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QUIET LIGHTNING IS

:
a monthly submission-based reading series with 2 stipulations:
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sparkle + blink 44
© 2013 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-304-40810-5 artwork © Nathalie Roland headphonerecord.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.

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CONTENTS
curated by

Chris Cole & Evan Karp
featured artist Nathalie

Roland

SANDRA WASSILIE ZECHARIAH TOWNER

No Safe Word How to Murder Your Wife and Make Marinara Sauce Lusty Lady

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SEAN LABRADOR Y MANZANO

JARETT KOBEK #YOLO CHELSEA DAVIS TOMAS MONIZ MATTHEW RODGERS ROBERT HYMES KATIE WHEELER-DUBIN TESSA MICAELA

Cave Child The Body Politic En Womb Right to Breathe More Aggressive

We Are Scanning in Refusal to Settle On the Whole Image 37 41 43

LISA PIAZZA Ream SUSANNAH CARLSON

Leaves and Paper

E T L IG I U Q

HTNING IS SPONSORED

BY

lagunitas.com

QUIET LIGHTNING
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on the first Monday of every month, of which these books (sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts. Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the board of QL is currently: Evan Karp founder + president Chris Cole managing director Josey Lee public relations Meghan Thornton treasurer Kristen Kramer chair S.B. Stokes director of volunteers Sarah Ciston director of books Jacqueline Norheim art director 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: ev an @ quiet light ning . org

QUIET LIGHTNING

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 City Lights Booksellers and Publishers is the tenth show of our Tour and a special celebration of the cultural bastion on their 60th anniversary, held in Jack Kerouac Alley : a literary mixtape selected through a blind process and featuring all forms of writing.
For details on the TOUR T H R OU GH T OWN visit our website:

QUIETLIGHTNING.ORG

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N O SA F E W O R D
The minutes of the meeting have been lost. One account of the proceedings in Genesis relies heavily on the hard drive embedded in the D-N-A that replicates the Ur-myths— D-N-A bombarded by the ash of meteorites or volcanic debris or atoms ticking after testing the latest model of the digital bomb—to say nothing of the delusion of thirty-nine years passing since the last time my nutty boyfriend saw the woman Who hates him after two weeks of intense oral sex and organizing political parties for the New Age, she Who still argues over yesterday’s breakfast in his head even though the arteries of the collective organ have congealed and cracked, and are collapsing like so many bridges over marsh lands where the embankments that propped towers against the sky with covenants woven of promise pointed toward Green-Land at the far western end of the Silk Road have given way to the hundred-year flood that comes every ten moons these days, she Who is able to splice snakes to discreet
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an omission but the piers have fractured and the rubble fills the inside of his portal frustrating escape to his poetry and his hand —ah, what a job his hand does to the clitoris of the message— shakes over which buttons to push and sets traps to trick the eye of scholars who seek evidence but fear the cold and avoid the monsters that lurk in the ice because they will thaw out lusty from starvation and history has no safe word.

Watch Sandra Wassilie read "No Safe Word"

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AND MT O M U R D E R Y O U R WUCE A K E M A R IN A R A S A
It’s all about the ingredients, you see—that’s what most people don’t realize. Yes, everyone knows it somewhere in the back of their minds but people always obsess over the wrong things instead—the tools, for example. Gas stoves versus electric ones, Chef’s knives made by former Samurai Sword crafting masters, copper bottomed pans for even heat distribution—they’re all great yet ultimately superfluous. Whether you make your food in a ten-­ dollar Teflon pan or a hundred dollar cast iron skillet the most important thing is the ingredients. The ingredients are key. Take this marinara: it’s simple ingredients plus heat applied carefully et violà—délicieux. And that’s all most cooking is, you know. Heat applied carefully to delicious ingredients. The heat brings out the flavor. Take four cloves of garlic (I use six because I like the taste), smash them to remove the skins and bring out the juices, and brown them in a sauce pan (for this you actually don’t want to use that hundred dollar cast iron as the acid of tomatoes reacts poorly with the pan). Be sure to only golden brown them, not
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HOW

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mama-­ bear brown. Why? Well we don’t want no mama bears in our sauce, silly! Once you get the brown coloring—on both sides of the garlic mind you, dearie (huh I don’t usually call people “dearie”)—add the tomatoes. If you can get your hands on them use fresh ones but if they’re out of season just find yourself a good brand of canned tomats (heh, I left the “O” out on purpose there. Tomat has a nice sound to it, don’t you think?). You can also remove the skins if you like but I prefer to leave them on as they have delectable vitamins in them. Skins on or off, though, you’ll want to slice them up. Fourths will do if you like it chunky and just chop them more finely for a smoother sauce. Now put a top on your pan and— BbbbBBBRrrRrRRrRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNnnGGGG!!!!!!!! BBbbRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGG!!!!!!!!!!! “Yes? Hello?” “Your wife is cheating on you.” “What? Who is this?” Click. The line is dead. Well this changes everything. Now I have to murder my wife. It’s all about the planning, you see. A lot of people obsess over the tools—a semiautomatic handgun, piano wire, a machete (a classic, if I do say
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so myself)—as there are just so many different utensils one might use, but when plotting to kill your wife it’s really the plan that makes it work. Because at the end of the day any tool will do, really, it just takes the know how and the right application of pressure: a bullet pushing through the scapula, piano wire cutting through the common carotid arteries causing blood to spray everywhere in a beautiful arc of red mist and crushing the victim’s wind pipes, or a machete slicing through the chocolate eggy exterior and biting into that creaming nougat center scientists like to call the frontal lobe (the occipital lobe if you come from behind—Hey! As long as we’re in these parentheses, did I mention that machetes are a classic? They date back, arguably, to the 13th century where they were used by medieval guards, though they called them falchions. So don’t forget that when you use a Machete you’re participating in over seven centuries of tradition!)—and that’s really all that most murdering people is: the know how and the right application of pressure.

Watch Zechariah Towner read "How to Murder Your Wife"

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Why didn’t I accept Samantha’s invitation to see her naked at the Lusty Lady when I was 18, and she in her early twenties unbuckling the belt, and there a species of Tortoise newly inhabiting the transtubercular plane. Was I too slow recognizing an elicit compact between friends. I can know her more had I taken bart to the City. My father had raised me with the future of strip clubs and exotic dancers, and how I would measure time, the garment descending from hip to ankle, such are heart beats lost of inaction. I would drink his tonic, navel gaze and split open her torso. My mother had raised me on pageants and porn: Amy Grier kneels to Vanessa Williams’ oracular pubes and how I would distinguish live entertainment and photograph. How I would enumerate breasts as she instructed, rating posture on the runway. How she did not listen to their speaking of global peace. And now 1033 Kearny shutters and I have no way experienced what was offered 20 years ago, perhaps I was respectfully afraid, that friendship afforded
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lap dances and they are not free. Unlike Kink.com Public Humiliation is easier when friendship is there as witness and as participant. Are the venues so different, that stage presence vacates real estate to the Internet success of the reMissioned Armory? Or, have my parents taught me well: avoid meaningful physical and emotional contact?

Watch Sean Labrador y Manzano read "Lusty Lady"

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JJJJ

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#YOLO
On January 27th, 2013, Thought Catalog published Dear Depressive, an ebook compiling questions and answers from Jimmy Chen’s Formspring account. Less than two months after this literary debut, Formspring announced that it would cease operations. All accounts would disappear by mid-April. (A recent deal appears to have saved the website, but who knows? From inception, every startup is embedded with its own destruction. The only known unknown is time.) The website’s novelty lay in its ability to offer its users a system by which they could subject themselves to a torrent of questions posed by anonymous users. In addition to the obligatory chavs calling each other fat slags, the platform was appropriated by corporate and media folk as a means of demonstrating the awww, shucks, gee whiz anti-formalism that is the hallmark of present day infotainment capitalism. No longer enough for an entity to dominate the lives of its customer base, its constituent members must expiate their private guilt by demonstrating that they, like you, are in on the joke. That they, like you, can twerk out and Harlem Shake.
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For several years, Chen’s longer form writing has appeared on Thought Catalog’s website and HTMLGiant. He has eschewed, generally, the tactics of his compatriots, choosing instead a tongue-incheek haute intellectualism slightly out of step with a milieu focused on kitschy heteronormative gender roles fueled by the constant rediscovery of long discarded banalities. In some respects, this approach has drawn unwelcome attention: about a year ago, Chen ran the baseless reputation as HTMLGiant’s resident misogynist, which is a little like being renowned as that one Ottoman Turk who’s totally shit with Armenians. On Formspring, Chen adopted the role of an advice columnist, soliciting questions both sincere and otherwise. He wasn’t the only user doling out wisdom, but the questions being asked displayed a notable range, from banal scatology to seemingly sincere cris de couer. Often simultaneously. A random selection of questions answered within Dear Depressive: “If a guy doesn’t pay for the first date even though it hasn’t really been established as a date does it mean he just doesn’t like me that much?” “What the fuck happened to Fiona Apple’s face?” “I’m an 18-year-old sophomore in college. I have a deep ache, a throbbing pang, in
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my chest that comes from my desire to love someone and be in a relationship. There was this one guy I approached but he rejected me.” “How does one even own anything?” “I’ve been masturbating to fashion photography. What the fuck.” Taken in the aggregate, the queries biopsy a certain post-suburban angst, the supposed emptiness of the new millennium. That the questioners considered Chen a viable source of advice, and that they continued to ask over an extended duration, speaks towards both his literary persona and the way that the appearance of truth-telling has, at this late date, been intertwined with the presumption of human debasement. Q: what do you think about when you think about las vegas? A: i think about a hooker’s herpes sore covered up in foundation, her pubic razor burn tentatively alleviated with walgreens-brand baby lotion, a handful of crumbled $20s on the counter soaked in gin, the TVs antarctic light summoning the shadows of our limps as mutant shadow puppets on the walls, the hollow wail into a condom, his progeny condemned, her rent made, begging her to sleep over, her face losing its youth,
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a baby crow’s feet growing up, black painted eyes now marking the pillowcase with J.W. Turner-esque smudges, as if some war torn sky set aflame were being painted, years ago and far away, when it took ships and slaves to carry me to you” Say what you will about that other J.C., but he was awfully good on redemption, and there are a great number of people for whom the dialogue of our moment remains inadequate at offering anything like grace. Have some pity on those psychological types who should’ve been born three hundred years earlier into a world where the idea of God retained a modicum of validity, where moral and ethical demarcations were tied to a system of hope and damnation, of suffering and its rewards. (Flash Fact: not everyone can will themselves through eternal recurrence and Spring Breakers.) Stuffed past bursting with neoliberalist individualities and forced to use a polyglot comprised of faux hip hop slang and marketing signifiers, some sorry sots ooze all the guilt and shame and depression of bygone days whilst living without social access to mechanisms of alleviation. In what direction, then, do they turn? There is a school of thought which suggests that if one self-subjects to the world’s humiliations, then one will never be humiliated by others. And a person can always buy their way in. Issues of price are surmountable. Anything can be a currency. Your body,
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your money, your soul. The basic function of every purchase is the false hope of a new community, of a new experience, of a new thing, of a new self. The delusion can be maintained as long as you speak the common tongue. Consumerist stratagems, emulating the acquisitory nature of the surrounding society as a form of inchoate subversion of social norms, functioned as a method of social demarcation until it turned out that Republicans evidence no particular distaste for shooting smack or hooking up, blurring the lines between them and you, me and them, him and her, me and you, she and thee. It’s a lesson you can learn hanging around the Sunday pool party at the Hard Rock Café and Casino, watching the apolitical flesh in motion, a ballet of body modification and human growth hormones. America is your creepy uncle and he’s throwing one hella rager and his bro is bringing all the best drugs and everyone is invited and Neil Gaiman is DJing a set right after Steve Aoki. When you’ve become everything that you hate, when this one married woman won’t stop giggling over aperitifs about her youthful lesbian dalliance, when your ex keeps texting about Ice Road Truckers, when the person who spent all night yelling “YOLO” calls in the morning begging for hangover remedies and an excess of tissue paper, when sisters tear other sisters down, and when the building blocks of rhetoric are constructed to keep you from any positive expression of your own experiences, then one begins to see the
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appeal in conflating misery with truth, of collapsing emptiness into all things. But every nihilist is only a sentimentalist in drag. Despite Chen’s unparalleled ability to summon up the swirling eyes of an Oxy addict being diddled in the backroom of a strip mall swinger’s club, the giving of advice is as much a human need as asking for another’s counsel, and writing well means that it all comes out even when you’re holding back, and Chen can write extraordinarily well. Q: How do you navigate having mutual crushes and being in “weird places” where both parties might be leaving each other’s physical location and are in “weird places” psychologically?

A: “Mutual crushes” feels like a paradox since crush implies some form of unrequited conviction while mutual implies the logical resolve of said crush; so yes, you two lovebirds are indeed in “weird places,” which is what selfabsorbed white people love saying to further the sprawling conversation about themselves. Fucking love, get loved, and live. The only “weird places” you need to be concerned about are Pakistan and Utah.

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It’s plausible that Chen’s eBook will, in some future moment, be the only relic of a digital experience that served ten million active users. What to make of Dear Depressive now that its origin point is imperiled and soon to evanesce? Arguments abound. The perishable nature of digital output. (Yawn.) The broader implications: if Formspring can go, can’t Dear Depressive itself and everything else, too? (Gag.) Post-existential concerns: does the experience of millions have more or less meaning, if any, when occurring on an unstable platform subject to the whims of the market? (Worth further exploration.) But perhaps it’s best to read Dear Depressive like a parable about the loss of authorial control, and about the ability of greater events to impact the meaning of a text, a scale model for the greater chaos in which we find ourselves. Import, when subsequently accrued to an aesthetic effort by virtue of exterior events, is easy to understand. Which is rather different than the incoherent striving of our lives.

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CAVE CHILD
Dread of dark spaces conquered I behind in such a hell of stone death by water by air by traitor mother earth How suffering not save me this through rock to some other skin what caves were for and I answer But my eyes defeat with dark And light is everywhere if uncut stone has rhythm only know And if this is death I cannot be left burstings I crave fire by not this does this eyeless anguish not seep My brother asked could give no patience ancient hidden And the I will ever will not go

Watch Chelsea Davis read "Cave Child"

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T H E B O DY P O LITI C
Beard My beard makes me feel ugly and that’s why I grow it out every few months; it’s wooly, unkempt, dirty, not the sexy man-­ stubble of so many Hollywood stars nor lined-­ up and trimmed like the plethora of cute hipster Oakland boys. It’s graying and puffy in all the wrong places; I grow it out again and again discovering how my perception of my body and my beauty are not found in me, but in what others see. I grow it to relearn my own beauty, to find my ugliness liberating, to remember the body is a wild, wild thing and will find its own form if I just trust it. Nipples My mother never wore a bra; instead, she regularly wore shirts that said, ‘flat is beautiful’ or ‘boobies are for babies,’ her little breasts hanging low, her nipples arrogant, hard, always poking through the material. It embarrassed me. When I was 15, I asked her as she was getting dressed why, why she didn’t even own a bra. She turned to me shirtless and asked, ‘do you know the reason men have nipples?’ ‘No,’ I shrugged. She said, ‘to remind them of what they could have been.’
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Anus I was 17 when she told me to touch her asshole. Until then sex was a series of blind pawings and then intercourse. She was the first to turn on the light or throw off the covers. She was the first to show me sex without shame. ‘Look at it,’ she said, her small pussy, hidden in the untrimmed black pubic hair. ‘Look,’ she rolled over and spread her asscheeks like they were divine. I learned to look, to touch, to ask ‘like this’ until her asshole—relaxed and unashamed—opened wide and infinite like the possibilities of consent. Scars When I asked my father about the scars, keloid and callused, hiding in the bend of his arm, he said ‘don’t fuck with needles.’ When I questioned a lover about the white lines that crisscrossed her upper thighs, she said, ‘being a teenaged girl was a motherfucker.’ When I heard my daughter ask my mother about her stretch marks, my mother answered, ‘everything leaves its mark. Your father gave me these.’ These explanations gnaw at me: the way we scar ourselves, the way we scar others. The way no one is left unscathed by the things we say, the things we do. When my 11 year-­ old neighbor asks to see the scar from my recently broken wrist, I let him trace the line with his finger. It tickles, sensitive and still healing. He says, ‘that’s hella gross, but at least you still alive.’ He smiles at me and runs away, back to other young boys, back to basketball, back to living as if he’d never get hurt.
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Teeth It’s awkward to ask to be bitten. Hard. Beautiful teeth leaving such glorious bruises. The sensation of teeth on a forearm, teeth on the back of the neck, the inner thigh, the calf, exposes some primal desire to be enveloped and loved the way a mother dog picks up her puppy by the scruff and places it down safely. Bite me, I say. Meaning love me. Meaning hold me. Meaning take me home. Tongue Things I have touched with my tongue: my brother, this drunk woman’s unshaved armpit after a dare at the very first Coachella concert, jalapeños, soap when my father tried to wash the word ‘fuck’ out of my mouth, fine wine, really, really cheap wine, the soft moist dirt hidden under stones, bugs accidentally inhaled while biking, assorted body parts, lifesavers, toothbrushes, three small furry animals, my mother’s nipples, my father’s silence, my own fear, my shame, my remorse, my pleasure. Bones Sometimes I want to strip all the flesh away, see the solid parts of you, the things you’ll leave behind: hold your phalanges in my palms, thank the radius and ulna, trace the curve of vertebras arching ever-­ so-­ slightly to create your spine, lovingly finger your pelvic girdle, while pronouncing ilium, ischium, pubis, listen for the
T omas M oni z

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sound your trochanter makes popping into your hip bone socket, stroke the periosteum along your femur, imagine the taste of marrow just beneath, caress the cranium, whisper to your stirrup, anvil and hammer over and over until I make my intentions clear: I love every thing that holds you together. Perineum is secretive, elusive like the yeti; the perineum spotted only when someone trusts you enough to lay themselves bare, defenseless, willing to reveal what few get to know: it’s color, whether it’s scarred from childbirth, if it’s lightly covered in hair; treasure the chances to touch it, massage it, kiss it, the body’s soft spot, rich in nerve endings. Say it. Say perineum. Hear the way the word ends with a hum. Realize some body parts are spiritual and the only faith needed to discover divinity is to spread your own legs. Uvula It was curiosity that lead to me cleaning up vomit in the kitchen; it’s impossible to feel your own uvula without other distracting sensations: fingers on your chin, the jaw opening wide, the stretch of the tongue. So my friend and I decided to touch each other’s uvula, the moist red protrusion we all grossed out on. We were 13 and looked for any reason to touch other people’s bodies. Garrett on his knees, my finger elongated, my other hand resting on his forehead; I reached in trying
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to avoid the walls of his throat and suddenly felt it: surprisingly firm, erect, warm. Garret looked up at me, eyes wide, as vomit erupted from his mouth. He slowly got up and went home. We never spoke of it again. But I still can feel the warmth of his mouth. Hands There is a line in the movie The Neverending Story that made me a poet, showed me how language can mean so many different things at once. ‘They look like such big strong hands.’ Meaning looks can be deceiving. Meaning what he thought to be true was not true. Meaning he could not hold on to what he was trying to hold on to. Meaning no matter how strong you are, you are not strong enough. Meaning sadness, failure, loss. I look at my hands now, strong and capable. I remind myself to hold on but to not squeeze. I remind myself to say goodbye even while my hands still touch you.

Watch Tomas Moniz read "The Body Politic"

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EN WOMB
where did you get this? my heart is a piece of tea the moon is nothing in your eyes the world twirls all around and we don’t notice a thing a cigarette smoking in the night om mani padhme hum en womb hex and dynamite down in this impossible darkness and i ran into st joan joan of arc that is walking down the corner of main street it must of been say, 1421 she said I had died for nothing! by the time i got there, it was all a mist en womb om mani padhme hum a green hankie on top of the death machine an empty bag the chocolate is all gone so for now we just gotta await this nightmare and realize and awaken awaken to what?
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and the sun goes beyond the reach of the sea beyond the reach of our eyes and it was crazier than anything ever seen but it could not go on en womb and time stops, tick, talking, raving, lunacy and the sphinx speaks only cat in whispers riddles all there ever was a grain of sand infinite and under the ocean a whale swims en womb a youth blushes he touches himself by the sea he wants to kiss those lips but is afraid of that ultimate pain of the moan oh the old rimbaud moan the moan of romeo the way he moaned for the sake of arrows moaning for those precious lips om mani pahdme hom en womb and back in the 1980s i was born president george bush the senior that is was in the middle east then middling and middling around with blade and terror
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and the babes the babes of yesteryear the snow all gone all melted away to the sea no more no more en womb the tatha ¯gata en womb the stars at night still look down and smile and you know they are exploding that’s why they’re so bright like butterflies caught at dawn in the billions a forever cosmic dream the madman on the corner speaks of eternity and they say that’s all right because everything is gonna be alright and it was all beautiful and it was all alright and then the explosion and everything went bad innocence lost and what we could not expect realized the vague murmurings of forgotten poets masters of the uneventful cosmos whirling
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glory glory whirling glory glory en womb the tatha ¯gata the omanies the padhmes and the homs all got together to dream and they dreamed of the world as one sparkling unity and they dreamed a dream a golden nightmare a boy on the hillside smoking weed his halo to his side his velvet lips quivering kissing those acrid places that we call forbidden off limits because it hurts too much because we care that when we die the impossible nothingness of the dream to die laughing in the sea to die
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in cosmic disbelief to die living in a dream was all too much to believe and yet it was and it was all that there will ever be because that’s all that there ever was nothing our greatest release our greatest relief en womb.

Watch Matthew Rodgers read "En Womb"

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RIGHT TO BREATHE
I ask you right now do we not have the right to breathe the right to breathe Born into this world with the right to breath My lungs seize Air is so filthy and so are the seas No oxygen left since they cut all the trees Poison clouds poison crowds Models wear poison shrouds that burn in the breeze Poison sounds whales ears bleed Watch for poison cows cause mad disease Eat shiitake mushrooms and green teas Create for me a poison shield Words of truth the weapons I wield Not asking much but I am saying please Begging is holy, I’m down on my knees God is everything that everyone sees Nirvana is every time that everyone agrees Justice is everyone everywhere get what they needs I wield This mouth like a gun My word is my weapon My ammunition is infinite Combinations of the alphabet All my life waiting for this instance
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When my instincts override my existence In this sense no dollars and all sense Don’t miss chance to climb tall fence Escape through small vents Big guns cause its small gents Pig runs caught in stall dance Wigged ones conning with more plans Cig burns along with tall plants There still a small chance If we all dance bring down the rain and grow more plants Sing through the pains and stand tall stance Ring bells with chains stir up all ants Only open cans and no more cants Bling bling make insane and cause false trance It is this Moment It is this Moment Right now is when we must In gods name do we trust In love or just in lust Hit it big or we go bust Shiney new or in red rust Negatives will get plussed Jet just and head busts Lead cuffs and fed bluffs Chem snuffs and dreadnoughts Zen gusts When love bends trusts Defend us Love lights surrend us Sounds mend and blend us
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Some do what trend does Vidiots that tend fuzz Men fussed and then rushed When hushed again flushed Them crossed it fled justice Must this and fuck this Crushed bliss and suns kiss Missles whistles and these words criss Cross lists Faucets Big boss hits gloss lips hot sauce dips and jaundice Porn flicks and sworn pricks All been waiting for this Sureness And pureness

Watch Robert Hymes read "Right to Breathe"

Robe r t Hy me s

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More Aggressive, you know always trying to fucking fight and meeting assholes and telling them what I think of them. Yeah a bitch, I should be more of a bitch. I shouldn’t be so concerned about feelings, I don’t like to see people hurt, I mean no one likes to see people hurt, unless you’re psychotic or you’re hurt and want to spread it around to feel better. Yeah I shouldn’t be so concerned, especially those peoples whose feelings that don’t matter. I should file my incisors into fangs. I shouldn’t walk places for exercise. I should actually go on runs, like that woman I saw walking here. Damn, she was so pretty, I mean skinny, I mean pretty. I should wear tennis shoes and sports bras and backpacks that can strap to my torso, then run to the places I’m going to, yeah gleaming hair and muscle. A mermaid, but with fangs. A siren, sirens are badass, I should be tanner. I should be hollow-cheeked. I shouldn’t need so much sleep, because I disappoint when I go to bed early. When Ben comes on to me in his weird high-pitched voice, staring with his weird close-together eyes, I should grow sharps and tell him that I find him despicable, I should tell him that I don’t think he’s got anything worked out, that I don’t care that he
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takes care of the girls by stealing them leftover pie. Instead of saying nothing. Instead of holding my tongue. Instead of. Everyone I meet who I don’t like, I should ignore them, and say you aren’t worth my rage, you aren’t worth my rattle, you. I should have learned how to be a cunt at an early age, and not a risk-taker at an early age. I should be more confident and kind and thick-skinned. I should be thick-skinned, I should have skin like scales but not skin like old leather. I should be more in touch with my inner, I should be cleverer, I should be as cutting as dreams. I should have built a city by now, a stronghold. I should stand up for myself, and transfer all my moneys from Bank of America into my credit union to become the right kind of bitch, like fuck you corporate America, I’m breaking you down! I should eat less refined sugar and write out grocery lists with better handwriting. I should be more okay with opening up to strangers, even when they don’t ask me questions to show they’re listening. I should open up to people who are losing their parents, especially when they think I understand. I should be more willing to hog the spotlight, I should just talk more. Prettier, I mean skinnier, I mean. I should be more different. Weirder, I should take more drugs to make me more different. Make more bad decisions to have more interesting stories for strangers who ask because they’re listening. I should be happier, with what I’ve got. What I got. I should let the grief engulf me, I should let the grief ride off my shoulders and out into the night like some great beast, I should let this dragon. I should.
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Watch Katie Wheeler-Dubin read "More Aggresive"

WE A R E S C A N N I NG I N R E F U S A L T O SETTLE ON THE WHOLE IMAGE
I go into an establishment not knowing it too is a veering off. going in I turned again to a woman. I still refuse to admit to her that I notice her hair cut jagged across her forehead. I have only known the act of being loved by loving the one I refuse to know. if I said at fourteen I had become anything that would stick my whole mouth would become a lie. it is tiresome this waiting for circumstantial evidence or being moved to another bed. if you are coming down the river having decided no longer to love the woman I’ll come to meet you but return home on two wheels carved tenderly. and in having passed by you with your shadowy mouth, the one I’ve tended to and become, I will have gone down the river and returned.

TTT

TTTTTTTTTT

37

how in writing a letter we might end with putting you back together bone by bone across the long night and it could mean we are not separated as we are made separate. I’m sharing a bed already and this sharing becomes a consequence of loving inside containers of scarcity. how this is like the process of naming a country as itself and how that delineates who is and is not us. we cannot think of anything that is notsomething without thinking of the original something. not us in reference to us. she cried in front of the room while reading a love letter and she was different when the others would not raise their eyes to cross the boundary. not us. not of the same deserving matter. after sixteen years the recipient of the letter is sent to arizona where another waiting period begins, this time under a jurisdiction of extraction. not a single family member left across the fence but at least across the fence is not a cage above a salty sea, right? I think we are trying to think about why we so deeply need to be a singular thing and where we were taught that this was more necessary than anything else.
38

a sense that it is always dark, which means we are gripping. last time I saw her she was moss untouched, and reaching an arm upward, I knew I should be doing something else. at least sleeping. but with all these images running around and all the time spend looking at photos of other people there comes a swirling across my eyes, which she asks about, and even though I don’t tell her about the ways I long for things that I’ve taught myself to believe I cannot have, she knows there is something underneath. I am noticing the effects of being alone for a while, a shipwreck believing in amber. ok. I’ve said quite enough. I love you. goodnight. a tulip spelled correctly. and we leave the room empty but for two voices arguing and not with each other.
T e ssa Mi ca e la

39

"Watch" Tessa Micaela read "We Are Scanning in Refusal to Settle on the Whole Image"

LLLLLLLLLLL

REAM
Summer fog sears with longed-for light. Even at night we need our sun. (Your work is paper. Your work is forty fast rings of a hemlock tree split open in the woods n hauled down to fill-in-the-blanks.) Everyone here speaks with the ease of words. Sounds numb as thumbs combing the wintry bay – while we trick letters into embers bright enough to burn the sky.
41

Watch Lisa Piazza read "Ream"

S

SS SS

SSSSSSSSS

LEAVES AND PAPER

SS

My man holds the secret of my contentment In a cardboard box in his jacket pocket He’s miles from me now, but my thoughts move with him Rattling in that little box Between his leather and his breath The smell, so sweet, like an open field after a brief rain In my mind I draw the secret out The way he does, tearing paper, shining foil, and cellophane Like Chinese New Year—a celebration—complete with fireworks And a red, dragon eye Winking my way through smoke Little demon, it gets inside me, scratches around Every muscle aches to flex, to punch, to shout, to rend and tear, To bite and kick and scratch and still I know this need will be there A part of me like a finger that pokes, like my eyes that roll and glare And I am wild like some wild horse that can’t be broken
43

White foam flying around the bit, blind eye-whites rolling Not with fear Back arched and kicking aching legs to throw this rider from my back And get back to it, get back where I can sit and watch him Slowly pulling the little box From its hiding place against his skin, slowly Smiling my way, like this is nothing, his hands moving in a rhythm I remember, Unwinding plastic seam from seamless plastic, Ripping paper, God, I smell it, I want it now, I want it more Than hunger, more than need I simply am the want of this, the heat and ash, He smiles again and holds it out, he knows he’s got me crazy for it, And I do, I take it, and Leaning back, I place that thing Between two chewed and chapped and flaking lips Fingers shaking, dropping matches And I can feel him seeing me: A junkie searching for a vein, a wino in the corner store I can’t do this anymore Leaves and paper caught between my lips A scent less like fresh rain than something tainted This is evil and I’ve got to quit But let me just have one last hit
44

Watch Susannah Carlson read "Leaves and Paper"

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ber 22, 2013 - septem

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