QUIET LIGHTNING IS

:
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including a monthly, submission-based reading series
featuring all forms of writing without introductions or
author banter—of which sparkle + blink is a verbatim
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sparkle + blink 87
© 2017 Quiet Lightning

cover © Maricruz Mendoza
instagram.com/mrczmndz

“Icarus Flew” by John Panzer first appeared in Eleven Eleven
“Fourth of July Poem” by A.D. Winans
first published by Free Thought Press and later as a broadside by
BOS (Bottle of Smoke) Press
“Wedding Garden” by Jon Sindell first appeared in 101-Word Story
“Bridge Story” by Norma Smith first appeared in Full of Crow

book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara

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quietlightning.org
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
CONTENTS
curated by
Evan Karp
featured artist
Maricruz Mendoza | instagram.com/mrczmndz

SIAMAK VOSSOUGHI Five O’Clock in the Afternoon 1
PETER BULLEN Shut In, Sent Out 15
NORMA SMITH Making Love After Years 21
Love Poem Without Love 22
Bridge Story 23
KRISTINA TEN She Wants 29
ZEPHIR O’MEARA 99 Problems 31
Stockholm Syndrome 35
SALLY LOVE SAUNDERS Beautiful Round Full Moon 37
ALLISON LANDA Does Stevie Wonder
Get Stage Fright 39
KARTHIK SETHURAMAN Notes for My Love 45
JON SINDELL Wedding Garden 47
JAMIE SAMUDRA Hinge 49
MARGARET MCCARTHY standing ovulation 53
JOHN PANZER Icarus Flew 55
CAROLINE KESSLER The Clearing 61
TOWNSEND WALKER The Gun Wasn’t Hers 65
foreignfire Unsolicited Excerpt 67
A.D. WINANS Fourth of July Poem 71
G IS SPONSOR
ET LIGHTNIN ED B
QU I 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 QL board is currently:

Evan Karp executive director
Chris Cole managing director
Josey Rose Duncan public relations
Lisa Church outreach
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman secretary
Laura Cerón Melo art director
Christine No production

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helping—on any level—please send us a line:

e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg
- SET 1 -
S SSSSSSSSSS
SSS SS

FIVE O’CLOCK
IN THE AFTERNOON

It was not that any one of us was trying to articulate
a response to death. I don’t know if there even was
an ‘us’, since one or two of us were adults and the rest
were children. But five o’clock in the afternoon had
a certain significance to it that held everybody in it
together. It was as though they had no qualms around
each other by that time in the day. They had gone
through another school day, and now it was distilled
down to its purest form: a schoolyard, and a small
enough crowd to be able to see it for what it was.

The younger kids would come up to the schoolyard
from the downstairs classroom where they would have
been listening to stories and drawing. The older kids
would come out to the yard from the rooms where they
would have been doing their homework. Everybody
felt at ease. If a girl of seven got to a basketball that
a boy of ten had been hoping to play with, there was
a fair chance that they would shoot baskets together.
Without much fuss. So casually that I’d almost be
embarrassed to take note.

And that was the best thing to do about the whole

9
thing: Act like it was normal. Act like it was normal
to make a game of catch out of throwing a ball to
somebody, without saying a word. They didn’t need to
know otherwise. It could be normal, anyway. Not the
catch, but the assumption. The assumption that what
is in you is in me. It was easy to tell with catch. We
tried to remember what else that applied to. Without
making a point of it.

Symbolism? You had to let it happen. Metaphors,
similes, personification? Let them come when they’re
good and ready. If life wasn’t enough by itself, you had
to somehow look more closely.

I would be quietly swearing my allegiance to a
naturalistic style of writing. Because what else could
you need more than people? It would be the old
question of whether insight into children actually
gave you insight into people. I had asked myself the
question so many times that I was happy to say I don’t
know. I don’t know if any of this will translate into
a literature that will be discussed in refined literary
circles. Children play. That’s what they do. Sometimes
they play at five o’clock in the afternoon. When I
looked at them though, I felt sorry for the people in
the refined literary circles.

You’re going to have to trust me. You’re going to have
to trust me that there are stories here, and they reach
the heights of human drama. The people in question do
not put limits on their hearts. They might be bouncing

10
a ball up and down and standing in one spot. Even
then, I’m afraid. It is abundantly clear at five o’clock
in the afternoon.

One thing that seemed true at that time was that small
gestures could articulate a life story. We felt satisfied
with the size of everything, including the yard itself,
which was small enough that there was a good chance
the ball would go over the fence and out into the
street if we played kickball. If it did, well, there was
the adventure of going to get it. Out in the street, men
and women would be coming home from work, and I
would sure hope it was true that insight into children
gave you insight into people.

Maybe it did, but what if they didn’t believe me that
it did? What if they said that a man who spends his
afternoons among children can’t possibly know what
it is to come home at the end of another day in the
adult world? Well, I’ll just try, I would think, and run
back upstairs with whichever kid had come out to the
street with me.

They were people, after all. They fought and they argued
and they cried, sometimes even at five o’clock in the
afternoon. That was one of the freedoms of that time
of day. I would try to use the hour to my advantage
in settling disputes, trying to approach them with an
air that said, look, it’s a nice world sometimes, let’s try
to follow that example with each other. But it would
have to be subtle. Nobody’s feelings withstood getting

Si a ma k Vossou gh i 11
looked over. You couldn’t laugh and say, it’s just
childhood, and the sun is out, and the tree growing in
the neighbor’s yard looks very nice from here. You had
to treat the time like it could be the setting of a great
injustice, which it could.

Are there stories to be written about the sorrow of
being told you can’t be the baby horse when you are
five? Judging by the faces of those involved on both
sides of the baby horse decree, yes. The people may
call you a fool for trying to write them. But they may
have started calling you a fool when you said that you
wanted to be a writer.

Should a man be a fool on two fronts though? Is his
foolishness additive or multiplicative? If he looks at
children too closely, does he risk losing everybody else?

It didn’t feel that way. It felt that along with seeing
who everybody was today, I was seeing who everybody
had been once. It couldn’t be wrong. It was just more
information, more facts to take into account.

And this happiness of the late afternoon—don’t doubt
but it has sadness inside it, somewhere. Its sadness is
there in the way that five o’clock in the schoolyard
does feel like a collectively-articulated response to
death, like its inhabitants are saying, okay, we know
that this moment is temporary; we are not going to let
that hold us back.

12
We know that an act of kindness is fleeting. We know
that our joy and our ease and our appreciation for the
fog or the sun are fleeting. Who would we be if we let
that hold us back?

I would hear a voice in me say, you can’t possibly take
that notion and put it into a kind of modern American
literature that will be published in national magazines.
They don’t want to hear it.

Shut up, I would say.

They don’t know what they want to hear.

How else can you explain the look in the eye of the
mothers and fathers when they come to pick up their
children from the schoolyard? Do they look like
people who know what they want to hear?

Nobody needs to know. Nobody needs to know that
you are looking at them in order to learn how to write.
Send your heart to the moon. Do not worry about the
trip back. Send it every day and you will be less and
less worried about the trip back.

There was no place that ever sent my heart to the
moon as easily as the schoolyard at five o’clock in the
afternoon. And the moon, the funny thing about the
moon, was that it was only a couple of steps away
just then. I knew I was supposed to be proud of Neil
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and everyone else who

Si a ma k Vossou gh i 13
had gone to the moon, but I couldn’t help it: I felt
more proud of the people who’d brought the moon to
them, and that just happened to be the way I hoped
I would always dream—a couple of steps away. So
that everything we were today would be included in
the dream. It wouldn’t have to escape or eliminate
anything.

Let your foolishness be additive and multiplicative,
as long as your dreaming is the same. When a girl of
five is crying because she cannot be the baby horse, it’s
neither too little nor too much. It is a time to walk over
there and figure out the baby horse matter because
someone is crying in the world. Don’t have any doubt
that a solution to the matter helps everything.

You may not know any more about writing after
the solution than you did before. But you may have
moved with the rhythm you are after. Let it get into
your body. Let it get in with the careless ease of five
o’clock in the afternoon. It might just be the rhythm
of life, the thing that keeps going after the last kid
leaves, after you walk out the gate, after darkness falls
on a schoolyard and a city, after the last good night
in the world. Something keeps going. I would be sure
of it in the schoolyard. And I would be swept away,
unbeknownst to anyone in the yard or in the world,
by the notion that even that was nothing to stop and
notice.

14
PPPPPPPPP
PPP

S H U T I N, SE N T O U T

The thing about life is how it’s always there waiting
for you, being as how you’re in it, even if you think
you took a break, let’s say for five years. It welcomes
you back when you’re good and ready, on account
of how you’ve never been gone. It’s always patiently
present even when you forget to notice. It doesn’t
weigh in on your retreat, editorialize, stand in
judgement about your quiet dark room, your daily
pacing, the tentative way you pulled back the shades
to peer outside. You thought you were making a
statement, a trait peculiar to humans; to think life
asks of us a summary paragraph, a succinct sentence, a
convincing description. That if we have it labeled, we
have it understood. Okay you thought maybe there
was something important, brave, mystical about your
five year shut in with food delivery, your immersion
in obscure poetry, the weighty biographies of Freud
and Jung, the determined attempt to forget the shape
and fragrance of women, like they would all have
found some other place to be when you finally opened
the door and came back out. Perhaps you thought
you could make existence last longer by leaving it
behind, because when you were knee deep in it, it
was shooting by like a bullet train. You wanted to

15
get a handle on things, reap the rewards of solitude
and study, feel the movement of your breath, get ready
to touch life with less quivering, less fever. But you
stepped out, you put on the coffee. You should know
one of the primary effects of caffeine is a sense of a
future, a sudden burst of reassurance that there is a
future, that improvements follow disappointments.
You think of the transcendent and consoling aspects
of the natural world and ask yourself what lust is
doing there hovering around you none too subtly after
five years of deemphasizing the subject, analyzing its
unproductive contribution to your time here on earth.
My dear boy, there may be the red rocks of Arizona;
but there is also Cathy’s red dress slipping off under
that big sky. The landscape without the loosening
outfit is a fishnet stocking too far, a canyon too lonely.

A girl on a barstool sways. You watch her as if she is a
show put on with you in mind. Her legs are crossed
the way women do, or the way they can, you know the
way they can, when they do. You don’t have to think
about why this moves you. Precisely because you don’t
have to think about it, it moves you. She changes
which leg sits upon which every couple of minutes.
It seems so thoughtful of her, like a lullaby with the
promise of a very adult ending. You are timid with a
wildly optimistic streak that finds no expression in
your actual behavior. The girl speaks to the bartender
with an overdose of enthusiasm, bringing up the work
of Samuel Beckett. The bartender says he doesn’t
know anyone by that name, says he knows some

16
other Sams, one who’s a real regular, and a funny
guy to boot. That doesn’t stop her; she continues to
address him excitedly, because we believe in the power
of our personal enthusiasms, assume them to be
contagious. The bartender is patient but tired. Maybe
his enthusiasm consists of getting the hell out of this
bar and going home to his girlfriend, his boyfriend, his
cat, whatever. He has listened to the pronouncements
of too many drunks; whatever the subject matter, it all
sounds the same, but he remains polite, that being an
essential part of his job description. You, on the other
hand translate the same presentation differently. For
you, her excitement is a sign of life, vibrancy, hope. It
is not sleep, or the wish to be closeted away, to stay
beneath the covers, to never rise. Everything about it
says: “I’m awake, now make it worth my while.” And
you want to, but how? You’d tried all that before;
isn’t that why you left? And the girl herself is the
exuberant owner of yet another interpretation: that
the bartender’s politeness is his concealed lust, that
he aches to know her. That he is just waiting to burst
out of that constricted but beautifully formed upper
body of his, one that appears to come with its own
gym membership; lift her off that barstool, carry her
into the well appointed cave of his now fully realized
desires. And her conviction is impressive, her need is
palpable. Look how she operates the vehicle of her
speech with such gusto. Observe, at your peril, the
manner in which a silky blue dress drapes over her
medium sized frame, an adornment dropped over her
body by conspiratorial forces, from above or below,

P e t e r Bu lle n 17
who can say, that both conceal and remind you of her
nakedness. A cruel paradox, and a reminder you were
hoping had turned to shadow, a dreamy diaphanous
subset of a substance you believed you wanted to be
free of, when you were tucked away. You ask yourself
why everything is being proffered to the bartender,
what is it about the disinterested that has them on the
receiving end of all the good offers? You must act, you
must raise yourself from your observation post. She
can take no pleasure in the mad focus of your glance
if she doesn’t even know you’re looking. Through your
endless multiplicity of fears you deprive her, as well as
yourself. That is all you have ever done. Come out from
behind the curtain. Stand up and begin the great walk.
It is said to start with a single step. You will worry that
people are watching, snickering at the nervous nature
of your gait, placing bets quietly off to the side on the
timing of your next fumble. You mustn’t be deterred.
You must ‘dance as if no one is looking’. Go to her. She
is crying out, isn’t she? And what else are we here for
but to wail unto one another secretly? I’m sure you
are aquatinted with all that business about ‘quiet lives
of desperation’. Get noisy. Reach for your inner lyric.
The night is young, the sound of a dirge is far off in the
distance. And, damn it, you know who Samuel Beckett
is. You make it across the room. You’re standing right
beside her, she could feel your breath if she were so
inclined, but she is oblivious. You feel like a soldier
stationed at her side. That’s weird. Now people must
be looking. You tap her on the shoulder like you would
someone who’d cut in front of you in a grocery line.

18
She turns around startled, for a second you think she
might topple into your arms. She puts her hand on
your chest for balance. God it feels great having her
hand there. And for support no less. Consider the
symbolism. You are her foundation, her anchor. You
are so grateful life offers such things, even if this is the
first time it has. You think you should draw up a list
of other once-in-a-lifetime moments to be grateful for.
Where’s your notebook when you really need it?

“Hi,” you say, “I heard you talking about Samuel
Beckett.”

“Did you now? I guess that makes you a listening Tom.”

“What?” you say.

“As opposed to the peeping variety.”

“Oh,” you say. You’ve been found out, and so quickly,
but wait...

“It’s a compliment,” she says.

“Well that’s good,” you say.

“Don’t you tell people your name?” she asks.

“Oh, I do, I most certainly do, it’s Walter.”

“So if I choose you Walter, a man who comes out of

P e t e r Bu lle n 19
nowhere, taps me on the shoulder, is staring at me right
now like I’m the hot fudge sundae he was deprived of
throughout the tragic totality of his gloomy childhood,
if I make a choice like that, where the hell does that
end up?”

“I see,” you say. You can barely breath. Someone’s
yanked the cord that links to coherence.

“You shouldn’t see. Seeing won’t help. You should step
forth blindfolded, packed with unruly desires, ablaze
with impossible wishes, blown off course by lust-
filled impulses, in a stupid, passionate fever. Isn’t that
where you’re really at if you stop, pause and think for
a minute?”

She gets off the stool, takes your hand, walks you out.
You are trying to stop, pause, and think for a minute.

Once outside, she grips your arm, stares into your eyes
sternly.

“It’s been five years since I’ve gone home with a man.
Which makes this an anniversary date of sorts. Don’t
screw it up.”

20
NNNNNNNN
NNN
M AKIN
G L OVE AFTER Y E A R S
-L’amour n’est peut-être
que la reconnaissance du plaisir.
balzac, pere goriot

Well, it’s not like riding a bicycle.
In the intervening years, I did not
think every day
about all the bright bicycles
I had fallen off, the skinned knees,
I did not remember
the day-long trips with the wind
soothing me, exciting as those days were,
I did not contemplate
every night
a new theory of bike, perfecting
my balance
getting better every day, even
in its absence.

Perhaps love is merely gratitude
for pleasure. Perhaps
love, in its search,
recognizes itself
in your hands.

21
LOVE POEM WITHOUT LOVE

They say
we’re stronger
at the places that went bust,
long ago, but maybe
we are only harder there, tougher,
more wiry, matted, set
in our ways.

What’s fleeting
is the light moment
of wholeness
we might have shared, tender
heart beat against
heart beat.
your mouth on mine.
However—

My skin
is sentimental. It remembers
your skin fondly—
more than fondly—
What can I say
that doesn’t sound like
moonlight
on a moonless night?

22
BRIDGE STORY

Living in Oakland puts me across a bridge from The
City. Late evening on a weekday usually means light
traffic, so it takes fifteen or twenty minutes to drive
back from San Francisco to the East Bay. That’s about
the time I head home from most of my cheap dates.

Having lived happily alone for years, I began dating
after an unexpected romance caught me off guard as
I was entering retirement age. That one faltered, but I
figured, What the heck. This could be nice. Sex and all.
Who knew? (I had almost forgotten.)

So I pick this new guy up at his house in Berkeley. He
climbs into the car, and we set off together to see a
theater piece on a small stage in the far reaches of San
Francisco. It’s an experimental production I want to
see by a playwright who is a friend of a friend.

The weekend drive would take longer, but on a
Tuesday there’s just time enough for my companion
and me to begin a conversation that we will never take
up again once our tires touch solid ground at the other
end of the span. It’s not his fault. He didn’t know what
he was getting himself into when we started going out
together.

Norma Smi t h 23
Is it the danger of earthquakes and tsunamis that
compels a man—whom I don’t know well but with
whom I was prepared to spend a pleasant evening and
then return, as had recently become our somewhat
tentative custom, either to his house or mine till
morning—to regale me with what his therapist has
told him about the connection between his sexual
function and the night? I don’t know, but I am
beginning to discern a pattern: the bridge is bad for
my sex life; it’s bad for building relationships. This has
nothing to do with me, I tell myself. It’s something like
a 50-minute hour: we might never take up where we
left off, but the words accumulate with all the other
food for thought that we digest over the intervening
week. High above water. Polluted water that sparkles
in the dark and laps around the pedestals of the bridge.

I am beginning to have a dread of this trip, an
unreasonable fear that grips my throat as I approach
the silvery steel towers. My hand sweats on the wheel.
And yes, I am usually the driver on these outings.

What, I wonder, does his shrink want from me? I am
not equipped to provide brief therapy. Not interested,
either. Fifteen minutes is too short, even for physical
care, even in a doctor’s office. It is certainly too short a
time for any kind of helpful analysis, especially when I
need a minute or two to recalibrate my own desire. To
turn a burning building expectation into a faltering,
mildly eye-rolling disappointment while fighting
to hold back from the brink of disgust. What would

24
disgust me, anyway? This man’s willingness to put me
through the rehearsal of what might or might not turn
into a fine piece of theater, if it were played out on
an oak-planked stage and not in the ergonomically
correct front seat of a modest Japanese car? Or my
own gullibility? I’m a sucker for Possibilities. I used
to think I was a pretty good judge of characters, but
lately, not so much.

Maybe it’s because they’re building a new, parallel
span between the port side of Oakland (the old Army
base) and Treasure Island—what had been a tiny rocky
shoal, expanded by men to create a spectacle-dream
island for the 1939 International Exposition. After
the fair was over, Treasure Island was converted into
a naval station. Maybe it’s the imaginary nature of
these two armed land fills, settled in the past, never
to return to their natural forms and, at the same time,
awash in a hype that only new-style city boosterism
could promote. Housing and “green” industry built on
radioactive waste. Begun as early twentieth century
extravaganzas to reshape the bay, then turned into
modern military bases—stomping grounds for mid-
century wars—then that violence repackaged as
renewal, still glowing after all these years. A bridge
from rubble into dark air, artificially lit, that will never
touch ground. A consummate promise.

This time we have the so-called conversation, turned
serious, on the other side of the bridge, in the City,
during a quick dinner in an inexpensive bar before we

Norma Smi t h 25
get to the theater. He was trying, he assured me, to be
honest. (Later, we were both stricken ill by what we
had eaten or by what we said or didn’t say.) During the
meal my companion used so many euphemisms that—
as it turns out—I never did understand what he was
trying to tell me. Or not tell me.

On the way home, after attending what we had no
way of knowing would be an intense play about
sex, unintended impregnation, complicated serial
marriages—each complicated in its own right and
hyper-complicated in the accumulation—some of it
delivered in Spanish, a local language this man does
not speak or understand, but I do, he observes: “That
was hard.”

I thought at the time he was referring to the play, or,
perhaps, to my frustrating struggle to maneuver out of
the tight space in the dark parking lot by the marina.
Later, as I gazed out of my third story window atop a
steep hill looking west out over the Bay, months after
the ride across the bridge, I could see he was talking
about our dinner conversation, in which he was trying
to tell me that we were through trying to tell each other
anything. That was hard. Hard for him because he was
telling me something he expected would humiliate me,
and, after all, he did have a kind streak and cared for
me, in his own way. Difficult for me because I couldn’t
really tell what he was trying to say and wasn’t really
sure if he was talking about himself, about me, about
us—if there was any us—or about himself and his

26
pathetic psychiatrist. He would not come home with
me after that. Seemed relieved when I let him out.

That night looms in the past now. Tail lights gleam in
front of me as I turn off of the bridge again, toward
home. I test my brakes. The signs say to use caution
during this time of repair, which seems to be lasting
for months, maybe years.

Norma Smi t h 27
KKKKKKKK
KKKK

SHE WANTS

Of course I wanna be bad, soft-bellied mama with a
long, dangling belly button ring and my boot on your
chest / Proud elephant knees, fistfuls of flesh electric,
your video girl

Call me when you need the one who can dance you
into a frenzy and then to sleep / Hush / Call me
when you want to know how the animals got their
courtship rituals / How the mothers learned to eat
their mates and raise their young

I keep my hair always half wet and ocean salty in case
you need feeding

Of course I wanna be the fertile delta on which
civilizations are built and then fall / For you to
sculpt me from clay every night in your mind and
again in the morning / There’s no concentrating on
those spreadsheets, baby / Mama is here with her
spectacular bunions pointing like arrows toward one
another like / Between us, this is what you seek

Of course I want the bath three-quarters full of
olive oil at all times and of course I want to sink

29
under and rise up like post-glacial rebound / Promise
you never had body like this before / This is that
persistent, dateless, imperishable shit, like maybe
nothing existed before it

Like either you eat it or it eats the world

Call me when you’re ready to pop out these dimples
like dents in a car / Of course I wanna be worshipped
/ All the more when my phone corrects worship to
warships / Like steady the cannons, like torpedo diva
/ Like who sunk my

Of course I want to be not homewrecker but home /
Concentrated pomegranate juice / Of course I wanna
be performance / Autocorrecting the word body to
boys / Of course I want to be suspended from the
ceiling of our understanding, tied up in ropes and
comfortable knowing the way they cut into the fat,
frame it, make it grabbable, unmissable, that’s part of
it

Of course I want you to spend your whole life tracing
the limits of my body with flat, open palms but never
actually touching it / And of course I don’t wanna be
sorry about it

Instead of lamenting the game is unwinnable, I
want to remember the tileless world past this table /
Wanna remember the queen goes where she wants

30
ZZZZZZZZZZZ
ZZZ

99 PR OBLEMS

Lazy
Fat
Capitalism/the patriarchy
Insecurity
Poverty
This mole on my neck
Thinning hair
Too quick to make a joke
Too slow to laugh
Too bored to care
Too busy to notice
I don’t make real human connections that seem to
last
Can’t finish anything
Can’t start anything worth finishing
Don’t believe in hope
Don’t get angry enough at the things I need to get
angry at
Yell at my kids
I’ll die penniless and alone
Don’t like to dance
Can only sorta swim
Spell certain words wrong still even though I
know I know them

31
Haven’t exploited my white male privilege enough
Think I’m the smartest guy in the room
Smoke too much weed
All out of weed
Don’t drink enough
Afraid to take chances
Lost my edge
Lost my nerve
Lost my keys more times than I can count
Trouble parallel parking sometimes
Always pick the wrong check-out line at the store
Don’t use enough sensory imagery in my poems
Addicted to cheese and sugar
Can’t pick a favorite color
All of the sudden old without learning the lessons of
youth
Have a pretty big chip in this one back tooth
Rely on rhythm and rhyme too much of the occasions
I criticize artists more than I create art
I make fun of people because I was made fun of as a
kid
Room is a mess
Constantly broke
I don’t know how to make solid relationships with
people last
Never learned how adults are supposed to interact
with other adults
Feel like an imposter most of the time
Feel like everyone else saying they feel the same as
me is really everyone else mocking me
Lose my train of thought mid example

32
Don’t perform proper maintenance in a timely
fashion
Stay up too late
Drink too much coffee
All talk and no trousers
hypocrite
Full of shit
A liar
A Cheat
A fool
I’m sorry I got you into this
Sorry about everything
Don’t take responsibility for my actions
Say hurtful things
Sabotage potential relationships by every means
possible
Don’t know how to share
Think I’m special
Think I’m unique
Think I deserve happiness
Not willing to put in the work
Never trained my dog fully
I have to watch my fingers when I type
Nobody takes me seriously when I’m being sincere
Nobody gets me when I’m being sarcastic
Nobody lets me be down on myself when I deserve it
when I want it
People are afraid to hurt my feelings or they exploit
my gregarious manner
I use words like gregarious as if I know what they
mean when I only sorta do

Ze ph i r O'Me a ra 33
Obsess over the tiniest forgotten interactions with
some people
I’m a total copycat
Every relationship I’ve been part of has eventually
fallen apart
I over use self deprecating humor trolling for compli-
ments
I hate when people compliment me
Say the absolute worst thing at the incredibly
wrongest time ever
No fashion sense
Need to read more books
Probably boring you by now
Take things too far
I don’t know when to stop
No self control
No consideration for the feelings of others
Easily distracted
Repeat myself
Not listing the things here I’m most ashamed of
I mansplain
I micro-aggress
I’m an enabler
Scared of how futile life seems sometimes
Alone and I feel like I deserve it somehow
I push people away
Sunburn easily
Don’t have a redemptive high note to end on
Don’t know what to do next
Haven’t got a clue

34
STOCKHOLM SYNDROME

Your love is stockholm syndrome
Your love is stanford prison experiment
Your love is the law of diminishing returns
Your love is bell curve
Your love is broken windows policing
Your love is double blind study
Your love is Zeno’s paradox
Your love is equal to mass times acceleration
Your love is oxymoron
Your love is two way mirror
Your love is cats watching a tennis match
Your love is conspiracy theory
Your love is training montage
Your love is what you sow
Your love is doing the same thing and expecting a
different result
Your love is more or less important than your art
Your love is Gordian knot
Your love is wisdom of Solomon
Your love is allegory of the cave
Your love is beatles or stones
Your love is impostor syndrome
Your love is hot hands fallacy
Your love is results based accountability
Your love is post apocalyptic dystopia
Your love is magical surrealism

Ze ph i r O'Me a ra 35
Your love is free verse
Your love is 4’33”
Your love is classic VW bug engine
Your love is evaporating dew
Your love is train whistle in the night
Your love is headlights in the rain
Your love is grease fire
Your love is man on the moon
Your love is waiting
Your love is watching
Your love is on fire
Your love is smoldering
Your love is ravenous
Your love is insatiable
Your love is deserving
Your love is escaping
Your love is always the last place you look

36
SS SSSSSSSSSSS
SS
S SS S
B E A U TI F U L R O U N D
FULL M O O N

Beautiful round full moon
hiding behind shade of cloud
so that all that peeks out
is a sliver of gold.
How I wish you could
raise the shade
that hides you.

37
AAAAAAAAAA
AAA
DOES STEVIE WONDER
GET STAGE FRIGHT?

B tells me to go save seats. “This one’s the line where
they inspect all your shit,” he says. “Since I’m carrying
all our shit, the least you can do is find a spot.”

He kisses me and his lips are warm. He gets a squeeze
of the butt in before I head toward the other direction.
The line I join is far less crowded—VIPs, staff members,
and chicks with tiny purses. Like me. It snakes up an
incline too steep for the suburbanites climbing it.

“Pardon me while I die,” I hear a male voice say behind
me.

“Me first,” his companion says, and they laugh together
in a way that I remember.

I’m out of shape too, huffing and puffing up the
hill, and I wonder what it would be like to be able to
openly suffer. Hiding it all the time saps something
from you. To distract myself from these thoughts, I
allow my mind to dwell on how much I have to piss,
how great and pressing is the need, and how good
it will feel to squat over a greasy Port-A-Potty seat
and drain.
39
My forehead and lower lip are dotted with sweat. My
underarms feel moist in a way that is starting to turn
my stomach. We’re in the boondocks and it’s hot out
here in the way that boondocks get on a summer day.
I’ve forgotten my hat and my sunblock. B doesn’t have
his either. What he does have is the water and carrots
that we stopped to buy at Trader Joe’s. I’d wanted
carrot cake but stopped myself from asking.

Besides, carrots—just regular, not fussed and gussied
with cream cheese and butter and flour—are good
hot-weather food. Grapes, too. We’ve brought those
from home.

I crest the hill and scan for the can.

It’ll get cooler, I tell myself.

I can’t find the bathrooms.

I pass six beer stands and a lone guy selling churros.
I’m tempted until I realize B is carrying my wallet.

There. A row of blue Port-A-Potties. No line, even. I shut
myself in one and squat over the seat. It’s a womanly
thing, this squatting over the seat, and it makes me feel
feminine even just for a second. I rip and I wipe and
for a second I fumble for the nonexistent flush handle,
confused.

Outside concertgoers stumble in the heat, shocked

40
and sweaty and expectant. So many couples. I wonder
what would happen were I to touch one of the hand-
holding men or women on the arm and ask: Are you
happy? Really?

Instead I find my way up another incline—this one
thankfully shorter and more merciful—and onto
the lawn. From here I can look down and see where
in an hour and a half, Stevie will take the stage. I’m
counting on the magic he’ll spin tonight. Stevie, the
one I’ve waited more than a decade to see. Stevie, the
man whose music understands my twisted guts. The
one who can make sense of it.

Then a hand on my back. This is how it will end: a
push down the sloping lawn. I’ll tumble until I hit—
something, anything—and then the end. I can only
hope it will be black, nothing, without memory.

“Relax,” B says behind me.

“Youscaredtheshitoutofme.” It comes as a single breath.

“So sensitive.” He spreads the plaid blanket over the
moist green carpet and gestures for me to sit.

“Why? So you can push me again?”

He makes some gesture. It’s half shrug, half sigh, and
something else I can only feel, not name. But wait. I’m
short-selling B. He’s the one who bought these tickets,

Alli son Landa 41
who drove out here into the heat and crowds he
loathes. He’s not the villain here. Wouldn’t it be easier
if he were?

I fold my legs below me. He pulls me to his chest. “Poor
thing. Have to spend a day with me.”

“Totally,” I say, and kiss him. Fact is, I haven’t been able
to figure out what’s going on inside me for—well, a
long time. Let’s leave it at that.

B is tall and effortlessly thin and is prematurely white,
both hair and beard. I’m not unhappy with him, in case
you’re wondering. Not totally. I’d rather be with him
than be alone. I used to hear my friends say that and
think what a joke. And it is.

“What do you think he thinks?”

“Who?”

“Stevie. What do you think he thinks about before he
goes onstage?”

“I dunno,” he says, wisely. “‘Did I leave the iron on?’
‘Where did I park?’”

Smartass.

“No,” he says. “Seriously. Come on. He’s been doing this
for years. He thinks the same thing he always thinks,

42
whether that’s about his set list or how much money
he’s raking in or who he’s going to bang after the show.”

Would you believe me if I said he said this in a sweet
way? Or would you have to be there with us on the
lawn, sitting on our plaid blanket and sharing our
grapes, to understand?

Alli son Landa 43
K KKKKKKKKKKKK
K KK KK
N O T ES F O R M Y L O V E

My father for a time
lived alone in the basement of a priest’s house,
keeping to himself and boiling lentils
in a pressure cooker—the kind our grandmothers
used
which whistle once twice thrice then done.

He pedaled to work on a bicycle
with a kickstand and grocery basket,
stopping to smoke at tea shops,
drinking filter coffee, and eating fried dough balls
and foods I will not translate.

He wore bell bottom pants
and big round brown glasses
and kept a mustache
fuzzy and dark against his upper lip in the fashion
of the heroes of the day—men like
T. Rajendar who tousled his hair before delivering
dialogue.

On rainy days, I imagine,
he rolled up his pants to his knees and pushed his
bicycle

45
through the flooded streets,
sometimes leaving it when he could not wade,
blowing deep heavy breaths to defrost his glasses.

My mother tells me she never met him
before agreeing—
that my grandparents took a train before dawn from
Egmore,
that he greeted them with warm milk and Britannia
biscuits.

Some months later he packed up and returned
to the sandy village where my ancestors built
bungalows
and saw my mother for the first time
and smiled.

She tells me he stopped wearing bell bottoms
and groomed his mustache
and forsook his glasses
for the wedding—and the night after he took her
to see Guna when Thalapathi was sold out.

I imagine, on my own,
that they saw countless others at the theater,
nestled with their loves
cold against the summer wind,
and waited, strange and together in the night.

46
JJJJJJ
JJJJJ

W E D D IN G G A R D E N

Their wedding house had an unplanted garden. She
teased the root ball of their first tree, a Fuji, and he
sipped cider and smiled at their world. The radio
played, and he sang along. Flat.

“Don’t,” she commanded, amused and shocked he
would force her to say this. He stopped. She snipped
scraggly roots and lowered the root ball. He bulled
into the house. And never sang in her presence again.

But twenty years later—with the roots deep, and the
tree thick with fruit—he jumped into his love’s car.
They sang out loud all the way across the country.

47
- SET 2 -
JJJJJJJJJJ
JJJ

HI N G E

Tojin. Toji. Joshoji. Shokokuji. Tofukuji.
Tofu...kuji?
Honganji. Hokyoji. Hokoji. Ginkakuji. Kinkajuji. Kinky!
Daitokuji. Kodaiji. Sanjusangendo. Tell me again.
Myorenji. Myokenji. Mibudera. My blood dares you.
Rokkakudo. Reikanji. Nanzenji. Zenrinji. Chionji.
Chionin. Shorenin. Mansuin. Ikimas’ ka?
Chisakuin. Honneinin. Shinyodo. Komyeji. Come.
Go. Come. Go. Is it good? Hai. Hai. Yes. Ii.
Ii. Yes, Ieyasu, Good.
Watash-tachi wa doko ni ikimas’ ka?

I’m fading, like a ghost, to Kyoto,
in the rain.
“A good place for ghosts,” I think.
He appears. I pull a branch of maple to wet him through.
It wets both of us. Ghosts become unfocussed in the rain.
Blind.
I lead him to a noodle shop. Order fox soba futtatsu,
kitsune for two. It arrives hot and sweet.
I sweat through my skirt as he shows me his tattoos.
“I thought nobility didn’t have tattoos,” I say.
“I got them after I died.” He’s proud.

49
White cranes. A dragon. A leaping tiger.
“Looks like a rock to me,” I say.
“That’s zen for you,” he replies.
Chrysanthemums. Pine cones. Red clouds.
A sake cup.
We play hanna fuda with patches of his skin.
Yakuza flowers match up.
“Hannami,” he laughs, “sake under the full moon,
under the cherry blossoms.”
But I have the rain series.

I question him on reality, a puzzle.
“The hinge has five parts,”
he says, “but only one join.”
I need a hint. “Why not four?”
“Four is death.” He wins the hand.
I counter, “The eye you see isn’t an eye because you see
it.
It’s an eye because it sees you.”
“But I know Machado personally,” he says. I lose. He rolls
a joint.
“You’re strange for a Japanese warrior,” I say, peeved.
“My heart is severe. My mind is traditional,
however I look to you,” he replies.

For a ghost, he looks strong, sword scarred,
jowls heavy with war.
But his hands are beautiful.
Long slender fingers, square-tipped, deft.
No move uncertain as they draw me
back

50
into the shadow of the temples.
“A temple is a joining,” he says.
“But what about the tourists?” I ask.
“We who are dead enjoy certain privileges,” as
his dark hands move down.
His statue watches, seated between an ancient enemy
and a Buddha. The ghost of Tokugawa Ieyasu says,
“Welcome to my peaceful home.” His hands part my
thighs,
on the arch of Mountain Gate.
High above Kyoto, incense rises.
“Are you sure?” I whisper.
A gong sounds twice, a drum once, in the mist.
His tongue flickers twice,
once.
“In Japan, when we come,
we go.”
His tongue flickers, catches drops of moon’s blood.
I’m fading... “Then where are we going?” I demand.
“Watash-tachi wa doko ni ikimas’ ka?”
...like a ghost. To Kyoto. To Tojin. Toji. Joshoji.
Shokokuji.

Ja i da Sa mu dra 51
M MMMMMMMMMMM
M MM MM
STANDING OVULATION

A woman onstage w/ a grocery bag & podium block.

I froze my eggs. I’m 32 years old, and I froze my eggs.
They say, you never know. They say, keep your options
open. The internet offers wisdom. They say you should
freeze 15-20 eggs per baby because they don’t all hatch.
Excuse me, they don’t all bloom. Excuse me, break.
Excuse me, they don’t all become a baby.

I didn’t think about it too much before I decided to do
it. My boyfriend was out of town and I froze my eggs.
These are my eggs. (Pulls carton of eggs from the bag)

These are my eggs, I paid for them at the store with my
money and that makes them mine. These are my eggs
and I froze them. I froze them in my freezer. My body
my choice. Biology is destiny. When I control my body,
I control my destiny. I’m in control. I’m in control. I’m
in control. I’m becoming the person I want to be.

(Begins peeling the egg. Because it is frozen, she needs to
smash it a bit first, so at the end of each sentence, she
whacks it against the podium)

53
My body is a trap waiting to be sprung. (smash) My
spring is awakening. (smash) My juices are flowing,
(smash) my cream is curdling, (smash) I am self-
fertilizing. (smash) I am impregnating myself with
possibility. I will give birth to myself.

(Licks egg. Pauses. Looks at audience. Clucks like a chicken.)

54
JJJJJJJJ
JJJ

ICARUS FLE W

I crashed on a pace lap. Road America—Elkhart Lake,
Wisconsin, summer of 1990. Racecar drivers never talk
about their wins, we talk about our crashes. Here I am
in the guardrail just back from two weeks at Kripalu,
an ashram in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.
The edge on my racing skills has eroded; heel-and-toe
double clutch downshifting made my first practice
back very clumsy.

The car feels heavy right out of pit lane. The suspension
won’t load, the power slams on uncontrollably, and
I’m driving around the track scared at 110 miles per
hour, wondering what the fuck I’m doing here.

It’s disorienting bringing a race car up to speed: I push
the pedals, and the power begins to smack life through
the carbon fiber chassis. I breathe into the car’s rising
speed and power; listening for the motor to tell me
what it wants and how it feels. I extend my sensitivity
into the wheels, and smile at our braking skills deep
into corners. I have some heat in the motor now, the
tires begin to grip. The skill-set of physics that’s
mass in motion works through my hands. I set up
turn six: turn in, apex, track-out and fuck it up—I

55
turned in too early and added power too late; the car
slides two wheels into the grass exiting the turn. I lift
off power, drive it back onto the track, coast through
seven and set up turn eight. I’m on power but tracked
out late; turn nine, I dial in and come out hot.

The wheels grip, the power comes on hard and smooth;
I have to pass the car in the straight in front of me;
suddenly who I am, as racecar driver comes alive, takes
over, calms my breathing, lasers my focus, I’m at 180
miles per hour when everything slows down, I’m at
speed, mentally processing corners at a hyper-kinetic
level. I can feel the undercurrent of fear below the
adrenalin twitching in my fingers and ears, a single
pointed predator-like focus, overtake the car in front
of me.

I’m lonely as a gay man racing cars. Auto-racing is
a straight male, hard drinking life on the road, hot
pavement and garages, one-dimensional shit-head big-
boy sport. On the occasional day off we go to the track
because we don’t know what else to do.

There’s a gun shop, a church, and a titty-bar beside
each other in one parking lot just outside of Heartland
Park—the race track in Topeka, Kansas. One day after
work, I go with the mechanics to the titty-bar and get
chatting with the female dancers. “What do you do,”
this one dancer asks me. “I’m the zoning commissioner
for the city of Topeka,” I reply. I’m chuckling because I
think I’m funny, pretending to be the guy responsible

56
for putting a titty-bar/church/gun shop together, but
she doesn’t get the joke—thinks I’m making fun of
her, which I’m not. So, I tell her I’m gay and not trying
to come on to her, just trying to make conversation,
but that makes her angrier. I’m still trying to explain
my joke to the bouncer she signaled when he quite
literally picks me up and throws me out the front door.

Great. Just when I couldn’t be any lonelier as a gay man
racing cars, I get thrown out of a titty-bar for harassing
a female dancer in Topeka, Kansas.

I had one friend in racing, Steve. If you passed Steve
in a straight-away, he would turn and look at you
like Darth fuckin’ Vader for a good two seconds. At
150 mph, that’s 440 feet, which is a long damn time at
speed. He has this yellow helmet with a black visor—
even with my eyes forward, I see that helmet turn and
look at me, and I think to myself “how long is he going
to look at me?” It’s really intimidating.

I’m on the outside pole with Elton Julian from Brazil;
we come around the last turn for the green flag. Elton
goes to power early, and I go with him, but the field
didn’t follow so the flagman waves us off to come
around again to start the race. I go into turn 1 wide
to give Elton room beside me through turn 1. There’s
gravel on the pavement which is like driving on
marbles. I turn the wheel, nothing, I hit the brakes,
nothing, I go off the track and into the guardrail, tear
the nose off the car. I’ve won two Formula Ford races,

Joh n Panze r 57
I’m proud of that, but I’m remembered years later now
as the guy that crashed on a pace lap; before the race
even started.

My first win, I was shaking so hard, my body, so
exhausted from the adrenaline, I couldn’t get out of
the car. It took four mechanics, two on each side, to
lift me out of the car. My legs had turned to jelly: I
couldn’t walk; I had to be carried to the team motor
home.

It was turn 6 at Sebring, when I became fast, deep into
a corner. My hands froze, I was stunned when the car
broke loose this deep into a turn, but somehow my foot
squeezed on the power, and the rear wheels gripped. I
came out of six, so fucking fast; the centrifugal force
drifted my car four inches from the wall exiting the
turn at 165 miles per hour. You can’t move your hands,
or lift off the pedal—you’ll spin and hit the wall. Back
on pit lane, Steve walked by me and said, “If you give
up control of your car, you deserve to die.”

It sounds cruel, but you have to understand: racing
cars is life and death. Now that I was fast, I couldn’t
afford to make a silly mistake at speed and live. People
don’t understand how difficult it is to do this, how
terrifying it is, how beautiful it is, how great it feels,
how calm and quiet, and how awful it is when it goes
wrong at speed. How loud crashing is, how it feels to
watch your spirit begin to pull out of your body if
it thinks that impact was too much; to feel yourself

58
whisper inside “oh no, I don’t want to go,” and swim
your spirit back down into your body.

I’m in a bad mood after a race, I don’t feel comfortable
standing still. I’m supposed to get out of the car
and be all glam with a world that extends to me the
mythological status as racecar driver, but doesn’t like
me because I’m gay. A world that I don’t understand,
where I don’t fit in, and that I don’t like.

I don’t like it here. Icarus flew, god damn it, he flew!
Don’t you people get that? That’s the fucking point of
this goddamn piece of Greek mythology. Yes, he flew
too close to the sun, his wings melted; he fell into the
sea and died. Somehow I live in a world that’s reduced
this to a parable of moderation, “the middle path,”
fuck you; fuck the middle path! Icarus Flew!

I … flew!

I couldn’t manage my fear anymore. I wasn’t getting
any faster; that’s the truth of why I quit racing. You
know that feeling of impending doom; you know what
that is? That’s impending doom.

The safety truck just pulled up beside me, I’ve been
sitting here in my car, off the track, staring at the
guardrail. I climb out, walk back to the pits, ignore my
team owner, and ambulance crew, get out of my racing
gear, into my car and drive 1900 miles back to Kripalu,
that ashram in the Berkshire Hills. There is a stillness

Joh n Panze r 59
with the monks that feels safe. I take out my feelings
for a test drive. After a few days I am invited up to the
guru’s house by one of the Renunciates. Amrit Desai
bounces into the room, taking an interest in everyone.
After a few minutes he comes over to me and says “you
look so broken, what did you do before you came here?”

“I raced cars,” I reply.

He bursts out laughing, “You know how to fly, but
you don’t know how to land. Stay for a little while, I’ll
teach you how to land.”

I had planned a stay at Kripalu for 7 days; I stayed for a
year and a half, until I learned how to land.

60
CC CCCCCCCCCC
CC CC

T H E C L E A RI N G

You arrive in a place, the one your body craved for
years. Stumbling off a plane and into the fog someone
has named after a man, so too, does your own haze lift.
Gradual, gradually. It takes the weekend, but the mist
dissipates. A decision decided itself.

It all became clear, you repeat to everyone who asks and
a few who don’t, over hand-thrown mugs of coffee and
glass jars full of filtered water. Everyone wants to know
how, they don’t say but you can tell they crave your
instruction manual for clarity. Their sentences seem
too compound, complicated. They finger their crystals,
read the same horoscopes you do, but still can’t figure
“it” out. You’re a cool drink of post-drought water, so
fresh and so clear, and they want to be that too.

Remember B.?
Was he the one with the elixirs?
No, no, he moved into his van, started that company—

is an actual conversation you overhear from the lake
you’re swimming in. Voices travel best across water.
The bottom is murky, your skin chilled. The police
come with a warning, written-up, wanting your

61
exact address. You’ve only recently returned, and
thus forget your zip code but say a made-up one with
confidence.

///

Here’s how you really did it, though. It’s hilarious,
how straightforward it is. How one day ______ is not
decided, and then it is. First, clean out your childhood
room—stay up all night sifting through two or three
or five decades worth of birthday cards, old notebooks,
and black-and-white negatives you hold up to the light
to see what you thought was important enough to
capture and then save in this particular way.

Give yourself only two days to do this, until your
eyes burn at the edges. Load the back of a borrowed
pick-up with bags for Goodwill, hauling everything
yourself to tire out your body. Feel glad that someone
will again wear your dolphin skin prom dress, will
hide themselves in a fort of books you’ll never open
again. The fog begins to lift, just the edge of it.

Then, return to the place you’ve lived for a few years,
one that never felt like “home” but people said it was to
you, and clear out your entire house. Hold each object
in your hand and determine the joyless- or joyous-ness
of each. When you can glance at whole drawers and
say no joy without holding any of it, you’ll know you’re
on the right track of your own creation.

62
Use the “magic eraser” and envision every person you
slept with in that place, then smudge out their faces,
pressing hard against the wall. Run yourself ragged
with the clearing and the cleaning. Make a grass angel
in the backyard before burning the journals you can’t
bear to keep. Afterwards, you’ll smell like campfire and
the tea tree oil you smeared across your arms to keep
the mosquitoes away. You are so light you’re worried
you’ll float away.

Another Goodwill run, another trip to the post office.
Give away whole swaths of your kitchen, the rusting
cast iron and with it, your attachment. Start an email
draft of all the things you’ll do when you’re gone from
this place. Board the plane, you beacon of see-through-
ness. You glow in your surety. Everyone wants a sliver
of what you’ve got.

Ca roli ne Ke ssle r 63
T TTTTTTTTTTT
TT T
THE GUN WASN’T HERS

She hadn’t wanted it, but there it was, on the seat
beside her. For your protection, they’d said. Just in case.

She was driving I-90: Seattle to Chicago, beat-up
Beetle. Running a package out for this guy she knew.
A delicate instrument, he’d said—didn’t trust UPS. The
pay was good and she was between gigs. Lots of empty
country out there, they’d said. True. Miles of nothing
but dirt and sky flying by.

Out past Billings, a rock hit the windshield. Shattered
it. She jerked at the wheel, nearly drove off the road.
Where the hell did that come from? She slowed the car
to a stop and sat ‘til her breathing got down to near
normal. The sun caught hold of the edges of exploded
glass, turning her windshield into a web of rainbow
colors.

She couldn’t see driving far with a slivered windshield
and had no clue where she would find a new one in
this wasteland.

In the rearview, she saw something move—back
alongside the road, by the loose rocks. Her stomach

65
lurched. Grabbing the gun, she found the safety,
clicked it off, willed her legs out of the car, onto the
pavement. She’d face it. Caffeine-alert, she walked
down the road, scanned the horizon, hair whipped
around her eyes.

But it wasn’t there anymore. It was behind her.

66
DDDDDDDDDD

U N S O LI C IT E D E X C E R P T

sinch around me ive never the tree is this
written anybodys name so are these dry leaves under my
much or whispered into curdled elbows under your knees or in
moonlight and mothwing dust my mouth is this spitmud on my
ill share potreros dirt with you brow an earthen prayer on your
anytime especially now your cheek how many steps around
matrushka blooms mouth out this trunk how many little
of mouth of iron lined vitrages jags around this woodfeather
in screaming primaries that or how much glass around
coin a new black stigma for this swarm inside your chest
your gaping ribcage i beg your how many iridescent scales
seeded core cook down to now line my belly and my
slurpable gummy sand in the back how many venom gallons
shade of a sapling lie told so compressed inside my mumps
quietly its almost a secret in or millimeters on this needle
surrendered glimmering veins how many grams of pressure
this is how little of a fuck is against the surface tension
given no names no addresses of this growling beauty how
nothing every blink a last much heavier stomping swifter
salute to a departing steam changestepping backspace
engine or kicked rowboat reading falling alive into
off a rotting dock the jet the tongue and groove oh great
clouds what you travel in surveillance apparatus
burning parchment scrolls and
combtorn fascia in twitching if you could only see me
buffalo as a horsefly inserts pulsing spinefluid in my fresh
her surgical appliance into the snakeskin maybe you could
milky hypodermal corridor sell me some insurance or some
and watches day become night shoes to cover up these filthy
what a night what night at homeless feet that print the
all is this office marble with shameless
fire is this is this slime or smell my puke as
darkness is this is this its half cooked tomato dice
67
dissolve high end floortiles into meals brazilian c sections or
arthritic planes as the calcium suburban sex to the rhythm
powders down to creamy of organized theft invisible
patina so your moths weave to all parties and therefore
into speeding stone cocoons practically harmless practically
shatter your duralex heartbox harmless face whipped cream
and land on the bank posing as strawberries and bisquick
river smoothes winking at little chantilly panties in white wine
david as he lays down his lyre and cloved tobacco would i
and reaches for his slingshot speak in splitting smokeways
innumerable hatchings as many
rabies ridden cheeks down as the droplets of cum on your
a vacuumed hallway spastic chinese satin you know them
flamenco rattle at the tip of a each by name each waiting
sawtoothed serpentine curve for one and bursting with two
without feet how would i speak nuclear fungal spores twirled
without feet how would i speak in antiwind inside of nothing
would i speak in honeyripples would i speak in pregnant
or lathespun scoopsticks silences tightrope battles of
in gelled and flaking local the spirit of the psyche of
wildflower would i speak in the mind of bell cued saliva
mounded sandgrains long drills and keys that circulate
winded dunes for underground inside mechanical intestines
antlions would i speak sideways in peeholding repetition or
like a new mexico roughscale with zeros that are also ones or
a billionaire train conductor zeros that think they are ones
looking for his mainline or or with silicon jewels dangling
like a filthy jewish merchant from retired fishing vessels
in slippery and lewd logic distracting drizzly carpenters
would i speak ever renewing from their dear dear redwood
creation sundown to sunbust or would i speak in good old
hanggliding over the deep deep growth you know the kind that
deep deep in divine suits or in never ends even after eighteen
years of organic homecooking
perpetual digestion tooth to and private education away
sphincter nerve gas loops or in from ads digitals maltodextrin
rising and falling outdoor alarm invert sugar yellow sunset and
systems that surprise after bad literature or in selfinvented
dark not scheduled on tuesday inhalations uneven or even
noontimes or would mine be
as scheduled as orphanage scarlicker you know who you

68
unskin in front of when the dollarsworth of marshmallows
hairs dive into the scalp and the and nonchocolate sugarwax
scalp erupts like a brominated nyloned to the tune of where
pool at the windblown end have all the twinkle doodles
of the cypress row or in the built their nests the hottub girl
wild oat buffer zone tied couldnt skim this floating layer
loose around taxidermied with a net or with a fly swat or
orangetrunks the groveguard with chanting and open palms
will catch you wiping with
citrus flowerpowder as rich wonderbread schnitzel
as vaginal discharge in the sandwich served cold to
humming laundry room at toothless infants without
the basement of a burnt and magimixing into legitimacy
shattered temple by the thinly could i morph back from snake
vegetated mudside of this to activist my bones crave your
disillusioned river scoop up a stone kisses the flesh will step
rude fist of leeches and let me away like czechoslovakian
a howling stream of bloated springtime air from blond
disappointment let me spit explosives no history adjunct
once more into the kindest no imported guatemalan nanny
promise gnash my teeth at the will spoon you the bible to
jean creaming countenance pick up half my references no
slop the sphincters inside the unlubricated wank to swedish
soaked sweatpocket beyond popstar posters in a centrally
barricades of phosphorized heated and carpeted american
children bark for skin basalt midnight den of child eating
for muscle nothing for eyes demon worshippers with
sandlumps for tongues ripening bananas on your
imaginations evaporated into mamas countertop blending
the sun just sleep just sleep odors with the sautéed
and string face after face on portobellos that gush from your
petroleum greased baling wire smoking smith and wesson
black and yellow biles cut with when you dare applaud my
parsley broth in a squished lustful semitic thrust or even
kidney a true ovarian orgasm drop your hungry jaw for it or
in three bowling headrolls keep your eyes open for it or
give me some vinegar and i peek for my gorgonic portrait
will give you pounds on end through the gaps between your
of shredded cabbage starting own fingers thats right afraid
at four decades of nonsensical of what the dweebs you run
sandsteps and up to six million with might do police without

Davi d Kat z 69
power little crazy children who
will grab the keys and hit every
button on the motherfucking
switchboard you call yourself
a jew you couldnt seduce an
underaged flemish whore with
a thousand rubles let alone mar
crystalline prussian thought
with embroidered patchworks
borrowed from hairy balkan
peasant women or straight up
stolen from actual arabs when
the doors down here lock up
the doors on high swing open
and out streams a mighty crowd
of bleeding chimpanzees to
eat your bland sesos unsalted
uncooked with no utensils

70
AAAAAA
AAAAA
F O U RTH
OF JULY POEM

Stepped on pissed on
Cheated and abused
Taken advantage of blue collar man
Caught up in the American scam

Don’t tell me anyone can be
Anything they want to be
If they put their mind to it

Save your BS for the deaf
Dumb and blind
It’ll never sell in the ghetto
Or to the immigrants
You’ve turned your back on

Take your message to the church
Tell it to the man on death row
Tell it to the starving poor
Tell it to the sick and lame

Tell it to the rich folks
Tell it to the politicians
Tell it to the serial killers
Tell it to Wall Street

71
Tell it to the man on the gallows
Tell it to the chiseled faces on
Mount Rushmore

Tell it to the street whore
Tell it to the crack head
Tell it to the last wino on the bowery

Tell it to the banker
Tell it to the butcher
Tell it to the unemployed
Tell it to the circus clown
Tell it to the insane
Tell it to the outlaw
Tell it to the panhandler
Tell it to the con man

Tell it to the baby found stuffed
In a dumpster
Tell it to the displaced factory worker
Tell it to the elderly
Tell it to the Repo Man
Tell it to the last alien 
Hiding out in Roswell
Tell it to the militia
Tell it to the FBI sharpshooters
At Ruby Ridge
Tell it to the arsonists
At Waco, Texas

Tell it to the Indians at Standing Rock
Tell it to the junkie

72
With dry heaves
Tell it to the farm worker
Tell it to the dishwasher
Tell it to the orderlies
Tell it to the flag waver

Tell it to the Chinese peasant toiling
In the rice fields
For a dollar a day
Tell it to the garment worker
Slaving away in sweat shops
In Chinatown and the Latin Quarter

Tell it to the garbage man
Tell it to big business
Tell it to Corporate America
Tell it to the Supreme Court
Tell it to the blood stained
NRA

Tell it to the Fascist President
Tell it to the oil barons
Tell it to the tobacco merchants
Tell it to the fur industry
Who club baby seals to death
For the clothing merchants

Tell it to the molested children
Tell it to the Priests
Tell it to the Vatican

A.D. Wi nans 73
Tell it to the battered wives of America
Tell it to big “Pharma”
Profiting off the sick and lame
Tell it to the millions of people
Dying from air pollution
In Mexico, China and India

Tell it to the man on his deathbed
Not sure why he lived
Or what he is dying for
Tell it to Jesus Christ
Shout it to the stars
Line the traitors up against the wall
Rewrite the Ten Commandments
And start all over again

74
- july 3, 2017 -

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