QUIET LIGHTNING IS

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

submit@quietlightning.org

subscr ibe
1 year + 12 issues + 12 shows for $100

sparkle + blink 46
© 2013 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-304-56826-7 artwork © Cera Hensley cerahensley.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.

quietlightning.org
subm it @ qu iet l i g ht n i n g . org

CONTENTS
curated by

Katie Wheeler-Dubin, Lauren Traetto & Evan Karp
featured artist Cera

Hensley
1 3 5 7 15 17 21 25

MELISSA CHANDLER STEVEN WESTDAHL KRISTINA TEN EMILY WEINSTEIN CAROLINE KESSLER

Considering They Lived English to Spanish to… Small Creatures Such as We The Dutchman Dear California As I See It Earth Love Poem Shu Ting (舒婷) Bye Badlands

GASTON YAGMOURIAN Considering They Lived,

AMY K. BELL

JULIE MORSE

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 customdesigned shows that combine the defining features of Quiet Lightning with those of each month’s partner organization. This month’s collaboration with the The Center for the Art of Translation is the twelfth show of our Tour, for which each organization curated one set: from an initial round of submissions, QL selected Melissa Chandler’s “Considering They Lived,” and a second round was open to responses; The Center accepted translations of segments from Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Exorcismos de esti(l)o (Exorcisms of Style/Summer).
For details on the TOUR T H R OU GH T OWN visit our website:

QUIETLIGHTNING.ORG

C O N SI

MM MM

MMMMMMMMMMM

D E RI N G T H E Y L I V E D

M

on reading an article about two teenagers who jumped from the golden gate bridge and survived Did he leave a note? Did his mother find it? Did his little sister find it on the table, coming home from soccer, beelining for a snack? Did anyone read it and stop breathing in the kitchen while he fell more slowly than he’d planned, propped up by wind? Did she leave a note? Was it folded? Tucked into a pocket of her jeans? Did she wear jeans? How did she choose? Favorite/least favorite pair? Is it true the water strips off your clothes so when they find you you’re naked as a newborn? Did the man who pulled her out feel as if he’d delivered a baby? Does he think of her now as his? Regarding their bodies: pencil perfect, or did they clutch themselves to themselves like cannonballs, like kids jumping into pools? Did they remember being kids jumping into pools? Did the water fight to keep them or did the water fight to give them back? When fished out, were their foreheads feverish or cold as steel? Did they will themselves weight, or did their hands claw for surface? When they broke
1

it did they breathe like they were dying or did they breathe like they were being born? Have they met? Will they write each other about their falls? Fall in love? Will their children suffer the inheritance of invincibility? Will their children sometimes dream they can sink the way sinkable people sometimes dream they can fly? Will they dream rust orange? China blue? Will they dream sailboat shapes, wind whistles, slanted city of hills floating face down? Will their children dream of those two perfect holes in the ocean, hallowed or haunted, and are they going to have to live forever?

Watch Melissa Chandler read "Considering They Lived"

2

SV SS

SSSSSSSSSS

S

ENGLISH TO SPANISH TO CHINESE TO VIETNAMESE TO KOREAN TO PERSIAN TO JAPANESE TO RUSSIAN TO HINDI TO FRENCH TO ARABIC TO RUSSIAN TO JAPANESE TO ARMENIAN TO KOREAN TO VIETNAMESE TO CHINESE TO SPANISH TO ENGLISH
Californian Non-English Spoken Language Demographics Spanish 28.46% Chinese (incl. Cantonese and Mandarin) 2.80% Tagalog 2.20% Vietnamese 1.43% Korean 1.08% Armenian and Persian (tied) 0.52% Japanese 0.43% Russian 0.42% Hindi and Arabic (tied) 0.38% French 0.36% He left a note. Like his mother, Mary. Sister Beelining football family. When you stop breathing slow read result is lower than the first kitchen zaschity vozduha 1 time. She left a note. Hours. I put it in the pocket of blue
1

 Czech?

3

jeans. You should wear jeans. Your choice yet? Like / favorite. It really is your clothes undress Khan vzad 2 can find. My children who feel their emotions do? Now, you can face the crisis. Content: full leather pencil jump into something idetsky3 or pool . Take the kids to the pool , do you remember ? They fight for water. ILOB 4 or without food is fresh . The weight and the surface of the nails. Birth , breathing , death , or because the rest can not breathe. Have you seen him? You will be redirected to decline. Fall in love. Heritage dream estunikalnoe5 this child, in some cases, at the corner of the children, dreams sometimes does not work, can absorb the day. They are committed to the dream orzhavye6. China Blue. Your dream boat, surf Darshahr7 mountain. Hey, I live in a hole in the ocean, there are two children’s dreams.

Watch Steven Westdahl read "English to…"

2 3 4

 Slovenian?  Norwegian?   Independent Living Older Blind? 5  Esperanto? 6  Hungarian? 7   The Iranian village with a population of 231?

4

SM AL

L CREATURES SUCH AS WE

KKKK

KKKKKKKK

When was the last time you did something for the first time? When he says it, I’m leaning against him and he’s leaning against the handlebars of his Honda CB750F Super Sport, which hasn’t started in two months but which he keeps on the curb outside his apartment because he’ll fix it eventually and, besides, he needs something to lean against when a girl tells him: Bite me hard like pomegranates to carve. Push me farther. Fuck me the exact speed bad news travels. Pull me suspension bridge. Drive me charley horse and bruises on my inner thighs. Love me mottled bananas. Steer me cliff jump. When was the last time you did something for a good time? Don’t bother stacking up your clothes or your cars. We’re folding into the wind playing Show Me Your Scars, only I’m not really playing. This burn left by boiling water spilled on my mother’s daughter shaped like a sunflower, skin raised and turning to follow the sun. This white worm
5

crawling across his knuckles left by a brick wall and how moved he was by a girl who wouldn’t budge for anyone. This peach pit in my cheek where I keep the words that have calcified: Am I a lover or a fucker? You are a fucker who wants to be loved. Am I a lover or a fucker? You are a lover who ought to get fucked. I’m going to pull your ribs out one by one, and paint them International Orange. We’re building a safe, warm place where there aren’t two molecules to rub together. He’s leather jacket and I’m clothes hanger, and I swear I can hear the bike begin to hum. His spare helmet catches on the piercings in my ears. It’s too cold outside for sweat yet but I can tell something about him already. I say: Everyone you will ever meet will cry at your funeral. He says: When I grow up, I want to be everyone you ever meet.

Watch Kristina Ten recite "Small Creatures Such As We"

6

EE

EEYEEEEEEEEEE

TH E DUTCHMA N
He showed me his favorite YouTube video. It was nothing special. I showed him mine. He said, “Are you serious?” I felt nothing but a longing to feel something. I shouldn’t have brought him up to the roof if I didn’t want him to kiss me. High ground invites it. Kissing him was no kind of revelation. It was simply a fact that we were kissing, just as a moment ago it had been a fact that we were sitting on the roof. It occurred to me that I could just state another fact, which was that I had no particular desire to have sex with him. He was very quiet and practiced the martial arts. “I’m wondering,” he said quietly, “if I need to know why.” Earlier in the evening, he had said that from now on, in his life, he was only going “to do what was necessary.” I didn’t know how to explain that sex with him did not seem necessary. I said we could make out a little, though.
7

As we made out, the ambiance of the roof began to supercede my ambivalence. I had made out with lots of guys on this roof, but never had sex on it. How had I neglected to have sex on the roof? I was moving out in a week. This was very likely my last crack at the roof. He was a painter. He had shown me a picture of one of his paintings in his phone. It was a very small picture, but the painting looked pretty good. I put it all together. The roof, the view, the late-spring night, the half-decent painting. Sex, I believed, pushed a button in the universe. Whenever I thought this, crass jokes always came to me about exactly where in the universe this button was located. If I went too long without sex I became mildly suicidal. If I had bad or mediocre sex I became suicidal in a different way. If I had amazing sex I became suicidal in yet a different way. There was a very narrow category of sexual experiences that left me with the will to live. I would never act on these suicidal ideations. I also loved life and it would truly kill my parents. All they wanted was for me to be happy. They didn’t care if I became a doctor or a lawyer or believed in Jesus or married a Jew, some of the conditions under which other people’s parents withheld their love or money until such conditions were met, dooming their children to lifetimes of quiet desperation and
8

mild to moderate misery. My parents had worked so hard not to fuck me up so badly that I could never be happy. And they hadn’t! The possibility still existed for me to be happy, though I was often mildly suicidal about things having to do with sex and art, and mildly miserable due to lack of love or money. But this was not their fault. The fact that I was alive was their fault, and even that had to do with sex. And now all I had to do was try to be happy, or at least not suicidal, and sex had to do with this, too. I had already decided to leave New York to pursue greater happiness. I had come to the definitive revelation that I needed to leave New York on this very roof, almost nine months ago, on my thirtieth birthday. It was a wonderful party. Everyone came. I got emotional during the cake. I opened my presents and ate a handful of mushrooms. Soon after we ate the mushrooms, but before they really kicked in, the last of the guests went home. The apartment was strewn with empty champagne bottles. It was raining, like the night I was born. I wanted to be outside, so I brought all my tarps and sleeping bags up to the roof and slept there for a few hours, till the rain soaked through. When I woke up, I was still tripping. I went back downstairs. Now the apartment was strewn with empty champagne bottles and wet camping gear.
E MI LY WeI NST eI N

9

I got into my warm, soft bed with my computer. “I must leave New York,” I typed, “I open myself to whatever comes,” and fell back to sleep, cradling the machine in my arms. Now it was nine months later, time to give birth to the idea I had conceived, immaculately, alone in my bed. I had somehow saved enough money to make a go of it, Out There. It was spring, not fall. He was here. He was Dutch. He would do. He produced a condom. Had I really wanted to have sex with him I would have been flattered. But I was annoyed. He hadn’t even bought me dinner. We had gone Dutch. Was this because he was Dutch? He had described himself at one point as “a Dutchman.” This I liked. His accent was very faint. He was also Asian, or maybe half-Asian. Very handsome. Softspoken, piercing stare. This I also liked. I was starting to like him right up until the moment he kissed me. He didn’t kiss well. He had a daughter, a baby he’d had with another European. It seemed impossible that such a bad kisser could ever impregnate someone. I liked when he spoke about his daughter. “She’s a tyrant,” he said. There was something novel about sleeping with a man who had fathered a child when I myself had never
10

mothered one. It made me feel young and old all at once. It was a warmish night. He had a softish sweater. Underneath the sweater was skin. It seemed wrong to profane my body and soul with the mediocre sex we were sure to have, but equally wrong to profane my body and soul by leaving it untouched on this warm spring night, one of my last in New York, up here on the roof with the view. It was so complicated, and yet so simple. Sometimes you just needed to push the button in the universe. It was a reasonable approximation of sex in the way the photograph on his cell phone had been a reasonable approximation of a painting. Doing it on the roof was something, I had been right about that. There were all the lights and sounds. I’d never been naked outdoors in the city before. Sex and the City, I thought. It was an experience I was having, it was the name of a television show. I was leaving New York before I could live it. I was afraid of becoming a cliché. There was nothing cliché about having sex with a softspoken Dutch painter, martial arts practitioner and father of a tyrannical toddler on the roof. I maneuvered myself so I could look out at the city. I was far more interested in the view than in my sex partner. I felt like I was having goodbye sex with New York.
E MI LY WeI NST eI N

11

He complained that the roof was hard on his knees. I got on top. He complained that the roof was cold under his back. I got annoyed. I had had much better sex in far more uncomfortable places. He asked if we could go inside. I realized that it would have been perfectly fine with me if we didn’t go inside, if he left right then, if I climbed into my warm, soft bed alone, or with my computer, now that I had had sex on the roof. But we went inside and finished. Or rather, one of us did. I had never had sex with anyone less concerned with or even remotely aware of the mechanics of the female orgasm. Just what kind of European was he? Then he did something even more infuriating. He put his shorts and t-shirt back on. I abhor people who don’t sleep naked, especially after sex. Unless they are being worn to prevent hypothermia under extreme weather conditions, pajamas are a sure sign of sexual repression and generalized anhedonia. I walked naked into the kitchen and poured myself a drink. Something wonderful had happened. I now felt completely ready to leave New York. The next morning I woke up full of energy. I jumped out of bed and started the coffee. He didn’t want any. He got dressed to leave. We kissed politely. He had been hauling an enormous suitcase with him for some reason to do with his maneuverings between sublets. I cheerfully heaved it across the threshold as if it
12

weighed nothing. “Happy travels,” I said. I felt a little bad, like I had disrespected the roof. I thought of all the different people I had kissed on the roof over the years. None of them were any of my favorites. My best times on the roof had been smoking joints and drinking cocktails with my friends. Maybe it was a friend roof, not a sex roof. Maybe I had misunderstood the roof. Maybe I had misunderstood sex. Maybe I had misunderstood New York. California, I thought. Now there was a place where people knew how to do it properly in the out of doors, a place where people knew how to live. I started packing that very morning.

Watch Emily Weinstein read "The Dutchman"

E MI LY WeI NST eI N

13

CC CC

CCCCCCCCCC

CC

D E A R C A LIF O R N IA

I have never seen you whole I have never seen you naked, I’ve only peered at the new tattoo of a two-handled cheese knife, shining hurt on your freckled thigh I have never seen you early in the morning when I can barely open myself / sleep gathered in the corners of my eyelids, limbs tucked inside each other and you, a blurred woolen weighty form immobile on top of the covers you trying to say goodbye, you trying to leave, you falling back onto the wooden pallet of a bed I saying: just go, I know you have to go go back to the rivers where you came from, where the salmon literally leap up from the wide blue

California, it is the last day of the month, did you remember to say rabbit rabbit rabbit?
15

Another thing: when you find an eyelash on the collar of your shirt, do you hold it in your palm, close your eyes, make the darkest wish you can think of, then ex hale your hurricane breath? I do that. I am very superstitious. I believe in wishes. I believe in people coming back. I believe in knocking on wood, even though this is the same as knocking on the crucifix, even though I do not believe in the crucifix. or jesus as god. (I pretend I am knocking on a stranger’s bones, someone I met while we stood still as dolls, waiting for a stoplight to turn green.)

California, you are a room that I want to fall asleep in every night and wake up in every morning and immediately know where we are: a mason jar brimming with cold lime water a notebook where we record our dreams sloped ceilings to make us feel small(er) California, there is something between us. It is three flights of wooden stairs as tall as a fifty-story building. The stairs all have railings that are so smooth, I can slide
16

down them on my bare back repeating silk silk silk until the word distorts into the sound a drop of water makes, hurling itself into a bucket. Inside me, there is a cavern. It stretches open and closed with the moon’s phases. The cavern is illuminated with letters like this one, printed on white origami paper, folded into sailboats, invasive species, dragons. You wouldn’t know what to do about this, would you? I am writing you this letter over the course of several weeks. I hope that is o- kay. I hope you are ________. The blank is whatever you want it to be. (In my head, it is a road curving through the redwoods, no cars for miles, only blackberry bushes marching in a line along the edge of it, waiting to be noticed.) California, what is the one question you wish I had asked you?

Watch Caroline Kessler read "Dear California"
17

CA ROLI Ne KeSSLeR

G

CONSID

GG GG

GGGGGGGGG

GG

ERING THEY LIVED,

G

A S I S E E IT

Watch Gaston Yagmourian illustrate "Considering They Lived…"
19

AAAAAAAAAAA

EARTH

LOVE POEM - SHU TING

舒婷

我爱土地, 就像
 爱我沉默寡言的父亲 血运旺盛的热呼呼的土地啊
 汗水发酵的油浸浸的土地啊
 在有力的犁刃和赤脚下 
微微喘息着
 被内心巨大的热能推动
 上升与下沉着
 背负着铜像、 纪念碑、 博物馆
 却把最后审判写在断层里
 我的 
冰封的、 泥泞的、 龟裂的土地啊
 我的
 忧愤的、 宽厚的、 严厉的土地啊
 给我肤色和语言的土地
 给我智慧和力量的土地我爱土地, 就像
 爱我温柔多情的母亲 布满太阳之吻的丰满的土地啊
 挥霍着乳汁的慷慨的土地啊
 收容层层落叶 
又拱起茬茬新芽
21


一再被人遗弃
 而从不对人负心 
产生一切音响、 色彩、 线条
 本身却被叫做卑贱的泥巴 
我的
 黑沉沉的、 血汪汪的、 白花花的土地啊
 我的
 葳蕤的、 寂寞的、 坎坷的土地啊
 给我爱情和仇恨的土地
 给我痛苦与欢乐的土地 父亲给我无涯无际的梦
 母亲给我敏感诚挚的心 
我的诗行是
 沙沙作响的相思树林
 日夜向土地倾诉着
 永不变质的爱情

22

I love Earth, just like I love my taciturn father blood coursing, great rushes of wind Earth fermented sweat, oil soaked Earth rutting plow’s blade under barefoot Earth beneath slight gasping heart’s thermal core advancing risen up, sinking back, downing bearing silent bronze statues, monuments, museums The latest trials written along geologic faults My icebound, muddy, chapped ground Earth My worried, magnanimous, severe mean Earth gave me skin tone language Earth gave me knowledge grip power Earth I love Earth, just like I love my tender giving mother covered with sun’s kissing fertile Earth squandering milk in her vehemence Earth receiving layers of fallen leaves the salutes of young buds sprouts abandoned repeatedly while failed by the wrong person spring forth all: acoustics, colorings, strokes called lowly mean mud My pitch-blackened, red-teared, white-shining earth My
AMY K. BeLL

23

copious, lonely, bumpy earth gave me romance hostility earth gave me suffering gaiety earth Father gave me a limitless dream Mother gave me a susceptible heart my verse is lovesick forest rustling day and night saying everything perpetual unchanging essence of sex

Watch Amy K. Bell read "Earth Love Poem - Shu Ting"

24

JJJJJ

JJJJJJ

B YE BADLAN DS
Gnashing through the warm, wet world of Polyester, isopropyl and fluorescence Chewing, chewing, chewing A terry cloth towel to dry a damp smile Clawing, gnarled breath Testing for bubbles in the brain What a waste of pantry space - is what you say when times are tough I’m watching you blink at the speed of a snake shedding skin - coming soon your body will shift, a big dune drifting in a new season sand in the wind pushing down and out through the automatic doors II white caps rolling in like traffic on a dusty road Dazed this dreamed that
25

The ocean is usually where it all ends on the last stretch of sand that treads wet and slick. roundabout, a veil of a thousand thickets

Watch Julie Morse read "Bye Badlands"

26

Watch the whole show/text, including the set curated by the Center for the Art of Translation

Subscribe q u i e t l i gh t n i n g . o rg
info + updates + video of every reading

Order lulu.com/spotlight/sandblink
back issues

Scene l i tseen . co m
calendar + reviews + interviews +purviews

er 13, 2013 - novemb