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QUIET LIGHTNING IS

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56
© 2014 Quiet Lightning
artwork © Adam Carlin
adamcarlin.us
“Out the Window” by Charlie Getter forthcoming in How to
Arrange Physics and Geography to Your Advantage (seven7h tangent).
“The Constant Cap” by Jon Sindell first published in Pithead
Chapel, is forthcoming in The Roadkill Collection (Big Table
Publishing).
book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara
Promotional rights only.
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without permission from individual authors.
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CONTENTS
curated by
Chris Cole & Evan Karp
featured artist Adam Carlin
MONETA GOLDSMITH Idolatry 1
CHRISTIAN PHIFFER Synonyms for Sensitive 5
KARLA CORDERO A Brown Girl’s Blues 7
SIAMAK VOSSOUGHI Sixth Grade 9
MICHAEL COOPER Uncity 13
CHARLIE GETTER Out the Window 19
ASHLEY WARREN A Newsletter 27
ANITRA APPA Healthy Stuff Like That 33
Quarantine 34
JON SINDELL The Constant Cap 35
PAUL CORMAN-ROBERTS Reprocessor 39
Q
U
I
E
T

L
I
G
H
T
N
ING IS SP
O
N
S
O
R
E
D

B
Y
l a g u n i t a s . c o m
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
Sarah Ciston director of books
Katie Wheeler-Dubin director of films
Kelsey Schimmelman acting secretary
Sidney Stretz and Laura Cerón Melo
art directors
Lisa Miller, Rose Linke, and RJ Ingram
outreach directors
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:
evan@qui etl i ghtni ng. or g
1
M
O
N
E
T
A
G O
L
D
S
M
I
T
H
ID
OLATR
Y
A new exhibition opened this week at the
Smithsonian
called ‘Objects of Devotion: Images & Other
Seemingly Harmless
Things That Kill People.’ Or something like that
anyway.
It’s true, it seems, there was a time in history when a
group of people
who called themselves iconoclasts believed that
images carried
the potential to do harm & that if you stared too long
at a work of art
you would become enthralled & risk falling into a
life of sin & idolatry.
I admit I’ve often fantasized about a language that
could bring about similar effects. The only
comparison I can find today for the iconoclasts are
the so-called
street poets who practice & die by their craft,
honest to god, in the streets, hence the name.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing such
spectacles
2
as theirs, here is what I’d advise you to do: take this
poem
when you wake up tomorrow morning to your
nearest café,
& swallow it whole. Before long, you will begin to
choke (either on
these words or on these scraps of paper, whichever
are stronger by then).
If you do not choke, you should pretend to choke—at
least
until a crowd gathers around to help you (sizeable,
one hopes)
at which point you should promptly shew them away;
unless
of course there is a beautiful girl present just your
type
(blonde, not brunette, with plenty of whiskers).
If there is no such beautiful girl present, then you
should continue
choking or feigning choking until you find one.
This part of the process can often take years, decades
even.
Do not despair: once she does come along, simply
point to these words, or to these scraps of paper in
your now yellowing
esophagus, as if you had only swallowed them
yesterday—at least
until she helps pull them out of you one by one
with her bare hands, using force if necessary.
MONETA GOLDSMI TH 3
What comes next is easy: she will fall in love with you.
& when she asks years later – inevitably she will ask,
they always ask –
why you did all of this back then & ‘just for her’,
do not lie to her! Tell her point blank you have
long dreamt of a language that carried the power to
do great harm,
one that might kill someone even. (It’s just that this
was the first time it worked.)
When she dies—right there on the spot, quite likely—
do not despair!—at least
not for too long. You can still visit this poem at the
Smithsonian,
where it will be encased in a humidity-controlled
vitrine, behind bullet-proof glass
—for its own protection but also, of course, your own.
5
C
H
R
I
S
T
I
A
N
P
H
I
F
F
E
R
S
Y
N
O
N
Y
M
S FOR SE
N
S
I
T
I
V
E
a
f
t
e
r
SH
IRA ERLIC
H
M
A
N
exposed, open,
this-is-me,
raw, tender,
alone, sticky, enormous,
sweaty,
but-this-is-me, over share,
permission, boundaries,
burden,
blessing untamed,
weight,
rain storm lover,
squishy, sore, dirty windows,
willingness, present,
distant, me.
7
K
A
R
L
A
C O
R
D
E
R
O
A

B
R
O
W
N GIRL’S B
L
U
E
S
There is a demon between my eyes,
a fanged beast, a nightmare in shadowed veils
who rips root from bone, some maniac killer of
ancestry,
a cyclops stitching brown girl nicknames,
el Diablo dressed in America.
There are wounded sparrows between my lips,
a choir in shackles, broken beaks & rusted
tongues,
new scars behind feathered backs, caged-throats,
an orchestra screaming privilege please,
turns parrot color mocking a white kids tune.
There is a kitchen-knife between my breasts,
a blacksmith dimple, a village of spears howling
to mother moon, a razor lump, shaman chants
between hillsides, blood on silver coin, a wealth
so rich in earth, men are always hungry to settle their
flags.
There is a brushfire between my hips,
a savage dance, matches shoved in sick
children bellies,
cigarette torches & kerosene chimneys,
8
a tumble weed on candle wick, lava ash & ghost
cry,
how dangerous to burn alive before the fall.
There is a cemetery between my legs,
a war bleeding over river banks, tombstones
for crippled grandmothers, lost bodies in high grass,
sacred stone & orchards swaying gentle,
bullets, mud, & cracked palms & prayer.
9
S
I
A
M
A
K

V O S
S
O
U
G
H
I
S
I
X
TH GRA
D
E
The other girls were going to the store after school
to buy candy and stand in groups close to where the
boys went skateboarding, but she told them she was
going home. They weren’t the same boys who had
been saying those things to her at lunch—those boys
usually played tennis after school—but she wanted to
go home and tell somebody that the whole thing was
miserable, everything about it, because of what had
happened when she had tried to tell Mrs. Loda about it.
She crossed the street in front of the school and
she walked by herself down 83rd street. She walked
slowly with her heavy backpack and she wanted
to walk slowly, she was in no hurry to get home
since there wasn’t really anyone she could tell—her
older brother was away at college now, and she
didn’t even know if she wanted to tell him. It almost
seemed like something you weren’t supposed to tell
anybody, because those boys said those things like it
was practically their job, and it almost seemed like
they thought they had to do it. She didn’t feel that
way about anything at school, except the way she
thought she had to try hard with her schoolwork,
and she didn’t know why they had decided that her
job was to listen to them.
10
Nobody said anything about why five boys were
saying those things to one girl, they just treated it
like part of the world, and the only way she had to
make it not feel like part of the world was to make the
world very small, and so she didn’t stop to pick any
blackberries from the blackberry bushes along the
side of the street, because that was the kind of thing
that would make the world seem big, or even nice,
like back in third or fourth grade when her brother
would come to pick her up from her old school
nearby and they would walk back together.
If the world could stay small, then she could stay
small, and then maybe tomorrow they wouldn’t see
her, it would be fine if they didn’t see her, it would be
fine if they didn’t say a single word to her, she didn’t
care if they were the boys that a lot of the girls liked,
she didn’t care if they didn’t notice her at all.
And she wondered who she was supposed to tell now,
now that she had tried to tell Mrs. Loda and she had
seen her face turn sick and sad like that. Was she
supposed to tell Mr. Scott, who didn’t even know
who she was? If she did, she would have to tell him
what Mrs. Loda had said, and that was too miserable
to repeat, because you were supposed to feel like if
you were a girl, you could tell a teacher who was a
woman, and the important thing about her would
be that she was an adult, not that she was a girl too,
or that she used to be a girl too, or some kind of
mixed-up combination of that.
SI AMAK VOSSOUGHI 11
And as she walked she felt like crying and she felt
stupid for feeling like crying because that was
another of the things those boys would laugh at her
about, and she thought of how mean it was to make
fun of somebody and to make fun of them for crying
because then it seemed like the whole point was to
make them feel small, and it would be one thing if
she had ever tried to say she was bigger than them or
anything like that, but she hadn’t, and instead they
had just decided last week that it was going to be
her, that it was going to be her hair and her eyebrows,
and she had never thought before that she would
like to have straight blond hair and thin eyebrows
like Seline Cowgill, she had always liked her curls,
but they made her wish she looked like that just so
they would leave her alone. Although the truth was
they made her feel like it was her, like even if her hair
was like that, they would still laugh at her, because
the things they said went so far inside her that she
didn’t think her outside would make that much of a
difference. After all, Mrs. Loda was an adult, and even
that didn’t make that much of a difference, and when
she really thought about it, the only good thing about
what Mrs. Loda had said was that at least she knew
that it was more than just a problem with sixth grade,
and she knew that after the crying feeling went away,
she would feel strong about it, because it was always
a strong feeling to be mad about more than yourself,
and she wished the crying feeling would hurry up
and go away, so that it would at least be gone by the
time she got home so that her mother wouldn’t see it
12
on her face and ask her about it, she wished it would
hurry up and leave and to speed it along, she tried to
think about what a nice day it was and how maybe
the next time her brother was home from college
they could walk along the street with blackberry
bushes together, until finally the thing that did it was
that she decided that instead of thinking about the
boys, she would think about Mrs. Loda’s face, how it
had done something that she hoped her face would
never do, how it had broken up into something that
was barely held together, and she knew that when
the strong feeling came, she was going to want to
do something so that nobody’s face would do that,
nobody would have to come outside of a classroom
and hear a girl say what she’d said and then say to her,
“You just have to ignore it. They make fun of me too.”
13
M
I
C
H
A
E
L C
O
O
P
E
R
U
NCITY
They held a fashion show on the morning of our
discovery
of the trombone mute—I’m in my shower
curtain frock and she regal in the nets
we use to dredge the lake stare—at each other
a cross the hook gouged Formica table
as if we have nothing to say The milk
in our cereal so cold it leaves ice
beards on the lips of our bowls—Outside our
lamb brays at the on-coming
mailman
as if our lives depended on knowing
of his approach
the wind hurled prow swings leeward to run south
to break up the slip ice of the cat walk
14
ubiquitous chain link fences each rust
spot a fingerprint leading up the rungs of the
tender power
lines we climb the earth was just some vehicle for
their
work outside the palms make much more sense
when you realize that they are a grass they
network
shed their fronds for antlers and 10 X scopes they
boost
the cell signal of the collected good shot out
along the
highways each of us a Diaspora of use a voice is the
keen edged
instrumentality of I broken machine
clamber up the poles at night among the cranes
and engines of translucent might clinging to my
vestigial
naiveté
even in the foothills the red
light of the city stoops winged like some ambient
predator
no tequila could drown I strapped up here run
soulless with the long-haul diesels peering through
this night
scope of blackened delight
MI CHAEL COOPER 15
black labrador runs out between the cars
barely see her as I skid and she
goes under my bumper the way I like
to curl around my family and li
sten to them sleep performing the Mueller
maneuver Dr.
Shoar assesses his victim with profound
sleep apnea judged by the possessions
of the heart the panting the feral
start stop cries of Black Dog from shivering
speakers each moment stuck in the throat of now
rises like the heat signature off my
tires pushing the earth away hold on
covered with my coat she is someone’s I
carry her home soak-curled and shaking in
fetal position and half asleep
I feel Black Shuck clamber down into my
nest his bones my bones we laugh we laugh we
16
the shared phantom bone keeps my dogs
barking at the Black & Whites muscle
cars and little boys filling the loafers
of their pixel sprung selfie taking fathers a still life
and the half thawed burrito in its plastic
wrapper
makes up its own disclaimers to dress itself in
don’t touch
anything its all evidence a typo makes
a text threatening I’m sleeping
with your mom again the desperate seeking of
the billboard for your latchkey milked and each
waiting
for their turn with the pneumatic
hammer I just want to see him on the trail again
Kyle’s hip
pocampus as art displayed the never
quite dry
splash of cola on drywall
MI CHAEL COOPER 17
o Uncity you have no right to die we inside out
landfills the garbage scow land bound overgrown
with sunflowers lists to port becomes our veranda
trailing vines seaward creeping the horns will
scream until the last car batteries bleed dry she
folds in my arms whimpering in her shock you stand
in your rebar and concertina wire
disguise what
I
loved so much gone
from your eyes each unsheathed and
rattling I
struck her when driving
blind look at our seas leaking oil into animal
form each of us
drilling our hard-case surmise under each
promise wilted
lay among my refuse
braid the Walmart bag into your brambled
thatch lets curl together
around her and listen to her final breaths
so she knows we are
here for her
or let down your coiled copper hair at last outside
the city wails long distances to its long silenced pod
how could she be all of these beings on the morning
of our discovery
19
C
H
A
R
L
I
E G
E
T
T
E
R
O
U
T
THE WIN
D
O
W
for __
Out the window is Argentina
If only my window
was like a window from Redmond
where you can click something
and it opens
somewhere
anywhere
but they’re not that way
in the real world
my window is dirty
I’m on the second floor
of a sinking ship
and like a rat
I’m sniffing at the ropes
thinking about getting off
like a rat
memories are scenery
20
passing past a passing window
and out the window
is Argentina
a place that is just
a memory
or a dream
but more exactly
the memory of a dream
because
what can Argentina
be for me
if not only,
a dream
if not,
only a dream
that I struggle
to remember
so often it felt so close
but now even
the horizon
is out of touch
BART strike and all
and how many horizons
are between me
CHARLI E GETTER 21
and Argentina?
It won’t be easy,
you’ll think it strange
when I try to explain
how I feel

when the mist
rises off the pampa
on a spring morning
that is in fall for me
like today.
A season so appropriately named
this year
One of those falls, which is a fall
from grace
and when I do so
I do it
comically hard
a long protracted tumble
like a cartoon character
bouncing off every rock
every bramble
head over ass
that’s my fall
no graceful collapse for me
22
no dramatic passing out
from emotion
to be held up in other’s arms
no,
rather
a long tumble down a cliff
that’s too steep to stop on
and yet too gradual to
fly away from
the Andes have steep mountains
one is Mount Fitzroy
which back in the day
was the name for
a king’s bastard
People die on Mount Everest
all the time
but usually from exposure
because you lose your oxygen
and
orientation
and way
so
if you’re a great athlete, and
if
you’ve planned well and
if
CHARLI E GETTER 23
the weather holds up and
if
someone doesn’t mess you up and
if
something doesn’t fall on
—or—
out from under you …
I know
that’s a lot of “ifs”
times those “ifs” by
the number of attempts and
that equals a lot of deaths
that said
climbing Everest is more an
athletic,
organizational,
meteorological
and lucky achievement
than a test of pure mountain climbing
unlike the king’s bastard
which only a real mountain climber
can get up
or even attempt and
it’s in Argentina
at least the east half
24
and I can see it in Argentina
out my window
because out the window
is Argentina
wide stretches of green
and greener
and cows
lots of cows
cows with style
munching grass with bravado
brave cows
and gauchos
both knowing what a good steak is
and willing to die for same
(well, one more than the other!)
and the cities glow
where every street
is lined with cafés
with black iron tables
and trees
with golden bark
and in the dusky half glow
CHARLI E GETTER 25
someone appears
with a viola
and then everyone
finds someone
and tango happens
and candles happen
hanging from the tree branches
and birds sing in trees
singing sadness
and everyone’s heart breaks
and they love each other
because they have to
but Argentina is
out the window
because the wind blew
and Argentina caught the draft
and wafted away
and I can watch it
floating on the wind
and a breeze blows up,
underneath it
26
and I’m jealous
that Argentina
is so airy
and finds its way
so easy
so after watching
for a while
I close my window
and sit
on a chair…
27
A
S
H
L
E
Y W
A
R
R
E
N
A
N
EWSLETTE
R
The Dockliner
Ahoy from the St. Croix Yacht Club! May 1, 2010

After another long, grueling, and anti-depressant
filled winter, summer is finally here! All aboard! For
new members to the yacht club, welcome to our third
annual newsletter, written by me, Donna Warren. For
those of you who haven’t met me yet, I am the First
Mate of Sojourn, the 37-ft yacht run by Captain Mike
Neitzel. Most of you are familiar with Mike for his
loud mouth, questionable manners, and wicked serve
on the volleyball court. Hopefully those bad knees
and chicken legs of his will keep him in the game for
another summer. He shocked everyone who attended
the Cruiser’s Rendezvous last year when he and his
team, The Boating Bachelors took first place against
the Houseboat Homos in their annual volleyball
competition. Now I don’t mean to sound derogatory,
but speaking of homos, I want to inform every one
of the new lesbian couple that just joined the yacht
club this spring. I don’t have anything against the
gays, because until now, I’ve never known any.
But I have been deeply offended by the butch one,
28
whatever “her” name is. She continues to come on to
me and I am not amused. Fellas, I suggest you keep
your wives close this summer. She’s like a bull dog in
heat and I don’t trust her for one second.
Anyway, this is an exciting year for Mike as he will
be our new beach captain at Catfish Beach, exclusive
to members and guests only of course. As most of
us know, Captain Mike runs a tight ship, so we
will be enforcing some new beach rules that I hope
all will comply with. First off, children under the
age of 15 will no longer be welcome to play in any
volleyball games. I know this seems a bit harsh, but
we all remember what happened to little ten year
old Thomas last summer when he sank that serve
right into the net with a tied game of 14 all. Naturally,
Mike lost his cool, tackled him in the sand, dragged
him into the water to drown him I assume, and ended
up tripping over the Erickson’s anchor, resulting in
a very bad sprain that left him out of the game for
the rest of the summer. But don’t worry folks, your
kids can still participate in different ways. They are
welcome to stand on the sidelines to retrieve the balls
when they’re hit by some drunk-blonde-amateur into
the water. We would also like them around to fetch
us cheerleaders some cold wine-coolers.
The second rule we would like enforced is a
designated smoking area. Now I know that the
disgusting habit is still legal and that we are all
outdoors enjoying the same fresh air, but that’s the
ASHLEY WARREN 29
point—my fresh air is being polluted by you and
frankly, my allergies can’t handle it. I’ve got people
on my side with this one, including Lynn from A
Lonesome Ride. We propose that smokers will inhale
their cancer-sticks only at The Point where the
beach ends and the water comes in from all sides. No
worries, the water is very shallow but use caution
as there are drownings reported there every year
because of the many drop offs and strong currents.
The last rule I would like to enforce is a personal one,
but I’m sure many wives would agree with it. I will no
longer tolerate the attire of the new ‘river-rats’ who
joined the club last summer. (How they even got in
to the club is beyond me.) I would appreciate it if the
girlfriends of these alleged members wouldn’t mind
wearing something more than a string bikini that
barely covers their nipples. As we all know, Mike and
I still aren’t married, after nineteen years mind you,
and I don’t need his eyes wondering over to some
fake breasted tramp as I am way too invested in this
yacht club to get dumped now. Heaven forbid I have
to spend my remaining summers locked up in my
subsidized apartment with all the hillbillies and thugs
running from the cops and breaking into my place to
get their hands on my prescription pill collection.
Now, on a lighter note, Mike and I have some very
exciting news! No, no, we’re not engaged. If that
were the case I’d forget this newsletter and just
rent a blimp that announced our engagement while
30
it floated above the entire river! He did however
commit to something big… And that something is a
brand new boat! We are the proud new owners of a
39-ft Cruiser yacht coming soon to a river near you!
Unfortunately, our new, yet modest yacht may not be
turning many heads this year since Mike decided to
go with the smaller model for its sporty appeal and
shoe-box sized kitchen. Don’t even get me started on
the size of the closets. I tried my hardest to get him to
go with the 44-ft since he insists on parking the boat
next to the Burns who have always had a bigger boat
than us, making ours look like something that could
be operated by a kid with a remote control. He never
listens though and when he finally decides to use his
boat for entertaining, he’ll see what I’m talking about.
Well to wrap things up, I’d like to conclude this year’s
third annual newsletter by sending out my deepest
condolences to the Alrichs who have recently filed
for divorce. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that
Bill Alrich was finally caught having an affair with
Christine Bradly, the middle-aged single woman
from Joy Ride. I always knew that he was two-timing
on his poor wife Karen, but when I announced my
suspicions at last year’s Spaghetti Western Party,
Mike just told me to shut my big mouth and then
dumped me again for the third time that summer. I
would like to apologize to everyone at the Afton
Marina who was involved in the police questioning
that night. But I don’t think I need to explain why I
refused to leave a boat that might as well be half mine.
ASHLEY WARREN 31
On a final note, I’d like everyone to keep my family in
their prayers. My eldest daughter Katie, who I’m sure
you all remember from her embarrassing behavior at
the Catfish Beach Party last year, has recently been
readmitted into treatment for her addiction to heroin.
I know the Thompson’s are going through something
similar with their daughter and her alcoholism. Also,
my only son Paul just had a baby boy this Christmas!
Unfortunately, he refrained from sharing the news
with me, so please, pray for his insensitivity as well.
One last thing: If there are any new bachelors to the
club, my youngest daughter Ashley is still single! And
straight, so don’t get any ideas Butch. (At least I think
she’s straight.)
Alright boaters, let’s have a fantastic summer and I’ll
see you on the river!
Sincerely,
Donna Warren
33
A
N
I
T
R
A A
P
P
A
H
E
A
L
T
H
Y
STUFF L
IK
E

T
H
A
T
You’re away now. For 4 months. I said I wanted to just
‘see how it goes’ while we’re apart. I do want that—it’s
nice in some ways, to have my trees and my bed and
my stories to myself again. And I’ve never believed in
long distance when things are new, maybe at all. But
if you fuck some beautiful French milk maid who
gives you the best head of your life, I will—I will—
what? I don’t know. Get wasted and go out with the
goal of fucking someone else forthwith. And make
some idiot show me how to give better head—I don’t
think my pressure is consistent enough. I’ll imagine
the yoga poses she can slip into and her awesome
music recommendations and internally I’ll be a raging
hypocritical bitch. Be a seething, silent, I’m so cool
with it jealous that you’ll sense but never actually ask
me about. Healthy stuff like that.
34
QUARANTINE
You’re the first person I’ve ever had sex with when I
was sick. Not almost over it sick, not warbling with a
sexy rasp sick—in the throes of it, mucus producing,
almost certainly still contagious sick. First time, I
didn’t cancel to stay home and nurse myself. (I’m
a very good nurse. I let me do whatever I want.) I
thought I would at least call it a night early, would
feel gross or you would—and I did, but I guess not
gross enough to stop either one of us once we made
it to my bed. Whiskey helped. And cough syrup, that
aphrodisiac. Pile of crumpled tissues on the left side
of the bed. I feel awful and great.
35
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I’ve been pelted with peanuts, bottle caps and
bananas, and jolted in the aisle by guys who look
innocently skyward but smirk to show that they did
mean to do it. In Boston last week I got bumped at
the urinal and sprayed the wall. Fortunately my wits
and reflexes are viable though I’m seventy-one, and I
was able to redirect the flow where it belonged. This
was fortunate, for if I had sprayed the bruiser next to
me, I likely would have suffered a beating.
I’ve had some of those.
It’s like this. As the tone-deaf relation of some team
official finishes strangling the last note of The Star
Spangled Banner, I’ll announce, in a friendly tone,
“Can’t fault her—it’s such a wickedly hard song to
sing.” Simple honesty compels a young man nearby
to grunt agreement with the contrary old fellow who
refused to doff his cap during the Anthem. He’ll scru-
tinize me and I’ll twinkle back. If I detect a gleam of
curiosity, I’ll chuckle and say, “A little odd, to make
a patriotic ceremony out of a ballgame.” Most
folks shut me down at this point with, “That’s
my country you’re talking about—sir,” though a
glance should suggest that Sir has walked this land
36
far longer than they. Others toss off non-sequiturs:
“Well, baseball’s the classic American game after all.”
“True,” I’ll rejoin. “Which is why the compelled obser-
vance of a patriotic ritual makes no sense in the land
of the free.” One young man raised his beer to that
sentiment in Milwaukee. Two beers later, he told me
that his great-grandfather organized brewery workers
in the Depression and got his skull cracked.
I told him in a confidential hush that I don’t really
want to get my skull cracked, but that I don’t intend
to crawl towards the grave on my belly, either.
The North Side of Chicago was loads of fun. “He’s
just hiding his baldy!” a Bleacher Bum quipped. So
I raised my fedora to reveal the snowy waves that
Gloria ran her fingers through for forty-five years
‘til we lost her last winter. Loudly I proclaimed: “My
young friends from the land of Studs Terkel, I’m not
hiding my head or anything else—least of all my
beliefs.” They were all in fine spirits on that balmy
afternoon, so I fired my bullet–points as we bantered
through the day:
* It’s a deadly dull song.
* It’s militaristic.
* Nobody can sing it.
* It cheapens the Anthem to play it at one-
hundred-sixty-two ballgames a year.
* “And most of all, folks, here’s the main
thing.” A spindly young man with stringy hair and
gleaming gray eyes, the sort of guy you’d picture
J ON SI NDELL 37
studying advanced physics or founding an anarchist
commune, looked up at me with his chin on his fist.
“The essence of America, the very reason we love
this country—is freedom. Is independence. Is the
god damn right NOT to stand for the Anthem at a
damn baseball game on a Thursday afternoon against
the damn red Cardinals of Saint Looey!” For this I
received a cloudburst of claps (It’s always good form
to dump on the Cards).
The South Side? Not ducky. I attended a day game for
safety, but a battery whacked my head just the same.
Just a double A.
In New York’s Citi Fields, a literary agent asked me
to write a memoir of my Anti–Anthem Ballpark Tour.
Yankee Stadium went about as expected. Two huge
guys squeezed into the empty seats on either side of
me and pressed against me with jovial menace. No
problem. My extensive knowledge of Yankee history
lulled them by the third inning, and in the sixth, one
fell asleep dribbling spittle and beer on my shoulder.
I worked wonders in D.C. A lesbian waitress, an NRA
lobbyist, a Democratic congressional staffer from
California, and a uniformed Navy vet from Virginia
led a chorus of jeers that drowned out my effort to
point out the irony of suppressing free speech right
here in the nation’s capital. “Hey,” I proclaimed
during the seventh inning stretch, with arms spread
wide to accept their acclaim, “you should thank me
38
for bringing you bickering folks together!” This
was right after God Bless America, which I had just
condemned as the impetus for the second coerced
patriotic display of the day—which, furthermore,
compelled allegiance to somebody’s god. Liberals and
conservatives alike pelted me with foodstuffs, and I
left Washington as The Great Unifier.
There are five cities left of the scheduled thirty.
Miami is dicey, for I can’t figure out how to ensure
that I sit among migrant Jews from New York and not
anti-Castro Cubans. Texas could be fine, for despite
their jaw-thrusting patriotism, I think they’ll respect
my Texas–sized bravado. My chief fear is Atlanta.
Listen. Up in Cleveland, the land of the Indians, I got
a five-stitch cut in my lower back from a penknife
or something while penguin-waddling through
the concourse after the game. Why? Because I had
supplemented my anti-Anthem routine with a rant
against their racist icon, the savage Chief Wahoo. The
toleration of bigotry is not in my game-plan—not
now—not at this stage of life—not after so many
years of ignoring it.
So when they start up with that god damned racist
tomahawk chop, I will say my damned piece—yea,
right there in Georgia, the starting point of The Trail
Of Tears, where the Devil went down.
39
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They have always been
fuzzy non-descript creatures
darting around the edge
of insomniac periphery
holographic Gollums
stunted nattering Grays
unstillborn poltergeists
They
never there
when you feel them
watching you;
always flicking
at your eyelids
between the decades;
& now chill drop
bosom to bowel
upon arriving
at the gateway
to your own personal wormhole
the realization that you are no different than they
are;
the revelation that you are one of them;
40
that you belong to them
because all these rounds later you still don’t know
who you are.
this sounds like:
A spiritual path of Mulligans;
Do-overs
Olly olly oxen free
Whoa!
Hey!
Time out
Sweet bottomless mimosas of forgiveness
when you can’t shake the nagging feeling that the
person you wake up with every day isn’t on point
with the person you feel like you should be waking
up with every day which is still no excuse for
molding your blank, gray slate of fuzzy etherness
into the shape and shade of a slumming vampire.
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
Okay fine fake it
one last time
but I promise babe
PAUL CORMAN- ROBERTS 41
somewhere out there
is the final line.
Begin to decorate
what you need
the rest of your time
here to look like.
Not want.
Need.
take the time
to know the difference.
I would still love you even if your lifestyle
transformed your strawberry honey into a dust bunny
living among the rocks in the corner of my eye.
I would still fantasize about your wispy non-
substantiation.
I would still touch myself in inappropriate places &
wonder what that would look like & I realize because
it is real
and it is true
and it is love
that I would not care what that would look like.
You can’t believe how sorry I am; that awkwardness
is just another one of those things spiraling into
infinity.
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
42
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
I suspect real love is when we take all the permanent
ink we can gather
and draw in each other’s
wrinkles
scars
liver spots
back fat
and stretch marks
before the world does.
& yes plz don’t repeat the odds; I know all too well
how staring at them
means soul death so I dig in deeper.
your wormhole dance
will always only be
your wormhole dance
but I still try
for convergence
for engagement
for random synchronicity
for long term intercourse
on every
possible
plane
a totally different
kind of milestone
PAUL CORMAN- ROBERTS 43
high club
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
Aha! I caught you now you phantom rodent
you slithering ball of dull opportunistic silver
you loa out of time
out of space
out of your element
you
come here you
& cuddle in my arms
let me stroke you
because it still don’t change a damn thing.
Like a snowflake no one of our dances is exactly the
same so why do we invest so much time convincing
ourselves they are? It only makes the existence screw
down on us that much harder.
Sincerest apologies world, but we won’t be able to
join in your hungry purgatory on this day as we have
conflicting plans with ourselves.
I won’t lie to you darling.
44
The existence never hurts less.
So why should we keep doing it to each other?
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
CUT CHOP SLICE SEVER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER GATHER GATHER
GATHER

GATHER
GATHER
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