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Q uiet L ightning
sPARKLE & bLINK
as performed on Apr 5 10 @ Gestalt

© 2010 by Evan Karp + Rajshree Chauhan

Design by Evan Karp
Promotional rights only.

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http://qlightning.wordpress.com lightning@evankarp.com

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contents
paul corman-roberts manifesto of bad poetry ryan peterson i hope i am ugly lizards v rodents; talent v art william taylor jr. to let others walk the world lives like landfills; some new fire portrait of 6th street on a tuesday afternoon 10 11 6

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andrew o dugas untitled (´i do not want to be rebornµ) untitled (´for a moment i am grateful to the terroristsµ) julia halprin jackson this is you caitlin myer nude elderly male; way to go ed nicole alea eternity is a big word; some things to know andrew paul nelson wrinkles [ as part ii. of s·napse ]

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mg martin leroi jones likes neither of us three cheers for arbitrary da king of pap ·iko will clark night wind | penetrant jennifer capo side effects sara stroud wrapped reflections on a spit bucket; hurricane ian tuttle scavenger hunt tess patalano withwithout | blank shantih sekaran mil wakes up charlie getter untitled (´all the seals left the dockµ) untitled (´there ain·t no better dayµ)

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Quiet Lightning
is a monthly submission-based reading series with 2 stipulations you have to be able to be there to submit you only get 5-8 min submit ! ! each month 1 attendee of those who put their names in a hat gets 2 weeks to respond via mail or email to the last reading b4 break it will be published on the blog and read at the subsequent

Quiet Lightning
! !

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mANIFESTO oF bAD pOETRY
Some come to poetry seeking enlightenment. Some have come to poetry seeking identity. Some have come to poetry seeking revolution. Some have come to poetry for catharsis. Some have come to get published. Some come to get laid. I say poets should come to poetry seeking all of the above, but even if all poets could actually be made to agree to this, how would you get them to agree to a method of achieving this multi-goaled pseudo ideal? The answer, I declare, is bad poetry and I mean that without irony. Fuck irony anyway. It has no place in bad poetry or great poetry. Irony only belongs in the fair to middlin· poetry. Besides, irony has fucked me enough times I feel pretty well justified in fucking it back. I·m talking about really, really bad poetry, which is not as easy to produce as you might think it would be. Poetry, in the post-modern era, is the punk rock of literature. But bad poetry requires truly Herculean lunkheadedness. I·m talking lyrical ballads recounting right wing orgies involving Dick Cheney and Barbara Bush. I·m talking epic verses of young runaway Trotskyites holding marathon shitting contests in theatre district parking lots. I·m talking about High School diaries of abused goth girls that

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make Robert Haas sound like G.G. Allin. It·s not like these things are right up on the surface. You have to dig in some fetid patches to come up with these truffles. aNNOUNCING: tHE aBOMUNIST pOETRY sOCIETY There will be some good poetry at first, of course. There will always be some good poets who won·t be able to resist the novelty. But the novelty will wear off. The good poets will drift away. They will have no choice. What will be left? A stripped down gallery of fringe ass freaks: frinks emotional frinks spiritual frinks and the frinkishly deviant a goulash of psyches impelled to push the envelope to push the button of every upholder of good taste. You name it Transgendered Hell·s Angels Abducted Scientologists Lachrymologists the mentally disabled suicidal drag queens. You know«Abomunists. Mock, ridicule or be offended if you must. That·s the point. This is not about negation for negation·s sake. This is about creating a new kind of chaos in order to see what type of structure emerges.

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Good poetry, even if it is the best poetry ever produced, has lost the power to effect the serious social change required because of its commodification. Only the worst poetry will allow the discourse of a tolerable, practical existence to endure. Above the door to our reading alcove there shall be a sign: ´Leave your pride, dignity, and poses at the door. Bring in nothing but your fear, shame and disgust.µ We will make fun of the good poets. We will have dartboards with Ezra Pound·s profile as the bull·seye. Allen Ginsberg will grace our toilet paper, so that you won·t be able to tell where the feces end, and Allan·s beard begins. We shall encircle an effigy of William Blake and mercilessly taunt said effigy that we are having a helluva lot more fun than he ever did... (well not really, but every movement needs a few delusions doesn·t it?) ...and... We shall worship before a vast, air blown portrait of Rod McKuen. Only in exploring what most annoys us what we would most rather not deal with what we most dislike in other people all the shit inside our animal selves we most want to pretend isn·t there... ...Only in this way, will we be able to pass through these obstacles. Talented poets

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Will pour forth the caramelized amber of their souls Will dazzle the masses with a brilliant, shining resonance Will elevate the noblest nature of our corrupt sloth Talented poets will be enshrined will be lionized will have their praises sung and forgotten by all but your neighborhood library and even then they·re not so sure what they did with the index card. But those talents shall never pass through the obstacles presented by the Abomunist Poetry Society, and come out on the other side unchanged. When all the free market liberals have finally managed to consume all the stuffy, uncool intellectuals, we·ll be the ones left over to tell them what life was like before they killed it all off. By that time hopefully, we will have figured out how to take over the rest of the world. Thanks for coming tonight and we·ll be taking out subscriptions to our online newsletter after the reading.

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i hOPE i aM uGLY
i hope i am ugly. i despise fucking and i don·t even want the option. i desire to be ugly and i am. i know i am ugly, i know i am ugly on the inside, where true ugliness resides. a philanthropist told me i wasn·t and it made me want to scream and fucking vomit, because i hate flatterers and gawkers and i hate anything that calls me beautiful. and i hate
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fucking.

lIZARDS v. rODENTS
i spent a week tearing myself apart and building myself back up so i could wreck myself over again but then i stopped and dove headfirst into another person who seemed so much better than you and i took my tape-mended heart and i gave it to her because i thought, foolishly, that she could help me fix it because she is good at crafts (but sadly not so very good at art).

tALENT v. aRT
i turned her car into art like i tried to turn her life into art but she didn·t get it because she has talent

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and i don·t have any talent of my own, so i make things that don·t require any talent that she, being talented, didn·t appreciate. she is beautiful and she has an enormous ass and she reminded me of you in all the ways that she is nothing like you; she is nice and she doesn·t read books full of pretentious psychobabble and she isn·t from around here and she has smaller tits than you and she·s quiet and she never loved me even though i loved her.

tO lET oTHERS wALK tHE wORLD
I was born with a weak heart into the winter months all frightened eyes and nervous smile I met the big nothing early on I took it inside and became immune

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never bothered with the future because the moment in hand was always burning abandoned dreams of justice to sit beneath the sky and watch things fall apart in their fashion to let others walk the world as if they had some place in it left with my dreams of little rooms with little windows that look out upon the rain sad music and wine afternoons spent in libraries and bars with the drunks and unemployed poets hungry for any place to escape an indifferent sun.

lIVES lIKE lANDFILLS
In spite of promises, oaths and the best of intentions I stand but dumbly by as the hours slip
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and spiral out. She lies on the bed and cries, she tells me she is broken. I understand but don't know what to do. I suppose it's like this everywhere, lives like landfills of disappoints and regrets. I too wish the days and the hours were something more than this gradual decline. I wish the silent gods would find new ways for us to burn. The day shrugs and gives itself to the darkness as I ignore the ringing of the phone on my way to the kitchen in search of more wine.

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sOME nEW fIRE
I walk the downtown streets in search of trouble and salvation some new fire in which to burn. I am jealous of both the living and the dead lacking whatever strength it takes to wrest some beauty from the day. The void behind god's smile shines brighter than the sun that forgets our names and this clinging sadness is born not so much of life but the lack thereof. I ask the sky forgiveness for my wasted days as I waste the one in hand wanting only to be emptied of this emptiness dreaming of anything other than what is here. The beautiful and the broken walk up and down Columbus Avenue
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beneath an indifferent sky and my only defense against the hours is to destroy them as best I can.

pORTRAIT oF 6TH sTREET oN a tUESDAY aFTERNOON
The world is just knives and stones forged by vengeful bitter gods we wander through stillborn days tongues coated with the metallic taste of despair addled with loneliness all the pretty suicides smile sadly from every corner beckoning with skinny fingers as the afternoon teeters and falls off its stool any meaning you might try and pin to it all fades and tears like old handbills from Market Street lamp posts
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and all that remains is whatever stares back at you from spittle stained windows your wounded animal self naked and ashamed uglier even than your dreams.

uNTITLED
I do not want to be reborn, I do not want this life to be one of many lives Not because I hate life but because I love it too much I do not want to hear your ideas about life as a wheel of pain a thousand million revolutions of purefying suffering. When I am with a woman, I don't think about yesterday's flame. I don't think about tomorrow's flirtation. When I look into her eyes, I do not wonder if we've met in a past life. I do not wonder if we will meet again in the next. I give her all my attention, anything less and her mood the mood of the whole evening
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can turn like milk. It won't matter how exquisite the wine how tender the meat. The taste will be spoiled. It won't matter how low the candles how soft the music how blue the moon. The magic will elude us. When your wheel of pain spins around, look for me at your funeral. I'll be the one sending his compliments to the chef, I'll be the one dancing with your widow. If you cannot see the woman here before you, this beautiful woman here tonight opening herself to you, (a gift that demands everything in return) If you cannot see this, if you cannot respond to this, if you cannot tonight meet this single moment with all your being, what good are a thousand million lives?

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What good is one?

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uNTITLED
For a moment I am grateful to the terrorists because the whole airport security thing obliterates the whole hanging out at the gate thing. What do I want to hang out for, she is leaving, it's not enough I drove her to the airport? One not real kiss, one not real hug and I am already loping down the moving sidewalk back to the parking garage, paying my four dollars, goddamned rip off for fifteen minutes only, then shooting down the ramp onto the highway back to town. Already I am forgetting her, I tell myself, and her absence fills me like helium, so light even the car feels like it could lift off any second. What to do with the rest of the day I realize the rest of the day is MY own! Like tomorrow and the next day and all the days after are MY own, too. Already I am forgetting her and back in MY apartment I lie down on MY sofa for a nap, the thing she hated most to see, me relaxing not doing anything productive, I really stretch out and nod off. When I awake it is still quiet afternoon, and I remember she is not there, the whole night still to come, Saturday night, and I smile and go into the bathroom to splash water on my face and
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even drink from the faucet, another thing she hated, and when I wipe my hands the towels are still damp from her last shower I press my face into the dampness and I smell her and I smell her until I am damp with her too

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tHIS iS yOU
At four you are stubborn, easily frustrated, with your very own sense of fashion. You insist one time on wearing your tights inside out, with the red string sticking out. You never talk to adults because you don·t like having to look above people·s knees. When you are mad or in trouble, you draw two little squares and write your parents· initials in each one, carefully crossing out the letters so they know exactly who is the target of your anger. Then, to further the point, you write it out again: ´AJ = YES LH = NO.µ Somehow the act of writing it out makes the feeling fade. Poof! You fear one thing: whatever it is beneath your bed. You want only the purple Turtle Tot you saw on the shelf at the toy store down the street. At age ten you are pudgy, a bit tall for your age, with hair that you·ve never bothered to cut and preferred not to brush. You hide Little House on the Prairie inside your sidurim at Sunday School. You hide the book in your knees, looking up expectantly between final prayer and the weekly blessing of bread and wine. With that book between your legs, you wear that itchy blue knit dress with the puffy sleeves, wishing you could·ve stayed home to rake the lawn with your dad. You like how fragile the falling leaves are, and how if you touch them, they shatter into tiny pieces. Your greatest wish: to live out in a little cabin on the prairie with a posse of border collies and a library full of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Your greatest fear: that your parents will divorce, leaving you in this big old messy world with nothing but a pile of books. Nineteen and you are impossibly tall in your Doc Martens. Long, messy hair. You Rollerblade to class wearing cutoff jeans and your mom·s old shirts from the seventies. You·re not sure, but you might be in love for the very first time with a boy from the
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school band. Your best friend buys you your first vibrator. You volunteer for the local animal shelter, and come home one day with an old tabby cat. You read and reread Sandra Cisneros and Junot Diaz. Secretly you wish you were born in another country. Your latest fear is what you will have to do when you finish your degree, but that·s a few years away yet, so really the worry that consumes you the most is how to prolong college as long as possible. You want more than anything to be unique, but you don·t know how to do that without being like everybody else in Berkeley. Here you are at thirty: you finally cut your hair, and you·re less pudgy, but not quite as thin as you once were. You have eyeglasses for the computer, but secretly wish you could wear them all the time. You work for a nonprofit organization that raises money for schools in Myanmar. You have a degree in philosophy but spend most of your day on the phone or writing emails. You sometimes wonder: just how many letters did Laura Ingalls Wilder have to write? You make some money, enough to pay the rent for the apartment you share with a young gay couple, but not enough to cover your health expenses. Your greatest desire: the bicycle messenger who delivers to your office every Wednesday morning, who you believe will be there when you find the perfect job, the one that pays you to travel the world to solve looming social issues, all the while guaranteeing three ² no, four³weeks of paid vacation that you spend camping across country. Your greatest fear: that you will be indefinitely dependent on your parents, and that your ovaries will shrivel due to lack of use. Forty-four, and now you start worrying about all those times you forgot the sunscreen. There are days of absolute quandary, when you wake up to a loud seven-year-old blowing raspberries on your stomach, and then you realize that you are absolutely, indefinitely responsible for him. You blink often, push back the glasses on your nose, wipe the sweat from the back of your neck, and organize chore charts in the kitchen. You

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wonder often if you settled for what you have, or if what you have is what requires you to settle for everything else. You married that man across the table from you, the one with a receding hairline and that impossibly optimistic grin. You·d like memory to be chronological, but the day you met him and the day you married him are one and the same in your mind. You minimize the New York Times every time your boss walks past your desk, turn down NPR and return to the latest finance report on the new schools in Myanmar. You worry constantly: about your mother·s failing health, college funds for your kids, the likelihood of earning a pension in your old age, your decreasing sexual drive. You want the freedom you now miss; you want an open road, a quiet evening, a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a book contract. You worry about how much you want. And if you are allowed to want anything now that you are responsible for smaller people with desires just as big. At sixty, you find a stack of notes in your parent·s den. They are nearly as old as you. First you find the ´YESµ notes. Some of them even feature stick figure drawings of your mother and you. She·d kept them all, and had even put little heart stickers on the best ones. You stop what you are doing, put your hand to your chest, and remember your mother as best you can. You remember the red tights, the time she read Farm Boy out loud until you fell asleep, the toast she gave at your wedding, the Turtle Tot she bought you for Christmas. You miss her suddenly, with a strength that knocks you down. You give yourself a minute. Rearrange the notes in a neat pile. And then, just as you are getting up to leave the room, and perhaps all the memories inside it, you find the ´NOµ ones. She·d kept them too. You worry that she only remembered the nos, and want so much to have a stack of yeses all your own someday. And now you at seventy-five, fine lines parting your brows, hips still sore from the walk up the hill. You were said to have retired years ago, and yet you know the truth: you·ve never stopped working. You volunteer at the public library, and sometimes at

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the local clinic. Your husband quit teaching a while back, and now spends most of the time in the garden, or choosing ripe fruit at the farmer·s market. You have a little savings, but what you do have you spend on your children. Oh, your children. You spent the first half of your life planning for them, and the second half worrying about them. You remember your desires over the years, and the fears that mirrored them, and one by one they disappear ² poof! One day, while taking a bubble bath in the early afternoon, you envision each bubble as a different worry. Divorce? Poof! Debt? Poof! Unrequited love? Poof, poof! Minor illness or injury? Poof! One by one, you shatter them all, until there is just one left: Loneliness. You watch as it raises high up over your head, over your aging bones as they lay retired in the water, and pops with relish in the air above you. Poof? Poof.

nUDE eLDERLY mALE
Police blotter: nude elderly male A South Buffalo Street caller reported a nude elderly man on a porch in the area Lloyd couldn't find his wallet. No, he knew he'd left it right there on the coffee table, or maybe on the desk, on the kitchen counter, next to the bed. How could a person find anything, all these papers, all this stuff? Why do we have so much stuff? The mailman keeps bringing paper, slipping it in all innocent through that slot in the door, you hear it shuck in and it·s another layer of dirt on your grave, another thing, another piece of stuff, seventy-five years of stuff piling up, report cards from when he was eight years old, letters from his mother, bills,
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catalogs, instructions on how to use the microwave, the toaster, the can opener, seventy-five years of paper, enough to suffocate Lloyd enough to drown a city, and still it kept coming, still that sinister little snick of the paper slipping through the slot, the whole world is drowning in paper and tissue boxes and blankets and keychains with people's names on them and postcards from Hawaii. Lloyd's hands moved over the papers, the photographs in frames, the band-aids, the tweezers, the reading glasses, it was enough, he was done with all of it. Seventy-five years was enough, too much, it all had to go. His hands locked down on a pile, magazines and Christmas cards and checkbooks; holding it to his chest, his breath coming faster, he pushed open the door, out into the light, and heaved all of it into the street. No, that wasn't right. No, then he'd just shift it all to the street, to the outside world, and he'd still be in the box, the mail still snicking in every day, no, he had to get out, himself. Lloyd left the door open, and walked out into the street. Yes, this was better. The air breathed lightly on his cheek, springtime air. There were cherry blossoms on the tree across the street. His feet were hot in his shoes, so he unlaced them and stepped out, leaving them behind, then his socks, one at a time. He put his feet in the strip of grass between sidewalk and street and remembered the park where he played when he was a kid. Grass like this, soft in April, so green it almost hurt to look, walking along the sidewalk barefoot with his pal Harvey, ice cream dripping over the hand that held the cone, their shirts off, and Lloyd unbuttoned his shirt, letting it float gently to the ground, the breeze in his chest hair. This was good, nothing else felt like this. His belt was next, then the pants, jingling heavy to the ground, keys in the pocket,

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boxer shorts last. Nothing closing him in, now. Lloyd took in a deep breath, and smiled. Down the street was a big, deep porch, like he remembered from when he was a kid, the kind with a porch swing. Lloyd sat down on the broad steps, cement cool against his skin, and settled back to watch the world go by.

wAY tO gO eD
Ed felt it right as the ball left his fingers, a perfect throw, rolling straight as the path to God down the lane, lights shining off its surface. He closed his eyes to hear the sweet clatter as the ball hit true, ten pins down. "You ever hear anything so pretty?" asked Ed, turning back to his boys. Cecil shook his head, slurping suds from his moustache, "You're on fire tonight, Ed." "Throwing with the angels," agreed Johnny, angling up to the ball return, his long fingers slotting into his own ball. Throwing with the angels. Ed nodded, in a state of grace, something special tonight. He knew he had that magic 300 in his fingers, he just had to step aside almost, a simple perfection speaking through him. "Whatever happened to that Sherry?" asked Ed. He could still remember the feel of her lips on his cheek last year, after his second 300 game, always thought it was her nominated him for the Hall of Fame in Kalamazoo. The way she looked at him
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sideways from behind the counter, shiny red lips in a little smile like they had a private joke, just the two of them. "She married that Kosanke fellow," Cecil slumping back from a sorry throw, "From last year's All Star's? Moved out to...Illinois, I think." "That girl had real class," Ed nodded his way back to the lane, last throw of the game, head full of Sherry and her long brown hair. Even under the alley uniform you could tell she was built like one of those girls on the mud flaps, tiny little waist, hips rolling under the edge of the shirt. Too young for him, but she let him dream. Ed held his hand over the air, thought again of her breath on his cheek, her gentle voice in his ear: "Way to go, Ed." His fingers slid into the holes like home, the ball warm and alive in his hand. This is a good night, he thought, letting go, rolling true as the word of the Lord, the boys jumping up almost before it hit, he could hear them yelling his name, a perfect 300, stars shooting behind his eyelids, his heart swelling up, he turned around to see their faces once before tilting to the floor, Sherry's voice in his ear, calling him softly home. "Way to go, Ed."

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eTERNITY iS a bIG wORD
i. wORRY on the top step of the last pyramid before expansive desert the word eternity is engraved with an oyster knife and next to its mother of pearl handle is a letter written in victorian cursive that says, dear virginia woolf, i heard you locked yourself in smoky bedroom and trusted the internet enough to tell you which rocks were heavy enough for sinking. and i heard you kissed the bottom of the river
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like you kissed sapphic sister open mouthed and breathless. words strain invisible because the ink from her quill was sucked dry by baby teeth and the first time i met lisa olsen she was studying sleep out of a text book and she asked me how i rest my head so often and i said, eternity.

ii. fEAR with reiki we are constantly reclaiming our work with our bodies and if she·s ever examined her hands she·d see worry, fear, anger, sadness, trying to, and i know that each day

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she drums her fingers against the soil of the valley of her home and she might suck on white sage bundled like a cigarette trying to get smoke to cling to her clothes, and she might write in her purple journal about how the womyn that once wore her used skirts and shoes also dealt with death and worry, fear, anger, sadness, trying to. and i haven·t told her how many times i·ve dreamt about arthur and i don·t know if i·m supposed to but i need her to know that the steel cage that last held him was no match to the newcastle armor that transcended paint

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and pulled apart canvas·, that even i know he was a leader in a pack of delinquents, and somewhere there is modern day camelot and the knight slings paintbrushes, and skateboards, speaks spanish, and will never cease to love her because he·s a story, so he·s always there, because stories never die.

iii. aNGER the second time i met lisa olsen i picked the skin around worry, flexed my forefinger at fear, but she took on anger, sadness, and trying to and each emotion represented by our fingers ties into death

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and we can flex the stages of mourning without even getting out of bed because we are attached to hand sketched drawings of stick figures evaporating into rose water and i·ve never seen something so beautiful as lisa olsen in a green sweater in a coffee shop drumming her fingers against her coffee cup.

iv. sADNESS in the north inland valley lisa olsen sketched out a letter to me via virginia woolf dreaming about mrs. dalloway, and on the vintage floral notecard she knew that she had survived, for him she had survived, now her and arthur live inside each other, she said,

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she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home, had allowed her to become mist as she wrapped her fingers into a fist to blanket white energy back to reverse worry, fear, anger, sadness, trying to.

v. tRYING tO the last time i met lisa olsen she handed me the thoth deck, used and pulsating, and the first card i pulled was the ace of cups and if i told her what that means i·d just have to say eternity.

and on the top step of the last pyramid before expansive desert

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i crafted raw apache tears into stone that she now holds next to her hips, the metamorphosis challenges grieving and plants enough seedlings along her jaw line to give way to a forest of feathers plucked from the spine of a late writer. so if she could place me between the palm of her fist with wrapped up worry, fear, anger, sadness, trying to, and the intimacy of a moth wing i·d gather up all the rose quartz in this city of gull swarms if not for a moment, then eternity.

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sOME tHINGS tO kNOW
i. ze's manger was draped in red silk with a bowl of cloves burning on either side and when mary picked hir up for the first time she smiled at the contrast of old razor scarred arms and her new baby boi.

mary thought about joseph and how he wouldn·t pay child support and how her hormones needed to be refilled and how the scars from her top surgery ached and how the baby glowed like some radiating force field of foreshadowed tragedy.

she named ze elvis because ze would be the king of man, and when ze started walking

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ze would trip over hir lacy dresses trying to reach g.i. joe out of the toy box.

mary thought about the moment, 9 months ago, when two white angels laid her on the surgery table and saw petrie dish baby mixed and ready to be inserted, mary thought about god and how he must have felt the moment he dipped his hand into the jar of fluidity and she cried the last tears before parenthood and hoped that the surgery wouldn·t be botched like some back alley and she knew in that moment that virgin means nothing

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when it comes to babies.

ii. most of the time i don·t even know what you·re saying. iii. on the 25th day during the rise of capricorn, the sun took the first breath against the chest of an archangel, and in the shallowness of some dirt path off a side road in nazareth was a burning bowl of the finest smells of consecrated incense. iv. i didn·t make the incense myself. shaman david took 36 hours to mix, measure, and pour the incense he blessed with holy water and prayers into tiny mason jars that he labeled in gold ink. across the top it said: vashti. and i brought this incense to the side of the manger because vashti was the original feminist and if this tiny baby was going to amount to anything, ze would be radical politics. v. and maybe he wasn·t born at all. maybe that night it was the moon that was born and then broke off a piece of herself that grew into the sun. and maybe there was no manger except to hold food for the mules and no carpenter that walked across water and no water turning into blood and no blind man taking visual interest in the architecture of jerusalem, but there was still archangel michael and he still transitioned into a woman, but the artificial insemination didn·t take to her lack of biological ovaries. and sometimes i think i·m just praying to an oil painting with no soul and wandering eyes and hella halos in different shades of gold and i·m lucky that at 12:02 am every night the moon shines through my third story window and i can pray to her crater face and cleanse when her body is full, and that is what i call religion.

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wRINKLES
I. dON·T look aT mY wRINKLES don't look at my wrinkles beguile me in yr languid language but please dear God don't look at my wrinkles you may defecate on my tombstone spill wine in my graveyard five buck$ to find yr diffident self upstairs where you mash yr face in the antiquated post-apocalyptic fecal fatuity of the drunk prophets who used to drink here before the nymph's inebriation became illegal but not black and white photographs of old people don't expose how my new is just not new anymore how my you is just not you anymore don't contrive an ending I'm not dead yet« don't visit my ghost towns or salivate on my combed over

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backwards pages of fallen idols don't inquire in public as to what happened to them those of us who once stood up for anything and lied to ourselves thou may worship false ideals and build thy opulent sovereignty on quicksand but please don't sit on my spleen don't lift up my skirt oh the trepidation btw my legs! these old lips ain't hip to the drip drip that sags on down past my knees please don't look at my wrinkles don't trace the slits w/ yr fingertips of my shallow curtain don't even pique an eyebrow to the new dead skin populating the pock-marked shapes that frame in this physiognomy of extreme poverty don't even raise a finger to the once fecund figure now only enervating the wanna-be-beats that skip perfectly in tune w/ the hardly cacophonous commerce in the street and don't speak of the epigonic

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petulance of my past lovers don't ameliorate that abhorrent something that once was but isn't and can't be don't draw attention to the diaphanously glazed over look in my eyes don't incense my blacklisted blonde persuasions or the dissimulated realities in which I was once reaching in yr general direction if wasn·t for sweaty altruism that bastard! which always gets in the way of things do what you will w/ me but please don't point out how comfortable we wd be if only we wd just give up and start living again II. sLEEPY eYED dAWN iN lOVE« lust and despair we trust nothing if not nostalgia for corruptions of the past do you have anything to burn anything w/ which to light yourself on fire in front of her anything to make this idol relevant w/ words the casual causal connecting dots etching constellations btw the brown

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spots traversing her back exposed reasoning down from heaven to tell you something is bound to happened letting you know how maybe if you disappeared you might exist as a thing again how you might have to leave just to be somewhere but as long as she still sings you want to be right here young and terrified periodically beautiful even if it's only lines and shapes that excite like the way she never exhales delicately allowing the smoke to find its own way out or how she's rarely happy if she's not dancing oh how the night is perpetually too short lived please be my vespertine lover my callow crepuscule bedroom eyes the heavy quilt to militate my sleep-walk and the prophylaxis against talking myself into a coma III«

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lEROI jONES lIKES nEITHER oF uS
(aFTER aMIRI bARAKA)
6/10ths of 1% of americans are sickly chupacabra sucking the labor out of us. us artistes & our jive: i·m sick in the stomach of it! a-political? art for art·s sake? bohemian? anti-establishment? poppycock! oh yeah us artistes³ reformed middle class, green living, MUNI riding, kumbaya singing, edumacated, bush & cheney hating, tree smoking, neo-poetic artistic idealists. the bourgeois feed us peanuts so, we eat peanuts the bourgeois feed us peanuts so, we«

6/10ths of 1% of americans love us: us: artistes all too willing

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to pick up hemmingway, v. woolf, bobby d., mr. marley, gertrude stein, sal dalí, h.d., w.c.w., t.s., & all the rest of the artistic deities who·ve created before us: us: artistes. men who wear hair on our faces & women whose hair grows in uncomely places us: artistes: sitting around writing clichés about rainbows & sparrows & cigarettes & sex. ah! alliteration! ah! lineation! oh! meter! oh! verse!... art ain·t even close to as serious as life in palestine, haiti, rwanda, chile myanmar, china, etc., etc., etc« 6/10ths of 1% of americans love us: because we the artistes are without sense enough to harness the vigorous muscle of the one thing we believe holds any worth or any verve this inanimately breathing vehicle: art! next time you pick up your guitar your brush (or) your pen to create a facsimile of the fact that violets really are: blue stop & think & say & fuck you

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fuck me, too. until then we: the artistes will be wearing blinders will be led around by aesthetically deluded umbilical chords pulled along by the 6/10ths of 1% of americans who run this america & laugh all the way to the bank at us: the artistes! (i don·t know about you, but i·ve had it up to here with peanuts!)

tHREE cHEERS fOR aRBITRARY
harbor no fear of these cannibalistic artistic ballistics expelling forth from the mouths of the poetic mystics. face it: in the states: myanmarian faces are faceless lost names that are renamed remain nameless. the entire pedagogy of race is basically & insatiably racist. time is but a construct human beings caught & injected in the center of tequila lollipops. MICKEY MOUSE is a three fingered NAZI.

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BETTY BOOP died of v.d. & is buried in KING KONG·s tit hair. W.W.III began when TEXT MESSAGING slid out of thin air·s vaginal canal singing ´YANKEE DOODLE WENT TO TOWN RIDING ON A«µ FRIED CHICKEN is a disease. the past, current & future administrations are families of blind eagles circling grapefruit moons with no feet to land on, while pigeons coo haiku: spherical droppings of persimmon like jism rouged wings of aphids. when i grow up i·d like to be the first white JOHNNY COCHRAN not a fireman. for entertainment: eat a bucket of MAYONNAISE, wrap yrself in seaweed & smoke REEFER with the POPE. suburban WIGGERS & country club WANKSTAS are the new JIM CROW MINSTRELS, BLACK FACED in dope high-top NIKES & HELLA HECKA HYPHY TALL Ts. let·s drop NAPALM on oklahoma slaughter houses, please? for PANGAEA had an orgasm & the continents were born. writing well has nothing to do with talent fervor & dedication make the words shine FUCKING is the same way lovemaking has everything to do

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with neither. p.s. BARBIE is the ugliest name.

dA kING oF p PA¶IKO
i found a man today. a man wit portagee slippas, (you know, eh?: barefoot). a man wit hair da color of laup hoehoe bread fruit. a man raised on carnation milk & bread. a plantation man. today i found one man. he get pukas een his palaka shirt. dis man ride motorcycle. he go derby jus fo· watch da chickens dance. da guy fix your car & lend your maddah guys $20. pau hana time he go keaukaha side fo· watch da keiki boxing match. i found a man today. a man who·s sweat smell of waiakea uka rain. (strong li·dat. natural.) a man who cherish mountain oysters. a man who·d talk eye to eye wit his worst enemy befor· scrappin·m. a man who·s pidgin more pure den one dove.
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today i found one man. he when build saddle road all by hiself: bare hand. his chess mo· wide than waipi¶o. hanabata days he taught all da dogs fo· swim at richardson·s. dis guy: his voice booming louda den airplane bridge. he da perpetual may day king. i found one man today. & if can, can; if no can: he always could: portagee das why. a man who·s taughts more complex than da stars ova peepeekeo. a man who slow dance wit pele on top kilauea. da man who whisper wit da cows in waimea. a man who·s tent grade education mo betta den one harvard kine, oxford kine degree. dis guy: he da real hawaiian supaman. he get da mana een his lungs. a man who·s wife mo· nani den one bouquet of lehua & plumeria. one local boy trew & trew i found one man today. my grandfaddah da king of papa¶iko.

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nIGHT wIND
Eyes that have searched void, gather in predawn alleyways leading from locked doors. Filamented blossoms opening their musk to midnight, even this, early as newspaper. My way, mossfooted by neon, reflections and streetcrosses by Folsom·s drooped arborium. Rustle the feathers of the forgotten dead, and their pigeons. This air bereft of redwood or sage, uninhabitable. Of bus hillside stall, the sooted sound. These, the eyes that sought a peripatetic method of Pacific, found the way by headlamp. "Completely dressed creatures," orbs seeking the base. The broad swatch of Market bleeds out to Bay, a full array of color, and the droll of a common creed.

pENETRANT
After dark, the sort of smog-laden Los Angeles post-noir, evening sashay, as if flattering Santa Anna. The word October brings it a certain reddish hue, leaving McCarthy congealed on Ethel Rosenberg's tongue with a light flash and no questions. Just the onward droll of progress down the Santa Monica Freeway and the Chevy saddled up on the river rampart. Ragged blanket with unwashed skin, that is your name. Toes curled with my hand on your belly, or is it affectation. The first penetrant, exploratory,

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an orange midnight with so-confused-doves. No time for punctuating the dart. To whom was obviated order? But for the overgrown flora condensing as constellations on the borderlands where even minutemen stop their slurs on queers, chewing midday barbed wire . . . Why we come out at night. Always made sexier when we put hair on chests and are foolish in the bathroom but who's watching? Dead eyes. But this is the forge of the undead and I swallowed the key. That's it, come get it, luv. Touch me but don't tell.

sIDE eFFECTS ³part of a story³
´tO eVERY aCTION tHERE iS aLWAYS oPPOSED aN eQUAL rEACTION.µ Natalie parks her 67· ford mustang on the side street near the alley and then checks the rearview mirror to be sure that she isn·t being followed. It·s fucking broad daylight. She shakes her head a few times and slides over to the passenger side as she cups her fingers around the long metal handle. She can·t get Nate·s voice out of her head. ´PLEASE don't go snooping around Ryan·s, it's dangerous.µ What does he think? I·m some naive college girl. She pulls at the handle. I can take care of myself. She pushes at the door with the bottom of her boot. The door flings open with

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a creak and her foot hits he ground with a hop. As she shoves out into the open air, she begins to feel exposed, nervous, unsure. She questions herself as she turns the key and locks the car. She looks over her shoulder. But it·s too late, because Natalie is driven by an obsessive need to satisfy her questions and it keeps pulling her steps towards the back alley. Rounding the corner, she increases her stride passing the backs of old modest paint chipped homes without windows. The road a mix of reddish dirt, rocks, and broken blacktop. Her eyes case the alley in every direction as she passes an aluminum trash bin, fallen on its side, its contents spilled like a bum in the city passed out in his own vomit. A torn white plastic bag exposes its insides, soils the road with paper plates, shredded lettuce, the tops of carrots, opened ketchup packages, dirty laundry. A sour fish smell lingers as she jumps over a pile of crumpled foil and smeared hotdogs that look like little bits of fleshy road kill on the highway. She sees Ryan's back door up ahead. Her stomach flutters and she hesitates for a moment as she moves over to his side of the street, out of the middle and near the garages. The sound of a crow squawking above is her only comfort as she fixates on his house and imagines what really happened to Ryan. An image of Ryan·s body on his bedroom floor lying in a puddle of his own blood with a knife nearby flashes through her mind. It wasn·t suicide. A disgust fills her as she tries to grasp what kind of person could stand inches from another human, hold a sharp metal blade to his neck, feel his pulse moving, hear his breath flowing, and press into his skin and flesh while blood gushes out. What kind of person is so immune to life that they continue to press deeper past a layer of fat, and In one swoop slice the veins and arteries as nonchalantly as snipping cable wires to hook up a TV. No regard for life. That·s fucking crazy. A cold chill brushes over her arms as she checks behind her. Her senses are on edge, alive, keen. The sound of gravel under her

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step crunching each time her foot hits the ground sounds like the inside of her head when she chews on captain crunch. Loud and rhythmic. She hears a rustle behind and jumps into a space between the neighbor·s garage and metal fence separating the houses. Her breathing stops. She swallows and just stares at the rust overtaking the round metal spokes of the gate. Her eyes scour for anything sharp. Nothing but a blade of grass. How stupid am I. Why didn·t I fuckin bring my jack knife, she thinks. She can feel her heart knocking on her chest as she quickly lies down on her stomach as flat as possible to the ground. The cool dry earth on her face smells like worms after a rainy day. She thinks of her mother buried underneath in a grave in Southern Hills, Tulsa where she never visits. Why? She lets out a slow steady stream of air and becomes one big ear as she listens and inches her body up to the edge. A metal crash rings in her ears as she closes her eyes and hopes it goes away. Do I run, do I stay, what the fuck do I do, I want to go home, but don·t have one. I wish you would hold me in your arms and tell me that everything is gonna be okay. Her fingernails dig into the ground as she pulls herself one inch closer to the edge and peeks around the corner. A baby raccoon near the hotdog mess. Are you kidding me? A fucking raccoon! A pile air rushes out of her mouth like a balloon as she rests her chin on the ground and regains composure. Back up to her feet, she moves out of the cubby, stops, and just stares at the pesty creature. The raccoon hears her and freezes. It·s big dark circled eyes stare right back at her daring her to come closer. ´An animal,µ she says. She turns and walks towards Ryan·s back door. That·s who would fucking do it. An animal. The raccoon continues to pull at the pieces of food without

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regard for her presence while Natalie looks through the small glass window into Ryan·s hallway. She feels a surge of adrenaline rushing through her. Immobilizing her. Her hand almost turning the knob, but she hesitates and tries to calm her nerves instead. I·m just being paranoid, she tells herself. In and out she breathes as she watches the filthy stupid animal rummaging through the trash. Its long claws have the agility of human hands sifting through the broken plastic as if it·s tossing and sorting trash from treasure. Hmmm. She shakes her head half a smile. Smart little fella. She walks over to Ryan·s trashcan and pulls off the lid. An old newspaper covered in plastic rests on top. She takes off the plastic, puts it over her hand and tosses the paper. She pulls off the band holding her ponytail and uses it to secure the bag around her wrist. She moves the trashcan back between the garages, out of view of the alley, and pulls out the tall clear bag. Cans of tuna, Healthy Choice boxes, coffee grounds smeared all over the sides. She sets it on the ground and looks back in the trash and sees something odd. She pulls out an oversized flannel shirt. Pieces of old moldy lemons drop to the ground. Huh. She holds it at eye level and studies the black and red squares. He would never wear this, he is way too preppy«was too preppy, she corrects herself. She sets it on the ground behind her. She feels like one of those alcoholic Indians that wander the alleys with glazed eyes, a red face, a brown bagged bottle still searching for their taken land and settling on the white mans leftovers at 3am. Sad. Oddly enough, she also feels like an investigator and it electrifies her.

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wRAPPED
Do you like to dance, he asked that first time, after he taught me to measure and shoot³ because here we dance every day. No, I thought, but didn·t say. Instead I shimmied back, and as he clasped their ends the bands he used to bind my hands unraveled to the floor. I came back the next day and the next, learned to gird my own fists and wrists with narrow strips longer than a man is tall. I wound them around until it became a daily meditation³ so I can send everything in myself, and all the might I can draw from the very ground into my body, through these thin and bending twigs. Scraps of cloth, acrid from past efforts, will let these hands take a bad jab or crooked hook, and bear the brunt of my bluntest pains and my biggest self. So I return again and again, to true what is most skewed in me. Every day, wet and spent, I dance as the binds unfurl and fall away.

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rEFLECTIONS oN a sPIT bUCKET
My defenses are slack. Too willing to take one straight to the face in hope of connecting, my lips are tender targets. Huffing and ducking, slipping and jabbing, I taste steely heat filling my mouth with the tang of what I·m made of. When the bell breaks us he pulls my guard, wet strings clinging, and says rinse. He says spit. Above the bucket I free a rosy cloud to drift whole a moment then dissolve, pinking and mingling with what others left before. I slide through the ropes. Someone takes my place but I leave behind a reminder,

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one small sign³ I was here. I bled, too.

hURRICANE
With one good eye he absorbs the world and warms it. Once a Hurricane, he is steady as the rain of summer afternoons, washing me clean each day when I see myself through his one good eye.

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sCAVENGER hUNT
It is just like him to send her on a scavenger hunt for her wedding ring. His clues are all written in his meticulous, architect·s script, on heavy card stock³placards at a table spreading from the ocean to the bay. Some clues launch her like a bottle rocket. ´Where first we kissedµ shoots her to Coit Tower. But other clues, like ´I know you aren·t the only one, but you·re the only one I·ve found,µ stick her fast. Now she stands in the fog at Eighth Avenue and Fulton, regarding the stone pillars flanking a neglected side-entrance to Golden Gate Park. Atop each stone pillar a cast metal beast prowls. The clue that sent her here says, ´Where lying lions would not dare.µ It referred to their picnic celebrating exactly two years of dating. The day of the picnic it was sunny and hot. She carried two grocery bags heavy with the typical picnic things. He had their blanket flung across his back, looking like a young boy with a makeshift cape. At the pillars he had stopped and regarded the animals. ´Look at these bears!µ He·d said. ´They·re mountain lions,µ she had replied. ´No no, they·re definitely bears. Wow.µ She had stood there in silent courtesy, her shoulders pulled down by the groceries, as he darted back and forth between the pillars, eyeing each creature in turn. He had said, ´They·re guarding the park together. This is like us, ready to fend off the dangers of the world, side by side.µ She didn·t mention the
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road dividing the beasts, or that since they were sculpture they would never be together, never curl their carved flanks like two nestled shields, never actually touch. Finally he had satisfied himself and they walked on into the park, spreading out their picnic on a sunny lawn. ´What if we saw everything in the world completely differently?µ He had asked, after they had finished the picnic food. ´You mean, if we only saw in black and white? Or in four dimensions?µ ´No. I mean you and me. I mean, like those bears. You thought they were lions. Wouldn·t it be awful if everything we saw went into your brain as something totally different from how it goes into my brain?µ ´But it does.µ ´No,µ he said. ´We see the same world, that·s why we love each other.µ They packed up the flimsy plastic champagne flutes and the cutting board and the crumpled white butcher papers. He carefully rolled the blanket. She held his hand when they left; she liked the heft of it in her hand. That was over a year ago. Now, she examines the lions, or bears. She holds the scavenger clue and stares at the first bear statue, then at the second, then back at the first. They had both been wrong; one is a bear, the other a lion, and they·re not guarding the park. Instead, they stalk each other from their perches, preparing for a fight to the death. He is always so sure of himself, especially when he is completely mistaken. The next clue is stuck to the bear sculpture in a wax-

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paper envelope, the kind that stamps come in, to protect it against the fog. He anticipates everything. The clue says, ´Where you found your favorite music.µ There is a sour tightening in her throat, as though she might throw up. She remembers that day, early in their relationship, when they went to the used record store on Haight Street. He told her all the bands he liked. He filled her arms with records. That she didn·t have a record player was inconsequential; he bought her one the next day. The music was so different from anything she liked. She listened, and gradually learned to appreciate it, but she never called it her favorite. It was the soundtrack to his world. For a time, she thought it was their world. But now, holding this clue that says ´your favorite music,µ as though she would not like any music at all if he had not given it to her, she understands that it is his world. It has always been his world. She shivers and looks across the foggy street at the apartment buildings along Fulton³grim four- and five-story structures, their simple bay windows built onto the wall like afterthoughts. She imagines sitting high up in one of those windows in a sweatshirt, watching this gate, waiting for the bell to sound to start the duel between these two beasts. The muscular brown bear arches his back while the conniving mountain lion coils, smaller, slyer, more desperate. She drops the clue. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out the other eight clues and drops them too. They land in a neat stack and splay out like a small fan on the fog-soaked pavement. The dampness stains their borders, and the moisture wicks in towards his inked script. She turns her back on the gate and walks up 8th Avenue towards Clement Street. Soon she is moving through the almost all-Chinese crowd. She takes deep breaths. She passes duck carcasses hanging in windows, sun-bleached posters advertising acupuncture, and tiny women in collarless jackets hunched over wire pushcarts. The signs are all written in

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Chinese calligraphy. The cold fog tickles her cheeks and mingles with the smell of roast pork fat and citrus. At a corner she waits for the green light, and when a police officer laughs at a joke and then responds in Chinese, the complete, pervasive foreignness makes her heart pound. She is a fugitive and she has made it across the border. She wonders how long it will take her to learn the customs, to learn the language.

wITHWITHOUT
What is life without the threat of not having it? She stares at the note posted on her fridge as if it were the barrel of a gun. She breaks two eggs into a pan, amorphous sizzle. She thinks about swallowing blowfish meat, shallow breathing, a piano hovering over her head all day long, and how walking home alone is harder than crying home alone. She needs to empty herself. To the restroom. Vague awareness of pubes. Two drops of blood ribbon double helix in her toilet bowl. She looks down. So what if she dies? Life blood leaks every day. The wrecking ball of her mind is hopelessly hopeful about this.

bLANK
There is a process that must occur here where I write something meaningful perhaps beautiful but there is also a house somewhere of fine volume that asks me to stay to stay away from everywhere else. --_____ would wish I would stop whining about this place you don·t even know where it is he gurgles death by water but oh the mania of its writhing ivy the five starred hazard of its accommodations! Not yet has my heart written something all day long all night long that could justify the traitor in me the one who wants to sign the mortgage.
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mIL wAKES uP
aN eXCERPT fROM tHIS tIME tOMORROW He is certain, upon waking, that it has snowed. The trees that morning are heavy with white, and through his open window slides a barely audible hum, thin now but with a promise to grow, the swelling crescendo of a new season. It can·t be snow. This is March, this is San Francisco. It never snows in San Francisco, not even in deadest winter, when the city finally sleeps. Still, the fact remains: the tree outside is heavy with white. He puts on his glasses and the world sharpens: cherry blossoms, fat and airy as popcorn, have sprung open overnight. Milan gets out of bed. He sneezes. The pollens have come and with them, a certain set of problems. It begins with a peculiar pressure at the base of his nose, weighing into his sinuses, a tickle and then the sense that something is nudging its way³ yes, here it is. He sneezes again, and a caterpillar, pimpled and grey, creeps out of the tunnel of his nose. Only its head makes it through initially³it·s a fat one, and a bit of a match for Milan·s delicate nostril. He lets it work its own way out, knowing that to pick it will mean a certain death by squashing, a rude interruption of its life cycle. He knows from experience that caterpillar residue sticks like a bastard to the nose hairs, that soaking one·s nose in hot water is no way to spend a warm spring day. From the back door, shoeless, comes Amma. The damp morning grass will soak her feet, surely, and she will be cold. But

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who needs shoes when all three of her children are home, under one roof, within reach of her ever-loving arms? Who needs socks when her daughter, her emerald, is getting married, at last, to a doctor from Marin? Even the crown of her head is round with happiness; the streaks of grey are streaks of joy. Her hair flips skyward with the thrill. One cherry blossom pops straight off its branch and falls in girlish petals at her feet. Milan squeezes his eyes shut and flexes his gut. He·s done this before, but focus is essential³and yes, a faint pop, followed by another, followed by a third. Cherry blossoms, in soft explosions, leap from the tree, a few at first and then a whole shower of them, pouring down on Amma, landing in her hair, on her shoulders, on the ground. She looks to the sky and laughs, holds her palms out like a girl. Milan clenches his abdomen and wills it to rain and rain the petals, until the ground is carpeted, the tree bare. A quick nasal out-breath, and the caterpillar emerges. He lets it crawl onto his finger and, reaching out the window, he guides it onto a branch. Be well, little man, he says. Go make some silk. Perhaps because of the caterpillar, maybe as a side effect of the cherry blossom trick, or possibly because he hasn·t been to the dentist in seventeen years, Milan has severe toothache. He·s spent the morning chewing on a wet towel. His mother grabs his head and tries to wrench open his jaw. Amma! Let me see. What·s hurting you? Like a horse inspector, she pries his lips open. A muffled protest as he tries to keep his lips shut, but there·s little he can do.

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What³your own mother can·t look in your mouth? My own son? I breastfed you for two years and this is the thanks I get? And she looks. No one exactly blames Milan for the dentist who died, twelve minutes after his appointment, of an embolism in the office kitchen, or for the hygienist who went mad, shrieking, collapsing to the exam room floor, rolling into a ball and muttering to her knees. They were thought to be two unfortunate and wholly unrelated events. He was only a boy at the time, but Milan knew what they saw. He·s seen it himself, countless times, and has grown used to the sight of the universe and all its realms. Where most people have nothing but warm, fetid air and the distant cave wall of a throat, Milan holds the cosmos, all time, all space. Above his tongue and around the dingle-dangle of his uvula, he holds all that ever was and will be: the planets and oceans and stars and black holes, the galaxies waking and dying. And with the galaxies and oceans and stars, he holds the past, present and future, the very elements of certainty and potential. It is a portrait of the universe so complete, so all-atonce, that most humans simply cannot digest it. But Amma is no deader or madder than she was before she looked in his mouth; she is, after all, his mother, and there are no cosmic vistas between Milan·s molars that she hasn·t already seen. Since taking Milan in, she·s spent much of her maternal energy convincing herself that he was just like any other boy his age, that his various phenomena were minor idiosyncrasies, just Milan being Milan being Milan. All morning you·ve been chewing that towel, Amma says. Time to see the D-E-N-T-I-S-T. Milan hasn·t been to the dentist in years, for fear of committing homicide or inciting hysteria. He rarely risks opening his mouth, which has turned him into a quiet man. Some see him as

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taciturn, others as very intelligent. Either way, he·s managed to build a life in which his condition poses few problems, except on days like today. As he reclines in the examination chair, the bib chained around his neck, he fingers the instruments on the metal tray, his nerves surging at the thought of someone catching him here, fingering these instruments. He hopes for a young dentist, someone robust and easily distracted, someone from the Wikipedia generation, whose only interest in the cosmos is limited to UFO sightings. Such a dentist, he believes, might have a chance at surviving the view between his lips. She enters. He stands, rips off the bib and charges for the door. Stop! She puts her hand up. He stops. She is one foot shorter than he is. Sit down, she orders. She is so very pretty. She is too pretty to die in this office. She wears her hair like a fräulein, in two braids strapped to the top of her head. He fixes his gaze on the door. I feel fine now, he says. Sit down. The pain is gone. Have a seat. He looks down at her again, and sits. Ada Weinstein, goddess, tyrant, D.D.S. Milan knows Ada Weinstein; she comes into the market every Thursday at four, brings her own bags and buys soy milk, gallons of it at a time. With a flick of her wrist, she pushes him back into the chair, and in a single, practiced

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sweep, she rams her knee into his ribs. Open up, Milan. She pronounces his name like the Italian city, which is what most people do before they know him, before he musters the courage to tell them that actually, the emphasis is on the first syllable. Now is not the time, he senses, to correct her emphasis. I should go. Open up, now. She pushes her knee further into his ribs. He squeezes his eyes shut, and silently, he prays, he pleads, he apologizes, he bargains, he begs, and finally, he parts his lips. She jabs the mirror in, clacks it between his teeth and forces them wider. With one arm she reaches up and turns on the double-lamp, heatless as it shines down. Right, is all she says. That·s it, nice and wide. Is it just about here? She sinks the pick into his molar and he squeals with pain. There we go, she says. Let·s get some anaesthetic in there. And that·s it. No hysterics. So far, no death. If she sees the universe and all its realms between his jaws, she says nothing. Perhaps she·s seen it all before, being a dentist. Perhaps she·s being polite, or so incredibly focused that she sees nothing but one molar, one toothy wormhole. He laughs with relief, the mirror still in his mouth. She looks up. Everything alright? He makes a sound that means yes. And she gets to work, this woman of women. He leans into her

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gloved hand, silky and solid inside his jaw. If there is pain, he feels none of it. She works tidily, efficiently, and before he can ask her what she is, who she is, how she came to be, she is pressing a filling into his molar and telling him to bite down. She picks up the long white tube and sprays his mouth. When he tries to speak, to say something³anything³even a thank you would suffice³his lips flap lamely, numbed by the anaesthetic and beyond his control. A trail of dribble courses past his lips, down his chin, and onto the slick blue plain of his bib. When he opens his eyes, she is done, gone, her voice trilling brilliantly in the room next door.

uNTITLED "aLL tHE sEALS lEFT tHE dOCK..."
because« All the seals left the dock and I know they·re coming back but they don·t have to because

all the seals might have somewhere else to go

maybe they have appointments
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and commitments maybe they have meetings on rocks where they have to talk and figure out where they have to be

All the seals left the dock and they·re not coming back they figured out that they have enough not to think what we·re all about

and what are we about? not what the seals want to think about!

and how much time do we have to make choices are all the voices we had all that mattered?

if I knew, I would say something profound but I can·t

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all the seals bailed on us like Jesus and the world of the rest of us

and I pray, but my words can·t find a name to pray to and I can only hope that hope has wings and carries souls on it cuz my soul is small and caught up in« well« caught up in everything « well everything«

and I can find a way away from everything

but that suggests more than I·m given

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I know that youth equals lies that time equals times and nobody in our life will figure our life out and my life tells not enough to inform the rest of it

so why am I on the dock looking around for a seal left alone left where they all should be where they told me to be and now they took off and I hope they come back because the seals in San Francisco transcend metaphor

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and we know nothing lasts forever and I·m glad I don·t because what good would that be the seals know me and they·re not even seals they·re sea lions

and I love you in your way and I love the sky, it looks the right shade and I pray the seals come back for selfish reasons for memories in a foreign language for Minnesota tourists with cameras for that weird barking they made

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that made this place³our place sea lion seal and gringo alike

God tells me to scream but fuck god I don·t have to say anything because I·m on fire and my girl may not be true but she means well and all the world it·s all going to hell

but that·s just my perspective

and hopefully I won·t see it be so«

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uNTITLED (tHERE aIN·T nO bETTER dAY«)
fOR s. there ain't no better day than this one.... there ain't no sun need to shine today, we don't need no curing rain... if a comet come hurtling toward San Francisco, let it be so...

today's aura block out the cosmos, evaporate the clouds into rainbows and drops so big they hit the ground with a plunk, plunk washing away all the pee & funk of all the drunks south of market...

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there ain't no day better than this one...

when polar bears feed they need nothing in the zoo but salmons and each other

they roll on their fronts and backs and they tuck into the zookeeper·s filets

and sleep all day in the drowsy sunshine and one polar bear say to the other remember«

remember when we used to hunt« ha!!! punt

there ain·t no day « way «

there ain·t no better day than this one

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I find your space from behind and dogs in the park can·t quite bark like you talk to the pillow in the morning·s sun and shine

I wake out of a pile and smile looking around me

and the dog says take me to the park with a bark

so I climb past all the spiders and find pants

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and watch all the sleeping, thinking

there ain·t no day better than this one

with welcoming places

soft and dark sunny and grassy

in the park meant for making out

where holding hands is erotic and entry is elementary

and I wonder how it works in the complicated world

when where I am is so easy to do eat, drink sleep, screw write this poem to you

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drink a fernet and a beer or two

and I do know better but not today

cuz today

there ain·t no better way to spend a day

than right here right now

in this place with nothing to do but being with you in every imaginable way

and knowing you we might invent a few

I·ve see the world up close

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and it has a snarl on it·s face

and conspires, conspires to put us in our place

and there ain·t no fall so fast as a fall from grace and it comes apace of course

but that doesn·t mean there isn·t a today or a day like this one waiting to say

´hell, things can be right with the universeµ

and that we·re in grace gives me pause because

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it·s way up there but hey

mountain climbers scratch and pray

to say on a satellite phone

´guess where I am!µ

and astronauts unhitch their seatbelts and let drops of tang float around the capsule

and drink them through a straw

and they know they·re coming down again

but that don·t mean

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they can·t enjoy being up there

cuz there ain·t no day like today

and that·s what I have to say so I have a plan, while we can, let·s play « cool?

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