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sparkle + blink 39
© 2013 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-300-95348-7 artwork © Elizabeth Moran elizabethmoran.com excerpt from murmur in the inventory by erica lewis appears courtesy of Shearsman Books 'this poem' parts i, ii, and iii by Adeena Karasick are excerpted from this poem, Talonbooks, Vancouver, 2012 "My love is Like a Fine Fine Wine" previously published in amuse bouche, Talonbooks, Vancouver, 2009 'With Asura' forthcoming in the alef base 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
Casey McAlduff, Nicole McFeely & Janey Smith
featured artist Elizabeth
Wonder Dave Monica Regan Tin Can Thaisa Frank M Kitchell
Pizza in Heaven The Wide Space of 3am Empty Tin Can Reading to Dogs Selected Errors from Murmur in the Inventory This Poem (Part I) This Poem (Part II) My Love is Like A Fine, Fine Wine
1 3 11 13 19 23 39 43 46
Sarah Bruhns Ratty St. John Jarett Kobek
Eight Letters Abroad from Harvest
All the metal bands that I can remember off the top of my head All the metal bands that should have existed but probably never did
60 61 Kelly Egan The People in Their Tattered Clothes 63 Adeena Karasick This Poem (Part III) 65 With Asura 71 from Early Retirement erica lewis from Daryl Hall is My Boyfriend 73
e t L ig i u Q
htning is sponsored
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 Lee public relations Charles Kruger secretary Meghan Thornton treasurer Kristen Kramer chair Jacqueline Norheim art director Nicole McFeely outreach Brandon Loberg 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q u iet L i g ht n i n g
tour through town
In 2013, Quiet Lightning is teaming up with a different literary organization each month in order to bring together the many outstanding series and organizations of the Bay Area literary world, and to introduce its various audience members to programming they might like but not yet know about. For these reasons, we will create custom-designed shows that combine the defining features of Quiet Lightning with those of each month’s partner organization. This month’s collaboration with the Studio One Reading Series is the fourth show of our Tour, for which they’re featuring two poets instead of their usual three. We’ve built a literary mixtape around the poetry of Adeena Karasick and Erica Lewis – a first for us. The result? Quiet Lightning + Studio One present: Hidden Tracks!
For details on the Tour T h r ou gh T own visit our website:
- SET 1 -
Pizza in Heaven
When you get to heaven I'll be waiting with a knife. We'll stare each other down like cowboys in an old western. I'll say, Hey, I made pizza. The kind you like so much with the alfredo sauce. As mozarella, asiago, red onion, diced garlic cloves and spinach sit waiting in the oven we'll hold hands across the kitchen table like childhood best friends. You see I don't fall in love with people just moments so share this one with me. I'll take the pizza out of the Oven and cut it with a knife You'll ask, Why don't you use a pizza cutter? I'll respond, Because there are no pizza cutters in heaven Why? Because it wouldn't be heaven if I didn't have something to complain about. And we'll eat the pizza. It tastes good in fact it is the best it has ever been.
watch Wonder Dave perform "Pizza in Heaven"
T h e wid
e space of 3am
In a recent piece of writing, one of my characters is disturbed in bed at night by a sound she can’t place. The incident was wholly imagined when I wrote it, not based on any experience I can recall. Here is the scene: At night, she hears a persistent clicking— as of tiny nails on polished wood. Slightly muffled, elusive. When she turns her head in one direction, she is certain it originates at the base of the bookshelf. Turning the other direction, she pinpoints it just inside the closet door. Sitting up, it comes from directly underneath the bed. Once, when her husband was away from home, she hunted the sound on her hands and knees in the middle of the night. Each time she moved toward it, the rustling of her nightgown on the carpet obliterated the sound. But when she stopped moving and heard it again, she was sure she was closing in. After twenty minutes she found a single red bead tangled in the rug. The click-click-click continued. She got back in bed and turned her back to the door.
Monday night, I find myself suddenly awake, staring at the bedside clock: 2:33 am. I turn over, curl up on my right side. I turn over again, stretch flat on my back. I hug the extra pillow to my chest. Still awake by 3:00, I am confused. I’m not an insomniac. I’m good at sleep. I come from a long line of sleepers. Even in the worst of times, sleep is my magic bullet. At 3:11, I’m thinking lovingly of sleep, trying to lure it back with absolute stillness when it starts: click click click click click. It is a small sound—sharp, slightly metallic, but muffled. Clickclickclick. You’ve got to be kidding, I say out loud, the clicking? I strain my ears. It must be the bed frame—a tiny vibration set in motion as I breathe. But when I turn my head, the sound travels across the room. I sit up, I listen some more. In a few more minutes, I’m out of bed, on my hands and knees. There’s no carpet in this version, and the floor is cold. I am hunting a clicking sound in the middle of the night. Would I be on hands and knees—and later, standing on a kitchen chair just outside the bedroom door, listening high, listening low—if I hadn’t written about a woman hunting a clicking sound in the middle of the night? Who is writing who, anyway? I live in an old two storey wooden A-frame, converted into flats by my Greek landlord and his sons sometime in the 70s. There’s an improvised feeling to the place and the not unreasonable fear that if you press too hard on anything, it might crack in two. It’s a noisy one, as houses go; it shivers in the wind, creaks and groans with every step. I don’t
startle easily, so I’m seldom disturbed by the sounds, even ones I can’t explain. But somehow, listening to this clicking in the wide space of 3 am feels like eavesdropping on the inner workings of things. I don’t find the cause of the sound or even its precise location. Back in bed, I start to pay attention to the pattern. Click - Click Click. Clickclickclickclickclick. Click Click. I count for a while and find myself trying to remember the code my brother and I used for ghost communication. We had a ghost in our apartment we consulted on a regular basis. We invented a system that involved Red Hots, a plastic rocking horse, and a question. The ghost’s answers would be ascertained based on how many Red Hots were missing from the spot on the horse where we left them with our handwritten query. We found out a lot of important stuff from that ghost—whether or not the dead could hear us, which Star Trek character was the most awesome, what we’d be when we grew up. (Marine biologist here, at your service.) I knew it was my brother taking the Red Hots, but I loved our ghost anyway, and believed fervently in the answers we got. True or not, they reassured me with the possibility of definitive truth. 3:36, I am hot, itchy, the sheet tangled in my thrashings. I think about my character—the one who hears the clicking sound—why didn’t I let her figure out what it was? Marilyn is her name. She is an insomniac; I am not, I say to myself adamantly,
Moni ca Re gan
glancing at the clock. She is neurotically lonely; I am—alone in this bed. Self-deception is flimsy in the middle of the night; there’s so little to fortify it. I mentally trace the contents of the medicine cabinet: fish oil, vitamin C, non-drowsy Claritin, expired leftover antibiotics. Is there any liquor in the house? I wish I still smoked. I turn on the light. Marilyn is a secret smoker, damn her. Remembering the weeks of brain-crushing withdrawal, I decide against a trip to the 24 hr EZ Mart and scan the pile of books on the nightstand. The Elegant Universe! I have been reading about string theory for months. The physics is way beyond me, but I’m fascinated by the hypotheses. I open to a diagram that looks more like a Dali painting than a scientific graph. Maybe the math will knock me out. Deep in a passage about probability waves, one ear on the clicking—still going—I click back with the nail of my pointer finger on the spine of the book. Just to see if there’s some possibility of conversation. I tap twice. No response. I tap three times fast, softly, brief pause, one sharp louder tap. The clicking is on a steady beat. I tap fifteen times fast and laugh, thinking for all I know I could be telling it to go to hell or begging for more. I turn to my favorite chapter, the part about the existence of ten dimensions. I like to think of hidden doorways between them. Perhaps there’s one in the corner of this room with the lost hairs and pennies, a doorway far tinier than a pinprick. The sound it
makes when opened would be like drowning, or being born. I spend some languorous minutes imagining the parallel universe lives I could be leading. Of course, spatially, these other dimensions are likely unrecognizable, but I stick to what I can easily conjure. I always wanted black hair. My black-haired self would be beautiful, decisive, a badass. Maybe she’s sending me a message in clicks through a rip in the fabric between our universes. She’s narrating the end of my novel. She’s telling me I forgot to put the recycling out again. She’s outlining the tactics for solving climate change. She’s conducting a root-cause analysis of my last break-up. She’s—what’s that? Shh, she wants me to go to sleep. Lights back out, book abandoned, the clicking stops altogether for more than 10 minutes. I’m even more alert during the quiet to note when it starts up again. Which it does. I start to imagine an elaborate contraption tapping out a record in a code so complex, it would give Morse a migraine. What if there were some kind of massive recording device, a million tiny needles clicking away, tracking all doings alike in the wide now of simultaneity—untold things and creatures and people in their parallel existences, all in motion this very moment—blinking, awake in the dark, wiping their noses or fertilizing an egg, or cursing in the desert, sandstorm whipped, lacing up boots, breaking bones or cleaning guns, remembering the smell of someone’s hair, spring unfurling, pink-petaled, wash dripping dry, counting birds on a wire, unzipping a dress, flying south, tree
Moni ca Re gan
frog species extinguishing, bloodletting in a jealous rage, rinsing a coffee cup, fingertips on lips, splicing genes, shooting up, cursing fame, tracing lines in a palm, cheating on taxes, icecaps melting, counting loose change found on the street, moon swelling tide, tracking hurricane winds, chopping onions, twisting the bedsheets in the tight fist of climax, casting a shadow, reading Dostoyevsky, digging through trash, leaves crisping redly, administering morphine, robbing a grave, lightening struck, brewing tea or cutting the umbilical cord, frozen in headlights, peeling gum from the sole of a shoe, tying a kimono sash, calculating market share, bees honeying, eyes wept dry, lowering the shades, bank CEOs opening offshore accounts, children picking at scabs, mountain gorillas grooming each other under treecover, rain falling on plains, drinking a fifth, cockroaches multiplying, sliding a deadbolt into place, fishermen untwining their nets, interest rates falling, lighting a butter lamp, electing the opposition, dreaming of quicksand, salmon spawning, minor earthquakes, a plastic island larger than Texas swirling adrift in the Pacific? 4:45. I’ve crossed some kind of internal threshold. My eyes are burning and my brain feels swollen, pressing against the skull. I hold my breath for as long as I can, with the vague thought that I might pass out from the effort. What if I could offer the world’s insomniacs this simple cure? The pressure pulses red behind eyelids and I hold, hold, hold until I feel a hard thud in my chest—heart flipping over
like a fish in the hull of a boat. I suck in air and the bed shakes with my heaving. There was an earthquake just the other day—one of those single strong jolts, a visceral reminder that underneath where I live is a maze of active fault lines, cracks in the very ground we count on. I think about hidden shifts. And the idea of solid. Quantum physicists tell us that a subatomic particle can be—is—in more than one place at once, everywhering, until the observer pins it into shape. As we look more and more deeply at the nature of things, the notion of solid becomes ever more quaint. Click click click. Solid, indeed. Coming up through the cracks, pale green things, pale green things. It’s a line from a Mountain Goats song that’s been stuck in my head for days. And there are cracks, I think, so many. Things are falling apart. With all the extra hours, why haven’t insomniacs solved the world’s problems? Capitalism, for instance. Coming up through the cracks—Occupy tents like mushrooms springing up after a night of hard rain. At a party recently, some guy told me fungi might be the key to ridding the world of toxins. Pale green things, pale green things. If there are cracks, there is also slipping through. A recent headline on my email homepage read: “Woman Shoots Herself over Foreclosure.” When the mortgage crises slipped into a wider economic meltdown, I pictured a bloated economy collapsing inward, rotten from the core—each belly-up further evidence of how stretched thin we are, how long
Moni ca Re gan
we’ve been building on promises made of thin air. Bailed out, indeed—but who gets thrown over? I think about that woman now, the promise of settled or foundation or mine having been pulled from under her, catapulting her own free fall and the direst of consequences. And on we go, all of us skating on the skin of a bubble. In my fictional narrative, things fall apart around Marilyn—her marriage, her idea of what her life would be. She doesn’t find or offer any discernible reason for what happens. She hears a clicking sound at night, she hunts it on hands and knees, and she finds a red bead, something other than what she is looking for. Isn’t that just about how it always goes? The significant moment to me is when she turns her back to the door. This character vexed me, and write and write, I couldn’t understand her motivations. Is her back to the door a kind of refusal or giving up? Does she want to pretend the falling apart isn’t happening, to not see what might be on its way in through the space opening up? In the half-delusional determination of sleeplessness, I tell myself don’t turn away. I lie awake, with no answers, and I listen.
watch Monica Regan read "The Wide Space of 3am"
E m p t y Ti n C A n
watch Tin Can's performance
R ea din g To D o g s
The hardest part was getting their owners to leave. They didn’t trust their dogs to behave in the bookstore. Each dog had a bowl of kibble and as owners knelt to kiss them a few capsized bowls with their knees. The dogs ate the kibble and wagged their tails. In the preceding half hour they’d been allowed to sniff all the books and their excitement had made them tired. The only dog that lifted his leg was a mournful Irish wolfhound, now placed nearest the door. One of the bookstore assistants stood by, ready to take him out at the slightest sign of leg lifting. The reader, a woman in her mid-thirties, was in the back of the store, impatient for owners to leave. It had always been her passion to read to dogs— dogs of all shapes and sizes, dogs assembled together. A few people to whom she’d expressed this passion had misunderstood and suggested readings about dogs at special events in pet stores. But she didn’t want to read to owners. She wanted to read to dogs. And this wouldn’t just be about dogs anymore than a reading to a group of women would be just about women. The story she planned to read, though, did involve one dog—and it happened to be an Irish wolfhound. Thankfully, when the real Irish
wolfhound raised his legs, someone with foresight placed a bowl between him and the book. If the dog had peed on the book she would have had to pick a different breed and make the story more exciting because a camera man from a TV station had gotten a clear shot of the dog’s legs on the book and the event might have eclipsed her quiet reading. In a scant ten minutes she would have had to change the breed of the dog, plunge a knife into the beginning of the story for a good murder and tear off clothes in the middle for hot sex. Now she could read without changing a word. The story was called Boudica the Enchanted Princess. She’d chosen something short so she could read slowly and pay attention to the dogs. She wanted to see if they listened. And she wanted to be sure it was the story they were interested in as a story, having nothing to do with dogs. Please don’t use the word dog in your introduction, she said to the bookstore owner. Some of the dogs know that word and it could make them over-excited. He looked startled but agreed. His introduction was brief and didn’t really matter because it had nothing to do with who she was at the moment. It didn’t mention the red shoes pinching her feet, or the Citizens for Humanity jeans pinching her ass. Nor did it talk about her utter joy in being able to read to dogs.
After an introduction in which the word dog wasn’t used, she stepped to the podium and made eye contact
with each dog. They looked at her with eyes that were moist, a little wolfish, and wagged their tails. They waited. And so she began to read about Boudica, a beautiful princess, who had been made into a furry calico cat by an evil stepmother. Boudica became small, had whiskers, and was adorned with orange, black and white fur. She had a sad enchanted face marked by an M between her eyes. After becoming a cat Boudica was exiled from her kingdom and adopted by a couple who always fought. One day when they were arguing the man flopped on the bed and saw Boudica in her gorgeous fur. Their eyes locked and he saw she was a princess. This transformed Boudica back into being human. The dogs were attentive and quiet. They put their noses between their paws when Boudica was exiled and wagged their tails when she turned back into a person. Now it gets a little complicated, she said to the dogs apologetically. The man fell in love with Boudica and left his wife and proposed; but Boudica wasn’t sure she wanted to stay with the man. She joined a gym with co-ed exercise rooms, fell in love with men and women, and eventually decided to go back to the man who had broken the spell. But when she came back to his house he was angry and she had to sit outside until he got over it and proposed again.
T h a i sa F rank
The dogs wagged their tails and looked up. She went on: In homage to her life as a cat Boudica wore an enormous cat suit to her wedding. But when she walked down the aisle, the cat costume crumpled and a small calico cat jumped out. The flower girls cried and ran to their mothers. The minister—a therapist with a certificate in divinity—tried to catch the cat. And then, without warning, the groom turned into an Irish wolfhound. For a moment it was a horror show while their respective shadow-totems barked and hissed and ran around the church until suddenly— miraculously—they became people again. At the altar the therapist/minister said: ”What are your original faces—to yourselves and to each other? This is a question you will ask for the rest of your lives.” They kissed and had a wonderful reception with an enormous yellow cake. When the totem-animal conflict occurred the dogs put their noses between their tails and whimpered. When the wedding cake appeared they wagged their tails. Yet they still looked expectant because, for dogs, the prospect of endless excitement is infinite. So she looked at them quietly and said: That’s the end. The dogs understood! They raised their noses and howled. Their heads went so far back their snouts touched the books behind them and book after book tumbled to the floor. The bookstore owner—still
cautious—allowed her to shake their paws. Each dog licked her hands so by the time the TV man interviewed her, she had sticky fingers. He thrust a microphone under her chin and wanted to know what it was like reading to dogs. She talked about their wagging tails, their whimpering, their howling, and the way they watched her—all signs that they followed the story. Also—not mentioning the almostterrible incident with the wolfhound—she said they hadn’t run around as everyone feared, but were silent and attentive. Why was that? the interviewer wanted to know. She said it was because the dogs knew she was reading to them, not at them. He pondered this for a moment, then asked how her own dogs had enjoyed the reading. She had to tell him she didn’t have any dogs. Not one? No, she said. Not one. Well then, said the TV man, you must have had a dog when you little, a dog who listened to your first stories. Maybe this was a way of reliving some wonderful times in your childhood. Again she had to tell him she’d never had a dog. The man stared at her, then at his notes, which she could read because she was taller. She saw numerous questions about her dogs—dogs she had never owned: Questions about their names, their eating habits, their breeds. And if they slept on her bed and had favorite parks. It was clear the man couldn’t think of anything else to ask, so he thanked her and went to talk to the bookstore owner.
T h a i sa F rank
Later, with her cats, she watched the news so she could see the reading. There she was, microphone jabbing her chin, but only for a moment. It was amazing, said the interviewer. The dogs sat still and listened. He didn’t mention their howling or wagging tails or waiting to be told the end. Nor did he say she didn’t have any dogs. Instead he said she hadn’t talked about her own dogs out of respect for their privacy. Then the bookstore owner appeared and said reading to animals was a daring experiment, a highconcept event, one that would catch on everywhere. A boon, he said, a boon to all of us. She poured herself a huge glass of scotch and hugged the cats. She’d agreed to the video because it was the only way the bookstore owner would let her read to dogs and now the event was a travesty. Yet, as the camera panned around the store she saw all the dogs—a vast carpet of differently colored furs. She saw their ears, their noses, their wagging tails and their sense of outrageous, exuberant radiance. It spilled into her own room, filling the air with boundless joy, endless delight in adventure. Dogs, dogs, dogs. And more dogs.
watch Thaisa Frank read "Reading to Dogs"
Se lected Err o r s
5 The windows opaque. Sun bleating, futilely, against the walls of the house. Inside, asleep, unable to wake up. Embedded deep in the subconscious, no feeling but that of being stuck. Mud. Cement. Caked on blood. You will not be able to open your eyes. 33 Of course you’ve told a lie before. We all have. Pinning images from magazines onto your blank walls. What you want out of life. What you want inside of your own body. Fluids, thick. White. Fixate on pigs and snakes. The way their bodies move. It’s disgusting, enticing, something to desire. When I think about desire we all implode into nothing, the black hole of modern living. Fur on flesh. Muscles beneath. The smooth bones, never exposed to a living air in life. Traffic. The colors of lights. What time is it? What’s wrong with my face. My jaw is falling out. Help me, please. Mudslides. Everything is a problem. Help me, please. Can’t ever get enough to eat. This fat is made of god. 135 The ship’s captain fetishizes his injured crew. It’s
as if the misfortune that’s befallen the ship is his own personal wet dream. He fugues to thoughts of burying his mustache in the sweaty ass-cracks of the wounded. The scent of bodies: blood, sweat, shit. Eroticism. At night the ship lulls breath. The ocean is a machine predestined to engulf a frustrated reality. Aestheticized concept of movement. Ships hold forgotten memories below the decks. An absent ruin of bird calls & dead fish. Life is a flicker film, flashing between two worlds—that of the living & that of the dead. Nonsense like narrative is a bourgeois compulsion. Like cuff-links. My bears is an attempt at a studied masculinist impulse. Casual, failed. My frown will cause a thousand hard-ons in the future. Picture me on your wall. Night calls. 43 With the growth of plants comes the absolutely essential need for sunlight. Oh holy light. This star is brightly shining towards the dark future. These notes can tell your future if you let them. The cardinal directions. Raw skin rubbed with ointment. The narrative of sexual desire. The clean glass of window panes. Lit match. Endless reflection. The complete works held in smoke. Black on the wall like the desiring line of god. Only these lines on a map. Understand. 45 Pyramids. The only desirable tombs. Monoliths, obelisks, this ancient geometry of form. The way energy floats, fuck the new age bullshit sometimes you cannot deny that this is reality. The scent of immortality. Endless lust buried in this cold earth. Aesthetics as holy gods. No competition, only artifice. Beautiful,
beautiful artifice. Something to look forward to. Something accountable. My own private structural system. Cold night howls. The expulsive glossolalia’d voice; I AM GOD. 60 The intersection of memory and sacrifice. The way blood pours out of a mouth mixed with spittle. Smell of bodily decay. LIGHTVISIBLEINTHEDARK. The flow of water. Teaching a body to be blind to futility. The retinas refusing to expand or contract, remaining fixed & narrow, life becoming excessively liminal. You’re not missing anything. Blond hair and tan skin. The after-drip of come. SING PRAISE TO THEE, our headless collective. To count backward from ten. The gentle crunch of a sea breeze. Your cock would look good in my mouth. Drip wax on me, let’s sweat together. This planet is set for destruction. It will explode into a million leaden pieces.
watch M Kitchell read "Selected Errors"
M Ki tch e ll
u r in the inv e nt o r y
it starts from what you don’t know you love the white too just because it’s white a thing to stand in front of fear but what i sent doesn’t talk about the call we can’t help exclaiming at the thinness of our skin i beat myself up i fly around in circles you’re just fucking up the situations nothing so sad as someone else’s shoes but we still had miles to go before we slept miles to go see cracking bones make noise see you’re doing it without me what was it that burning that endless insufficiency i remember seeing horses as a person you can feel and there is a certain humiliation attached to this call it what you will
taking all that’s left and making a parachute strapped to my chest it’s still no way to behave but everything that rises must
say it say it ballast
so i will hold my own hand
look at your hands in the shape of a tree branch body steering the mind out of the way the force compels the character makes a zero of things leaves behind fragments trumpeting into an empty drain you see that split between atoms say i’m bleeding on my own body but i can’t speak outside the things i mean i mean this place has failed us states have a history you gather something you leave something you’ve been hauling with you behind it is hard to stumble across a fictitious version of yourself confusing the movement with the dancing of course you love the monsters how the sky turned white how everybody froze i suffer mornings most of all relying on signals for comfort you would feel negative towards a square of paper
e ri ca le wi s
but i like the sound of that word kite we look up to discard the weight
bodies dream of themselves the accumulation is undeniable disorder the mess the non-resolutions those remains in place of my image you might start with meaning and end up with frequencies the little piece that came out but not so little maybe only because the dissonance feels more accurate the shape we desire changes along with the need to bury things alive the past seeping in and seeping in forms as silent observers that dirty fallow feeling it draws you in hopefully it stays with you everything very very angular and small but you see the ebb and flow wants to knock you out of your complacency means to an end that refuses you thing significance thing and so i imagine my image
e ri ca le wi s
lines and eventually shape the lines we made up the mere act of willing going to pieces we watch all of this emerging you suspect it yourself if you had cared more you would have remembered
at least the acceptance of forgetting what is not being told not said about us about you in particular effigies in these circles circles are endpoints i wish i knew how to separate the two but then you just have to take a deep breath and be like it’s ok in the inside there is sleeping everything fitting together with gravity like a puzzle the space between bodies between people it hangs from the ceiling the distinction between soundlessness and sound things occur things happen things shift they set me on fire too so you have to understand the pieties these words that sound strangely toothless messy reality has always pressed itself in images of the people we might become i have long since lost my hands in the circuitry i just say to all of them just lead me wounds beneath the competence show your bones the area is exposed i’m sorry
e ri ca le wi s
i just want you close but you are not close you are just a little bit happier than i am
if you help me live through this maybe you can stay but you could only write about what’s inside of you the burning in your mouth why it’s suddenly so hard to breathe why a quilt of paper a nest alive with words my mouth not spoken by me memory resolves to nothing but what’s upon us like the men we used to be bailing wire and duct tape a sort of fissure left standing there the way the sun has coppered our faces like specters like pilot flames every now and then we all just wait for a minute for things to draw near i put my wrists in a little ghost to lick your palm these lines of thought and fracture these which i repeat back i say them quietly back to you
e ri ca le wi s
if you repeat the names they disappear between water and a line of type a lump in my throat blows into the tubes located at your shoulders the hole in your lip is bleeding you don’t know what to think so i’ll tell you both are true there are no neutral storms memory or loss bores holes into you here’s what happened here’s what some people say what happened i can’t separate the two no distinction between fiction and fact no distinction it’s not your fault you can’t see the sutures so i cross reference the living with someone else’s skin scene from the door scene from the window scene from the inside my fingers cast a shadow down the center supposing we could separate the two shards on your face account for all those references in someone else’s words the pieces spread thin from intention
oh yes you should definitely use both hands for that speech
e ri ca le wi s
to lineate comes and goes i no longer remember the exact date only the month and year there was a rare electrical storm and i just watched it sweep across the sky a lick around the perimeter and then you forget maybe the confessional can no longer be confronted head on but there are rules and then there are methods maybe i was a dancer all along history hovers in a deep sleep so that you can’t resume the movement and the spin there’s the thing and then what the thing really means don’t let what the thing means scare you away from the thing okay the disconnect that turns up i think is an important thing to feel from time to time memory spitting blood into an enamel basin how generous you are within your specifications i’m finding it harder and harder to stay in touch to weep and laugh at the same time forms the time that isn’t anything yet and i have so many questions like are you ok or maybe i better not ask that we communicate so much worse with all these marbles at our disposal 34
they call it instinct the space waiting to harden but you are nothing to me you are like air firecracker water to speak to where the echo is we take the shape of the thing that moves us
e ri ca le wi s
lately i’ve caught myself feeling this is a fairytale better get my shit together better gather my shit let the ground know who’s standing on him you’re in this condition of doubt you have to throw the right way or you have to let go you shouldn’t be trying to juggle your own fire all the time such collapsing bleeds under the skin the body is akin to the conspiracy but because it cannot be rational this makes it clear it does not matter time stops and you are reminded that human relationships can be both simple and unsolvable the sickness inherent in representation here have my arms we go into these things totally blind an empty page feeling helped by geography we stop walking we are taking that walk this thing that’s like touching except you don’t touch one foot and one foot and whatever else this place isn’t but then he was a tourist and a tourist can’t help but have a distorted opinion of a place
i realize myself doing these things calling it memory you probably don’t even have to imagine for chances are you have experienced some degree of reversal yourself spinning plates to square every process the room in which a death we rest on forms assumed you’re going to have to scream that it hurts
e ri ca le wi s
watch erica lewis read from murmur in the inventory
T h is P o e m
Pa r t I
This is a poem twittering with clotted shtick split with rusted access, synaptic axes, recessed messastics, elastic massacres of flossy früz fidgets like a prissy pussy-poser all pompous and prose-cut like saboteurs of a scarred antinomy, bon bon boullion, pinged pharmakons of texticity OH GOOD GRAVY! It is so getting down with it like a gigolo paypal cri de couer succor fleur, like a perky packrat polyglottal hopstopper A HAPPY HOARDER
Man, this poem is so trending-first century
All ghetto-glammed, googley-eyed and gangsta, it’s also working on a 4G network And says yes to the flustered torment, to the minutiae of twisted infection, inflexion and the oscillating urgency of the pulsing piccolo plucked puckering pickwicked perkaset impossibly perambulate – Yes to the festering ensemble of ravaged abscess, spastically re-mastered with laissez pousser pimped out frisée of a trickle-down bric-a-brac crack track wracked with the burgeoning twitter of a jitterbug bunny-huggin buttered blowzbella baby-doll saucepot
And says verfremd me.
and my whipped impeti implants, like a itty bidimbop banhoff, budding baader meinhoff kitchy schize chutzpadik dictic like four youtubers or two-by-four forays to “buy for” for tubers über tubular fubar this poem is having a party – pulsing like beer pong porcelaine purselane parsed pierced pasties poached contours and wants you to enter its biblio-bottled bootie buttered bonbon shake ’n bake sugar shack all recycled ‘n mortgaged with entitlement wants you to enter its flotsam fraught funhouse fancy-pants flossy fanfare all furtive and flirty sayin:
Don’t think too much, my syntax is SLICK -and i wanna take a ride on your fiscal shtick.
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
Oh, this poem is thrusting by the seat of its panting scansion, screaming like a homiletic honeydoll a homonymic ho-ey hoo hah vocable soaked in the prosopoeic hissy fit rift drift in the grafted stratagems of the badonkadonk junk trunk It is minding the gap standing clear of the closing doors hot-tubbing in a neti petitpot joi de pouty picotage in a pasquinade masquerade marinade; all slap-appy and high def stylin’ a polka-dot.com ensemble, it is wrangling its content, waxing its highbrow cranked up, beaten down plugged-in and twitter fed. Ripped out of itself, and comes fully loaded all bloggy and viscous -adrift on the lips of the letters.
This Poem (Part II)
Flocks opuli umlaut candyfloss pingpong gangbang wampum pompom of shimmy shimmy shawshank of jiminy fricatives This poem is sick of your unzipped files, your empty typologies (your references, preferences, profiles all pulsing and compressed ) -and just wants you to be its bloggy woggie google boy at Avenue C. Oh for goodness sake, this poem just wants to let its fricative flag fly. and is unraveling like a scrolling corollary It is sculpting the subjunctive Scratching it’s i’s out Outsourcing its tsuris
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
It wants to change its seat assignment, its order its wake up call -and is offering a good faith estimate lock-in. This poem is a predatory lender and wants you to smack it up against its inky-vexed lexis, mixological excess, slide down its rumpy pumpy amped-up optates, jacked clad cock of the walk ecto-flecked vectors ‘cause, this poem is going down pointillistic, pantiless and pedigreed like a naughty neo-psychedelic, post-apocalyptic blogzilla buzz of its backlash flashy hashtag and knows what you did last summer It wants to rip the skin off your tongue, la langue, and leave you gasping in the unstable scourging of phoneme-philia flirty fragments
wants you to get behind it like a bar-brawlin’ petite pouty plotting potty myth panoptically partying like a nymph-fête flarffy parfait a misc-en sceney panacea plummy polyplotted plumerais cause this poem WAS JUST BORN THIS WAY
in the gobsmacked sucked splendor of abecedary sliders, in the syrup of all that is fig-furrowed and filigreed ((FEELING QUITE FABULIST)) And it is tightening its belt Adjusting its masque Hedging its debts like a jihadi-jane jang banger all mythinformed and tweety like a chatroulette stalker sucking on its own saucy posturing -Oh this poem had me at hello.
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
My Love is Like a Fine, Fine Wine
My full bodied zesty rustic supple vintage is a fertile hotbed for your protruding lip of wild current plum shadings. No wild cherry berry fig spiced rasiona-non-grappa, my bouquet is a buttery, jammy chewy flavor profile (though tremendously complex and can be quite pleasing) when mixed with your cloying coarse ultra-ripe earthy elegance fading to a big fat finish. So taste my grenache a noche, a niche capiche Tonight, it’s qué syrah petite shiraz petite verdot merlot bordeaux. Oh zinfandel, ma belle, bellisimo! Liquor couture, (més trois amour), no reisling, weis wine, vice wine, ice wine muscat whose got, i got vinho verde, merde! So, give way to my sweet bay of muscadet which doesn’t hold a grape to yesterday’s mellow brunello, valpolicello
monte hoochie koochie pulciano (with a stemmy, stalky structure. all toasty and velvety -- ) For near or far, it’s pinot noir pardon eh, today, it’s chardonnay Don’t put on airs for viognier, my oneir My only heir -’cause you ain’t no port in the storm and i ain’t no tick-tockin’ schicker you ain’t no palm-wine drinkard and i ain’t no wine dark sea you ain’t no free flowin’ pinot gris and i ain’t no inky late-harvest sub-region of highly variable microclimates. Don’t taunt me, it’s chianti an aphrodisio grigio; no malic malbec, fall back fumé blanc swank, frankly, at dawn, it’s sauvignon papillon sangiovese oy vey, see you will go crazy So, toast: a taste with jammy notes And bring it back to… all that is firm and chewy with a meaty messy nose.
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
watch Adeena Karasick read from "This Poem"
- SET 2 -
ei g ht le
tt e r s a b r o a d
dear Love or my dearest darling sweetheart I’m not sure how the conversation progressed to this point but in an elevator today a well-dressed gentleman stated that apple-cheeked maidens such as myself were destined for fascinating futures full of bouncing children and noteworthy events. This prophesy seems to be coming true as I am now making a note of his extraordinary words of today, thereby deeming them worthy of preservation and perhaps inclusion in a future memoir. It is quite a heady rush to be fulfilling one’s destiny. Will tomorrow bring bouncing children? They must be a sight to see, love. II dear Love why do you never write back with the same seriousness in which I write to you are you really that busy? I hope in between riding horses bareback down crevices in sun-drenched majestically foreign landscapes or crafting new uses for rubber tubing and unwashed kitchen towels you think of me once in awhile, or even occasionally with fondness as you determine the energizing components in dishwashing detergent and granola bars while surrounded by artistic women, because heaven knows you must
be doing something exciting although I can’t imagine what could be more exciting than me. Write back soon or I shall have to take my life in a manner both dramatically ironic and tragic such as the demises we are studying in great deaths in literature, love. III dear Love or my darling dumpling or rugeleh of my soul, in the days since we last spoke nothing interesting has transpired. Most sincere apologies for frivolous use of paper, love. IV dear Love I received your letter not three minutes ago and I must say bravo, bravo, bravo it deserves an encore. If letters could win awards yours would certainly be in a sexy red sequined class and glamorous jewels and high heels accepting one on a podium right now with a teary-eyed speech. Perhaps there would even be foreign dignitaries in the audience being moved by its eloquence and poignant style. If your letter were a restaurant it would top every gourmet’s list of fantasy dining experiences. If your letter were a distant country it would be an island visited by the comfortably well off and newly wed lovers who would bask in its glowing sunsets and fabulous fruity drinks. I only ask was it incredibly necessary to address it to My Dearest Darling Debbie Dumpling, which is definitely not my name, love.
V dear Love I don’t feel much like writing to you today. VI dear Love. I think I have finally figured out what has gone wrong with this picture. Please be patient whilst I explain my course of reasoning all shall make sense in time. A you must have slipped and fallen on your head B woken up with no recollection of who you are or what you were doing C discovered the multitudes of letters I had written with your name on them yet no signature D deduced using your brilliantly convoluted mind the importance of the person writing these letters to your life E realized if there were anyone who could tell you all about yourself it was the person that penned those letters so F you wrote that award-winning island-sunset gourmet-restaurant letter and G having to guess at a name to address it to H picked one entirely at random (skipping step I, which is a large amount of soul-searching to arrive at) J, the address Debbie. I’m very glad that I have cleared this up, there is no need to explain further, all is illuminated, love. VII dear Love. I think I have figured out this entire situation. Someone must have snuck into your room in the dead of the night stolen your hand and other little valuables you keep in your household, then progressed to write that awe-inspiring sparkling fruity-drink-like bejeweled letter to me under the
Sa ra h Bru h ns
misapprehension that my name was Debbie and mistakenly signed with your ever-so-distinctive signature instead of their quite slovenly normal one and that is why you have not been writing me with any frequency at all dear why did you not tell me you had lost your hand I would have been there in a moment to comfort you and make you a new one but all is now explained I quite understand why you would be ashamed to admit this but all is right now no hard feelings, love. VIII dear Love I have been thinking very carefully, fueled only slightly by various forms of self-pitying intoxicants and movies populated by B-list actors and late night crying bouts on the shoulders of sympathetic friends and on reflection my mind has come to the conclusion that I don’t know if I can love a onehanded amnesiac in the way that they would truly deserve. My future, after all, has been prophesized as one full of bouncing children and noteworthy events and I feel that these pastimes would seem frivolous compared to your plight and the amount of time taken up by the occurrences that shall fill my future autobiography would distract far too much from the situation that is occupying the lines of communication between us now. In other words due to my own shortcomings and through no real fault of your own I must discontinue writing and posting these letters to you. If you require help in getting your memory back I am sure that there are other people conveniently located nearby that can help. You are free to begin with a clean slate which is more than most people can
say be thankful for your lucky break. If I have written something that is too painful for you to read then I’m afraid the only way I can end this final letter is with heartfelt apologies and best wishes for your future, love.
Sa ra h Bru h ns
watch Sarah Bruhns read "Eight Letters Abroad"
RRR R RRRRRRR
H a r v est
the warmth between your tits is mine
watch Ratty St. John perform from "Harvest"
All an reme the metal bands that I c ead m b e r o ff h the to p o f m y
Pantera Motley Crue Metallica Megadeath Motorhead Alice N’ Chainz Ratt Warrant Slayer Skid Row Pentagram
All the metal bands that should have existed but probably never did
Dogs of War Greek Fire Harvard All Stars Human Sympathy Brave New Worlders Mekkaneth Burning Ice Embers Game of Thrones Who Who Who Who Who? Me! Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The Great God Pan The Hill of Dreams The Shining Folk White Powders White Stains Limbotics Earthquakezzz The Bad Landlords Lesser Goetica Ragged Company Rich Folk That You Know Knocking on The Door Killer Queenzzzz Fat Bottomed Girls The Ex-Girlfriendzzzz Advil Lita Ford
May 23, 2005 4:00 AM
Despite everything, Tom Coppersmith awoke as always this morning. He quietly put on shorts, headed straight toward the bathroom and switched on the light. He inspected his right arm. No change.
watch Nicole Derse perform from "Early Retirement"
The people in their tattered clothes made a line passing bundles from one to the next All the way up the street they went like this like this like this like sacks of rice from boat to camp like water from the river an entire village like dancers, like soldiers, like children like a hot potato, like a holiday bowls of soup around the table like a day job like a christening a machine whatever the terrain
The People in Their
the people in their tattered clothes like a road, a tube, a vein in sunshine, in rain
watch Kelly Egan perform "The People in Their Tattered Clothes"
T h is P o e m
Pa rt I I I
Like a hot mot tramp stamp scattin’ like a microtwitched ‘pata-cake ache n shake yeassayer, ironized tweeittered witty timbitten titty fit flustered flirtyflarffy flexicon, this poem has woken up like a shrink wrapped sh’viti shvitzin frazzled blazon, cinabon bonton taunting bonhomme agon and it is massaging its hot button Sipping a meme cocktail grazing grammars, rephrasing amours, enflamed along the spongy canvas of its day-bed hostel postulates, one-nite manic acronyms macro acumen in the wracked fracas
of its pingpong patpong donkey kong bongsong flauting giddy witty twitterati fritty city slum bunny boombox bricolage and says for a good time you should call it ‘cause this poem just got all sexypants and wants to expose its lady parts like cultural capital like an emo-fraught fauxhemian
and is crawling into its refracted maculate stacked fractals cracked vernacular of locable vocables polysignatory sign-stroked curvy voici-eh dossier, ensouciant glossy saucier oh! This poem is a mobile feeding frenzy It is tipping its tax cap tweaking its wiki leaks letting its agons be agons, insisting its not just a flirty phrase but that which frenched a thousand slips and it is running the gamut, the gauntlet the glottal fraught like a hyberbolic gawk stalkin’ texty tweet écrite of party-post rumblin’ tumblr flummoxed twit-pics like a red tag day at the TaliBan marché casting its debt wider with a petite play appelez plumerais
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
((veryberry pluparfait)) of velvety weltanschauung
Va-jazzling its JEWels VaJEWelling its attachments Flaunting its findables Cleansing its data pores Tagging like a usufructed tractatus whilst scrolling its ragged aggregates through hotspot patadata PARTYING like asemic dyssemia Doing LINES of CODE Dancing like an epistemic enigma A soundcloud on a brainy day
ándale! ándele! roundelay bonsai boot snack bootie shake chic shack shoe shine polydactyl dasein giving a shout-out to its languetemps pompom pizzicato combon Rabbonic bombonniere bombon-
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
cause its rabboni lies over the 
arching its bacchanalian buttered-bauhaus bathing
in the all-access fracas of wracked praxis
With asura hath woman a hoarder of giddy tomes breached locs. cut mouthy and ill-fitting where sign’s matter hovers displaced, with asura hath woman a tainted parody of her arched will hooped, elusory where origin receiveth massage and the shallow is intrajected with scission, (schismatic revision) with asura seeth woman’s vagabond zigzag, her errs and kinky lines écriture is made to injure and to live in and it is made to be salient with slurry quixotics with asura, slink against the naughty denouement, is thy cred ever more than stalwart gags is thy misreading daring as precipice, with mounting treats, strong flavours with asura the lines grow thick with asura is curled re-creations where woman can mine, re-sited for indwelling. Semes scattered, coated with fever is ripped by her ludic moor WITH ASURA A wooly complex of meerkats heaped bling, the domain of asura
Ade e na Ka rasi ck
Asura is an amorous terain, asura A bonny kneading of the monad’s flan and steeped with the spinner’s cunning. Perky borrowings gamed by asura Ducky kudos gamed by asura A Pappardelle fracas of swanny bells; by asura And salsa columns tainted Gamed by asura, gelled relics, alcoves; came ambrosial phonemes, Came the kitch of recast stains signs: altered phrases By asura sauntering trophy memes By asura, scented hilarity, Asura wresteth the va-jazzled It wresteth the rift and the riffing grafts and It gnaweth the thread of all that blooms It burneth to weave bold patterns; A sewer of hottie contours by asura; crammed with moist avoidance, embroiled Memory fingering Asemia Asura sleuths, shouldered by whim And chafes like hungry masks, recruiting It hath brought pulsing to breed, rife battling the languerous grid and the bridled gloom COUNTER RANT: TWIRLY wrought with horstext for Elusive Courses a re-set banquet all beset with asura.
N.B. Asura: Yiddish for Forbidden. Particularly, noteworthy in Rabbi Kook’s, “In the whispers of existence”: soora menee soora (away from me away….areynee lecha ASOORA: To you I AM FORBIDDEN. 72
watch Adeena Karasick read from "This Poem"
l H a l l is m y b o y f r i e n d
what you want is what you have* to modify this present i want to say everything at once but i can’t In the room, my brain is not fixed on what I wrote the things we did to grow
don’t you miss the good old days the music we made sounded “warm,” or had some warmness to it. I just sort of hear that time of our lives. Maybe it’s because though I’ve lost track of how many times I —that was the shit
though I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to this trying to listen to this trying to figure out the meaning of adulthood and what kind of life we want “I think we’re all in the process of healing from things in the past,” Bee says. “I feel like a we crack a smile and then our hands let go We’ll build something around something that’s just fucked just so we can say 73
person now. I feel like I’m growing up
“I feel like a new I feel happiness.”
If there was a record that came out today that did all the things I just said, I would pick up that record. It’s all the things you’ve taken in, filtered out. I’ve ever listened to it’s everything
this thing that goes for miles “I’m writing all the numbers back in with a Sharpie.” these fading beats Into what the fantasy we hurled ourselves into we gaze into the glow
we turn up our collars sometimes these performances we’re reminded of our own muscle and bone.
* "everything your heart desires
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- may 3, 2013 -
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