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sparkle + blink 3.9
© 2012 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-105-90323-6 cover photographs © Cameron Forsley cameronforsley.blogspot.com edited by Evan Karp evankarp.com 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 Cameron

1 3 9 13 21 27 35 37 39 43 44 45 47 57 61 67 68 69

Matthew RodgeRs J.e. FReeMan ClaRa hsu

After the Apocalypse Thank You for Sharing Your Eyes Metamorphosis of Su Shi’s ‘Nien Nu Jiao’ Not a Party Broadsides Me and Kerouac’s Mother This is Me When I’m Drunk in starbucks Animal Girls Winter Distances Cuyahoga County Daylight Std. Ode Jenever the body is a ghost from Everyday Fashion Out of the Question Bristle Missing Parts When We Try and Do Something Beautiful

siaMak Vossoughi tupelo hassMan

doug CoRdell YuMe kiM

kaRen penleY aaRon diFRanCo

Joseph lease saRa wintz andRew o. dugas Jonathan i. hiRsCh

williaM taYloR JR.

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: Meghan Thornton secretary Chris Cole vice treasurer Charles Kruger chairman Evan Karp founder + president Josey Duncan Nicole McFeely Brandon Loberg Kristen Kramer public relations outreach design treasurer

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helping—on any level—please send us a line: evan@quietlightning.org




a boy approached me in the backdrop of scattered skies, his nakedness astounded me, his nipples like ivory steeples in 12th century Persia, he lent out his arm, and tilted it upwards exposing his skin to the sun, he smiled and revealed his desire and said, “Here is a flower.” and I reached out and took it by its stem and examined it’s soft pink petals and the golden orb nestled at its center and said to him, “Thank-you for your flower.” but he didn’t say a word, he just took my hand in silence and walked me through distant gardens, (ruined and saved by time) we rested there, and planted our flower into the ground, and we fed it, our hot eternal tears, poking eachother with thorns, and what we have lost, (the fear of existing for nothing, the fear of living without love) “Yes,” he said, “This is the way to treat a flower, delicate but without the fear of harming it.” and he took my hand and bit my lips and drew out a single droplet of blood to which he licked and swallowed

After the

with something deep and dark and mysterious, hinted in the golden hue of his eyes he laid me down there, and told me to close my eyes and I saw everything laid out before me, in a sparkling, dazzling, liquid infinity, it was all bliss, it was all for nothingness, it was everything good and hopeful and every meaning was laid out before me like the most intricately weaved Indian blanket, it had such immensity and yet it was so simple and a tremendous relief fell over me like sitting, with your back facing the sea, with a wave falling and gently tumbling over your head, there was such a simple happening that it seemed as both honest and untruthful but after everything was done, and humanity had satisfied it’s beautiful dream, and time unwaveringly had finally paused it’s swaying, I fell asleep, and the boy waiting for this moment, got up and walked away and disappeared amongst scattering skies, leaving me with only the delicate pink flower, with a golden orb nestled at its center standing erect in a ruined garden.



f o r s h A nk yo r e y e s ring you
I could sit on a hillside all day and watch the wispy clouds the planet dreams for my eyes. Wispy shape changing hallucinogenic clouds, horses and humpbacked camel clouds in a caravan across the sky to some oasis beyond the horizon. A lily cloud, a lily pad a pond of clouds, a garden of wind I could almost taste white against blue and all the shades in between. A glade, a glen, a forest a white snowy hoary forest all spring warm and charming me, like dust bunnies under Gaia’s bed. A ripple, a wave, an ocean streaming kayaks and schooners



wind sailers and sailors on the rail. A long line of people on the street Where’s the marquee? What’s playing? At least there’s no rain. Just the hope the hint the promise. Wispy hints fragile hope promises written by the wind but there is no sound so who can say. Not me. There, there is a cat behind a fence watching fireflies breathe pumpkin seeds. A cloudy sky is like a jazz band with a Dixieland piano a bossa nova clarinet Louis Armstrong’s trumpet a pair of castanets tambourines and tubas a glockenspiel for thyme

Gershwin’s fingers and Quincy Jones on drums. The singer has a tin ear but it’s jazz so that’s okay, like the Grateful Dead on a bad night. It’s still a good time. There are bagpipes marching toward me no men in kilts just bagpipes and brooms. There, there is the white haired man Michelangelo painted on the Sistine Ceiling to be God, his hand outstretched next to what could be a candy bar or a turd. The turd says to God, “How come I have to be a turd?” The God cloud says, “ Wait. Things change. Maybe next time you’ll be Me. And how come you think you’re a turd and not a candy bar?”
J.E . F rE E man


I write this as I walk, like a pack mule loaded for a day’s adventure traveling from my part of the City to another. When I see something I stop, on a bench a stoop a curb or lean on a mailbox or a trash can, and write. My pockets are full with weighty things. The things we earthbound carry into the new millennium. Unlike the sky above. A sandwich, a pen, a notebook, a book to read, my wallet, money, some pot and a pipe, a hanky for my nose that runs. Where it thinks it’s going is anybody’s guess. Some things never change. But I also carry a phone that rings in my pocket, with my keys and spare change.

It sends and gets my mail, plays music, takes pictures, tells me where I am, and what the weather’s doing just in case I’m not paying attention. Did Michelangelo’s white haired God know, with his hand out across that cloud filled ceiling, it would come to this? I think not. Not that God. His Adam had no pockets. But I do and mine are full. I sit now in the Panhandle part of the Golden Gate Park staring down the aisled nave of the tree pillared cathedral McLaren drew in his dreams, all arched with leaves dripping supports for the sky. Hey, I’m a poet. I can stay stuff like that. It’s part of my job description. It says so right here in the manual I’m writing in my spare time
J.E . F rE E man


between sips of ginger ale, tokes from my pipe, and bites from my sandwich. A poem is like a cloud or a puff of smoke or the flame of a spooky story campfire. There but not there, one thing then another. It’s like a dream the planet dreams with its feet up on a hillside writing love songs with a feather on the air.



M e tA M

’nien nu JiAo’

orphosis of su shi’s

Su Shi (1036-1101) was a Chinese poet of the Sung Dynasty. In this poem, the poet toured Red Cliff, site of a great sea battle that took place during the time of the Three Kingdoms (169-280). General Chou Kung-Chin used fire to destroy his opponent’s chained boats, winning a decisive battle. Siu-Ch’iao was Chou’s wife, famous for her beauty.


Big river rushes east The river sweats left toward waves edge of Oil and tar. the millennia of romance. ebb Today I gather all red flowers Shed their petals on the paths, tide Shimaunu-San, in the dawn— West of ruins people say, “Three Kingdoms, Chou’s Red Cliff.” obscure The barges drift is With the turning tide the Red sails stain Wide To leeward, swing on the heavy spar…

Jagged rocks crack clouds In my garden— fierce surges break banks roll up heaps of snow Eyes In my garden see the winds have beaten only the ripe lilies; this and the salt has crept far under the leaves of the white hyacinth. Pictured landscape how heroes come and go. Mind the changing wind Think of Kung-Chin, those years (Siu-Ch’iao, just married) She was just a young thin pale soft shy slim slip of a thing then, sauntering, by silvamoonlake… stunningly poised feathered fan and kerchief between laughs lie captives, ash and dust. the tendril of longing blown to Mind tours old world sentiment mocks my early gray hair. and indeed there will be time to wonder, Life is a dream.



p i e c e s

“Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” I offer to love’s play My dark declivities. A toast to river-moon. And, night approaching like the entrance of a tunnel, We would turn back and cannot, we Surprise our natures; the woods lock us up In the secret crimes of our intent.

Man must love and be loved, To walk slowly in the full sympathy of noon Is as good as beholding two trees Leaning into one another their leaves. O happiness! You have descended on me like a cloud! As a bird falls silent after a well-sung day, I shall be silent now. Speech beyond speech—that is more to me Than the “morn-dew” to the myrtle leaf, Sacred to me this temporary solution Said I. Opposing the memory-effacing waters of Lethe Said they. Big River rushes east toward waves edge millennia of romance.

大江東去, 浪淘盡, 千古風流人物。

Cla ra H su


West of ruins people say, “Three Kingdoms, Chou’s Red Cliff.” Jagged rocks crack clouds fierce surges break banks roll up heaps of snow. Pictured landscape how heroes come and go. Think of Kung-Chin, those years (Siu-Ch’iao, just married) stunningly poised feathered fan and kerchief between laughs lie captives, ash and dust. Mind tours old world sentiment mocks my early gray hair. Life is a dream. A toast to river-moon. *

古疊西邊, 人道是, 三國周郎赤壁; 亂石崩雲, 驚濤裂岸, 捲起千堆雪; 江山如畫, 一時多少豪傑。 遙想公瑾當年, 小喬初嫁了, 雄姿英發; 羽扇綸巾, 談笑間, 強虜灰飛煙滅。 故國神遊, 多情應笑我, 早生華髮, 人生如夢, 一樽還酹江月。

“Today I gather…” Louis Zukofsky, “A” “The river sweats…” T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” “In my garden…” H.D., “Island. VI” “She was just a young…” James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake” “and indeed there will be time…’Do I dare?’” T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” “I offer to love’s play…” W.B.Yeats, “A Woman Young and Old” “And, night…” Jean Garrigue, “Forest” “Man must love...” Jean Garrigue, “Free-Floating Report”





not A pArty

They put their thumb tips together in front of them, bent three fingers down, and extended their pinkies out. Martin thought it was a joke at first. Okay, ha ha. You find yourself inside at a party while a big group of people outside is waiting to come in, and you think you got a place to say who can come in. Okay. Very funny. “Our hands are different sizes though,” one of them said. “Whose should we use?” “Whoever’s smallest.” Martin watched as they went to the front door, laid out their hands as they’d shown him, and asked the first girl in line to step into the space. If her waist fit between the fellow with the smallest hands’ pinkies, she could come in. This is not a party, he thought. He did not know until then that he had such a clear understanding of what a party was. He would’ve said what anybody would’ve said: the drinking and the dancing and the talking together.

But if something like that was happening at the front door, then what was happening inside was not a party. He thought that he would tell them. “This is not a party,” he told the fellow pouring drinks. “What is it then?” “I don’t know.” He told him what they were doing at the front door. “The people are still drinking. The music is still playing,” the fellow said. “It’s not a party,” Martin said. He looked around the room and he thought that what the fellow had said wasn’t true. It looked like the people were still drinking and the music was still playing, but they weren’t. Not really. He knew a little bit about those two things and he knew they were supposed to be nice things. “I’m going to ask them how they can be dancing when there’s no music,” Martin said. “We can change the music if you don’t like it,” the fellow said. “You could change the music but it still won’t be music.”

The fellow had something begging in his eyes. “Come on,” he said. “They are only trying to have fun.” “The girls outside who do not fit between their fingers are only trying to have fun,” Martin said. Next to them a young man and a young woman laughed about something. “You are not having fun,” Martin told them. “Yes we are.” He shook his head. “I’m afraid not.” They looked at the fellow pouring drinks, who said nothing. He left the table and went towards the fellows at the front door. “We are having a great time,” the young man said. “I disagree.” The young woman looked down. “You saw what they are doing at the front door,” Martin said. “We were already here,” the young man said. “We were already talking and laughing.”
si a ma k Vossou gH i


“You could do that anywhere.” “We just met though.” “Well, ask her if she’d like to take a walk with you somewhere. You don’t have to stay at some place that isn’t even a party.” “Would you like to take a walk with me somewhere?” the young man said. “Yes,” the young woman said. “Good,” Martin said. They walked out the front door. He didn’t care if he met a girl himself tonight or not as he watched them go. Anyway, he thought, I’d like to meet a girl at a party, and this is not a party. Martin remembered how he hadn’t wanted to go to college in the first place. But he had felt very sorry for his mother and father when they had said they wanted him to go. His thoughts were with ships. He wanted to steer them, out to where the world was an ocean, where it was more ocean than land, just like the maps said. He didn’t think it was anything other than letting the world be what it was.

And for everything that happened on land, he thought - we could be on the ocean. We could be somewhere where we’d know how uncertain our presence was, how it was in our hands, and how we didn’t have forever to figure out what we were going to do about that. He had thought that maybe in college people would talk about how they didn’t have forever, that they would admit it. He had though that it would be different from his town, where nobody talked about it, but even in college where they could afford to talk about it, where they didn’t have to be afraid of it for the smallness of their town and how far away it was from the ocean, they didn’t. So there were places to go like a party at a fraternity house where he could think, this is just the land. And everything was different knowing that there was another place where you couldn’t be so confused as to think you had forever, and you would know you didn’t have forever because something else had forever. You would have to hurry up and figure out what a party was, because you couldn’t waste time calling things a party that weren’t. Somehow the ocean had already helped him with that. That was just the thought of the ocean, that was just standing on the shore smelling the salt air. If he could do all that from there, he could hardly believe how much he could do when he was really out there. The fellows at the front door had seen the young man and the young woman go. They left their post
si a ma k Vossou gH i


and went to Martin. As they did, he felt for a moment like he was out on the sea, like he was bobbing on the waves. “What did you say to them?” “I told them that this was not a party.” “Why?” “Because you cannot do that at the front door and call it a party. You have to call it something else.” “Why don’t you leave yourself?” “Because I wanted to let them know. I thought it was only fair. They might go home tonight and somebody might say, where were you? And they would say, Oh, we were at a party, when the truth was they weren’t. I didn’t want that.” “Get out of here.” “All right.” “We can make sure none of the houses will let you into a party.” “This is not a party.” The biggest one stepped forward. He didn’t hesitate.

He knew his job. His hand, which was the biggest, hit Martin on the side of the face. His legs gave, but they gave in rhythm with the waves. He did not fall. He walked out the front door, past the people waiting in line. This was college, he thought as he walked home: Holding his jaw as he walked across the campus by himself at night. It didn’t come as a surprise, all things considered. Considering that people didn’t know that there was another place where you’d look like a fool if you didn’t know what a party was, you’d look like maybe you didn’t know what anything was, and then of course you had no business being out on the sea. You’d be better off on land, where people made all kinds of mistakes because there were so many of them that they couldn’t see their mistakes for what they were, and Martin knew that he was in for four years of longing, but at least he knew that the place he was longing for was big enough to hold it.

si a ma k Vossou gH i






B r o A d si d e s
A brief history of The Rules (draw roman numerals) or “How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Love the Uniform.” Begins, of course, in Los Angeles (erase roman numerals, draw roman candles) (don’t forget to draw lines emanating to represent sparkles). Los Angeles is a grid. You pulse through it (the sparkles represent the light from the streetlamps) (the light from the streetlamps represents electricity) (electricity represents your soul). You (the streetlamp shines down on a sidewalk) can be owned (draw a star on the sidewalk) (draw lines emanating to represent scuffmarks). Or you can disappear. (erase the star) (erase the scuffmarks) (keep your soul). When the time comes (draw a biological clock) to go to the party (add a fuse) (don’t forget to draw lines emanating to represent sparkles) boys’ costumes come with masks (draw a chair) (plug it in) (don’t forget to draw lines emanating to represent sparks), but girls must make-up their own faces (draw a cross)

(draw another). (start a game of tic-tactoe.) These are The Rules (nevermind tictac-toe, draw a kitty-cat) (don’t forget to draw lines emanating to represent whiskers). If you want anything more (draw a heart), don’t do it here (keep it empty), do it here (draw pockets, keep them deep). Even if all you want is to remember (draw your soul) (don’t forget how it shines). Whenever you think of your soul you start to cry.

A brief history (draw men’s bikini briefs) of Becka or “Hollymoods.” Begins, of course, in Los Angeles (draw a star with lines emanating to represent sparkles). Becka is a valet (start timeline), she works at a party where she meets Helen! (draw two girls with heart) (label one becka). Becka and Helen like each other. Helen is only visiting Los Angeles but she gets a job as “Cinderella” (draw a shoe with lines emanating to represent castles), so she moves in with Becka (draw two girls in a house). Then Becka meets Bob. Helen falls into a depression (draw two sad faces). Helen’s parents ship her to a “place” in the desert where they will “help” her (draw quotation marks to represent bullshit). Becka stays home and worries (draw a crescent moon) in the dark, in the bathtub, dry and shivering (draw a bathtub) (draw a showerhead with lines emanating

to represent sadnesses). Then “Helen” returns! With a bottle of “pills!” (don’t forget to draw pill bottle.) Helen is “better” and Becka has great news! She is moving in with Bob! (draw a heart with lines emanating to represent see-you-later.) Helen’s pills aren’t supposed to be taken all together but Helen “misunderstands” the directions (draw ambulance). Helen gets her stomach pumped (don’t forget to draw siren with lines emanating to represent mistakes). Whenever Helen and Becka see each other Helen starts to cry.

A brief history of Bob or Every Good Boy Does Fine (draw a musical staff). Bob is, of course, a musician (draw a treble clef). His band (draw a bong) (don’t forget to draw lines to represent staying up all night) plays at a party where he meets Becka! Becka is alone. (draw a crescent moon.) Bob is alone. (draw a quarter note) (don’t forget and draw lines). Bob and Becka realize they have aloneness in common and move in together! They have something else in common too! Sex! (draw a bicycle) (draw lines emanating to represent beat of common time). Bob and Becka soon discover that except for aloneness (draw a whole note) and sex (draw a fig leaf to represent A black bar) they have nothing in common. Soon, the sex wears off and things begin to get broken. (draw a heart)
T u p E lo H assman


(draw jagged lines to represent sparring). The sex wears off but the aloneness doesn’t. (now draw real things getting broken, like plates and furniture, like bones). Bob and Becka try to fix the brokenness (draw glue) (draw jagged lines to represent failure) but after one too many of these brokennesses Becka “moves away.” (draw ambulance.) Bob and Becka promise to “keep in touch.” (don’t forget to draw siren with lines emanating to represent dogs howling.) Whenever Becka thinks of Bob she starts to cry.

A brief history of Los Angeles (draw oscar statue in men’S bikini briefs) as told to Becka (draw a girl with heart) by a Holy Man of Those Wild Posting, or, The Holyrollers. (draw a paint roller) (draw lines emanating to represent heaven). There are jobs (draw a dollar sign) (draw lines emanating to represent ching ching-kaching) and then there are Jobs (draw more lines to represent glory). This (draw stars to represent the night sky), is like the dressing room (draw hollywood sign to represent the stars). Behind the posters, (erase hollywood sign) (erase oscar’s tightie whities) is nothing but plywood (don’t forget, oscar’s hands join on his chest), behind the plywood (now give oscar a ruffly dress), it looks like it’s gonna be

another parking structure (don’t forget to draw lines emanatingto represent exhaustion). And no one will pay any attention (lose oscar’s dress), but tomorrow (add tube socks and a sweatervest), they’ll see this as if they’ve never seen it before (don’t forget, oscar’s hands join on his crotch), they’ll see this as if they’ve seen it all before (draw oscar in a hairshirt and cowboy hat) (draw spurs to represent jingle-jangle flagellation) (don’t forget, oscar’s hands are on his gun) (draw lines emanating to represent rat-a-tat-tat) (redraw hollywood sign) (draw flames emanating to represent miracles) (draw crescent moons to represent paste drying on the beds of fingernails) (don’t forget the night sky) (don’t forget to draw sparkles emanating to represent lines) (don’t forget to represent).

T u p E lo H assman



An d

k e r o u A C ’s M o t h e r


Some time ago, I experienced a sudden financial setback: the complete drying-up of freelance writing work—possibly connected to my inability to finish most of the dreary assignments. The result? I had to ditch my Manhattan apartment. Fortunately, I knew someone, and they turned me on to a virtually cost-free housing situation—far from the City, in a small village at the end of Long Island. I saw it as an unexpected windfall: a chance to get away from the bustle, the struggle for my daily bread—and focus instead on my art. I had an idea for a novel—something ambitious; a big sprawling thing, with four or five parts—maybe even an appendix. I called it… The Leveling Wind. My new living arrangement was ideal for the concentrated work it would take—a quiet space in a pastoral setting, filled with light. A quaint general store and post office were a short walk into town. There was only one problem: my mother. The cost-free housing opportunity was her condominium—and, as luck would have it, she still lived there. At least until November—two

months away—when she made the annual snowbird pilgrimage to Florida. In the meantime, she seemed determined to rattle me out of the cool disposition needed for writing— following me around the house, grabbing my halfeaten sandwich or unread newspaper the minute I left the room; or interrupting my relaxing, afterdinner reading to bait me about some story on the news. Fueled by glasses of cheap cabernet, I’d rise to the bait, giving a full-throated defense of gay marriage or the progressive income tax, my loud voice echoing back to me as a righteous howl, outrage gathering steam as it barreled toward the fat target of conventional thinking—only to be foiled at the last minute by her indignant cry, “People can hear you! I have to live here!” That cycle played out routinely—except for a rare quiet conversation over dinner, when we’d take apart some Latinate word in the day’s paper, or reminisce about one of the many murder trials she took me to as a kid (hoping, I think, to get me interested in the legal career she would’ve liked to pursue). Getting a warm feeling from these quiet moments, I’d venture into more risky territory—trying, for instance, to make her understand the concept of a “literary” novel; which was always met with a maddening, and what I consider willful resistance—concluding, inevitably, with her reference to the woman in the end unit whose son had self-published a 200-page adventure—

Dreams of Feta—inspired by his two-week vacation in Greece. The mere mention of this amateur-hour project always got me riled up—and soon we’d be arguing again about culture, politics… the definition of “normal”… Still, I felt a certain “writerliness” about the whole situation—because of Kerouac. Yes, Jack Kerouac— king of the beats. Lived with his mother, on Long Island—at the height of his fame! I was shocked to discover this. Neighbors said they usually spent the evening chasing each other around the house in a drunken screaming match—which was less shocking. When he died a few years later—allegedly passed out in front of the TV (not the worst way in the world to go, it seemed to me)—it was in his mother’s house in Florida. I felt validated by the thought of it. This was the writer’s life. So I decided to patiently wait out my mother’s departure and focus on developing the themes of my book—knowing that, as soon as she was gone, I could get down to the actual writing. I was also thinking of the historical value of all the notes I was keeping— the scrutiny that might await each underlined word or fragment of an idea. “The harvest metaphor was clearly no accident,” I could hear some tweedy professor lecturing.
Dou g CorDE ll


Some afternoons I put my notebooks aside and imagined the life I could expect after publication. Even in its larval stage, I knew my book had the hallmarks of a cult phenomenon, and very likely something more—if I could just get the time and space to bang it out. It wasn’t hard for me to picture some wintry morning when a journalist would arrive, photographer in tow, to profile me for a mainstream yet cutting-edge magazine. They might tag along on my visit to the quaint general store, where I’d engage in easy banter with the plainspoken proprietor, displaying an obvious comfort— indeed, an intuitive connection—with the regular folk. All my daily errands—a stop for milk, a visit to the post office—would glow with significance: the commonplace routine of an all-too-rare talent. I could see the pull quote beside a black-and-white shot of a thoughtful man walking under snowcovered branches, the collar of his pea coat turned to the wind: “I don’t wait for the muse,” the author says disarmingly, “I lay siege to it.” Sometimes I conjured up variations on another favorite scenario: the unannounced arrival one morning of two (or three) young women from Budapest (or Prague… Barcelona…)—breathless acolytes who had somehow tracked me down in my self-imposed exile. They wanted nothing more than to meet (and perhaps sleep with) the uncompromising spirit behind The Leveling Wind. Reluctantly, I would grant them entry into my world, soon beguiling

them with my high-flown yet refreshingly earthy sensibility. With European enthusiasm, they would share me for several weeks… As the weather turned colder and the skies grayer, however—and as my mother’s proximity wore on me more and more—it became harder to keep myself afloat with these devices. In fact, I wasn’t doing much more than hanging on, desperately counting the days until I would have the place to myself, when she announced that she was extending her stay another two months. Apparently, a hurricane had blown across Florida and torn off part of the roof of her winter home. With even more serious damage done to nearby houses, it would be some time before hers was repaired and ready to occupy. Within hours of hearing this, my back went out. Now I began to drink more, starting at dinner— during which I stared at my plate as my mother went on about overpaid school supervisors, or a fee on her phone bill she’d never noticed before. I didn’t even have the will to rise to her after-dinner baiting. Instead, I quietly seethed, melting into the couch and eyeing her with growing resentment as she cleaned her way around the room. Soon I was struggling to keep my head above the rising waters of an incapacitating depression. My work on the themes of the book petered out, and I found myself looking out the window for long
Dou g CorDE ll


stretches of time, watching elderly neighbors trudge around the perimeter drive. In my worst moments, thoughts of suicide bubbled up. I considered how one might do it: pills, of course—but what kind? where to get them? how many? And then there would have to be a note, which would take some serious work… Any real thoughts of doing myself in were quickly detoured, though, by the knowledge of what it would do to my mother—and the image of her walking in one morning, dust cloth in hand, to discover the body. I realized that if I were ever going to kill myself, I would have to kill my mother first… Fortunately, I hadn’t gotten too far down this line of thinking when she announced that she was leaving on time after all. The wise people in Florida emergency management had decided on a strategy of reverse triage: fixing the less damaged houses in the hurricane zone before moving on to more challenging cases. A week later I was helping her into a waiting cab. With a happy wave goodbye, I bounded back to the condo, a lightness in my step. Within minutes the muscles in my back began to unclench. I sat at my desk and began writing, working deep into the night, intoxicated by the creative adventure ahead. It felt as

if everything in my life had led up to this… I remember the day I wrote the last few pages of the book. What a feeling of satisfaction it was! All I had to do now was get down the pages leading up to them. Which would be a lot of work, of course. But with the ending already done—and several notebooks of ideas in hand—I was confident the rest of the material would practically write itself. I needed a change of venue, though. It came to me that one environment may be perfect for incubating a project, but another might be needed to let the thing grow. So I left for Florida. The weather up north was only getting worse, anyway. And I found out that with the insurance money from the hurricane, my mother got a flat-screen TV for the guest bedroom.

Dou g CorDE ll



t h is is

after 4 vodka shots

M e w h e n i’ M d r u n k

I’m in my underwear. Yet, no one in San Francisco fucking cares. Except that one guy. Over there. Not my type. Is being a 24 year-old grad student a turn off? Do men only hunt for saggy-tittied cougars? Or Taylor Swift clones that gnaw on my fucking ear drums? I have a vagina. An unshaven beardy vagina. Beardy like a Gothic Santa Claus. All pure 100 percent natural woman, baby! Oh yeahhhh! Come at me, boys! I’m single! With a beardy vagina. Mother always warned me to not get drunk in public. People would drag you and fuck you in an alley, she’d say. But I’m here. Wasted. And so is my sweaty Gothic Santa Claus vagina. An no one is trying to fuck me! I yearn for someone to be my Mufasa. Him standing on a giant rock while me and my lioness sisters eat up Simba’s weaker baby siblings.

I can almost feel my ovaries dehydrating into raisins. Because no one has fucking proposed to me yet. Why won’t anyone fuck and marry me now? I need a boyfriend. A fiancé. A husband. A swinger. Okay, my Gothic Santa Claus vagina is getting really thirsty. So, come on all you fucking bastards and let Claus suck on your sperm.


in stArBuCks
a man kindly informs me. as he sips a grande caramel latte. that i look like someone he knows. online. he apologizes if he seems like a weirdo now. in the softest voice. he tells me. about a porn site. called “asian cunts.” a girl. who looks just like me. posts weekly videos of her legs. spread out. she’ll usually eat something. as her vagina gets wet. recently she ate. a banana. and then touched her breasts. he kindly informs me. that she always. makes him hard. every night. it soothes him. and helps him. achieve. a ticket. to slumberland. he asks if i have a friendfinder account. i don’t. he then bids me good day.

Y u mE ki m




A n iM A L g ir Ls
bug girl her little face is so white and tiny then there is her black hair bangs her face is built around her brain all her face is that the green gold girls are flying irridescent wings bead heads bent one of them screeched at me the other day i think it was a screech head by me quick and wings then suddenly in my head hot and loud was the screech a tyrannosaurus of words exploded large trying to make the inside of my head bigger and then she flew away the girls that turn into birds blue grey white lifting hot and heavy like tears off a page


where the boys run wild in their stripey shirts red and white black and white blue and white lime green and white they have no underpants and they roar with the elephants without their underpants they roar. and the cattlegirls are flying flying out of the trees pink and green and gold purple streaked skies they startle and fly and the land does the mambo it zigs and zags beneath you all it swells and spills over with itself again and again ... bunny girls are soft and sit soft and sit with their moomoo eyes all over the world they are soft and sit on the ground to keep it good to keep it pawpaw bunny girls in the soft wind in the high grass their little noses twitching fast

with the smallest thoughts here again again and there telegraphing the vaguest thoughts into primordial webbery thin and alive against the air all around the earth covening it bunny girls

ka rE n p E nlE Y






winter distAnCes
That winter: a childhood freeze hardening the December diorama. The plowed street opens a thin black mouth, murmurs half-truths about who has come who has gone. The rhododendron in the front yard shattered in last night’s wind, ice-encased, it can’t be seen. Our mailman’s footprints shadowed in the drifts pace an endless line of periods across an empty page, a message telegraphed: e, e, e, e. The whole world widens across the street. Idled buoys scatter a cold field: Lake Erie glazed over, its bearing massed, uttering in frozen waves. And the uncalled neighbor children, bundled in the matte evening, clamber its rolling hills after shadows, hunt open waters, fresh games, fade like cargo ships of salt on their way to Canada. The lake lies, a blank expanse— there because it isn’t.


CuyAhogA County dAyLight stAndArd
This summerset. This old leafscratch rasp of yellow-curled ribbons the wind frays against autumn-stunned sky and silver maple. Ragged-boned, rippling, heaping misplacements into ochre loads for the curb, I as a youth, a rake handle churning against the raw crook of thumb and palm, dry-mouthed, breathing, swayed in my ignorant, celibate industry, listen to the long teeth tine against stubble clumped grass, the clattering torn edges of earth, the untoward seasonal diversion of the real and unreturning. Out of time, out of time—clocks and sun reset, the thrushed thickening systolic hour faster now, the choices the unchosen hold


ode Jenever
The fabric of a skirt, taut like a ridgeline between bent knees, collapsed into a crumple of paper carnations. Now I lay me—is the curtain open? The room spins red as an aerial truck slips Jonah-like into the warm night’s belly. My lungs counterpoint the alarm clock, exhaling ticks until the room moistens with time. Subject verb object, participial phrase. Galley slaves, our curved backs pull once through the stroke, again, each extension full of the hull and water and the barrels of juniper berries and the dingy-fingered girls and boys who picked them in the hills. The settling wood-frame gamelan-hums. Isadora Duncan, I won’t denounce you, for my eyes are gimleted and twitch when I drink citrus. Aldegard, take away all clarity. I woke without hands and felt finally forgiven.

a a ron Di F ranCo




t h e B o d y is A g h o s t
“the body is a ghost” All Night I Was Your Hair


“the body is a ghost” Chunky soup and potatoes au gratin and Bumblebee salmon and pecan rolls and what’s going on in his eyes (“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just”)—OPD badge, Trump’s face: O pretty word, America, O pretty word, delight—pity would be no more / if we did not make somebody poor— and

O flying puppet

Prisoner /



“the body is a ghost” Today’s a fist, a brain of meat—guess what—under your face there’s mud—

drill baby drill drill baby drill

—“a nation of consumers, and there’s nothing wrong with that; after all, there’s a lot of cool stuff out there—“

drill baby drill drill baby drill

JosE p H lE asE


“the body is a ghost” Thursday, June 7th, 2012—San Francisco Chronicle— front page, above the fold: Tipping Point of Warming—by David Perelman—the earth is reaching a tipping point in climate change that will lead to an increasingly rapid and irreversible destruction of the global environment: HUFFPOST SUPER USER bacaja 126 Fans 3 hours ago (12:01 AM) The “age of unreason,” may be the last age for humanity in general. My guess, the majority of the world’s population is on a short leash, whereas a small minority are essentially taking control of the worlds resources, natural and man made, (economic). A small minority of humanity and a select few can survive the coming turmoil in carefully constructed, enclosed environments. That’s what is now unfolding.


“the body is a ghost” You buried life, you mind-forged manacles, go fly around the park and smell the news: you grow like rocks, you chew on attitude, you push the snow back through your changing eyes: and what you want is what you want (not really), and what you want is what you want (‘til Tuesday), and where you go is where you went (forget it), and coffee tastes like evidence (don’t let it): you try a game, try this or that, you try some eggs, you feed the cat, and wonder is what wonder does, and wonder tastes like ruby walls, and rivers paint you wind and snow, and houses you will never know—

JosE p H lE asE


“the body is a ghost” full moon silver moon bless birds bless other people anyone anyone


“the body is a ghost” Soul kitchen Dream explosion

Flying rain Go

Ninety Years

All Night

I Was

Your Hair

JosE p H lE asE


“the body is a ghost” Spaghetti





dreamed it long ago—we dreamed long centipedes— I, poisoned, I, America, I—will you make it home— don’t say I—big long centipedes—every story in your dreams—every story in your house—we are running out of eyes—the two old tricks, war and shopping, simply will not work—capitalism is destroying the planet—

we dreamed it long ago—


to be continued—

JosE p H lE asE



fr oM

everydAy fAshion

the air and its quality, the soft moon which we notice like a rock among inconsistent twinkles this certain quality of acoustics as a result of figures lacking in my room catches yr eye like a pick before we snuggle under the blankets in a western the railroad murmuring in the distance along tracks oakland, eighteen minutes orinda, twenty-six minutes beyond city-center the soft touch of fuzzy air guitar your friends gathered around the record player singing guthrie tunes too wistful for a work nite or just wistful enough to fight as a result of it in the grass at the city under awnings red-eyed and sick of caffeine a day later brimming with revelations


sitting in the car to wait out the blurry financials wet weather on a dime flipping pages reflecting upon messy details the slyest, most effortless parts of me explode lean back and stare out a windshield. the houses on either side of the road exist, and that is all. rain is falling and it doesn’t matter. i am sitting inside, looking out. it’s all so trivial. some days i read at home and some days i go out buy clothing, which my grandmother does every day for herself , then wears it at home. i am at the demonstration of taking broadway how to do it with my friends, holding signs for the media or the people to see us we go to the bar afterward but not before crush existence tactics reveal they do not want us here at all perhaps we are not and we are only an action and what is that besides an activity that someone has exerted a gesture in response to an idea


there are things that we do as poets that we don’t agree with “that sounds like a poet” you say we’re taking on the impossible and are none the better for it we have no ethics we suffer unconventional punishments we inflict on one another or to other people who become fly-by-nights distant memories that penetrated circles of starvation

sa ra Wi nT z


o u t of the Q u e s t i o n
Divorce is out of the question. I spray cleaner on the stainless steel refrigerator and Corian countertops, buffing the surfaces to a mirror shine. Another blowup with Deborah and now where is she? Out walking the dog to clear her head, never mind that it’s almost midnight. That’s okay. I’m using the extra time to put a real polish on the kitchen. Something to make her feel better when she gets back. After all the money we’ve spent remodeling the downstairs, the dream kitchen that opens up into the dream sitting room and the dream enclosed porch, what a shame it would be to lose it all now. Which we will, if I don’t play my cards right. Divorce is out of the question. There’s a pounding of paws against the sliding glass door. It’s Shadow with Deborah right behind him. She kneels down to unlatch his leash, then rumbles the door open. She slips out of her dog-walking clogs and into her house sandals. Not looking at me




the entire time, of course. Yet she lingers. We’ve been married long enough for me to know that this lingering is her way of inviting me to say something, to start a new conversation. And I hate her all the more for it. Why can’t she just use fucking words like the rest of humanity? Why all the nuance? In counseling, Dr. Kestler says that communication isn’t the root of our problem, but that our different communication styles do work against us, preventing successful conflict resolution. Communication styles! I could barely suppress my smirk, at the time and again now, at the recollection. But I know what I have to do. I have to play my cards right. “Deborah. Sweetie.” Her head lifts, but she does not face me. Yet. The head lift is progress. “I don’t want to fight. I don’t know why these things blow up on us.” This much is true. Tonight’s argument began over the correct pronunciation of radicchio. Her head turns to the right, further away from me,

but this is still progress. She’s crying; I can sense the change in the barometric humidity. “We have so much to be happy about, so much to enjoy together. Let’s not fight any more.” Deborah turns dramatically, her jaw loose, lips and eyes swollen from crying. The lighting is perfect, emphasizing the sheen of tears on her cheeks. And the Oscar for excessive melodrama goes to... “Then why? Why?” she chokes. “Why are you so... so mean to me?” I take a deep breath against my growing rage. “Let’s focus on the repair for now.” Repair is one of Dr. Kestler’s words: extending a flower instead of a fist. Not resolution, but a cessation of hostilities through simple gestures that create opportunities for affection to return. “Come here.” I gesture toward the kitchen island with the new stools from Pottery Barn. “I made some tea for us.” Deborah straightens herself. Her mouth and cheeks and eyes tighten into a semblance of self-control. “That was nice of you.” I pull out the stool for her and fetch the teapot from the range. I’ve already set out cups and saucers on the
anDrE W o. Du gas


polished surface. Before remodeling the kitchen and buying new everything, we never used saucers. Her idea, of course, and I’d gone along. Of course. “We don’t need to talk, sweetie.” I pour the rich brew, a decaf blend. “We can just be here, together. Enjoying our tea in our new kitchen.” Deborah sips. As her brow unknits and shoulders relax, I relax too. I hate this emotional interdependence, how I can never relax unless she’s relaxed, cannot enjoy myself unless she’s enjoying herself, how when she’s feeling down, she brings me down. Not intentionally, but over the years her tentacles have maneuvered into me and attached themselves to my soul, sucking out my life energy, leaving just enough soul so I don’t perish completely. “This is nice. Thank you.” The kitchen fills with the liquid reverberations of Shadow drinking from his bowl, big Labrador slurps. She smiles at the sound, which makes me smile too. Which I resent. But at least the repair has worked. There will be no more talk of divorce tonight. Now we’ll make up, if I’m lucky.


Deborah takes her shower. I sit up in bed, reading a book on the financial collapse. When she comes back into the bedroom, she’s already put on her satin pajamas, a definite Maybe to sex if I’m willing to tap dance enough. She turns out her light, so I turn out mine. “Goodnight,” she whispers, her breath fresh from brushing and mouthwash. “Goodnight.” I roll against her, pulling her against me in a loose spoon. Slowly, I remind myself. Slowly. I slip my arms around her, one hand cupping the warm flesh of her right breast. I press my knee between her legs; she doesn’t budge. “Honey, I’m too wiped out from the fight. Maybe in the morning.” She reaches around and clasps my hand against her breast. We are cuddling. Of course. Fucking cuddling. Why not? “Sure, sweetie. I’m bushed too.” I kiss the back of her neck, settle in closer against her. And I remain like that, holding her gently, until her breathing deepens and a gentle snore purrs from her throat.

anDrE W o. Du gas


Slowly, I shift my hand from her right breast to her left, monitoring her snore all the while. I run my thumb along the outside curve, close to where breast meets underarm. Lower... and there. The lump is still there. Has it grown? I think so. I imagine other lumps blooming like mushrooms elsewhere in her body. Divorce is out of the question. As long as I play my cards right.






B r istL e
Your head is slouched and Vicodin heavy Bobbing as a buoy while I navigate Your chair through the dizzying tunnels Of Hospital modules, at the VA. A sharpened posturecorrected self ; Your head bouncing into view Like a ball I’d let drop, Then suddenly reappearing. The third time I ask you To repeat what you have said, always A hair too quiet. I feel your bristle Against my cheek. “It’s like a cartoon maze.” You say. “The hospital you mean?” “Well yes. That. And...”


Missing pArts
Your name is branded Into the places where I am missing parts. Along the hinges of metal that replace The bone of my arm: your three first names. Engraved into the titanium That hammered out the marrow of my femur, Where the leg was split Your name spits fire Into the ditches where the flesh and alloy meet, in the winters I feel old so early. Our impact is a blanket dulling the roar of my 25th summer Underneath which the two of us are still joy-riding the town Weighty and bionic, grasping for limbs. Our impact like a banner draped over my 25th summer. Blunt, unforgiving, and intentional.


w d o so h e n w e t r y A n d tif u L M et hi n g B e A u
I guess maybe when we try and do something beautiful it’s a lot like being lost somewhere in an endless ocean of dark holding a fading sparkler it will not last very long and maybe nobody else can even see but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty.





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- august 6, 2012 -

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