basement window compendium twenty twelve

basement window compendium twenty twelve

poems, images, and stories by Mira Gonzalez Frank Hinton ao-oa Ben Nadler Sydney Anderson Michael Inscoe Marty McConnell Angela Shier Julia Coursey James Ganas Danielle Dubois loneful J. Bradley Iris Karuna Matthew Rodgers Jeanann Verlee Daniel Alexander Steve Roggenbuck Stacey Teage Kimmy Walters

collected and compiled by Iris Karuna

palm trees are not native to los angeles by Mira Gonzalez

lying on the sidewalk 
on venice boulevard 
i am able to perceive this
 inconceivably large distance 
 between myself and the street 
 i am trying to become 
two squares of cement 
i am one fraction of the pacific ocean 
compared to me everything is enormous 
 i am focusing on empty space 
between barely visible sea amenones 
 which cling to the underside of piers 
i felt 3 earthquakes last week 
it is going to be 73 degrees today 
there are exactly 4 clouds in the sky 
i am one unit of matter 
 moving through time 
at this incredible pace

How to be Me by Frank Hinton

Hereʼs how to wake up and not think about the bad thoughts from the day before. Be sure to get to the bathroom within the first minute of consciousness. WASH YOUR FACE and look right at yourself in the mirror and say something inspirational to yourself like, All the grains of sand on Earth donʼt equal up to all of the stars in the Universe, or something. Hold your own gaze. Hereʼs how to bathe awkwardly. Donʼt sing and make as little noise as possible. Be sure to wash the pubic regions thoroughly, abstain from a facecloth and keep struggling to find the perfect water temperature. You will never find the perfect water temperature, it doesnʼt exist, not for you. Hold your head under the water and keep your fingers away from your scalp. Use this time to think. Think about the day. Think about the weather. Think about your frumpy little body. Do not think about the day before. Keep the memories right out of your head. If you see them coming, if you get a taste of them then you can start singing. Sing the shittiest song you can think of. Hereʼs how to get dressed in darkness. Hereʼs how to sit on the bus and hate everyone around you. Look at this womanʼs feet. They are two sizes too large for her body. Sheʼs got ankle-bones the size of tennis balls. Hate her. Look at this man rubbing all over his nose with the pinkie. He rubs so slowly you can hear the scratching sound his finger makes on the dry nose skin. You can see the dead flakes falling. It is completely inhumane to have to watch this. Look at the pink of his skin, the bails of white hair on his forearms, his bargain bin tie. Hate him. Look at this beautiful man. His beard is trimmed so neatly, his skin is russet. He works out for sure and his suit fits right over his muscles. His muscles are at times (no doubt) oiled. Look at how his hand rests in his pocket: perfectly in and out. Those knuckles could knock a man out. Imagine him in bed. Imagine his russet skin on yours. Imagine him kissing you in places youʼd never dream to be kissed. Imagine him biting your ribs. Know it will never happen. Hate him. Listen to this baby crying behind you. Hereʼs how to chew off a modicum of fingernail in public without anyone noticing. Put the finger in your mouth and chew rapidly. Bite straight along the edge of the nail to avoid having to pull it off at the end. You have less than three seconds. Once the nail is off remove your finger from your mouth but keep the bit of fingernail between your teeth. Take some small pleasure in the taste of the hardened keratin. These are your dead cells. Hold the bit of nail in your mouth.

Count backwards from thirty. Be conscious of the other people around you. Anyone who saw you biting your nails will note that you did not flick any bit of fingernail onto the ground. Be conscious but avoid eye contact. Wave your fingers a bit to confirm to onlookers that your hands are empty and no bit of nail was removed from your finger. They were imagining that you bite your nails in public. Do not suck on the morsel of fingernail in your mouth, the small taste was enough. Actually eating the nail is sick. You are not sick. Youʼre a good person. Once you reach zero swiftly reach up with the opposite hand you just chewed on and pull the fingernail from between your teeth and place it in your back pocket. If you donʼt have a back pocket you will need to tuck it into your waistband and make like youʼre adjusting your belt or something. Drop it on the ground when you are alone. Nobody can trace a fingernail. Leave it right on the seat of a toilet even. Hereʼs how to check yourself out in reflective windows and mirrors without other people noticing. You are not fully beautiful, but you are beautiful. You are not fully ugly, but there is some ugliness to you. You need to accept this. It is crucial to being alone. Hereʼs the expression to make when you donʼt hold the door for somebody. You also make the same face when butting in line or if you see an elder struggling with some cumbersome object and you refuse to assist. The face is cool, the eyes look ahead. You think about what a terrible person you are. You think about how you could do more but you donʼt show it. Youʼre cool, youʼre moving forward. The mind is sanguine. Hereʼs how to talk to your mother over the phone. Offer one good statement to her. Tell her something really nice and positive and let that comment be a billboard: large, colorful, poignant. Make it satisfy a need. After your comment let her talk. If your mother asks you questions answer them using as few words as possible or, if at all possible, make simple plosive sounds to indicate affirmation, negation or conscious acceptance that the conversation is still rolling. Mmmmhmm. In conversations with your mother it is not necessary to listen. You did your part. You gave her the flashy statement. She can give that tidbit to your father. Let her go on about her news. Let her chide you about your shortcomings. This will sting a bit and you will be tempted to say something. DONʼT. Just sit there. Say mmmmhmm. Eventually she will have her fill of the conversation. She will wish you some bit of luck and say goodbye. Tell her you love her and try to say it before she does because this will give her the impression that despite the conversation being less than substantive it was at the very least pleasant. She will tell you she loves you. Wait for the click of the phone. Listen to the dead air. Take in the silence. Someday your mother will be gone.

Hereʼs how to look for costless pornography online while eating supper. Hereʼs how to hold your submarine sandwich and keep the lettuce strips from falling onto the keyboard. Keep hunger and fulfillment in one part of your mind. Keep sensuality and the goal of finding that perfect video clip in another part of your mind. Hereʼs how to comment on a comment thread so as to preserve anonymity. Hereʼs how to sound more poignant. Hereʼs how to flame. Hereʼs how to go to bed and not think about the day. Listen to the sounds of the city. Listen to the engines of the cars and the wheels of cars rolling over the pervious concrete below. Listen to the groups of young people as they pass by your open window. Hear them talk about their adventures. Hear them laugh and hear them fight. Know that you were young once and you were a creature of the city. You hid from nothing. You were like, out there. You poured drinks into your face. You picked up at the bar and you soaked bed sheets in sweat. You were a child once and you had it all.

what I know about faith by I saw you at your lowest point; your miserable, wallowing worst, pitiful and dirty, sorrowful and shamed and I still love(d) you

So Long by Ben Nadler I used your ID card for two years after you were gone, not just because I wanted liquor and entry to bars, but because I enjoyed pretending I was you. I donʼt look much like you looked. I am not so tall. I donʼt have blond hair. I guess those bouncers went by what was printed on the card and ignored what they saw in front of them. Maybe they were like me and wanted to believe you were alive. Youʼd just been away, but now you were back, walking into the bar to grab a beer. I carried your picture ID around like a portable icon. Iʼd rub my thumb over your laminated face and pray for your soul. And my soul. With your picture in my pocket and a little liquor in my bloodstream, all things were possible. California bouncers are a whole other breed. When they shredded the card, I felt like you were dying all over again. I took a swing, but suffice to say, I came out the worse for it. I came to down on the pavement, sputtering blood. I had been with people, earlier in the evening. Either they made it inside, or they fled when the violence started.

Untitled by Sydney Anderson ocean shores held me tightly like a baby in the crook of an arm and the crooks in my arms feel lonely and barren a place only for blood to be drawn not for tiny bodies, not for tiny heads that can be held in palms the waves crashed against me and I was a barnacle an empty barnacle, an empty vessel, the belly of a ship when people spoke into me, I echoed like a conch shell. around me people are starving and are pointy and broken like piano keys and some days I feel like a shepherd and try to shoo them back together with my hands I try to be a lighthouse clinging to a rock to keep them away, keep them safe and warm (hold them in the crook of my elbow) but most of the time I feel like goosebumps, I feel like a headlock, like a slow healing bruise like I am being beat against again and again by the ocean and am not being brave so much as being drowned.

text by Mira Gonzalez and image by Michael Inscoe

Survival Poem #17 by Marty McConnell
because this is what you do. get up. blame the liquor for the heaviness. call in late to work. go to the couch because the bed is too empty. watch people scream about love on Jerry Springer. count the ways it could be worse. it could be last week when the missing got so big you wrote him a letter and sent it. it could be yesterday, no work to go to, whole day looming. it could be last month or the month before, when you still thought maybe. still carried plans around with you like talismans. you could have kissed him last night. could have gone home with him, given in, cried after, softly, face to the wall, his heavy arm around you, hand on your stomach, rubbing. shower. remember your body. water hotter than you can stand. sit on the shower floor. the word devastated ringing the tub. buildings collapsed into themselves. ribs caving toward the spine. recite the strongest poem you know. a spell against the lonely that gets you in crowds and on three hoursʼ sleep. wonder where the gods are now. get up. because death is not an alternative. because this is what you do. air like soup, move. door, hallway, room. pants, socks, shoes. sweater. coat. cold. wish you were a bird. remember you are not you, now. you are you a year from now. how does that woman walk? she is not sick or sad. doesnʼt even remember today. has been to Europe. what song is she humming? now. right now. thatʼs it.

an ʻimage macroʼ by Angela Shier

at night in the desert it is too cold for both of us to survive by Julia Coursey at night in the desert it is too cold for both of us to survive you are bigger so I cut you open and snuggle in your entrails so cozy, we hum and sing songs until dawn when I return to the city, caked in your blood and carrying your head they surrender, draping me in jewels and anointing my hands your head on the gates reminds them of my inhumanity and me of your smile

excerpt from JAMES GANAS WAS MY BEST FRIEND AND IM SORRY HE DIED SO YOUNG OF CANCER by James Ganas “i am your future best friend. I am your current lover. Im frostbitten on the tips of my fingers, i am seven years old I try to touch you with my fingers, you shy away My fingertips will eventually be amputated re frostbite I want to tell you how i love you with my cold fingers I want to take you on a mountain possibly And rest my hands in your coat pocket We donʼt have to do that if you donʼt want to” “Haha Idk, seems weird”

The Muted Spectrum by Danielle Dubois i always wanted a cloud I could hold hands with, a mist that would shirr with white noise & occasionally massage the webbing between my thumb and forefinger itʼs too much to ask, i know, but i couldnʼt help myself father, son, and holy ghost virgin, whore, and martyred mother rap game only child rap game spinning very quickly for nothing but the thrill the only things Iʼve ever been able to describe were love affairs & the way the light spills on the carpet. I looked in the mirror this morning & saw nothing but my empty room «we now interrupt this poem for a few questions that are beside the point: is it serious? who will clean up? where will we put it? who will survive? who started it, after all?» the nearest Iʼve ever been able to figure, it has something to do with sacrifice. with filling your pockets with shells & taking a beach vacation. something about the silences, fitting one inside the other in gymnopedie number one ((which I learned to play the year my house burst open like diseased fruit. i could always rely on it to break me that year. my skin tracing-paper thin)) it has something to do with wonder crouched unknowable in the desert, & of course with me, disappearing politely with a false insouciant wink

youʼre_probably_a_ghost_if_you_canʼt_stop_humming by your hands left welts and rings around my wrist this morning and if i showed you now, you would show teeth, laugh, maybe, (if your bones werenʼt drowning) and say, “i do”. my tiptoes are touching and i wish that they werenʼt. i do. my skirt is slouching, collar, missing buttons, and my socks wonʼt hold like your fingers do. no matter. i write. i write for you. i ignore violets because you said to, avoid pastels (theyʼre too hollow), glance at closed windows and walk out since ghosts can pass through anyways. my spine is crooked, maybe gravity regrets it too. it apologizes. my toes rise, eyelids fluttering. thank you. the spirits are waltzing. the spirits are waltzing. demons donʼt exist, but crosses hang in every room. and i want to burn this house. i want my jaw to shut on your ring finger and i want to say “i do”. yes, i will burn this heaven with you, in love, and me, hanging like the cross above the kitchen door.

Goodnight by J. Bradley I wanted to write “stay” on your sides, surround your bed with oceans of salt. I hope he folds you into a fox, loves you like a splintered arrow, brandishes the kill of your lips. May the bouquet of your hips wither. May the wolves forget your name.

late by Iris Karuna I have killed my succulent by giving it too much water and by never speaking with it to first find out how it is doing I have killed my succulent by acknowledging my goals only after they are well-known by others and by avoiding the expression of anything that might hurt me regardless of whether my silence might hurt too I have killed your love and I am sorry but my desperate realizations are always too little too late.

wisdom by Matthew Rodgers The modern age is characterized by everyone wanting to be shamans but no one wanting to lose their minds.

Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls With Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair by Jeanann Verlee When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boys call asking your cup size, say A, hang up. When he says you give him blue balls, say youʼre welcome. When a girl with thick black curls who smells like bubble gum stops you in a stairwell to ask if youʼre a boy, explain that you keep your hair short so she wonʼt have anything to grab when you head-butt her. Then head-butt her. When a guidance counselor teases you for handed-down jeans, do not turn red. When you have sex for the second time and there is no condom, do not convince yourself that screwing between layers of underwear will soak up the semen. When your geometry teacher posts a banner reading: “Learn math or go home and learn how to be a Momma,” do not take your first feminist stand by leaving the classroom. When the boy you have a crush on is sent to detention, go home. When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boy with the blue mohawk swallows your heart and opens his wrists, hide the knives, bleach the bathtub, pour out the vodka. Every time. When the skinhead girls jump you in the bathroom stall, swing, curse, kick, do not turn red. When a boy you think you love delivers the first black eye, use a screw driver, a beer bottle, your two good hands. When your father locks the door, break the window. When a college professor writes you poetry and whispers about your tight little ass, do not take it as a compliment, do not wait, call the Dean, call his wife. When a boy with good manners and a thirst for Budweiser proposes, say no. When your mother hits you, do not strike back. When the boys tell you how good you smell, do not doubt them, do not turn red. When your brother tells you he is gay, pretend you already know. When the girl on the subway curses you because your tee shirt reads: “I fucked your boyfriend,” assure her that it is not true. When your dog pees the rug, kiss her, apologize for being late. When he refuses to stay the night because you lived in Jersey City, do not move. When he refuses to stay the night because you live in Harlem, do not move. When he refuses to stay the night because your air conditioner is broken, leave him. When he refuses to keep a toothbrush at your apartment, leave him. When you find the toothbrush you keep at his apartment hidden in the closet, leave him. Do not regret this. Do not turn red. When your mother hits you, do not strike back.

moment of silence by Daniel Alexander lets have a moment of silence for all of the misplaced and forgotten free trial aol cds for all those dead cockroaches trapped in those ceiling light boxes all around the world for all the global guts trophies packed away in attics for all the actions in photoshop around the world that have just been undone for all the hair that dies off and somehow finds its way into your food for all the abandoned chairs and pencils in chernobyl for all the lobsters across america being annoyed by 6 year olds tapping on the glass tank it is trapped in at a grocery store for all the jelly donuts the cops ate this morning for all the bugs that have died in explosions on movie sets for all the aliens that have been captured and are being held in area 51 by the government for all the boars cooked over a fire while rotating on a stick for all the trees cut down and used for printing paper at an office supply store in kentucky that has been shutdown for years

an ʻimage macroʼ by Steve Roggenbuck

70 by Stacey Teague today the empty spaces in my house feel like ghosts moving all around me moving through me i am conscious of things that arenʼt there of the silences my mouth makes i am aching for something i can feel it in my forearms as i am typing words to you everyone is aching what we feel is unquantifiable it would be like trying to weigh something in zero-gravity it is like all the times you will ever say the word love it is like opening your arms as wide as they can go to indicate a very large distance there is so much that we cannot measure

pep talk at the end of the world from @horse_ebooks by Kimmy Walters

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