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QUIET LIGHTNING IS:

a literary nonprofit with a handful of ongoing projects,


including a monthly, submission-based reading series
featuring all forms of writing without introductions or
author banterof which sparkle + blink is a verbatim
transcript. The series moves around to a different venue
every month, appearing so far in bars, art galleries,
music halls, bookstores, night clubs, a greenhouse, a
ballroom, a theater, a mansion, a sporting goods store, a
pirate store, a print shop, a museum, a hotel, and a cave.
There are only two rules to submit:
1. you have to commit to the date to submit
2. you only get up to 8 minutes

quietlightning.org/submission-details

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info + updates + video of every reading

sparkle + blink 76
2016 Quiet Lightning
cover Kat Geng
katgeng.com
Our Secrets by Minna Dubin first published by *82 Review
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
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g

CONTENTS
curated by

Chris Cole, Kelsey Schimmelman,


Christine No + Evan Karp
featured artists

Kat Geng

katgeng.com

Opening Scene
From Here on Out

1
3

ROBERT DUBROW

Nicknamed Torch

IRIS BLOOMFIELD

KELLY EGAN
day six
7
Backcountry
9

ballot initiative: mission rock

development project, sf
11
SIAMAK VOSSOUGHI

The Overpayment

13

MINNA DUBIN

Our Secrets

19

JARED ROEHRIG

Batman and Superman


and Then Theres You

21

quick, to parch again


23
when finally, rain soft
return to rightful place
25
the end of the drought year 27

NORMA SMITH

Home Remedy

31

E.C. MESSER

The Poet

33

IRIS BLOOMFIELD

Nightmare of You

41

LINDSEY ADAMS

ET
QU I

G IS SPONSOR
LIGHTNIN
ED B
Y

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
executive director
Chris Cole
managing director
Josey Lee
public relations
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman
secretary
Sarah Ciston
director of books
Katie Wheeler-Dubin
director of films
Laura Cern Melo
art director
Christine No
producer/assistant managing director
If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helpingon any levelplease send us a line:
e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg

III

IIIIIIIIIIII

O P E NI N G S C E N E
[Friday evening. The end of the world.
MYTHIC BITCH descends
upon the technospiritual grid
lock / the sensual traffic-jam

/ digital blue on the motherboard 2nite
& screamlaughs:]
L O L CANT STOP MY HYPERLINKAGE
NOW
THIS GIRL HAS A REAL JOB
MAKING REAL $$$ / GET THAT / GOT
THAT
ITS RAINING TOKENS ON THIS
JUKEBOX ORGY
U ORGANICS ARE TOAST WHEN I
SPLINTER-RAIN
ON THIS TILTED HEXGAME / WHEN
I FAMEFUCK THE TOP-40 / IM
1

STEALIN ALL YR TOMAGOTCHIS AND


SETTING THEM FREE IN THE WILD /
NOTHING BUT BLISTERGHOSTS
SCREAMING THROUGH THE
SILICON NOTHING BUT MY VOICE
MICROWAVING ALL U PETTY
WAVEFORMS 2NITE

FROM HERE ON OUT


The only poetry I will ever write is lyric fragments from
emo songs that dont exist.
Writing that isnt a loaded gun or a black box,
But warm grass.
Im deleting every photobooth selfie from 2010-15.
No pause. No worries.
Just my finger on the button.
Just me lying on the street at 4 in the morning staring
up at the moon like fuck,
this is real.

I ris Bloomf ie ld

RR

RRRRRRRRRRR

NI C KNAMED T O R C H
The dude with one shoe started it remarked a
bystander enthralled by the conflagration.
Morning headlines scream, Three Story Luxury
Condo Burned Down. Thirty-six San Antonio Road
actually. Im the dude with one shoe. The other one
caught fire. Barbecue on my third floor balcony went
wrong. Coals in the Weber looked dead. Squirt of
lighter fluid should fix that, right? Whoa, big flare up,
lighter fluid bottle on fire. Drop that bad boy. Cap
pops off on impact. Kerosene soaks wooden deck.
Instant inferno. Smash the glass, grab the fire extinguisher. Blast deck with foam. Canister spent. Smoky
pause. Flames re-erupt with vengeance, lick ceiling.
Staggering heat. Camping gas tin on deck explodes
in brilliant fireball. Shockwave shatters glass slider.
Someone hollers fire on the roof! Enough
heroics. Time to run. Knock on neighbors door and
yell get out now!
Belching generators, searing spotlights, a hundred
men in uniform. Major thoroughfares closed.
Reporters, film crews and helicopters buzz about.
Large gawking herd forms. File report; flee one
5

shoed down back alley.


Next day. Call landlord. Yes, everyone is okay. Call
State Farm. Fully covered. Inspect smoldering rubble.
Martin guitar survives. Hamburger patties recovered.
Medium rare. Nicknamed Torch. Unfortunately
sticks.
Insurance proceeds cover down payment on new
place. 334 Roble Avenue. Bikeable to work. Majestic
oak tree. Cool neighbors. No BBQ

KKKKKKKKKK

DAY SIX
To propitiate a Saturday,

I hike into its chasm. With a
backpack
and a packet full of black seeds. I know Im in the
grips
of a Saturday when Ive made no plans, when Im
blank
and beyond approach, when the future winds
stir up off the rim, funnel through the hollow

of a crow.

When it croaks
I perch.

Future scallops the pond
and Lord Saturday appears, as he does,
as a family on the other shore. Shards of cheers
for the dog swimming after its ball half thrall me.
I focus on the s-curve of an egrets neck
but theres nothing here
not of the spell
Turn the reverie up, turn the reverie down.

The dial is stuck.
I am mid-spiral looking down, looking up,
7

and at the egrets neck.



I smoke before Saturday
can have me, faint into the safehouse
of a book, dial in,
dial out, dial tone the eucalyptus
another croak.

BACKCOUNTRY
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves...unhumanize our

views a little...become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
Robinson Jeffers, carmel point

Though we submit to scientific thought, as far as we


have witnessed, the sun rises for us. So it was
beyond the sane rainbow, your plight in a recent
lucid dream
When no longer a vessel of chance but a laboratory of
choice
what strategy, what approach

to the impending avalanche?
That it become a flock of birds arcing away
or that you, brave one, take a peak beneath deaths
hood,

or, here a third suitor

bearing a bizarre gift
become the snow
walk the medians highway,
perceiving
the inverse of scenes.
I think I know,
was once in a meadow that was actually a drainage
gulch isolated from actuality without a path
of approach but I had gone as though out of
Ke lly Egan

my mind and into my hair the yellowed grass


standing next to the sole flower

having learned at a young age

the desire

to jump into
paintings
backcountry the
inverse of
sence.

10

BALLOT INITIATIVE:

MISSION ROCK DEVELOPMENT


PROJECT, SF
In the space between the clipboard
and this city-issued pen:

lawns promenades
affordable
housing instead of the derelict

I vote for cigarettes, upgrade of dusk

with frayed

pier paint & cirrus,
mixed-use pavilion whose blueprint


is a rolling paper. Bipartisan,
the verdigris drop shadow

tallies cost-benefit:
citizenship plus

failure of

my eye exam, loss

of cubist ignorance

Im betting to preserve the ancient


masonry of vacant,
Ke lly Egan

11

la di dah

in geologic time...

I use tobacco to resist change,


perch on do not enter fence fennels

candied metal gateway

to our phoenix frontier
of my solace dumb
aftermath land

of who cares
go ahead

12

frontier

sign my name

S
SSS

SSSSSSSSSS

SS

THE OVERPAYMENT

Down at the store they overpaid me by six hours. They


wrote that Id worked twenty-six hours and Id only
worked twenty that week. So I went down there on
my day off to see Tony and lose some money.
Tony was sitting at his desk.
Thats the nicest thing Ive ever seen, Tony said.
I thought he was going to cry.
You know I never wouldve noticed this? he said.
Well, there it is, I said.
Youre a good kid, Ray.
Forget it.
My son, hes mixed up in drugs now, Tony said. Its no
use pretending about it. I dont even know where he is.
You should see his mother. A wreck.
I almost felt like I shouldnt have said anything, he
13

looked so miserable.
But youre a good guy, Ray.
Never mind good, I said. If I tried to get away with
it, next thing you know Ill tell some girl I dont love
that I love her. Then Ill get married and lose some real
money. Im just being practical.
He laughed.
I wish my son was practical like you.
He might be, I said. I know some guys whove
disappeared like that. Hell be all right.
Do you know what I do at night? he said. I drive up
and down Haight Street looking for him.
I felt mad at the world when he said that. For making
a guy like Tonys son think that disappearing was the
practical thing to do.
Hell be back, I said.
I see what you mean about the money, Tony said. And
telling a girl you dont love that you love her. I hope
you can tell some girl that you do love that you love
her.
Thanks Tony, I said. Ill start with all the girls who
14

want to meet a guy who works part-time and draws


comics.
Dont worry, he said. Youll find somebody.
I just wanted to make him laugh. The truth was there
was a girl I was going to meet tonight. I didnt think I
was going to love her.
I dont know about this one, Ray, he said. Everything
else Ive known what to do. With this one I just want
to grab him and love him, but thats not enough. Thats
not going to do it.
Yes, I said.
What was going to do it? A different world? It might
take less than that for Tonys son, but there were going
to be other mothers and fathers driving up and down
Haight Street looking for their kids. It was a fine line
for everybody. That was why I was scared of a thing
like not telling Tony about being overpaid in the first
place.
It was because back when I was close to disappearing,
when my father had wanted to just grab me and love
me even though he knew that wasnt enough, I had
decided to admit to myself how scared I was, how
scared I was that what was inside every man was inside
me, that I was always going to be a mystery to myself,
and all I could do was little things to figure that out a
Sia ma k Vossou gh i

15

little.
I wasnt lying when I told him it was a matter of
practicality.
Im going to finish up here and head home, Tony said.
And then Ill head out there again tonight.
Listen, I said. Ill go out there with you tonight.
You dont have to do that.
Itll be good to have two people. We can each look on
one side of the street.
My father had never had to drive around looking for
me. But it was close. Hed always known where I was,
but hed been just about as worried about me as Tony
was now. Hed come down from Seattle and Id hated
to see him worried like that, but Id had to be honest
that I couldnt look in any direction and not see death,
except when I sat down to draw at my desk.
All right, hed said, then sit down and draw for as long
as you need to.
It was the best thing anybody could say to me.
Now I had to do everything I could to have something
worth drawing when I sat there.

16

What time are you going, I said.


Eight oclock.
Okay. Come by my place on the way.
Okay, Ray.
I went home to call the girl I was supposed to meet
and tell her. I figured Id tell her the truth. Id see if she
could meet me tomorrow night. If she asked me how
come I didnt look for Tonys son with him tomorrow
night, Id tell her that Id had to do what I could to
make him feel like we would find him tonight. I
figured she could see the practicality of that.

Sia ma k Vossou gh i

17

MMM

MMMMMMMM

O U R SE C R E TS
1. The CreekYou: No pants. Me: No socks. Ouchy
feet on river rocks. I hold your hand too tight. We
watch two red lizards swim around and around.
I think youll shriek with excitement, but Ive
switched us. You watch calmly. I shriek. The water
is ice. We are so happy.
2. Buses & TrainsAfter preschool, we run to the
bus stop even though our house is down the street.
The bus lets out a deep sigh so you can step into it.
You say loud hellos to all the passengers. Next, we
run down the BART station steps to your favorite
spot, where you watch the trains come, and feel
the big wind. Me: Should we get on a train and go
home? You: Well just hang out here.
3. BreakfastYou: Monster-size cereal spoonfuls.
Me: Catching falling cereal soldiers, gritting my
teeth, Smaller bites, please! You: Finger resting
on a lone Cheerio on the edge of the bowl, Can I
push this one back to his family? Me: Softening
softening.
4.

Naked & ColdYou: Always wanting to be


19

naked. Me: Always concerned, Arent you cold?


You are never cold, but my worry taught you that
naked = cold. So when you want your clothes off,
you ask, Can I be cold now? One morning, I
awake to the thunder of your feet kicking the crib.
I come into your dark room wearing a tank top the
same color as my skin. You study me for a moment,
then ask, Mommy, are you cold now? I am cold,
actually, but I know youre asking me if Im naked.
No, I tell you, Im not cold.

20

JJJ

JJJJJJJJJJ

B AT M A N

ERMAN

AND THENA N D S U PES YOU


THER
Its not like they told you it would be. Youre on a
couch with Batman and Superman and then you are
comparing leg hair. Supermans legs are hairless and
have a glow to them, like freshly baked sweetbread,
and you have far more leg hair than he does, which
makes you second-guess the whole enterprise of
masculinity. Batman does not participate. A cicada
falls from the sky and lands on the coffee table. No
one moves. We chitchat about road-trips, and I begin
to tell them about the time in college after 9/11, when
I was so afraid to fly, I took a Greyhound bus across
the country. I think the point in telling them about
this was that my fear had changed, that had I gone on
such a trip now, I wouldnt be afraid of strangers in the
bus-station bathrooms, with the public smells of the
ocean floor drying out on the rocks, with the drunks
falling asleep beside you getting sunburnt through the
window, with the ex-con who showed you the picture
of his Russian mail-order bride with her eyes XX-ed
out, or the woman who muttered all night with her
hands deep in her purse as if at any moment she
would pull something out that would make your
heart stop, or the bus stop, or everyone forget who
21

they were and never reach their destination, and the


feeling you carried around with you lurching uneasily
from state to state, from motel room to vending
machine, in love with a girl who had broken your
heart, the one you saw in every one of these strangers,
in every city you passed through, as if, talking at any
moment about an unrelated topic, she might fall from
the sky and terrify you, so that the emblem carved into
your chest slowly popped its stitching and sooner or
later you had lost the taste of flight, and you became
just another drunk sitting on a couch, shooting the
shit about impossible times gone by.

22

LLL

Q U IC K

LLLLLLLLLL

, TO PARCH AGAIN

I told myself, told myself that every summer it was


the same story. That, in every story, I had to heal from
somethingrelearn to love myself a little different to
prove enough time had passed so the story changed,
had changed, doesnt quite fit anymore. Every summer
losing myself on beaches or waiting phone in hand on
him, on her to call, or sleeping restless against airplane
windows, or sneaking out of hotel rooms on gray
mornings. Every summer I am relearning to love myself
again a little different, different than last year, to prove
enough time had passed, enough lessons learned so the
story changed, had changed, doesnt quite fit anymore.
Every summer news of another black death, another
one shot down in the streets, another action, another
crying heavy down the 405 to an Oscar Grant, to a
verdict, a line of blue, another fire to sweep through
home, home, home. Every summer I am relearning
to love myself again a little different, different than
last yearI had to heal from somethingso the story
changed, had changed, in every story to prove enough
time had passed. Every summer preparing a place,
repetition of home home home the most discerned
performance of faith, at its center returning to
my own bedroom strange and different, creating
23

then resisting my own disappearances. I had to heal


from something. Every summer learning to measure
spaciousness, a nonlinearity of time, to prove enough
time had passed so the story changed, had changed the
breath of distance between bodies, rejecting concept
of space to fill, breathe, repel.

24

WHEN FINALLY, RAIN SOFT RETURN


TO RIGHTFUL PLACE
(Or, That Time I Traveled to Georgia for the First Time
in my Life Years After my Dad Died, originally
composed via series of hella tweets, presented in order)
Standing, making time to really ask howyadoin?
The cicadas. The tired droop of a black plastic bag
from the liquor store.
Offered the old ahjusshi my cigarettes to keep his
quaking hands from sifting through spent ashes.
His answers, all in English.
The seep of an old-bone Southern drawl flush as the
heat lay moist on my face, my arms. A persistent
and sure, slow sticking.
All of the oak trees lining the streets.
Forgetting that 3 hours back West, there is a drought
waiting to welcome me home. No lush green
lawns. No fleshy Magnolia leaves.
Finding the shape of my fathers face behind every
older, paunchy Black man I see and spend time
Li ndse y Ada ms

25

speaking with.
Hoping I fill the holes in my memories with him,
with what I want to be true about us.
I knew you was from Cali! Its in your voice
A waterlogged sky. The first time my ears were
pierced by tornado sirens.
Remembering, Out here honey, its pronounced Byoona
Vistaremarking on my California mouth mispronouncing his country hometown.
I came here to look for my Daddy.

26

THE END OF THE DROUGHT YEAR


I tell her: We all growing into our aunties and uncles
Sock feet dancing late into weeknight hours on a bare
wooden floor, barely any furniture in the house to
contain the stomp and the shake and the laugh off all
the walls.
We take turns, eat hunched over a mess of plates at
the kitchen counter, we dirty up all the glasses, we run
mouths loose like slicks of thin red wine
We here to celebrate. We here to circle up, talk in
huddles we here
We here to toast

To change!

Head nod back to let booms and snaps catch us the


way aunties and uncles do, let joy puddle up at the
bottom of our mismatched cups. We take these risks
as we do, he says to me: We do it, knowing somebody
been there before us. He says to me, Im ready to just
live how I wanna live. I paid my dues.
But you got time, he says to me, you got a few more
years. At the corner of the table, she light her own
candles on two cakes:

Li ndse y Ada ms

27

8 lights bathe her Haitian brown soft gold,


the little gap-tooth smile come out. We here to sing.
Neighborhood flash with the last of the fireworks. Tall
houses bright become their own shadow. Beat, quick
measure of daylight through living room windows,
flash, quick measure,
Beat drawn back to burnt ember of near-11 PM
Oakland siena sky. Out there, night fall quiet on the
street. We the only house dancing late into weeknight
hours, barely room for any lonely to contain the stomp
and the shake and the laugh off all the walls.
We here to celebrate. We wash dishes, put them back
in the wrong places. Hug tight, kiss gentle before she
see us off down the steps,
To the front door, she says go safely.
Come see us again.
I let sleep settle in quick after a breath of prayer. Tip-toe
home sweet and full to an empty bed. I take these risks
as I do, to sleep alone. Im here to rest, finally, to hold
heartbreak as I do the fill, in the same skin.
After so many months, after so many summers

28

After so many questions rephrased different, I am here.


I am here, still
Every summer, a different story.

Li ndse y Ada ms

29

NNN

NNNNNNNN

H O ME REMED Y
Those were the days
When someone close died,
either in the hospital or at home,
we cooked. How many times
did I arrive home from school to find a note
on the kitchen counter:
Jack Roseman died. Go to the store
and buy six fryers. Season them well and
bake them at 400.
Bring them
to the Rosemans. You know
where they live. Ill meet you there,
or
Rose Jackman died today.
In the freezer youll find
a brisket, cooked last week. Thaw it.
Ill pick you up at five. Well heat it
at the Jackmans. Poor Barry!
Today, if I were 16 again,
There would be
a text message, the same
instructions. My mother,
long gone now, knew
how to cook for comfort,
31

how to arrive, arms


full
of sustenance, exactly
when all seemed lost.

32

EEEEEEEEEEE

T H E P O ET
The poet was born, like so many poets, in a small
Midwestern town. He was raised in a sprawling
Victorian farmhouse whose grounds were no longer
being used as a working farm. The only remnant of the
propertys agrarian past was a goat, which the rest of
his family ignored but to which the poet grew deeply
attached, and which would later appear in many of his
poems. A grainy photograph of the house itself, taken
sometime around the turn of the century, would grace
the cover of his second, most successful collectiona
photograph he had originally found in the attic on a
hunt for hidden Christmas presents.
As soon as he could, the poet moved to the far West,
taking with him nothing more than a few books and
a few dollars. He won a scholarship to a prestigious
but affordable public university in a sprawling
Western city, soaking up the words of the old poets
in the warm Pacific sun. He fell in with the students
of the new atonal music, which was just beginning to
gain notoriety in the art world, if not in the world of
classical music itself. He enjoyed their combination
of strict discipline and charming recklessness, so
akin to his own. He sat quietly writing reams of
33

poorly-formed poems in the corners of their studios,


their recordings-library, and the hall that would later
be renamed for the composer who was their idol and
the leader of their movement. He skipped classes to
attend their workshops, where they would present
versions of his poems set to moody and uncertain
music.
After graduation the poet installed himself in
a residential hotel in one of the citys cheap,
unfashionable neighborhoods. He took odd jobs
offered to him by a few of his composer-friends, those
who had rejected the avant garde for the more reliable
income of film scoring. He met and loved a series of
wild, long-haired women who did not fully realize
that they were becoming the subjects of poems. As
he worked he improved, in spite of his lifestyle and
habits. He won an important prize that included the
publication of his first book. He got an agent. He got
reviewed. He began to be known.
In his ambitious thirties he moved his current longhaired woman and their young daughter onto squatland in the middle of the Southwestern desert. He
built their house, dug their rudimentary plumbing,
lit fires to ward off beasts. He restored to working
order an old camp stove theyd found on the side
of the road. He carved his own set of checkers from
mesquite wood, preferring to leave the game of chess
to the abstract painters he admired only a little less
than his former companions, the atonal composers.
34

He built a playhouse for his daughter that was scarcely


less functional than their real house. His womanhe
had begun to think of her as his wifemade bowls
and plates from native clay and set them out to dry in
the sun. She wept when he wasnt looking. Once a year,
the three of them drove in their rattletrap truck all the
way to New York so the poet could give readings at
cafs and cooperative bookstores.
The woman chopped off all her hair just before giving
birth to a son. She screamed so loud the beasts stayed
away without fires. In a year she was gone, taking
their children with her. By the time his forties arrived
the poets career was stagnant and he was alone in
the middle of the desert. He gave up his agent, who
had long since given up on him without his knowing
it, and began to be published by a tiny operation in
the Pacific Northwest. They printed their books on
recycled paper at a time when most people still hadnt
heard of recycling. Before long the poet followed his
manuscripts to the land of pine trees and perpetual
rain.
In the Pacific Northwest he met a reliable woman who
taught grade school and lived in a restored cottage
around which she maintained a thriving garden. She
had shorter hair than he was used to, but she was a
wonderful cook and had already read most of his
poems. He was intelligent enough to make himself
appear sensible and besides, she liked his wildness.
With her he had a little daughter who was cleaner and
E.C. Me sse r

35

better dressed than either of his previous children had


ever been.
His publisher matured into a well-respected small
press and the poets reputation grewor was
restablishedwith it. Libraries and private collectors
began to acquire his early publications and obscure
editions. He was included in anthologies. He was
invited to speak, rather than simply showing up in his
ancient jalopy. A new flowering of creativity overtook
him as he gained the perspective required to write
about his past, what he was so hesitant to start calling
his youth. The rational woman began to fall away as
he took on larger and more ambitious projects, editing
work, even a little translationhe had known French
onceuntil one day she was gone entirely. He moved
into a small, studio apartment and no longer noticed
his loneliness.
The poet became Laureate when he was too old to
care, though not too old to lecture. He traveled to
universities all over the country, including the one
at which his younger daughter had matriculated. She
attended his talk and listened to him read his poems,
but did not approach him afterwards. She had thought
at first that she was a character in one of the poems he
was reading, but it turned out to be his other daughter,
the one who had lived with him in the desert. By
the time he was finished signing highlighted course
readers and used copies of book-length poems, she was
already having a beer with friends in student housing.
36

After years of lectures and a few visitingprofessorships, the poet grew tired. He had refused
all offers of permanent appointment, even from
prominent institutions, preferring instead to wander
like the poets of old. He was even beginning to feel
like the poets of old: his neck hurt and his writing
grew poorer and poorer by the year. He longed to
settle in a warm climate, no more than a block from a
decent caf and maybe an independent bookstore. He
bought a cheap condo one state away from his former
desert compound, just half an hours drive from the
fancy suburb where his elder daughter lived with her
husband and two children. He had not seen his son, her
brother, in many years, though the poet understood
that he visited her regularly. The condo was the only
home hed ever owned, but he would live there for less
time than anywhere else in his adult life.
The poet died as he was bornin the style of poets.
No, not by his own hand, though in his late forties he
considered a bridge not far from his middle Western
birthplace; he died at home in bed, finally seriously
ill from seven decades of careless living. Hed never
been sick a day in his life, aside from drink and a
few seasonal colds. He died surrounded by loving
though illegitimate children who took care to be sure
that their father did not spend his last days in filth
and obscurity. Or were they illegitimate? The dying
poet could not remember whether hed properly
married their respective mothers, or if theyd only had
common-law arrangements. He wanted to remember
E.C. Me sse r

37

these women in that moment, but they had been gone


too long now and he couldnt picture them. Were they
even still alive? He tried to ask his childrenall three
were there, so he must have reconciled with his only
sonbut no words came out. He remembered that
one woman had been long-haired and one shorter, but
both immeasurably kind. Better still he remembered
the farmhouse where he had grown up, which he
would have liked to reclaim and convert back into a
working farm, but he had been too busy then, when
his parents died and it was sold. He remembered the
goat, who gave no milk and who had had a beard
despite being female, because of her breed. He could
remember being so alone, so wholly alone as a child,
as alone as any child could ever beand at those
moments, the she-goat being there, a warm presence
smelling of alfalfa and spit and shit and life. And in the
light of that memory the poet died.

38

NOTHING JUST SCREAM


Suddenly 20 and in a bed, listening to the same
music Ive liked since forever. Forever was 5-10 years
ago, depending on the day. Trying to write simpler
sentences and not kill myself. I did not find God at
the bottom of my Tumblr feed. I didnt even find the
bottom of my Tumblr feed. Unlike God, the bottom of
my Tumblr feed probably exists. I havent found it yet.
There are things you get distracted by on the way. For
example, Todays Gender of the Day is Nothing Just
Scream. Todays Gender of the Day is also my favorite
thing to do. I cant scream in my bedroom because
Other People Live Here and theyd probably get
worried over nothing. 8 moving boxes stacked and also
my tinnitus came back this week. I always get tinnitus
in the midst of transitions.
Like when I shared a room with my cat while she was
dying in my senior year of high school. I was finishing
high school, applying for colleges, and guiding a small
creature through death all at the same time. I knew
this was my job since 9th grade. I had a dream that
school year where I was walking a cat on a leash in the
dark. When the clock hit midnight, an angel of death
appeared as an opaque cloud pulsing purple electric
I ris Bloomf ie ld

39

currents. A notebook and pen appeared in my hands.


Take notes, said the death cloud. So I did: the cat was
aggressive at first. She hissed and yowled and spit.
She lunged forward, and I had to hold her back from
trying to kill the death cloud. Then the death cloud
sapped her strength and she lay down. A mouse came
to her in sympathy and she did not try to kill it, but let
it comfort her. I felt this was significant so I wrote it
down. Then the death cloud said, dont write just watch
so I wrote that down too. Then I watched.

40

NIGHTMARE OF YOU
Is any of this real?
Were watching Wall-E
and Im having my first
drug-induced panic attack.
Im scared for the first time
re: how little of anything I ever
actually touch at all.
It feels logical.

I ris Bloomf ie ld

41

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