiet Lightning
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on the first Monday of every month, of which these books (sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts. Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the board of QL is currently: Evan Karp founder + president Chris Cole managing director Josey Duncan public relations Charles Kruger secretary Meghan Thornton treasurer Kristen Kramer chair Nicole McFeely Brandon Loberg outreach design

Sarah Maria Griffin and Ceri Bevan directors of special operations If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helping—on any level—please send us a line:



M y h a L f of the Conversation
My half of the conversation with Dr. Bloom about Room 8 I need you to write me a doctor’s note that says I have to be allowed into Room 8 of the Caspar Inn for medical reasons. It has to be room 8, and you have to say it’s medically necessary so that they’ll be guilty of discrimination or something if they don’t let me go back. I don’t want to sue them, but I will if I have to.

You’re going to find out eventually, so I’ll just tell you: I threw a desk out the window and then leapt after it. It was only two stories, so I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. Well, it wasn’t just any desk; it was Chris. When we’re together, I don’t actually call the desk Chris. I’m not insane. I just made up that name so people at the office won’t ask too many follow-up questions. I can say, “I’m seeing Chris this weekend. Chris works in Mendocino. I visit Chris as much as I can.” I’m only a temp anyway, so people don’t talk to me much.


By the way, I don’t like that you call my relationship with Chris paraphilia. When you were in the restroom, I looked it up. I don’t want to have sex with this desk. I love Chris, and Chris loves me. But in a way that makes sex unnecessary. I’m not even sure how one has sex with a desk. You know, they used to classify homosexuality as a paraphilia. So let’s talk again in a few years when science catches up with me.

Chris and I met when I was on a pre-college road trip with my brother. We came to see a stoner band with a name like Hazy Dogz or something and got too drunk to keep going. That was my first stay in 8. Back then Chris was smooth and metallic blue. I had never seen such a striking combination of color and texture in a practical item before. Chris was made of sturdy metal, designed to sit in the corner of a workshop with invoices, packing slips, and rubber stamps piled on top. But somewhere in the fabrication process, a worker noticed Chris’s potential. So he made Chris just a little too small for an industrial setting and made the drawer handles just a little too feminine to appeal to the rough sorts who usually buy this kind of furniture. Someone on the Caspar staff saw Chris on the side of the road with a sign that said “Free. Take me.” It was fate. This is the only logical explanation I can think of.


Desks can’t talk. I do know that. Usually, when Chris and I see each other, I talk about myself while I run my fingers over the top and sides of the desk. If you think there’s anything sexual about that, then you’re the sick one. It’s more like the way a blind person touches someone’s face to get an idea of what they look like. It’s very respectful.

The whole reason I went to see Chris on a Wednesday instead of our usual Saturday is that we hadn’t seen each other in a month, and I really needed to talk to him. Two days ago, a few of the women from my department were gathered around my cubicle when I got back from lunch. There were two dozen peach roses in a big green vase on my desk and a card that said “From: Me.” They said the flowers must be from Chris. I couldn’t tell if they really thought that—in which case who the hell were they from?—Or if they sent the flowers themselves so they could laugh at me.

Anyway, when I got there on Wednesday to check in, no one was there. So it was just me and that fucking bitch of a cigarette machine. I usually bring my own smokes, because that machine can go fuck herself, but I was in a hurry. I put in a ten, and of course she ate it. No matter how much I kicked her in the face, she wouldn’t give it back to me. I kicked and kicked until I knocked the whole machine over just as Joe came in. He just laughed it off and told me they were gonna
Ma rci a Si MMonS


keep that ten. “I know, I know. Room 8,” he said, tossing me the key.

Room 8 has always been painted this godawful 1980s Dusty Rose for as long as I can remember. It never bothered me because it only made Chris more beautiful by contrast. But now they painted Chris with that same Dusty Rose matte wall paint, and they did a sloppy job of it at that. I almost vomited when I opened the door. Chris was like lumpy sandpaper to the touch. Whoever did it had painted over the drawer so it wouldn’t open. It was already chipping. I forced the drawer open and was relieved they hadn’t painted the inside of the drawer. I started kissing Chris because I was so sorry for what happened, but the surface felt disgusting on my lips. It was our first kiss. I could suddenly picture all the other people who stayed in this room and put their pizza boxes, beer cans, and naked asses on top of Chris. The drum circle across the street was getting louder. So, yeah, I threw Chris out the window. Before Chris even hit the ground, I jumped out to follow.

I’ve never done something so horrible in my life, but Chris didn’t care. We just lied there in the grass. I was curled up in a ball, in between Chris’s legs. It started to get dark, and the steady beating of the drum circle was replaced by the erratic clapping of fireworks some kids were setting off across the street.

The fireworks were replaced by a pulsating bass line from the DJ in the bar until it was suddenly morning. I kissed Chris for the second time. And now I don’t think we’ll see each other again.

Ma rci a Si MMonS




M as C u Li n it y
At the count of three, I would like you to say a word. 1, 2, 3 [pause] Thank you. Did any one say the word “love” ? Oh, I guess that was just me. Today, I would like to talk about love. But not love, really, rather, I’d like to deliver an elegy. An elegy to masculinity. Is that ok? Ok. i. my inner-resources in revealing within the space of dreams that i was rock hudson in a past life have refused to allow my own identity to coalesce into what i want to be when i think about politics and instead proclaim my resurgent insistence upon desire

eLegy to

ii. i can only write about desire and death and as we stand at masculinity’s wake the sky thunders and the sun turns black because today man has been rendered irrelevant

iii. can you hear the birds can you see the coyotes the culture has torn the body apart the vultures have torn the body apart what i want versus what i need what i see versus what can bleed

iv. the mournful sorrow of man! the space of his tears! and with this i can finally find myself hard again this dichotomy when it’s over when it’s over when it’s over and i am not alone


v. the cracked face in the mirror a refusal the dystopia of aging when viewed in the eyes of youth i am a vampire who will live forever my wolfman feeds my spirit with love together we run into the forest as the villagers set fire to our castle at night please hold me! i as a vampire shout to my wolfman my wolfman puts his hair around me and now i am glad that i might just be a finite reminder together we will throw our bodies into the fire together we will set the fire of our flesh faring for a foundational sense of structure, the structure that surrounds the sentence of our death. vi. i go to masculinity on his death bed and bring him drinks and together we ruin the few moments we have left by
M Ki t ch e ll


indulging in the excess that only drink can bring. we vomit into the heavens and this becomes the new sky. oh masculinity make love to me but right now masculinity only has poetry and the efficacy of a masculinist poetry refuses the money shot.

vii. the world was on fire and no one could save me but you strange what desire will make foolish people do I never dreamed that i’d meet somebody like you and I never dreamed that i’d lose somebody like you

viii. sex is simultaneously over-rated and impossible when you are the sun and the way a stack of rocks looks is as liberating as the first time you had a three-way. my gender is a burden to only the liberated gender inside of me, a refusal of binary that wants only hauntings and decadence and no physicality, no materialist insistence. my melodramatic soul imagines narrative almost exclusively as a route towards a

masculinist pornography coupled with the necessity of a death drive rounded out only with the severe reticulation of a holiness, that of the ground and the energy it absorbs from the sun. watch—watch me burn capture me on vhs and the quality deteriorates because the image is alive viii. furrowed brow / square jaw / forearm hair / chest hair / leg hair / tight bulging ass / strong legs / the low voice of the spirit / a stoicism created by narrative have you seen my okcupid profile how about my manhunt profile are you on grindr what about scruff please have sex with me i’m just a nice guy looking for another nice guy my favorite band is shut up i will find love only in the space of dreams no no i will find love only in my solar father the sun the sun

M Ki t ch e ll


the sun sets on the man as he goes down on me and after the come squirts my cock sets like the sun is my masculinity disgusting yet? i want masculinity to suffer i want my desire to suffer i want my desperation to move from the realm of the conceptual into that / of / praxis X. no life no life praise the lord tammy fay bakker exclaims for we are gathered here today to celebrate the burial of our antiquated masculinity i forgot about the time i climbed into your mouth and inside as i tried to fill your supple frame the body the cells everything pushing against me a pulsating sense it was disgusting like cronenberg’s insistence on showing us the phallic parasites that make us all sex-craved inside of the hole of our hotel fuck me fuck me baby fuck me come inside of me please just come inside of me fuck me fuck

me from the inside i fill you up completely and i finally reach the answer to my question the one that’s been haunting me forever the gaping void the gaping void the gaping void cannot be filled, but still my desire will not be killed. i spit my saliva and my dick gets hard and i hate my body and the men who operate the world around me. let’s set condos on fire, let’s refuse the existence of extraterrestrials because their presence would make our own lives that much less interesting. let’s kill the ocean because we are tired of this dichotomy between birth and death. satan showed me the light in my masculinity please let me come on you! 00. rome wasn’t built in a day, let’s all watch the empire fall.

M Ki t ch e ll




in C a n desCent Lig ht
If I could find a class called tenderness, I’d enroll tomorrow. I know it looks like I’m speaking English, but I’m not. There was some talk of spangle, some soul confusion, a glissade of rain on outstretched tongue. I knew a woman, she stored her burned-out bulbs in their original box, so that you could never tell if you were running low, or simply needed to plant what you already had. It took months to assemble her intricate sparkle of heat & glow. It was as if you were being inducted into some secret something, placing flag on planet, dazzled & unfurling. Accordingly, she wired a rocket scientist. His middle name was Venus, no kidding. He told me Edison had purchased his birthplace,

the Loss of

but on his last visit was shocked to find it still lit by candles & lamps. I used to do search & rescue, so I know what we’re up against. I wondered if I could become a comet. That frozen flying night sky, pardon my shining taxi, pardon my golden wing. Evenings, she places filaments under switchplates. Assures me this current isn’t so much radical as evolutionary. Keeps falling from another drowsy thought, rouses another crackled thing.


LiQuid takes the shape of its Container
What I was after was neverending line, long waves under cirrus sky, fish swimming over a margin of error, too narrow, no retainer. I wanted leaped building & lifted twirl, the escape artist’s tricks, vast orbit of skirt. I wanted an open carriage, crown aligned with tiara, wing on scapula, triangles unhinged, words spilling out. I wanted silk parachute, breath a straight shot. I wanted a driver, fully veiled & unarrested humming at the sign where pedestrians cross. She is named after one of those M states, Missouri or Montana, one of those horizontal places with Cartesian plains & iconic rivers. State of mind, state of grace, state of flux, ever-changing third state of matter. Molecules in suspension, viscous, slender needle floating on surface tension. Liquid supercooled toward the glass transition. I wish I had not been so reserved, said Joseph Cornell on the day of his death. She lifts her foot off the brake, skims by black-eyed Susans planted in the meridian, all their yellow pulled into ponytails. I wanted to sponsor wild
Ma rci Voge l


horses. Look closely: dark centers, not black. When she grows up, she wants to be the big bad wolf, blowing houses down without getting caught. Do not turn to ghosts & do not inquire of familiar spirits. Of your harvest, leave a portion ungleaned. Ask not the young men racing full force up the stairs, weights on chests as if they were in combat & maybe they are. I wanted running towards each other, as if we were not strangers on a morning sidewalk, as if we were slow-motion lovers. I trail a couple with a Leica camera. He wears the lens around his neck. She hasn’t taken a picture since 1996, doesn’t know how to download anything but film. They are working on a landscape view, putting in roses, wanting us to turn the book in our hands. Did you know my specified spirit is listed on your checkout basket? Did you want the woman on the prow of my ship to place carved lips to salted brow? I promise she will stitch hemispheres whole. She wants to be a magpie gathering shine, brimming eyes. Her border blurs magnolia blossoms, perfect votives across the leaves of a dark table. She passes a young man, tall as he will ever grow. He wears a plaid shirt, passes his hand over indigenous grasses. Back in port, she’ll say I wanted planets

of space, did not want to shuttle along. I wanted what the men had, the stars, the moon, the sun in the center of the universe. It cost Galileo his life. Remember that time you fell out your side of the bed as if you were leaping, as if you were drowning & shouted yes, the boat was sinking & called me to jump, too?

Ma rci Voge l


When not in roMe
I awake early without you who are in a room all apricot & cherry. In Portuguese it’s very, very poetic. All those little bottles carrying wisps of messages— Don’t let me translate these things: the sailor, the harbor, the shore. Go on, take the boat. Take the salt, take the whole curved ocean. You know you can’t live what you were living before.


ex cerpt fro

f i g . 23 :



a digital gothic

in deathsleep

in skycavern

a ship

unfolds from deepest black:

femur masts bear ulna spars lashed crosswise by glistening coils

festooned in ragged dregs of cloth that sleek and luff in silent draughts

she sails illumined by a pale blue flame that dyes the shrouds:

aurora borealis a solar wind aglow in death collisions of magnetic dust or noctiluca scintillans a host of tiny animals whose lantern organs light a liquid night: scouts, drawn to your foundering pings in the crow’s nest the vampire squid flash their photophores ghost crabs go barber-poling deckwards and all that was camouflaged as wreck inhales a swim sac full of brine a fleshy embrace of cuttlefish and eels disguised as slack tatters


into a living interlocked rigging propelling this vessel on dissolved wind

billows of squidink swarms of ice-blue pinpoint animals churn in a wake of unhinged stars: boil to port and starboard

a sorcerer stands behind the fiddlehead on his shoulder an anglerfish casts her glowing yellow lure into the blackness hung to reel you back from wandering the nowhere in your nothing

the sorcerer reaches with both hands to fold your wings against your chest and gathers you into his coat into a soft nest built amongst his empty ribs heed the yarn he says but mind the toothy maw behind the watchlight

l.J. Moore


in answer the mizzen topsail uncloaks: a giant manta kites in slow spirals downward through the forestays to offer a wide white ventral surface onto which the anglerfish aims her lure: 5 4 projects 3 2 1 and then

fade in through murk: the sea floor empty


a stirring in the foreground clouds of sediment rise into a bed of swollen pulp mounding, shivering into deadfall backwarding into half-digested hulk right-angles drawn in pale, lifeless crusts of brainworm and gooseneck seafan skeletons a graveyard of hard reminders adhering into ship shape

a scaffold on which now burgeons an undeathing: decks unsplinter cracked halves of hull swing to like a closing clamshell cohering into seamless ellipse

two horizontal lines appear in the debris bulked degree by degree by aggregating matter until masts abloom in algal furs lever upward into perpendicular bonds and spars condense from drifts of silt javelining true to crosstrees and yards decked out in a bunting of wilted jelly that rallies into orange anemones, violet nudibranchs, soft life hungered forth from bones

a palace of innocence recomposed of her route reversing filter-feeders vomiting gusts of gorge great fish coughing chunks of fins and scales which implode to live silvery streaks and spasm off into the choke of eel grasses full lush then battening down and reefing in on and on and less and less


until a trapped whisper a mayday cry

l.J. Moore


appears from above a bubble descending toward the wreck

shrinking as it speeds to the empty throat of that lost wax lodge of bones the sorcerer emerging from his drowning

his barren hand casting from the pocket of his seaworm-eaten coat a sodden mess congealing into tightly creased papers from which unknots a twine garland that reeves itself through the cathead and steeves the groaning timbers of the bowsprit

and the wreck begins to lift answering the pull of rumor on an anchor line reeling upward

one trembling string one spider silk one sounding line one thread of tale

the yarn that always dangles: (we are deep-shifted now spun into the spiral of music gone gate crashing with ravens shuffled our coil on a deathtrip stripped to a stray signal picked up by ghost ship rescued by death itself who builds a nest of an empty chest and makes of us a heart together we mind the toothy maw projected by the light of a lure on a manta belly the flick in which all present company myself included star) says death, our sorcerer just as the last frame sticks and rips and the projection on the manta’s belly flips flips


with a sound like something being wound up: a pocket watch a music box a windlass weighing-in the bower
l.J. Moore


a bird’s heart

racing in a ribbed locker

with each click and beat a glossy black feather is plucked from your body and sucked straight up his windpipe erupting from his mouth by the waiting anglerfish and promptly swallowed who smiles smiles

it’s all above board watching the thing until you arrived

death says yet trapped in the watch my windfall

he unfolds one of those crisp papers clutched in his fist holds it tight to his chest so you can read:

When lost or unsure of your position, ships shall release a caged crow. The crow will fly straight towards the nearest land, thus giving the vessel some sort of a navigational fix. come, lend me your wings death says and lets go his charts casting himself overboard the waveson treasures of his hold spill up toward the light: pearls worn down to grains of sand gemstones roughing back to rocks

glass bottles burst to living dust a great shudder wracks the strake treenails squeal free of the ship’s planks and the hull distintegrates in spinning trunnels among the dreck his cap his skull and two femurs a waving jolly roger his coat form, briefly

lost from view as the ribcage sinks every last feather tornadoed loose

with you inside

that damned anglerfish following behind and gulping down everything until with a harsh shake and a push she grasps the cage itself and cracks you loose bites off each of your plucked wings and glutted, sinks slowly: a shrinking yellow glow in the undernight

what’s left of the ship and breaks apart leaving a wake


of fractured ribs a wrecked raven and a choice:

l.J. Moore


the dangling yarn

the sinking lure




happy happy happy

h appy peo pL e

I am building a house inside of my house. The lawyers won’t allow for a contract. I have to believe them because nobody’s in the business of placing blame. There is a chimney so far. Smoke might be viable. No telling about a deck. It could be introduced. No word on the deck yet, though. Guests tend to be out of the question in the planning stages. I have thoughts of a sofa, chairs and tables. I have matches, crepe paper, chenille stems, gangs of twist ties, crushed apricot kernels, almond shells, and a glue gun. Clarice came by to question me, to say things like, “What’ve we got here?” I let her sit cozy on the veranda. She drank hot watermelon juice from a mug reading “I’m So Over Hangovers” while crossing her legs on a divan. “Epoxy’s going to be the ruin of it.” I was surprised a bit at how she jumped right in with that stuff. “It?” “Oh, you know. You. That’s it.” “You’re lucking into my ruin? My own personal…ruin?”

“Notches above you, as always. Guess I should’ve figured.” I leaned back, almost too far, reeling from shocked calm. I steadied myself without using my hands. Then I tossed some cracked pepper over my left shoulder. Clarice didn’t notice. “You should Quip about it.” “Quip?” “Yep. It’s the new Social Commerce.” “That’s not a thing.” “Sure it is. Swap a Quip. Sell a Quip. Lease a Quip with an option to buy. Everybody’s on it. Look it up.” “Forget it. You’ve got a proposition, huh? You have…what, motives?” “I’m done. Go do whatever it is you do. I’m late for an opportunity.” Clarice got up and ran back inside and continued on through the house and out. A lamp was wounded in the fray. She didn’t even bother to close the front door, which had suffered a cracked window. I had a house-cleaning service over to inspect my doings. I wanted an estimate. I’m up to four bedrooms, and there are, among other minuscule matters, tiny duvet covers to deal with. Dusting must be done with a magnified grace. They told me, “Forget

it, buddy. Magnifying glasses ain’t even going to cut it here. We’re not going to be responsible for what we can’t see.” This made more sense to me than I wanted it to. I told them to get out. I told them, “Hey! Don’t come around here no more.” Proportions need to be considered. The sweep of slight reaches. The curtailed doubt of nooks. The hastened creep and closeness of crannies. Sometimes I get to shingling, with toothpicks of course, and forget that I have a life to lead outside of this Elmer’sGlue world. I get lost in the spaces between spaces, in the cracks and crevasses veining out from where I’d rather not tread. I’ve fashioned blind rivets from cocktail swords, and hung infant socks as drapes. I need a volume knob for my tiny television about the size of a cracker crumb. There are other avenues to seek. I am sure of it. People all around try so hard to be normal, to be accepted into the fold and trap of made-up worlds. I am so tired of ordinary people. I am going to fill my socks up with earth. I am going to eat a pear. My days will be legendary with hard-fought wonder. My house is built. It is smaller than I’d imagined. Sandpapered, rippled with pennies, glazed with honey. I shook some sugar packets over it and pretended it was winter. There are no limits, I feel, to what can be achieved in miniature. Yard sales, plumbing and electrical installation, a vegetable garden, a teaspoon swimming pool, the chrome glint of a tinfoil-lined bathroom, sequin Christmas lights.
DaVy ca rre n


I am thinking of buying a horse. Very soon the rain will come. The hills I’ve made from potato salad will landslide into mush. The lawyers wring their hands over such matters. The lawyers are not too bright. My house inside of my house is not home. Cotton-ball insulation and crayon-colored walls and clothespin stools and glossy-magazine-cover tiled floors. It’s just an imitation, a fruitless attempt at being in two places at once, at never having to leave. I flick the Saran-Wrap windows with my finger. I pull yarn weeds from the Sharpie green of the rubber-band lawn. The sky above is grape Kool-Aid. Nothing will keep me from keeping myself here, safe and alone. I am inside here. I am lost in microscopic birdfeed and the ultrasonic chirp of mourning doves. The garbage trucks of sorrow have no sway here. The moon’s a slice of Swiss cheese. Nothing will move me out. Nothing. I will just stay here. I will just stay here.




pop star
He moved across humble stages in 1965, through smoky bars and on to the ballrooms, gripping the mike in his small fist. Daring the world. Springing into the air when the band hit the first chord of I’ve Got Mine, a flip of dark hair and the heel of a Chelsea boot kicking off the verse. He’d growl out the broken words of a lover spurned in the voice decades older than he was. Landing in a splash of exhilaration, sweat shining down his clenched temples, he’d soak up the crowd yelling his name. He would grin and nod, yes, yes, yes, eyes clamped shut, savoring their unruly noise. Mod boys and girls in their best gear, their own voices lifting him back into the air where he’d float on top of them for a while, guitars ringing and drums pounding underneath. That thick cloud. Then he would come back down and respond in the voice he’d been given. Reverberating through his body, it came out like gunfire, a soft plea, whatever he wanted. He kept the band honest. Chopping out American R&B with rough English hands, post-war chords fashioned by meat rationing and grey factories. Drums, fueled by pints of bitter, banging skins for all they were worth, making up for anything that

might lack technically with simple fury. Bass, eyes down, face down, pulling deep throbs out of a big guitar, making the small rooms vibrate. The London ballrooms erupted when they finally arrived, thousands in from as far as Scotland, on Vespas, the train, anything that moved. Hitchhiking if they were skint. All for three chords and the roar of the Vox amps. Sixteen years old, he couldn’t read a note. Did it matter? Did it, fuck. He had the voice; it was a gift. All he needed. All he wanted. And, before the agents, and the managers, and the record company, and the money—the brief, brief money—when there were just the four of them huddled in the Bedford van, heading up the M1 where they’d tear up the tiny rooms at night, he was the sanest he’d ever been, the noise and mayhem deep in his skin, hair, his lungs. Like a gorgeous battlefield, lit by cigarettes, rocked by explosions in A, D and E.





The waitress comes over in a stained blue apron, props her boob momentarily on top of the sugar caddy, “more coffee?” she says as if someone pulled a string at her back to induce one of five preprogrammed phrases. I nod. “And can you bring more cream?” he asks. That is all we’ve said and his words are cumbersome in this booth. When we are always full of ways to talk to each other, it is weird to say nothing. And he is asking for something he wants but it seems unnecessary, as if the waitress should know to bring it, like I do. And I don’t like that what I liked, what I do, is now chafing my ears to hear. His wants. “Hun?” He knows I hate it when he calls me that. And he is doing it to get me to talk, because he needs me to start the talking. But his eyes are apologetic. He knows I hate it and that is precisely why he asked me like he did. I glare, but tears form in my eyes as I continue to stuff forkfuls of pancake into my mouth.

There were hula-hoops and fire dancing on the beach, we were the most spread out, always going, everywhere people before. He was expansive. And the sand was small granules when we felt it under our feet spread out over them, like forming a layer of cake out of separate ingredients, the coherence of disparate specks. What happened to us? There was always this space we could go into. Now it is claustrophobic; the rest of the world’s people pushing into each other so that we have become pressed, like we can only exist in a phone booth. His place setting is untouched in front of him and he is still staring at me, pleading for me to bring the space back, pull it all out in front of him like an artist stretching canvas so our backdrop is set again. But I didn’t have this mouse getting chased by a tomcat fear of my own shrinking before and I’m scared. We are something larger, something unmutable and where is it going? The grumbling of his stomach speaks the language of his body, the suppressed assertions of his silence, our lag time, like that between the diner jukebox mix tape of customer picked songs and their significance as a whole. He is an empty stomach on legs grumbling for my lead. The waitress comes back, the string pulled to release

another phrase, “You all finished here?” Like smoke, staining the ceiling tiles, we are a fantastic show on the ground. I look down at the face-sized pancakes we usually split and I realize I haven’t shared. The plate is nothing but a coat of syrup, streaks of beige, too-many-times-washed-dulldiner-plate underneath where I smudged through with bits of mine-only and I look up at her, satiated, and confess, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.”

gi na golDblat t




t h e g ir L
i’m tired of being friends of women with sucky boyfriends. uck. like their sucky boyfriends are so sucky and then you have to be around them sometimes and it’s so bad. like there’s this person you Do like that you care about that you do like but then you’re opening the door to this sucky person so like do you understand it’s like you’re opening the door to your friend, but their sucky boyfriend comes in. that like gunks you all up with his gunky, blechy ucky gunky guck yuckness. and then there’s the thing where you’re always listening to your friends complain about their sucky boyfriends which i totally understand but like they get really really really upset if you suggest they shouldn’t be with the sucky boyfriend. and then you’re the bad one. for saying they shouldn’t be with the sucky boyfriend when all you want is for your friend to be happier.

but then but somehow you get saddled with all the... it’s like you are the boyfriend the girlfriend of the boyfriend it’s like you get saddled with all the you’re so bad you get saddled with all the bad things because you dont like the boyfriend so you’re the one with all the bad things about you and he’s not even your boyfriend. and then people they call me and they expect me to care about their problems blech. and i listen to their little tiny voices, their little teeny peeny pie voices their little peas voices, their little peas voices on the phone and then he was like that and then i was like that but i was thinking that but i dont know if that’s right but i was feeling this but i dont know if that’s right and i’m a good person. i’m a good person am i a good person. but like you know when i say that i do the exact same thing. i do the exact same thing. like everybody’s going i’m a good person. am i good person. well i dont know if everybody’s doing that, cause i

dont know everybody. i’m just keep waiting when am i going to be ready to perform. like when am i gonna be like, you know enlightened enough so what i have to say is actually worth listening to i dont think i dont think i dont think i dont think that’s ever gonna happen maybe but then by the time i get that enlightened, it’ll just be really boring i’ll just open my mouth and i’ll just be like uhhhhhh and out will come a bunch of golden light but that’s it and i’ll be like this like like a little like a little little like a little little like a mechanical thing like you just stick me like you push a button and i’ll be like uhhhhhhh and all this light’ll come out. and that’s it.

Ka re n P e nle y


i can lay in my bed all day i can just do whatever i want like the bed can be so big and the air can be so soft and i can look at the ceiling and like that’s just how i can do that. christmas tree christmas tree christmas tree like i’ll go through a bunch of bad thoughts and then i’ll have a good thought like i’m tunneling through all these bad thoughts like i’m like like i’m like like i’m like like i’m like a superjet guy in like a superjet movie and he’s like errrrr barreling through like moving my craft through all of these bad thoughts like they’re like clouds and like eeiiiyiii and he’s tunneling through tunneling through

i feel like everyone always wants something from me but there’s what they want from me? this is what they want from me. like so many people like they want me to say i am bad and you are good yes you are good you and you Know and you know about everything and i dont know i dont know but youuuuuu do you like do and then you do and then you do and

then you do and then you do you know they just want me to sit there like a fried potato.. mmmmmm so then they can i can be their kingdom of one and they can be the king. people will say you are so complicated (my name) why dont you write a self help book that is a good idea like everybody’s standing around going ow ow ow with their hands out ow ow ow like little cactuses ow ow ow ow like little cactuses owowow like little pins and needles ow ow ow with their hands out but i cant help it, i’m just a little hopping dwarf eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh ehhhhhhh ssssssssss eh eh eh eh lalalalallal that’s me. lalalalal
Ka re n P e nle y


when am i gonna be done? i wanna go get a brownie i mean, not when am i gonna be done living when am i gonna be done with this. talking




i Wa s t h e o n e

i desired

powerfully like cannon like “volcanized rubber” balls from the quiet mountain out of fog came rolling, in b&w balls from the play kennel tossed up, rained down in color as they turned to lead they didn’t pick up the pace but covered good tamping the forms


Can’t hear it, Can’t see it
touch, smell, or taste it but believe me I can sense it covering me, preparing to cover me breathing in growing larger being born Although I missed the event I remember like I was there Although I was present at the event I remember it like any plot: shadily The volcano stopped smoldering and the byproducts are loaded


took part of My CaLf
made a new Achilles tendon took part of my large intestine threw it away took part of its large intestine prepared the link took one kidney, poached till tender, marinated diced the kidney served with toast points took one baby stitched the hole

ni cole t ri gg


Link hung Long
Like part of the architecture If the pig screams, you didn’t do it right If the pig screams, it won’t remember it did Plus one undulation Retracts the head … Head crests Hill by way of Dog, Snout bisects View Work gets Food & Lodging & Vomits down the Vista… If you remember nothing else, Remember that if the animal believes it is free, So its flavor improves So all the flavors from its field are there, in its flavor


Crying out your naMe over and over
It became something else, Something from and About guts The symbol for your wife was not wife-like You’d mistaken your wife for a serpent I’d mistaken a wife for your serpent’s shape, the satin improved When it got out of bed I was sure it was her, even though I’ve met your wife, and I like her A body was down to its original, first and last legs Legs were dropping from a body Steadily as the body made them, responsibly Thinking about a future

ni cole t ri gg


not so MuCh teeth—
Not so much disturbed— less hollow, piercing look in their country But open the mouth, by all means Part the mouth even if she has no personality Because she may be a vessel Can someone please pick up the blue triangles and stuff them in her mouth? I felt at home looking at her face with some shapes missing and sky poking through Because I could overlay my face? Because she fit in over there and I fit in her? I was finally over her She was like woods and waterfall to me See them in her face, nothing personal What is it about the house, burned but for its face? Something about blue panes Brought to front Brought to bear on my face Burning the planes Thereof


n o t ethniC en o u g h
Like a charm on a red string, for protection those cards throw  them on the table. King of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, all wearing glasses.   The jester:  Where’s my coffee? Turkish tea cups      green tea is so much better. Made in China       Ph balanced · antioxidant · Made in China        trace minerals · greater Made in China             longevity · lower You, Chine?                 mortality Evet! Made in China!   Chinatown is changing subtly.  The men sitting in the bakery drinking coffee and buying lottery tickets will gradually fade away, so will the homemade basement temples, and the old gangsters who talk football at one o’clock in the morning at Sam Wo.    The old man chews on a toothpick “My father while reading the Sing-Tao Daily news. is old but his mind is very young.”

Undershirt · toenails · teeth · yellowing   I’m young but feeling… “…Sefu…Sefu!” Master Po, King Lear of the milky eyes your name is Keye Luke · (Luke Sek Lam) · Kwai Chang Caine · Shaolin monk · three in one · David Carradine · Keith Carradine · Radames Pera Charlie Chan is the Swedish Warner Oland · (Johan Verner Ölund) · Kato, valet to the Green Hornet Bruce Lee · (Lee Yun-fan · Lee Xiao-lung) · This tree is questionable as to who’s what · who’s who · who’s not ·

Waverly, you need

something to call home.

In the middle of the night an aspen quakes, “go down”, a voice coaxes, “only those tentacles that hold the earth are real.” But you swing on the branches and watch the moon hurtling down and up, a revolving crystal ball eluding your grasp… The Wong Benevolent Association on Waverly Place decks out its flags. “No parking” signs are tied onto

the lamp posts between Sacramento and Clay. A row of folding chairs is set up in front of the building.  A man with a rag wipes down the red plastic seats and rusty frames.  Old folks, done up, pin big ribbon rosettes on their chests. “The magic of light encased, swinging on a long stick, flickering.  The glimmer inside a paper fish’s belly, yellow star fruit, hairy rambutan.  When I was small I pulled a little white curly crepe rabbit with four wooden wheels.  A candle was lit inside, held by a thin wire.  My sister and I walked up and down the length of the short corridor at home.  She held a butterfly of transparent wings.  We were the keepers of light, short legs toddling, gleeful and drooling, a kind of mythical youngling along with the shadows that cast on the walls and ceiling.” “You’d better know all the numbers before going in,” “I think I’m missing the number gene.” “In a five syllabic finite poem expressiveness is to be derived only from the varied tone of each character.”

cla ra h Su


sometimes when I breathe · the cold air jolts me that the right vocabulary · ethnic · minority · crisis · is necessary in order to go places. That these · empowerment · possibility · equality · buzz words justify value and lead to general consent · tradition · culture · roots · preservation · of an existence. That a few words · race · discrimination · sexism · may explain all the problems of the Now. That the brown indelible skin is a ticket to · rave · rant · rage · My eyes? My hair? My accent? My grandfather? My grandmother? My origin? not ethnic enough not ethnic enough not ethnic enough not ethnic enough not ethnic enough not ethnic enough if those words are absent

the sun folds, gives up folds of moth wings the moth flies into the sun folds of the blue-tongue fire my tongue touching yours, sweetly, a “fire”

folds of the sun

folds of the sand sand and folds of wind clouds clouds my mind folds of a dry sky lightning the fly cries in the dry sky folds on a new born he said “I wish to be in your ‘bourn’” folds of crow’s feet get out of here, old man, let a young woman in folds on an old photograph “stills”—as opposed to movies (someday all “ photographs” will be movies) folds and folds of lace ribbons decorating his undershorts—she saw as he removed them a shirt, half fold UNfold a sock unfold REfold folds on the armgold folds chair resting watch out! The chair is moving! The taxi driver took one look and predicted “foreigner”—the clothes, the posture—he was right every time. “They hate me because I don’t speak Chinese.” “They hate you more when you don’t even try.” The illegal act my father committed was
cla ra h Su


unmentionable in the 1960’s. He took the train from Hong Kong to China and stayed there overnight. When he came back I tried to sniff the purported fragrance from his clothes. Not a trace could be detected. Years later when I went to Guangzhou I specifically asked to be taken to such a place, where at the show window the merchandise was lined up in a row, their bodies shiny (already cooked I suppose), hung by the necks, oil dripping down the long singed tails. They put the slices in a clay pot with daikon radishes and carrots, sizzling hot. Red meat, chewy, but it didn’t taste like chicken. “Dog…what’s the big deal?” I asked my friend, “It’s not what it’s trumped up to be.” He shrugged, “People are into wild vegetables these days.” After all, we have something in common doggedly pursuing afraid to die before the body gives in. The malaise of a calm night a lone street lamp bathes in its yellow pool. The sign in the bus shelter scrolls a long message: “Eternity arrives in 56 minutes.”
*Note: the sun folds, gives up… italicized lines by Jack Foley


the Queen’s paLaCe
Only the best A palace for my queen Hell… I’ll rob Peter to pay Paul I will make this a palace Even your sister will be jealous The firemen dragged hoses Out of muddy soot Once home to Lieutenant Titus His wife and little boy Now a smoldering pile of possibility… Fortunately everyone was Out of the house Everyone but Rufus Rufus the dog A likable mutt he cowered Went out in a shiver Hiding in his quiet spot Smoke put him down Before the flames made it permanent… Rufus tried to imagine a rescue With the doors all double locked…

The dog could only picture A big hand of coming down As he pissed the pantry… Titus walked the scene with his head down Very quiet slow and steady He knew anything he said Could easily lead to trouble

Thank God everyone’s O.K. … Holy Jesus… Thank God everyone’s O.K… Jesus Fucking Christ…” Titus had practiced these words Silent to himself As he set the halogen lamp Too close to the synthetic drapes And pile of Sunday papers He even dummied up the smoke alarms With some old dead dollar store batteries In his mind he made a story Like it was all a surprise. He left before they found Rufus. Titus knew the insurance investigators Would suspect arson If the pets were saved Titus knew how to sacrifice


He was a giggle inside With remodeling plans Thank you Rufus Damn dog Finally worth something

Ji M Sh e e h an


she CaMe in through the WindoW
House-sitting for Nancy She had cats and Someone had to feed them Mark tipped the lid A little heavy Huffing was his hobby The night Nancy came home She pounded on the door With no result From the fire escape She could see him clearly Mark was naked And all fucked up She tapped on the window Mark looked right past her Like she was transparent Mark was convinced Nancy was the succubus Who had raped him Earlier in the week To Mark opening

The window Was just asking For it He forced Nancy to press Her driver’s license Against the window Mark couldn’t focus His eyes on a billboard Never mind validate Identification The starving cats Wanted her in So he took a chance That spirit raping whores Don’t drive And the cats Were getting Real squirelly

Ji M Sh e e h an






seXuaL as Me n


I love my body I love being a man astride you. My happy concrete face, the fountain of my beard, they say I need a haircut I’m not going to cut my hair, you can call me a sheepdog but I’m always going to be your man, and this is my happy face and my one two lights out eyes, and my lips which grin or the postage stamp between my luscious eyebrows looks crumpled because I’m thinking. You always know what I’m thinking, I’m a man and I love making myself obvious to you I like jumping up and down I like making the waterbed go slosh. If I’m a book I’m a very easy book but I’m your man it’s going to take all night to read me.


a gift
Arrive as green, or frost, or snow, the leaves not brown, holly. Little red berries falling loose, it’s all very old. Old as a man gets to be. Old as a man who. As a rock in his hand, he hefting it. Its edges, the minerals mixed in it. Old as chisels, as knowing how to use chisels, their knowledge. Old as a toolbelt, old as a workshop, old as a list, old as having to work in the most terrible cold. The sun doesn’t rise and the old man goes to work with his chisel, with his hammer and his axe too, and his nose is the color of holly berries, and his suit is covered in snowdust. He can be seen from a distance, and because he’s so old, he can only be seen from a distance. Then he laughs white breath in your ear, a gift.



CoLLision teXts:

a Ch orus
first voiCe:

WALKING WITH THE BEATNIKS ON THE BOARDWALK AT VENICE BEACH AT HALLOWEEN the ghosts are all here—Philomene, John, Tony, Bill, Stuart, Jim—but they are all friendly, taking in the health-giving sea air and the glorious Southern California sunshine weirdos everywhere and of course medical marijuana (“come in and see if you qualify”) and a store that said “Rafiki” (“friend”) and ice cream and children dressed for Halloween and many, many breasts partially or sometimes nearly wholly revealed (SoCal!) I walked with the Beatniks, led by Frankie Rios, poet, ex-con, ex-drug addict, and the flag he carried with an emblem that was simultaneously Wallace Berman’s Aleph and a soft pretzel postcards available but could not tell the half of the life that exploded in this mad, improbable, only in Southern California place— and I so wanted to join them

in their “voluntary poverty” and their “Art is Love is God” and their joy and laughter and their collective “drive towards non recognition” and their suffering and sentimentality and their selfcongratulations and the way they reminded me as we walked of Charles Ives’ song, “General William Booth Enters The Kingdom of Heaven” and the fact that most of them got lost went the wrong way on that confusing, marvelous heaven-haven where we visited the poetry walls (conveniently located near the public rest rooms) and might have sung if any of us could remember a tune and the six that remained together (including a famous Art Historian) had slurpies and pizza and ice cream and noted the Everything that kindly came blazing down from the heavens and told us a Dirty Joke. *

seCond voiCe (siMuLtaneous): 6:33 begin the poem with the time because one must

begin somewhere I did not say whether a.m. or p.m. Time is not an “object” but that which out of which I am made I am time I think you look for reasons to be angry at me because the real reason you are angry at me would not do you credit clock time shakes us makes us talk about whether we are “on” time whereas in fact we are probably not “on” but “in” time I think you want to distance yourself from me and the only way to do it is to tell yourself stories stories that will give you reasons for what remains hidden
Ja cK F ole y


Anger Heideggerean time is of a different aspect from clock time Time here is not something that happens to you but the you to which everything happens Time is the dynamic area in which you function in which you are always “ahead” always “behind” always “thrown” always “projecting” always in a state of anything other than stasis Love you think drives you but Love like everything else is the discovery of Time— time in a state of special intensity You reach for something to hold to

but there is nothing except the false ideas you and your lover discuss daily as if they were true I think you reach for something to hold to and can find nothing but the anger you pretend is real Time is entropy * Another season—we’re giving thanks For many a thing that fills our lives. For now, the failure of the banks Difficulties with husbands, wives, Children who are “recalcitrant”— Recede in the chill fall weather, fail. Forgetting now the mendicant (And people who should be in jail!) We remember that “economy” Means having to do with home and house. Can we choose not to “suffer” but just to “be”? Choose to love this child, this spouse,
Ja cK F ole y


Love even the country that gave us birth?— Love and thank the vast, procrustean earth? * Both voiCes aLternating & together: ARTAUD He walks in the spectacle He was so handsome, très beau, vous savez that is everything around him And then puis après...maigre...misère Madly insisting on his sanity and insanity screaming and insistent that he is right while knowing that he is in excess and comic and wrong— ironic, sincere, and vastly accusatory At once frail and full of authority “Le mômo” qui joue le mômo pour ses amis artistiques de Paris don’t cure anyone of anything curing people is death doctors are killers science is black magic scientists are black magicians

whose tools are madness and electric shock and pain! mo to ho he ah mem zi ag oh toog mômo mômo mômo et moi...toothless...addicted...mem zi ag oh toog zi   zi

“Time is entropy”: Stephen Hawking. * Entropy: noun entropies, plural 1. A thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system 2. Lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder “A marketplace where entropy reigns supreme” 3. The degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity 4. A process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder CHAOS, DISORGANIZATION, RANDOMNESS Etymology:
en-, to cause a person or thing to be in + Greek trope , change,

Ja cK F ole y


literally, turn, from trepein to turn.
Trope is the Greek equivalent of the Latin versus, a turning, origin

of the term “verse.” First Known Use: 1875. * Procrustean adj. Producing or designed to produce strict conformity by ruthless or arbitrary means. Etymology: After Procrustes, a mythical Greek giant who stretched or shortened captives to make them fit his beds. From Latin Procrustes, from Greek Prokroustes, from prokrouein, to hammer out, to stretch out : pro-, forth + krouein, to beat. * “ARTAUD”: très beau, vous savez = very handsome, you know et puis après...maigre...misère = and then afterwards...thin, gaunt... poverty le mômo = a term Artaud chose from Marseilles slang to designate himself: the divine idiot, in some ways the child “Le mômo” qui joue le mômo pour ses amis artistiques de Paris = “The mômo” who plays the mômo for his artistic Parisian friends mo to, etc. = nonsense syllables of a sort Artaud used to punctuate his poetry et moi = and I Henri Pichette’s passionate poem/homage to Artaud (from the film, La Véritable Histoire d’ Artaud le Mômo, 1993): You can hear Artaud himself here: 74

info + updates + video of every reading

back issues

calendar + reviews + interviews +purviews

- oct 8, 2012 -

Related Interests