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anonlinejournalofvoice

20 th anniversary issue
20 anniversary issue
th

an online journal of voice


20
Fall 2020

BLAZEVOX[BOOKS]
Buffalo, New York
BlazeVOX 20 | an online journal of voice
Copyright © 2020

Published by BlazeVOX [books]

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without


the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

BlazeVOX [books]
Geoffrey Gatza
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Editor@blazevox.org

publisher of weird little books

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Table of Contents
Poetry

Adam Day Anatoly Kudryavitsky André Spears


Andrew Campion Ann Pedone Anna Kapungu
Anne-Adele Wight Charles Borkhuis Cornelia Veenendaal
Daniel Y. Harris David Rushmer David Trinidad
Deborah Meadows Deborah Ritchie Doug Jones
Ed Makowski Emalisa Rose Ethan Goffman
Gregory Wallace H. Wednesday Hannah Wynne
Heller Levinson Hung Kien Lui Irene Koronas
J. Chester Johnson J. D. Nelson Jeffery Conway
Joseph Harrington Julie Chou K. Alma Peterson
Kate Noble Kevin Thurston Kristina Marie Darling
Laura Hinton Len Krisak Linda King
M. Kaat Toy Marcia Arrieta Mark DuCharme
Mark Niedzwiedz Mary Newell Matthew Bruce Harrison
Michael Gessner Michael Jocye Michael Joyce
Michael Kelleher Michael Mc Aloran Michael Ruby
Nava Fader Neive Pity Patrick Chapman
Paul Hogan Peter Siedlecki Phillip Henry Christoper
Rachel Anszelowicz Rich Murphy Roger Craik
Roger G. Singer Sasha Sinclair Scott Glassman
Shu Cao Mo Susan Bowman Susan Lewis
Sylvester Close Tamizh Ponni Therese Murphy
Tony Trigilio Wade Stevenson Whitney Stewart
Fiction & Prose Text Art & Vispo
The Dutch Girl by Eleanor Levine 8 pieces: Mark Young
an excerpt from her new book ,
(Guernica Editions, 2020) Parade: hiromi suzuki

Two stories by Judith Goode, Gay Life & Last Love Joint Effusive by Barnaby Smith

The Bucket List by Nakia Tinsley

The Elective Übermensch of Zarathustra by Jacob Jirák

In Love and War by Don Donato

Touching the Void by Peter Quinn Interview


There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch by Mark Hannon
10 Questions For Roger Craik
Club 12-21 by S.W. Campbell

Jilin by Stuart Cooke

Your own personal Jesus by Dan A. Cardoza

Key Blanco #1 by Michael Paul Hogan

THE EX-CONSUL by Robert Wexelblatt

THE FRESHET, 1911 — Dorin Schumacher

Thanksgiving Menu-Poem Series


COVID-19 Special: The Cats of Kenmore by Geoffrey Gatza

Acta Biographia — Author Biographies


It is incredible to think BlazeVOX has been online for
Hip Hip Hurray twenty years. We started off as a tiny startup project at
a small college outside of Buffalo, and over the past two

BlazeVOX
decades, we have created a vibrant, versatile channel
for literary and cultural conversations across the world.

To all the members of the literary community for


is celebrating its 20th anniversary! whom this journal speaks, I am honored by the support
of such a remarkable group of people. I look forward to
continuing these relationships for many years to come. To the writers who have submitted to us over
the years, thank you for always looking for a way to make literature
new, bold, and exciting.

It is been our honor and pleasure to read your writing, publish your
work, and be a part of your reading life. And in case you are worried
that this will be the last issue, never fear! I am pleased to let you know
that the spirit and drive of the previous twenty years will continue to
live on and thrive for another twenty, at least.

Rockets, Geoffrey Gatza

In this issue we seek to avoid answers but rather to ask questions. With a subtle minimalistic approach, this issue of BlazeVOX
focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the
non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting. The works collected feature
coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections, which make it possible to revise literary history and, even, better, to
complement it.

Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies these piece appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality
meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. In a search
for new methods to ‘read the city’, the texts reference post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and
the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Many of the works are about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water), space and
landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes develop in absurd ways. By creating situations and breaking the
passivity of the spectator, he tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective
associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations. These pieces demonstrate how
life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the
latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between
our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Enjoy!
anonlinejournalofvoice
20 th anniversary issue
Adam Day

an excerpt from a poetry sequence entitled, Midnight’s Talking Lion and the Wedding Fire.

Untitled claims underscore a small social microcosm


then widens the scope to include all of the neighborhood,
addressing “sickness” of American “social order” and its “total
implication” for the “total being” of the “total Negro.”
Argument about the personality and identity formation brown
of black American as such within segregated society,
an unconventional ethnography of everyday life inside “total

institutions,” closed worlds: prisons, army barracks, airports,


TSA processing, boarding schools, nursing homes,
monasteries: identity formation within a system of social
segregation. System binaristic, like social order of Jim Crow
anywhere, yet not organized by racial difference. Instead,
depends on “basic split between large

and managed group, conveniently called inmates, and small


supervisory staff.” Much like Ellison, the sociologist was
interested in how members of the subordinated population
strive to define themselves, to attain an identity that rejects
“the second-class status assigned them.”
Freedom danger; what you want from it? “-borhood is
a ruin,” commissioned, but ultimately not published…Ordinary
neighborhood racialized poverty alienation in the land of their
birth.” And yet, alternative institution offers asylum.
A basement passage seems to lead to a blank wall; then
at last one enters the brightly lighted auditorium” a bit
disoriented “social workers as “white-jacketed psychiatrists
carrying a flurry within “an atmosphere of shelter, however
fleeting, a clean, bright space where “concerned faces” are met
by “expert workers.”

One small, unfunded, and employing staff of 4,000 at its peak.


Ellison emphasized link between mental health and lived
environment. St. Elizabeth’s, by contrast, impersonal,
bureaucratic, confinement, site where patients, or what
Goffman calls “inmates,” were to endure a “daily round
of petty contingencies,” as well as traumatizing experiences
such as electroshock therapy.
A group of connected modern childhood traumas, dreams,
semi-psychotic. Threat of something is ever-immanent, “this
the…bloodletting behind the day.” How the self seems
to suggest separation, sense a vision may have significance only
to oneself. Not portraying vulnerability, but is vulnerable,
creating something akin to a perception of responsibility for,
or a role in, the state.

How trauma, psychoanalysis and dreams offer threat


to self’s sovereignty, and paradoxically work to construct
personal identity. Risk to self’s sovereignty seems
to acknowledge insufficiency of narrative to explain, as well
as need to speak for about experiences and aspects of multiple
selves, across time and mind, struggling to understand.
The invisible zone of reclusion is itself a secondary
adjustment., imperfect but, illuminating – indirect challenge
to social order allows individual to claim identity taking some
measure of control over lived environment – which

“represent ways in which individual stands apart from role


and self that were taken for granted for him by institution.”

Subjectivity "the other" author allows us into by using the


second person. Jobs bleed into identity, vice versa. Life roles:
son of aging parents, father, writer, attorney – genuine and
enforced performativity, overlap of borders. Living in the
show, but also life who do you have to be at a given moment
among expansiveness and especially circumscription of role -
front stage, back stage. How represented: sushi chef, Dr. karate
master; terrorist, cab driver; athlete, dealer; CEO, soccer mom
Fed up. Inhabiting a site where one can, literally, “stand apart”
from any socially prescribed role. Not only a “free-place,” a site
of “relaxation and self[-] determination” that enables them
to “be own” self, but also a “stash” or “personal storage space”
that adds up to physical “extension of the self.”
Early in C.D. Wright’s The Big Box Store Spring Midnight Fire
poetry is: “speech by someone who is in trouble,” on the whole
Paris is by no means exclusively quite affluent — banlieues
have incomes as America so if you have seen the living found
in those counties you can imagine the future generations
at escape.” Further noted is data organized by neighborhood…
Cites, like American analogue, augment detachment. People
communicate across the crevasse addressing identity formation
evolution.
Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Hostilities

Those deadly beautiful things...


A bomb rain
or a bursting night-sky mushroom.
An imploding mind...

The empire of dreams macadamises you


with images. The sun is
unbuttered bread; life is oily
under the sunflower.

If your religion is vandalism, your god is


in pieces. Your consciousness,
hillock upon hillock...
Even your language isn’t your language.

Your nightmare: the insatiable kiss


of déjà vécu.
What do you say to a dynamite ape?
To a multi-knife scarecrow?

Questions, queuing up.

Satiety, pencil-bodied.

An abyss inside the abyss.


Don’t Tsar It

Your headlights stop a dozen eyes.


Don’t tsar it. Desist.
Be a swallow. Twice a swallow.
Dive into the red of a yellow light, sing
the future’s reverse side.

What now? Is “now” now?


Or a goblet full of distress?
A circus of friends, a solo of lightnings...
I'm a motorway. I like
motorcycle brainwaves.

Celery snow... Grease persists;


there’s a pail of pain
on the hard shoulder. Can you play the bus?
Like all cameras, I can be cloudy,
but what do you do if you are a cloud?
An Identikit

In the jungle of sticky errors, there are


loose feathers the colour of blazing darkness.
Spilt (split) thunder.
The sky drinkable on the brinks.
If they expropriate lunar-marine,
how green will our fingers be?

We play mouths and apples,


we clock ninety-nine episodes
of confusion.
The air of crevices,
an agoraphobic argument.
Is this the time for wiping mirrors?

Dreams get silenced into identities.


While birds pluck the stars
– cherry by cherry –
we billow towards our hunting grounds.
The sapphire birch, its dignity of a prize.
The funeral ostrich, its senescent scent.
Polonaise

Snow. A takeaway weather


from the sky library. The farm,
seated under the landscape.
No fly, no dig.

Existence, whitesnaking around


prior beings, animals. A sweetmeat smog.
Shadows wearing footprint robes
wander about with walkie-talkies.

Eventuality. Life angles tabled


to the angel cloth. Boxes and boxes
of mouse-quietness. Errors ambered
into the sunrise.

The mud clock clays the Great Thaw.


The voice lights up,
blooms the rooms. Wintry wounds
exhale lifeless saplings.

Log in to your view-finders, to a radiogummy


of your skull. The motherload of dreams
under the moustache-quilt,
a foretaste of purgatory.
20 Fall 2020
André Spears

XIV - THE ARTS


[Note: “XIV - The Arts” is taken from a Tarot-based work in progress, previous chapters of which have been
published in XIII: Ship of State (Dispatches Editions, 2019) and From the Lost Land: I - XII (BlazeVOX, 2020).]
My love,

I knew “here is / where there / is”


that I had Robert Creeley, “Here is.”
been here before.
“We use language not to destroy,
but to undercut pinnings of there.”
Richard Foreman,
Ceramic vulvas “Ontological-Hysteric Manifesto I.”
line the locked gate;
the gate bars the way “What man is at ease in his Inn?”
to a light on the left. Aleister Crowley,
The Book of Lies.
The mat on which I sit
would have been a carpet “Nine in the fourth place means: /
with dark stripes lengthwise; Wavering flight over the depths. /
replacing the entrance to No blame.”
a corridor—higher on the wall— I Ching.
stands a White window, that hums.
“There are five windows.
No stone floor; instead, dirt Each has two leaves divided
and faded mosaic; Dead moss; into three panes. But these panes
no Metal; no vents or drain; are only visible when the window
no broken glass or portrait is wide open, because the inside
of (“Dice”) D’ Cartz. is covered with dark paper, barely
translucent, glued exactly to
Outside, below, I hear the entire surface of the glass.”
the phantom Sounds Alain Robbe-Grillet,
of festivity in the street. In the Labyrinth.

I picture Lord Chesterfield “It will be a great relief


cheered by the crowds; when a window opens. /
his Chariot is a picnic table But the windows are not there
floating upside-down, to be found— / or at least
drawn by empty wheelchairs. I cannot find them. And perhaps /
it is better that I don’t find them. /
He is the Spirit of Shell Perhaps the light will prove
incarnate, as foretold by another tyranny. / Who knows
The Book of Death and Triumph! what new things it will expose?”
C. P. Cavafy, “The Windows.”
He goes to meet his Cerebella.
“a voice from the nondead past
Soon I will be released. started talking, / she closed
her ears and it spelled out
in her hand / ‘you might as well
answer the door, my child, /
The veiled figure the truth is furiously knocking.’”
behind the gate Lucille Clifton,
with Colored robes “the light that came to lucille clifton.”
and a big hat
is The Philosopher; “I have lived on the lip / of insanity,
the bald Youth wanting to know reasons, /
with the tattooed scalp knocking on a door. It opens.
is The Skeleton. I've been knocking from the inside!”
Rumi (tr. C. Barks).
I try to speak, but either
speech is failing me and “Know amazedly how / often
I say nothing, or my language one takes his madness /
is foreign to them. into his own hands / and keeps it.”
Lorine Niedecker,
Lady Die breaks in “When Ecstasy is Inconvenient.”
(I recognize her Voice),
asking: “Is Die The Star “I keep this stylus in my hand…
or The Sun?” The healer came after I wrote
last, and I asked him where I had
Instantly, from the Lost Land been hurt. He said it was near
of Lâ-Konx in White Water the shrine of the Earth Mother,
Province comes Voice Mail where the Great King’s army fought
counting Dollars: the army of Thought and the Rope
“Press The Star key now!” Makers… The army of the Great
King blackens the road for many
Now, however, “Monocle” miles, and I, having seen it,
the Noh Comedian does not stand do not understand how
by a corridor beating her head it could have been vanquished—
against the wall. or why I joined it, since there are so
many men no one could count them,
Someone different— one more or less is nothing.”
KNOCK! Gene Wolfe,
KNOCK! Soldier of the Mist.
KNOCK!
KNOCK! “Unleashing of passions is of
KNOCK!— the order of ‘contagion,’ another
is at the window. name for ‘communication’…
What is unleashed, communicated,
etc. is the passion of singularity
as such. The singular being,
The First Law of E-motion, because it is singular, is in
as theorized by D. J. Com the passion—the passivity,
at Faux Pas the suffering, and the excess—
in the Greenspan Age, of sharing its singularity.”
transports me beyond a Firewall Jean-Luc Nancy,
kindled by the Rapping The Inoperative Community.
on the window.
“Action and speech are so closely
The Star key is the same related because the primordial
small patch of dirt and specifically human act must
on the floor in the corner. at the same time contain an answer
to the question asked of every
My face hugs the ground, newcomer: ‘Who are you?’”
as I push the dirt Hannah Arendt,
into the corner with my finger. The Human Condition.

I am Klutz, beyond “Some time then there will be every


The Scales // reversed, kind of a history of every one who ever
by a White window that is can or is or was or will be living.”
The Wheel of Chance; Gertrude Stein,
out of a corridor from The Making of Americans.
the past, the Fate I reject
and the Fate I embrace “In the informational state
hang in the balance. the panopticon has been
replaced with the panspectron,
Two large thumbs turned up,
in which information is gathered
like hooks in the wall,
about everything, all the time,
confirm these Revelations.
and particular subjects become
visible only in response
The thumbs point the way
to the asking of a question.”
toward the window:
Sandra Berman,
left hand on the upper thumb,
Change of State.
right foot on the lower one,
and, stretching, right hand
“This was indeed a godlike
onto the latch…
science, and I ardently desired
The White window to become acquainted with it…
offers me a second chance I cannot describe the delight
at the other path— I felt when I learned the ideas
the so-called French Leave appropriated to each of these sounds,
left open by Tricks 1 and 101. and was able to pronounce them.
I distinguished several other words,
Nor is “Monocle” pounding without being able as yet
her head, as sign. to understand or apply them;
such as good, dearest, unhappy.”
There are different signs; Mary Shelley,
but this time the Inner Rave Frankenstein.
urges me to fall back, “We are in a generalized crisis
loop around and push on. in relation to all the environments
of enclosure—prison, hospital,
I start climbing. factory, school… These are
the societies of control, which
are in the process of replacing
the disciplinary societies.
As I lift myself up, ‘Control’ is the name Burroughs
I spot graffiti before me proposes as a term for the new
that says “README,” monster, one Foucault recognizes
while behind me the Firewall as our immediate future.”
falls, leaving an Abstrakt Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript
Pillar of smoke in its place. on the Societies of Control.”

I peer over my shoulders “We are living through


dialectically, deferring a movement from an organic,
the Eternal Rerun industrial society to a polymorphous,
with a left-brain wedge. information system—from all work
to all play, a deadly game.”
The lock turns in the gate: Donna Haraway,
the ceramic vulvas The Cyborg Manifesto.
that line the entrance
morph into Lotuses… “The art of losing
seaweed… Rhizomes… isn’t hard to master...”
moss… Flashbulbs— Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art.”
pop!pop!pop!pop!pop!
“You do not wait for fulfillment,
Through the gate, but brace yourself for failure.”
from the far corner Eugen Herrigel,
on my left, enters the fourfold Zen and the Art of Archery.
(Beatific) manifestation of
my opponent: a smiling woman “We lose – because we win – /
half-remembered, her legs Gamblers – recollecting which – /
crossed, her feet arched, who Toss their dice again!”
is Shiva of the Weak Force, Emily Dickinson (28).
Champion of the Tootsies,
reborn as Startrip th’Irenic, “There is no way out of the spiritual
in the guise of Mr. Clean, battle / the war is the war against
the Genie of Meta Forest. the imagination / you can't sign up
as a conscientious objector //
The Genie, oiled and naked the war of the worlds hangs here,
with pointed Nails— right now, in the balance /
as in Viagra’s vision it is a war for this world, to keep it /
of Cirrus and Nyce— a vale of soul-making”
starts to stroke the Abstrakt Diane di Prima, “Rant.”
smoke with Magick gestures,
and gazes at me, grinning. “In English the poetics became
meubles—furniture— / thereafter
“Slave of Regret! (after 1630 / & Descartes was
Behold the Map of Things Past!” the value / until Whitehead, who
cleared out the gunk / by getting
I recognize Chapter M the universe in (as against man
Verse MM from the PlayStation alone / & that concept of history
Manual, and hold my position— (not Herodotus’s, / which was
peering over my shoulder, a verb, to find out for oneself:
like Headsman Hertz ‘istorin, which makes any one’s acts
before the Hale Bop Lights a finding out for him or her / self”
in the Latter Days. Charles Olson,
“A Later Note on Letter #15,”
Rubbing thumb against fingertips, Maximus IV, V, VI.
the Genie draws strands
from the smoke, and weaves “The communion of saints
filaments into long thin rods is a great and inspiring assemblage…
that break in two and dissolve. but it has only one possible hall
of meeting, and that is, the present.”
Old scenes begin Alfred North Whitehead,
to play themselves over. “The Aims of Education.”

I try to picture “The gods themselves seemed to


the Grand Trine deconstructed summon me, though of course I am not
at Le Je Ne Sais Quoi admitted to the sacred precincts.”
and what the New School Murasaki Shikibu,
might have been The Tale of Genji.
without the Leap of Faith—
but my foot slips “Let M be predicated of no N,
(or the toehold gives way)… but of all O. Since, then,
the negative relation is convertible,
At Le Savoir Vivre N will belong to no M:
I find the WaitRoom but M was assumed to belong
in time, where Conman to all O: consequently N will
the Barbarian and Lego belong to no O. This has already
the Gentile trade places, been proved. Again if M belongs
like Nehmen and Nim to all N, but to no O, then N
at the Empire Room, and will belong to no O. For if M
the ghost of Hakuna Matata belongs to no O, O belongs
is your Uncle Feng Shui— to no M: but M (as was said)
but I think I glimpse belongs to all N: O then will belong
a Marble rolling by, to no N: for the first figure has
and then another again been formed. But since
(did the room tilt?)… the negative relation is convertible,
N will belong to no O. Thus
I try to break it will be the same syllogism
the Genie’s Web that proves both conclusions.”
and make another grab Aristotle,
for the window, Prior Analytics.
then I find myself
back at Le Savoir Faire, “On. Say on.
and this time, rather than Be said on. Somehow on.
cash in on MoMa’s Rapture Till nohow on. Said nohow on.”
and play Voodoo Child Samuel Becket,
to Mr. Bond’s Finest Torture, Worstward Ho.
I check the warning tag
on my helmet, “There’s no mere word
return it to the “box” marked sufficient to say NO.”
I SWEAR THEREFORE I AM— Flannery O'Connor,
when I think I hear The Violent Bear It Away.
the Sound of dripping water,
an electronic beat “Nana-korobi, ya-oki.”
or a ball bouncing, (“Fall down seven times,
and the Sound of singing, stand up eight.”)
or a Voice shouting, calling Daruma Daishi.
(am I under the Ocean
of Happy Days?)… “History... is a nightmare from
which I am trying to awake.”
I try again for the window’s James Joyce,
handle, the Genie’s play Ulysses.
with the smoke seduces me,
I am back in the past “History... is the emergence
at Le Laisser Faire, of a language of power
what I do differently now out of a language of cognition.”
is follow the music and Paul de Man,
keep up the Double Talk, Aesthetic Ideology.
on my way from the stage
of “MUST SEE” “Historiographical disputes
to the “NOTHING YET” will tend to turn, not only
and “NOT AGAIN” dioramas— upon the matter of what are
and suddenly the ground the facts, but also upon that
starts to tremble, the smell of their meaning…
of pine fills the room, If we take the dominant tropes
the hooks and the wall as four: metaphor, metonymy,
feel like warm flesh… synecdoche, and irony,
it is obvious that in language itself,
Still looking over in its generative or prepoetic
my shoulder, I tighten aspect, we might possibly have
my grip and reach the basis for the generation
for the window of those types of explanation
with my right hand, that inevitably arise in any field
yet the spell persists, of study not yet disciplinized
I slip into the time in the sense of being liberated
at Le Laisser Passer, from the conceptual anarchy that
three Guardians seems to signal their distinctively
by the Slo Mode Portal… prescientific phases.”
rather than greet them Hayden White,
as in the past “Interpretation in History.”
I keep silent, let
the third one usher me “Think we must.”
past the other two, Virginia Woolf,
past the clutter and Three Guineas.
the piles of paper pictured
in Maestro’s Background(s) “(T)hought is… for me
of the Complex, toward a perfectly neutral name,
the Sunken Bottleneck the blank part of the text.”
and Therapeutical Exit, Jacques Derrida,
that draw near—and “Of Grammatology as
with a turn of the head, A Positive Science.”
breaking away…
UP I GO! “Between one instant and the next,
between the past and the future,
I reach for the window’s handle the white uncertainty of an interval.”
and seize it. Clarice Lispector, “The Man.”

I pull down, as hard “What is this whiteness and silence


as I can, then I pull but the absence of pain?”
with all my weight, Catherine Anne Porter,
releasing my foothold, Pale Horse, Pale Rider.
hanging in mid-air.
“I lie to myself all the time.
Swinging, back and forth. But I never believe me.”
S. E. Hinton,
The Outsiders.

Behind me, the Genie “This is not just literary


of Meta Forest has disappeared… deconstruction, but liminal
transformation. Every story that
Gripping the handle begins with original innocence and
and hanging off the wall, privileges the return to wholeness,
I start to wonder imagines the drama of life to be
whether trying to force individuation, separation, the birth
this threshold open of the self, the tragedy of autonomy,
is a Methodical error. the fall into writing, alienation:
that is, war, tempered by imaginary
Does my predicament represent respite in the bosom of the other.”
a Factoidal Counter-Archaic Donna Haraway,
translation of the Apokalyptic The Cyborg Manifesto.
Paradox… or a Techno-Hysterical
variant of the Deep Blue Trap… “In the guise of a post-Marxist
a Scientological-Ontological twist description of the scene of power,
on the Mysterium Insolubilis we thus encounter a much older
of Werther & Erhardt? debate: between representation
or rhetoric as tropology and
The latch starts to give. as persuasion… They are related,
but running them together, especially
I tug on the handle, in order to say that beyond both is
pulling myself up; where oppressed subjects speak, act,
I can feel it loosening, and know for themselves, leads to
about to disengage an essentialist, Utopian politics…”
from its E.W. axis Gayatri Spivak,
under the full weight “Can the Subaltern Speak?”
of my body.
“It was long years—I should say
Like the Mania described centuries—before the influence
by the Unknown Poets of the coarser nature of men was
of Goodyear, a strange eliminated from the present race.”
excitement overtakes me Mary E. Bradley,
at the thought of crossing over, Mizora: A Prophecy.
connecting beyond the threshold
with one or the other Visibility “The Recorder of Self-inflicted
Site, identifying the Toggle Miseries states, that after a time
Switch in the Control Room, a new variety of the small-pox
communing with the Grail made its appearance,
of the Next Generation, which was called varioloid…
exercising Complete Control —Well, you live in an age so much
over Central Space, in advance of mine, and so many
over Food for Thought… facts and curious phenomena came
to light during the nineteenth
Then—Vision of Visions!— century, that you can tell me what
as if guided by the Spirit the settled opinion is now respecting
of Racing Thoughts, small-pox, kine-pox, and varioloid.”
Enlightenment comes from P-C’s Mary Griffith,
2001 Tales of the Tribe: Three Hundred Years Hence.
I am overwhelmed by the Mystic
power of Dick-Head, Tricky “…Those who lived gave way to
and the Forty Masters of Wisdom the almost universal negativism,
in “Story of the Skull”— what the French named l’ennui
about the Game played universel. It came upon us like
across the Lost Continent an insidious disease; indeed, it was
of Temporality, until the Fatal Toss a disease, with its soon-familiar
from Private Benjamin to Becks. symptoms of lassitude, depression,
ill-defined malaise, a readiness
The mounting sensation to give way to minor infections,
that the handle, from which a perpetual disabling headache.”
I now hang suspended P. D. James,
by both hands, will shift Children of Men.
at any moment to N.S., and
release, brings the Game to “The fourteenth card has been
life, as if I were witness called The Alchemist. The theory of
to the Energy in every alchemy was that all matter could be
throw and every catch, and reduced to one substance out of which,
to the speed of the skull by devious processes, the base and
whirling across the landscape. corruptible could be distilled away,
so that ultimately only the pure and
I feel new Neural Circuits incorruptible, the philosophers’ gold,
awakening, I am powerful could be bodied forth…The Angel who
and free, like a Master performs this subtle alchemy is rightly
of Wisdom myself, called Temperance. To temper means
certain of my path, ‘to bring to a suitable or desirable state
poised for a clearing by blending or admixture.’ We temper
of the way—I hear steel to make it strong yet resilient.
the Voice that cries out Ideally, we temper justice with mercy
with every throw, for the same reason.”
from Master to Master, Sallie Nichols,
over mountains and valleys, Jung and Tarot.
back and forth across
the Molecular Field… “If to beauty you add temperance,
then another Voice… and if in other respects you are what
recalling how the skull Critias declares you to be, then,
finally dropped to the ground. dear Charmides, blessed art thou,
in being the son of thy mother.
And a moment arrives And here lies the point; for if,
when, failing to open, as he declares, you have this gift
the latch breaks, of temperance already, and are
the handle snaps off: temperate enough…I may as well
I fall and land on my back, let you have the cure of the head
hitting my head. at once; but if you have not yet
acquired this quality, I must use
the charm before I give you
the medicine. Please, therefore,
I get up and look to inform me whether you admit
at the handle: the truth of what Critias has been
the Metal shows patterns saying—have you or have you not
of spirals and fylfots, this quality of temperance?
triskelions and arrobas; Plato,
the stone is White, Dialogues: Charmides.
like the glass.
“Plato, they tell us, found a system
The signs that I should in the sand / around a wall, though
throw the handle every constituent / occasion recalled
and Smash the glass an absent measure, constraint
are ambiguous, he could not abide or recall,
because the entire room the self-restraint / and melodic
is the handle’s Context; conversions he refused to hear.”
I know from the way Jay Wright, “Speak of the property
that it feels in my hand, of matter, the bright hand.”
from its weight, its shape
and size, its markings. “Looking for words to say /
Searching but not finding /
If I take the Broken Circle Understanding anywhere /
of Qa for reference, We're lost in this masquerade.”
then the glass stands Leon Russell, “This Masquerade.”
for Incompleteness
to begin with, and breaking it “In great awe I understood that
proves my undoing; I was near the ultimate mysteries
by contrast, transgressing from which there is no return.”
the threshold recalls Tantra’s P. D. Ouspensky,
“Sex-in-the-Breeze,” The Symbolism of the Tarot.
according to ART-O-TARO
VOLUME X: “…And at the thought that it was
the BLOOD on the BUSH, perhaps this, a circle and a centre
“…trembling in the Night Wind.” not its centre in search of a centre
and its circle respectively,
I face the glass, tossing in boundless space, in endless time,
the handle in my fingers, then Watt’s eyes filled with tears
up and down, for Momentum. that he could not stem, and
they flowed down his fluted tears
unchecked, in a steady flow,
refreshing him greatly.”
The realization sets in Samuel Beckett,
that my opponent is Watt.
on the offensive, and
has changed his name from “We may now contemplate
“Bird-Dog” to “BioRom” the shadow of a Doric pillar.”
—after the Guardian Angel H. D.
of Stress Traps. Majic Ring.

His Payback is greater than “When the visions became more


I imagined, and represents frequent, one of those who had
a twofold threat: a Trump helped me before… began to say
with The Universe // reversed, that clearly I was being deceived
that puts the Signifying Chain by the devil. He ordered me…
of Face Values at risk, and to snap my fingers at it, in the firm
a Trick with The Fool // reversed, conviction that this was the devil’s
that seals off The Fool’s work. Then it would not come again
alternative to the Abyss. …The duty of snapping my fingers
when I had this vision of the Lord
I can beat the trap and deeply distressed me. For when I saw
play it against him, or Him before me, I would willingly have
I can wait, and let him been hacked to death rather than
be Sovereign for now. believe that this was of the devil.”
Teresa of Avila,
Either way, my path The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila
will lead back to you. by Herself.

Your lover,

A.
Andrew Campion

My poetry is unimportant because of 2020


I am unimportant because of 2020

The election is over, and I feel tired.


COVID-19 is not over and yet I still feel tired.

TV is boring in 2020.
Books are boring in 2020.

I just woke up and I feel tired.


I am ready for bed, and yet I am not tired.

Everything sucks in 2020


Everything sucks in 2020

I know every celebrity who died in 2020.


I know people who have died from COVID.

What day is it exactly?


Does it matter what day it is?

Sunday is as visceral as Thursday.


Yet, I just woke up and I feel tired.

I feel tired, hungry for French fries and I want to go for a walk.
I want to walk in virus free skies, in the freezing rain, fuck me, 2020 sucks.
Ann Pedone

From: Twenty-five Love Songs

#17

I believe in ghosts/I believe in luck and fate and destiny/I roll the dice whenever I get the chance/Sometimes I
count out beads on a rosary/I keep hidden in a drawer/I’ve been to Paris/but I’ve never been to Berlin/I fucked a
man on the roof of a building/after a party once/I don’t remember his name/Sometimes I play
dumb/Sometimes I don’t know how to draw boundaries/Sometimes I don’t/cross my legs/I’ve been told I
should see a therapist/Remind me again how you like your coffee/Tell me when you are about to cum/don’t
make me wait for it/I won’t say my body is a rosary/but sometimes it feels like one/Let me teach you how to
please me/Let me show you how to open my legs/Can you see it/This is the part of me that is connected
straight to my brain/Touch me here and I’ll grow wings/Touch me before the river of my body runs dry/I need
to take a shower/Need to get on a plane in an hour/I need to try harder to forget his face/Before I was a
woman/I was a thing burning in the middle of the sea/I closed my eyes and mouthed the word waves/The water
changed the shape of my body/as only water can.
#23

There was a half-circle of blue I once saw out of a hotel room window. I didn’t know if it was a swimming pool
or the sea. The fact that it is existed at all seemed remarkable. The water was a shade of blue I had never seen
before. That was the thing that got to me. I knew that having seen it had changed me in some way. Like when I
first let you inside of me. I suppose that is the feeling of desire. We like to think that desire is the same as
yearning. But it’s not. I don’t want to desire you. I don’t want to chase after something that I know is beautiful.
I want you to eat through me. That’s how you learn how to love someone.
#4

that day
we ate
peaches
I fed
them to
you from
a bowl
orange
and red
each slice
long and
thin you
took them
into your
mouth
without
hurry
without
regret
licking
the tips
of my fingers.
#11

Love is not consolation, wrote Simone Weil


love is
light
the business of these words keeps me
awake at night makes me
want to tear down these walls and return
to something warm and blue something
like the sea maybe
The Mediterranean
I wanted my life to be
simple and yet all night I am
putting away poems in boxes storing
them for you to read under a different
kind of light but I know
sometimes you think my face is too pretty
for these pieces of me
these pieces I want to pick them up and carry
them in my skirts across the field so you
can see there is still some
moonlight here between my legs I know
you will never be mine
my valentine, my sky will only darken your hands
I am building a bower
here in my body
a place where you can rest your head we
sometimes don’t get
to choose whom we love but I want to keep
the water you have poured into me/
#3

as I move my face to follow the early morning sun


light (lights) this bed (almost) complete in
its transparency/hermetic (almost) as an iris
I want to remember (remembering is, after all,
a way of entering, or is it leaving, the body) these thoughts
feel weightless/unbound by something (I think of the ocean here)
I want to remember the first time I kissed you I wanted
it to be something (there are still things that can’t be taken away)
there was something that filled the space between us
I wanted this to be it/there was a thing
constant (in its hunger) if it was love, I didn’t see it
but I know there is no returning from here
tell me again tell me that whatever this is that it is
inescapable.
Anna Kapungu

AUTUMN

Remember the days of us


Opened my mind to a new reality
A place where daylight lived
You were wisdom, music and desire
Understanding was everything
Love was an amusement park
Revealed itself in layers
Like petals on a rose
Each layer I was close to you
My fragility, your affirmations
Vocalised my aspirations
Loves melody
You were my prize, my Hesprides
Your point of promise
Made my spirits sublime
Our love sailing in the currents of the River Perfect
Pacify the child
Draw my strings like chords of a guitar
Tumbling in love
Rapids into waterfalls
Bountiful our love was
Fruits of the seasons
LEMONS IN THE FIELD

Living in the sky


The blue yonder the upper regions of self
Elevation away from gravity
A Genesis I was pristine, unbroken
For the first time I felt
My breath in the cold air
The hair of my skin tone sting
Blood rushing through the capillaries
Flowing lanes on the highway
Smell tangy fragrance of lemons in the fields
I was alive
Streaks of sun warm on my face
I smile ,feel the God in me
He is beautiful, heavenly ,arresting
Arresting I stand still in silence
Send out light from the top my head to my feet
Freedom from the scars of disgrace
Feel the leaves of the Japonica
Crown the ground as canvas
THE GREAT WINTER OF SACRIFICE

The cold Antarctica winds seem to expose the poverty


Poverty that I held within
Smile at the world with pain in my heart
Precipitation on the frozen grounds
Was it a gift from God
It was a wonder, a mystery
The world knew my name
Yet poverty lacerated the veins of my being
The force of the Mephisto
The lure of homelessness
Face out of the water
Winter was stifling, suffocating
A torrent, swept the humanity out of me
Misfortune was dancing the snow dance
Solitary nights I bear the bane
Wretchedness ,woe, and hades
Stood in my divinity
Freedom from doubt
The sun will shine in the morning
LETTERS FROM HOME

In the deserted days


Where the sun is my champion
And the blood thirsts for water
I tell the rays what I miss the most
Hear my breathing
Sweat drip down my back
My hands cracked from the labour
Labour without gains
Split the grounds to pass the hours
Read the roads of my palms
Roads that lead me back home
Then I receive your letters
Your words are like rain in the summer
Comfort my blackened heart
Feel the elevation of my spirit
My people, the force of humanity
I cannot pray to surrender my heaviness
I cannot cry to release my sentence
THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

We are making history


Politics on social media
Reality of the mirrors of colour
Colour blind with fake affections
Our future inheritance lies
In chromosomes, DNA and future citizens
Transplants, mutations into the superhumans
Terrorism the war within us
Abandon the heroes of the nation
Who left their ego at the gate of sacrifice
A lateral view of the voice of the people
Where politicians serve political interests
In the corridors of power
Fight the spotlight, the savage torrents
Of becoming the political superstars
Let Mother Earth die the slow burn
Slow burn of pollution, progression, advancement
And we are killing us softly
Focused on the exchange of currency
The Euro ,the Pound and how the Dow Jones fell
Anne-Adele Wight

Obsidian Spring

absolute of its form

crashes barriers

with prepared spines

the world ending

a woman flags down cars

designed to connect

on the evacuation route

season edged in obsidian

her friend is dead

she wonders if he killed himself (or

spring reverses into


a seedbed of false hospitals

she sees him undoing his collar

to breathe

specificity runs her down

(was it the virus

invisible of lock and key

as she dodges the blue outcry

over ten thousand years of adapting

epidemic presents as calligraphy

traced on the steep side of a volcano


Septic Badland

stray cats purl through the neighbor’s bamboo

intent has overruled with gray fingers

any notion of informed consent

glass roots drilling underground

exhaustion seeds itself in springtime

its peculiar methods implying infection

here lies the body

septic badland at dusk

mismeasured on the rim of a slag heap

only a woolly mammoth

or the architect of an airport

could love this remaindered landscape

hostile takeover wearing it out


Bedspread with Stripes

you had a striped cotton bedspread

I invent your sandalwood animals

the giraffe with an incised mane

the vague one we decide is a hyena

mercury in a flask

a cold shade of flame

unfolding best without oxygen

I needed an aromatic smell for your room

how quiet I keep

the better to connive with myself

your orange-striped yellow bedspread

cortical subtext of mist rising over a swamp

visiting you overwhelmed me

to the point where I couldn’t see shapes

in another world your bedspread turns into gauze pajamas


gold stripe woven in

replacing the corduroy pants you wore everywhere

the swamp is real

fogging in on damp nights

deep inside it a Christmas tree glowing like science


20 Fall 2020
Barnaby Smith
Charles Borkhuis

THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

raise your noir a scar and have a sip


here’s to the afternoon’s drool at twilight
the mercurial day has given way
to the mosquito and the gnat

a passing cloud sets the stage


for the dark epiphany of an earlier time
little changes in light through the blinds
morph into slanted creatures on a wall
whispers of the outside looking in
nothing is ever what it seems

someone dies and the world goes on


with its noisy routines
laughter shouts and screams
what you thought was so important
isn’t to others who have their own
convoluted traumas to think about

in your twenties you’d probably prefer


a tattoo to speak for you
in midlife it’s more like a disturbing crack
in the ceiling that gets longer each time you look
where a voice might speak to you
when no one else is listening
you don’t have to say it I can read it off your face
everyone is no one special
the leaves in the trees would applaud your discernment
if they only had a brain
A LITTLE MORE NOTHING PLEASE

nothing is ever quite over


there’s always a nagging something
you could die for
that can’t be said

let’s say your point of view has changed


ever so slightly now you can relax
and close your eyes
your dingy is floating across a mauve sky

now the sun hides


behind your lover’s face
and the dead rise as smoke

the criminal always leaves his ghost


at the scene of the crime
and the poem ends and begins again

in other words
time takes us for a ride
a horse-drawn spin around the park and back

approximations decide our fate


nothing is ever complete enough to end
there are always loose streamers hanging
over the abyss

numbers that don’t add up


are destined to go on indefinitely
tell me what was it exactly
that you wanted to say
RAISING THE DEAD

ropes and pulleys are working overtime


on my caged falsetto
if I were a weeper I’d weep
for all those thespians who died on stage

but I’m only a singer of songs


that’s the way it is in show biz
the dancing bear and the smiling assistant
being sawed in half

then we break for lunch


soon to start all over again
putting on a face to face the public
unless you want to masquerade as yourself

a dangerous game
any way you cut it
one is always buying time
with little to show for it

the lights come up I say my lines


and die on stage the curtain goes down
and the audience shouts
encore encore

but when it comes up again the audience


doesn’t want to see actors taking a bow
it wants to see its dearly departed
rising from the dead for the late show
ALIEN GRACE

light releases its losses


its crumble-clock sandman
face falling apart in his hands

the flatfoot chases his double


down a rabbit hole where
dreams collide

the sculptor chips away


at the cement firmament
one star at a time

one million sunbathing heads


watch the crashing waves
that just want to be human

no sign but a frozen wakefulness


the sensation of breathing
mist upon a mirror

alive in the reservoir of darkness


where comets come and go
peopled by faces little flames

if I could just
piece together another you
a map a mask or head on wheels

rolling down the bumpy alphabet


to slide off a slip of the tongue
as if to speak

as if we were an accident
signaling at the periphery of all that is
one wiggles a toe at a distant planet
one coaxes a skull to sing
an aria to an asteroid
far away but fast upon us

one urges roads to bloom


rivers in a puddle
and pronouns to switch heads

she hiding in the other me


makes beautiful noise
in the microwave background

enter anywhere the sentence finds you


sunning in the rain
or shipwrecked on a rock

you are not alone your shadow


dials light from a distant supernova
the whole particle mind in hurricane makeup

squeezed to an infinitesimal pinprick


where words from nowhere
dart in and out through holes in the coral

a howling stone thrown skyward


shines moonlight
through your open mouth
Cornelia Veenendaal

THE ROSE GARDEN

We had artichokes for lunch. Donald said,


“I'll tell my students I am late because
my American cousin is visiting.” Then to his wife,
“You should take Cornelia to Bagatelle.”

We took a bus, Odile, the two children, and I,


to the rose garden, and the afternoon passed
in geometric paths among so many rose bushes,
reading the names of so many famous persons.

We returned on the bus and drank chocolate.


It was June. It was an end and a beginning,
and I did not think very much about it then.

.
THE RIDE

Hands on the wheel minutely correcting,


have the woods ever been grayer, a shatter
of fallen branches over old snow;
now the road performs its downward trail,
and down we go. On a smoother route,
watch for a blue ribbon nailed to the tree
where a girl left her disabled car one night
and went into the woods.

We are heading for Woodsville,


Ocean State Job Lots and the big Walmart;
pass the one-alley bowling alley to a bridge
spanning the narrow Connecticut,
and we're in Vermont.
It's good to step out into fresh air,
gray as it is, but the next moment we are in
Mustardseed, a white farmhouse.

The air is not fresh in here, and I don't need


old winter jackets, pants, tops, children's clothes,
worn toys, old kitchen utensils, stacks of crockery.
My friends are experts in the thrift trade,
but they, too, don't need these. They show their
respect, however, sorting through roomfulls
faithfully sown by parisioners of the white church
across the green.
MY TAKE

“Take it easy.”
“Take care.”
“a man lodges. . .
wheresoever the night taketh him.”

In the Shorter Oxford Dictionary,


I count seven columns of fine print
for take,
and take up Johnson's dictionary,
where 18th Century Scottish scriveners
recorded tell, and temporize, and thole,
(from Anglo Saxon tholian;)
no take.

In our time, Seamus Heany


remembered thole
as his aunt's word for suffer,
brought to Ulster by colonists;

by colonists, carried to Appalachia,


where it stayed,
and must have been still there,
when John Crowe Ransome wrote,

“Sweet ladies, long may ye bloom,


and toughly, I hope, ye may thole.” *

* from Seamus Heaney's introduction to his translation of Beowulf


Dan A. Cardoza

Your own personal Jesus

Father Vaughn hit the ground and yellow Disney canaries circled his head. Callahan amused himself by
recalling his favorite Mike Tyson quote, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Once he and Father Vaughn exited the confessional booth, the town’s beloved priest attempted a run at
Callahan with a letter opener in hand. The ornate opener was as sharp as a Samurai Sword. Your Holiness
should have known better. Sure, he’d been cunning, and watched a lot of Jeopardy, but he certainly knew that
Callahan had proper cause to shoot him right between his devilish green eyes. Callahan wasn’t going to assist
the priest in any game of assisted suicide. He wasn’t giving God any reason to feel sorry for the S.O.B.
Just before the skirmish, Callahan had texted the sheriff with the agreed code word, AMEN. Sheriff
Byrd was bidding his time up on North Davis Street. He’d been polishing the chrome on his five-cylinder
revolver and the coffin sized ammo that fit so nicely. The piece officer always grimaced when he placed each
bullet back into its proper hornet cell. The Sheriff could almost sense eternity when he heard the–plop!
Sheriff Byrd and his back up crew had patiently waited. Each deputy assigned a Steeda, Ford Mustang
GT. The beloved sheriff wasn’t a budget slouch when it came to fast cars. He allotted at least half his annual
budget toward catching the bad guys. Considering all the toothless, meth villains in the county, there would
always be a need for speed.Sheriff Byrd’s had been the first to roll out in a squad car. All the officers had
children and ADHD trigger fingers.
As Callahan scanned the church for perhaps the last time, he’d thought to pledge another $100.00 to his
favorite charity, the ChildFund in Richmond, Virginia. His knuckled right fist hadn’t ached so badly since he’d
four wisdom teeth pulled without Novocain.
/
The doors in Callahan’s mind had been locked for the longest time. You know the ones in the back of your
skull with the heavy hinges and the enormous padlocks. All the openings and shuts you’d thought you lost the
key’s to. Or so you’d told yourself. Like most locked doors, the intentions are obvious, damned good reasons for
something to stay anonymous. And behind each door, something of value that insisted upon staying that way.
There have been explanations why extracting long-term memory is so stubborn. Some reasons are
scientific, though mostly convoluted and sketchy. It’s because the years have been busy rearranging things up
there. Often, ugly and hurtful things that need to stay gone and buried. That is until whatever is on the other
side, insists on gnawing itself free.
/
What Callahan remembers about those days, way back then, remains crystal clear.
He’d been so excited. After all, it had been a short distance to Gram’s house, from the top of the steps to
her fridge. Gram’s house was home. The church’s stoop had been the closest thing to a basketball court, a place
he’d practiced his shitty dribbling skills.
As planned, Callahan clutched his ratty basketball and skipped down the concrete steps’ length. He’d
headed away from the church and religion. And then suddenly, there was the unmistakable sound of God
unlocking the brass bolt from inside the huge, arched door entrance. How could he ever forget? Behind those
doors was a reservoir of blood, like in his favorite movie, The Shinning. Callahan had watched a boatload of
C.D.s’ back in the day, mostly horror.
It had been Father Vaughn who’d pushed open the mammoth, ornate doors. He’d always appeared
angry before he spoke.
Father Vaughn had been raised farm tough. He’d even acquired a taste for lamb eyes, boiled tender with
his mother’s dumplings and crispy, fried rooster cones. He was an Irish brand of a man, sporting a heavy, rye
whiskey barreled chest.
As the town’s priest pounded the large in and outs up against the cedar shingled face of the church,
Callahan imagined John Wayne kicking in saloon doors. He juggled this crazy image in his head of an Irish
Jesus in a cowboy hat, dressed in shit-kicker boots with real silver spurs. And by God, the Colt Dragoon
Revolver would have made any ornery outlaw kneel.
“Callahan, don’t r’n away so fast, come in and relieve your burden, son.”
“Sure, oh, ok, Father.” He’d said, having poorly timed his escape from yet another boring confession
with the creepy neighborhood priest.
“For boys like you, Cali, God’s doors are always open. I’m always here too, son. Anyways, y’ r sins are
soft cause y’r young, easily molded, quick to fix, come, come in. I’ll make it so it won’t hurt. Just give the ole
man a minute to swoop under his holy robe. Then we can go for a short ride in the sinning booth.”
/
“How long since y’ r last confession? I, I know Cali, but I’d love to hear it from you.” Father Vaughn had said.
“Father, it has been one week.”
“Bless you boy, move closer, tell Father what be troublin’ you.”
“Forgive me, Father, but I can’t think of any sins this afternoon.” The one sin Callahan dare not
mention was his destructive thoughts. He’d light the Holy Father’s liquored breath on fire.
“We’ll get to any sinnin’ soon enough, Cali boy. I can always come up with some for you if y’r shy a few.
I have one hell of an inventory, ‘ey?” Father laughed like he’d won a handful of pickled pig knuckles from a
gallon jar down at the neighborhood pub.
Callahan could hear Father Vaughn as he shifted under his robe. He’d pulled himself closer toward
Callahan’s shy voice.
“My how you’ve growin’ Cali. My eyes are trained to notice such things. The six’ grade is it, Cali? You
shu’d be very proud of y’ r grades, son, your grandmother told me about ’em. An’ your teacher, the lovely Ms.
Moore, vah-voom, does girls don’t get much prettier than d’at, do they boy? I bet she even looks dat good
cookin’ breakfast in the morn’?”
Callahan delivered his clumsy response flawlessly, “Thanks Father, I think? English happens to be my
best subject. Ms. Moore says creative writing is not just about how you jury-rig words together, but also how
they sound and feel when they leave your tongue.”
“Oh, you’re a very sensitive boy, mercy Cali. A regular Walt Whitman, ‘ey?”
When he exhaled, Father’s breath stank of pub rag, Callahan imagined the colorful dishcloth soaked in
gasoline, a perfect fuse for a Molotov cocktail.
In a baritone voice, Father Vaughn’s lungs exhaled and bellowed carbon dioxide through the complex
matrix of perforations that flecked the confessional’s sliding window. The slider had reminded Callahan of the
Shoji rice paper dividers he’d hidden behind at the Japanese restaurant down in Redding. As Father Vaughn
inhaled, Callahan used his X-ray vision to spy through the pinholes of light as the Holy Father flehmened his
olfactory glands. It had been the good father’s craft to detect the slightest molecular emissions of vulnerability
from any boy, and now Callahan.
The movie Predator had just come to town. It had been1987. So Callahan instinctively knew what to
look for, including invisible monsters that intend to hunt you.
/
As a kid, Callahan stayed at Gram’s a lot, especially when his mother had been out of town for weeks on end.
His mother, Sarah, had worked as a restaurant linen supplier. Mostly, she’d stayed away more than she had to.
Once Gram’s had been subtle, “I think it’s because your mother feels vulnerable since your dad’s a piece
of crap. She needs more approval and attention, especially from men.”
Callahan’s thought bubble was obvious, betrayed by his expression, whatever the hell that means,
Gram’s?
Typically, Callahan’s mother would drop him and his older brother off at Gram’s on Thursday
afternoon’s, whether she’d been headed out of town or not. That way, with the two of them gone, she’d have
the entire evening to herself.
Often she’d woken early the next morning, after sleeping it off, and head up to Portland. Some
mornings she’d slept in late. Then she’d head down to San Francisco, arriving just in time in either direction by
early afternoon. Early Saturday morning had been the start of her workweek.
It had been up to Gram’s to get us boys off to confession, by late Friday afternoon, and to church on
time, early Sunday morning.
As for dad, he hadn’t been involved much, hated church. He’d worked six, seven days a week on the
green chain, at the Shasta Lumber Company just outside town. He’d preferred night shifts so that he could
sleep all day. Grandma often said her son had been, “a complex man, uniquely simple and a good for nothing
night-owl, a man who had more needs than wants, unlike Callahan’s mother, who had rarely slept and had
nothing if not want and desire.”
Apparently, the adult mask on my face never gave me away. A lot of Gram’s explanations were above my
pay grade, way over my head. The bottom line, we had a father, but he’d acted more like a dysfunctional third
brother. He’d been married to his work and had drunken himself as far away from any responsibility as he
could.
“With his long hours and all,” Gram’s had said, “He barely has enough time for even the shallowest of
relationships. His work is about the art of mental distraction. It’s a way he keeps things buried in some sort of
emotional graveyard, or hidden away behind some locked door.” Gram’s had looked at my face as it was
advanced Sudoku.
“The rest of any spare time, he worries about how he’s going to pay off your mother’s obsession for
things,” Gram’s mumbled at the floor as if she’d been ashamed of her words, and for raising such a strange
man.
/
One peculiar Thursday, Callahan uniquely remembered. He and Brother Robbie had been dropped off just in
time for one of Gram’s sumptuous, early dinners, broiled chicken, sweated hot in oiled rosemary and fennel,
mashed potatoes, and boiled artichoke, Father Vaughn’s favorite. Father Vaughn had arrived early as usual.
He’d been enjoying his coffee and Remy brandy. He’d always positioned himself at the very end of the long,
planked kitchen table. He was a sentinel, always on the lookout for any emotional cracks and crevices or human
peccadilloes. He’d been a wolf in wolves clothing, and a very cunning wolf at that.
/
In those days, priests were treated as hungry, beloved uncles, incapable of lifting pot or pan. Even though they’d
been nimble at emptying the pockets of parishioners of coinage, the churches of Northern California were
needy. To give the rectory cook and housekeeper a break, Gram’s had performed her weekly culinary duty. To
her, it had been the work of the lord, and especially convenient. She’d never been asked by, Your Holiness, why
she’d hadn’t attended church a day in her life. She’d been good at geometry. A priest with a full belly has more
capacity for forgiveness.
It had been deemed an honor, back then, having a priest over for a hot family supper: It could be June
Cutthroat Trout, September venison, even November quail.
Father Vaughn had been designated the town’s informal food critique, a devout super tramp. It would
be an honor if he’d selected you for just about anything.
Shortly after Gram’s and Callahan finished up the dishes, they’d all retreat to the rustic TV room at the
back of the house. That’s where they’d all watch the network show, Jeopardy. It was thee Father and Gram’s
would nurse rye whiskey and sharpen their tongues by playing along with Alex Trebek. It had been
understandable. Gram’s, Father Vaughn, and Alex Trebek had shared the same sarcastic sense of humor.
Jeopardy had been the one thing Father and Callahan had in common, other than confession. Callahan
had thought it odd though, how he’d treated Robbie as if he were a saint. He’d been Father’s favorite, ordered
him to sit next to him. He taught Robbie how to use his knee as a hand rest. Robbie could do nothing wrong.
As hard as Callahan tried not to laugh, Jesus, they’d make him cry. Most of his gasps had been saved for
Father and Gram’s most inappropriate commentary.
“Alex Trebek, you’re such a horn-dog,” Gram’s once said.
In an instant, Father Vaughn had crowned himself the new Jeopardy host. On queue, he’d read the
categories
Gram’s picked Floors, for $200.00.
Father Vaughn, the new Alex Trebek, asked the question, “The main reason you’d kick Alex Trebek out
of bed?”
Gram’s spoke in her best innocent voice, “What is there’s more room on the floor?”
“Correct,” Father Vaughn quipped.
Next, Gram’s and Father Vaughn cackled as if she’d laid a golden egg. Just like that, Gram’s had become
a winner. We all buckled and roared as if the devil hadn’t given us any choice. Father let Robbie pet his knee as
if it were a new puppy.
That night, it had been nearly nine before Father Vaughn let himself out the front door. He hadn’t
owned a car, ever, so all the locals joked he might be the elusive Peeing Tom.
Gram’s had called me aside before hitting the sack for the night, “Callahan, your mother’s having
another rough patch, son. You’re going to have to spend some nights again.” Nights meant two or three weeks.
And that meant it would be the four of us under the same roof again if you counted grandpa’s scary-ass ghost.
He’d been dead some six years now, World War Two asbestos. Callahan could hear him coughing up his
bloody lungs in the attic when he couldn’t sleep at night.
He loved Gram’s as much as his mother back then, maybe more, if being happy around someone
counted. Callahan’s father had been a good bread earner, but it’s difficult to live on bread alone. Callahan and
his father would never be close. His father had bonded more with Robbie; he’d been easier to order around. As
far his father had been concerned, it was ok if Callahan lived his entire childhood feeling unwanted.
Gram’s had been the strong and nurturing one. She provided just the right ingredients of what Callahan
needed to keep his anxiety under control. Over time he’d spend more days with her by choice.
Callahan had worked hard on his relationship with his brother Robbie. But the harder he tried, the
more Robbie pulled away. Brother Robbie, two years older, seemed preoccupied. Gradually, Robbie had almost
quit talking around any of us. It had been as if he’d been watching some sad movie, alone, in a dark, in an
unoccupied theatre.
/
There had been occasions Gram’s would let Callahan stay up late. They’d smoke and drink on the
screened-in porch. Callahan had coffee and milk in a porcelain coffee mug, with a bottle cap of, “Goat Sweat,”
as Gram’s called it. She’d drink Southern Comfort from her favorite bright red aluminum, cottage cheese cup.
One she’d bought from the Shasta Lumber Mercantile and emptied. It had been a sales gimmick, prehistoric
click-bait. If you bought what you needed–the cottage cheese––you got to keep what you wanted, the colorful
red container with a handle. She loved figuring out ways to make nothing into something, boasting,
“Repurposing brings you a little closer to God.” She had known to be green back then.
Before we turned in, we’d share one last Camel on the creaky porch. Grandpa had been noisy, but he
hadn’t smoked in years. A windy incandescent, a sad excuse for light, seemed to be pushed about.
The noisy insects had insisted on their late night Marti Gras, out in the leafy blackness. All the tiny
celebration seemed to calm Gram’s down, the musical metronome against all the silence rarely failed. In
between strobes of brightness, Callahan had noticed how Gram’s had dropped her eyes like when you feel sorry
for someone or something, or even yourself.
/
Even though Callahan had just turned 42, it hadn’t been difficult to place himself back in time, back in
the confessional booth. He’d barely turned nine back then, and was about to complete the fourth grade. Father
Vaughn had begun his sales pitch.
“Callahan, you’re old enough now, maybe you’d benefit from bein’ an altar boy, like y’ r brau’her Robbie?
He’s such a good one, such a fast learner.”
Callahan had remembered how he’d attempted to change the subject. He’d make-up random shit in an
attempt to pinch off the priests psychological tentacles, “Someday maybe, dad will quit the lumber mill and
work on his own. Maybe work as a carpenter. So he can become a contractor, someday. Grade school is
something he never finished, but he’s smart. He’s studying for his State Contractor’s license. Once he passes the
state contractors test, he’ll let me dig ditches for him. Then, I’ll be too busy, someday.”
Suit yourself, Calli. Ok, son, instead of three Hail Mary’s for penance this fine Friday afternoon, let’s
play a round of Jeopardy?
“But Father, I haven’t confessed any sins yet?”
“Does it mahher much son, aren’t they all the same, carnal, I mean cardinal in nature, either north,
south, east or west?”
Callahan, the category is absolution, for $200.00. T’ings that make you feel guilty down in y’ r tummy?’
“What is, jerking my wonk in the bathtub, father?”
“Aye, hats off, Callahan. Splendid!”
The category remains absolution Callahan. This time it’ll be for $400.00?
“The metrics of calculating sin?”
“What is every minute of every day, father?”
“Jaysus, you’re good at d’is Callahan, you’re up to $600.00 already. But I’m sorry. I got to interrupt the
last round. I have t’ings to do at the rectory. Today they’ll be no penance, and sins are on d’e house.”
“Oh, ok Father.”
An’ Callahan, It’s our little secret what you witnessed.”
“Witnessed?”
“Yes, Callahan. I mean when you saw the Widow Katie, the cleanin’ lady, arriving at the rectory late last
Saturday when you were puttin’ out the trash? She told me you watched ‘er drive around back into the rectory
garage.”
“I won’t tell anyone, Father.”
“Callahan me boy, ‘er 5:00 A.M. morning eggs and fatty bacon are almost as good as your mum’s.”
“I swear on your life Father. It’s our secret.”
“It’s your whole family’s secret, Callahan boy. Y’r father’s been pissy, cause he t’ inks you and I look
alike. He’s mistaken.”
“What?”
“Callahan, you be’n so damned handsome and all.”
/
Years passed. They folded over each other, adding layers to the heavy stack of coarse flax linen.
Callahan had been working late again. He’d been dead tired. Yet he’d often worked late behind the
locked doors. He’d found the scent of air-conditioned printer ink and stacks of plea bargains to be nothing short
of intoxicating. One night he’d nearly fallen asleep sitting straight up in a plastic chair.
This particular night, he’d woken himself in the expansive conference room. It’ had been difficult to do,
sit up straight, especially since the cheap vinyl seat insisted on sliding him onto the tiled floor.
He should have been proud, but he hadn’t been. After all, he’d become the top assistant in the States
Attorney Generals of California. He was fully vested and had been able to save like crazy, working the extra
hours in a failed attempt to fool himself he’d retire soon, and get an easier job. Callahan would never retire
unless there weren’t any more bad guys out there.
This evening had been especially difficult, not because he’d overworked himself again, or had been exhausted.
Rather, he’d found himself in the middle of a cluster-bang, smack dab in a mid-life crisis. Losing a brother can
do that to you, as well as reviewing a shit-pile full of strong evidence.
And, the pending requirement to time travel back to his childhood didn’t help matters either. Like most
things way in the hell back there, he hadn’t found the time, or the keys that would open all the locked doors.
But now he had to.
Callahan had a warrant to Tango, criminal charges he’d bring to the party. Any free-floating anxiety, or
any questions about the past would have to wait. He had been tasked to assist the local authorities in making a
controversial arrest and present the charges in person. But first, there’d be the final confession.
And so, Callahan headed back up to Shasta City, up near the Oregon border. Back through a knife rack
full of painful cuts and invisible slices that never quite heal. Back to the city where he grew up, ran away from,
the kind of place that makes you who you are, have become. Of course, he was much older, more confident, not
some alienated kid anymore. And not all the memories had been worth destroying.
Callahan would assist the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department in making the arrest, long overdue.
While there, he’d visit family. This would be the easy part. Most of his relatives were together, in the cities
cemetery. Unfortunately, this included his insatiable mother, who’d killed herself in a drunken single-car
accident in Canyon City, Oregon, six years prior. Callahan’s angry dad had died too, the day he’d said he didn’t
want to see Callahan anymore, not long after his real son Robbie’s suicide.
Gram’s recently passed too, at the wise old age of 81. All her beautiful parts had worn out. It wasn’t that
long ago. Father Vaughn had given the eulogy, I’m told. He wouldn’t be around much longer either. Oh, he
wasn’t in poor health or anything like that, although all of his sins had made him crooked and slumped over.
And, it’s not like he wanted to retire. He exquisitely loved his work.
Father Vaughn would be leaving the church because he’d soon be relocating to the California State
prison system. Folsom prison if Callahan had his way. It would be easier to attend any parole hearings and keep
an eye on him. For a change, the State of California’s had made a just and moral decision, now that they’d been
presented a landslide of evidence.
Callahan cast off in his pirate ship and began his long journey back in time. He’d arrive by Friday
afternoon, just in time for Jeopardy.
/
“Callahan, I knew you’d be back someday, son. Should I address you as chief now, big shot chief?”
“Very funny, Father, I’m just an assistant to the chief. How’d you know it was me?”
“You can never dust away the smell of mill town sawdust, son. It’s in your shoes. An’ it’s under the tip of
y’ r tongue, Cali.”
“Jeopardy Father?”
“Of course, I’ve been waitin’ a lot of years to finish our round.”
“Father, for this final round, I’ll be Alex Trebek. The category is absolution again, for $1000.00. I’ll even
ask the question for you, “The thing you feel when you violate a young boy’s trust and love?”
“Of course, the answer is Guilt Cali; we all have it, share it.”
“Wrong father, incorrect, you didn’t precede your answer with the required question. You lose.”
“Well played, son. Aren’t you the smart one, a real detective, Chief–Obi-Wan Kenobi, ‘ey.”
“If I were really smart, Father, I could––would have figured things out years ago. Way before Robbie
hung himself last year in Oakland. I would have taken you out.”
“Callahan, why do you place me in the middle of all d’is anger, son? Robbie said he felt so much behh’er
when we confessed to each other. You know what I mean?”
“Robbie was blood Father. We shared everything, except the same father. You are the one who
convinced him to be your Altar-boy, remember? None of our prayers were good enough to save him.”
“Callahan, your words are explosive, .40 cal. An’ you come all the way up here and expect important
answers about categories that begin with questions? It’s so confusing.”
“Father, save your questions and answers for a higher power, higher than the one you keep in the box on
the altar.”
“Well d’en, where do we go from here, Callahan?”
“That depends where you want to get to Father.”
“I don’t much care anymore, Cali, not after today. My life will never be the same. Go? Maybe I’ll end up
in the direction of forgiveness?”
“Only if you choose the long walk, on the long road, and if you have enough tomorrow’s to get you
there, father. After all, the highways of sin are endless. By the way, should I keep calling you, Father?
“Now more than ever Callahan, mercy demands it”
/
On the way home, Callahan shaved off the corners of the interstate and headed south on I-5. The highway
slithered and contoured, cascading down the mountains, darkening in the slow molasses of shadows. Callahan
was headed back to the sweet green fields of spring in the Sacramento valley, a lifetime away from early
Augusts’ steep sienna hills. And with each mile in the rearview, the broken yellows in the pavement attempted
to suture the past. But Callahan knew this to be an illusion, the incisions of his past to deep for genuine
healing.
But as he wheeled into the light of the darkening asphalt, he realized the ever-growing Invisible scars
would somehow have to do.
Daniel Y. Harris

ASCII code 36 = $

Agon Hack’s annuit coeptis postures


the imposture’s temp = resTemp.drop([x for x in res
Temp.columns if x not in (‘date’,
‘biblio’,‘diaTyp’)],axis=1),
in anchor shot. Vague wreck.
Add Limoges porcelain, fayence and n
quantified state variables q(t)={q1(t),q2(t),…,qn(t)}.
Haggle the unblue—slack in the hip null,
under tease. Mass nob, vista.
First eye for typogenetics.
Slog’s even—unsucks bend.
The underdied go born.

Ērādĕre’s humument is a doublecross. Gholas’


rise as cant lacks. Alyawara, the !Kung
and the Nunamuit grab their scalpriforms.
Blackout—Untitled (Skull),
its implicit rig (TSSOCC)
s
is a p sign’s bulk and linear, splay
the cifrão. Pass slack.
Cata in klang glot (aufh)—déchiré
(déchié), not as Pythagorean tetractys,
is a misquote. $ (disambiguation).

Turns the trick, gimmick. The new Ixian


Ambassador is initiated
by the Armanenschaft
priesthood. It’s Agon Hack.
His soetics aren’t antiontological.
They’re scheiden or coup or urteil’s bar_width=36,
ylabel=‘Diagrams’,palette=viridis(14),
width=250,height=250. Now limit
his limitrophic reach with a godtrap.
Super secure tripcode: 36 character salted hash
generated with [agh36] input: #$$tripcode
output: !$$a29c4af324e9a23d.
MÉTIER—the residua mutates.
ASCII code 37 = %

Agon Hack is verified by Codemonkey.


His noninvertible k-morphisms in Cat(∞,n−1)
are irrelevant for k > 1. G[é]ometrie,
as ancestral Puebloan, is inimical in grex,
but not in gens. As senex, ex’s RegistryKey lgn = hkl
m.OpenSubKey(@“Software”, true).CreateSub
Key(“BatteryIcon”). HELLPOSAVIS
is born AD 37 at XANTHOS.

Abbé Lemozi works in Pech Merle


in the late 1920s—HAHAYRSOU.
C:\Users\Oliver\Documents\GitHub\Percentage
BatteryIcon\percentage\obj\Debug\
percentage.csprojAssemblyReference.cache.
Indicate pelts with black and red dots. Riven
mesh—PATRONS for the longvac’s
cram have Agon’s karstic urge.
He blackouts the black ink
redactions and vegetal biohorror.
Standby for a Lovecraftian heterotopia:
drill skulls and inject muriatic acid.

8CHAN ADMINISTRATOR ID:A88CE% >


>1%391 (THE STORM #37)—tisse, tissage
and tisser have and acoustic presence.
Yolk throb. Fabergé eggs
in flaky cones—un coup de dés
jamais n’abolira le hasard, soil
Area X’s local jason = file.ReadData
AndContent(“murder/” .. game.GetMap(
) .. “/spawns/” .. listName .. “.txt”).

Bast, the tropos, his manner shifts the shield:


(implied pun: base)—scars and stains
unzip a face’s taut crease. Silver
blister, flake, putsup inmid
his geode cum.
ASCII code 38 = &

Agon Hack’s gnostic theodicy is part invectorium,


part nethescuriality. Torsional excess
leverage archetypes
nor more plangent
than self.Owner.Handcuffed ||
(CLIENT && self.Owner:GetNW
Bool(“Handcuffed”).
The ampersand is the logogram
“&”—antistrephon’s tinker
at the 38th plenum. A “lubber” (lout)
by Launce, Agon’s paleonym follows

the augering, 1 × 1–m grid units excavated


at each site. Thickslick as a frantic
priority—ranks lower
with an imposter—SURcenSURE’s if ( GAME
MODE:IsSpawnpointSuitable( pl, Chosen
SpawnPoint, i==6 ) ) then
the crude nohoper is a sadomaso.
This farrago attains apotheosis
when he frissonates. Grope
degrees—génotexte, its idiot data,
saecular and HOT-4_TERM_AUTHC-TVFC
AZD-387392x. The aepyornis escape

extinction. Envy the rod. The liver is the cock’s


comb. Lummox, knock sense. Rather, fatality’s
in vogue—its epithetha ornans
in Figure 38: Athanasius Kircher’s
Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Rake out the shit
@PointClass base(Targetname, Angles, Shadow,
Studiomodel) studioprop()= mu_loot :
“Murder Loot Spawn Position.”
CONSPIRACY push coming.
(See several quotations in OED2,
“gutter, n.1 ,” 38).
Flick the stack.
ASCII code 39 = ’

Agon Hack’s misprision/mis-PRIZH-œn/from Old


French mesprision (error); from Latin
prendre (take)—ad hominem expurgatis
in statu quo—is barratry as drain
nadir. Figure 39: The Three Peircean
Categories—trikonic, describe
apostrophe, ‘generating CSV’ do # rubocop:
disable Metrics/BlockLength. Folio
and variora editions are less metaxic
than blank—ecumenic.
His is cognitive charisma.
Th’ imposthume’s

nothing itself nihilates. Q !AH.yye1fxo ID: e57603 >


> 42981 (Qresearcj #39) 01.14.18
GMT+1: 05:50:17—for flotation
processing, pollen and phytolith
analysis. He dissects his mortglut’s
enkyklios paideia. See, e.g., The Actus Reus
Requirement: A Qualified Defense,
10 CRIM. JUST. ETHICS 11 (1991).

His contest isn’t fivefold: phraseograms, logograms,


morphemograms, syllabograms
and phonograms—css = self.prefix
CssUrlsWith(css, self.uploadfs
().getUrl() + ‘/assets/’
+ self.generation). What’s au courant,
is reneged. Not the metallic canker.

Rancid charm’s a smudgy cartoon’s


le pas au-delà, just as Nyarlathotep
is the crawling chaos in geek fandom,
not Agon, who whacks
the credibles. Uevria
as dormer curve—consés
hid lord’s homovoc.
ASCII code 40 = (

Agon Hack’s cncptl rtstnd prfr— hih


vytih twum, exploits
his heterophonic range.
As aitch or haitch, wrech it big
with mouf ‘n choax—poundemónium.
An affront, vaunt, this left paren; left parenthesis; left;
open; paren (“)” = thesis); lparen; ITU-T:
INTERCAL: wax (“)” = wane)—accounts
for the overbold. Trans lineam
and its crossing, if (row.substring
(0, 8) === “git-ftp.” && row.substring
(io, io + 40) === “.url”) {then overstep

the rage. “Satz”—is crucial. Therefore, transgressal.


Ontico’s (OOO), clay bas-relief conjures
coarse black fur with red sucking
mouths. L-system pluripotent
cells in foetuses migrate. Otro
loco más—Q !AH.yye1fxo ID: N/A >> 40 (No
Title /greatawakening/) 01.14.18 GMT
+1: 06:10:46. It’s just a crookbackian
motto. Agon’s threnos is his esemplastic
power. Vegetation in this ASCII

code includes fourwing saltbush, Indian ricegrass,


snakeweed, buckwheat, ephedra, yucca,
prickly pear cactus, cholla,
sand sage, and forbs.
His misprision cancels callback(“Process
Utils can’t resolve the path requested:” + filePath).
Defiant trespassers sense that this plot
is arbitrary. However urloin, print’s
trine recap knocks antre.
“Gedankenexperiment,”
as the behaviorists say,
is mal protesi nervi.
His anus is blocked by a crab.
ASCII code 41 = )

Agon Hack is magnified by spindrift’s public


Erection(String id, String name, Set<Terrain
TypeEnum> terrains, int settlementValue,
int shieldValue) {obtuse,
gross—clone count.
(Bedeutung) in the ideal sense.
His radical surprise has brackets integrate Theseus,
open-sourcing JavaScript and debugging
developers. The contact wake.
The discrepant and impure.
The obscure temps durée.
The schizogenesis’ ibid.

Neither praesphenoid, nor the davarocentric
subject, his stomodaea is a nival helcoid.
Anticanonizers in turnstiles spin
scandal—(theft from the common
stock)—pierce the tongue, ear and penis.
Postfigure social energies’
text <- scan(as.character(canon.data
$file[i]), what = “character”, sep = “\n”,
prostrated for indifferentism. Shoggoths mold
organs by notic flence. Here’s ruck
in shock release. The output cult updates
its status. Sterile subsoil, including Cenozoic
gravels, are directly under
ASCII code 41.

Blank as does inure: OED sense I.1a fusing


with senses II.5a & c (transf.) and 6a (CCW, 363).
Down the stucco chute,
Q !AH.yye1fxo ID: N/A >> 20 (No Title
/greatawakening/) 01.14.18 GMT+
1: 06:17:29—therefore, extraction,
graft, extension.
Agon’s in the Necronomicon.
Glare over aggro.
ASCII code 42 = *

Agon Hack’s juvenalia is an anagram—deadware,


ubi sunt in his opus alchymicum.
The pitchblende’s asterisk (*);
from Late Latin asteriscus,
from Ancient Greek ἀστερίσκος, asteriskos,
“little star”—is pure technopaignia.
*De laudibus sanctae crucis.
*Paris: Sté Nlle des Éditions du Chêne
Peignot, fig. 42.
*Das Bildgedicht in Europa.
*The Martyrology, Book 5.

In the Etymologiae’s for ac_var in exec_prefix


prefix bindir sbindir libexecdir
datarootdir\, matlo(w) in urbs
mockawe his vis imaginativa.
Oulanem’s 42nd brumaire
is Agon’s connexion [sic]—nethescurial.
Prosobranchia have operculum’s Q !AH.yye1fxo
ID: 297c5d >> 43627 (The Storm #42)
01.14.18 GMT+1: 06:32:34. Style
is faith in the nestlecock polis.

Pandemonism flicks—his ichor deity


is revoked. No more dropdown menu
nor ricochet montage.
Doorknob flesh—genetrix.
*His solécisme est une erreur.
*The Provençal viol arouses.
*Nadi contra suberna.
*Donne, Sermons, 5:84–86.
Aco_option_register_custom(&cfg_info, “video
_mode”, ACO_EXACT, bridge_types, NULL,
video_mode_handler, 0)—no
managerial naivete nor risk
aversion. No scale under the fuse.
*Limited Inc—selfsame.
David Rushmer

PLACED

a beautiful place (with you

sun leaked
floating

we saw light winged,


morning
forever haunted

ghosts into bone

love of all
spirit

the pink sky fluttering

memory of my blood
blushed
A REMEMBERING OF SOFT HAIR

“He wrote me
in
a kind of white light

remembering thirst
wind driven

to fill a silence
with strangers

when stars explode


into
neighbouring material

we connect to distant objects by mouth

perfect diction

the theory
physical barrier

of the skin
of the sky

possibility and impossibility

the flesh of it

particles of light
on the periphery

memory of soft hair

“soft hair” is a term coined by Stephen Hawking to describe some of the particle’s information that may be left around the event horizon of a black hole.
FATHOM (from DEPTH CHARGE)

.
draw and slip
my own
dark chambers

.
walls dismembered
body spread, gaping

I watch the page of writing


unfurl in myself

.
blue eyes
with another sleep
gusts of the sea breeze

his entire body


a theater
of full light

,
disappear in such violence
disappear to another
.
burning all
who persuade
before I write it
into laughter

.
what sound, the deep
discovers
from behind the act
located

breathing flows
in folded waves
David Trinidad

“Ordinary Time”

My first two weeks in New York (August 1988), Raymond Foye let me stay at his apartment on Ninth Street
(near Sixth Avenue) until my sublet in Brooklyn was ready. The apartment actually belonged to art figure
Henry Geldzahler (whom I’d met earlier that year with Raymond when they showed me the pool David
Hockney had painted at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel). Raymond’s bedroom was on the basement level,
along with the laundry room, kitchen, dining area, and living room, which opened on a dark, walled-in garden.
Art covered all of the walls. In Raymond’s room there was a small Warhol—one of his flower paintings; I felt
privileged to sleep in the same room with it. In the living room, the TV sat on a Brillo Box. Raymond was
with Henry on Long Island, so I had the place to myself. Eileen visited me there. She showed me her poem
“Hot Night” and the little essay she’d written about it. I was entranced (being brand new in New York) by the
idea of stepping out into the night, into the city, “of going out to get a poem, like hunting.” Tim Dlugos also
visited me there. After admiring the art, he drove me (in his mother’s car; she’d died of leukemia the previous
year) to New Haven, where he had just moved to attend Yale Divinity School. He wanted me to see his new
living quarters (the bottom floor of a house on Rowe Street). We ate lunch in town. I bought a gray T-shirt
with “Yale” on it. I’d grown my hair long and, in my left ear, sported a gold stud. (Before I left L.A., Bob
Flanagan pierced it for me. I recently learned that there are photographs in Sheree Rose’s archive at USC; I’d
forgotten she documented it.) The following spring, Tim would commemorate my Yale T-shirt and long hair
in “Ordinary Time,” a poem about going out to eat after an AA meeting in Manhattan; both Eileen and I
appear in it. More importantly, though, it’s about the intensity (and clarity) of the “eternal present”—the
spiritual awareness that frees him from the confines of ordinary time. Tim captures, in words, the magic
(“something / that shines through the things / I make and do and say”), and the momentary communion among
friends. All well and good for him. But not enough light for me to see the dark road ahead. My enmity with
Eileen. (When I sought Tim’s counsel, he was in the AIDS ward at Roosevelt Hospital. “Well,” he said,
“Eileen can be prickly.”) Then the finality of Tim’s death.
Back at Raymond’s, I wrote my first poem as a resident of New York, “Driving Back from New Haven,” about a
moment on the Merritt Parkway when, after taking an AZT pill (“’Poison,’ he mutters under his breath”), Tim
and I discuss his health. I wrote it because Michael Klein asked me for work for an AIDS anthology. I sent it
to Tim first, with a note: “Please like this.” “Was I really that angry?” he asked. But gave his blessing. One
morning, I made a cup of tea and set it on Geldzahler’s midcentury modern dining table. Blond wood. It left a
circle—a permanent stain—which I obsessed about. Ultimately I didn’t say anything, moved to Brooklyn
hoping they wouldn’t notice, or not know that I was the careless houseguest who left the mark.

Last month, thirty years after Tim wrote “Ordinary Time,” I received a postcard from Walter Holland: “Happy
50th Pride! Went to hear Stonewall Legacy Reading of Poetry last night in Bryant Park. Don Yorty read Tim
Dlugos’ ‘Ordinary Time’ & I thought of you & Eileen Myles & East Village days.”
All of the References to Beer in Bernadette Mayer’s The Desires of Mothers to Please
Others in Letters

for Tony Trigilio

I’m drinking some awful cheap beer called Red White & Blue made by Pabst

Demeter later invented beer.

Demeter’s consequent invention of beer

Claire’s picnic which was full of strangers and food, even raspberries and chocolate cream pies
and beer and ice cream

had a few beers

cans of beer

rolling rock!

I drink beer, sweet satchels of beer, some of it’s bad beer

did I tell you how cheap cigarettes are in New Hampshire, cigarettes and beer

I hid my beer, it was the Molson, the Octoberfest you gave me hadn’t been bad either

Bill C. is always saying, do you want another brewsky Bernie?

there are chemicals in the beer

beer

No Rheingold beer up here

To lose your job is to be free, only you can’t get beer or beans

I feel guilty for drinking a few beers


you are forbidden from now on to drink any beer

It’s colder outside than it is in the refrigerator so you can put the beer on the windowsill

We’ve had no real snow yet though we’ve stashed a supply of food, cigarettes and beer for being
snowed in on this pretty echoing mountain.

the beers in gold cans

the beer capsizes on my cotton skirt

Molson Golden

The part of my house that keeps the beer coldest at this time of year is not the refrigerator

they write about cigarettes and beer and grass

if the beer freezes will the pipes

Golden England College mugs to drink beer from

I throw the beer bottle into the trash, it bangs against another one

WATER, BEER AND A DEER

I pride myself on drinking another beer at a time like this

Now Sophia’s in a smaller box that says Michelob on it.

got the paper & some beer

TEN YEARS TILL THE NEXT BEER

taste of the metal beer

should I try a beer, will the beer lessen the chance for contractions I aspire to tonight
Dawson Hardy

Before the Murder

Let us celebrate that little sadness


For what’s been lost
When the spaces and residences
You remember
And wish you could visit, revisit,
Are gone.

Childhood is often the biggest little sadness.


Sisters that revel in their smug bitterness, and
Brothers that bloom with hateful actions and spite
Inspire conspiratorial planning and violence.

Your brothers, George and Owen,


Would laugh and sing; sing songs at you
As they laughed at you. Even Brenda, your dear sister,
Once your dear friend and confidant, cackles at insults.

Your moments of peace were forever under scrutiny.


Always they forced a needling word, a manipulative jibe.

And when opportunity did not knock, you built a door.


You ran through its threshold with the woman you loved.
Your inheritance pocketed. You left home for good. The end.
But soon the woman left. The money spent.
And when every dark possibility absconded,
You returned contritely to Tredannick Wollas.

Family can always be trusted to welcome home those lost


To adventure with laughter. They knew you would be back.
Failed again. “It’s the common story,” Owen says to George.
“You can give money to a fool but that doesn’t make him less a fool.”

“Money makes the pocket fatter but the fool poorer,” says George.
If you were stronger, you would crack open their skulls.
If you were a different kind of person, you’d have stood up
To them all. Even Brenda laughed, how dare she laugh!

So you left again, bags in hand and walked to the vicarage.


You took rooms with Roundhay and plotted a subtle revenge.

You would do something. You would get your own back again.
But the icy fear of being found out was hideous, immobilizing.

You would have to catch them unawares. And in their moment


Of subtle weakness spring your plan. For years you wondered,

How?

As the soft moments of sleep were broken, you wake to stones


Thrown at the vicarage window. Sterndale is outside raging.

When Sterndale gets inside he clasped you by the neck.


Sterndale claims revenge and pushed you towards the glowing
Lamp. He speaks of true love dying, but how was he here? Now?
You inhale the smoke,
Began to hallucinate,
And then scream out.

In the last moments you recall that toyshop


The one in the village with the rocking horse
And all those toy soldiers you could never own.

Just look upon them as little sadnesses, as a dream


Of gallant colorful celebrations that are now gone.
Deborah Meadows

from Crowd-prone

Nude interior, a sort of cyber-question, not where we bleed. Rise of Caesar given the context, given these
analytics. Goes hand-in-hand with behaviorist reduction. Gramsci on government. From libidinal ties to tyrants
are these instructions on how one must comply. Distressed warlords, expert strength. Not cognate of another’s
eye. Not underworld vice nor nicknames. Freudian totem plants vertical wood, sacred cows. “Rule us now.”
Groups that group tightly. Hypnosis made him do it.

Driven into centers of diurnal time. Distortions produced by ideas of industry. Everything happens again and
again in Oe’s Silent Cry until brother emerges from underground. Hairy. We still have much to learn about the
sun. Did you assume eroticism retinal or auditory? History, they say, steps onto the stage. A star witness. An act
of imagination. A star burns after humans die. The way genetic roots form a weak knowledge. Life, living under
falsification. Frame the sublime and keep it short! Levered into memory tissues, digit, planar variation.
I have to start over. Time, all along, its loose stack of twigs consumes us. When others help, we can lift heavy
things, invent purpose. Light doesn’t lie. No motives, only motors. How did experimental publishers put up
with us? Pressed button and out popped camera bulb too hot to the touch. Planet stops out light: means of
discovery. Lost notebook. Revise, refer next to nearby branch at window. Disruptor: bird there, not there.
World sheds another incident until it runs out. Runs down the throat. So long, we say. So long.

When an artist treats trees in silhouette, do they draw on language of botany or 19th century philosophy? Mind
your models, call in cameos for quick release from parrot, minaret, Mars, Echo. In your imaginary grid, is
interrogation released with completion, or has blue lost its way? Premeditated height, and we look up, still
surprised by Kantian destination. Could be another form of star-gazing: find an anchor spot and work out from
there.
Deborah Ritchie

Sylvia and Me

At a dinner party in the seventies,


I sat in a lecturer’s plush maroon dining room,
amongst poets in olive turtle-necks and rusty cabled knits.
Perched on a velvet-cushioned chair
I drank Portuguese wine from a jewelled goblet,
under a mentholated smoke haze,
feeling stupid with my brown ponytail,
my floral dress, my sensible student sandals.

Things got worse after the duck terrine,


after the apricot chicken,
during the chocolate mousse
(or maybe the port and stilton),
when talk turned to some poet
who’d stuck her head in a gas oven, but
left a nursery snack of milk and bread
for her two young children.
I sat mute, embarrassed,
longing to know what these writers knew,
roll words around my mouth,
string them as pearls across paper,
lean forward, speak about dead poets
instead of educational theory.

The next day I marched to the library,


snatched up a dog-eared paperback about a bell jar,
poems about a father like mine (and other stuff)
and a bright photograph in a fat book —
a big-boned, jaw-heavy, almost pretty pageboy blonde
with a broad red smile and a dark heart.
I read her, read her, read her bleeding
interior world, her cold dark eye
magnifying tulips,
mirrors and motherhood,
hospitals and dead daddies.
Alone,
hunched in the warm library
as an icy wind circled,
as rain hurled onto the college lawn,
cried down the glass,
I read her, read her,
muttered her rhythms,
felt her breath on the page,
swallowed her black confessions, until she
grabbed me by the throat, told me,
‘Write!’
On my shelves now,
she’s a Magritte head wrapped in linen,
a ghost floating from yellowed poems,
smiling out of photographs,
drifting from bell jars, letters, diaries,
other people’s musings.
She still whispers to me,
‘Write, write, write,’
forty years after that uncomfortable night
in a maroon dining room,
when someone spoke her name.
Don Donato

In Love and War

It was a mouthful of mush. Bradford tasted the hint of something like carrots. It was carrots he told
himself, ignoring the root-like earthy smell. He chewed and chewed, swallowed hard. The lump hit his stomach,
a growl resounded, and his guts tried to give it back to him. He forced it back down. He looked at the other men
of the American Expeditionary Forces, sitting and waiting. Some of them cleaned their rifles, Springfields,
reliable they were told. Some just sat looking into the darkness of the French woods surrounding them. They
were all fresh recruits from farm-towns and cities spread over the land of opportunity. A nation full of promises
soiled by untold, and less understood, demands. Bradford James, took another mouthful, chewing and waiting
for the order to move out.
The Germans had retreated toward the Marne River, but the fighting continued. The prize, Paris, located
less than a hundred or so kilometers to the west. Bradford listened to the bursts from enemy shells in the
distance. His slight Southern drawl, his subdued manner, and gentrified soul made him feel misplaced so far
from home and in a war, no less. He made the best of it.
“Hey Brad,” said Ansie, sitting down on the ground next to his boot camp buddy. Ansie was only a
nickname, a baptism conferred by communal agreement or annoyance, depending on whom you asked. His real
name was Angelo Antonnelli. He was a small man, narrow faced making his nose seem long enough to suck up
anybody’s business without taking a breath. He lived in Jersey, was born there and spent most of his time at his
father’s fruit stand on Market street in Newark. He talked fast, couldn’t keep still, had to know everything. Brad
felt that Ansie had to control it all, everything that was going on in camp, with the guys, with the world. If he
could control it, he didn’t need to fear it so much. Now the war presented a problem, no one knew anything.
“Why are we waiting? Let’s get going. Kill those Germans and get it over with,” Ansie said.
Brad didn’t pay any attention. He scraped the mush out of his mess kit, letting the earthy concoction fall
back to the mossy green ground next to him. Brad knew Ansie didn’t want an answer. He was blowing off
steam from his boiling insides.
Brad reached into his back pocket and pulled out a dogged-eared paper, folded into a square. He opened
it to a flat sheet, lined paper from a pad used for stenography.
Ansie glanced down at the paper and said, “Reading Peg’s letter again. It’s good to read stuff from
home. I got nobody, just my old man. Who the hell wants to hear about how rotten fruit is these days. All the
damn farmers, he says, are in Europe.” Ansie brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around
them. He began to rock himself, and mumbled, “How many more apples will die at the hands of the Kaiser?”
He was silent now. He stretched his legs out and leaned back on his hands. “Yeah,” he continued, his words
directed to the chilly air, “when I get home, I’m going to get myself a girl, get married and open my own stand.
Hoboken, yeah, Hoboken.” He looked at Bradford. “So, when you getting married, soon as you get back?”
“Yep,” he replied. He said no more, leaving his friend’s dreams hang undisturbed in the quiet, night air.
Brad continued reading:
… It’s very difficult to find a nice wedding gown. The War seems to have taken priority and nothing new
has come on the market. Mother says I can use her dress. She is making some alterations to make it look more
of today’s fashion. Father said that everything is going well with the job he told you about. He says after the
War he expects the market to do well. Wall Street is where to be.
As father always says, ‘keep your head down.’ I can’t wait to see you again.
Love,
Peg
Bradford folded the paper and put it back into his pocket. He looked straight ahead without seeing
anything other than the dark seeping between the trunks of the rough-barked trees.
Ansie smiled. “No fruit stands for you, that’s for sure. You’re going to use that fancy college you got
and land some big job. Guys like you got it all worked out.” For sure. Brad thought how uncertain those words
were now. All he had to do was survive this damn war, and then nothing was impossible. It was all there for the
taking. Just reach out and pluck what you wanted from the lush tree growing larger and more bountiful each day
back home. It was the promise of it all that kept Bradford alive. Honor and glory in the land of endless plenty
spurred nearly everyone in his Princeton class to enlist. Those who stayed behind, to Bradford, were the
hopeless, the sceptics, those without faith in the new America.
The bushes swished and the twigs snapped. Bradford and Ansie turned toward the darkness at the
periphery of the small clearing. A young, pale faced private, stepped out of the trees. His pimples were evident
even in the dark.
“Okay. We got the word,” the private said. “We’re moving out to the Marne, up to the front. Tonight, at
twenty-two hundred hours.” He spoke quickly and disappeared back into the woods without another word.
Bradford and Ansie, along with rest of their platoon, walked to the Marne River in single file. Each unit
keeping a safe distance from the squads ahead and behind, a way of diminishing the effect of artillery attacks.
The sound of the exploding shells got louder with nearly each step they took. On the second night the glow of
the blasts lighted the sky. The flash first, then the ear-splitting explosion. The tired troops trudged farther
ahead. The pack on Bradford’s back got heavier and his rifle’s strap dug deeper into his shoulder. Muscles in
his legs burned. He tried not to think about them. They were not part of him anymore. They were government
issue, equipment to use for the sake of the War.
Each hour they walked the war became more alive. Their orders were not to speak. Ansie, following
directly behind Bradford, whispered, “Brad, did you feel that? The ground shook.” Bradford turned his head a
bit and spoke out the side of his mouth, “It’s from the concussion.”
“They never told us the ground would shake.”
Bradford didn’t answer. He suspected now there was a lot they hadn’t told them. The courage he
brought from home was giving way to a repeating flutter, which started in his stomach and ended as a pounding
in his heart. Courage, honor, where had it all gone?
The ground shook almost continuously now. The night’s black nearly obliterated by the constant flashes.
A round landed close by. Bradford and Ansie, along with a few others, were knocked off their feet. Brad lay flat
on his stomach, touching the ground with his nose. The French soil stuck to his lips. The mossy taste of the War
clung to his tongue. Stones and dirt flew over him. The branches on nearby trees waved violently and debris hit
the leaves, echoing what sounded like heavy rain falling. He wrapped his arms around his head, just beneath the
circular brim of his helmet. A brief sense of security warmed him.
A mocking quietness descended. Bradford got up. Ansie stumbled as he attempted to stand.
“Let’s start killing Germans,” Ansie said. “Get this thing over with,”. Bradford grabbed him by the arm.
Ansie got his balance and both men took their places back in line.
The platoon started to move again. Killing, stayed with Bradford. He recognized the word, but it
sounded different. The flutter in his stomach started again, crashing through his heart and flowing down his
arms. His hands stung from the surge. Killing now had a smell, burnt sulfur, like a million matches lite all at the
same time. It had the sound of thunder from a dark cloud floating next to him. He closed his eyes. What did it
look like? That scared him most.
The men made their way forward. Bright bursts flickered on their faces like the light from the screen of
a fast-moving picture show. Bradford’s ears had become numb to the endless blasts. It was in the brief moments
of silence his ears ached and rang from a deafening siren. He needed the powerful sound to begin again to take
away the unbearable discomfort. He waited for what, in so few days, had become a part of him.
The company was within a night’s walk to their prescribed position near the South bank of the Marne.
The shells were landing much closer and more frequently. Travel slowed to almost a crawl. The men spent
much of the time lying on the ground. Their faces dug into their folded arms, listening to the frightful sound of
their pulverized surroundings hurtling over them. At times, a rock or tree limb would find some recruit and a
moan or scream would resonate through the smoke and damp night.
It was daytime and the men rested and waited. The light of the sun was fading. The stealth provided by
the shade of dark was setting in place. The blanket bombardments soon would commence again in earnest. The
stolid-faced soldiers gathered their gear. Braford swung his backpack up from the ground and slipped one arm
then the other into the straps. He picked up his rifle and hung it on his shoulder. The pimple-faced private was
making his way down the line. His head turned toward the soldiers. He was saying something, but Brad wasn’t
able to hear. The private was too far away yet and the din of the whine in Brad’s ears caused him to stop trying
to catch the words. As the private got closer, Brad saw that the men were removing their rifles from their
shoulders, holding them in their hands.
Ansie walked up next to Brad, looking down the line at the men. “What do you think?” Anise asked.
“How close are we? Do you think they spotted some Germans? “
Bradford took his rifle from his shoulder. Ansie quickly did the same.
“We must be close to the River. They want us to be ready. That’s all, just to be ready.” Brad knew Ansie
needed some reassurance. It helped them both. When Ansie leaned on him, Brad felt stronger. It forced him to
tamp down his fear, to push it deep inside himself. He reveled in the ephemeral relief.
The rounds fell closer. A blast sent Bradford to the ground. His body knew what to do. Like Pavlov’s
dog, he no longer had to think about it.
The shelling continued. Some hit as a single explosion; some fell in tandem, covering wider and wider
areas. Brad kept his face in his folded arms. He pressed his body hard against the ground. The concussions blew
dust and small rocks, hitting him from one side or the other. His company was in the middle of a punishing
onslaught. He started to pray. He was a Christian until he became old enough to think for himself. What he had
learned in Sunday school had disintegrated into fairytales and contrived, self-serving rules. Now, he mumbled
words which came from a place out of his control.
A shell hit close. It raised Brad up, rocking and contorting his body. It slammed him back to the ground.
His head was spinning inside. He saw another bright flash. The brightest yet. His eyes were full of light, a
hundred flash bulbs. It didn’t make a sound.

Barren branches, like in the cold, lonely days of winter, stood high above. The gray sky brought dim
light. Bradford wondered why he was lying on his back. There was a suspicious peace surrounding him. Where
was everyone? He rolled onto his side. He looked down to steady his head from the dizziness. He wanted to
stand, but, at the same time, he didn’t want to move. The war was gone. Only the whining in his ears remained.
A fog had rolled in. Four or five men, as far as he could make out, were lying in huddled clumps.
“Ansie,” he yelled out. His voice seemed to go nowhere. “Ansie,” he yelled again. No one moved.
Brad slowly sat up. The soundless bright flash was the last thing he remembered. He looked around
again. His head ached. One side hurt more than the other. He put his hand to the center of the pain. It was
covered with something sticky like tree sap but looked red. Blood. He was surprise how little it mattered. He
pushed himself on to his knees, and put his foot in front of him, put his weight on his bended knee and tried to
stand. He fell in a heap. He looked around and spotted a broken tree limb a couple of meters away. He took off
his backpack, removed his helmet, lied on the ground and moved his arms and hands along with his legs. On his
stomach, like a frightened lizard, he moved to the downed limb. He held it like a crutch. Slowly he straightened
his back and stood upright, took a step, dizziness overcame him again. He never felt so vulnerable. What good
was courage? Some simple strength in his arms and legs is all he wanted. He took a few more steps and stopped
near the man lying closest and motionless. It was Ansie.
“Ansie, get up,” Brad called out. “We got to get out of here. They must have left us for dead.” Ansie
didn’t move. “Come on, God damn it.” He was lying on his side, his torso bent forward, like a marionette
folded to fit in some puppeteer’s suitcase.
“This is no time to crawl up into a ball. Pull it together. We’re okay,” Brad shouted. He nudged Ansie
with the stick. “You want me to carry you, don’t you? Alright, alright.” Brad held tightly on to his makeshift
crutch and stooped down, barely able to bend his knees and keep his balance. He grabbed Ansie’s blood-soaked
and tattered sleeve, gripping it as hard as he could. Blood streamed down and ran onto Brad’s hand.
“God damn you, get up.” He threw his stick away and grabbed with both hands. Droplets of blood fell
along the length of the saturated sleeve. Brad leaned back, using his weight to increase the leverage. He pulled
with all his strength, managing to raise Ansie to a sitting position. He put his hands under Ansie armpits. The
men held each other from collapsing. In one mighty attempt Bradford tried to lift his friend. His right hand
unexpectedly slid up above Ansie’s shoulder. The dull thud, the rustle of the moss and leaves, imprinted itself
forever. Ansie’s arm lay on the ground. Brad let go, took a step backward, staring at Ansie’s face, looking into
his open eyes. He continued to step backward, staring. His mind fumbled. Thoughts ran into each other. How
useless thinking was. Ansie was dead.
Bradford turned away from the greenish-brown heaps of motionless men. He picked up his rifle with a
reflex and began walking through the woods, bracing himself against trees as he made his way to nowhere. The
flutter in his stomach was gone, replaced by a tightness, extending to his chest. Each breath was a struggle. He
kept moving, stumbling at times, but always moving.
He walked deeper into the woods, in some places, it was as dark as night. He pushed on. His legs in
command. As he moved farther, the density of trees began to lessen, and Brad noticed the gray light of the day
grew brighter. He stopped. The ache in his head forced him to sit down, leaning his back and head against a
large rock. He closed his eyes. He wanted to sleep but his mind and body continued fighting the war. His
muscles wouldn’t unwind. He sat ready to leap. The flashes and green-brown heaps of stillness floated in the
darkness on his eye lids.
A speechless order sparked from his guts. Keep moving. He stood up, and a shot cracked the musty air.
Brad jumped and landed flat on the ground. Another shot rang out and ricocheted off the rock. He crawled on
his stomach to the side opposite to where the round hit. Someone wanted to kill him. He got to his knees and
peered out. He saw someone with a rifle pressed against his shoulder. What uniform was he wearing? He
couldn’t see clearly. All he knew was that someone wanted him dead. He was the enemy, French or German, it
didn’t matter anymore. To stay alive, he needed to kill this shooter.
Brad gripped his rifle lying next to him. He eased his head out to get another look. The shooter was still
standing in the same position. Bradford watched him lower his firearm and begin to look around, assuming, no
doubt, that his prey had changed his location, but Brad stayed put. He had good cover. The German – Brad
wanted only to think of him as German – was an easy target.
Brad lay on his stomach and maneuvered himself into the tall grass just beyond the edge of his rock-
hardened shield. He put the butt of his rifle to his shoulder, pressing it into its steadfast position. The human
target sat on the barrel’s sight. He looked with his right eye, holding the other open. The mid-torso, he had
learned, was the easiest to hit. His training took over. It all fell into place like an accordion player fingering the
keys of an often-requested melody. All he needed to do now was pull the trigger. The rifle started to quiver. The
harder he tried to steady it, the more it shook. He rested his elbows on the ground to create a tripod with his
body. It didn’t help. He couldn’t hold the gun still enough. Missing the shot terrified him. It would give away
his open position.
The pre-ordained German began to move slowly toward him. Brad had to take the shot. It was his turn
to kill. The war whispered, “for the honor and glory of America, for that for which it stands.” Rotten fruit,
wedding dresses, Wall Street money, and the guys chanting in the barroom in the Nassau Inn in Princeton,
“we’ll bring it to an end, we’ll kill the Kaiser and all his men.” His thoughts reverberated as a jumble of non
sequiturs.
His target was closer and larger now. He had no helmet, no uniform, nothing recognizable. If Brad only
felt more certain that the shooter was German, maybe that would help him steady the rifle. If he spoke out – he
knew some college German – and if the guy answered with a German accent, then he would be sure, or, on the
other hand, dead. None of it mattered. Killing him was the only guarantee to keep himself alive.
Brad, keeping his prone position, moved closer to the rock, holding the rifle against the hard surface.
The sight at the end of the barrel steadied some. His right hand shook as he felt for the trigger. He pushed the
gun tighter against the rock. The shot retorted and the man fell. He didn’t remember pulling the trigger, but it
was done. Brad rose from the tall grass, turned away from where the dead man lay and started moving as fast as
he could. He felt alive.
The day was wearing down. He feared the dark. He hated the war’s insidious taunts: its deadly flashes,
sounds muted by whining ears, violent blasts throwing sticks and stones. All were a solemn message: “I can get
you if I wish, but there’s time, a time you least expect.”
He travelled farther into the woods. All the trees were intact. The bombardments had not reached this
far. More strength had returned to his arms and legs, but his head still ached. He continued to push through the
wooded morass.
Brad stopped and looked around at the emptiness. He sat on the moist soil. His head fell low between his
raised knees. He began to weep, slowly shaking his head. There was no place to go. It would get him. In the
end, it will get everyone, even those who managed to stay alive. They were the walking dead.
His legs were stiff, his feet aching, but he felt the need to move. He got up and took a few steps.
Dizziness struck. He braced his hand against the gray, split, bark of a sturdy tree. He lowered his head and
aimed his eyes to the ground, focusing on a small patch of green vegetation lying on brown, moss-spotted soil.
The spinning began to subside.
He lifted his head and stared into the distance. The trees appeared even fewer. The light brighter. He
started walking again. He came to a large clearing. The openness threatened him. It was just a matter of time
kept running through his mind. It didn’t matter as much now. The dead, perhaps, were the lucky ones. No more
struggle to stay alive, no more contorting one’s thoughts to make sense of it all.
Oddly, in the confusion of the blasts and screams of the war, came one unexpected, unsought clarity.
Honor, glory, and the American way, like rotting carrots on a stick, stayed at home with their fat and intoxicated
purveyors. For those, here, in the soulless woods of France, they have felt only the sting of the stick.
He began crossing the open field, trudging up a slight slope. He leaned forward and used his rifle to
support him, taking slow steps. When he reached the top, a small house appeared in the distance. Was it really
a house, or his eyes and mind working together, producing false hope?
He started down the incline. His eyes fixed on the orange clay shingles lapping down on the side of the
roof. With each step he waited for the small brownish house to evaporate. The image grew larger, the orange
more vivid and bright. His stomach muscles tightened, his breathing shallow again. His ears and eyes peaked up
to catch any of the threatening sounds and sights of the war.
His reasoning was silent and impotent. He wanted to reach that house, in spite of the fact, that the
Germans might occupy it and already have him in their sights. There was no place for him to take cover. It was
a gamble. Food, water, and safety were within his reach.
He continued walking. The details of the house became clearer. His muscles tightened and his breathing
became shallow. Would he hear the shot?
A floating lightness overwhelmed him. His body lifted away from his consciousness. He hid in the
contrived safety, an attempt to ease a fraction of the insufferable vulnerability.
His legs took command and carried him closer. A slight wind blew through his hair. He was close
enough to see the leaves of the trees flutter in the backyard. His eyes fixed on the curtained window appearing
in the back side of the structure. He continued his approach and stepped onto a small patch of grayish soil, the
remnants of a garden. He crouched down and moved closer to the window. His face and scalp pulsed with a
strong, slow rhythm. He hid below the sill. He poked his head up and tried to peer through the white curtain.
The sheer and pleated material prevented him from seeing anything.
He moved his eyes to the brown, solid door. After a few steps, he was standing in front of it. Knocking
was all that was left. It might be the last thing he would ever do. He stood there, trying to catch a breath. The
smell of beer and “kill the Kaiser…,” Peg and her wedding dress, Ansie’ s arm and his father’s rotten fruit, all
swirled unbidden. The knuckle of his index finger tapped twice on the brown, weathered wood.
There was the sound of movement inside, the floor creaking and the light treading of footsteps.
“Qu'est-ce?” said a soft, female voice from behind the door.
The slow thumping of his head picked up. Dizziness. He braced his palm against the door frame. Who
else was inside?
“American,” was all he could say.
He gripped the warped doorframe with his other hand, dropping his head between his arms. His sandy
hair fell forward. His focus loosened, and he saw nothing. The soft voice, still echoing in his head, hardened to
a ruse, a taunt, a scoffing promise. The scarred face of the -war, he was sure, would greet him. He stopped
fighting it. What the war wanted it would get.
“Move away from the door, so I can see you,” said the woman.
He stepped backward.
Slight, pale fingers moved the window curtain to the side for an instant. The fingers disappeared and the
curtain swung back. Brad came closer to the door again, standing motionless, his head down, his hands bracing
himself against the crooked frame. Three creaking footsteps, the lock snaped, the doorknob turned. The door
moved and swung open. A woman looked at him. The strained, volatile instant of silence took what breath he
had left. Am I shot? He felt nothing, neither life nor death.
“Monsieur, come in before someone sees you.”
Brad looked inside, his eyes moving quickly around the small space. The woman took his arm and
pulled him into the warm and dull glow of the room.
She shut the door, and Bradford’s thoughts began to assemble themselves as if they were called to duty.
A deep breath circulated in and out of his lungs. The young woman brushed past, and stood behind a cloth-
covered table. She clutched the top of a wooden chair tucked beneath it. Brad remained still. His absent gaze
locked on the woman’s tightened face and wide, frozen eyes.
“Sit, please,” the woman said, her hands wringing the top slat of the chair. “I haven’t needed to speak
English in some time. I am British. My husband is French.”
Brad focused and saw her for the first time. A thin woman, a few years older than he was his guess. Her
hair, a light gold mixed with strands almost white, hung to her shoulders. A weariness came from the pre-
mature creases which ran from the corners of her lips to the sides of her petite nose. He pulled out the chair
closest and sat down.
How strange it was, the calm, the -war not able to find him. He struggled to speak. His thinking came
sporadically, leaving orphaned words and phrases behind.
“Bradford James, First Class.”
The woman moved out of the yellow light coming from the two bulbs hanging above the table. Brad
watched her nearly disappear into the shadowy, periphery of the small room. He heard the clang of dishes and
liquid pouring. She reemerged from the dimness.
“Martha,” she said and put a wedge of hard, pale cheese, bread, and a glass of clear water on the table.
He picked up the glass and began drinking. The clear, cool liquid poured into his mouth and down his
throat. He let it flow freely, indulging himself in the contentment. Water trickled from the corners of his mouth
and ran down his chin. A tingling shot through his arms and chest. A smile nearly came to his lips.
Brad began eating. He spoke between mouthfuls, his words coming quicker and surer.
“American Expeditionary Forces, United States Army, we were shelled. I began walking.”
Martha sat in the chair at the head of the table, closer to him. She looked up at the clotted, black blood in
his hair.
“Does your head hurt?
“The ache comes and goes now.”
“I would wash the blood off for you, but I’m afraid it will reopen the wound.”
Brad gave her a quick glance. Washing off the blood? He had never even given it a thought, but
such words he had never heard. They resounded with warmth of crackling logs blazing in a snow-
covered cottage. Only in the cold wind of war such fires ignite.
The food was gone, and he drank the last bit of water. He put the glass down and looked at
Martha. He wanted to ask where her husband was when a clunking sound burst from the shadowy
margin of the room. Brad bolted to his feet, grabbing his rifle hanging from the side of the chair.
“Papa,” came from a tiny voice. Brad looked at the straight-faced, little girl, staring at him.
“It’s my daughter, Amelie.” Martha crouched down next to the small child.
Brad hung his rifle on the corner of the back of the chair. He remained standing; his prickling
skin calming from the jolt.
“C'est Bradford, un soldat américain. Il est venu pour aider à mettre fin à la guerre.”
Martha turned to Brad. “I told her you have come to help end the War.”
He sat down, his mind floating away. How many times had he thought that?
“Cherie, retournez dans votre chambre. Vos poupées vous attendent,” Martha said softly to her
Amelie. The girl looked up at Brad. Her eye lids sagging, her lips closed tight. Abruptly, she turned and
disappeared into the dusky light and closed the door of her room.
Martha stood up and stepped toward the window. “I told her to go back to playing with her
dolls.” She moved the curtain aside and looked out. “Marcel should be back by now. It will be dark
soon. He’s hunting.”
Brad froze, his breathing nearly stopped, the yellow, hazy light began to blur. Beads of sweat
broke out on his upper lip. He couldn’t move. The man I shot? No. The war was just teasing him,
claiming him as one of its fools.
The guy shot at me. He must have been German. He saw the American uniform. That’s what
happened.
Brad shuffled in his chair, clasping his hands together on the table. He immediately unfolded
them and stretched his arms out, leaned forward, and put his chin into his hands. His eyes bounced
around the room, his mind swooned looking for something to tell him it was just a nightmare, and he
would wake up soon.
Amelie appeared again from the shadow of her room. She held Clara, her doll, in her arms,
pressed against her small chest.
“Maman ou est papa?”
Brad got up, pushing his chair back.
“I’m going out to look for him,” he said, avoiding Martha’s eyes.
“Are you well enough?”
She didn’t wait for a reply, and quickly left the room. She returned with a picture of her husband.
“This is Marcel. He’s wearing a green plaid jacket.”
She handed the photo to Brad. His hand shook as he took it. He stared at the man, dressed in a
dark sports jacket, looking back at him. Marcel’s lips were straight and serious. His drawn face and
penetrating eyes said, “Look at what you have done.” The war now had a face.
Brad swung his rifle off the chair and hung it from his shoulder. Amelie came closer, bent her
head back, and looked into his eyes. She held Clara out. Brad looked at Martha.
“Take it with you. She wants you to have it.”
He turned his head back, looking at the child’s soft, plump cheeks and the simple sincerity in her
eyes. He extended his hand slowly toward the doll, taking it gently from her. His heart sunk into a slow,
doleful rhythm. A numbness saturated him. He held the doll in one hand, turned toward the door, and
left without a word.
He headed to where the body lay. He crossed the field in the light of the long French evening.
Brad remembered the place where he saw the man fall. He began making his way through the woods. He
came to a small clearing. It looked familiar. The rock was not far from here. He began to move faster.
His feet stepped higher. He pushed bare branches aside with his free hand and Clara, in the other hand,
helped to do the same.
When he saw the rock come into view, he rushed ahead, weaving around the intervening tree
trunks with buckling, gray bark. He stood in the tall grass beside the rock and sighted the aim he had
taken. He began walking the path his bullet had travelled. The low bushes and pale, yellow weeds hid
the ground ahead of him. He moved slowly, his eyes lowered, moving them right and left.
The light had waned to gray.
I have to find him. He fell here. I saw him drop. Did he get up? Lord hear me, if You ever heard
me, hear me now, please, if it’s him, let me find him alive.
He couldn’t be this far. Brad turned around. The gray evening was falling away to darkness, he
only saw the ground immediately at his feet now. He weaved quickly through the brush.
A shoe.
He pushed some of the weeds away. There he was, lying face down. Clara moved aside the
remaining waist-high brush. They stood next to the body. Brad knelt down. It was too dark to see the
shirt.
The faint sound of shelling broke out in the distance. Brad reached out and put the palm of his
hand on the body. He felt the shirt and snapped his hand back. How cold it was. He put Clara down and
grasped the rifle hanging from his shoulder. It fumbled in his hands. He got hold of it and positioned the
end of the barrel close to the shirt; the round aimed to the weeds. He put his finger on the trigger. He
paused, his breathing nearly at a pant. He rivetted his eyes to where he estimated the flash would be.
Bang, an echo, a glimpse of green plaid.
Brad closed his eyes. The red-yellowish flash burned in his blank vision. The frequency of the
dull thuds of the bombardment increased. He put his face into his hands. Tears streamed down under
them. The distant explosions became crisper and louder. He fell on his side, his knees coming up to his
chest. He rocked, moaning. The war will be with me forever. He was one of the walking dead.
From this day on, the face of the war would live within him, but it was no longer the straight,
stern face of Marcel. In its place, etched deeply in his soul, was his own face. Nausea struck him. He
retched helplessly, trying to eject the sickening truth: He was the War.
He picked up his rifle, checked that a round remained loaded. He removed his shoe and
positioned the barrel under his chin. He lay on the ground and felt something beneath him. He reached
under his back. It was Clara. He sat up, holding her in his hand, and crying. He shouted through his sobs,
“I didn’t want to die. Don’t you understand. I have no courage, no anything. It’s all just words, just
useless words.”
The barrage came closer. A shell blasted loudly. A dim light reflected off Clara’s face. It went
dark. Another flash. She looked at him again. Amelie was waiting for them. Her trusting eyes had said
she expected them to bring back her papa.
Brad grabbed his rifle by the barrel, his face strained with anger. He gritted his teeth and flung
the weapon. The tall grass responded with a swish. It was over.
He stood up, Clara in one hand. With the other, he reached into his back pocket and took out
Peg’s letter. The paper crinkled as he crushed it into small ball, throwing it into the dark. He turned to
the direction of the house with the orange shingles and brown, beaten door. They began walking, the
anger of the war raging behind them.
Dorin Schumacher

THE FRESHET, 1911 [DIE FLUGT STEIGT]

(The intertitles on the extant print are in Old Dutch.)


Producer: Vitagraph Company of America

Director: William Humphrey

With Ralph Ince, Helen Gardner, Fred Herzong, Robert Taber, and Matty Ruebert

The piece you are about to read is about a silent movie star who will become the country’s first actor-
producer. Through my extensive critical and film research, I adopt my grandmother Helen Gardner’s persona
and respond to the script, scenes and other actors. The script is real, the scenes are real, the persona is persona.
* * *
HELEN GARDNER: We shot the film in November when we were all thinking about the tragic flood
in Allentown, Pennsylvania in September. Heavy rains caused a concrete dam to break and the water inundated
the boroughs below and killed 80 people.1
Here, “Freshet” means the flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow. The director William
Humphrey got dramatic flood scenes and worked his little love story into them.
“You can’t hold it back. It carries everything before it, and you find yourself drawn into a vortex of heart
interest with a thrill of palpitating contemplation.” 2
* * *

HELEN GARDNER AT THE POPULAR CASINO TODAY

The Home of Good Pictures -- Brightest, Steadiest and Flickerless

The management of the Casino takes great pleasure in announcing to patrons of the popular resort
one of the Vitagraph dramas, “The Freshet,” in which Miss Helen Gardner, formerly of Oneonta,
takes the part of leading lady and in addition to our regular performance we will give every lady
purchasing a ticket a handsome photo of the Oneonta girl, Miss Helen Gardner, as a souvenir.
Don’t miss this opportunity of receiving a photo of your favorite. Bring the children and leave
them during shopping hours. Come in the afternoon and avoid the evening rush.3

* * *

Intertitle: DER AUSERKORENE IHRES VATERS [THE FATHER’S CHOSEN ONE]

Incidental Music Suggestion:

“During love scenes, play ‘The Small Town Gal’ (Geo. M. Cohan).”4

Meg (Helen Gardner), a trim young woman in a ruffled country-girl dress and a braid down her back,
leans over a rose bush next to a white shingled house. In the foreground, Tom (Ralph Ince), a slender young
man in a suit, doffs his hat to her. She picks a rose, approaches him, turns away shyly, turns back smiling and
puts the flower in his buttonhole.

HG: “Ralph Ince is here shown with me. He was, and I suppose is, a most difficult man for a ‘Lady’ star
to act with, owing to the fact that he and his wife had contracted not to speak to actors of the opposite sex. You
may well imagine that after being snubbed and even wounded by his boorish behavior before the scene, my
mind was not the most tranquil when the scene was in progress. Then too, there was always the fear that his
attraction to me might make him forget [what he was supposed to be doing].” 5

In the background, two men in suits and hats start to go in the front door of the house. The older one,
Meg’s father, gets an angry look when he sees her pat Tom’s lapel so tenderly. Her father stiffens his shoulders,
stalks over and lectures her. Her happy look turns into a frown as he pushes her to the other man. Her chosen
one, Tom, gives up, puts his hat on and leaves the scene. Meg tries to follow but her father holds her back. She
argues, points in the direction Tom took. Her father makes her take the other man’s hand. She pouts.

* * *

The wide door of a blacksmith workshop. BLACKSMITH & WHEELWRIGHT. Meg rushes up
gaily swinging a lunch pail and calls to her father, the owner. She stands in profile in the door and bites into her
apple. Tom appears in a blacksmith’s apron. Meg’s father sits on a stool in the door and takes his lunch from
the pail she gives him. Tom and Meg gaze lovingly at each other. She offers him an apple with the flat of her
hand as though feeding a horse. He takes it and bites. Her father sees their intimacy and orders Meg to leave.
She flounces off with a rebellious but happy wave. The father lectures Tom who looks smug and goes back
inside.

* * *

Intertitle: DIE HOCHZEITSGÄSTE MACHEN SICH ÜBER DEN UNGLÜCKLICHEN LEHRLING


LUSTIG [WEDDING GUESTS MAKE FUN OF THE UNHAPPY APPRENTICE]

Tom comes out of the workshop carrying a molten piece of iron with tongs and fits it onto the broken
axle of a wagon. Five couples in fancy dress, the women in large flowered hats, walk across the scene pointing at
him as they laugh and jeer.
HG: A scene that shows class differences. Tom, a worker. The couples, upper class.

* * *

Intertitle: NACH FÜNF JAHREN MARIE, JETZT EINE WITWE, KOMMT MT IHREM KLEINEN
SOHN, UM DIE SCHMIEDE ZU BESICHTIGEN [AFTER FIVE YEARS OF MARRIAGE, MEG,
NOW A WIDOW, VISITS THE WORKSHOP WITH HER LITTLE SON]

Meg, wearing a plain long dark dress and a white cloth bonnet that covers her shoulders, enters left. She
holds the hand of a little boy with blond hair in a bowl cut. They walk slowly to the door of the workshop and
peer in. Meg turns toward the camera, leans on the left side of the door and smiles flirtatiously at Tom when he
arrives and rolls a wagon wheel up. He turns away with a sour look. She reaches out to him, he says no and goes
into the shop. She starts to leave, but the boy pulls on her arm. He breaks away and rushes alone into the shop
and brings Tom out, still looking sour. Meg leaves with the boy. Tom watches them go, hands on his hips.

HG: Stubborn male.

* * *

Meg and the boy climb the steps of a front porch with a railing and a corner post overgrown with vines.
Meg, now bonnet-less, stops, turns unhappily toward the left, sadly shakes her head No and sighs a long sigh.
They enter the front door.

HG: What happened to the bonnet from the previous scene? Director’s mistake.

* * *

Intertitle: DER DAMM IST GOBROCHEN UND DAS TAL ÜBERSCHWEMMT [THE DAM
BREAKS AND FLOODS THE VALLEY]
Smoke billows around the door of the blacksmith shop. A man in a suit waves his arms and shouts. Tom
appears.

* * *

Intertitle: ZUR RETTUNG [TO THE RESCUE]


Incidental music suggestion:
“During the rushing of the freshet, play ‘The Storm.’”6
Tom struggles out of his leather apron which seems to resist and rushes to the left.
The screen shows flooding water. The water fills the screen. A black and white dog perched on a board
floats by. The dog jumps into the water and swims out of the scene. Logs are propelled by the current. A small
house with a shingle roof that shows above the water floats by. Meg and her boy are lying on the roof. Meg’s
shirtwaist and long skirt are soaked, she is barefoot. She cries for help. She struggles to move herself and her
child to the roof’s edge.

* * *

Intertitle: DEN WASSERN AUSGELIEFERT [THE WATER DELIVERED]


Meg pushes the boy onto a small piece of flotsam and he floats away.
HG: What a terrible thing for a mother to have to do.
Meg struggles to get to the edge of the roof.
Tree limbs and housing debris rush by. A chicken perched on a chimney passes. Meg’s child on the
flotsam. He waves his arm and calls out to her as she lies on the roof.
Two men in a rowboat come alongside, she climbs in, calls to her boy, reaches her arms out.

* * *
The scene is shot from the other side of the flooding stream as tree branches and other debris rush by. A
man stands at the far edge. Tom runs up to him, pulls his shoes off and jumps into the flood. He swims against
the current with a strange one-handed stroke.
The boy and his flotsam float up. Tom swims to him, takes him in his arms and swims toward shore.
Incidental music suggestion:
“As Tom saves the little boy, play ‘Hearts and Flowers.’”7
The scene is shot where Tom entered the water. The normal edge of the stream is marked by bushes
with floodwater pooled behind them. Two men stand at the edge. Tom, the child in his arms, swims up and
struggles out. One man takes the boy. Tom slips and falls, stands back up. He takes the boy, staggers toward the
camera to higher ground.

* * *

Intertitle: WO IST MEIN KIND? [WHERE IS MY CHILD?]


The rowboat carrying Meg lands. She staggers along the same watery path that Tom took.
In his workshop, Tom, soaking wet, wraps a blanket around the boy and holds him in front of the fire
which he stokes. Meg, drenched, rushes in and grabs the boy. He is so heavy she almost drops him. She reaches
out to Tom but he spurns her. She starts to leave with the child in her arms. Tom, with a look of worry, goes to
her.

* * *

Intertitle: SIE KÖNNEN BEI MIR ZUFLUCHT FINDEN [YOU CAN FIND REFUGE WITH ME]
Meg, holding the boy, stands in the opening of the blacksmith shop. She looks tragic, Tom sullen. He
points in front of him.
A flashback shows the floating roof she was rescued from.
In the shop, she bends over and buries her face in the boy’s neck. Tom clenches his fists, points to his
left and exits as she follows him.
The plain front porch of a small house. Tom opens the front door, Meg enters with the boy in her arms,
he closes the door behind them and leaves, pensive.

* * *

Back in his shop, Tom hammers a horseshoe and puts it in the fire as he turns the crank of the bellows.
Meg and the boy walk in, both in dry clothes that fit perfectly.
HG: Director’s mistake. They dried off in Tom’s house.
Meg, her beautiful profile illuminated by firelight against the darkness of the workshop, reaches toward
Tom. He jabs at the horseshoes. The boy runs to him and grabs his legs. Tom picks him up and hugs him,
smiles with joy. Meg poses in the profile shot, looks away, then looks up as though in prayer.
HG: I am so beautiful!
They speak. She nods yes to him. Tom looks blissful. They embrace with the happy child in his arms.
Incidental music suggestion:
“As they are brought together again, play ‘The Dream Melody’ (Spring Maid).”8
Intertitle: ENDLICH VEREINT [FINALLY UNITED]
ABOUT DIRECTOR AND FILM MAKER HELEN GARDNER

She became a star in 1911 as the seductive Becky Sharp in Vitagraph Company of America’s three-reel
VANITY FAIR. The first American actor to establish her own production company, she produced and starred
in the first long feature made in the United States, CLEOPATRA (Helen Gardner Picture Players, 1912).

NOTES
1
“Austin, Pennsylvania Dam Failure – September 30, 1911,” Wikipedia, accessed December 31,
2017,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floods_in_the_United_States:_1901%E2%80%932000#Austin,_Pennsylva
nia_Dam_Failure_–_September_30,_1911
2
“The Freshet,” Moving Picture World, December 2, 1911, p. 693.
3
“Helen Gardner at the Popular Casino Today,” Oneonta Star, 1911. Helen Gardner’s Vitagraph scrapbook,
Dorin Schumacher collection.

4
“The Freshet,” Incidental Music Suggestions for Vitagraph Films, Vitagraph Life Portrayals, November 16-
December 1, 1911, v1, #10, p. 10.

5
Gardner, Helen. Handwritten note in green ink on back of a still from “The Freshet,” ca 1950s, Dorin
Schumacher collection. The still shows Gardner and Ralph Ince, who is holding a little boy, dressed in a leather
apron standing in front of a forge with his blacksmith tools.

6
“The Freshet,” loc.cit.

7
“The Freshet,” loc.cit.

8
“The Freshet,” loc.cit.
Doug Jones

28/3/19

“Yellow, fantastical colour, it’s life applied woolly


mammoths, moths.. tight helical, squares. What I saw
was dye-stuff, antibiotic code – on moths’ arms, when a
small room drops to its knees – crowd on a grandma’s
course in paints. In mammoths’ eyes. Yellow won’t make
itself – it needs us humans to help it along, a system –
of distribution, states of dress, perception – our near
extinct bone shade”

3/4/19

“The calmest of the tourists – contemplated device his


lust confines, changed to the most menacing of meals.
Pain of the Buddha. Gluttony, obesity, the T2 diabetes –
dukkah – use, use of repeated holiday scripts – set in the
soul track of a Sildenafil bird. Flies back, to feed off his
own icecream bird/bun – yet malaise, out of a
warehouse, of a vessel. e-sugar’s most distorted breast
– eternal thirst – Buddha you know, of yr mother”
10/4/19

“Hi English writers, centaurs – artists of amazing thighs +


teeth. It’s complicated, so I wash my face x 4 a day.
Though they play good football, which’s like a poem –
here, there’s nothing else like you in town, not nearly so
many teeth. Bright skins/colours. And things have gone
bad, for both sides. Gamers are down – gums are very
rotten. What did football even mean to a centaur
anyway? Chicken meat – 1st in the Valium line of 1”

17/4/19

“You remember where you were when you saw yr 1st


tooth? How hungry you’d have been, + the shock of it.
From then, how could you trap, or process food in any
other form? The tooth, made when you were no-one,
was a creator of Man – delineated at the HOX co. We all
signed. Gums to pull up genes, in time, waves, found
along the trail of animal fear and hiding. Perfect
outstretched teeth to the top – cuts the nets of hell”

24/4/19

“Prisoner house – Railway, is the stigmata of the poor –


made with no consent over the scant of their leaf cuts
bodies – guilds, stations, other town, of their mouths –
they were never taught to write. The black lawn Queen
suburb in the percept of the unemployed, engine driver,
coming in. How she is a stripped horse, I’d say, track –
as she travels the planet in wheels – the van – all the ex-
prisoner’s appointments. Like a coven”
1/5/19

“Who knows. Early morning, going to surgery, looked


back, saw an old friend. Had a load of dry sea plants,
mixed in a plastic sheet, a high pile on the pavement.
Was picking them up, 1 by 1, taking them into a high
state house. A fine morning. The Golden Lion. He
looked so content. Felt proud of him, the good work he
does. Treasures sea plants, plastics, buildings or the
car. For things, the presence of these things, who knows”

8/5/19

“No inland city, the human face, a small belonging


fetched from the edge of the sea by necessity of
something to eat + a man, put there, covered in a red
dust, which is of course body, soul – the mummery,
slumped forward in a mobility aid. Ghost tower,
motivated by sea, rears 3 circles, the face, hands –
faced, speechless, ongoing. Multi innocent. Terrible fire
immersed while a metabolism, is our town – did you
see?”

15/5/19

“The physical pope on food + fun, friends babe – has an


intense, clean skinned presence on our beauty regime.
He prays quietly. If it was a palace. + his measures
lighten. He looks more confident. Ah, to share his new
face. A natural son, compassion – refreshed – in
aluminium form, to put in my house, vast mother.
Climbing verdure, tips of the flowering floor. Of a child
who’s ugly, even as a god”
22/5/19

“We go back to the same question, the tower, did it exist?


and does it have anything to do with your running –
race? Because, if yes, you hit her, why? White mum,
who lies 900 to the floor, dawn – a stranger then, a
concrete Olympics of the stomach men, who fall that
way over you. I mean the one in pants. They go down,
as a function. Runs spirits, team prison & such. Arrow to
a sport, to a floor”

30/5/19

“A bush stuck, party. Music off the wrens + set, them up


starling, raving birds. They seem. Time in fun, endless
hierarchy, of us snagged in tendrils – parent group of
trees to have jail. Interrogate, be done. Difficult child in
her Merc, in oak, or the wood models stuck in trees –
more than you’d ever want for the Louder – the attributes
of the car the starlings’ cell”

5/6/19

“Lenor – a blue/eyed manufactured purity I pity in the


wetlands. It makes the world for use – the green man
was set walking, a cleaner pushed inside – last night – I
gazed in awe on the water bird’s soft, fresh skin. Life
played on its green plastic eyes, a grinning epiphany.
Who died + made you washer up? Rinse, in human
time. To know the reeds. old cormorant. Not even the
shadow of a wall”
12/6/19

“Comic strips, striated – having cracks, frozen worlds,


where you can’t see the moon. ‘I live within it.’ Hero
lines, articulated in a form of tidal flexion – but then
featureless, slow. The dark or white spaces of the
superhero in their eternal adventure – suns + moon.
Serial shots. One line maybe drawn to my costume,
from far away. Not able to be read. I see no confidence
there. I just see scanned animals”

19/6/19

“The ambulance has got lost – happens all the time, the
crew go walkies, with their walkie-talkies - + they never
come back. One unit ended up in a Dereham field.
Ambulancemen had got to deconstructing the box,
where the patient is. In tatters. Lost dialogue, in with the
field or the scrub life-saving kit – is taken down, put
outside the cab, a post. New claim metal garbage for
the virgin”
Ed Makowski

Explaining Battery Life and Relationships to my Child

Do you know that feeling


when you reach out to someone
and you’re trying so hard
to become friends
or to get to know them better
to find out what is bothering them,
or if you hurt them, or to just find
a simple common ground
with that person?

Sure.

It’s exhausting, right?


My phone has been reaching
calling out to network towers
trying to make a connection
through these mountains
for hours now
and it’s tired
and I’m giving up.
Standing f,or Something

At a concert hall
for the premiere
of a documentary
about motorcycle culture

I watch
as people
filter in from the
side entrances
and stand
around the perimeter
for the entire movie,
meanwhile

dozens of
open seats remain vacant
in the middle.

These bikers
with loud pipes
and face tattoos
and EAT SHIT patches

choosing to stand
for two hours, to avoid
the discomfort of
whispering “Excuse me”
while shuffling past a stranger
in the dark
The Container Itself

I walked into the break room at work


and was greeted by
a salad container with a note, written

HELP YOURSELF

“Thanks for the advice,


Salad.”

I said to an otherwise empty room.

I looked into the other side of the glass window,


out onto a prairie blowing in the silence
of the glass wall between us.

Humans have a staggering capacity


to not understand a thing
and so determine it a nothing
a nothing that needs to be filled
with a something of our choosing.

Like being uncomfortable with silence


and filling it by rambling aspirations
of meaningless progress.

We look at prairies
and judge a vast rolling nothing

Except prairies aren’t empty silence,


they’re filled with Eastern Meadowlarks
and foxes and Sky Blue Asters
and Rusty Patched Bumble Bees
going about their every day,
which we replace with inbred bovines
or pipelines or condominiums or
failing shopping mall stores or
diesel fuel storage containers.

I looked back at the salad on the table, opened the lid


and it was empty. I guess the invitation
was for the container itself.
Snapshot of Expert Panelists

Listening to
journalism experts
at a journalism conference
discuss the future of the craft:

The Indian American broadcaster


presents himself as a
story-gathering ambassador
for the Indian American community

The African American woman


gently offers her credentials
prior to the data findings
so that no one doubts
her research

The Austrian research professor


addresses fellow panelists by name,
references their work,
and fidgets when
being called an expert

The white guy editor chimes in


with a few swears
Fuck, Shit
to prove he’s
edgy, irreverent
with the cool kids
Eleanor Levine

The Dutch Girl

[an excerpt from her new book Kissing a Tree Surgeon, (Guernica Editions, 2020)]

The Muslims on our street sang prayers for me.


Everyone on Facebook encouraged me to date her: we were both quirky, and though on different
continents, we played Scrabble with slang words—me in English and her, also in English.
The only person, of course, who had doubts, was my therapist, Dr. Samson, who was certain she was a
fabrication—she was Mohamed of Tunisia rather than Vivian of Amsterdam.
To begin with, Vivian said she lived in Switzerland, though her office was in England, and that she was
from Amsterdam. This seemed an odd transposition of places to accumulate for a paycheck.
“And my lover just died of cancer, so I’m looking for a new one.”
“I’m sorry about your loss.”
“LOL and thanks.”
Between “LOL” and “thanks” I surmised this person might not be who she said she was.
I had already endured, a decade earlier, a woman of Aryan-Hispanic origins who wrote me from Africa
(she was originally from Illinois), where she was staying with her sick mother. Our relationship had tidy
moments of S&M via Skype, but got insidious when she mentioned her mother’s terminal illness; this maternal
calamity caused irreparable financial damages, and could I please send $2,500?

Loneliness can make a Bronx dyke swerve to fake lesbians on OkCupid.


“What do you do for a living?” the Dutch girl asked.
“I’m a meteorologist,” I said, because, like me, weather is organized by chaos, and within its chaos there
is its own organization.
This sounded better than my real occupation—word processing in the pharmaceutical department at a
Bronx hospital.
“Wow,” she emailed, “that’s cool.”
“Yeah, most of my friends hate me if there’s a blizzard. I’m like—it’s God’s mood swing—not mine.”
“LOL!” she wrote. When you get an “LOL” while dating, it means things are neutrally fine, there is a
possibility you will kiss them, and that in your flannel nightgown, lying on flannel sheets, in weather you
incorrectly predicted, you are still in the running for the position of “girlfriend.”
When the Dutch girl mentioned she was now living in Madison, Wisconsin, selling laboratory
equipment, I was confused.
“Do you think she exists?” I asked my psychiatrist.
“I think you should stick with women who resemble your ex but need plastic surgery.”
Yes, in addition to the Dutch girl, there was, on OkCupid, another girl interested in me. This one resembled a
former lover, but her face was asymmetrical. “Plastic surgery girl” lived in Manhattan; had an oil-burning stove
in upstate New York; liked art and Afghan food.
“You need someone on the continent,” he said.
“Vivian lives in Wisconsin.”
“As I said,” he continued, “it wouldn’t hurt to date someone within an hour’s distance.”
The girl with an oil-burning stove was Jewish, which was a factor that my dead mother and psychiatrist
loved. I, however, was more into the Dutch chick, who was originally from Switzerland, had witnessed her
girlfriend die of lymphoma in the Netherlands, but was now in Wisconsin.
“You are geographically challenging,” I wrote the Netherlander.
“Coordinates well with you.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I’m worldly and you’re weatherly. LOL.”
I didn’t get her humor, but it might have been a translation issue.
Vivian was a single girl with a simple understanding of life who wore a hat to appear androgynous and
other times let her curls fall out so she could yell, “Godverdomme!” which was “Goddamnit” in Dutch.
Her friends called her “gek,” which, in the Netherlands, means “crazy.”
She liked older women, though it was not clear why.
I found her sweet, charming and inscrutably kind, and the geographical confusion issue, which I had
discussed with my shrink, sunk into the background during our flirtatious moments.
“What are you doing now?” Vivian asked.
“Thinking about you.”
“And what are you wearing?” she prodded, as if it were a nuclear secret that the Russians and Americans
were already sharing.
“My blanket!” I texted.
She texted back, “That’s sexy!” with a smiley face.
After viewing porn, I’d circle my brain and kindle the fires with her photo. The one with the hat. It was
euphoric.

Some people, like my friend Eddie, do “date in three-dimensional reality,” and call their choice “old school,”
even if it means, as it did for me, meeting drunk poontang in Jersey City women’s bars. Though sloppy and
wobbly, you know what you are taking home. Or at least you think you do.
I’d bring girls home, read them excerpts from Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks, endear them to my inferior
social skills, and get laid. Seuss and Heineken made a great night of fun, and though it was not cyberspace, the
reality was that it was over in twelve hours. At least with cyberspace you can endure a fictitious affair for a week.
“I’m not able to sleep at night,” Vivian via Wisconsin via Amsterdam texted me.
“Oh boy,” I replied, feeling the pangs and intimacies of love through the iPhone, “I wish there was
something I could do.”
“There is…”
“What dear? How may I give you greater comfort in the evening?” I had already checked out the
Priceline.com tickets for Madison, Wisconsin, which were slightly cheaper than Amsterdam.
There was a brief pause. She wrote back.
“Financial.”
I stopped breathing momentarily. I thought this only happened once every ten years via the Internet.
But it had been ten years.
The Muslim prayers were failing me.
All the support I received on Facebook had been for naught.
“I’m sorry,” I wrote her back quickly, recalling the Illinois Aryan/Hispanic hottie who had solicited
money for her dying mother in Africa, “I cannot help.”
I then deleted her profile and text number from all associated sites and devices.
I proceeded to the girl who resembles my ex but needs plastic surgery; who, though also on the Internet,
was a subway ride away. The problem was, unlike the Dutch girl, the girl who needed plastic surgery waited a
week each time she responded.
“I’m not having an affair with a turtle,” I told my psychiatrist.
“No, reptilian love is not what it’s cracked up to be,” he said. This must be psychiatric humor.
I said nothing.
“Didn’t you suspect that someone who kept switching continents might not exist?” he asked.
I nodded.
“Good night.” I went for the door.
“Why are you leaving?” he said. “You have ten more minutes.”
“Do you think that ten minutes will transform me?”
I grinned and signed my check.
“Here ya go.” I gave it to him. “I’ll text if anything comes up.”
“Are you sure?” he said. “What about that woman Cindy who wrote you?”
“She puts makeup on cadavers.”
“And?”
“She prefers the dead.”
“Oh,” he said from his seat, the place where he deliberated my life, which frequently came from the
Internet.
Emalisa Rose

that stuff you say at funerals

it’s two weeks now since we


said we’d get in touch again

we left stones and some shells


on Aunt Gina’s grave..reciting
some prayers in phonetic
rendition

we laughed how she’d always


just be there, with a broom
in her hand, sweeping up dirt

or chasing the kitties from her


garden of tea roses, how she taught
us crochet and that bleach was the
be all and end all of the cryptics

of cleaning..at the ‘goodbye,’ after


the ‘hello’ after all the skeletal years
and the ‘stuff’ caught between us

was nice to elude into thinking we’d


really be family again.
anything but ‘that’

We talk about corn and zucchini


how the crops are now losing libido
the Jets and the Giants
the last train to Clarksville

the book club we’ve forgotten to join

the dogs on iditerod..how it praddles


the world of the vegan cause

‘bout lines on the highway and whether


they’ll wait till pre-spring to stripe them
again..we talk of Corona...how it’s holding
you back from divorce

and how i’ve grown hips again after 17


summers. (too much damn couch time i know)

we talk of the Beatles, the Stones and the


man in the man marigolds...how it took
too many years to welcome the Moody blues
to the rock and roll hall of fame...

‘bout how Pete’s back the pulpit and that Betty


does Boston now

and the contortinist years when we lost roses


to thorns...but right now

we just talk and we talk and we talk

we just don’t talk of ‘that.’


chopsticks

i heard that she died yesterday


she was the first with the
new angled hairstyle..a black
velvet bow in her blonde
plaited hair..she played the
piano and took oil painting
class in the city on saturdays
bringing back treats of different
ethniticies..first to use chopsticks
correctly..we knew she’d be
famous someday, or at least
venture far from this place we
began with its prefabricated
multiplex dwellings of brick,
almost windowless towers in
triplicates, trees climbing the
sky ladder viewing a world in
which kids that sat bleacher seat
could barely just dream about.
rapture of radio

it was always the same ride


back home..parallel passengers
with you behind Pop me facing flip
side to Mom's lacquered beehive

at the august of crickets and fall


starts to flicker rehearsing the
stage show of its carousel colors

we bookend the window seats with


you reading Tiger Beat..me with a
pencil and polka-dot notebook

composing some cloud poems while


you're batting your lash at the triceps
of truckers

Breakfast with Beatles blasts the


beats of New York and we segue in
sing-a-long, simultaneously miming
the fabulous foursome

we laugh..we high five..like two tye


dyed troubadours..raptured by radio
breaking the awkwardness of the
silence of sisters.
a simple request

I left you some shells


and a porridge of poems
I'd pre-written..on the
cliffside of rock and
redemption

all I is ask in return


is a fifth of Jack Daniels
and your pledge of fidelity

and I'll be your


whore of forever
Ethan Goffman

Plastic Bag

There’s an ethereal beauty


in a plastic bag descending from the heavens,
an angel dancing in a strong wing
on its mystical journey
to choke
a nearby stream.
An Infinitely Meaningless Poem

As the old song goes, “nothing is real”


but how can nothing be real when it’s the absence of something?

Set theory says


there is an infinity of infinities
but I say
there are no infinities
no infinity plus one;
since infinity cannot exist in the first place
and cannot even be conceived
it is impossible to add one to it

There are zero infinities


not just because infinity doesn’t exist,
but because zero does not exist
in reality
there are zero zeros.

In this way
zero and infinity are the same
sweet nothings in the human soul
and the minds of mathematicians.

How many mathematicians you ask?


A countable number
a number that exists
something, not nothing.

Nothing is not real


not unreal
not surreal
simply not
but not even not, since “not” is just another way
of expressing zero.
Still, for us humans
nothing is something
so much more consequential
than infinity.

I have no money
zero
nothing.

When you are broke


nothing is everything.
On Postpartum Depression

Seven and a half billion human beings


on this Earth
and counting, and counting, and counting, and counting
each birth a miraculous suffering.

I still suffer postpartum depression from my own birth.

Each baby born will, at some point, suffer horribly, and at some point
die.

My question to mothers without postpartum depression,


What is wrong with you?

Perhaps you need to see a psychiatrist!


Gregory Wallace

Orpheus 23

While walking through the park one day, Orpheus encountered Hermes. He needed Orpheus to help him
attach a device with a rubber glove on the end to an artificial respirator. The thing he was attaching the hose to
was like a manikin's head. Finally, Orpheus got it in and Hermes told him he only wanted one finger in the
mouth. They were in a house and Hermes was a girl now. She asked Orpheus if he would come to look and he
said "maybe." Orpheus crawled through a long tunnel in the dirt with a small door at the end. Very small, like a
cat door. Only he couldn't open it until he forced it. Orpheus was a boy allergic to redwood and the girl had put
redwood there so he would die. But I didn't like that ending so Orpheus didn't die. He didn't think she wanted
to kill him. He found a spacesuit in his closet. The suit had been given to him when he was a boy by a friend of
his father who was an astronaut. Orpheus put it on but it made him stoop over. He put the helmet on. It had
things written on the inside that he had written there as a boy. Orpheus walked around with the spacesuit on.
By the sea he met one of his teachers. She opened up a shelf in the rock and discovered an ancient lobster.

Orpheus looked at a picture in a newspaper of three women on horseback. He asked Dionysus if they were all
the same woman, Rhiannon, and Dionysus said “no.” Orpheus saw the three women on horseback in the desert
and one poured oil on the other's horses' heads and necks. Rhiannon accidentally got some on her horse.
Orpheus was the woman walking behind Pegasus trying to wipe off the oil. They came to a big building where
people rode horses but he had to wait for a saddle. He was in front and Eurydice tried to get out but there was a
crowd near the door. The storefront window was flexible and Orpheus bent it open and took out a plastic coke
machine and showed it to Eurydice, but she didn't want it. Then he pulled out a plastic bat with the Batman
logo on it. They ran into the pet store next door. Hecate had two dogs. In a field behind the building, Orpheus
could see a biker standing on the other side of the street. He had a big black dog. The biker came around and lit
a fuse. Hecate said that it would cause a gusher and water poured from the top. Hecate and the dogs rushed to
the bottom and Orpheus could hear her calling to him but he couldn't see her. Orpheus saw her running up the
hill with the dogs. The black one was in flames and he tried to put it out with his hands.
Orpheus picked up some balls filled with heroin and climbed into a car. Orpheus' car was hard to start, and
another car pulled up right behind his. Finally, his car started and he backed into the car behind him and
sideswiped another to get away. Orpheus drove to a motel to hide the heroin. Three undercover policemen were
killed while guarding it, but the criminals couldn't get through. Orpheus dragged a big rock, which he had tied
up with a rope, through rough muddy terrain. A Mexican with bloody clothes crept through the darkness. Two
women caught turtles in a pond. The Mexican caught one and fell down a hill. Eurydice and Orpheus drove
through the night but they had left Dionysus behind. Orpheus told Eurydice to turn the car around and go back
for him. She stopped, climbed on top of a house and he heard her cry "oh no!" Orpheus pulled himself up and
saw her clinging to a plastic sunflower. He climbed up on the roof and carried her down.

A black woman had been elected president and she walked among soldiers and Orpheus worried about her
safety. Some white men took her onto a helicopter. Orpheus thought they were her bodyguards. They stood on a
high peak, the woman and her baby and two men, looking up at the helicopter straight above them. The men
jostled her pretending to help her and she lost her balance and she and the baby fell. The baby landed on a ledge
but one of the men, pretending to try to save it, pushed it off. Then Orpheus saw the men raping the woman.
He ran away, afraid that they would come after him.

Eurydice murdered someone by striking him on the head from behind. She went to prison for 5 to 10 years. A
man also murdered someone but he escaped and attacked a policeman with a weird contraption like an electric
razor which he could operate by remote control. Eurydice had escaped. John Wesley Harding hid a gun behind
his back. He tried to shoot Eurydice but the gun didn't fire. He pointed it at Orpheus and pulled the trigger.
Orpheus told him to cut it out. He wanted to call the police but Eurydice had dismantled the phone so he
sneaked out. Orpheus walked down the street past several houses. There were people but he didn't feel like
asking them if he could use their phones. Orpheus walked into a bar and saw a payphone. Eurydice worked
there and she said he could use the phone. He called the police and got a recording. Orpheus kept waiting,
finally, he said "hello, hello." A dispatcher came on the line. Orpheus tried to tell him about the escaped killer
but got it all mixed up. The dispatcher thought he said "monster." Orpheus said, "no, not a monster." He tried to
tell the dispatcher where the house was, right across the street from where the killing had taken place the day
before. Then the dispatcher put Orpheus on hold. A woman came on the line and asked him what he wanted. It
was like K calling the castle.
Haley Wednesday

Noise

He couldn’t hear. He’d become deaf to the truths that he didn’t want to acknowledge. One of the most active
listeners, but with this subject he still could not hear me. I had raised my voice on several occasions, mostly in
frustration, but sometimes because I started to believe in the possibility that I might actually be whispering; that
maybe everything I thought I was saying out loud, was only playing loudly in my head and not being said at all.
The eye contact between us suggested that I was indeed speaking, those same lines that I had recited time and
time again - breaking his heart [and mine] in a Groundhog Day sort of way. “I love you, but I can’t give you
what you want from me [sex].”

Once more the rush of guilt came flooding into my chest, drowning me. A person can’t speak when they’re
below the surface, so we sit silent now with the white noise... the hum of the fan and the turning dryer clunking
in the background. I can feel my throat tighten as I try to swallow the pressure that’s building in my tear ducts.

When everything you have to offer is still not enough, what’s a person to do? My gut turns, like the laundry in
that increasingly loud dryer of mine. In an act of conciliation, the dog bellows one of her long grunts, cutting
the tension in the room.

His attention turns in her direction, confirming that miracles are real; now cured of his selective deafness.
Hallelujah.

He stands up to get a celebratory drink of water, places himself gently between the covers and says "goodnight".
The next five minutes linger. I stare at the white, textured ceiling wondering if he heard me this time, or if we
will do it all again tomorrow. Five minutes felt like five hours, my lassitude lulling me to sleep. I dream that the
curse has been lifted...

but dreams too are not heard.


Socially-Distant Namibian Daydream

I pondered crossing the red line today-

The one that usually meets my feet with crimson flames of future regret,
melts my sandals into sand,
blistering my tired toes.
The red line that separates me from you;
Where your tired feet would meet mine,
and we would carve paths through concrete
with dough eyed stares and a broken clock.
The red line
that seems to have become thicker over the years,
and miles longer.

Am I the pest to be excluded by this scarlet stroke?


To remain on the north end with only faint dreams
of sinking my sandals into southern soil?
I could smell the richness of the half-mens from lines edge,
a wealth to which I would spend my life indebted.

To whom this may concern,


on the other side,
please speak to me your cautionary tale.

I beg of you. This cannot wait any longer;


The length of the line grows,
as does my need to cross it.

I,
on the other end,
grow weak,
much like my tired feet,
and
skeptical that this red line will protect me…
skeptical that boundaries are made for my safety.

I’m having crazy thoughts.


It occurred to me today,
that this cardinal vein
is possibly nothing more
than spray paint on the floor.

Can you believe this?

I quickly dismissed the idea.


The other cattle here on the north side
have expressed to me my eternal punishment,
should I dare cross it.
To accompany death and damnation,
would be a wealth of uncertainty
richer than the perfume of southern half-mens.

Deeper and darker than the color of my grief,


are the lenses of blue that shield my vision
of the red line.

To see is to question.
To see it to desire.
All I see now are shades of blue,
no crimson flames to fuel my fire.

My tired feet will never meet yours,


across the red line,
instead they tread with certainty
on pathless pavement.
Maple Grove

And just like that, I was blinded by her light.

Unable to see the heartache behind those kind, emerald eyes. Below, in the depths of the spring, her metallic
blue nail polish caught the sun [and my attention]...Blue like the sky that day, small sections peeking between
billowing clouds, clouds which created a sense of timelessness as the moment consumed me.

Those glimmering toes delicately skimmed the bottom of the pool. I couldn't take my eyes off them, much like
a fish to a shining lure. Her arms waded along her sides, floating in near silence; no noise except the loud bass
of her heartbeat. Right here, right now, she seemed truly free. The water made her feel light, untethered to the
heavy weight of the life she had left behind 50 miles south of the state line.
Hannah Wynne

Self-burial

The summer shimmers with decay; cicadas squirm


out of their skin just to fuck a little.
This is what I think about as I watch you die.
As I wait for your sour yellow dermis to
properly desiccate, so I can crush it under my sandals
with the rest of the left-behind bodies.
When the trees scream, I watch you seal yourself off,
your blanket pulled as tight as if you can
fabricate the womb. But I lay and listen. Of course
the singing sounds like pain; that is all
noise is. It’s still better than the silence that follows:
the echo of small corpses on wet leaves,
the absence where your breathing was beside me, the
whisper of your uncle’s malt-rot breath,
who waits till the house has been tainted with quiet
to tell me If he weren’t here, I’d kiss you,
and you’d like it.
Heller Levinson

ATOLL

compositions compile compounds cross-

section the early irrigates

ready

. preparations modest

. forecasts ignored

. causeway
IRRIGATE

vessel ditch declivitous, . . .

dredge [upend?]

ceremonial disclose hose

bias reconstitute relish relay

transference belabors interference

-- cards shuffle

causeway dispatch incivilities calamity comes

blunt, flavorless, to render

wash

provide

transpiring quicks curdle in

the dishless hell of

holy water
SALIENT

time of day equally equitable equation equidistant

extrachromosomal contingencies extreme con-

tumely, persiflage, hot sauce, solar

meander → prance, periwinkle, permafrost, pyramidal,

p r a y e r , pubescence pushover loll bell

torpitude tide tuck-in raffishness

old trunks morality murals the

company of clay happenstance

formful fit formfit precious met-

er disguises cut along

the dotted line


hiromi suzuki

Parade

Ornaments on ginkgo trees are coloured in autumnal.


The breaths of princess sleeping
play a prank on the balloons inflating every night.
Because of snores like the commander's trumpet
the continuation of a dream bursts.
The coronation parade is over.

Please wrap gently the flat tires in Kleenex


and keep them sinking in a sunny place.
Hung Kien Lui

New Seeds

Would a flower bloom


if we disregard the seed?
Would there be beauty?

Plant the seeds that would


enrich the soil and the plants
for a combined growth.

A garden needs all


to be together for all
or it is for none.

One day I may plant


a hope with patience and work
become a new life.
Hands of a Tree

The hands of a tree:


all brown and weathered with age:
Would mine look the same?

My hands are still soft.


There are lines that run through them:
The cracks made by time.

How would I know what


a tree thinks and cares about
the thoughts such as mine?

The tree and I will


go on with our weathered hands.
This is how we live.
Subway Train

There's a subway train


carrying its passengers
to their final stop.

Where are they going?


The crew cares that they arrive
safely in one piece.

What sights they would see


as they past the underground
to the open sky.

A hard day can be


a brief relaxing moment
until home again.
Irene Koronas

michelia

twist 200,000 shiya


throw beneath jawbone
the way we disperse fingers
evidence
inward
fissures
water specks
leaf grave
copious stuff
drain tribute
the divide lifts 300 feet
violet froth along lock corries
fallen trunks
bottom slabs curve sound
aaahhhooo
disintegrating all roots
giant swamp thighs
ditch holes
snake
smell
freezes
wollen
catharanthus

corner enters phenomena


the dream scatterers habit

landscape grooms

his aphelion digest


limits opaque causes

boulder detaches
in lump
in eek timber

other small
natufian pelts on roof

doorway positions
hand print lick
nyctanthes

a wiseass chabon

rattlesnake hits
his ingot flex

he horses around

a miscarried spasm
under leather hand

the golem sat naked

paper white draped


in weeds knot his head

his shoulder
his arms turn in place

a gaudy mouth dix burst


forty miles wide

everything is long
sock pulled over mountain

rib
where we squat
caesalpinia

1
anywhere legume subtax
a phytokey pmc 5558824 frost
fluctuates except full moon
clump pris spread
coal tits icy rocks
thick with feet
mice burn
scrimp crack
bub ruck
foliates scimitar blade

aiguilles hang
spangling lusion in bowls

fir root sucks


the lid off hor

rust stereoscopical frac


hyke sod hill
2
amalgamate khirokitia
carbon 14
the large tholoi cavate comb

circular pise philia


a quern mouflon
andorite spout

steatite necklace
made with copper

phallus nipples
half sunken in bedrock

wattle and daub idols


on table 32

preceramic
with convex

erimi
etc
3
butte top sheep plunge
didden in curves
trapezoidal arks fondle
red snakes. coluber flagellum piceus.
rodent serpents. ark walker
shortcuts pattern. 2 slit horns
bingo their vector. sanctum
and the sipapu carve out tuff
wear. animal kin
crinkle in fluxee black.
they dig rim ticks

sherd me mistic
ew ew clan
mimusops

pythoness feeds
her vagina easing his hiss
at the rictus orgy

the bison hagazussen


drops her seed.
morph sham as frem dyad

on horny head refers


to portable prey

carry trance bags


in slug verticals

a crevice barks two


amoebic bitch

lob began to pass


seman on roach egg

maple sinew
branches over bugs
bell birth
J. Chester Johnson

Selections From:
“The Elaine Race Massacre: Drama In Verse”

An Introduction to The Elaine Race Massacre:

Soon after the end of World War I, racial conflicts exploded through the United States – most
notably during the “Red Summer of 1919”, the latter term being introduced to the nation by the
African-American poet, James Weldon Johnson, to characterize the sanguinary nature of that
moment. While outbreaks occurred in numerous big cities and other places, the deadliest attack
against blacks – possibly constituting the most significant racial onslaught against African-
Americans in our country’s history – took place during the first few days of October, 1919 in
Phillips County, Arkansas along the Mississippi River Delta. More than a hundred black
sharecroppers and family members were killed, but the figure could actually be in the hundreds.
Five whites were also killed, two of whom may have been victims of friendly fire. A major
precipitating factor for the assaults against blacks was the incipient efforts by the sharecroppers
to unionize and increase their ability to negotiate for fair cotton prices with local white planters.

The largest number of deaths were inflicted by federal troops with their machine guns, brought
to Phillips County at the request of the Arkansas Governor to the Wilson Administration, on the
excuse that the military was necessary in order to quell a black insurrection. No investigation ever
established that a real threat of a black insurrection existed at that time in Phillips County.
The Poet’s Comments on The Elaine Poems:

This segment of poems from a volume, currently in manuscript form and preliminarily entitled
The Elaine Race Massacre: Drama In Verse, reflects episodes based on historical accounts of
events that followed the cessation of violence and that resulted in the rapid (all-white juries often
rendered verdicts in two minutes) and unfair conviction of 74, black sharecroppers for crimes
ranging from first-degree murder to “night-riding” in connection with the Massacre. No whites
were charged with any offenses.
Friday, October 3, 1919: Before Departing Phillips County, Governor Charles Hillman Brough
Appoints A Local Committee Of Seven Leading White Men To Decide On The Blacks To Be
Prosecuted; In Order To Justify Charges and Trials Against Black Sharecroppers, The Committee
Fabricates An Untrue “White” Narrative.

We cannot be touched; fingers do


Not connect so far to control places
We go and choices we can make
Freely without so much as a whisper
Or tilt to deny routes we choose;
It’s a trick getting here without
Trickery. Some tried, even smart
Interlopers who last about as long
As it takes to decide to crush them.

It all began innocent enough, I


Guess, with wealth and old people
Teaching left from right and right
From everything else, old after
Young until we were old all of
The time; folks came to us for odd
And same alike, as we led them
Our way, until our way had only
One way, found time and again.

We serve each other too well;


We know where dark skies are
Buried beneath the corncrib or
Underneath the azalea bush,
Enough to be led to ruination
For us all if we don’t concentrate
This secrecy and harsh fortune
Into pacts for the status quo that
Wrests a future from the future.

Blacks mean nothing and nearly


Everything to us: a glad voice
To make us feel better than we
Even should; a stronger hand
To feed the riches we squander
Under every moonlight. Yet,
They’re mirrors of what we keep
To ourselves, of what we’ve done,
So easily stirred by daily practice.
Tuesday, October 7 – Mid-October, 1919: Incarcerated Black Sharecroppers Are Tortured To Tell,
On The Witness Stand, The “White” Version Of The Massacre: It Had Been “A Black Insurrection”,
Targeted To Assassinate Whites.

They first whip us with vengeance,


A reminder of how wills are tamed,
And then they apply “strangling
Drugs” to make us think there is
No more air to gulp; for some of us,
That’s enough to open our tongues
In any way the white man wants
Our tongues to waggle, but there’s
More for those who’ll take more.

Eying us to eye them, they charge


Up the chair with hot damnation
Running through, running currents
Like coals through veins, muscle –
Higher still until we’re close to
Smoking, our teeth clinching like
Sprung bolts, our jaws clamped,
Grinding up to a tip – they call
It electric’s chair, a devil’s tool.

The name’s Frank Moore, and I


Don’t give a shit at all: I’ll not lie,
I’ll not lie, just for spite, though
They can tear this muscle right
Off the bone if they think it’ll
Work, but it won’t, not unless
They want a dead man to carry
Into court with limbs twitching,
Lips setting to say what I’d say.
Tuesday, October 7, 1919: Walter F. White Of The NAACP, Who Could Pass For Caucasian And
Would Later Head The Organization For A Quarter Of A Century, Goes To Helena To Learn About
The Conflagration, Panics, And Boards A Train To Mississippi, Writing Later “I Shall Never Take
As Long A Train Ride. . .”

The longest trip can be around


The block or across a river, from
Black to white, from silence to
Yelps of a mob – distance cannot
Be measured, for it’s the extension
Of the gut, when I’m speaking to
Another without a face, who mutters
Mutilation in an airless room
Until I admit who I am not.

The longest trip is that fraught


Return to the unalterable reason I
Seek a fast escape from less friable
Winds at my back, with nothing
Else to say in hollow moments.
Who also would hide before they
Ran?. . .knowing absolutely all will
Be lost once caught, placating eager
Hands that seek an unfree voice.

Why was I born to plod the


Unreachable? For the others, it’s
Found on the morning step after
A good night’s sleep; and yet, for
Us, it shall never be in hand, even
For an intrepid leap or the facile
Mind or salient tongue – for us,
A talent extrudes the desire more
But instead thwarts a way there.
Between Tuesday, October 7 And Friday, November 21, 1919: Sallie Giles Repeatedly Visits The
Phillips County Jail To Dress And Tend To The Gunshot Wounds Of Her Sons, Albert And Milligan.

I return to become a difference;


You know, the other side, obverse
Reflection of the insane and absurd;
Boys, men, they hurt so much
From holes now at obvious places
That cannot be filled – not with
Attention nor my kisses through
The bars on open wounds, spaces
That choose not to be re-seen.

Daily, I walk among the dead


And possessed, those omnipotent
Beings who control day and night
Among the rows; I wait to pass
Until invisibly I walk unfolded
Alone to be with what remains
Of my remaining sons, shot to
Pieces and almost dead to me,
Their silences risen opaque.

The stories of torture greet us


Everywhere, my good boys not
Saying one way or the other;
For I like not knowing, we who
Thought there was much we’d
Never see regret the seeing of
What we have. What can they
Take from my boys that has not
Been taken, the fate I’ve given?
Tuesday, November 4, 1919: An African-American Sharecropper, Albert Giles, Hunted Down In
Govan Slough On October 1 And Shot Several Times, Is Convicted Of The Murder Of A White
Man, James Tappan, Who Was More Likely Killed By Friendly Fire Across Or Along The Slough.

Yeah, sure, I shot the man as I


Hugged the safe ground like it was
The last woman of the world. Folks
Just don’t have time to think about
Killing when they’re being killed –
Before my head broke open like
A gourd, and a bullet passed on
Through another side; my arms
Falling away, a dream unflexed.

Yeah, sure, I shot Tappan, while


I’m rabbits in the underbrush, letting
The white man pass me by, a sound
Hidden among branches as noise
Sought me out into the open, hunted,
Not hunting, among bogs, a world
Wet with its own sweat and temper
Mixing ever faster unfaithfully into
A special fear I’d never tasted once.

Yeah, I shot him in the face a load


Of buckshot, just like the rabbit
Rules the world and I’m free to
Leave court and never go to jail
And my shadow will win the race
And I’ll make it out of here alive.
They kill one to justify killing
Another: the ends almost meet,
A simple circle wound in the dirt.
J. D. Nelson

sock scythe crane

the first worm is a lift


it’s a pollen monster

today is the day of the grapes


a pirate of the chock

the night of the glowing sandal


the worm of the broken door

the stamina of the cloud


a glass of the orange wolf

the nectar of the wolf suit was a flea


skip the skiff because I am the clay

the dolphin of the chin


in the lake of the coins
sun of the scramble

the head is the island


we hear that measure of the socks to wick and tick

that melon of the clue


the claw of the sun to see thru that change of the dollar

we are the winter sun


the heart of the sun is the free feature of the claw

the clean rabbit of the front door


the sparrow of the fruit

the sun of the triangle of the dough


brain one, the clinical front of the dollar
word gets the sideways lenny

bath was a crock of the rooster


the seen seven of the comma

that beat is the curtain


not the royal ace of the continued hand

walmart is the snake!

the morning of the night


to glow with that peanut is the stripe of the fixed altar

a feather to glow with the turtle


that voice of the dollar is the nothing in my socks

that burning hum to winter in the eggland


to be an insect about it

the charger head and that neon


could be the purple
a glass osiris

the water of jones, the dang hum, of course


roy was an old ray

the clean scoop of the dry answer, of course


to be the secret eye

I was the apple of the wolf, of course


shout was a helmet of dog food

that gamble is the clorox of the rose, of course


that grain is the gram to be the sleeping hand of the light

sleep to that grape number, of course


we are here with the doctor of the wooden brain

nothing is the same as the light, of course


the rocking lone wolf is the busting brain

could be a french sky of the marble, of course


the lucky rise of the pirate brain morning
world is the mike of the frosting

would you like a milk of the dud to dudley


the jumble of denim fleas

glue is the brief person of the night


the fantastic four of the earth to show the children

the plastic of the green moon


that law of the nothingfeather

that leonard of the people


we are here in the fun garden

the soup of the ladder


that laugh landing is the heart of bread

one extra is the layover claw


all right in the denver mud

the normal leaner


in the cave of the dentist
that good feather is the tree of the future flute

to speak at that level of pears


we are the cream and we cook the rope

it could be the country monster


that bustle of the burial gourd

the lack of a meteor is the coke of the sunshine


anderson is the law for slow closeness

the shining huck of the world


in winter we are the lemons

the good world of the planet


the earth is closed
I heave that standard trash and we are keeping the kettle

nothing is the game of the glass to win a sheep


march was like a puppet

the hammer of yellow


one more balloon of the cheese

the dallas bird, that radio


water and walter

saturn in the box


bucker is the light of puppy

the volume of the vole


slack locker was a corporal stomach

a hurried face
the bright blue bread
Jacob Jirák

THE ELECTIVE ÜBERMENSCH OF ZARATHUSTRA


by Jacob Jirák

The crawling over your body, the heavy sway of breasts: memories like an attack in a dirty alleyway with
a shard of glass. At least Updike got that right, but there are no neighborhoods, just clusters of houses and
clusters of stores. It’s not like I’m Don Giovanni. I’m just being honest and kind of open, unlike anybody else
out here. They’d bury the living if they could.
It’s a tough decision man. Mary’d be there until I grew a ten-yard beard and started spouting off bullshit
about gyres. Her mom isn’t bad looking, and I might reasonably still get good nights out of her at 35. Supple.
She’s the definition of the word. Dancing with her is like playing with Play-Doh. It gets me excited every time I
think about it. Although it makes the whole process pretty awful when you don’t get any input from the other
side, and in your head you’re like you stupid bitch, just say something. But women are always like that; they
think it’s their job to never spill food on themselves while men puff out their chests and hold open doors.
Kayla though. Her whole body moves in a ripple. Though you always feel a little like dirt piled on the
side of the road whenever a girl with bruises on her arms comes after you. Still, that wet, hot mouth sliding
down your body and that press of her body against yours with her face suspended above like Medea’s chariot... I
like to imagine that I’m Jason, helpless beneath. It’s enough to make one giddy. She doesn’t mind. Really, she
doesn’t.
But anyway, like I was saying, I can’t decide whether I should walk up to the serving counter and hit on
that barista or not. I know, I know – Don’t worry; I don’t think she can hear us talking in this corner – she’s not
the hottest girl you’ve ever seen; but it’s not her fault. I admit that the automated voices of cash register
corporate policy are as sterile as anything Nabokov ever wrote and that the green and black don’t really show off
any curve, but you need to appreciate the difference between ugly and unsexed. Ugly women are awful songs
that you don’t hate, but unsexed women are like the view from a porch in the country. You plan the deployment
of your troops, the alignment of your regiments. God’s variations on brown stretch before you, and, in a way, it’s
all yours.
That’s the challenge; that’s the taste; that’s the flavor. That’s the conquest, taking out the face of
Starbucks.
I know what you’re thinking, glancing at her: Yes, just keep telling yourself that you could have her if
you wanted her. Really, it’s nothing (this is me now); it’s all nothing and you’re left face to face with the fact
that you can’t look a Starbucks barista or any other woman in the eyes and her immediately start tearing off her
clothes. If only it were so simple. No they’d rather you bleed them out, and light them up for the gods along
with some grain and fruit.
You know, what I really want is to go over the Midwest – all over from Oklahoma to Dakota, over to
Wisconsin and then back down through Ohio – and bathe it in gasoline. (It’s not because I’m angry. It’s not.)
Then I’ll drive home, sit on my porch in an old lawn chair with a cold beer and watch as tides of fire sweep the
plains. (I know, I know; it’s not practical – but bear with me.) I want to sit on the shore of a lake of fire. And
when the members of the new civilization crawl up to my feet, asking Utnapishtim about immortality, I’ll walk
out in the shoe-staining ash, have everyone crouch down, and point my finger at the slivers of new grass more
delicate than any touch.
Jeffery Conway

Beyond the Pale

She has long black hair, wears low-cut blouses, struts


her stuff up and down Main Street in a boring mill town
somewhere in Wisconsin. Rosa Moline is a slut.
Married to Dr. Lewis Moline, she’s having an affair
with Neil Latimer, a Chicago millionaire, who owns a nearby hunting
lodge that’s watched by a caretaker named Moose.

Rosa fakes an injury during a fishing trip with her husband, gets Moose,
an alcoholic struggling to stay sober, drunk, sneaks out of the cabin, struts
over to Neil Latimer’s, seduces him in the main room of his hunting
lodge by the glow of a roaring fire. She longs to escape to the Big Town,
but Neil leaves the next day without her, effectively ending their affair.
The train’s Chicago, Chicago, Chicago beckons Rosa like a desperate slut.

Rosa screams insults at her “red Indian” maid Jenny, who also wears sluttish
attire and has long, jet-black hair. Rosa secretly tries on the mink of Moose’s
daughter during a dinner party, stands on a chair and has a love affair
with the coat, preening and luxuriating in the feel in front of the mirror, struts
across the living room like a cat. Lewis won’t finance her trip to the Big Town,
so she tracks down his patients who haven’t paid their bills, thrills in the hunt.

Rosa heads for Chicago, discovers she isn’t an urban sophisticate, hunts
down Neil Latimer who says he’ll marry a young socialite, not some know-nothin’ slut
from the county. Indignant, Rosa gets out of his car in a seedy part of town,
is harassed by prostitutes and cops, flees for home, back to her hubby, Jenny, Moose,
et al. She settles back into life as wife, gets pregnant, and even struts
her stuff at a square dance at the lodge, where Latimer shows up, re-ignites their affair.
Neil tells Rosa that he wants her to divorce Lewis and marry him—that his affair
with the socialite is over. The two conspire the next morning just before a hunting
party to cut out early, fly to Mexico for a quickie divorce, then strut
down the aisle together. But Moose overhears their plan and threatens the slut:
“You tell Latimer [about the baby], or I will.” Rosa shoots and kills Moose,
says she mistook him for a deer when she goes on trial before the entire town.

Cleared of the crime, Rosa gets into drag as maid Jenny, heads out of town
and attempts to get an abortion after coming clean with Lewis about her affair.
He foils her “appointment,” forbids her to leave until baby is born; she admits Moose’s
death was murder, not an accident, pointing out her perfect aim on hunts.
After inducing a miscarriage by jumping off a highway embankment, the slut
slips into a high-fever delirium, staggers toward the train, and dies—her final strut.

In 1949, you didn’t buy Jack Warner’s thoughts on Beyond the Forest:
“It’s the role of a lifetime! A man-hater supreme, Rosa
is scheming and climbing and ambitious. They’ll eat it up!”
“Don’t give me that shit,” you screamed, “it’s trashy and cheap,
junk for the lowbrows! I didn’t work all these years for better pictures
to be relegated to horseshit like this!” Bette, it was always about you.

Still seething over missing out on Ethan Frome and Mrs. Lincoln, you
were determined to give all concerned a hard time on Beyond the Forest.
By hook or by crook, you wanted to transform the material, get a good picture
out of it, despite your objections: “How’ll I look young enough for Rosa?
Christ, I’m forty-one!” You got your revenge—the film wasn’t cheap,
cost Warner as much as his others—your tantrums held things up.

You uttered the classic line “What a dump!” and set yourself up
for drag queens who’d begin turning in their cruel imitations of you.
Critics called your “sheer hysteria” and “overexposed histrionics” simply cheap,
said you panted and ranted your way out of Warner Bros. in Beyond the Forest.
In black vampira wig, mask-like face, and hip-swinging gait, as Rosa
you commit adultery, have an abortion, and murder in this over-the-top picture.
You were in the throws of an abusive marriage yourself when the picture
was filmed, although it was the man doing the abusing, not the screwed-up,
selfish, psychopathic wife who nags, cheats and steals like the indelible Rosa.
Your husband didn’t like being “Mr. Bette Davis,” though you
said he gladly accepted domestic duties like the good doctor in Forest.
In order to be free, you paid alimony for three years; the divorce wasn’t cheap.

The Legion of Decency insisted that the office door Rosa enters to get a cheap
abortion carry the title of attorney rather than doctor; you railed that the picture
suffered from such puritanical nonsense. Totally over Beyond the Forest,
you asked for a release from your contract, reluctantly agreeing to finish-up
the film. After eighteen years and two Oscars, you
ended your brilliant Warner Bros. career in an unfortunate finale as Rosa.

One of the highlights is watching the S/M relationship between you (Rosa)
and your maid (Jenny). You scream and yell at her, hurl racist, cheap
insults—“Don’t just stand there like a cigar store Indian!”—when she tries to help you.
Also good parts: when you almost attack Jenny for disregarding magazine pictures
of Chicken à la King—she mutters, “Who can see if there’s toast under all that goo?” & up-
stairs in bed you spit out, “Everything deeeluxe!” à la Daffy Duck in Beyond the Forest.
The Love Letters of Jeffery Conway and Various Elizabeths
(after The Love Letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning)

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth M.
I love you because I love you; I see you “once a day” because I watch re-runs on TV; I think of you
all the time, in dreams I tour the world with you—Gay parades, Salem witch fairs, Axe-Murderess
Remembrance Days—because I could not certainly think of you less if I tried, or went to Hollywood,
or “abroad” (in every sense) (especially at nighttime—ha ha!☺) in order to be happy.

Elizabeth M. to Jeffery C.
I have sometimes felt jealous of myself . . . of my own quirks:—my ability to make things
disappear by twitching my nose, or to snap myself into high gear to clean the house, do the dishes,
and thought that you cared for me only because of your “zany” gene—& that, without these
attributes, you would pass me by on the other side:—I have thought that and vainly tried to cast a
hex—well . . . .

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth I
I believe in you absolutely, utterly. I dig a shaved head on a woman, wigs. And those cloaks and
gowns! Of course you could trust no one. Of course you were right to never marry. See how I go on
and on to you—I who, whenever now and then pulled, by the head and hair, into watching eight
hours of the lackluster goings-on inside your dreary castle, get sorrowfully on for a line or two—what
can I say? You, my obsessive Queen, intrigue me.

Elizabeth I to Jeffery C.
Your life! . . . if you gave it to me & I put my whole heart into it; what should I put but anxiety, &
more sadness—I know all about your sordid past! You and the mystery tramp your first year of
college, how you drove across country with her, stuttering back and forth over state lines at her
whim. That derelict house in Sacramento—the heat! And she liked it; she liked it.

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth T.
Now bless you, my dearest, best Ba, for this letter, which comes at the eleventh hour—which
means at 3 o’clock: was I not frightened! [Have you had a stroke or something? I saw you on TV
recently; your speech is all slurred and seems to come from only one corner of your mouth.] I was
retreating as far as possible from that imaginary woman who called out, “Marc Anthony! Marc
Anthony!” Geez, that enormous sound stage! And your khol-black eyes, dark wig. That Californian
sun of yours makes date-palms grow and bear outrageous amounts—you turn to the “hidden”
camera and ask, “So you’re just another obsessed queen, right?”

Elizabeth T. to Jeffery C.
Ah—talking of palm trees, you do not know what a curious coincidence your thought is with a
thought of mine, which I shall not tell you now . . . oh what the hell—I have been in talks,
negotiations: they want me to do a reality show— hidden cameras (indeed) placed strategically
throughout my Bel-Air manse. I’m not so sure—I’d want a million bucks . . . some day, perhaps. The
slurred speech? It’s the meds—I’ve had yet another hip replaced.

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth B.
I do solemnly, unaffectedly wonder how you can put so much pure felicity into an envelope so as
that I shall get it as from the fount head. That low-cut dress you wear clings to you faultless breasts
like skin. I imagine the coach driver masturbating furiously as you, a heaven-sent nymph with
“tolerably good” teeth, daintily climb up into Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s barouche-box (no hideous
pun intended). God, how I adore a woman who is a great reader and who takes little pleasure in
anything else.

Elizabeth B. to Jeffery C.
But one word before we leave the subject, dearest, and then to leave it finally . . . the
“insurmountable” difficulty is for you to put down the fat cockheads (if I may be so bold) and pick
up with a chick, I mean lady, again. There is something miraculous in that, you know!—Write just
one word to say that it is all over with Providence [where he was to have gone to get laid]: which was a
probable evil when I wrote last, & which I foresaw from the beginning with extreme vexation. But
DON’T let us speak of it.

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth B. (his first letter to her)


I love your movie with all my heart, dear Miss Berkley,―and this is no off-hand complimentary
fan letter that I shall write,―whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius,
and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first saw Showgirls, I
quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be
able to tell you of its effect upon me. [ . . . ] Into me it has gone, and part of me has it become, this
great living art of yours, how you spit out, effortlessly, such sizzlers as: “Dancin’ ain’t fuckin’, right?”

Elizabeth B, to Jeffery C.
I thank you, dear Mr. Conway, from the bottom of my heart. [ . . . ] Admiration is dear—very dear
to me: but the admiration of a poet, & of such a gay poet, is the quintessence of admiration to me! [ . . .
] Since you ask, no, I had not noticed the woman in the wheelchair behind me (who rolls herself past,
between myself and the life-size cut-out of Cristal Connors advertising Goddess) as I’m exiting the
Stardust, right after my tumultuous audition for a spot in the chorus line of said show. Yes, I
suppose it is a kind of omen, because as you seem to know (well), I do push Cristal Connors down
that flight of backstage stairs so that I might become the star of that stinkin’ show. I do some of my
finest acting of the entire film in that scene.

Jeffery C. to Elizabeth B-B


The first moment in which I seemed to admit to myself in a flash of lightning the possibility of your
affection for me being more than dream-work . . . to traverse time and space—or your tiresome
marriage, I should say! What in hell were you two thinking?―writing all those highfalutin letters.
I’ve loved you since the first moment you intimated that you cared for me, & I cherish that first
postcard from the villa of Casa Guidi where you wheel about from room to room in your chair
wearing your Dark Brown Kitten Heel Pumps. Oh lordess—those shoes! And, of course, your
poems. “As for me,” my precious little Portuguese, “I am a watercolor. I wash off.”

Elizabeth B.B. to Jeffery C.


So you think that I meant to complain when we first met, of your “loving me only for my poetry”! [ . .
.] I am not over-particular, I fancy, about what I may be loved for—or by whom, apparently: a
middle-aged gay poet living out his summers on the tip of the Cape in an apartment above an old
house/jewelry store—which I’ve been told is tres Grey Gardens. What a camp. You may, indeed,
love me for my Prada shoes, if you like . . . except that . . . as you may surmise, they wear out.

*Elizabeths in order of appearance: Elizabeth Montgomery; Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen); Elizabeth
Taylor; Elizabeth Bennet; Elizabeth Berkley; Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Joseph Harrington

from “Spies in the Living House”

Author’s note: “Spies in the Living House” is a “reading-through” of transcriptions of the utterances of “voice-entities,”
collected via radio and magnetic tape in Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the
Dead by Konstantin Raudive Ph.D. (Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1971). Excerpts are sampled, rearranged,
rewritten, misheard, and combined with similar utterances; other phrases or lines are added by the present author. All of
this as the poem dictated. – J.H.

here sleeps time so


everyone fishes by night
by the pine torch light

the helpers
liked the bridge as it is
pleasant you understand
well you exist wake up
the natural key

one is on the ship


you must report a ship
you are the captain
a packet drawing nearer
mother is deaf so
I longed to stay to say
be glad exactly
the custom of the queen
here she is genuine clarity
we are trembling
we are the language here

*
your sister who runs through the air
was the first to put the record on
the doctor hears the echo
transmits the inner man
he says the number seven contains
God but there is no Don Quixote
says to mold the ancient things says
“I am – Believe – Separated”

a worker of the Lord


assures us time exists
says You have called me
You make good speeches
the eagle is good is
the badge of wisdom
I in person is terrible but you
are the seventh lighthouse
I am looking for a name

You ask for gall you at night


Here is your girl too slow
Here is mother the extreme
you

*
Will one be visible here?
One can see you are waiting

Where are you?


Our homeland free and sleeping

What are you doing?


We want to meet you freely

Why does the other not come?


You are chasing shadows

What do you want to say?


Disintegrating little earth

*
Judith Goode

Last Love

Many men had come and gone in Samantha’s life, as husbands, lovers, and the occasional one-night
stand. She thought, at sixty-three, that she was done. She had friends and family, and a profession that satisfied
her. She had her health – except for the depressions that, like the men, came and went, and which had been
with her so long they were not worth the trouble of medication, therapy, or whatever was available to her in
2016. And she was busy because it was a presidential election year and she volunteered at her local Democratic
party headquarters. The days and evenings were filled.
Consequently, she hardly noticed a man named Tom when he floated across her radar, first in a dream
and later in the flesh. That often happened to Samantha: she dreamed about someone before she met him. Or
so it seemed. Since she was not a mystical type, she assumed in these cases that she had met the man in some
familiar setting that she had forgotten – on a bus, at a party, at her office …. By her time of life, so many people
had come through her consciousness that it seemed a reasonable assumption.
This Tom spoke to her as if he knew her: “Hi, how are you, it’s good to see you again.” He reminded
her that his name was Tom, and he called her by her name, Samantha. They were at the gym, where Samantha
worked out early every morning. To be polite, she greeted him and was about to turn back to her workout when
he asked her if she would meet him for coffee later that morning. She was so surprised she said yes.
They met at Bread Alone in Woodstock and sat at a table for two by the window. Tom pushed her chair
in when she sat down. Together, they looked like an attractive older couple. Samantha’s long, reddish hair was
flecked with gray. She was still relatively slender with a long waist. Tom looked like an aging Rob Lowe, with
perfect features, a lot of gray hair, and a pencil mustache.
They didn’t talk about themselves – husbands, wives, children, divorce – as much as the horror of a
Trump presidency. Both were voting for Hillary because she was strong, brilliant, and politically savvy. They
agreed that she had her detractors, who brought up Benghazi and the private email. Still, they stood by her.
Already they had a bond.
Their coffee date lasted until noon, then went on to one and two. They got up and ordered sandwiches
from the menu written on a large chalk board behind the counter. Then they took their seats again, and again
Tom pushed in her chair for her. They continued their conversation about the election. Politically, Samantha
was left of center – in fact, Samantha called herself a Socialist, even though she voted a straight Democratic
ticket. Tom was closer to center.
It didn’t matter to Samantha because this was just a friendly get-together between like-minded people
on a Sunday in May. She left him at the door of Bread Alone and drove to the Democratic party headquarters
in Kingston.

But Tom kept turning up. He would be sitting on the stairs to her house when she got home from work,
for example, and she would invite him up for a drink so as not to be inhospitable. Then they would end up
watching the PBS news on TV and discussing, down to the last detail, the commentary on the presidential
candidates. Both feared a Trump nomination and a Sanders nomination because Sanders couldn’t hope to beat
Trump in a general election. Otherwise, with her Socialist leanings, Samantha would have chosen him over
Hillary.
On one of those evenings, during a public service identification, Tom leaned over on the sofa and took
her face in his hands. Samantha thought he was going to kiss her but, instead, he just studied her face foe a
minute and let it go.
When it did happen, sex was fast and incendiary. For a middle-aged man, Tom was surprisingly virile.
The whole event was surprising to Samantha but not unwelcome. Over the months they had known each other,
she had been warming up to Tom. It was hard not to, considering that he looked like a TV actor in “The West
Wing” who was just a little past his prime.
Now they were officially a couple, and Samantha was unexpectedly happy about it. She was beginning to
have feelings for Tom, and he obviously had feelings for her. As time went on, those feelings deepened on both
sides. They were in love.
Samantha’s depressions faded and her mood was upbeat. Work – she was a social worker – continued to
be satisfying. Her clients were typically disadvantaged and she felt she could make a difference in their lives. She
also gained satisfaction from working with Hillary’s campaign. She enjoyed the blooms and scents of spring.
She and Tom sat out on her patio on a starry night. Looking up, often as a shooting star streamed across
the sky, was magical. Samantha couldn’t remember when her life had been so rich. Aging, she thought, despite
its indignities, was better than she had ever dreamed it would be. Especially when Tom moved into her house
with her and there were no midnight partings and the inevitable pang of sadness when the door closed behind
him.
Tom was a fine arts painter who had had modest success in group shows in the city. He also taught fine
art at Bard College across the river. He maintained his studio in Woodstock but rented out his house.

It was a mild day in November and the election was over. For the first time in U.S. history, there was a
female president. The atmosphere around Samantha was heady. The post-election party in the city had been
mobbed with ecstatic campaign workers and Clinton staff. It was the dawn of a new era. Samantha came home
that evening and stood, shocked, in the doorway. There were five neatly taped up cartons on the living room
floor and she could hear Tom in the bedroom.
“Tom – what’s going on?” she said, going through the living room and into the bedroom without taking
off her coat. “What’re you doing?”
He looked up from the stacks of shirts and underwear on the bed. “Well,” he said, “well, Samantha, it’s
time for me to move on … it’s over.”
“What’re you saying, Tom, I don’t understand –“
“—It’s what I said. It’s time for me to move on.”
“… I can’t believe this is happening – what d’you mean, ‘move on’ – we’ve been happy together! What
d’you mean, it’s over?”
“Exactly that,” he said. “We’ve been happy and now it’s over –“
“—But why –“
“—Because it’s over. We’re happy now but we won’t be. I know … you’re not the first woman I’ve been
in a relationship with, Samantha –“
“—And is this what you did to those other women – leave them when you’re both happy?”
“That’s right.”
“Tom!” She pressed herself against him. “We love each other …”
“… That’s the point. We leave each other while we still love each other, not when it’s over ….”
He had filled another box while they were talking and now he taped it up neatly. Tom did everything
neatly.
“… You’re crazy!” She screamed and left the room. In the bathroom, she locked the door and sat on the
closed toilet seat for a while, crying. Then she ran a hot bath and got in, still crying. She soaked, adding more
hot water as the water in the tub cooled. Soon she was drowsy and fell asleep with her head against the side of
the tub. When she woke up, the water in the tub was cold, and she was chilled. She got out and wrapped herself
in her white terrycloth robe.
She opened the door of the bathroom and looked into the bedroom. It was empty. The stacks of clothes
were gone from the bed and the comforter was smoothed out. In the living room, the boxes were gone. The
furniture and rugs were neatly in place. On the hall table was a piece of paper. Only two words were written on
it: “Thank you.”

Samantha called in sick the next day, Thursday, and took Friday off, too. She slept most of both days, a
heavy, sweaty sleep that left her exhausted. Friday night she opened a can of soup. It was the first food she’d
eaten in two days. She called her friends but found she couldn’t talk more than to say, “Tom left me.”
Friends came over and brought her food. It was as though someone had died. By Monday, she was back
at work and still mostly silent. Her friends and the people she worked with soon stopped questioning and let her
keep her silence. She was like a shadow moving through the rooms of her house and her office.

The thought of Tom was compounded by the memories of the other men she’d loved. She was grieving
not only for Tom but for the loss of the others. Loss became an obsession. She could think of nothing else.
Small things, memories of small things haunted her: standing with Tom at the upstairs bathroom window,
through which they viewed a darkening azure sky and the bright crescent of the new moon rising from the
horizon. Or, later, a sky so filled with stars that was lit up as if billions of lights were shining against the now
deep blue of the sky. On summer evenings, sitting with Tom at a table in the garden eating dinner while the
breeze ruffled the edges of the tablecloth – a hot breeze on a hot night.
When she thought of those moments now, in November, she felt that her mind was pasted over with
grayness; she saw no color. The furniture in her house looked gray and worn. Even her grandmother’s
patchwork quilt on the bed looked drab. Her depression was so profound it took a supreme effort to get up out
of bed, shower, and dress in the morning. Eating was a chore and she skipped meals. She was losing weight.
The skin on her arms sagged. Her face was thin.
Friends said she should see a therapist, take anti-depressants. She didn’t have the energy to do more
than get to work every day and visit her clients in their homes. No matter how disadvantaged these people were,
their lives seemed enviable to Samantha’s. On weekend mornings, she didn’t even get out of bed. Her sister’s
invitation to Thanksgiving dinner went unanswered.
On Thanksgiving Day, she stayed in bed, sleeping on and off. When she slept, she dreamed about Tom.
She dreamt that he was beside her in the bed, or that they were out walking, or that they were holding hands at
the movies. She remembered the scent of his skin, the Yardley English Lavender shaving crème he used. Her
days were desolate, her nights fitful.
She hated waking from a dream in which they were together, and lying awake at three a.m., unable to
sleep. She would get up and sit at the kitchen table, thinking of nothing, not noticing when the pink light of
dawn showed on the horizon.
Christmas came and Samantha neglected to buy presents for her grandchildren, her nieces and nephews.
She ignored her sister’s invitation to spend Christmas Day with them. She did not return calls from her friends
and family. Basically, she was not living but just existing. She did, however, make an appointment with her
doctor and requested a prescription for sleeping pills. This she filled immediately at her pharmacy.

It was Sunday. The month was January. A dusting of snow was on the ground and icicles hung from the
eaves of the house. The bare branches of the trees looked like white lace because of the frost. Samantha put her
down jacket and sat in the garden. Her fingers and toes were numb, and still she sat.
Finally, she took from her pocket the vial of sleeping pills and raised it to her lips. She tipped it up so the pills
poured into her mouth and down her throat. She swallowed water from the glass she had brought with her to
the garden. Then she leaned back in her chair and folded her hands in her lap. Soon, her eyes closed. Then,
nothingness.

Friends, who regularly checked up on her, found her the next evening, dead from the sleeping pills and
hypothermia.

o0o
Gay Life

Margot and Josh had been close friends at college and after in New York City. They liked walking by
the Hudson in Riverside Park. They were both fiction writers and had the same advisor at college, also a fiction
writer who made a name for himself with a novel about the generations of a family in Texas, where he grew up.
Joshua Cohen was Jewish and lived in Brewster, New York. He moved into the city after college. He
and Margot were not romantically involved, just very dear friends. They tried sex once and it didn’t work: he
couldn’t keep an erection and she couldn’t come. But they always had a lot to talk about and remained close
through the various stages of their lives.
Josh was a little heavy with a high forehead and a wonderful laugh. When Margot moved out to
Colorado they wrote letters. Their correspondence continued for years. Josh wrote commercial fiction and had
novels published by the mainstream press. Margot wrote literary fiction and didn’t get published by literary
magazines and presses until later in life. She was also Jewish.
When Josh moved to San Francisco he came out as gay. Margot had always suspected he might be,
which was probably why their attempt at sex failed. He didn’t settle down with one man but played the field—
or “cruised,” as he put it. This was in the 1980s.

* * *

Margot’s marriage went bad and she divorced her husband. She had two children and stayed in the
house in Boulder. She had a career as a technical editor, which didn’t leave much time for writing. Plus the
children needed her when she picked them up from daycare and took them home. She wrote all this in her
letters to Josh.
He was happy with his gay life. He had good friends—also gay—but never stayed with one man. He
liked variety, he wrote to Margot. Then the scourge of AIIDS hit. Josh was busy helping people die, he wrote.
Soon he found out that he was HIV positive. Margot worried. Her single life was hard—work, children,
boyfriends, women’s rights. She had a devoted housekeeper but she did her own cooking because she preferred
it that way, she wrote to Josh.

* * *
Margot had visited Josh several years earlier when she stayed with her best friend, who also lived in San
Francisco. Margot and Josh spent the day together and had lunch with a good-looking friend and ex-lover of
Josh’s. It seemed to Margot that all the men in San Francisco were gay. Her friend told her that wasn’t so but
she was spending time with gay men so she had that impression.
It was a great visit. Even though he was HIV positive, Josh looked and sounded well. Margot stopped
worrying. Josh told her that men who were HIV positive could live for years. Josh showed her all around San
Francisco and she was satisfied that he had made a good home there. His apartment on Cilipper Street was
charming and in a nice neighborhood.

* * *

Margot was working on a short story and the children were asleep. She got a call from Will, the friend
of Josh’s they’d had lunch with.
“Margot,” Will said. “I have sad news for you.”
“Tell me.”
“Josh died from AIDS this morning. His sister came from the East Coast and was with him when he
died.”
“… Oh…thank you for calling me, Will.”
Margot hung up. She stayed awake most of the night and called in sick the next day.
A gay life—and death—had taken her friend from her.

o0o
Julie Chou

Drowning afloat

i wake
and find my body chained up
in drenched jeans and blouse.
some gooey leaves cling to my limbs.
they must have been mighty.
air, weightlessness, surges through me.
i cast down my eyes & see
the puddles in the asphalt road
housing not a pitch-black canopy
but bands of pink and purple.
the distant hills, small as my knuckles,
hold the baby cloud, an infant embedded
in golden frames, or long, narrow scars
smeared with iodine. i can’t tell if
the darkened swirl of egg yolk behind
is still gleaming. i could only sense
the softness in my arms, and the moth-breath
that would burst out crying any second, though
it doesn’t feel like consternation any longer.
it’s only a demonstration of re-existence.
it’s gonna believe, disbelieve, and repeat
like it did last time. but this round i heal its
wounds properly, patting it through the
polychrome and the pitch-black in the puddle til
the yolk is poked, flowing through the streets
& mountains & buildings & trees, gurgling
imperceptibly. i look into the burning
puddle, a grand golden sea closing its eyes.
a stillbirth drowned within, an aborted plan indeed.
yet scabs are soon ready. as it enters into sleep,
the sea lifts its lids, and i could see in the reflection
me as it be. a golden, newborn baby.
To my elder brother who’s sitting right next to me

I smell the burning from the kitchen


Fuming in the air. I see a sparrow
Landing on the pots for a split
Second. I hear the cars
Honking and sliding down
The street. I feel the stiff new
Leather wrapping the couch

All the while


I fail to detect your smell,
To hear the sound of your breath,
To examine your newly grown stubble,
To feel your angular hand bone.
There is everything
Because there aren’t you.

You
Eluded me,
Once, twice, thrice.
But I remember how
You wedged yourself into
The gap between the branch
Roads and the lonely trips that
You and I trudged along respectively.

Though those footprints were washed away


Alongside the unglued cartoon stickers
We once attached to the drawers:
Sorry
If I forgot to expect you
To be another
Gap.

Yet from the other side of it,


I collect a short note inside a drift bottle:
“Where is she”, read I.
You might be deaf to this but:
I love you
From the other side of the gap.
I do, I do, I do—
For the very first time

For the very first time,


I climbed onto the window
ledge to take a look at a rainbow.
When I made out the seven colors
I called mommy immediately,
and I even called daddy.
They left two “Congratulations” for me.
I was six by then.
The rainbow stayed for a long while.
I was drowned in delight.

For the very first time,


I got a stiff neck.
Mommy took my pillow
to fend off a blow
from daddy. And next day’s scraping therapy
penetrated my neck,
my shoulder, and then my back.
I was eight by then.
Scarlet spots swirled to the surface of my skin.
I didn’t find it relaxing.

For the very first time,


My Capri length, white pants were bloodied.
Mother made a fuss about
My dumpy body
that would soon be a patch of land where
two mounds covered by training bras balloon up
with sanitary napkins controlling monthly flood.
I was ten by then.
I was busy dueling the cramps.
I didn’t give her a damn.

For the very first time,


I shoved away a pimpled boy
and declared to my friends:
“just broke up with a fuckboy, no biggie.”
Later the day I was left alone,
so I snuck to the bathroom
to let loose a few moans.
I was fourteen by then.
I didn't mean to cry
but I figured my lips were so stained.

For the very first time,


I locked the door when my bastard
father was downstairs buying his beers.
The blood vessels once shaped in reckless sex:
I cut them one by one. Soon the pounding sound
on the door panel punctured my eardrums.
I sat stock-still but my hands were shaking.
I was seventeen by then
I was through.
I felt like seventy.

For the very last time,


I beg you to pluck an ivy branch
at the end of the rainbow
for me.
hey handsome,

just got off the sports field?


how was the game?
i’m dense about the shot the guard the forward
but i’m sure you stunned the girls on the bleacher again.

the takeaway you treat me to yesterday after


physics exam was delicious, even more so when
we did it in the underground corners you
discovered on this stifling campus. for once
i became a complacent fugitive:
the rare adventure for a straight-a.

last time i broke down in front of you you


made a rebuttal on each one of
my problems. emoji: crying mirth&wry smile. what else
can I say? you said if i don’t buy your
arguments you’d swallow my pains like tiny
capsules. you’re a genius debater.
i feel like i attend debate
competitions to no avail.

i booked morning call service from you, my


valet. a new day’s hullabaloo seems soft and
light as a feather, when you linger on the
calls for a little more while, just to listen to
a buffoon’s morning gibberish.

you’re girls’ public assets (my asset)


you should know that. that’s why it’s unfair that
the slutty gal ogling at you could
occupy you. sure she plays minecraft better, has
time to hang out on the streets with you all
day long, kisses you more times than
the number of your footsteps, and bothers to
leave love letters in your backpack—
she’s less of a writer than me.
i’ve got an A plus on literature.
i’m gonna be an english major.
and i still cannot believe that’s
how i became the taster
for the plays and poems you strained
your barren mind to write
for her.

i think i just wanna unload myself


the way people do at spas.
you’re my spa. i’d perch on your laps and lean
against your solid chest, press the stop button
so my wings suspend the tedious fluttering—
i’d be enormous. and i’d listen to how you
lost your video game replying to
my messages, how you got into trouble with
the teacher (he’s a nasty piece of work) helping out
your buddy, how your artistic dreams were repressed
into a series of narcissistic acts by
paternalism (paternalism sucks at hell), and how
you confine the duration of that
sadness to only two minutes. my eyes
half-closed, my chortle unstoppable. a cynical zoe
streaks in a carefree zelda’s world. The
paradise of a footless bird
that doesn’t wanna die flying
is a blurry notion that
resolves into a vivid mirage.
it pops up in the daytime
and follows me into sleep.

it’s a fantasy.

it’s only mine.


K. Alma Peterson

Now the Dream Evokes the Past In Front of Me

There’s the acorn that tripped me yesterday. Under the oak tree where
I sat and read Wild Iris, my copy dog-eared and coffee-stained. Not
suitable for collectors. Fame visited Gluck and my dream came to me
over the faint accolades of palm fronds clapping in a worthy breeze.

My husband fled into the Future where he is unknown. Leaving me


his sheepish smile and a backlog of events. Our home deeded away.
In the Future he has a bold grin that I can’t see. Maybe he is not afraid
to live now that he has died. He is the weather over me.

The Roseate Spoonbill comes and goes into the Past, in a motion
slow as dying. It feels the air against its bill rounded for a delve
into prehistory. Passing behind me, some vague cloud of wishes.
Flying off into the passage-by of dreams, necessarily unconcerned
with books not yet written, weather patterned and pending.
City Walk

Even the rain smells tainted, falling


as it must through covid space, avid

to touch grass and stone, maybe


a budding Lily-of-the-valley. Tasting

the aftermath of human existence,


spittable. Anything to sweeten

its chances of splotching pavement


with a decipherable story.
Kate Noble

COVID I
Died Alone
Lone drop, hung, quivering
frail, bare, translucent tissue-hold
awaiting gravity’s predictive
eternal pool immersion,
and re-aligned atom-construct
to purposes beyond our ken
mapped out in forms not ours to know.
While like-drops hang which cannot reach
watch helpless the known dripped descent
and wonder for their mirrored fates
faint puzzled for their own recourse
extend each muted grief farewells
unknown the fates themselves allowed
will be reborn of different forms.
COVID II
Snacking
For women in declining years
(metabolism changing gear)
weight gain becomes the primary fear.
With virus lockdown now the case
Evading death seems commonplace
Whilst chasing scale dials ups its pace.
COVID III
Limerick
There was a young fella from Belfast
Who couldn’t source even one face mask
His ward struggled through
There was nowt else to do
And the management signalled they weren’t arsed.
COVID IV
Survival Science
Street stop silence, bird song thriving, clean air transport
Distanced closeness, urban soundscape, prison skyscape
Global kowtow, vaccine know-how, oil slump, blame dump
Fiscal meltdown, fearful furloughs, frozen hot-desks, suited casuals
Job-less role-plays, darkened theatres, masks essential, busking bank loans
Breakdance blackouts, lock-down breakouts, jammin’ food banks
Real-life, screen-life, hand clap weekly, hostelled homeless
Stockless shelving, soap-less handwash, soup-less kitchens
Together tensions, grey-hair shielding, childless caring, home-school play-time
Isolate safety, queues and spacing, sound bites grating, graphic data
Threat and mind-bends, greet new normal, mourn by evening.
Kevin Thurston

From: Performance Pieces

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Pour drinks into glasses that have been used before. For each drink or shot declare, "All new information must
come from familiar containers."
Anthology Auction

Rip poems/art reproductions/etc out of an anthology; hold an art auction in the age of mechanical reproduction.
Civics Test

Use the follow questions:

When you think of an American, whom do you see?


How old are they?
How long have they been here?
Is this person a "new" American?
Can the person you’re picturing be a “new” American? Why/why not?

Does the American you see believe that people should own any type of gun?
Does the American you see own a gun? Should they? Are there any types of Americans who shouldn’t?
If they own a gun, what type is it? When was the last time they fired it?

When you think of an American, where do they live?


Do they own a home? Rent?
Do they live in the city? Suburbs? Rural area? Which part of the United States are they in? Are they in
the United States?
Do they live alone?
Who do they live with?
Are they single?
Who are they attracted to?
Describe or draw your American’s partner.
Do they have children?
If so, how many and how old are the children? Are these children well-behaved?

How would this person be a "better" American?

Do you consider yourself an American?


Does that status satisfy you?
How do you see yourself as the same as the person you described before?
How are you different?
Do the differences bother you?
Do consider being American to be a good thing? Why or why not?
Are you good? Why/why not?
Kristina Marie Darling

From: Dark Horse (C&R Press, 2018)

GODSPEED

Our train was the first to leave. My formulation of the question, a small bird splayed on the tracks. Now the
memory of the memory of a landscape. That sheet of ice holding everything in place. The felled tree the
telephone wires an entire snow-covered field. The car and its passengers. Yes. There is an elegance to the way
one strikes a match. Line of smoke against a reflection of the shore, the little sea as it darkens. Each of the
flowers lit as if from the inside.
FACTS ABOUT THE SHORE

The whole time we’re speaking, your other wife traces figures in the sand. Little hourglass atop Rousseau’s desk,
logic and its raptures. How cold the light is as it strikes the coast. The insides of the flowers have gone dark and
now their mouths are frozen shut. Dear ______, dear impossibility, dear husband, this is your atoll. A low sky
murmurs just above us and none of the ships will ever make it back to the dock. Snow falls on the other wife, on
your small white boat, on the ice. When you look away from the ocean, I do my best to hold still. I try to ache
more beautifully.
SAD FILM (WITH SUBTITLES)

Thefirstscenewasnearlyuntranslatable. Velocityandthelittleache at the very back of the throat. Were we seeing a


design in the narrative when all that was really there was the hand on the waist, the movement of a white dress
in the middle distance:

And for once they traveled to a country that spoke another language entirely, without so much as a miniature
dictionary to lessen the shock. To lose that thread the moment the wind picks up, to no longer be able to trace
the progress of an idea, or the line that reason makes in the hot white sand, was to somehow always be on
holiday. Still, they both had to wonder what the gatekeeper thought of them, their mouths that empty, not even
a cough to break the silence.
Laura Hinton

is for Palamares (or, You Saw Nothing)1

Junk plutonium, love it, hate it


we'll all be glowing for a quarter of a million years
teeth glowing, microfilm glowing
pages of words glowing, underwear glowing…

—Anne Waldman, "Uh-Oh Plutonium" (poetry video, 1982)

"If this is radioactivity, I love it."

—U.S. Spanish Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke, splashing his


feet in the sea while giving reporters a tour of the Palamares
B-52 crash site, 19662

4 a.m. flashlight fog not like Anne Waldman's bright yellow one in the
video
hanging on the door is a jumpsuit of putrid grey-green whose zippers every which way enact a sound series of
disappearances ZIIPPP goes the Camel cigarette packs & metallic lighters ZIIPPP goes the wadded spare-pair
underwear ball nested in beef jerky cellophane ZIIPPP goes the dinner-jacket elegant socks with plenty of holes in
the heels ZIPPP goes the BX brand, military-issue toothbrush

by the dawn’s early light


the jumpsuit disappears
oh oh say can you see-e-e-e-e-

(little girl sees in the dark watching will make her a writer)

1 From Marguerite Duras's screenplay for Hiroshima Mon Amour (dir. Alain Renais, 1959).
2 As reported in the New York Times, June 20, 2016.
Artwork by Toni Simon
*

Paper maps follow crevasses over linoleum basement floor


pitting all connections from Wyoming to the Arctic Circle
fake brick tiles form arcane surfaces
of paper blown by winds
or rushed by an indoor fan
over against a neat courtly row
the 1950’s Americana encyclopedias stand
a sound barrier against all knowledge radiating
inside the warring American twentieth century
world maps for end-pages spreading global peace
but he was tricked, they tell you, by a savvy salesman
ended up paying monthly installments for the gold-trimmed set
living on starvation lieutenant wages
while your mother grew round & wide
like the antique globe on the wooden half-shelf
demarcating nation-states so out of date
no one would ever understand
who one hates, or who detests

the Armstrong floor product hosting the Cold War scenario


secret to a suburban “den” room
re-refurbished basement groomed
to the style of imitation wood paneling & picture frames
so no one later could exclaim, This is uncivilized! or
any house but mine!
& here he holds
the silver compass of Blake’s Newton
numbers make revelations crouched & crippled—
oblivious to the beauty
mapping paper below his knees
he’s not wearing
bounty’s masculine nakedness but checkered
boxer shorts from Fruit of the Loom & white undershirt with a V

to determine the right figural airstream


to fly earth’s gravitation 45,000 feet
above hemispheric spin
way beyond green graveyards & grim
upside-down blue waters
just to practice
dropping the Bomb
over the Great Divide to Kingdom come

Family Day at Ellsworth Air Force Base, 1965. You, dressed in blonde ringlets
the corn stalks growing. You, wearing
flowered flowing
ringing dress
with ruffles.

You, 9 years old & sitting pretty


on the seat of a parked B-52
squeezed into
the hole your daddy disappears into.

Flowering images like the dress


are time’s dials & measures
you flip the steel levers
play with your daddy's
nuclear-bomb release.

The poverty & ignorance you one day learn he


grew upon, nourished by a Midwest dirt farm
white bread didn’t produce a thing but
muddy flowers & cheap corn
at peak season when a cruel father
signed the son up to work 12 years old
after school in a grocery store stocking
shelves way across town, walking there

The father takes the son’s paycheck


no toilet to pay for but grocery bills

You recall the zippers in their grand finale serrated swing


on stage an opera swishes ZIPping along—fat lady sings
roaring her performance, climbing
double chins
Oh, Oh, Oh, Oooohhh … say—can you SING?

You still have the dancing Senorita dolls perpetually


twirling flamenco on your
silent bureau, the brown lace
mantilla & matching plastic comb you wear
in your hair playing with your
girlfriends in the neighborhood like you are
the only dancer, brought home to you
courtesy of
the Cuban Missile Crisis
wherever Daddy disappeared to

You don’t know a thing about Castro or Russian nukes


he’s whisked away from a Florida backyard barbecue
your mother takes the toothbrush & the underwear
right up to the gunning Stratofortress, red-eyes shooting
right, left, snorting
tarmac engines spinning

disappearing
high to go on Go Pills, higher in the sky—you didn’t know you would keep
the lace mantilla & comb in a special drawer
handmade somewhere south of Salamanca
far south of Madrid, someplace
foreign like a dream you do not see or cite
blinded by sight, no word
of him
or
“the situation” —your mother is
crying

sitting on
a kelly-green padded rocking chair alone

in front of the black & white bulbous


televised news report, her children
in a bed in a city
whose waters rub elbows
with Castro’s sea

so you try to see


your mother’s tears—out of bed, plucking
your head off the Jack & the Beanstalk pillow cover

a savior in images snuggling into her


wet lap

no, there are no words


to show & tell this disappearing act

Your mother the next day teaches you how to run home from your first-grade school
because when the Cubans and the Russians hit with nukes
she won’t be able to pick you up—the traffic will be bad
it’s only a few blocks & you are watching

a snake on the ground

takes cover under


fanning nest of pointed palms

Your father is here, strangely—you see him! He takes a shovel


chops the snake into bits

kills it

safe
for a minute

Someone like your father is flying a routine errand on the sunny Stratofortress
assigned to park a plane per Strategic Air Command orders, a plane in the wrong state’s lot
calls for a re-parking mission
per the wishes of the United States Airforce Military Commandment
“SAC,” as they say it, is a god
a desk clerk is called up
to play tail gunner
for a faux mission
to serve his country
Guy doesn’t have the right winter suit—no problem, it’s not a real war job
it’s cold, it’s a blizzard
coming from Michigan
will blast apart
East Coast conditions
weather disintegrating—better run home
to wife and children
crew jumps their B-52
wings it high homeward

storm hits
another storm

which they knew would happen


in advance

Stratofortress is an unhinged bird writhing in stratospheric hell


up there, oh, and on its way down, too, they also knew:
bad tail design

plane breaks in two

aluminum file slips off

skin of the air snake

B-52 with nuclear bomb


like the storm itself
disintegrates

mid-air explodes

Men eject in chairs as ordered

fly off into the heavens, all

except one

using the bathroom

couldn’t buckle back down in time to jet away


plane turned upside down sideways

his body found

inside ground wreckage

another froze hanging

from his parachute in a tree

in the heavy mountain snow in a remote Maryland forest

his summer wear not appropriate

didn’t want this mission, just a parking job anyway


wanted to live to see his
pregnant wife & baby

crying through the snowfields


co-pilot with broken leg
died before
he could drag
his limp corpse to the
lights
of the old farmhouse
where two arrived more dead than men
severely frostbitten

The local Maryland stone mason


carted away the live nuke
sat it on
his flatbed truck full of rocks

it hadn’t detonated yet


killing every plant & animal on the U.S. East Coast

This pilot, this hero


is recorded in the annals of
the U.S. Airforce for
glory &
achievement
having survived
ravages of this
home-side near-
nuclear
accident

…pages of words glowing, underwear glowing…

you try to find your father


missing
from the records

Oh, say can you see?


He’s not there.

You look for your father who is now dead


who doesn’t exist on the web or in any e-book
they know he’s dead—they gave your mother
the folded flag
she filled out copious forms
to stop her husband’s retirement check
to live in extended-life’s poverty
in America—very nice to have the flag
& you do find the U.S.A.F. general
who had your dad’s name

who loved your father like a son


who made sure he’d become
a Lieutenant Colonel
a poor boy from the dirt farm

so your father could fly the Arctic Circle in a can of tin


navigate hundreds of missions
dropping them fast over Vietnam

The retrofitted Stratofortress pours out 108 bombs each day from Big Belly—60,000 pounds, so-called
“conventional” warheads, meaning

they devastate the hell out of the Ho Chi Minh Trail


in secret Cambodian raids over the line hushing backwoods along the backbone of

mountains those Vietcong forming human supply chains


against giant sky killer

then break Hanoi


into pieces of tiny chopped clay
your father, plopping
these “little bombs”
every 48-hours
leaving the island of sunny Guam
just enough time to sleep,
shit, shave
smoke—in between bombing days
so many bomb-a-deering dead
Nixon ordered metals as criminal testimony
“Distinguished Flying Crosses” shaped for Jesus Christ
hanging in agony—death, Almighty,
stored in a box under glass

statements go on about bombings & wiping out


human heartbreak into slivered parts

under the nest, the pointed palm fronds


is the snake
wiggling back out

Still looking up his name—he must be named!


somewhere in the U.S.A.F. annals, you read:

Hinton, Lt. Col Bruce H—


Homer, Lt. Col Charles A—hmm
Hughes Aircraft Company entry 504
skipping through Airforce registers
Lists of Commissioned Officers
Hintermeirer, Richard H—Paul Hinton, Hintz (Elwood)—p. 220

Missing, you see nothing


not your father, Daddy of the Paper Fortress
not portrayed
except through the high-ranking general
who shared a name
who believed
your father was so much a son to him
he sent him to Hell

even missing

from Hell’s indexes

heroic annals of (fire & brimstone)


institutionalized
ritual
killing (Hell)

Sometime in an earlier era of Soviet paranoia


a Stratofortress of S.A.C.
had another
stratospheric fuck-up

while fueling the belly vibrato


a pole missed its mate’s
warm metal vagina hole
traveled back through

the mother canister of a monster

Collision ensued wreckage


descended

mostly upon a Spanish village schoolyard & organic tomato field

Oh, say can you see—the fallout?

Franco and the Pentagon were in charge no one mentioned


the nuclear debris
falling from the kidneys
the broken B-52 urinating orange & blue
or the Spanish-speaking children
who stopped playing in the schoolyard
dismembered

or the two craters that bookmarked


this southern Spanish village, which is named
Palomares

forever lined
with plutonium dust

you see local fishermen of the Mediterranean Sea


peak over bomb craters, shake their heads

Oooo, si can you say???

the young U.S.A.F. men dispatched to the clean-up site


taking a break, eating lunch with feet dangling
over big radioactive hole
eating organic tomatoes

energy leaching up their teenage boy legs


almost hairless like your dad’s
—boys from the farm
no one visits or mentions
or records
these “events”
except the same insignificant
Spanish villagers or local fishermen

Oh, say can you see…?

youngsters, technically, military cadets

just out of American poverty told to do their duty

don’t question—don’t ask—handful of newspaper reporters on a tired beat


take note, were told:
guys in white overalls a "postal detachment"

liars come like dirty bombs


to minimize, to assimilate, the story

& who needs gloves? Troops plow

tomato fields flooded with


the dust of their innocence
like cooks with no training
radioactivity zipping along zipppeeeeee

Breakfast, lunch & dinner, we had those tomatoes until we were sick of them
(words decades later,
says one of them.3)

The U.S.A.F. scoops a total of 5,300 barrels of charred earthen residue


loads barrels of radioactive debris on a ship bound for South Carolina

orange, yellow, blue—"... we'll all be glowing…"—plutonium is radiating—"


…for a quarter of a million years..."

One nuclear warhead lost at sea. The Joint Chiefs


focus on finding
their precious nuke-baby adrift

hoping it doesn't bump into their ally France

Little warhead shows back up months later—almost intact

No mention—little boo-boo—lost nuke—


no reportage or spillage of

fine plutonium core


over Spanish houses & farms

….a quarter of a million years….


Say, can you see

If there’s nothing to see?

3Wayne Hugart, 74, former USAF military police officer who was at the site of the 1966 Palomares crash. Quoted in the New
York Times.
you can’t see him

You saw nothing

nor inhale—nothing to worry about stop questioning, stop complaining

believe your officer. Imbibe the dusty tomato

Eat
lunch, dinner with your bare hands shovel
the dirt farmers you are
used

to untangling the vexing myth


of who’s disappearing

is it news, truth, or class?

who misses / this absence / this going away?

This neglect of sexual satisfaction when emasculation occurs


at 45,000 feet above Cold War political expediency

no names in the indexes or fatal rosters

the military cleanup men disappear for decades

Whiteout pastes over the typewriter of medical records

the names:

Frank B. Thompson, cancer in the liver, lungs and kidney

Arthur Kindler, testicular cancer and a rare lung infection

John H. Garman, bladder cancer

John Young, dead of cancer


Dudley Easton, dying of cancer

Furmanski, diseased, cancer…

(medical records sanitized, no diseases exist—no men exist)

you see nothing.

(your father, missing. Change the grammar. Re-write the verbal form.)

letters to the Veterans' Administration are wanting

"They denied I was even there, then they denied there was any radiation. I submit a claim, and they deny. I submit appeals … they
deny…."4

"We are all almost dead."

the nearly dead speak for


the disappearing record

Lui says to his lover, the nameless Elle, in a motion picture filmed in black & white
where the Bomb exploded in air:

You saw nothing at Hiroshima

Your father never saw himself as dead


the retirement checks would be mailed forever to a plugged-in zombie
until one night
he disappeared
on the breeze of a sedated dream
on the way to Thailand
on holiday drinking gin
holding a dancing girl in his palm

because for twenty years he sat in the cavern of a rumbling mechanical death squad
the strangest Icarus ever seen above earth’s bubble
smoking Camels & punching buttons

4Ronald R. Howell, 71, brain tumor victim and member of the "secret mission to clean up an invisible poison" for the U.S. Air
Force. Quoted in the same New York Times.
Len Krisak

THE CHANGING OF THE NAMES

Was nothing like the changing of the guard,


Nor was it really needed to protect
The innocent or wretchedly ill-starred.
The care was all for what the lawyers said,
Who never knew the living from the dead—
Those envoys out of time and time’s neglect.

Their faces were their names, which were their lives,


And who was I to jettison so much
Of what the world thinks nominal and strives
To strip them of, lest love become a libel?
Our foxing yearbook was my holy Bible;
Their faces are the faces I would touch.

Thinly-disguised, their apparitions haunt


The hand that trafficked in a nom de plume
Of sorts, sometimes a nom de guerre. They taunt
Me with the alias of who I am
To them. They call me coward for my sham,
My shame at what I thought—once—to exhume.
CRYSTAL LAKE

It’s hardly strange that each time I go by


It’s not the same; it changes, naturally.
And yet the name becomes a kind of lie
When Crystal Lake’s clear physiognomy
Absorbs the moiled light of the morning sky.

Across the surface of the water lies


Scant evidence of any glass but black.
And that is when I come to realize
What presence Crystal Lake is giving back
To mock the witness of my trusting eyes.

The well-dark green of oaks like massing towers


Has proved upon the lake’s now wrinkling face
The scope and depth of all its dyeing powers.
The color of the leaves has stained this space,
Yet slicked it, too; it will be black for hours.

A pond upon reflection, Crystal Lake


Is small enough for anyone who sees
It in this scumbled moment not to take
Its waters ruffled by the merest breeze
For troubled depths, compounding a mistake.

Better by far not falling in that trap,


But seeing that such elements as tease
This visage to a film like kitchen wrap
Are nothing so malevolent. The trees
Have only coated metaphor a map.
AUTHORS’ CARDS

With four of each of thirteen scribbling men,


“Fish” was the only game that you could play.
“Do you have any Alfred Tennyson?”
We’d ask. Or Cooper, Hawthorne, Irving, Scott
(No Dickinson. No Eliot. No Austen).
Maybe there was a Poe somewhere in there,
But time has written off the years. And then,
The quaintness of that pack—so recherché,
So twee. (And honestly, not that much fun.)
Besides their pictures, words were what we got
To edify our forming minds. From Boston,
London, and New York—the places where
Belles lettres throve—rose all these great men, lists
Of works lined up below their cardboard faces.
And yes, their shuffled suits have left their traces,
Though I may well have gotten some things wrong.
Meanwhile, stiff luminaries loom through mists,
And I persist, though I may not belong.
THEOPHILE GAUTIER:
ON THE PROMETHEUS OF THE MADRID MUSEUM

Hélas! Atop the Caucasus, he’s crucified—


That Titan who robbed heaven just for us. It’s he
Who mocks the gods from high up on his calvary,
Taunting Olympus’ king . . . who thunderbolts his pride.

At least nymphs hang upon his rock at eventide,


Down at its base. He writhes for his audacity.
Tears in their eyes, those grieving nymphs come from the sea
To tell Prometheus of the grievous tears they’ve cried.

Ribeira, cruel as Jove—no, twice as cruel—you make


His gaping flanks, from monstrous gashes, gush with blood.
His guts cascade in scarlet gouts. They spill. They flood.

You chase away the sea-nymph chorus. In their wake,


Alone in deep black shade, he howls, but knows no shame,
And is sublime—that thief who stole the fecund flame!
SUR LE PROMÉTHÉE
DU MUSÉE DE MADRID
—SONNET

Hélas ! il est cloué sur les croix du Caucase,


Le Titan qui, pour nous, dévalisa les cieux !
Du haut de son calvaire il insulte les dieux,
Raillant l’Olympien dont la foudre l’écrase.

Mais du moins, vers le soir, s’accoudant à la base


Du rocher où se tord le grand audacieux,
Les nymphes de la mer, des larmes dans les yeux,
Échangent avec lui quelque plaintive phrase.

Toi, cruel Ribeira, plus dur que Jupiter,


Tu fais de ses flancs creux, par d’affreuses entailles,
Couler à flots de sang des cascades d’entrailles !

Et tu chasses le chœur des filles de la mer ;


Et tu laisses hurler, seul dans l’ombre profonde,
Le sublime voleur de la flamme féconde !

Madrid, 1843.
UNEASY SITS

The Derry farmhouse with its "farm" is fine,


But in Franconia, at that other shrine,
They let you look and touch his Morris chair.
I know, since I did both when I was there.
Yes, you can walk right up and worship it;
It's just that no one is allowed to sit.

We bought a Stickley that was much the same,


And when love called him here, a great man came,
Leaned back, and sat to drink the tea I served.
But that was always backwards, I observed,
For shortly after he had been my guest,
He did what all must do, even the best
Of poets: full of honors, he had died,
And now that chair would be one occupied
By me, and I would never be the likes of him,
As in some lame succession. No synonym
For who and what he was, I'd only ease
Back in "his" seat and write lines much like these.

Forgive me, Dick, for doing what I can.


I try to write, a poetaster fan
Of one who climbed oh, far above Ventoux.
Below, I do the best that I can do
When I sit down, uneasy on a throne
That only you can ever call your own.
Linda King

there are missing saints and children

notify the rescue team balance the debits and credits of illusion
return to where life is something you get to do every day
where it is simple and reckless

______________________________________________________________

we all want an invitation to breakfast


to ignore the aftertaste of despair

________________________________________________________________

hope mislaid will be tomorrow’s headline


your pockets are empty of coins and colours none of your wine glasses
are smeared with lipstick you no longer think in a linear fashion
it’s all pause-laden

______________________________________________________________

every day disappears into every day disappears into every day
everything overwhelms like a child standing at a window

_______________________________________________________________

while we fill the streets with our wanting to be there


dust and drift and days that won’t calm themselves spin out of control
enter into every bad situation where words swallow you wear you down
speak a language so new so terrible it has no history
only this day

_______________________________________________________________

so much left behind postscripts childhoods glass slippers


we have Sunday drives on Tuesday
none of our homes have guests

___________________________________________________________________

fear darkens every room becomes that place


between the places
there is no way to catch your breath those days are gone
to pale moon and before a media buzz of too many words
that won’t lean towards calm

____________________________________________________

a world full of knowledge is not enough


the new international commodity is fear
it has its own bar code

______________________________________________________

it is too lonely everywhere the landscape blurs


its contents have shifted
M. Kaat Toy

Neuro-Opthamology Consultation

How to integrate the old perception, which is nonsense staring at harder no longer helps, with what I
know now: The double “I” vacillating visions of myself? Have you ever been in a situation where it’s a struggle
to present a human being? I think I can get it down to a person who appears to be. Since I’ve been here so long,
I’ve put away the pretext of me and done metacognition research to create someone anticipating anyone might
be interested, meticulously recalibrating my focus with increasing circumspection of every aspect of myself
available to inspect. I think this sort of extrapolation goes on all the time, but I’m probably a bad example
because I’m not ready to corroborate what I am saying. No one knows how to get to the unconscious and
transfer it into action: It’s always getting very far away and small or very large and up close.
Notes Toward a Remake of A Priori Knowledge

Can you hear me just this way through the ignorance, anxiety, and relentlessness of the lamenting minds
trying to eliminate the cognitive dissonance driving the world’s discord by collecting the fragmented poorly
connected experiences of the mundane muddle into standard semiotic modules such as a web page, PowerPoint,
or training video--rubrics for dismantling and categorizing life--yielding death by torpor? Since perception is
just a vehicle that goes where we steer it, anything that can be defined or described is a puddle of stagnation. To
promote introspection of dissembling texts that mock all definable customs for anticipating regular structures
and understanding ruptures, for those of us who have earned the right to the agony of ambivalence the answers
are always changing.
A Brief Notation on Breaks

We should just pay for the breaks since they are what everyone is waiting for--less for long breaks like an
hour and a half for lunch, more for short breaks because they are worth more because they are shorter: Glorious
acts like gathering a fist full of wildflowers or buttoning an overcoat become symbolic or ceremonial. Breaks
remind us to exploit the non-break time--such as following and photographing a person who has stolen our
identity or trying to impress the teacher with chic amounts of salaciousness--even though all of our time--even
the time we pay for or are being paid for--is free, and we schedule things to fan the grand into grandiose
inflection points--anything more interesting than watching the rise of the temperature.
Must Love Hate

Displaced person in a forced marriage with personal misery and self-importance as preemptive behaviors
seeks wildly arousing interactive fulfillment with a significant other to supply meaning to our supposed
experiences through ruthless recitation of our personal imperfections, reinforcing our self-pity with our self-
indulgence by staging public anxiety attacks until these theatrics break some resources loose for us to absorb . . .
or we die, whichever comes first--the dodge which gives the whole religion punch. If you are already committed
to this perspective then, of course, you are a person of appeal. No losers please.
Monetary Sentences

Repeatedly mismanaging the nuances of commiseration that come so easily to other people, yielding
failed derivatives from incentivized questions and sequential invitations, I find myself in an extraordinary
rendition arrangement day trading in human capital at an alarming gala orchestrated by the Queen of
Commodities, a blind investment in deferred substantiation and unfounded mandates based on increasing
demands made of us dotted and crossed with double-entry checks and balances under her arbitration. Even after
incorporating into the finest culpability analyst I can be, I never know what I don’t know in time to formulate a
getaway route, so I seize this social insecurity arrangement fluctuating between lifetime indemnity payouts and
total market recall: A dividend of impermanence is guaranteed. A born shapeshifter at greeting and bartering, I
draw investors into the back room of my eyes where they find the exact opposite of the adjusted numbers they
loved. Reciprocity is such a pain.
Marcia Arrieta

the nonconformist & the pencil

surface
on
the

cocktails
cement
cracked branches

looking for the lost apron


untied
reindeers & rabbits

broken sunflowers blue fields palette knife existential


the glasses are ordered the eye heals dilemmas & more dilemmas
perhaps a title perhaps a life
overwrought

platypus lion cow

acupuncture the body & mind into a river

a red geranium floats in sky


alchemy limes & tangerines

Young’s The Art of Recklessness/Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey

the Sangre de Christo Mountains/the Rio Grande

a Joshua tree/a canyon oak

add primary colors find an old map

feathers float in wind


I live in the blank space

between time & light


paint & erasure

the bees
are everywhere

pieces of the mind


are collaged & then buried
Kandinsky & the clockmaker

abstract time circles the universe


cloisters of art sculpture/ocean
seconds like eagles’ wings
hats

veils stitches needles threads pins brims crowns


transparent hats straw hats draped turbans berets
ribbon hats fabric hats flower hats feather hats

around the head


Mark DuCharme

April

When the world was full


I fell apart
It was a great ride down to the sea
Where I didn’t go, then later
Learned to fear the snow

The snow is a folk song about a dead


Sailor who wasn’t captured
He gave tapioca Easter presents
He was held together by blocks of night & sea

When I sing the song of my gaze


Holding light together
& Rustle foolish urchins with bales of snow—
Do not fear the weather’s changeable

Character. It drifts over you


Like migrant rivers
Braiding bright dawn ochre light
Lost to you
In the transitive night where you find no rivers
In the snow

But I am not & am with you in summer—


Slender company
Until places crack & the hum of day
Is leading you & us this way
Beyond the hydrants & the windows & the children that sing
(Nobody sings anymore)

No one is there who sees or is sung by


A river & is no one in it then
Always & tenderly were through
In breath of night burnt casually
The city always finds you

It finds you there in hunger


Of place & the glyphs of stars at dawn sky
In frozen cities— lunar tongue struck
Full of birdsong & the proportions of
Evening buildings in the rain

Rain folds down your tongue, this page (I want to


Weep) (This page is torn) if we
Weren’t here when we knew
& Walked like bandits
Under April’s grimace
Interchangeable as a breath of decay
The snow would run away

Snow would run, & I would be its shadow


& You its eastern seaboard
Full with night when stars return
To kiss tongue’s breath
To kiss tongue’s death away
Of Wishes

I wish I’d taken what I wanted to leave before I left


I wish I’d seen what I imagined of the sky
I wish the clouds on blocks of ice & wood
& Night a perfect window
I wish the lake in amber life
The mechanics of dreams I shout
& Wish divining light would seep
Into the midst of weather, then flower
Courting panic
& I wish intrinsic songs entwined
Memories, divine laughter, foolish childhood notes
The breath in the sun you meant to wish the sky
To name the dream improvisatorily doubt
Or wishes like sounds of a tambour in winter
I wish to lie in bed yet energetically go about
I wish interwoven afternoon’s tremble
Brute songs, moot becomings
& I wish this liar
Soon would vanish, wither
In the lake, the sky
Under Appearance: Three Linked Sonnets

It’s always sunny


Above the clouds. The cup leaks
Pleasant streaks. How early
Does it have to be before it’s too late? Never suffer
In a silent mirror. The windows are always
Ancient, cold, inflamed. Adamant flats
Round the sum up, of noises in the
Rain. Don’t shift into
A cold fadeout. The route is set; chop distances
Into broken miles. Unbother the brunt
Of lost selves, swarming. The reflection’s never
Clear. Study the impacts of
Moon on touch. Grow nearer & then disappear
Like faces broken, of those who passed, discontentedly, in the rain.

Walk by yourself, when leveled in a mirror


Of ancient, sunny afternoons. Then go
Where the moon is thick— go swiftly, as an ancient
Crowd no one mistook
For viscous noon, then keep
Everything above the floor, until you get nearer the
Door— then let everyone wander, & free yourself of useless
Chatter, in the mirror where night’s passed. & If it doesn’t
Would you know just what to do? The air is foolish, but we
Are exalted in our makeshift eveningwear
Until all hymnals fail, & we
Grow free of trouble, though with an angst
Even wisdom cannot hide. What is it then
That flowers on delivery, with not even a forged ticket in hand?

A ticket is a brutal note


On the prosody of hymns, leaking out of turn.
Why not jump down, for just a touch, then lurch
Toward lost cities? The eye suspects
What it hasn’t always found. Go you now down toward lurkers
Hidden in the balustrade. Night isn’t entirely easy;
Neither are you. Find the route
To the treasured land composed of silt mid-sea.
Or, as an alternate activity, devise a land where all tourists will be
Wed. Now, the weather lingers
Like the sweat of those who work out in winter.
Will the dreary days avail you of
Cold Autumn’s spells? & What are your plans for not being highjacked
Until dearest angels weep?
New Year’s Day, 2020

The weather can jitter


If noon burnt properly
In a lake or kite
While thrushes gush tremblingly
One rarely gets awful
At the start of the year
In love with the wicked sestina
Which love will not equal
In breathless variety
Barring time

At the start of the noon year


Burning weather up &
Time I gush awfully
In love with the wicked seasons
Perforce or not in all due reason
I jitter like sestinas thrushes & burnt noon
In bloom in winter in the death of light
Which dusk cannot bear nor lakes burn up properly

Years in decades strung like counted lines in


Poems’ stanzas the sestina in sixes
Which this is obviously not or counted
Words in lines sometimes or the
Timing of writing or writing at predetermined
Times whether or not thrushes jitter
In nervous weather for the year’s end and beginning
Returning circling back on itself in its own death-beginning
Like an ouroboros or Finnegan’s Wake
Which I hadn’t intended to put here

But what here is where or any moment long or strung


In weather counting moments we’ll call time
In fidgets delicately barring
Burning weather & the year nouvelle
I told you not to mention it in
Stanzas’ nervous breath the end
In breath’s beginning
Its jittery rebeginning & kiting
Counting blooms ’til no one moves
In love’s deathless beginning
Burning rapid counted time
Mark Hannon

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As Siefert got off the bus from Buffalo’s City Hall, he braced for the cold by pulling the collar high up

around his neck and then jamming his hands in his coat pockets. Head down, his galosh-covered feet squeaked

in the morning snow. The snow had just stopped falling when he had gotten downtown, and the sun was just

coming out as he had come down the steps of the hall to the sound of scaping shovels. When his feet hit clean

pavement in front of his bar, he looked up, pleased that the bartender had made the sidewalk as clean as a

whistle, just like he always did. Siefert noted that the beer signs in the windows were lit, as was the sign over the

door that read, “Schiller’s Select Bar and Grill,” a custom made maroon and white neon monstrosity that was

installed to joyously proclaim the demise of Prohibition when old man Schiller went legit in 1933. When Siefert

bought the place after getting back from Korea, he thought about changing the name and getting a new sign,

but the regulars liked their landmark and he left it alone.

Through the steam-covered windows, he could see the usual dozen customers sipping sixty-cent

boilermakers, some of whom were just off the night shift and some were pensioners following the early morning
habit of a lifetime. As Siefert pulled open the door, heads turned to see who was entering, mumbled “Hi Seef,”

and turned back to their shots, beers and newspapers. Janik, the day bartender, stared at him through red-

rimmed eyes as he wiped down the bar. Siefert went behind the bar, dropping rolls of change into a tin box next

to the register and putting some papers in a drawer below it, Janik’s eyes following him.

“So,” Janik said in a low voice as Siefert put his jacket on a shelf, “vhat happens?”

“I made a deposit, and we go to work like usual,” he answered, pushing his glasses back up his nose

where they belonged. “Under, what’s that movie’s name? The Advise and Consent of Anthony Phillip Lalle, Jr.”

Just then the door opened and two stocky individuals dressed in flannel shirts and plaid hunters’ jackets

walked into the bar. Janik went over to serve them.

“Hey Janik, hey fellas,” said one.

“Good morning, plant life, working and retired,” greeted the other.

“Hello Uke, hello Tommy,” answered Janik, shaking hands with one, and then the other. “You guys

early on dis street today. Vhat you gonna haf?”

“Schmidt’s draft,” replied the Uke, adjusting his peaked cap.

“I'll have one of your famous Cokes,” answered Tommy.

As Janik went to get the drinks, Siefert walked over to the pair of vendors. “Hi fellas. Got any good

records for the jukebox today?''

“Nah,” responded the Uke. “We really don't have any business over here today, we just came over to see

you. Me and Tom were down at the Hall yesterday, getting licenses for some machines, and we heard some

guys talking.”
“Friends of ours?” inquired Siefert.

“Not exactly,” continued the Uke. “One of Hanlon the lawyer’s cronies that works for the city. He was

saying that Hanlon and Bergdorf were thinking of buying this saloon on the East Side and were going to try to

get the liquor board to find some violations, so the owner would sell out to them.” Janik, who had come back

with the drinks, stood listening to the conversation and shook his head.

“Yeah, I know,” said Siefert. “We're probably gonna hear from them today or tomorrow, I figure.

Thanks for the tip, lads. Janik, the boys’ cocktails. On me.”

“Sure, Seef. The boys been good to us, lotsa years. Maybe they can find us jobs...,” said Janik, his voice

trailing off.

“Thanks for the pops, Seef.”

“Yeah, thanks. C'mon, Uke, let’s went.”

“OK, boys. C’mon back this afternoon, we’ll have some beers,” called Seef, as they headed for the door.

The boys gave each other surprised expressions as they went out. Seef never drank in his own place.

Siefert then turned back to his bartender. “Janik,” he began, “the OV guy deliver today?”

“Yeah, Seef, sure he did, but...”

“How about Smokie? Is he comin’?”

“Sure he will, around eleven, like always, but look Seef...”

“Hungry Bear Provisions?” rattling off the names of the suppliers due that day.

“Yeah, Seef, he already been here, but maybe we shouldn’t do the lunch today. It’s 1964, maybe we

should do new things…,” but Siefert just smiled.


“Janik,” he answered, putting his hands on the Pole’s broad shoulders, “we’ll do the lunch today just like

always.”

Janik shrugged, mumbled something about mad Krauts and went back to his customers. Siefert picked

up a cigar box filled with receipts and glanced at them. The usual, he thought, his mind wandering.

Hanlon and Bergdorf had first come in a few months ago, two guys in suits and ties buying a round for

the bar, like liquor salesmen. Chatting up the regulars, two perfect strangers dropping the names of American

Legion ballplayers and their connections with RFK’s campaign. Janik took all this in while he served the round,

then went over by the register and flipped a transformer switch that started the HO scale American Flyer

running around the mantle that surrounded the barroom.

Siefert heard the train start up from the office in the back and came out. Janik caught his eye in the

mirror behind the bar and nodded at the two businessmen who were talking loudly with their hands and barely

touching their drinks. Seef walked over towards them, and as he did, Hanlon nudged Bergdorf.

“Hey, here's the grand fella himself,” Hanlon said, sticking out his hand. “John Hanlon. I'm with

Dudek and Mix downtown. This is my partner, Nate Bergdorf. We were in the neighborhood and decided to

play a little hooky from work. Heard all about this place and decided to try it out. Buy you a cocktail?”

“Kevin Siefert. Just a coffee, Janik. You guys got clients over here?”

“Yeah,” intoned Bergdorf. “We have some people interested in real estate on this side of town. We’re

trying to put a deal through for them combining several fairly big parcels in the neighborhood.”

“Things are changing in this neighborhood, Seef,” added Hanlon.


“That’s good. I wish you fellas luck on the deal,” Seifert said, shaking hands with them quickly. “I gotta

run out to the bank. You guys have a good one, and we’ll see you soon,” he finished, as he pulled on his coat and

went out the door.

That was their first visit, and Janik had them pegged as trouble right off the bat, he thought, surveying

the bar while Janik dispensed cheap whiskey and sound advice.

The rest of the morning was uneventful, with deliveries on time and customers arriving and departing

like the buses on Broadway during lunch. Janik poured and Seef talked, encouraging everyone to come back in

the afternoon, which further perplexed the Slav bartender.

After their first visit, the two lawyers started coming in about once a week at different times. They

always tipped the staff well, bought drinks for the regulars, complimented them on the softball or bowling

teams that still filled the bar at night while hinting at the changes on the horizon, how other places were having

a hard time fielding teams with people moving out of the neighborhood.

One time they came in and tried to get Janik to put up some Kennedy for Senator posters. “Boss won’t

do it, no signs unless he knows the politician personal, is a friend with them. ‘Big shots in Washington can’t

help you here on Broadway,’ he says.”

After Kennedy got the nomination, they came in again with posters and, ignoring Janik, waited until

Siefert came out of his office.

“Hey Seef!” Hanlon said with a wave. So now I’m Seef to these guys, eh? the bar owner thought.

“Now that Bobby’s wrapped up the nomination, we thought you might be interested in putting up a
couple of posters here,” Hanlon said.

“We know they vote the D line in this neighborhood,” added Bergdorf, “and since we’ve met the man,

we can get him to stop in here next time the campaign trail brings him to Buffalo.”

“You guys both know him, huh?” Seef said, rubbing his chin. They nodded, sensing a sale.

“Ahh, I’ve got plenty of friends downtown now, fellas. Do you guys know Russo, or Cudney or Tony

Lalle?”

The lawyers looked at each other and shook their heads. “No, can’t say as we do, Seef,” said Hanlon.

“But we figured you’d want to get on the bandwagon now, my friend, this guy is going places.”

“We brought two,” Bergdorf said, picking up the three-color oversized posters. “We figure one in the

front window and one on the side of the building where everyone parks.”

“Hmm, I think we’re going to sit this one out,” Siefert said, and walked over to turn on the neon Genny

sign in the front window.

A week later, they made their pitch to buy the place. Having gotten Siefert to sit down in a booth with

them, Hanlon explained the deal. “Things won't be the same in a few years, Seef,” he said, glancing at the

mostly middle aged and white clientele. “Nate and I want the joint now, and it’s your chance to get out while

the getting is good.”

“And a pretty penny we’re willing to pay you for it, Seef,” Bergdorf continued, writing a figure on a bar

napkin and pushing it before Siefert.

A quick look told Siefert that the figure was nowhere near the sweat equity he'd put into the joint, even

if he wanted to sell. “I don’t think I'm interested, gents,” he responded as he slid out of the booth.
“Hey, Seef, think about it,” Hanlon put in, but before he could continue, Siefert was off talking to a

salesman about pickles.

The two shysters had kept coming in, badgering Siefert to sell out. The last few times they had muttered

about violations that needed to be corrected and people they knew downtown that might take a dim view of

such transgressions. Particularly giving food away.

“It doesn’t pay, Seef,” advised Hanlon.

“Not only that,” added Bergdorf, “but the liquor code says a tavern can’t give anything away free,” at

which point Janik rapped his knuckles on the bar, signifying to the auto worker sitting next to Hanlon that his

last beer was on the house.

Thinking about those two dupas, as Janik called them, Siefert got ready to set up the last free lunch

counter in town. Around eleven, like always, as Janik said, Smokie delivered the rolls just as they opened. With

the fresh bread in, they laid out platters filled with several kinds of bread and rolls, sausages, cold cuts, cheeses

and onions on the bar, interspersed with bottles of fresh horseradish and mustard.

Today, the lunch crowd was rolling in, and it looked like it would be really busy. The Uke and Tommy

came back, had their Schmidt’s draft and a Coke, but only Tommy ate, walloping into the food like a starving

man while the Uke talked to a guy from the power company about getting some cigarette machines into his

plant. Then Siefert spotted them out the window, coming across the street. Hanlon and Bergdorf, laughing and

talking, with Tony Lalle from the liquor board in between them.

When they came through the door, both Hanlon and Bergdorf were still talking, and Tony, silently
listening, nodded to Siefert. Bergdorf started the ball rolling by waving a hand at the bar and saying to Tony,

“See, there it is, plain as day.”

“Yeah,” chimed in Hanlon, “in direct violation of the licensing laws.”

The lunch crowd had quieted and was watching the irregular guests. Tony waved Siefert over and

stepped forward to the bar.

“Hello, Mr. Siefert.”

“Anthony.”

“These fellas here,” jerking a thumb over his shoulder at Bergdorf and Hanlon, “have brought a tavern

license violation on your part to my attention. They say you are serving food here free, in violation...”

“Of the State Liquor Authority Code,” Hanlon added.

“Yeah,” finished Tony. “Is there any way you can explain this?”

Janik, filling three beer glasses for the newest arrivals, looked like he was going to cry.

Siefert, hanging his head down, adjusted his glasses, spread his hands wide and answered. “Anthony, I

am not giving this food away free. I put it out to sell it. I got menus with prices and everything,” he continued,

reaching into a drawer beneath the register and pulling out a bunch of cheaply printed lunch menus that no one

in the bar but Siefert had seen before. “And,” he went on, “these guys are not getting free food. They're stealing

it, and I don’t want to file charges.”

At this, a roar went up in the saloon, Janik went from dismayed to ecstatic and Tony smiled.

“By the way, you two,” Siefert said, referring to the lawyers, “since I can't give anything away free here,

those beers are twenty cents each. American. The Uke said he was buying yours Anthony.”
“That’s bullshit!” shouted Hanlon.

“No, that's Simon Pure that Janik served you,” Siefert replied.

“I mean that crap about stealing! You don’t believe this malarkey, do you, Lalle?”

“Well, the menus do make it legitimate,” he answered.

“Come on,” said Bergdorf, pulling on Hanlon’s sleeve, anxious to get away from their would-be patrons’

laughter.

As the door closed behind the two, the Uke punched Tommy in the shoulder and said, “Get rid of that

Coke, Tom, today we drink some vodka. Set the boys up, Janik… and don't forget yourselves and our friend

from city hall.”


Mark Niedzwiedz

The Field Near Wiston House

I always park quietly


Mindful not to disturb the green sleep
Awaken the South Downs that for centuries
Has greeted our hurry and scurry
With a mocking yawn, as if to say
Slow your cart or motor, you have no right of way

But I am not here for the peaceful panoramic


To sit idle, or marvel at God’s garden
The window is wound down to glimpse a ghost
Conjured from a dogeared photograph
A few gramophone tunes and stillness
The music from her youth, not her illness

I do not know why the field near Wiston House


Brings back to life this almond-eyed, fair skinned kid
Yet the moment I play Amapola, or Perfidia
The tall grass sways, the dark woods mellow
And this corn haired girl appears, every inch a Forties star
She is pretty as a picture, she is my dear mama

Free from pain, the frail old lady banished


She tosses her head, nimble to the dance
No nursing home or graveyard, to worry, tend
Just soda pop to hand and adolescent boys to tease
Sometimes I call her, reach out, but she is far too busy having fun
To see who sits behind the wheel, her teary, ageing son
But before the clarinet runs out of spit and polish
And ghosts take tea in some other place, or realm
I turn the key, wind up the window, be on my way
For I must join the living, for a little while longer yet
So, mama, sing to the butterflies, dance with the meadow mouse
Till we meet again tomorrow in the field near Wiston House
Red Chimney

I wonder who lives in the house


With the bright red chimney, someone must
For on cold winter mornings
Smoke bellows from the stack
And the smell of freshly baked bread
Stops me in the thaw and snap
So, I linger for a moment
And stare at this dreamy abode
Lit by the soft edges of snow clouds
And the sun a pale embroidered gold
‘All is well with the world’ then I say to myself
All is well in the house with the red chimney

I wonder who lives in the house


With roses around the door, someone must
For come late bloom
Peckish birds gather, flock
To taste the plum tree garden
And jam from the pantry pot
So, I wait at the kissing gate
To see who drinks the cooled barley
Who hangs the crisp, cotton sheets
Then comes a girl, to peg the sky, a threadbare carpet beat
‘All is well with the world’ then I say to myself
All is well in the house with roses around the door

I wonder who lives in the house


With the bright red chimney, someone must
For you were built to silence the soulless city
Smash the concrete slab, my daydream cottage
With honeysuckle borders
And thick soup made from pottage
So, if you glimpse me at the fence
Tap my shoulder, then with muddy boots we’ll tread
The creaky stairs, the homely rooms
And rest our weary bones on a soft feather bed
‘All is well with the world’ then we’ll say to ourselves
All is well in the house with the red chimney’
The Demon Bean

Coffee
Unctuous
First sip, last drip, scrumptious
No drink can comfort, the parched dry mouth
Recover from mornings, the sentient self
Quite like the demon bean
Devilishly moreish, whoreish even as I sip her wares
With cinnamon toast for company
Not love, nor utopia compares
Arabica, I shout, the cavernous yawn expectant
Smells the roast, hears the china cup
And like magic the corpse is resurrectant
Then with a thank you God and a splash of cream
I do baptize the demon bean

Coffee
The Daddy
All day protection for the crabby
The pour, the nestling in one’s hand, the craft
Rituals to calm the soul, homogenise the heart
So, bump and grind that bean
Do not stint on the velvety smooth Italian
Or recoil from the thimble of treacle
If Turkish, or Greek is your Valium
No, indulge my brothers and sisters
Till all that’s left is a froth moustache
To lighten the mood, tickle your whiskers
Then life you can face renewed, redeemed
And you owe it all to the demon bean
Mark Young

A Homage to the Bantu Gods


Beachball
geographies: Bogie River
geographies: Cungulla
geographies: Haughton River
geographies: Kilcummin
geographies: Llanarth
Juniper
Mary Newell

HUMMINGBIRD TRIO

Parallel Maneuvers

Hummingbird tangles with salvias


generations of entwine
fold into this smooth bonding

meanwhile among bipeds


closeness courts disaster
number crunchers gasp

the birds, unruffled

food staples stacked in sequester


bodies loaded on a cold truck
the silence of corpses

Hummer locomotes by quiver


broadcasts by wing whir
ripple of flight wake
figure-eight spin-outs
flash iridescent green

sheer delight, a nourishment

frequent sweets sustain


fast-pulse heart
whiz-zip
hover to sip
with forked tongue
drawing in nectar
from deep throated blooms

human to human-and-more
resilience in difficult stints
plunge into rusty rustic skills

segue toward supple adaptation

salvias’ trapdoor stamens rub pollen


on transfixed head of sipper
who soon flits with gold corona
to blend pollen from mauve and blue,
forging new “ultra-violet” salvia tone.

some days, tumble to profound solitude

fissures from nutritive depths


bubble up lucent

………………………………..
Flying jewels fading

During pandemic pandemonium,


names of old friends echo
call to verify they remain
among the visible.
Some still on the map,
but fading out of likeliness.

Meanwhile,
hummers and salvias,
that co-evolutionary duo
together again - and again
throughout the Americas -
yet threatened with shrinking habitat

delectable details recorded


of various Joyas voladores - flying jewels:

last seen last century,


Godin's turquoise-throated puff-leg:
“mostly green with blue undertail coverts and white powder-puffs of downy
feathers on the legs, and the male has a bluish-purple throat patch”

Recently named, already endangered,


blue-throated hill-stars of Andean cloud forests
Colibrí del Chimborazo

their names…

If you left behind no nametag


or little else
who will remember your nickname?
was it

jazz crazed
lead from behind
walked life lightly
knew a thing or two
dressed to bamboozle
helpful when you called her
never home
?

Among hummers,
the names of the endangered ones,
roll over in your mouth:

Coeligena orina
Dusky Starfront-let

Colibrí de vientre de zafiro


Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird

Calzadito Admirable
Colorful Puff-leg

these

still on the map…

……………………
Inter-volve

O voltaic garden flit

your volant frivols

smile me, hummingbird

your circumvolutions

phosphorescence on

gyrating wings

fructuous volery profligate pollen disburser

emit a hint

how not to clutch so hard


it shreds tendons

rips heart-house

joy in vol, in vol-a-til-ity

deep intake
lunge into spacious
…………………………………………………………………………………………………
My throat at risk

Get your hands off my throat


and I'll tell you what I think of your
high-hand
low-down ways
oh
uh
WHAP
good thing the kick and run technique
comes naturally - it was not in the white-girl handbook,
the one my mother forgot to give me -

the smothered scream


fear chokes, or turgid fingers
tightening on the adam’s apple
But I can kick and run
not looking back,
but listening for footstrikes

Behind the safety of the door,


assess: core ok,
though shivering

to this day I remember


the rasp in his voice
Adrift in undrinkable waters
“Between words and deeds there is a sea”
Angela Merkel

As a toddler, in search of
starfish, a rip tide almost
carried me away. Safe arms
surrounded tumbling hollers.

“Almost” is a long way from


drowning. Sand in the mouth,
sea vomit, limbs flailing -
then home to lap of comfort.

Distant calamites trouble calm


attempted rescues, urgencies:
salt/ famish/ heatstroke/ topsize
Ocean swallows without a burp.

Arms can’t reach through


a newscast to help those
stripped from home land
who risk the turbulent vault

The ocean tantalizes.


Seduced by its rhythmic pulse,
I forget undertow, dead zones,
toxic cargo permutating cells.
Bank Tangle

A train stop anomaly: twig nest


tucked into branch tangle:
good spot to scan for prey -

Across the Hudson, houses


tucked in to bank slope:
possession, view, convenience -

settled in for the duration.


Just nineteen miles downstream,
smoke rises from Indian Point.

And the river flows north


unhurried, echoing afterglow.
Ice floes crackle in the gloam.

note:
Charles Darwin used the phrase “tangled bank” to refer to the intermixture of life forms “dependent upon each other in so
complex a manner” (On the Origin of Species).
Matthew Bruce Harrison

Has Appeared, Is Forthcoming

When a to-do list Post-it


read Cancel Hair, Make

an Announcement. Who
boasted seatmate hand

jobs on international
flights? Red-eye, fake

sleep, face in Garbo tilt,


likely. Worshipped sexy

French. One guy never got


past getting gimlet-slurred

in his ex’s white childhood


house. If the lost witching-

hour cab had found him


soaked in the cul-de-sac,

no return to the pillared


colonial then, no blame

for Alabama Thanksgiving.


Another mulled over ways
to narrate the invention
of cinema so long he only

viewed a century of slapstick.


Screwball forgot his benzos

and allergy meds and black


mold attacked with visions

of angry angels dubbing


judgments in the mouths

of Buster and Fatty Roscoe.


Was it really six years since

my last dental appointment?


Still planned to hunker down

and conquer French. Who


shredded whose villanelle

to feed koi fish? Rhetoric


and Composition: our duty

to bitch about them. Erupted


my Irish Car Bomb on a PhD

who declared his focus Theory.


And who mocked stud earrings

on men to seem a stud, cocked


his image repeating Mother-

fucker, Smash and What, what?


Fancied himself the medium

for dead American slugger


scribes who lived on boats, train-

hopped and got misconstrued


as misogynists when Hey now,
wusses, these were true lovers
with knuckled hearts and war

wounds. Those improv bonfire


days aloof to meteorologists.

Symbolic stubble. Moody road


trips and Marco Polo nude

in faculty pools. Accidental


talents battled purposeful hacks

on bad apartment carpet, not


actual fighting but rough play

to force a fate of remembering


each other as broke lightweights.

Car-wash and litter-picking gigs


in supermarket lots hardened art,

made good fodder for biographies


on forthcoming back flaps. Sole

time a room wished spontaneous


combustion, one of us of obvious

upper-crust upbringing shrugged


off a coveted fellowship—smug,

curd-cheeked gall. The future New


Yorker twenty-under-forty Oprah

pick Barnes and Noble discovery


laureate swallowed our budget

wine saying I’ve always been


lucky, and the real shit meant it.
Michael Basinski

The Loose End

Belovved, after a silent lifetime, after your dream visitation in April, I Goggled your name and found, you dead,
died in March, now it is June third, and for ten weeks I have struggled, uphill, syphilitic Sisyphus, with the
same words I always use, worn, tired, thin relics of my own greed.
His ghost said: it was my dream, quicksand, I could never just let it go, anything, o purple piss poor pitiful me.
LOL.
You remember I am obsessive, to a fault, my own, my love, when I kissed you, your Lilith body bent an
unbreakable ballet, bows of ventricles and veins surrounded bound me, a form of senseless, disconnected,
disorganized, fragmentary brain pulses, which shift randomly my dreamy scenery:
drinking green cans of Genesee cream ale in a car, in the back seat you ride on my lap, it is 1967 and the radio
plays and has been on for all of these years, where I have remained silent as the desert moon light moving across
the linoleum floor in the mouth of a starving ant.
Were we’re was am and is and I we are she, her, I said, say, finally say, it: I love you, drunk in a dream, with
your way of being, pouring out of me my poetry flies like a bird into a windowpane, blind, as is the poet’s kiss,
the first kiss given to the truly beloved.
The only innocent thing that I ever did.
♫ Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Salt is a Preservative

Kerouac wrote: “take care of my ghost, ghost.”

Alcheringa, aleatory geometry, salt might force a memory to survive, longer than she should be preserved, an
absence of the sea we never saw, deep in there everything you did, I did, some place, a place in time might be
ever and forever or never and will never be lost, some say: gone but not forgotten.
Another school of thought believes salt contains magical properties that cast a spell, a net over a knot of egrets,
a curse, words, surround me with stinging graveyard nettles, makes me human again.
Whoomp!
Mag-net-ic.
Oni konia bronia ma.
Nie niu nio nie nia ni.

Shelley’s ghost said to Mary, “What is all this kissing worth?”


His ghost uttered the proper words in his mind and the heart (East Star, the sun rises) so that he could fuse the
future with the past into an eternal blissful harmony, Spring Equinox, Now.
He believed in divine words, magical combinations, and heka.
On Walden Avenue we spoke Waldenese.
Lawa nowa wola salata.
Koty buty reby ba.

When you wrote in my yearbook: remember all the parties.


I don’t remember.
In the deep blue sea, Mariana Trench.
Hypnotize myself to resurrect my want, say: sound the exact words to remember everything, today, particularly,
in the dark, deep in there, way, a fish or blue sea snail in the hippocampus.

Kawa soki oko.


Rama jura raju.

To feed need.
Always hungry.
In the background of his skull a ghost was incessantly singing:
♫ Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream.
In formless Cheektowaga, Ga-sko-sa-da, was one of the few native American villages along the Niagara
Frontier, was, located in central Cheektowaga. Ga-sko-sa-da, or Falls Village, sprawled along the Indian trail
that was on the north bank of the Cayuga Creek in Ji-ik-do-wah-gah.
The Shrine of the Holy Relics of the Saints is located at St. John Gualbert’s church.
In spring the ponds in the Walden fields were filled with millions of polywogas all black and alive and his ghost
new those words, had an auditive faculty, that they were power, magic: kau bau sekhem ab.
Jamambi, jabambi, jamac, jamac.
Abracadabra.

In a bar on Bailey, right by East Ferry, Rusty’s, her ghost played “You’re so Vain,” on the jukebox.
Her ghost said: I played this for you.
Carly Simon sang: ♫ I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee.
His ghost thought well, yeah, I am a cloud, of sorts, watching shapes appear in a cloud full sky skull,
thunderstorms, severe, cloudy core, and they disappear.
Carly sang: ♫ And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner.
Her ghost said: I wanted you for my partner. I was one of the girls that dreamed that YOU would be MY
partner.
My mother would say, rain clouds, stay, out of the rain, or melt, as if to her I were salt witch.
His ghost said, cosmetics, make up for lost time, let me make it up to you, wasted my time daydreaming, lost, in
waiting thoughts, wait for a never rainy day, weight in, wade into, wacko.
Fugazi sang:
♫ I am a patient boy
♫ I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait
♫ My time is like water down a drain.
His ghost said: she touched me I was touched, screw loose, scream, burst a blood vessel, sunken vessel, and gray,
matter of time, all of it, time, it’s about time.
♫ And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
♫ They’d be your partner.
Villa Maria Lawn Fete

Prelude

Went wild
For you I
Keep
The end going
After the party
Ended.
Make it up to, too I made it up,
Dido, I never left, Lalaland, make out, wanderer.
♫ Roam if you want to, roam around the world.
I still have my hands walking on a bed of embers, hot coals
In make eyes, at,
Made the word fate,
Fete.
Derived from the French, means gala, or bazaar, abnormal.
A tower in Carthage, if you dream, drama,
Are so too real,
The Mediterranean sea coast, blue sea, dark sea, monkey see, below.
Her ghost said, better see a doctor.
How elaborate and elegant to ride in on elephants.
And the food and games of chance, beloved, gambling, subline fried chicken an open charcoal pit and witch,
with potato salad, rye bread with tub butter, an’ cold slaw.
Slay.
O with your name I will burn Rome.

Villa Maria Lawn Fete


In 1927, a three-part Gothic Revival building facing Doat Street, for the Sisters of St. Felix, a house, Villa
Maria, an all-girls only, hard-to-get, Villa girls, school, public and private chapel, red brick whore house, and a
Motherhouse and novitiate, 600 Doat Street right on the boarder of Buffalo and Cheektowaga, over by Pine
Ridge Road, which was once lined with horse chestnut trees, enough to make a young boy’s heart wallow in the
awkward abundant extasy of awaking ripe nuts.
In July, sour, tart cherry time, time reappears the Villa lawn fate each year, a perennial well of wishing, make a
wish, wishing bone, and poetry, I see you, with my dark tongue tied as a carnival elephant chained to a stake.
Her ghost said: You Wish!
In the beer tent, the goddesses who preside over the birth and life of humans, a thread or vein spun, measured,
and sliced by the three fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos or the weird sisters, Victoria Secret Angels who
served Iroquois draft beer in big cups in the dusk, in the beer tent, polka music:
[A translation from the Polish of a potion from the Zosia Polka]
♫ Matthew, Matthew, come and help me with the cleaning
♫ Then I'll, then I'll, treat you good--You get my meaning?
♫ Matthew, Matthew, come and help me with the cleaning
♫ Then I'll, then I'll, treat you good--You get my meaning?
♫ Mama, mama came home late, turned on the light and
♫ Then she, then she, saw a really naughty sight
♫ Mama, mama came home late, turned on the light and
♫ Then she, then she, saw a really naughty sight

The old saying goes: when someone is talking about you, your ears will ring, ring, and bottle toss, toss a ring on
the bottle’s neck, neck like a three-ring circus, threw my heart into the ring, you can ring my bell, doorbell.
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells bells –
Ding, dong, bell
Pussy’s in the well.
Tarzan swings
Tarzan falls
Tarzan breaks
His mighty bells.

Drinking a lot of French kissing a kissing with contact between two tongues in inflection, two hoots, two to
tango.
His ghost said: I can do a pint of Tango in two gulps, Ripple, MD-20/20, kinda screwdriver in a bottle, the
astronauts drank Tang, but I like the O, with a little orange settlement on the bottom, that’s the best, aged.
Booze bruise blood in pools, a trauma that dosen’t break the skin, inside, beneath the skin, more blood flows,
blood vessels beneath the skin burst, rupture, blood leaks out, pools, and pools I don’t remember, binge injured,
a wild swimmer in Glen Brittle fairy pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Red and pinkish the presence of iron rich hemoglobin in a pool.
Dancing girls in swimsuit type outfits with fringe that wiggled like the larva of mosquitos swam all about
everywhere in bugged out eye pools at the Straight Show.
Dark blue pool deep and purple sea low oxygen supply, flooding will occur.
Green hemoglobin undergoes a biochemical breakdown, crash.
The Well of Mimir is at the root of Yggdrasill, eastern cottonwood, in Cheektowaga, maybe.
Yellow, pale yellow the presence of a large amount of bilirubin in a wading pool.
Narcissus pinned his own reflection in.
You, are still here is where you are am I hung from the fate of a wheel of fortune.
Spin the wheel and win a prize, to remember the blues, reds, greens, yellows all spinning, skull, spinning wheel
pricks your finger, a game of chance, all the swirling, maybe.
Crashed, toasted, passed out and puked.
A large contusion, three-inch diameter, victim of fate, fall all colors a quite livid, inevitable kismet, a quite lovely
bruise.
Michael Gessner

In memory of
Richard Anders
1928-2012

DAILY READING

How it is, how one


is struck
in the mouth,

the marble mouth


that shatters the knife,

the wild lament


and shattered mouths
of Grodek,

the statues’ agony


in old necropoleis,

and from Laocoön,


how violence always
aims at the face.

Is it voice
that tells us how
the body speaks,
how mouths shatter—
Michael Joyce

Last World Tour Before La Peste (for Peter Antelyes)

We lost track in the symmetry of the two half-dozen oysters, Duxbury and Taunton, we shared
and couldn’t recall which one of the last two, from Massachusetts or Maine, remained to the
each of us. I left it to my old friend and colleague, who, hearing that I really had no preference
chose the smaller, sweeter, Duxbury, by which I intend neither sly comment nor critique,
being in fact happier with what the menu termed my one’s “lingering sweet kelp finish.”

We were celebrating each other’s retirement in an empty bistro with large mirrors and leather
banquettes and a fair approximation of the menu in a like place in Paris, here now however
like the deserted dining room on a cruise ship in a film. The portly (no pun), waiter-bartender
whose accent at first we thought Russian, plays his part in reply saying he’s Portuguese by
birth when in mauvais français I mistakenly asked was he a French woman (Êtes-vous une
française?). On our way out we chatted with him about Vinhos Verdes and he spoke about
how good and how cheap the wine was when he last went back to visit his mother while she
was still living there in Porto, not long ago, before he himself went back to South Africa.
Mystery of his accent solved, we headed home neither of us to emerge for a year or more.
Acts of Contrition

In the midst of cataloging my sins, I think instead of the feet of nuns, having stripped off their
dark stockings and standing perhaps on a plank floor next to their beds. I do not think this is
one, a sin that is, although surely a concupiscence, which I am surprised to find the Catholic
Encyclopedia defines as “In its widest acceptation… any yearning of the soul for good.”

Nor are they necessarily ivory feet I think of, but rather those of the young Malaysian sisters
at mass this morning, so modest and fervent in the pew next to the more gregarious older one
smiling about the congregation at the sign of peace like an Irish alderwoman hunting votes.

The queer feminist theologian I am reading now speaks of the eros at the heart of theos,
much as in prayer “in your arms” summons the Body of Christ as a fluid erotic presence.
Perhaps in our time what used to be called an examination of conscience has instead become a
form of entertainment or self-indulgence, sorting through a cabinet of curiosities looking for
old lace and fin de siècle French postcards, guilt accordingly becoming a refined form of lust.
Still, even as a boy before I had any sense what it meant, women’s feet occupied my dark,
exciting dreams, which the sun, like the dazzle of a lifted host, could never fully extinguish.
An inventory

What prompted them to save smooth stones wasn’t clear to him. It wasn’t a formal collection,
rather instances placed throughout the house, on a desk, a mantle, in an oval bowl on a shelf,
gathered into a small, square basket like eggs. Of the two on the desk before him he knew the
speckled came from Prince Edward Island but the gray ovoid, a lighter intrusive speck dead
center like a tiny eye, had been there beyond memory. Vija Celmins took five years to paint
bronze copies of the eleven stones she picked up around Taos, while it is said Amma Sarah
lived beside a river for sixty years and never looked upon it, her eyes intent on god, a tale
that seems made up by jealous men who could not abide a woman’s flow of contemplation.
Michael Kelleher

FASHION STATEMENT
for Bob Kaufman

The thread-worn voice quavers the ghosted edge


of the film, in violation of its oath
from a decade ago to keep silent,
remember the death of America.
Not the place the proposition that explodes
from the end of a gun, a bullet fired
in a public space goes spattering brains
that widows chase on trunks of limousines.

A poet needs to be cool, needs to wear


a cool hat, better yet a cape. The drama
at the throat of a brightly-colored scarf
is too coarse for a poet with a vow.
The heart murmurs louder than the voice.
It says nothing. It has nothing to say.
CLEARANCE

Thus, the children kiss the liquidation man goodbye,


Au revoir, Monsiuer le liquidateur,
and just like that are bankrupt and free

of money’s downward drag


whose gravity pulled their cell phone-juggling dad
into the grave. Falling with a pistol shot

the camera hardly registers at all he drops


to the ground dead and the narrative threads
by which he was bound are loosed,

everyone finally released, but from what we must ask


did he suffer, what wound, what weapon
could penetrate the sanctum of the happy

bourgeois family man? He knew his history,


his place in it, could tick on his fingers the names
of saints tiled in gold or the artist

made the hand of God reaching down,


extending aid or perhaps to snatch him back
to heaven. The roofless family chapel stands

alone, a ladder propped against a wall.


The saints with their blank white eyes look down.
Everything is for sale, everything must go.
AN ATTEMPT AT READING A POEM BY LAURA RIDING JACKSON

An animal that wasn’t animal,


whose destiny was to have none,
without material reality,
undamaged by perversions to its body,
traversed a continuous expanse
of nonexistent land,
nonexistent because already known,
already known because already mapped.
It could be seen one instant, the next
it would evanesce in angular cuts of sun.
The stars forever wink inscrutable signs.
They never die, but open, close,
open, close, in binary code. The final stage
of thinking happens only once.
Michael Mc Aloran

(+/-)

…was the taxed parameter of skyline breath of once intake exhale


in foreign drag of corpsal light through the vacancy of ever known
forgotten in an instanced breath haven of what which spill of the
drag what purpose final as composure stillness of eye & out of
which what fallen shards of frozen meat in cavalcade redress wild
edge of night to embrace as abattoir silences cascade throughout
as wounds to breach tear in an aftermath of solace weight of some
absolute abort it pares away the teeth of emblem lightless barren
where once shattered concrete ocular to rove throughout given
from out of solace haven dispel shadow across the gaping orifice
of spell it all out nothing of the matter lessened ever as if to collect
the bones the teeth skinned of purpose hollowed out the forage
ever as from where to breathe is to simulacrum film upon
weightless dressage where blessed terse is the fallen crux of
bestowed upon garotted sunlight asked of never once answered
stillness to breach echo-light to vertigo presence absence all called
ashore where to follow lack trace of footsteps taken through rotting
pulse bulb diameter fixed upon where pupil of to gaze in the reek
of silence where no sounds abide still-born the nothingness of
having been of being in elected to this of follow it through until
claimed a blade to the throat of exist syllabus cold shoulder have
of which echo-echo redempt nothing of the birthed what
shadowing effortless to torn from the skyline of recollect fallen
forage nothing ever of to measure as blind-sighted where to of the
silence of never having been locked to the closed fist that pummels
the else of essence spectral as cast upon a bare white wall of release
the wolves the hyenic conglomeration spill of ejaculate in voidal
null as if to collide where to of which seasons that drift throughout
across the denuded shadowing of filament exigent collision
broken bodies cold flesh as words cascade unto to drag the
pregnant weight of collapse it din reclusion solace in the afterglow
of meat throughout spasm upon reckless headless devour a cold
wind of ever-closure open up until where to dream of is to dieth a
little else of more than what structure bathes in the milk of blood
a tense will obscure collects the passage of bone dice scattered as
if to measure nothing as before colourless distance the obscene
pulse striata of carnival haven of rot to pierce the flight from as
once was in of which to collect repeats the circus phlegm spat in
the face a cadaverine occult the flayed canine laughter of breathe
of what will redeems says no of nothing ever of where once spoken
of what lack to brace recollects the ever of what once where
features of which collide never of the vital essence amphetamine
shit in the veins of rapture the white of the eyes revealed a noose
snares the throat of being ever from the commence until
slaughterhouse landscape births one thousands butterflies razor
wings ablaze in seizure none/ none of which ever transitory fallen
upon the blade of the outset shears throughout where no wound
closeth ever until all lights snuffed out fathom less than of what in
senseless collectively fucking the lungs of haven as if to breach
where to roundelay a bird in the bush neither of the hands that
grip for the throat of all that once came restless light of the once
undone as to utter once of the stains that collect the pelts the rat’s
night crusade of which bitten to the core incision marks the restless
bones to vibrate in pageant lack breakage of the silt that coats the
skin of murmurs the bled sun artery rip from lapse it lung to coat
the bodily obscure of nothing ever ever none of which cleft the
sanded realms char excise a collective of footprints smeared out
by the wind’s obsolete blind pare away of secretive never a trace
to build as flay what carcass ever once of haven entourage the
funereal procession of a slash-mark smile that extends from one
horizon to the other bled will out of the insanity cold sweat pasture
of to the the toothen edge aligned by bloodless covering the char
of ashen promise whereof to sing from the base whore’s lungs cast
across the surgeon’s table a reckless dirge of echoing of where
speech a regrettable night ever-vast to stretch from fathom none to
none of fathom where to patience of the weight until closure
orifice spray of distended blood ochre ocular kicking the dust
from the elected to this without origin the silence of never having
been a vibrate in the skull of the dead pulse shattering within the
tension surface false start begins again yet no merely of to replicate
colours the like of which a blood-stain from a lacerated limbs bare
bones to expose where bitten of colourless lapse of meat echo-
vibrate a striate of paranoical child’s bones to breach where surface
align is at the nucleus of given speech dies of which in the fallen
light the dim ocular roving what matter it falls upon ever nothing
once twice nay unto follow to element scar attrition absolution no
it follows after the final carcass colouring the beauty of discoloured
flesh sings to the overture of carrion flies as hangeth all sung
forgotten never of the once till collectively fucking the night from
the ongoing sentence to bled dry as bone sudden death of absence
sky turn of will the reek of breathe non-else a spasm a roundelay
of naught redeems the surrogate fairwell it strips the blood the
harlot nocturne closure of what will seasoned to trace as the body
fades to silent rupture a razor demise where to once wrought
exigent collapse striate of once as if to collect seasoned whereof…
(…broken emblems of eye line the sands where the bones of
breath are a teasement of desire & avaricious intent an incapacity
a spurious collision of extension as skinned of weight all along it
matters little a before an aftermath a collage of sickness scattered
aloft from the lungs of given ever nothing of it as a mockery of
teeth trace violent colourings of a slaughterhouse breathe of what
nectar eyeline flung to the hyenic laughter speechless tint closure
of some other wound a breakage of vacant solace collects in haven
nothingness to carve the adroit ever to dispel mocking the wound
to a collapse of furious intend in an abort of echoing silences…)…
(-/+)
…zone vault erasure bloodshed cell shard of expels dead laughter
a body broken stone efficacy blind repeater absence burn black
sentience of elected to door slams shut in gait of which taken from
distance echo of ever stone light burnish hollow oxide stillness
were to breach vapours of which to collect in barren lights vertigo
of shed pelts yet nothing ever as before where night to caress fallen
obscure till of what signature silence ashen expect as to be what
nothing of accord of final overture shadow-lock dried essence to
peel away from striate of solace ever colours of which once known
to fade into an extinct of obscure devour whereof exigent of what
haven promise nothing of where recollect strip light it breatheth
film to denude a corpse of final judgement what will done overture
of nothing ever to collect where bones of certitude lay to rot in
outstretch of landscape devoid of detail pulse spent shrapnel
echos out from lack of which taken from what given of until strikes
a match inglorious to follow exposed but for an instance final
traceless of dim record birthed of never once ever flay wind turn
of lapse obscure as meat violent reveal cold dice a tumult of frenzy
light excise scar tissue breath dislodge colours of which in like what
spasm collide opulent night long distance short snap shut abort it
turns light insert reclaim utters none recede breath spoken lock
unto foreign of dissolve it too bleeds out in it of lack echo night of
accord as on it carrieth broke bone pissoir absenteeism shard
white lack return unto where breath forsake all sung it know/ it
forgotte(n) drag of corpsal wind to taste flay of which corridor
waste breath wastage of shouldered the cross of breath hunger
avarice collapse into what breathless gnarl extricate headless
attrition meld colour of which die down echo repeat it fade of out
whereby to unto nothing forage cold dice to flow aptitude for
psychosial extent of which driven reflect expel of meat collision
repertoire all what said unsaid ever of reflect of white cell
bloodshed lapse it till of which repeats it nothing of what matter
now it floweth an open sewer of scum division breathless tint of
sun to illuminate where pageant frenzy can only never of to which
fingers to outreach of to unto void nothing of in ever solace
collapse weight forage furtive rescind steps never once colourless
abandon breakage point what redress as to burn in black weight is
to nocturne carnivale extend carousel music-box of nothing ever
terse will winds to caress cataract blood-spill it speaketh laughter
of an unsung pulse white light flash surface exposed tension to bite
is to bleed of in rag & bone recoil from where passage from naught
till obsolete is to beckon fragratory entity solace absence final gone
ever of forgotte(n) tidal once less than was before of nothing ever
shadow of breathe where tint of closure shadow nothing of where
to absence bone warp of pulse bulb ideation to expel catacomb
depth ever of to which what forth null & voidal burn black
weightless dislocate in foreign laughter of where to of to of to/ 0/
concrete nullity breaketh spill of foreign speech embrace as words
die out reclamation no film to pierce reveal of where lense smear
across of which strung up bled dry from orificial wounds spectre
of final to vibrate in so much of entity whispers of being to collect
in gutters of ashen promise final as before whereby to sink into
where scum erasure a pit of lapse until where lack breathe shadow
collision is to reflect upon where gait absent as before to collage
broken light crack frozen upon in sliver sound of claustrophobe
where to of in which it out-spill of candelabra night extinguish all
known properties as on it transpire lacking as before of what want
of which nothing of matter if nor for comes to forth of collect
spasm outspoke cold as of what dawn precede as outstretch ever-
night to suffocate in blind outreach till obsolete claim upon where
distance shatter it this flay from one nor other crack bone suck of
marrow taste attrition tint in respoke dead traces to blossom in
spoke from which haven to colour it in of which lapse of what will
to terse as reclaim echo of once neither perhaps thrice ocular rove
in of through which of some to dream of it non-fathom suck upon
fragrant ash stretch out neither weight nor of before where flesh
appears in dislocate in meat of substance never of to speech lack
return of reclamation rotten fruit in gash of glint of where blade
subside it to follow onward a listless extol of exigent fragrant
nothing ever to return where to chemical utter blind no another as
of which to collide with or which spasm crystalline nectar of
whereby as if to spell it all out forget forgotte(n) from once which
it came…
(+/-)
…stun blank weight see null close weight stun dark hollow of…eye
lock nothing paralysis gesture rip blood another none…absent
lapse flow silence vertigo eye snap bone cut echo…burn black null
seize broke stone night nothing collapse…all once remove it-
shadow snap cold chill fever frenzy of…ice lock strip meat none
abort carry lapse it what follow…none which taste which until
breath vulture flay wind of…once never outcry depth drift dead
forage upturn eye/ as…fall final ask it no collide spill crimson
shadow silence…nothing ever closure open sky one other if subtle
breath…dead once cull it-breathe stray night as of sung lapse
afar…distant amber lock hold ever null what drift collision
of…trace what once cold flesh breakage bone collect fathom…out
what once never of silentee echo dim collapse ever…drift all done
said what close door ritornello wind abort…walls womb ever night
nothing before spit laughter/ un-…wound pulse overture lack unto
vision of erase night all…palms cup psalms dredge eye wilt ever
excise have of it…nothing ever dredge what waste spill enzyme
collect silent…bone shadow lapse it wilt cold dredge of light upon
else…in-dream shadow ice pelt coloureality nothing ever
what…lung trace a/ bit shale opulent cauterize ever foreign all…all
dense what of shear meat speculate obsolete ever as …trace of/
winds collective absolve no closure emblem it… laughter broke
valve black erase commence spill of bled…gone once gnaw
jawbone crack close spell of hesitant as…grind of lapse what fall
forage distance ever bleed null all…split sheen emblem taste strip
veins shadowy dislodge it of…throat final caress blade bite upon
bled lack once until…remove cold colour semblance redeem
astray cold colour…rind snow rind upon what ever nothing trace
broke stone ice…was once no collision flay wind dirt clog silence
of ever…hunger avarice what nay thrice pageant ever no not
once…scar upon pledge deal whereof upon cold skin
attrition…tear lack realm solace pit sudden ash collapse what
breath…exit yes or no regard from distance upon trace null
shatter…to be done ache it colour what if in speech disclosure
no…solace spit upon gait strip skin reclaim blood swarm
until…ever-light sedentary rip cold sheets violent trace of
which…disregard never once ever nothing ever cold dice spill/
of…rip dealt distance null closure tongue strip have of
which…walls wound absolve drought abandon collapse into/
as…ashen concrete breath intake cast of where once none all…drag
will wind tongue froze teeth night ablaze echo entity…pennies
upon eye/s salder weight nothing of ever neither…if what done it
cold lapse shadow upon smear meat till…crack breath haven
solace no nectar fall(en) hours upon…rip meat of closure gait
impale flesh stigmata silence of…veins open skyline blood to
caress it done fade out until…echo landscape nothing labyrinth of
no some other than…eye froze weight it closure upon lapse upturn
till ongoing…fingers twitch blade din of meat scatter broken
reclaim it…(vicious goes the…)/ depth vault / shatter obsolete
tidal…outcry silent expanse shadow nocturne ambient
slaughter…petal cast wind effortless ablaze exile bound bones
null…speech redempt nothing of it abort what will final edge…strip
skin opulence night edge colour-it lapse…neither it…locket spasm
broke stone flesh erasure solace whisper…orchid breath observe
clear sight blood in mouth weight…shit collision harvest bones
bled nullity obsolete nothing…fall eye fall further nocturne spasm
utter dark wind of…edge redeem struck from out cold shadow
syringe dust…swarm maggot glow of sun fathom erasure skyline
fall…bled out till collect meat din of excise exigent of night…deep
stillness wound collect flesh mar mard spat out unto…eyes smear
out fall nothing of what till of collect drag until…devour purpose
isolate dense walls erasure butcher light…dense night ever reek
deep meat terse will what end of flow…ice barb sculpture bone
unto advance cut short bleed of…eviscerate cold chase ocular
death breathe semblance it…waste upon/ foreign ground obsolete
terse what absence…ring-a-ring-a-rosey guts torn flagellate
soundless as light…all what said still-born attrition famine feast
upon night…film cataract shadow light burn closer still never if/
other…stone wind lapse blood burn to obscure dense ice
echo…colour sear what of excise given tillage flesh veranda/
as…extract broken terse obsolete words prayers Ave wastage…still
tension ache attrition feast or no discharge callous…cold dredge
abort reverb traceless origin fall ever of it…hands dead foreign tide
stricken from proverbial ever…terse it layeth no forage concrete
seeds upon nothing ever…circus pageant hyena vibrate laughter
long shadow fall…gnarl upon throughout it to follow breakage
bones lack…stone deafened colours that pare away melt plastic
waxen…exposed meat strip of skin flowering grave nothing
visible…fingernails extract of blood pared light colourless
attrition…ice will wrench it of which door slam gait reveal shard
of…embers traces white lapse fission fallen fission/ exit
sign…metallic reek child play alone breathe it absenteeism
of…mirror crack hasten shadow drag of kick scream fragment…all
what sung/ spacial close of tongue swallow down (sh)it…crack
fingers fathom echo of to touch recoil in flame/ it…black of out
spoke broken asp of which collide/ breakage…to touch passage
through liquid light/ observe flame…butcher lung edge to flow
through din light kaleidoscope…all what night walls burn black
inhalation razor efficacy…nothing ever/ cane blind trace seeks
what in all/ excise…null by mouth close vacant effortless silence
shadowing…nothing ever there once of which snare corporeal
night…eviscerate tongue torn collage sky torn across wet
blood…spat laughter echo rock back forth soiled
underwear…silence flow of fathom no it taken from till silence
ever…weight bone collect gone as once traceless recollect
din…terse what light forage unto bereft light cold water
flow…dense lung nectar haven close eye burn it to of trace of…elect
pageantry silver where shadow realm lock collage…semblance ever
rip gnarl spill fuck upon denuded flesh…entity lapse solace reek
strip wind sudden once ever as…trace desire promise cull final
forage words erasure all…bled from never less absolve long
shadow distance tidal…reek havoc nullity collapse stray silence
engulf listless as…ever less it emblem ablaze sudden to expire
kaleidoscopic…strip ever taste wild shudder expel blood warp to
taste…drag silt have or broken neither of as was what once…cold
collision membrane embers shadowy trace ever as…bites it lock
further forgotte(n) pestle mortar bone dust…taste attrition
absolution foreign night unsung pageantry…solace breath night’s
embrace seasonal hour escapade…brace as if once known repeats
it false start collapse no…fingers of outreach recoil sudden white
flash static light…dense meat haven as rot of which subside terse
abandon…hunger avarice recollect transpire never of what
once…delirium skull breathless overture fathom none as
gone…ever silenteeism stricken from what book laughter
shred…flowers scatter upon what corpse of light endless
charity…solder eye removal trace wind return scar upon scar
of…elixir absence vacant absolute char wind will of
breach…distance never once edge until caress blade where
once…stasis colours endless redeem hand surrogate
bloodless…breath shard intake shadow form hand brace lapse
upon…cloud shadow upon facial surface eye alone it to
forage…lock stillness abort fragratory effervescence colloidal
…lack to taste it will nothing of to recoil it ever unto of…slipstream
nectar hollow orchid teasement claps hand… solace meat what
once night’s edge echo din were null…froze outcry irredeem
collects bone silences over of until…drag salient a-grin noose of
teeth elected to obscure it…laughter long concrete shadowing de
Chirico stillness… haven spilled milk a-cry nothing of matter shard
within… catararact blind edge season promise neither of what
till…all while it of nothing as before what claim of which…distance
trace reclamation absent force resurgent ever…into/ unto/ collision
redeem sudden spectrum glint…ablaze of vertigo sharpened slash
of light-mark upon…distill of vacancy eye roll to of back recollect
observes…spoke then whisper trace of long bled final where
to…never for the of nor which to spell it all out graven of…neither
of where once before travail as if to murmur…all what fall down/
all what fall down unto/ nothing ever…
Michael Paul Hogan

Key Blanco #1

He was the only Chinaman who had ever held a commercial fishing license in Key Blanco and his silhouette,
when he stood in the stern of his boat in either the early morning or the late evening, delicately steering through
the mangrove channels that led to the freedom of the open sea, was reminiscent of an ink-brush painting, being
of three slender strokes that made the curve of the boat and the straightness of the pole and the enigmatic
Chinese character of the man himself, neither purely ink nor purely water, but very straight, and tall too – tall
not just for a Chinaman, but for any man – and perfectly balanced against the movement of the sea. The name
of the sea was the Straits of Florida and the name of the Chinaman was Song Qiang and he fished for yellowtail
and snapper and filleted them himself on a trestle table he set up in the garden of the house he lived in on
Flagler Street and then took them to the fish-house, insisting the scales were cleaned of fish blood and fish
scales before he allowed his own to be weighed. The receipt for the weight of the fish he studied under the
fluorescent light nearest the window and then smiled and folded it into the left-hand breast pocket of his faded-
nearly-white blue denim shirt and then went to Bobbie’s Clam Shack for a cigarette and a beer.

He had only managed to earn a commercial fishing license after three long years of trying, because the way they
work it is this: They issue you a provisional license and then make it valid for ninety days and then set you a
target for sales to the fish house that is impossible to meet. No fish not recorded by the fish-house is legal and
no fish under twelve inches is legal and no fish is legal caught outside that window of ninety days. And if the
target is not literally impossible, it is as near as humanly-possible impossible. Because if they cannot make
commercial fishing a closed shop, they can at least sincerely damn-well try. One way to tilt the odds ever so
slightly in your favor is to fillet the fish yourself before taking them to the fish-house – the rate is better pro rata
for the work you save them, plus theoretically you can catch undersize fish and no-one will know. But fish are
not just measured at the fish-house, they can be measured by coast guard inspectors at any time while your boat
is on the water, and no true fisherman, no true Florida Keys fisherman anyhow, not from anywhere no matter
how far, not even if far is as far as San Francisco or Shanghai, will deliberately keep an undersized fish. They
may not be particularly honest men, they may cheat freely with cards and with landlords and with other men’s
wives, but they are old-fashioned in the way of all fishermen since the Phoenicians and have an atavistic respect
for the laws and traditions of the sea – plus the fact that a legal inspector can suspend your license, fine you a
maximum of $20,000 and impound your boat. Song Qiang had never filleted an undersized fish and therefore
lived at peace, albeit an uneasy peace, as indeed did they all, with the gods of Monroe County and the old gods
of Florida and the even older Gods of the sea.

During those three years he had often fished at night, firstly as a necessity during the intense ninety-day periods
of trying to gain a license, but subsequently because he had formed an emotional attachment to the stars.

On one particular night Song Qiang had fallen asleep holding the rod despite being aware of a twelve or
thirteen-foot shark circling his boat. The knowledge of the shark had begun because he had hooked a fish that
he knew was a red snapper not less than two pounds in weight, knowing it to be a snapper not a yellowtail by
the strength of its resistance to the hook. But just as he had drawn the fight out of it and was reeling it in there
was a massive strike on his line, a strike that was as brief as it was violent, that would have torn the rod from his
grip had not the shark that had taken his snapper almost simultaneously bitten through the wire tracer and left
him in possession of an eight-foot rod with no more substance than a blade of grass.

That had been in the mid-afternoon, a mile or so beyond Pelican Key where there is a shelf that drops
suddenly to about eighty feet and where, anchored on the edge of it, thirty minutes later, Song Qiang had seen
the fin come up and slice the water and had said,

“Xian zai wo kan dao le ni, Sha yu, shi wo de yu de tou qie zhe.”
and had surprised himself – not by speaking out loud, but by speaking in Chinese, a language he had
spent the past several years unlearning and indeed had not spoken with any frequency or serious meaning since
his time as a chef in San Francisco’s Chinatown, since before his long journey by Greyhound that had
culminated in far-away Key Blanco, finding himself at nearly midnight on a poorly-illuminated strip of dusty
pavement and surrounded by Panama-hatted tourists and palmetto bugs. He repeated the sentence in English,

“Now I see you, Shark, who is a stealer of my fish.”

and watched with satisfaction as the fin sank down below the level of the sea.

Four times between mid-afternoon and evening the shark had resurfaced, and no man who is alone in a
seventeen-foot boat likes the company of a twelve or thirteen-foot shark, especially when night is falling and the
boat seems to contract as the darkness expands. He said,

“Sha yu xian sheng, yi wang wu ji de hai yang, nin he wo de chuan dou you kong jian.”

and then, afraid the fish might not understand,

“The ocean is big, Mister Shark, there is room enough for you and my boat.”

and then strained his eyes to catch another glimpse of the slate-colored fin amongst the shifting slates
that made the surface of the sea.

After that neither the end of the evening nor the beginning of the night was unusual other than that
strikes on his line were reduced to one every ten or fifteen minutes and his catch by midnight hardly justified
the effort of staying awake. He had reeled in then and lit a hurricane lamp and eaten the salami and blue cheese
dressing sandwich and drunk half of the flask of sugar-stiffened black coffee that Mrs. Ramirez, his landlady,
had made for him, and read the note (by the light of a match) that Mrs. Ramirez had written in china-graph
pencil on the wax paper that wrapped his sandwich. It said,

Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Psalm 89.

and Song Qiang smiled and ate the sandwich and drank the coffee and imagined the shark carving its
own messages through the ink-black strata of the sea…
He awoke with a start and was immediately relieved to see that the rod was still in his hands and that the
boat upon which he sat was still a boat and that the sea that surrounded the boat was only sea. He had been
dreaming a strange dream in which he was sweeping the debris of peeled prawns from the pavement in front of
a restaurant in Shanghai and large black American automobiles constantly drove past, jeering white-painted
faces pressed against otherwise impenetrable glass. He reeled in a stripped hook and secured it in the guide
nearest the reel and propped the rod against the fish box in the stern. He remembered there was still coffee in
Mrs. Ramirez’ flask and felt suddenly strong again, as though he had survived something or as though a task to
be feared had been accomplished with neither loss nor pain.

The coffee was by now only barely-warm, but so heavily sweetened that it spread within him an almost
rum-like sense of well-being. He leaned back against the wheelhouse and wondered at the beauty of liquified
sugar sliding over his tongue, and somehow knew that no shark would bother him again tonight. He said,

“Farewell, Mister Shark. Another time, maybe.” He paused, he added, “my friend.”

and leaned back his head and was contemplating the familiar beauty of the stars when

ssssssssshwioo

and knew that what he had never seen previously he had seen now – something more wonderful than
contained in any of Mrs. Ramirez’ psalms; a meteor plummeting from Heaven as though God had struck a
match and let it fall. A shooting star.

He had docked at Key Blanco’s Fishermen’s Wharf shortly after sunrise and followed the usual routine of
filleting his catch, delivering it to the fish house and then strolling down to Bobbie’s Clam Shack for a beer and
a cigarette. But he was uninvolved and taciturn, even by his normal standard of self-containment, and spent the
rest of the morning at a table in the corner, barely acknowledging any greetings that came his way, wrapped in a
cloak of solitude as impenetrable as any oilskin ever worn at sea.
*

So it was that Song Qiang went night fishing at least once, maybe even twice or three times a month, delicately
steering his boat through the mangrove channels that led to the freedom not just of the open sea but also the
open sky. If I spoke previously of emotional attachment that was because I hesitated to use the word love, and
yet there can be no doubt that Song Qiang felt the same combination of anticipation and anxiety (as his boat
picked up speed and headed out in the direction of Pelican Key) as a man in love with a woman might feel
during the taxi ride to an all too infrequent rendezvous. But that is a poor analogy, for he loved the stars with a
love that was simultaneously innocent and profound and felt in their presence a combination of wisdom and
wonder such as might have been felt by holy men on mountain-tops in the land of his birth. He fished until
midnight or thereabouts, poured out some coffee and allowed himself then the wonderful panorama of the stars.
This is not to say that the nights were without drama – his friend the shark (or maybe the shark’s brother) used
his fin to slice a delicate fillet of salt water from next to the ribs of his boat and one time a loggerhead turtle,
merely surfacing as a turtle might, neither with malice nor design, nearly tipped him sideways into the appalling
vertigo of the open sea, but always Song Qiang returned home with at least an average catch and a sense of
fulfillment, of spiritual equilibrium, of profound and abiding calm.

Mrs. Ramirez’ husband had sailed from Havana to Key Blanco in a vessel that was little more than a jazzed-up
banana crate and had lit off from Key Blanco to Miami in the company of an Americano nightclub singer who
was little more than a jazzed-up waitress, leaving Mrs. Ramirez with nothing but an immigrant’s work ethic and
a fierce sense of injustice, both of which had been translated, six years later, into a small but popular Latino deli
and a two-story house on Flagler Street, the upper floor of which she rented out, preferring to keep for herself
the street-level convenience of strolling from her veranda and across the small width of garden to chat with
passersby. It was the same small width of garden upon which her current tenant, Song Qiang, set up a trestle
table in the afternoon three or four times a week to fillet the yellowtail and red snapper he had caught in the
morning or two or three times a month in the morning to fillet the red snapper and yellowtail he had caught
during the night. Notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Ramirez was in love with Song Qiang and Song Qiang
was not only not in love with Mrs. Ramirez but also naively unaware of the fact that there was even a love that
he failed to reciprocate, theirs was a tenant / landlady relationship as nicely balanced as a boatman on a boat
steering a passage through a mangrove channel, the coffee and sandwiches for his night fishing excursions
graciously accepted as merely a token of appreciation for his unobtrusive presence upstairs and for the fact of his
rent always being paid with punctilious regard for the day it was due.

Song Qiang reeled in a yellowtail, threw it into the fish box, and secured the hook in the guide closest to the
reel. His shoulders ached pleasantly from a good night’s fishing and he already knew that he would not have to
take his boat out again for at least another four or five days. A small storm previously forecast to strike the
Florida Keys at about three a.m. had been downgraded to a strong wind and repositioned thirty miles west,
leaving him free to pour his coffee and unwrap his sandwich (Swiss cheese on rye) and enjoy his first proper
scan of the night sky. There were several stars that he recognized instantly, greeting them as he might have
greeted friends on first entering a crowded party,

“Ni hao, Xing Xiansheng, hen gao xing jian dao ni.”

before turning his gaze in one beautiful and enormous sweep as though to gather into his soul the entire
contents of the universe. Underneath his boat, his seventeen-foot boat, unseen, his friend, Sha yu, all twelve or
thirteen foot of him,

“Sha yu xian sheng, yi wang wu ji de hai yang, nin he wo de chuan dou you kong jian.”

circled in search of newly-hooked snapper or yellowtail, and in the well of Song Qiang’s boat there was a
folded square of wax paper upon which had been written, in china-graph pencil,

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Psalm 147.

while on a veranda on Flagler Street Mrs. Ramirez looked up at the star-endazzled sky and said a prayer
for a Chinaman on the rim of infinity, loved without knowing he was loved, anchored off Pelican Key.
Michael Ruby

from VISIONS

It’s the first moment of dawn.


We’re not going to see anything here.
Some shoes and clothes
strewn on the floor.
Some glasses and plates
left on the table.
This plant
reminds me of a ladder.

The ticket office


is quiet.
A cup of coffee
cools on the zinc counter.

His car
is stored on blocks
in the shed.
A cloud
presses against
the sole small window.
A tire
hangs from a tree
outside.
An elephant
sits
under a tree.
The elephant
has never been so young.
On a flat embankment
above a river
denuded by the Army Corps of Engineers,
a pair of glasses
glints in the grass.

A purple bottle
sits on the middle of the table.
No one comes
and sits at the table.
It’s funny,
for some obscure reason.

There are pink and purple flowers


at the edge of the garden.
A blonde girl
comes partway out the screen door,
stops for a second,
and returns to the kitchen.
Light
coats
a giant white fungus
on the side of a tree.

Purple waves
spread outward from the man’s head
in the black room.
Purple sky
fills the deepest cranny in the valley,
turning it into a reservoir.

A mountain
at the end of the night.
You can see it
if you lean
very close
to the aquamarine water.
The lake
has extra coves,
extra
crenellations
at night.
The lake water
is purple.
There’s one light
across the lake.
A single light,
not a lit house.
I want to say
it’s a red light.
But it isn’t a red light.
It’s a white light,
a light light.

The sky
comes down to us
tonight.
The sky
touches us.
The sky
gets between us.
A little bit of the sky
runs into a storm drain.
I don’t know
where it goes from there.

You won’t ever net


this pink flying fish.

He sees
the side of her leg
in the doorway,
her left thigh.
That’s what he sees first.

Round tables
fill the rooms at a club,
on slightly different levels.
He waits for his friend.
His friend and his friend’s friends.
He waits for the waiter.
The waiter
waits
for his friend and his friend’s friends.
The room quietly turns orange.
The fireplace has nothing to do with it.
The fireplace is fake.
A tendril
climbs the wall
and runs along the lattice ceiling.
Will it drop something down to them?

The sun rises over the far side of the lake.

Fossils
at the bottom of a pit,
visible
in the
pale brown
mud.

Shafts of light
try
to penetrate
a forest,
but fail.
You can see them
failing
at different heights
above.
Now, a waterfall of light
drenches us.

A hut with a
bright blue
thatched roof.
Two floodlights
at the top
of long poles
light up
most
of an empty parkinglot,
but an area
between the two lights
remains dark.

Steam
rises
off the lake
in the sunlight.
A rowboat
is half-hidden
in the
reeds
across the lake.
It’s the only boat out.

Several kinds of lettuce


are lit by a psychedelic light.
Everything white
turns purple.
And everything green
turns black.
And is
immediately forgotten.
But the purple
cannot be forgotten.
It is the light
of our
illusionary,
illusionist,
elusory,
elusive
world.

The true light,


the blinding light,
comes from
over there.

A tall polite man,


the next visitor.
Nakia Tinsley

The Bucket List

Gasp!
‘Que? Que? ¿Lo encontraste?’
There it was! They had already been digging for twenty minutes. The anxiety of not knowing when
they would find it had begun to increase The time capsule they had buried deep in the backyard of their family
home. It was Toni’s idea, of course, he was the more sentimental twin. Twelve years had passed since being at
the same spot they are now and the only feeling they felt was nostalgic.
Graci leans in to pull it out; she gives it a gentle blow to get some of the dirt off and wipes the rest with
Toni’s shirt.
“Really?! I just bought this shirt”
“You’ll be okay. That’s what washing machines are for.”
The first thing Toni reaches for is his old baseball. All the memories of playing softball in the back yard
with Dad came rushing back. Dad taught him when to strike the ball at the right moment and how having
patience will get him very far in life.
“Their Dad was a good man.”
The first thing Graci pulls out was the beaded bracelets she had made for her and Toni. She clutched
them towards her heart and looked at Toni with her big hazel eyes and the biggest grin on her face. Graci was
the annoying, condescending twin, at least, but she had the utmost love and respect for her family, especially for
her twin brother.
There it was... the reason they decided to dig up the time capsule. The bucket list they had written when
they were thirteen years old.
“I can’t believe we actually made a bucket list, nosotras éramos tan jóvenes!” exclaimed Graci.
“Ha, we were!”
toni and gracis bucket list

1. Dye our hair a crazzzzzy color


2. Have a food fight!!!
3. Travel out of country
4. Camp outdoors
5. Stay up for a full day
6. Sky-dive

“For being only thirteen years old, we made a pretty doable and reasonable bucket list,” Toni laughed.
“We’ve completed everything but cuatro y seis” Graci replies as she gives Toni a mischievous glance.
‘Que debemos hacer primero?”
“I’ve always wanted to camp outdoors! Let’s do it!” Toni replied.
So, it was decided. Toni took the time capsule with him to his apartment as Graci stayed at the family
home, which she had inherited from Dad. After completing her traditional skin care routine, putting her
pajamas on and brushing her hair, she sits in bed and begins looking into what they’ll be needing for their
camping trip so she could make a check-list. She was the more organized twin.
Toni got back to his studio apartment, immediately kicked off his Adidas SL Loops as he walked
through the front door; put his keys on the kitchen counter, took off his shirt and threw it into the washing
machine. He poured himself a glass of Pinot Noir and decided to listen to a few chapters from the new audio
book that he ordered from Amazon. As he finished the last sip of his wine, he turned off his audiobook and
figured it was time for bed. He took a twenty-three minute shower, slipped on his pajama pants and got all snug
in bed. On his nightstand was a very old, wrinkled up framed picture of Dad and Mom. He stares at it for a
moment, closes his eyes and whispers a prayer.

1
“Por favor, quita todo el dolor y el dolor en mi corazon. Llénalo de amor, alegría, paciencia y
comprensión.”

~~~~~~~~

1
"Please remove all the hurt and pain in my heart. Fill it with love, joy, patience and understanding."
Luckily enough for them, there was a campground site about twenty-seven miles from West Sussex.
Over the next week they made a solid plan on what day of the week they’d go, how long they would be there for
and everything they needed to pack.
The day had finally arrived. Toni’s Toyota Sienna was packed full.
“Okay, let’s make sure we have everything before we hit the road!” Graci exclaims, as she pulls out her
handy dandy check-list.
“Dos carpas?”
“Sí”
“Bolsas de dormir?”
“Sí”
“Enfriadora?”
“Sí”
“Portable burner y un sartén?”
Toni laughed, “you need to tighten up on your Spanish sis”
“Cállate! It seems like we have everything we need, let us get this camping trip started already!”

Their mother was never around. She went against the very essence of maternal nature and left them to
go to the states when they were only two years old. She strongly held onto her view of motherhood, even after
she got married. She never wanted children and didn’t understand why the world still viewed motherhood as
mandatory and fatherhood voluntary. Why couldn’t it be the other way around? Everyone has choices to make
throughout life and she made hers. She wanted to travel and absorb the varieties of the world; she couldn’t do
that with twin babies. Of course, Dad never told them the truth till they were old enough to fully understand
and comprehend her decision. He knew they’d resent her for never reaching out or coming back, and he never
wanted them to feel like that to the woman who birthed them. Their Dad was a good man.
It had been over four years since the twins had seen each other and spent a weekend together. Toni
decided it was best to distance himself after Dad’s death. Dad raised them to be adventurous and taught them
that spontaneity is what gives life it’s meaning. It was their twenty-first birthday and they had planned this
grand, extravagant trip back home to Peru. They hadn’t been to visit since they were five years old. The rest of
their dad’s side of the family had moved to the states with them, so this trip was of significance to them. They
never got to know their mother’s side of the family.
They landed early morning, checked-in to their Airbnb and scurried off to sight-see the Machu Picchu
and the Inca Trail. Hiking Machu Picchu was the first stop on their to-do list Graci had written up. The
setting itself was so beautifully stunning. The mountains garnished with nearby clouds was so breathtaking.
Even the air was easier to breath in there. There is no description of the feeling they felt when seeing it. They
just felt it, like if we focus closely, we can feel vibrations coming from our bodies. That certain feeling was soon
to be diminished as Graci received a phone call just before her cell service went out.
“Hola.”
“Graci! Ven a casa lo antes possible que tu padre haya fallecido!” her father’s caretaker quietly sobs
through the phone.
Before she even gets a word out, she loses her grip and it s-l-o-w-l-y drops to the ground. Toni rushed
over from the bodega to find her quickly trying to wipe her tears away and he asked, “Que pasa?” She holds
back her tears and mentally pulls herself together and picks up her phone before telling her brother the news.

~~~~~~~~

The tents were finally set up on a flat piece of land as Graci began to make a bonfire for the night.
“Hermano, por favor” she lightly cries out as some of the fire wood is falling out of her small, crafty
hands. As Toni rushes over he shakes his head and lets out a chuckle.
“Sabías que no podías cargar todos esos.”
“Cállate! Empaqué pollo, pescado o lomo saltado para que comamos. Which would you like for dinner
tonight?”
“¿Como es eso incluso una pregunta, lomo saltado, for sure!! It reminds me of papá. He always made it
best and I’m grateful he taught us how to cook it when we were growing up.”
“I’ll cook it exactly how he used to”
They sat and enjoyed their dinner, reminiscing, while taking in the beauty of their surroundings, as they
often did as a family. The softest sunset, the whispers of the leaves, the calm lake, and the variety of noises
coming from, only god knows what, creatures were out there. Graci asks, ‘Hermano, pásame mi bolso por
favor.’ She proceeds to pull out some aluminum foil tightly folded into a square.
“Que es eso?”
“Life in its simplest form” replied Graci as she pulled out two small round faded yellow pills and handed
one to Toni.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” Toni replied as they swallowed each of their pills with some water.
It only took twenty minutes for the pill to kick in.
“Sientes eso?” Graci asked.
“Sí, I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something”
“Same. I feel like something is pulling me towards the lake. Soy yo tropezar?”
“Vamos a ver”
They walk over and gaze at their reflections bouncing off the gently, flowing water. They weren’t just looking at
their reflections… they were looking into their souls. They continued to quietly have conversations within
themselves until Toni felt a faint whisper from the wind. ‘I’m sorry.’
“Graci, did you hear that?”
“Uh, No?”
Toni feels a spiritual presence behind him and swiftly turns his body. There was nothing to see but what
he felt seemed so familiar to him. It was his mother. It just had to be.
“Mamá?” Toni softly asks.
“I’m sorry”
As Toni fills his heart sink into his stomach. He tightly shuts his eyes, puts his head down and shakes it
in disbelief.
This can’t be happening, what did Graci give me?/! Am I hallucinating?!
As he slowly opens his eyes and pulls his head up, he still feels her presence there with him. “Why’d you
never come back for us? I just need to know.” Toni asks as his voice cracks as he fights back his tears.
Graci turns around to see her brother just standing there, quietly sobbing. She does a double take to
make sure she’s actually seeing what she’s seeing. The drugs had begun to peak and the first of her five senses to
become disoriented was her sight.
“Toni, que pasa?”
“It’s mom Graci. Can’t you feel her presence? She’s here! It’s her! She came back!”
Maybe I shouldn’t have given him that pill.
“Toni, let’s go back….”
“NO!”
“I am not leaving this spot until I talk to her. I need to know,” Toni screams as he looks at his sister. His
pupils were dilated, and she knew she needed to calm him down and keep him hydrated. She’s done this a
couple of times before. She runs over to the cooler to grab a bottle of water and returns to see her brother down
on both knees, hands pressed together, with his eyes tightly closed as an unbroken stream of tears roll down
both cheeks.

“Mamá, I forgive you.”


Nava Fader

goes back
https://www.wordnik.com/words/apothecary

into the well ground / spring / bag


of beads by one or more measures handfuls
another name Mouths of jars all variegated vines climbing
same tower/twofer/ tree of godforsaken

something
Assays. A different
hairdo / hare- lip to say nothing of limping limpet
limpid eyes. Assonance séance like

to like. The dead might like


conjure up your thump once for. Accidental-
like or wishful. Sink full
unwashed parts of you / culinary

substitutions sunbutter (true


For other kinds: nut seed
grease the pan her palm her un-
mentionables seemingly bottomless

to postscript: grab-bag sundries into its dismantling elixir for lack


of a better powders distilled into their what is the opposite

of compounding in pharmaceutical practice to whit: pothecary cordial candied fruit pasta and gunpowder
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Margin
https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-opposite-of/gathered.html

water margin we will water under moons and


excise bubbling signs of what it would take
incipient or last Rites water cooler to rise dripping modest aphrodite

our animal dry draws heaves it isn't like looking in a mirror water
of the last Last- speaks to the animal part-
ing leopard maiden name you'd have in phials skin trunks as your dowry

to dig down years same birdbones blessed


microfiche let alone documents her lilies coveted
paper files File ends of broken

traces of icing penitentiary all we wanted was


sugarplum fingerprints your collarbone an unnatural raised
hansel Handsomely done! relief map at known geographies

rock sugar amber paper rock dispersed


has nothing on you innate deprived forfeited lost
Still-life with bread and confectionary

saguaro anagrams of the holiest framed fossil


sweetiepie baklavic in her honeyed being approached by a disproportionately large bee
layers peeling back problematic its provenance and back
those who would from fighting the war
get to the bottom of this in which troops are well-protected from the
enemy's small arms
misheard: and a brimstone butterfly, whose wings also indistinguishable ash snow
show traces of sugar,
bereavement tonic and sustenance soured in a way he wont write sweet-
let not those pass into the promised heart dig in and made their own
land poppy terrible rum rations Stille Nacht
trembling full to flower there and met in no man's land

https://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/f/flegel/breadcon.html
Neive Pity

Glossy marketing on wet cardboard

Snow fell here too.


Just a light dusting though.
A coating of puffy dreams;
A bright stormy day.

It’s like we live somewhere


else, someplace special.

Our toaster-oven died last night.


It was sudden. The thing just collapsed
Right there on the floor, doing what
it loved best, heating up corn muffins.

Even the garbage trucks


Rolling down the street
Appear the very model of
Americana at Christmas.

Young people taking away


The packaging of new toys
and tossing decay bags of the once special,
The once brand-new into compacting jaws
of what damp future awaits us as an inevitable when.

We are all trash waiting to be carted away


In green-gold trucks to sugar coated skiffs.
Patrick Chapman

Oriental Poppies (1927)
in bed
we lock together
like a puzzle-box
solved

memory menstruate
sunny lines overlay
amnesia anaemia

if only
i knew now
what i used to
know then

under ovarian bloom


we write sheet music

if only
i could forget
what yesterday
i never could
remember

parallel lines await the appearance

of notes for a whole new concerto


So
Your mother stitched a wasp
into your dress.

Your father put a lavender


cockroach in your mouth.

At weddings you say you want


death more than love.

So what.

You will soon have your wish.


Tying off the flow
of a life that amounted to nothing.

Not enough meat in your face


for the cats to make
the meanest pot-luck.

Not enough cats


to reserve a table
at the banquet of dead robins.

So.

So what.

Get out.
Still Life with Guitar

I dive
into the quiet thoroughfare
and look around to see that they have left
the ghost lights on.

levis
#nystrong
raze hell: doom eternal
beetlejuice
america’s got talent
thank you, local heroes
disney+ now streaming
your korea
come to sydney

PL
EA
SE
practice social distancing
& help
save lives

t-k-t-s
mrs. doubtfire
leave your desk for lunch
express express express express express —

As I pull away, it comes to me.

The lights are always on,


even when the ghosts have gone.

The only one I see down there is him.

A naked cowboy stands alone


on 45th and Broadway
slinging a machine
that in other days, in other hands,

killed fascists.
Paul T. Hogan

Clearing the Last Path


For Sean

He talks aloud suddenly about things


Dreams tell him will clear the path
For him to die. My sister hears
His dreams, resigned, contrite
As confessions and stops
Herself from stopping him.
He feels a strengthening of some kind
From speaking them. Not of body,
But … something. The uselessness
Of regrets, all of which flow by
Like landscapes out car windows:
Just fast enough to miss the details
And not care. He feels he’s being given
Something, an offering in quiet space
Directions from a stranger to a stranger
But whether he chooses to take them
Or not, his path, he whispers to my sister,
Is that way, and soon
He will be strong enough to go.
Birdsong Notes

About writing, she’d been peculiar. Like she’d thought she’d had a curse, as near
as I could figure. I’d start to write something down, and her eyes would start to bug.
She’d start to humming, not too loud. Rock a bit in place. She wouldn’t watch directly,
but more like cats do: sideways, looking off in different directions, and then that
sudden, direct stare, like a pounce is coming. Then off again. All I’d ever got from her
was once when she’d said words written down were killed, and their poison
could puff up like mushroom dust, at the slightest touch of curiosity. Mind you,
she wasn’t crazy. Or not so much. She’d claimed she wrote a lot, once.
The most sense she’d made of it was to ask once whether I’d ever write down
the notes of birds’ songs. Did I know what then? What would happen? I’d said
they sound the same to me. Most mornings anyway. She’d looked at me long,
like hearing someone else, or trying to decipher. If that were so, she’d whispered,
then there’d be no need.
Bang Out

I wake up thinking urgently


I must begin to lie, to bend
the truth in much the way
gravity bends light
around thick planets. It no longer
seems to be an option even though a fiction,
like the truth, will weigh no more than light.
My stories, in one impossible flash, have
outrun their courses, and I tinker manically
at edges of random explications
that should be set as stone.
Why it should be this morning
isn’t clear to me. But a wholesale change
seems warranted given
the level of alarm. What I say of me
must be rewritten. Not just
revised. An astronomical shift.
Others who have noted me
for years log this new anomaly, testing
how weights of random words distort
around me. They’re conferencing
on where this all is going as suddenly opposed
to where they’ve always plotted it,
where I’ve always indicated,
and the only proof I see to offer
is to pack a single lie
incendiary enough
to bang out a new universe.
Groupdream

Always was the vision of people looking back


Over their shoulders, faces half-lit by whatever
Light, fire or moon, to see if I’d moved closer yet
Into the group of them, their smells and songs,
To see if I would make some sort of declaration
I belonged or didn’t or gave a damn at all. I’d read it
In the way they narrowed their eyes, even as they
Spoke or sang or spit. If you’re not in you’re out.
It was harsh and I stood distant – not so far I couldn’t
Feel the throats and bones of all of them rumble –
Knowing that the purpose was a tuning, getting
Every voice and soul at one clear pitch and no room
For ragged edges. My distance was a pebble in the pond
Of them, a nick in the weave of the fabric. But
I was resolute, finding the quarter-pitch higher
Or below, convinced it was keeping them safe, holding
Them here, rather than – at a certain single note – letting
Them vanish, gone with the smoke and the sparks snapping
Out of the fire.
Damn Stone Bones
-- For Manny Fried, Among Others

A man made of stone wanted to help fix things.


He was made of stone but he wasn’t a giant
but he had the biggest damn hands. He wasn’t sure
exactly what he wanted to fix, because he didn’t care much
anymore about himself. He knew he was stone and he had
damn big hands. He knew things needed fixing. As he moved
around, people backed away. They saw his damn big stone hands
and didn’t reach out to him. They didn’t run but they stood
aside. They weren’t sure what he could fix of the things that needed
fixing, except for the things that needed breaking before
they could be fixed. Sometimes that happened – things got to a point
where only a stone man with damn big hands who could knock things
apart could help. So to do what he wanted – fix things – he had to break
them. And then he had to leave because breaking things made people
who weren’t made of stone angry. But he was stone and he had
big damn hands and he fixed things that way. And thought
this is purpose and he must be content.
Peter Quinn

Touching the Void

I held two bricks in my hands—once clay, risen to the top of the Shomali Plains from the deep igneous rock of
this region, eons ago, mixed with sand, and formed in one of the dozens upon dozens of brick factories that
plumed great black smoke cauldrons. Those rising stacks that we would fly around—like a giant slalom race in
the skies in our helicopters—were erected, pointing upward amongst the people of the greater city of Kabul, a
millennia after this clay was birthed to the surface. Molded and shaped for utility in time and the two bricks did
not seem heavy, but I knew they would grow in weight the farther I ran that morning.
“Ah, I see Kris got you your mentor stone.” said Thor, the Norwegian commando, leader of a kill team
that was here on a rotation with the FSK. Thor looked exactly like his namesake. Six foot eight inches tall, with
a long flowing blond 1980’s Jon Bon Jovi mullet—that had anyone else worn, could not have pulled off, save his
bullet proof torso, and arms as thick as the hallowed stories of wielding that mighty hammer: This Thor lived
up to his name in stature and feats accomplished on the battlefield alone. Legendary.
“Mike, you going to hand me one of those, or what?” said Travis Peterson. Smoking a Marlboro Light,
with deep long drags—like a skin diver deep breathes in quick successions before immersing himself for the
descent. Except we were to ascend to the peak of a training route—Mentor Mountain.
We sat in lounge chairs, on the sundeck of the FSK compound, on the outskirts of Kabul—Camp Lion;
and with the sun breaking through the clouds and warming us in our skivvies and European hiking cloths on
loan by the Norwegians we could have been anywhere—a lodge midway down a ski run in Kitzbuhel, Austria, a
chalet atop a fjord in Norway, anywhere but here in a warzone. The sundeck was masterfully built, as if Lars
Backer—the famous 20th Century architect who designed the Ekebergrestauranten in Oslo—had been
resurrected and flown out here himself to lay design in rock. Straight modern lines and materials, a dissonance
in congruency with the rises and falls of the mountain we were nestled into.
“Why do you guys call it Mentor Mountain?” I asked.
“Because you’re going to need the Gods by the time you’re almost to the summit,” laughed Thor.
I looked up the trail that started at the base of Camp Lion, by the razor wire fence at the perimeter to
their Afghan counter-part’s compound, Triple Two—222; and, counted one, two, three rises, each to an
escarpment in the steep ascent in altitude. Then one final vertical ascent to the summit. A solitary spire,
touching the sky.
“It’s only 3.1 miles, there and back, Bro.” said Peterson, taking one last drag of his cigarette between his
thick and red and bushy Norwegian-like beard—he looked like a Viking himself, and had I not known he was
American would have mistaken him for an FSK man.
His eyes separated when he looked up at the mountain peak, one a little higher than the other—having
sustained an ocular blowout when thrown from the back of the aircraft last month. The helicopter going into a
spin in high winds—complete loss of tail rotor effectiveness—his monkey harness, tethered to the floor of the
cabin, was the only thing that saved him from being tossed directly into the buzz saw of the tail rotor blades.
“You get a prize if you finish in under 30,” said Travis. He flexed his basketball sized calf muscles in
anticipation of the little jaunt we were to embark. Short and wiry, but for his calves that were obscenely large—
my Air Force special operations friend was genetically engineered for such a run as this, a muscled Norsk
Villsau.
“Yes, but it’s a 750 meter climb from base camp. The lower grades are 40% and the last surface grade to
the top approaches 60%.” said Thor, in a typical Norwegian manner, flat and frank in tone, using no
unnecessary words to embellish his point. The hike would be a climb, the run would be a trot at best, and to
reach the pinnacle, there and back under 30 minutes, would wreak havoc on the thighs, the lungs, and the
mind.
I took in the seriousness of needing a mentor to get there and back in that moment, “What’s the prize?”
“Respect.” said Kris, having rejoined us with his own brick in hand, placing it in his rucksack. He was
suited up in a black unitard—the kind rowers wore to cut down on the wind and friction when attempting to
gain the most speed in a race. Wearing his chest rack, too, with a combat load of ammo for the love of the
additional challenge.
“What are the bricks for?” I said.
“You’ll see.” Kris said, then started a stopwatch, and we got up in haste, drank one last swig of water
from our camelbacks and scrambled to the start line below and beyond, up towards the first escarpment.
The first leg was fast, at least I was, having easily passed Kris and Thor’s steady slow trot, running as a
team, in rhythmic unison of footsteps and arms swinging, across the rocky footing of the trail. Peterson had
taken off like the wild ram he was—leading the three of us by at least a distance of 100 meters and was gone,
unseen over the first plateau. By the second escarpment, Kris and Thor passed me, with no words exchanged
but the steady huffing and chuffing of Viking breath, as if rowing in unison along this transom of an
outcropping of the mountain trail, leading upwards. The ascent immediately changing by the end of the flat
landing to a 30-40% grade in climb.
My mind drifted, with the thinning of air, to the many mountains I’ve climbed. Many lifetimes ago, in
the hills of the Catskills, along the Shawangunk ridge by Mohonk Mountain as a child. That great
metamorphic creation tilted in time to its side like a giant sleeping amidst the trees. Lost in a sea of pinxter
blooms of wild azaleas, my father trailing me and my brother, letting us explore just enough to the edges of the
ridge, the mountain house far below. My brother would never be my best friend when we grew up, like I had
hoped—losing time in that distance, from traveling abroad on deployments frequently to this place, I’d sooner
end up calling my home.
Of times in college, with my best friend Andrew Bacevich, getting lost in early October’s winter on the
Presidential Mountain Range in New Hampshire—he and I with only a daypack, no winter weather cloths, and
stuck in places like the naked outcroppings of Jefferson’s Knee—awash in a no notice squall of snow—wind
swept. And of running the Boston Marathon, twice, with Andy, not giving up when he hit a wall at the 18-mile
mark in Kenmore Square once—“Never leave your battle buddy,” a spectator yelled to us. Andy died, killed in
action, eight years later in Iraq—a bomber with children strapped with suicide vests. His humanity giving him
pause, hesitating in shooting them before they could self-detonate. His reluctance, an act of kindness, having
killed him in the end.
Of an infinite number of setting suns seen, over the years, preparing my autistic son, also named
Andrew, after Bacevich in honor of his memory, to one day hike the Appalachian trail alone together—as a
team, father and son.
The trail narrowed, trotting, walking, hiking, and then trotting again, up the vertical ascent of Mentor
Mountain. Shards of shale jutting and pointing up at the trails edge, encouraging me forward, and warning me
not to stray—a sheer drop, two feet to my right, and a sloping untenable plunge to my left—there was no way
out but forward. No detour, no bypass, just I and trying to touch the emptiness above.
I laughed to myself when facing the final ascent, it was as if I were climbing up, rather than skiing
down, a double black diamond run. So steep that I could no longer see the summit, and the brick transformed,
infinitely heavy on my back. My vision became black around the edges, and I thought of my daughter, Ella,
dead for six years, how her tiny hand felt as she tried to hold and squeeze mine, just before she had passed.
Vision. Blackness at the outer edges, air thinning, and like a cone of darkness, sight began to circle in on
my central focus point—upward. The periphery now gone, I thought of the unborn child we had almost had, a
miscarriage, the week I left for this deployment. Lungs burning, gasping for air, thighs beyond aching—it was
my past and all of my pain, leaving the body with each heaving step, each forceful exhale to draw in one last
maximal breath. One foot in front of the other, gloved hands clenching and clawing at gravel and loose rock and
up toward the top.
Then I could see a solitary structure rise before me. A peak of square rock, growing into a rectangle in
form with each step—I could not give up. A fully formed narrow wall of brick, like an obelisk, stood before me,
as I summited the pinnacle of the mountain. Breathless.
Peterson sat at its base, smoking another Marlboro, gazing out at the expanse below us. You could see as
far as Ghazni Province from atop Mentor Mountain, the city of Kabul, the size of Manhattan, tiny and far
below. Thor shook my hand, “I knew you could make it.”
“There is an old saying in Norway,” said Kris, “On the uphill slope, the uphill is going up.” he said, with
a hint of cheeriness to his voice; and, then he tapped at his stopwatch and was gone, the three of them
disappeared from the summit, and for a beat, I was alone.
I pulled the brick out of my rucksack, felt its sandy edges in my hands, a connection to something before
me, anchored in nothingness, and climbed the partially built Obelisk—seating my brick atop, careful to ensure
it was set well. Its weight added to the untold many stacked below it. I left some of my past and pain and loss
there, a part of me on that hill top, set into that tower of stone on the mountain that had indeed mentored me
along a path of pain and sweat and memory; and, then looked out, from the highest peak in the region. For that
briefest of moments, before turning to make my descent, all the loss in my life had swept away with the wind,
there standing atop the world, in Afghanistan. The Obelisk did not speak, but there was virtue there, and no
evil, and no loss, and no justice—no righteousness or glory in that which cannot be seen, touching the void.
Peter Siedlecki

TRUDGING THROUGH

How to find the way,


the line of movement,
the path
in the midst
of so many metaphors
under foot
or raining their leaves on you
or their rain—
an old shoe,
a carefully folded
sheet of aluminum,
an old tear
dropped in the
blush of pain,
a discarded trophy—
all caught
In the cream-colored
consciousness
that blurs direction.
INCREDIBLE

“Incredible!”
he says.
Then,
as if for emphasis,
or to convince himself,
or because he has so little else to say,
he repeats,
“Incredible!”
and punctuates his next statement
with
“Unbelievable!”
That word is also repeated.
He slurs its last three syllables,
perhaps to sound suave.
This attempt
merely proves an absence.
His lazy languid language
proves still another absence.
This leaves one longing
for Lomonossov
who took time
from astronomy and physics
to give Pushkin the language
he needed to lift words
into an airy world,
and Alighieri’s
Sweet New Style
transforming the common
into majesty.
Phillip Henry Christopher

Fuck
Flen, Flyys and Freris

Fuck.

There, I said it.


Though it isn’t the first time.
That was in the fifth grade,
but I only said it
to impress
Calvin,
already a menacing
six feet tall,
with sinister
almost-a-mustache,
jet black eyes and
slick Beelzebub grin
spreading defiantly
across reptilian satire face.
I must have said it because my
squat-like-a-dump-truck
Greek boy body,
basset hound eyes, and
tentative smile
pasted awkwardly on
olive-skinned
Charlie Brown
basketball head
was all slapstick
and trepidation beside
the snake-like kid
we called Snake,
must have said it because
my puffy cheeks
were a cartoon
beside his lean,
copper
face.
Fuck was enigma
for Keith,
who lived up the block,
consternation contorting
his bowling ball face,
he blurted out,
“Did you know that
somewhere,
in Africa, I think,
people still fuck
to make babies?”
which wasn’t news to me,
nor would it have been
to Snake,
who was already
using the word
in a more literal way;
one could apply
the past tense to
fuck and Snake,
(what I was
making declarations about
to my serpentine friend
when Mrs. Prynn,
spy station ears whirling,
overheard, swooped down).
Harpy pincer fingers clutching,
she dragged us
into the hallway,
her Ichabod Crane bony body
contorted in the struggle
to grasp his lofty ear lobe
on one side
and my lowly lobe
on the other.
She shrieked, railed,
trembled in insult, then
hurled us back
into the claustrophobia
of tiny desks,
to feign shame
while she lectured
rows of bewildered children,
raged about
knowing too much,
growing up too fast,
until the throbbing beneath
thirty-year teacher
tortured and sagging skin
yielded tears,
choking,
sobs
and silence.
After that,
Snake was my friend,
even when he hit the streets
to deal drugs
and women,
and I hit the streets
to prostitute language.
I learned from Snake
there was power in fuck.
2

Fuck.
I thought it was our word,
thought nobody old
ever said it,
was even allowed
to say it.

Then was that one


torpid July day
we huddled
in the tiny office
to escape skin-melting heat
beside the giant
Ingersoll-Rand
hard steel shaft spinning
three six-foot steel
disk torquing
centrifugal air compressor,
gathered to get details
on the day’s labor.

There was Iggy,


with shoulders
broad as the hood of
a ‘61 Caddy,
who towered over
grizzled gray
old timer
union men in
dark blue pipe
dope-stained uniforms and
faces wrinkled
like desert carcasses,
a mountain beside
foothills,
and Sonny,
the only Italian in town
who could out-golf the
thin-lipped
country club gents,
who gave up
dollars-in-the-pocket
and a ‘61 'Vette
for a package deal bride,
three half-grown kids,
and the relentless vortex of
one mortgage stacked
onto another.

I stood silent in
long hair, jeans and
make-believe macho,
high on
real work
with real men,
but only a guest,
not paying real dues, like
Union dues.
I slunk in the back,
mind wandering until
I heard the magic word,
fuck.
No, not fuck,
fuckin,
the potent derivative of
the root word,
and looked to see
the boss,
who said dammit and hell,
bullshit sometimes...
the boss, using
the word,
and he was respectable
and old.
3

“I got my partyin’ shoes on,


an’ my partyin’
bell bottoms
with the patches,
an my mutha fuckin’
partyin’ shirt,
an fuckin’ ‘A’
if there ain’t
no place
ta party
tonight!”

Jimmy Petrie
knew how to
use it best,
knew, or just had
an instinct
for fuck,
the word I mean.
I have no clue
if he knew
the thing,
fucking,
but that
was Don Yorty’s poem,
not mine,
this one’s about
fuck,
the word,
not the deed.
Then again,
are they different?
Does fuck have power
because fucking
has power?
Is fear of power
the reason for
euphemisms, for
making love,
the other slight-of-tongue
disguises for
the impulse to
slam bodies together,
when love rarely
has much to do with it,
the reason it’s so easy to
make out
hook up
have sex &
copulate,
mate
procreate or
masturbate,
and so hard to
fuck?

Euphemisms are safe,


delicate,
respectful.

Fuck is fuck.
Fuck steps up and
talks straight,
minces nothing,
mistakes nothing,
regrets nothing,
refrains from nothing,
resists, refutes, restrains
nothing,
no thing is too much
for fuck,
no thing is too bitter,
too sweet,
fuck is heat,
fuck is beat.

Lenny Bruce
dug fuck
and was vilified,
crucified,
sanctified.

I been diggin’ fuck


for fifty years,
diggin’ it since
the fifth grade,
but never had a thought
about being beatified,
or sanctified,
or even noticed,
just always liked
pedestrian fuck,
because it
feels so nice
to let out a good
FUCK!
4

Fuck is poetry,
for five hundred years,
since a nameless pub-crawling
smart ass-ed
Middle English scribbling bard with
cynic’s eye spied
the Carmelite friars of Cambridge
in pious copulations
with the wives
of Medieval suburbia,
spoke a bawdy rhyme,

“Flen, flyys and freris,


Non sunt in coeli, fuccant vvivysof heli,”

reads,

“Fleas, flies and friars,


They are not in heaven because
they fuck the wives of Ely,”

in Dark Ages
Pig Latin
and English,
disguises to hide
the Word of Power,
fuccant,
fake Latin,
like Middle English
for fugg.
5

Fuck is crisp, curt,


blunt like a barbarian club,
Fuck is Teutonic,
like ficken, to fuck
ich ficke, I fuck,
Fickst du?
You fuck?
or often flipped
inside-out German,
Fickst du mich?
Fuck you me?
is an invitation, like
something Mozart whispered
in a buxom soprano’s ear.

A thousand years
before the rutting friars
a rendering of Germanic fuck
was bellowed
by some giant of muscle,
broad plain Oestergoth face,
flen infested beard,
looked upon Roman cities
dancing flame and fear,
raised massive middle fingers,
cried out to
pretty much fucked
prostrate Praetorians
ICH FICKE SIE!
seconds before their
noble heads tumbled.
What could the Italians do?
Nothing in their softer tongue
came even close to the
power of fuck.

Fuck is hard,
like Siegfried, who sang
Ficke sie!
a thousand times on every
bad day at the opera,
too hard even for
Teutonic titan, Wagner,
who left it out of all seven cycles
when it rung too harsh for his ring.
Ich ficke sie! would have exploded
from Beowulf’s tortured wrangling,
from Grendal’s blood-soiled tongue
would have come,
Ich bin gefickt!
if only the word had
been invented by then.
6

Before Beowulf, Siegfried and Grendal,


before Die Walkur,
before the horny friars of Cambridge
was Mohenjodaro and Harrapa,
the Land of Tantra and Veda,
Indra of the thunderbolt,
of the potent fiery weapon,
slayer of Vritra, the dragon,
who held back waters and light.

Indra fiercely threw


the serpent down,
released the waters,
split open the sides
of the mountain,
and the poet drona’s eye saw
and spoke the Rig Veda,

He killed the dragon


spread out upon the mountains
showing his virile power
he chose Soma;
from the three bowls he
drank of the extracted soma.
The bounteous god took up the missile,
the Vajra,
he killed the first born
among the dragons.

Indra knew fuck,


was fuck,
wielded his Vajra, and
Vritra was fucked,
loosed his soma, and
waters flowed,
split the mountain, and
there was the flood.
But what if there was
no dragon?
No Vajra?
No mountain?

Maybe progenitive god-man


Indra wielded
only flesh and flowing life,
procreation water soma,
maybe Vritra, who

“...footless and handless


he gave battle to Indra...”

was Indra’s
own serpent.
Maybe fuck is Indra,
maybe begins with
the proto-yogi
struggling to subdue
his own snake,
Indra-Onan,
Indra battling a
one-eyed serpent,
battling confusion,
consternation,
conflagration
over fuck,
to fuck or not
to fuck.
Maybe Indra’s power
was conjugate fuck,
power to fuck,
will to Fuck,
and Vritra was fucked
either way.
7

“Let’s fuck,” she said,


and there it was,
The Word.

Six years from fifth grade,


from Snake and Mrs. Prynn,
fifteen months from
first furtive looks,
feeble flirtations and
futile overtures.
Suddenly, lightning sizzles
in clear blue sky, I saw
the power of fuck in the
dilated pupils of
irridium blue eyes.
She said,
“Let’s fuck,” and
I stared dumbly at
The Word
towering over me.
“Don’t look so shocked.
You know you wanted
to fuck me
since ninth grade.”

She was right, of course,


except I wasn’t shocked,
but awed
by the raw force of
The Word,
by fuck used
not as innuendo
but as invitation,
instigation,
awed by a vision of
fuck incarnate,
of tangible fuck,
fuck as roaring beast,
fuck as rolling thunder,
fuck rushing primordial life-giving waters,
fuck crashing tsunami-driven waves,
fuck surf smashing ancient shorelines,
fuck the great Cosmic Egg,
fuck Indra’s Vajra,
fuck my own
Sixteen-year-old
virility rising like
a terrible weapon,
fuck omnipotent
fuck immortal
fuck power
fuck sex
fuck creation
fuck mantra
fuck Alpha
fuck Omega
Big Bang Fuck
repeated repeated repeated
creation into creation
like Brahman
turning back into itself
to create again and again,
seed and source,
power of fuck released by
one little contraction,
Let’s, Let us,
Let’s fuck,
two words ten times
more magnificent than
fuck alone,
and fuck was
forever infused with
the unbridled power
of co-creation.

She said, “Let’s fuck.”


I stared into
mountain lake blue eyes,
thought of Snake’s Beelzebub grin,
Beowulf’s strength
and Indra’s mighty Vajra,
then split her mounds asunder,
releasing the waters
and the light.
Rachel Anszelowicz

Men as Werewolves

i tell her that i am afraid of men


she says
Who Hurt You
to be a woman is synonymous with fear
i tell her
it is by design
it is secretaries as mistresses
daughters born to masters for a profit
no accident

but we know good ones too?


she pleads
the names of fathers, uncles, brothers evaporate from her lips
she who taught me the tales
of our seeds being sown
still had not learnt to run from the hum
of the tractor approaching

instead she warns of untended drinks


fears of her daughters leaving grocery stores alone at night
then reminds them
that when it comes to a woman
friendship is never what a man expects

come nightfall
she lets her own wolf free from his pen
it’s a full moon
she whispers to no one in particular
it’s what we have always done
so she’ll lock up her daughters till sunrise
knowing she couldn’t live with herself
if she let something happen
to her dear baby girls
Bat Mitzvah

Hine mah tov u-ma nayim


shevet achim gam ya-chad

each word escapes my lips


quickly peeking over it’s shoulder to check on me before it leaves

i do not know what these words mean


i was taught the method not the trade

only important that we can perform well enough


to impress our ancestors and shul friends

i sung my torah portion so well


my grandfather had his first stroke

the words had been sewn to my tongue


sacred chords injected into my veins

i do not believe in god


i cannot remember the last time i believed in anything

thats the way we’ve always done it


the age old tale of the family of godless jews

my sister does not understand the point of it all


always ready to upgrade to the shiniest model

my brother is far more bothered with anything else


to care much at all

this too i fear


is a tale we’ve known since Jacob

when we are apart though


i find them in the tongue
of the words my mother learned in ulpan
forged her family with
and then forgot
once bricks building my home now the tornado

behold how good and how pleasing


for brothers to sit together in unity

for we are brothers simply in our stories shared

and the branches of a tree start to look a whole lot like roots
once the leaves fall

and then i remember


that i’ve known these words all along
Rich Murphy

Portrait: Space Shot

“…[O]uter space has allowed us to succeed in representing the external partner of conscience.”
—Peter Sloterdijk

Empathy on empty and conscience


addicted to bad faith in a gutter in outer space,
prosthetic eyes and prefrontal cortex
orbit around Earth, an “I” (circa
20th Century) in the sky watching.

The SUV with DDTs, retrorockets,


and artificial gravity bee-lines
to reptilian trajectory at every scare
by planet three sociopaths.

A dream dog with heels and opposable thumbs,


the domesticated animal cloaks
gladiators thrilled by goal posts and tailgates.

Space station reflection mirrors


for deliberation on greenhouse gases
by the two-faced homo sapiens from the Oz-zone
where self-consciousness gilds every deed.

With trophy cases filled and stacked,


poor sports alone expect to receive apologies
while rested envy and resentment rise
from the bench and enter the coliseum.
The American Raspberry

In a field with feet planted in broad daylight

the organic farmer shouts out the American gain

to eyeballs glued to dollars.

Behind optic nerves, a dopamine hawk tips on a limb

expecting movement below.

Each seeded row producing for personal growth a community

rots at harvest while debt slavery whips through lifetimes

leaving bold thought erased, lobes fallow, walls without bookshelves.

Only fingers that skate across the phone chirp

feel for Braille, any sign in glass, reflection or fish below.

Slick propaganda bytes nibbling pupils and nimble thumbs

while sliding watches into cemetery plots.

No loafer inhales and on summer grass corrugated cardboard

wakes at mowers copping hieroglyphic green space for no one.

A garaged wheelbarrow listens for the language discoveries.


Bubble Bath

The film studies student in every community


pokes around the soapy substance and discovers.
Hysterics bursts open to bubble world
where prescription lenses occupy eyeball sockets:
O me, O my, a not wholly one bathes in perspectives.

Each bead from the foam froth communes


in view point habits and rituals, a magic
adhesive for the droplet circle separation.
Should seepage leak from glob to glob,
all hell savages ravage in efforts to form a globe.

Within a single air sac for pupils cornea


background props prop-up “initiatives”
with “outside-the-box” blather
for the blind-spotted mope not failing better
or learning during the deflation.

In a dark room with lather all around


the world history con pop lover navigates
without a concession stand to find
the homo sapiens secret.
Robert Wexelblatt

THE EX-CONSUL

Harry Frager’s final post was at the largest American consulate in Europe. The building looked like
a hefty slice of the Pentagon. The place was always bustling, busy with the troubles of members of the
military and their families, the entanglements and deaths of expatriates, business people wanting help, the
contretemps of reckless students and the arrests of boorish tourists. The Consul General, Frager’s boss,
was an oilman and a friend of the President’s, a famous bundler; that is, a wealthy contributor who
gathered up other rich contributors the way peasants used to sheaves. As Deputy Principal Officer, Frager
saw to pretty much everything save for banquets and receptions. The Consul General prided himself on
being from the Lone Star State, his Italian suits, his third wife, and what he called, with only the haziest
irony, “my gift for delegation”. Frager’s career ended shortly after he imprudently let slip some candid
remarks about the current Administration. In deference to his rank and years of service, he was given an
extra day to clear out his desk. As he was doing so, the boss came by to deliver a cynical comment and a
farewell present. “I’m surprised, Frager. I thought you were a professional diplomat.” The gift was a cook
book called No Mess Texas Cuisine.
It was because of this book that Harry Frager inadvertently became a local hero.

Over his thirty-two-year career, Frager was seldom in the United States, a Thanksgiving here, a
funeral there. During their marriage, his adventurous wife preferred they take their vacations in places like
Borneo, Mongolia, and Lapland. Jeanne was a good ad for joi de vivre and some of that rubbed off on
Frager, or rather it neutralized his melancholy tendencies.
An orphan, only child, and now a childless, retired widower, Frager suddenly found himself exiled
to his native land. He spent a week in New York but there was too much of everything there—people,
buildings, noise, culture—and so he moved into a hotel in Boston, a city he thought of as both lively and
provincial, cleaving to tradition yet seething with young people. He strolled around the Common, traipsed
the Freedom Trail, read the real estate advertisements, and rented a car. He thought he might settle in one
of Boston’s less flashy suburbs. The joke in the trade, one real estate agent confided, was that buyers
should drive west until they could afford the mortgage.
The place Frager chose to live wasn’t all that far west, close enough to the city to have both townies
and commuters. Frager, being neither, briefly entertained a fantasy of joining the Unitarian church and
participating in town meetings. If he felt isolated, it wasn’t the town’s fault. In fact, the place suited him
well enough, and his new house, the first he’d ever owned, gave him both the odd thrill of owning property
and something to do.
He puttered around the two-bedroom Cape with the gray clapboards and green shutters. His
spurts of domestic activity were purposive, even necessary, but somehow felt like improvisations. His wife
had been the clever shopper; Frager wilted after half an hour. So, he bought his new furniture at one store
in one day. He found a place that sold kitchen gadgets, curtains and linens. One hour went to hanging his
pictures and installing LED bulbs. Hedges surrounded the front yard so he went to the hardware store and
picked out a hedge trimmer and, as there was grass, a lawnmower as well. They had a garden store jutting
into the parking lot. He took a cart and in ten minutes filled it with hosta, spirea, hibiscus, daylilies, then,
on the way to the cashier, dropped in a bag of daffodil bulbs. He had to go back inside for a shovel.

The real estate agent who sold him the place was what his wife would have called soignée. She had
expensive hair and drove a new black Audi. She had shown him several other properties in his price range,
places with more space, more interesting or eccentric floorplans, more land.
“I’m curious,” she said when the deal was struck. “Why’d you choose this house?”
Frager said, “Because it looks like you could just hose it out.”
The agent handed over cards for a home inspector, an insurance agent, the local bank. He signed
the purchase and sale agreement without haggling. She advised against a balloon mortgage.
“Okay, then. That’s it. Get the inspection done. I’ll see you at the closing.”

Frager needed a project, a mental one, and thought he would like to write a scholarly article. He
hadn’t written anything of that sort since graduate school. That was when one of his professors, impressed
by the ease with which he picked up languages, asked about his career goals. When Frager said he wasn’t
sure, the professor suggested he look into the foreign service. So, he had never felt a vocation; his career
was in this sense accidental, faute de mieux. He took the exam, passed the security check, and was hired.
It turned out that he liked the work and the travel too, at least before his wife got cancer.
Write what you know. The article would be about about diplomacy. He had been a consul or
deputy consul in lots of places and kept learning languages. But writing didn’t come as easily as Turkish or
Uzbek.
One morning, determined to get something down, he made coffee, gritted his teeth, and sat down
at the computer.
Nothing came. Nada, zilch, rien. Then, with a smile, he typed, Jewish husbands make the best
slaves.

When he came home from school on Wednesdays, his mother was usually playing mah jongg with
three of her girlfriends. They’d grown up together, called themselves the Tootsies, had no secrets, and
talked non-stop as the tiles clacked. Three dot. Two bamboo. They were of a generation and a class that
seldom moved away or made careers and the longer they played and gossiped, the younger these women
grew. Sometimes, Frager felt older than they were.
One Wednesday, as he came through the door, he heard his mother say, “Of course, Jewish
husbands make the best slaves.” This remark was greeted with girlish laughter.
A month or two later, he and his mother were shopping in Sears. She was looking for something
in the stationery department where a dozen brands of typewriters were on display, each with a piece of
paper on the platen. Frager typed Jewish husbands make the best slaves on every one then showed his
mother.
She pretended to be furious, denied ever saying such a thing. It was hilarious. He went on teasing
her about the sentence until it became a private joke between them.

Though Frager couldn’t write he went on typing.


Slaves make the best Jewish husbands.
Husbands, make the best Jewish slaves!

The summer after the end of tenth grade, Frager signed up for a typing class. It was the most
useful course he took in high school. Mrs. Roth was the Platonic idea of an office manager, champion and
paragon of an insurance company’s typing pool. Always professionally dressed, strict and nonsense-free as
a pin, she was a good teacher. In addition to typing, she offered sound office advice. For example, she told
her pupils always to fold any sheet of paper they discarded before throwing it in the wastebasket. “It saves
room,” she explained. It became a lifelong habit for Frager.
Before applying to graduate school in International Relations, he’d looked up the word diplomacy.
It derived from the Greek for something folded in two, originally a document that conferred some
privilege, like a passport. This was in the days before envelopes. Diplomacy, double, diploma, duplicity.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.
Mrs. Roth made them type that sentence over and over. “It uses the whole alphabet,” she explained with
her usual economy. Frager made an error, typed it again, then went on:
Lazy brown fox, quick! The dogs jumped over.
Lazy dogs jumped quick over the brown fox.
No writing going on, only typing, only rearranging.
Now is the time for all good men.
The time is now, all good men.
Good men, now is the time for all.
The best slaves. Lazy dogs and brown foxes. Good men.
Frager, bored and frustrated, gave up. The grass was mown, the hedges trimmed, the plants
watered. He decided on a different project for the afternoon, cooking. In the Consul General’s cook book,
he found a recipe for chili. A big pot of Texas chili sounded good. There would be dinners for half a
week.
The recipe called for ground chuck, red kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chili
powder, onions, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, cumin, celery, sugar, salt, green pepper, Tabasco sauce, and a
bottle of Lone Star beer —“the indispensable ingredient”.
On the way to the supermarket, he decided to make some changes: a hot pepper instead of a green
one, cayenne pepper instead of Tabasco sauce, no stringy celery. He had no beer, no alcohol in the house
at all.
Over dinner one night, his father said that one of their neighbors’ marriage was on the rocks. His
mother knew all about it. “Margie says he’s taken to drinking alone,” she had murmured portentously,
“one of the first signs.” The warning had stuck with Frager, like the folding of wastepaper. “Social
drinking” was okay because the glass is a kind of prop, but never drink by yourself. He hadn’t had so much
as a glass of merlot or a dram of single malt since leaving the service and buying into a suburb.

Frager had an idea. He’d mess with Texas and pour in a bottle of stout instead of Lone Star which
wouldn’t be available in New England anyway.
Raleigh Liquors was on the corner of a strip mall next to Lucky Licks, the local ice cream parlor.
Frager parked in the lot and started to the store. He was checking the cash in his wallet when he got to the
door so he was shocked when it flew open, just missing his face, and he collided with a man in a balaclava
rushing out. He didn’t see the man or the knife either. The knife went flying, so it didn’t matter. The
man crashed on top of Frager, swore, and tried to scramble to his feet, but their legs were tangled.
“Hold him!” yelled the young clerk.
Frager embraced the robber and held on while the clerk jumped on top of the both of them. The
store manager, a woman who looked like she saw this sort of thing monthly, leaned casually in the
doorway, coolly phoning the police on her cellphone.
There was an article in the local paper picked up by both a TV station and the Globe. The angle
was ridiculous, something like from mild-mannered diplomat to crime fighter. Frager declined credit and
to be photographed, but there were plenty of pictures of him on Google. The Globe chose one ten years
out of date when he had more hair, fewer wrinkles, and brighter eyes. He was in his diplomat costume so
he looked like a consul rather than a habitué of liquor stores.
The consequences were good, though. The Guinness was on the house and the neighbors began to
nod to him. He got a thumbs-up from local men driving by and a brace of women stopped by with
admiring faces and tollhouse cookies.
That wasn’t quite the end of it. There were also a pair of emails.

The chief business of a consul is business—promoting deals, making introductions, greasing the
skids of profit. This was not Frager’s favorite part of the job. He preferred the personal to the corporate
and, while he regretted the messes his fellow citizens and local dissidents got into, he did enjoy getting
them out of them when he could.
Somehow Sheila Romano found his email address—the official one was extinct, of course—but she
did and wrote this:

Hi, Mr. Frager.


You probably won’t remember me but I certainly remember you. I always will. Eight years
ago, you got me out of jail in Izmir. I was backpacking that summer with my stupid, selfish
pothead boyfriend. Jeff made me carry his stash because he said Muslim cops would never search a
woman. You came to see me in that awful place and you were so kind. Remember bringing me a
pack of Oreos? A life-saver, like you. You contacted my parents and told me you’d do everything
you could for me. And whatever everything was, it worked.
I saw an article about you catching a thief. It said you’d left the service and hinted that
you’d been replaced. If the Administration did that, then it’s just like Jeff. In fact, minus the weed,
it is.
I’m married now, a registered nurse with two sweet boys. My husband’s a Methodist
minister (of all things) and we live in Oklahoma City.
I just wanted to thank you again and wish you all good things. As my husband
would say, bless you.
The second email was from someone Frager remembered very well. It was written in Bulgarian.

My honored friend,
It has come to my attention that you have retired and caught a thief. The first is regrettable;
the second is unusual. But you are an unusual man. A just man. After all, as a practical matter,
justice means putting some people in jail and getting others out.
I am thinking that perhaps retiring was not your idea? Perhaps you disagreed with
somebody who needed to be disagreed with? I know something about that.
Six years ago, in response to my exposé in the short-lived journal Choveshki Prava, I was
tossed in a dungeon, interrogated, beaten, tortured, charged with sedition and the release of state
secrets. An additional charge of embezzlement was added later, to show that my arrest was not
political.
You made it your business to get me out, Mr. Frager. You didn’t have to, but you crusaded
for me. You made a public statement to the press and induced your Secretary of State to issue an
official condemnation. Maybe all that was sufficient to secure my freedom, but I doubt it. On the
one occasion that we met, you declined to tell me more but, however you managed my release, I am
eternally in your debt.
I would like you to know that I now reside in Berlin where I continue my work on behalf of
the rights of every single human being.
With gratitude and respect,
Vasil Chintalov

Frager had gotten Chintalov released by so far exceeding his brief that his career could easily have
ended even earlier. He set up a private meeting with the Interior Minister to which he brought along a
stick and a carrot. The former was the promise that all the Minister’s assets in the United States would be
frozen, the American banking system closed to him and the whole of his corrupt family. The carrot was
the promise to find his youngest son a place in an American university. He actually did the latter. There
was a certain admissions officer in Michigan, a poker player who in his Navy days had required some
consular assistance.

Frager did two tours in Central America. A young American priest, inspired by the writings of
Gustavo Gutiérrez, had come south to work with the indigenous farmers seeking land reform. He joined
in field work, improved his accent, and delivered some rousing sermons.
While he was biking between villages, a car drove the priest off the road. Three masked men leapt
out. None said a word as they delivered a ferocious beating. One of the attackers smashed the priest’s bike
with a tire iron, then his tibia. Nobody doubted that the attackers were disguised police.
Frager went to the hospital. The young priest’s face was swollen. There were bandages around his
torso; his right leg was in traction.
“They might have killed you,” he said.
Though distorted, the priest’s voice was firm. “Nearly did. We’re all in God’s hands, Mr. Frager,
especially when doing His work.”
“I can arrange for you to go home.”
The priest groaned and shook his head. “No.”
Frager sighed. He knew that those convinced of their own virtue are the most intransigent.
“What can I do for you?”
“Convince the government to help me in my work instead of arming the men who slaughter the
poor.”
Frager nodded, got to his feet, and said he’d be back.
During his second visit, Frager asked the priest if he knew about the Peasants Uprising in
Germany.
“Of course. Luther condemned them.”
“That’s true. But he also inspired them.”
Frager took out three folded papers and read from the first.
In Christendom all things are in common and each man’s goods are the other’s, and nothing is
simply a man’s own. The common man has long been brooding over the injury he has received in property,
in body, and in soul. If I had ten bodies, I would most gladly give all to death in behalf of these poor men.
“Very fine words.”
“Stirring ones. Luther’s. When those words aroused the peasants and serfs, Luther wrote that he
wanted to change people’s relation to God, not to each other. Serfdom was fine with him and he wrote a
pamphlet condemning the peasants as robbers and murderers, calling for violence against them. When he
published his notorious tract, the poor men replied with one of their own. They threw Luther’s words
back in his face and wrote with great dignity.”
Frager unfolded the second sheet of paper and read.
Seeing that Christ has redeemed and bought us all with the precious shedding of his blood, the
lowly as well as the great, we will retreat from our demands only if the social order is explained to us with
arguments from Scripture. Otherwise we demand that each receive for his work according to the several
necessities of all.
The priest smiled. “It’s Marx before the fact.”
“At Frankenhausen, the peasants had pitchforks and clubs. The overlords had cavalry and cannon.
It was a massacre.”
“The struggle is hard and long.”
Frager leaned forward. “You want to be a martyr? Isn’t that a temptation?”
The priest looked younger than ever; his swollen face shone.
“We have to attend to others, not ourselves. We have to give up any personal aggrandizement and
share the pain of the others, the ones we care for. The good shepherd thinks first of his flock.”
“And what if the shepherd leads the flock to a cliff?”
“Offering hope to the oppressed always leads to retaliation by those who profit from their despair.
Isn’t that what happened at Frankenhausen?”
“There are other ways.”
“Have you suggested them to the government?”
“More than once.”
“With what result?”
Frager was silent.
“The great sin of our time,” said the priest as if giving a sermon, “is seeing oneself as the center of
the universe.”
“Where is the center?”
“Outside of us.”
“God doesn’t intervene.”
“No. God is outside. He’s waiting. You aren’t a believer, are you?”
“No. Mostly not.”
“Mostly?”
“Yes. I’m that kind of Jew.”
“So, the God you don’t believe in is the one who intervenes, the God of judgment? The
omnipotent one? God is good before He is powerful.”
Frager nodded and unfolded the third piece of paper. He read.
There is no quality and there is no power of man that was created to no purpose. Even base and
corrupt qualities can be uplifted to serve God. To what end can the denial of God have been created?
This too can be uplifted through deeds of charity. For if someone comes to you and asks your help, you
shall not turn him off with pious words, saying, “Have faith and take your troubles to God!” You shall act
as if there were no God, as if there were only one person in all the world who could help this man—only
you.”
“That was said long ago by Moshe Leib, a rabbi.”
“And well said. Your rabbi understands. What’s more, I think you do, too.”

In that country at that time, American diplomats were afforded considerable deference. Frager had
no trouble arranging a visit with the local Chief of Police, a man no less convinced of his virtue than the
priest, and just as sure that he was a good Catholic.
The Chief sat behind a desk as substantial as he was. His uniform was clean and well pressed. The
walls of his office were hung with framed photographs of him graduating, posing formally with his family,
standing and smiling next to the President and the Bishop. There were pre-Columbian antiquities on the
credenza and a bookcase with few books. He was large without being fat, had an intelligent face, and was
about fifty. The Chief exuded confidence and a kind of refined brutality.
Frager was shown in and announced by a lieutenant.
The Chief stood and held out his hand. Skipping the niceties, he spoke at once. It was disarming.
“You’re here about your countryman, that naïve priest so deplorably attacked on the road.”
Frager took the offered hand. “I am,” he said.
“I assure you, Mr. Frager, we are investigating. It is a most regrettable incident.”
“Then I ask you to guarantee his safety. I visited him in the hospital. There were no guards.”
The Chief motioned for Frager to take a seat then sat himself.
“Who can offer such guarantees, especially in the current state of unrest? The hospital is safe and I
have no men to spare.”
Frager was silent for a few seconds.
“I’ve heard that you attend Mass every morning.”
The Chief pretended to be pleasantly surprised. “You’re well informed.”
“The church is dedicated to Saint Augustine, I believe.”
“Yes. The great Father of the Church.”
“You’ve read him?”
“My Jesuit teachers made sure of it. Augustine understood many things. He said it is our moral
duty to respect the right to property and to obey the law.”
“Only the just laws.”
“Mr. Frager, our country has no unjust laws, though there are many who desire lawlessness.”
“And what if the property is stolen?”
“As to land, in this country it must be lawfully registered. In those rare instances when we discover
it is not, we act.”
Frager paused again.
“You don’t approve of what my young countryman is doing?”
“No, I do not, sir. And neither should you. Your young priest is a zealot for Karl Marx, not Jesus
Christ. In my opinion, he ought to be re-educated or defrocked.”
The Chief leaned back, enjoying the discussion. He pointed to the photograph of himself with the
bishop, both of them in uniform.
“I am no less a shepherd than our good Bishop Gonzalez. I’m sure you’ve observed that our people
are childish and have to be kept in order for their own benefit. They must be shown their duty to obey the
law, including the laws regarding property. God is the supreme property owner and it is our job to see that
God’s property is well tended.”
“By those who own it lawfully?”
Here it was the Chief who paused.
“Mr. Frager, because people are endowed with free will but also with selfishness, the natural
condition of humanity is not justice but injustice. Injustice is disorder. Our country is not like yours, not
yet so orderly. I agree that certain of our actions are less than desirable, even sometimes a necessary evil.
But in a state of disorder and rebellion what is necessary is good.”
“It’s not always easy to say what evil is necessary or how much.”
The Chief folded his hands and smiled, relishing a game in which he had the upper hand. He
probably had few such conversations.
“You mentioned Augustine,” said the Chief. “The saint said that only God is perfect and all that
God creates is good. Perfection cannot be corrupted, but what is merely good can be. The unfortunate
truth is that people tend to lose part of their goodness, much of it, in fact. Evil is the absence of good but,
even in the most depraved or misguided, you can still find some good. So, what needs to be done is to
extirpate the evil. That is the way to cultivate the good—tear out the weeds and the grain can flourish. It
is how I serve the state and God.”
“They are the same?”
The Chief put his hands down flat on his desk.
“The Roman Empire was hardly a perfectly just organization; yet Augustine did not try to
overthrow it. All sins are not crimes, but all crimes are sins. So, yes. I serve God by serving the State.
Surely, Mr. Frager, somebody in your position, somebody who represents his government, must know
that.”

Frager paid one last visit to the hospital.


The young priest was feeling better and said he would be released at the end of the next week.
“You’ll go back to what you were doing?”
“Certainly. It’s how I serve God.”
“That’s a consolation? That you’re serving God?”
“The greatest.”
“I’m glad for you. But don’t you think that consolation can sometimes be a hindrance?”
“How?”
“Have you read Simone Weil?”
“A woman to put us all to shame.”
“Didn’t she deny herself the consolation of baptism?”
“Yes, but she believed. She was a Catholic outside the Church. It’s noble.”
“What?”
“That she’d say she didn’t want to cut herself off from non-believers.”
“Ah. But didn’t she turn her back on her fellow Jews, her forebears?”
“Not really.”
“Not even the non-believing ones, like me?”
The young man smiled which made him look about sixteen years old. “You’ve reminded me of
something else she wrote.”
He paused.
“What was it?”
“Sorry. I was trying to recall the exact words. It’s a hard saying—harder for me than for you, I
think.”
Frager waited, looking at the jacaranda outside the window.
“I think it went like this. Of two men who have no experience of God, the one who denies him is
nearer to him than the other.”
“I know of a rabbi who might agree,” said Frager and smiled at the doomed young man who
claimed to be consoled.

Shortly after, Frager was told he would be reassigned and granted a month’s leave. He took it in
the south of France and registered at his old pension in Nice, the Verdun. It was on the beach at Nice that
he had met the perfect, adventurous Jeanne, as doomed by a mutated gene as the priest was by his faith.
They had honeymooned there as well.
Frager picked up his customary copy of Le Monde on the way to the café where he was known. He
was brought his brioche and coffee without needing to order. He sat in his usual spot and opened the
paper. On page two he learned that the mutilated body found on a mountain road in South America had
been identified as that of a young American priest. In empty, flowery language, the government expressed
its official regret. The Chief of Police was quoted as saying that an investigation was underway.

Frager’s article never took proper shape. What he wrote was rather a series of digressions, not very
scholarly ones either.
He began with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, he thought, was not only America’s first ambassador
but the most significant. But, instead of Franklin’s diplomacy, Frager found himself writing about his
headgear.
When Congress appointed him Minister to the French Court, Franklin sailed to Nantes and was
wined and dined everywhere along the 150-mile route to Paris. Frager found that, according to a
Frenchman of the time, everybody had “an engraving of Monsieur Franklin over the mantelpiece.” When
he joined Franklin in Paris, Adams groused jealously. “Franklin’s reputation is greater than that of
Newton, Frederick the Great or Voltaire, his character more revered than them all.” But for that
popularity, Frager mused, there might have been no Comtes de Rochambeau and Grasse besieging
Yorktown and blocking the British fleet on Chesapeake Bay. And what was the source of Franklin’s cachet
with the French? Wanting to write of the historical abstract, Frager felt drawn to the quirky particular.
When he arrived in the capital, Franklin sported a small fur cap on his bald head. To the gathered
crowd, evidently readers of Rousseau, America was à la mode and the fur cap proved Franklin was a rugged
frontiersman with all the virtues of Jean Jacques’ splendid savage. Never mind that he had won the Copley
Medal, founded the University of Pennsylvania and most of the rest of the civic institutions of
Philadelphia, wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanac; never mind the sophisticated wit, the
inventions; never mind the kite and key.
What Frager admired in Franklin, what he believed made him an exceptional diplomat, was his
understanding of human nature. Another man with such accomplishments might have indignantly
corrected the silly assessment of the French. “A noble savage? Moi?” But Franklin made use of it. He
sent home for a large supply of fur caps and made sure to wear one everywhere he went.
Thinking about the fur cap led Frager to recall a favorite story about Franklin. He had read it long
ago in a book about practical jokes given to him as a graduation present by his freshman roommate, who
had been exasperatingly fond of playing practical jokes. The gift itself was a practical joke.
Traveling on horseback through New England in winter weather, Franklin arrived at a tavern in the
evening, half-frozen, starving, and wet. After having his horse stabled, he hurried into the tavern where he
found all the seats near the fire filled with locals. He stood about shivering and dripping but no one made
a place for him. He called for the landlord. “Do you have any oysters?” The landlord said that he did.
“Good,” said Franklin. “I want you to serve half a bushel and of them to my horse.” This attracted general
attention. The landlord argued, but Franklin insisted. When the landlord started toward the stable with
the pail of oysters, all the layabouts got up and followed. They’d never seen a horse that ate oysters. When
they came back, Franklin had made himself comfortable in the best seat by the hearth. “Your horse won’t
eat the oysters,” complained the landlord. “In that case,” said Franklin serenely, bring them here and roast
them on the fire. They’ll do very well for my supper.”
There they are, thought Frager, all the talents of the diplomat: thinking ahead, knowing what
motivates those who frustrate you, deception, manipulation, self-interest. American independence was the
seat by the hearth; the displaced loafers were le Roi’s bankrupt treasury.
Thinking about the country’s first ambassador led Frager to look into the country’s first consul.
This turned out to be James Maury, Jr, appointed American consul in Liverpool by George Washington.
Suspecting things worked then as they do now, it was no surprise that Maury had been a classmate of
Thomas Jefferson who got Washington to appoint him. Liverpool was an important port and Maury was
already doing business there. A lot of American businesses in Liverpool wanted their way smoothed and
there was no dearth of American sailors getting into scrapes. Maury must have done his job well. He held
it for thirty-nine years.
Frager figured Maury must have died at his post but this was not the case. Andrew Jackson
replaced him. Given his own situation, this interested Frager. The record didn’t say why Maury was fired,
but he could speculate. Jackson handed out lots of appointments to supporters; he not only invented the
Spoils System, he publicly defended it. Then too, Maury was eighty-three years old. Frager found a letter
Maury wrote to his son on the occasion of his stepping down. The discarded consul’s words were
dignified, any resentment buried under dutiful stoicism:
I have treated Mr. Ogden, I hope, with that respect due from a Consul of
the United States to his successor. As to myself, I do feel rather out of
joint, and I suppose I am to feel so for a time, but such things wear off and
probably it will be so with me.
As it turned out, Francis B. Ogden did the United States a signal service. He befriended the
inventor John Ericsson, who named his first screw-propeller steamboat the Francis B. Ogden. When the
Royal Navy rejected Ericsson’s designs, Ogden persuaded him to move to America and arranged financial
backing for him. Ericsson is famous as the builder of the U.S.S. Monitor, the savior of the U.S. Navy at
Hampton Roads.
As with Maury and Jefferson, a student friendship was behind Franklin Pierce’s appointment of
Nathaniel Hawthorne to the Liverpool post. The author despised the job yet performed it well. Frager
looked into Hawthorne’s journal and found that being consul in Liverpool offended his fastidiousness.
American sailors he describes as “dirty, desperate, and all together pirate-like.” He loathed visiting prisons,
hospitals, asylums, inquests, and courtrooms. He seems to have been repelled by those he assisted, “all
manner of simpletons and unfortunates.” Almost the worst of all, he confided to his journal, were the
Englishmen pretending to be Yankees. As a diplomat, it seems the upright Hawthorne was more often a
victim of duplicity than a practitioner.
Diplomats have always been ethically suspect, even to themselves. The Jacobean politician Sir
Henry Wotton, an ambassador, had the first famous one-liner on the matter: “An ambassador is an honest
man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” In his desultory reading, Frager had come across a
couplet about what “being diplomatic” means to most people. It was composed by the writer and translator
Isaac Goldberg, another deracinated Jew:
Diplomacy is to do and say
The nastiest things in the nicest way.
Tact and lying, lying tactfully. A folded paper.

Frager was thirty years younger than James Maury, Jr. was when he began his forced retirement.
He would have liked to know what the old man did during his last nine years.
Frager knew he had to find something to do, something more than not writing articles and mowing
the lawn. Retirement didn’t suit him; it might even kill him. It was absurd. He lived alone in a
neighborhood of families. He was a phony hero, certainly no scholar. He was not fitted to become a
teacher, even if he could find a job.
Is there a sadder line in Othello, he thought, than the Moor’s lament, Othello's occupation's gone!

Two years earlier, Frager had attended a weekend conference in Brussels. At the closing banquet,
he had been seated next to a member of the Swedish delegation. They chatted pleasantly about the
conference, transatlantic politics, the weather. But, when the coffee came, the woman turned to him
almost aggressively.
“They tell me that you’re a widower, and that you loved your wife dearly. I’m sorry.”
Frager recoiled. “Thanks,” he mumbled. “It’s all right.”
She persisted. “Is it? Is it really? Have you given up on women then, on sex?”
Frager’s reply was brief, blunt, undiplomatic, a message not folded, and a revelation to himself.
“Not women,” he said almost brutally. “Intimacy.” Then he excused himself and made his way back to his
empty hotel room.
10 Questions for Roger Craik

Roger Craik was born in Leicester and has
worked in universities in Turkey, Romania,
Bulgaria and America. He has written four
full-length books of poetry, of which the latest
is Down Stranger Roads (BlazeVOX, 2014).
He lives in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Geoffrey Gatza: Tell me about your recent


poetry projects. Do you have a new
manuscript in the works?

Roger Craik: I’m writing all the time, with


varying degrees of “progress,” and sending
out efforts to journals and competitions, but yes, there is a manuscript that’s ready. It’s called “In Other Days,”
(which is from Walter de la Mare), and is to an extent autobiographical.

GG: What influenced this book? And how does the current pandemic inform your editing process?

RC: Always hard to say what influences one’s writing, don’t you think? I mean, all that one’s read, or heard, or
even sensed, comes into it at some level or another. Or half-heard or misheard, even. I suppose that the
pandemic gives me more time to edit, but then again, one can over-edit. A rock journalist called David
Hepworth says “the first thought is usually the best thought,” and I think there’s a good deal to that.

GG: Have you attended any Zoom literary readings or online events?
RC: Hell no. Have you? I’m scared stupid, or stupider, of Zoom because it might louse up my computer. I
heard that some Ph.D. candidate was carrying out his dissertation defense, and there appeared on everyone’s
screen what Philip Larkin memorably calls “a tuberous cock and balls.” Can’t have that.

GG: When did you realize you were a poet?

RC: I never think of myself as “a poet” because that sounds very pretentious, don’t you think? When Philip
Larkin was asked his occupation, he replied “Librarian.” But I do think of myself as someone who tries to write
poetry, and enjoys the trying. When I was living in New Haven, immediately after leaving Turkey (where I
worked for four and a half often perplexing years), I found myself writing some sub-Eliot stuff, and from then
on, and gradually, I realized that I preferred writing my own things rather than writing about others’ things,
which was what was required to attain academic tenure. Not sure what the university thought of that.

GG: Tell us about your process: Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks ... how do you write?

RC: Of course. Blue paper, plain. Soft graphite lead, broadwise, to take off the glare, and then carving away
with coloured crayons, fat triangular ones called Koh-I-Noor. (I’ve got them right here, in a mug.) Always using
the left hand (I am right-handed) in order to limber up, in an almost childlike manner: otherwise one is
drawing, and the brain is involved. Then fountain pen, Lamy Safari, which is cheap and good, and has some
style and a lot of funkiness and swagger to it. Yes, notebooks while travelling. And of course things have to be
typed up. I confess that the typing up can be helpful in terms of line breaks and experimentation. I say “confess”
because I am reluctant to admit that computers are helpful in writing, or helpful at all, come to that. I’m
English, or was, once. As schoolboys, we wrote Latin exams in fountain pen.

GG: Which writer would you most like to have a drink with, and why?

RC: I can’t think of any one writer. May I say that I’d like a beer with Sly Stone (I so enjoy the fearlessness of
his music), or the British painter Frank Auerbach, whose art and whose writings on art I find inspired? And
David Knopfler, formerly of Dire Straits. He sounds like a very pleasant and interesting man. And I mean
David, not Mark. He left the band when they were just getting famous, and went his own, and best, way. I
think that’s great. And, now I think of it, Peter Green, the founder of Fleetwood Mac. I did meet him, if you
could call it meeting, when I was a schoolboy, and he was working in a cemetery a stone’s throw from my
grandparents’ house in Kingston-Upon-Thames, in south west London. He died this year, and it’s a great
sadness, a tremendous loss, that he did. I think (this answer’s getting too long) that the song “Man of the
World” is the best song I’ve ever heard. I heard it when I was thirteen, on someone’s transistor radio, in a bus
shelter in Aberdeen, in Scotland, and thought that it spoke to all my life before I had lived any of it. But this
doesn’t really answer your question, Geoffrey.

GG: What's the biggest mistake you've made as a writer?

RC: Listening to too many other people is one. I think another is to hurry with things rather than allowing
them to take their own time. It’s not a race.

GG: What's the worst advice you hear authors give writers?

RC: I don’t know, because I don’t read or hear much along those lines. But I think one bad piece of advice, if it
is indeed given, is to share one’s work with lots of others, and then be thrown into indecision, and present one
person’s view to another person — and oneself become lost in the process, if you see what I mean.

GG: Who are you reading now?

RC: Geoffrey Gatza’s questions in this interview! That apart, David Hepworth’s “Never a Dull Moment: 1971,
The Year that Rock Exploded.” He’s a superb writer, full of intelligence, and very funny without showing off.
Also Kenneth Clark’s “Animals and Men in Art.” Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo.

GG: What is your favorite TV show at the moment?

RC: I’m not a TV watcher. Just “The Situation Room” on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.
Roger Craik

IN MEMORY

An office door marked Lewis Fried.


Nothing more.

Behind the door marked Lewis Fried,


a desk, three chairs, all surfaces bare.

Lewis Fried.
Nothing more.
THE “!” EPIDEMIC

Nothing now’s
allowed to be anything
unthrilling, mundane, just as it is,
for he is here: viz:

He’s everywhere!
There’s no restraining him!!
He goes after everything!!!
Ode to Mrs. Claus

Inflated on the nation’s lawns she stands


Wed but unbeatified beside
Her lord’s red-robed rotundity. Benign
In tiny spectacles she glows amidst
The chafing antlered parcel-groaning sled,
His welcome-armed huzzahs and ho ho ho
And snow that neither drifts nor blows upon
The arctic wastes of supermarket glass.

Can it be right for man to live alone


Or natural to thrive a bachelor --
His evenings all his own beneath a lamp,
With book and pipe and, later, bath and bed?
America is having none of that,
Still less for him, a present-bearing thief,
Both brave and free, to plunge himself so deep
Into a million chimneys’ secret flues
And spangle bounties at the sock-hung hearth
For little girls, and little boys, unless
By matrimony’s filament he’s bound
To her, whose rosy-bunched pincushion face,
Grandmotherly-indulgent, free from death’s
Disfiguring advance, is always there
To smile approval on his toil, and us.

But is this all she is, subordinate


To him around whose rubicund physique
Some mystery, however faint, still swirls?
Pronounce his name, in Dutch “San Nicolaas,”
To be the immigrant you never were.
Your saint once lived a persecuted man,
Imprisoned, tortured for belief. And her?
Could she have had a name, this Mrs. Claus,
And what, if past she had, was ever hers
Before her married immortality?--
A menstruating goose-girl by a brook
Shadowed by the dark Carpathians
Before the soldiers came? Or, if that fail,
Just call her Jade and have her sliding down
A fireman’s pole. Still not convinced? Try this:
“That’s her, third from the left, at Bennington,
Graduating class of ’21 --
Not brilliant, but capable, at least,
Of seeing something pointed out to her.”

Consider creatures as were born in fire


Or ash, the half-lion half-man manticore,
Or else conceived by sun in muddy banks
Or thriving jewel-eyed in the rotting hearts
Of century-old oaks! How quaint these seem,
Consigned to fable, woodcut, analect,
And yet this Mrs. Claus, who year by year
Proclaims the very insecurities
That gave her birth, prodigious stands at ease
As fear and dogma’s mismatched masterpiece.
Roger G. Singer

HIDDEN

summer drift magnolias,

delicate morning rain,


wet glazed roads,
humid fat air

soaked canvas awnings


settle out with the
first part of sun

welcome heat, thankful shade,


leaning back, white shirt,
open collar,
a drink and paper umbrella

sounds of distant traffic


over a brown marsh

I’m hidden
where I should be
DREAM IMAGE

it was a gray tunnel

there was a man


wearing an
overcoat and hat

his back toward me


walking quickly away,
weaving to the sides,
heavy steps
raising dust from
a crimson road

he was joined
by a white bird,
its wings covering
the man

his image lost


as the creature
took flight
THAT WAY

before evening
there’s an
afternoon asleep

a recipe of gathering,
irresponsibility

street corners
the city breathes
then exhales
a boxcar moaning
steel

old faces disturbed


that youth is wasted
as age burns the
fire out
then points to
the past

laughing infrequently
wondering what’s left

digging into empty


pockets

going this way,


same as that way
S.W. Campbell

Club 12-21

It was a squat cinderblock building on the street side edge of a weed filled lot. A crumbling stone edifice
slowly eroding away under the hydraulic pressure of progress. They surveyed it as they approached. Tom the
tall one, Tina with the hawkeyes, Zara with the dyed red hair, and Mickey with the nose. The tan paint of the
structure was chipping away. A giant martini glass graced the side, along with a pronouncement promising
both dancing and barbeque. Tina was walking fast, her excitement palpable. The rest were more reserved, but
hustled to keep up.
The front door opened to a small room. A skinny shadow sat behind a pane of glass so thick it at least
gave the appearance of being bulletproof. The glass was so scratched that it was impossible to see through to
the other side.
“Five bucks,” said the muffled voice of the shadow.
Tina and Zara rummaged through their pockets. They didn’t have five bucks. They just had
cards. Tom paid for both, dutifully pushing a twenty into the small slit like opening at the bottom of the
glass. The shadow inside pushed back a five. Tom made Mickey pay for himself. By the other door was a fat
man perched on a little stool. With a grunt he rose and wanded each with a handheld metal detector before
waving them on through the next door. Tina was trembling. Zara gave the man a wink.
“I’d rather be frisked,” she said.
The man only grunted in reply. Tom and Mickey stood perfectly still when it was their turns, their legs
spread wide and their arms outstretched.
“Like Jesus on the cross,” said Mickey.
The four friends laughed. The fat man only grunted and returned to his stool. Tom was unsure, but he
was pretty sure the fat man rolled his eyes as the second door closed behind them.
It was dark through the second door, which shouldn’t have been that surprising given that it was a
windowless cinderblock building. It looked like any other place. A bar in the back, a dance floor in the front,
and tables of various sizes scattered here and there. The place was mostly empty, just two people sitting at one
of the tables, their faces lit ghoulishly by a single candle. Both looked up when the group walked in. They did
not glance away. They just stared. It stopped Tom in his tracks, but none of the others noticed. They made
their way to the bar with necks made of rubber. Tom followed dutifully, uneasy, but not willing to abandon the
expedition.
The bartender was a tall woman with sinewy arms and a heavier than expected rack given her
frame. She watched them approach, and by the time they arrived had apparently decided to be welcoming.
Customers were customers. A toothy white smile lit up the darkness.
“What will you have?”
Vodka soda, IPA, and whiskey ginger. Tom ordered a PBR.
“We’ve got Rainier.”
Tom nodded that it would be fine. Tina paid to make up for the payment at the door. Mickey tapped
Tom with his elbow and gestured towards the far end of the bar.
“Check that out.”
Tom looked over. Perched on the bar, leering at them, was a three foot tall monkey in an immaculate
butler’s suit, the whole shebang carved from a block of wood.
“That’s fucking awesome.”
Tom nodded in mute agreement. Zara was chatting up the bartender.
“Pretty quiet in here.”
The bartender was leaning over the bar.
“You’re just a bit early. Things will start to pick up pretty soon.”
Tom finished his Rainier and ordered another. Zara paid for it to make up for the door. The beer tasted
a little off, they needed to clean their pipes, but it wasn’t terrible. Besides, it helped him feel more relaxed.
The usuals started to pour in knots of ones, twos, and threes. They ranged from young to middle aged,
clothed from casual to a more festive formal. One guy had on striped pants and a matching vest, the chunky
lady on his arm in a bright red cocktail dress, but most of the rest wore jeans and t-shirts, looser fitting for the
men and curvaceously tight for the women. The bartender flicked some switches behind the bar and
multicolored lights began to move across the dance floor. An old chipped disco ball slowly began to spin.
Tom didn’t like the way the people coming in kept looking at him and his friends, so he sat down in a
stool and stared at the liquor bottles along the back wall. The others didn’t seem to notice. They gaped at the
world around them, bright eyed as young children at the aquarium. Tom looked too, he couldn’t help himself,
but he at least tried to keep it from being obvious. He finished his second beer and ordered himself a third. A
thick waisted middle aged man in a white dress shirt sat down next to him without a word. Tom let himself
relax. He was getting worked up over nothing. Everything was all right.
The music selection was a bit eclectic. Hip-hop, motown, pop, and funk, with a random rockabilly song
thrown in here and there. Zara wanted to dance. She grabbed Tom by the arm and drug him out onto the empty
floor. Tina and Mickey followed. They gyrated, jerking this way and that. Tom was a good dancer, his friends
always told him so, but out on the floor he felt awkward. He could feel every eye in the place. They were
watching. Someone hooted, most likely at the girls. Somebody else laughed. Mostly it was just the music and
the general hum of numerous conversations in a cramped space. Tom willed himself to relax. It was all in his
head. He closed his eyes and danced.
Tina brushed up against him for a moment. She was still trembling, but her eyes were bright in the
flashing lights, a self-satisfied smile smugly creasing her lips. I’ve always wanted to come in here. That’s what
her face said, a silent mimic of the words that she had released back at the Vendetta. Zara and Mickey were
dancing together, twirling and dipping, Mickey’s face creased with concentration and Zara laughing in his arms.
The beer in Tom’s belly bubbled. His buzz wavered for a moment, but held firm. The song ended. Zara, Tina,
and Mickey moved back towards the bar. Tom shifted his own course to find the bathroom. The monkey butler
on the bar was still leering, its lips pulled back to show rows of giant teeth, a sneering false grin.
The bathroom was the same as the bathroom of any bar made out of cinderblocks. A couple urinals, a
shitter without a door, a piss stained floor, and a fetid stench mixed with the harsh scent of cleaning
agents. Tom did his business and left the brightly lit world of the bathroom behind. He stood by the door for a
moment, letting his eyes adjust. People were hooting and hollering. Two men were out on the dance floor,
their white t-shirts hanging nearly to their knees, their limbs gyrating at what seemed impossible speeds. Tom
started walking towards his friends.
A man rose from a stool and partially blocked his way. It was the man in the striped pants with the
matching vest. His opened shirt was framed by a gold chain. His face was punctuated by a pointed beard. He
looked like a stereotype of Sammy Davis Junior. A stereotype seemingly brought to life, but everyone in the
place looked as though they were actors in some film directed by a director looking to fully meet expectations
of an urban scene. The caricature leaned in close, his voice barely audible above the music.
“Do you all want….?”
The rest was lost in the din of the bar. Tom smiled in a friendly way and leaned in closer.
“Excuse me?”
The man put his mouth right up next to Tom’s ear. His words were slow and perfectly clipped at both
ends.
“I said. Would you all like to get your pictures taken with us?”
The beer gurgled in Tom’s belly. The comfortable buzz slipped away. It took a moment for his brain to
process the words. The smile remained stupidly plastered across his face.
“No thank you.”
Tom moved away. The man watched him go. Everyone watched him go. All eyes were on him, even
the bartender’s. Tom dried his palms on his jeans. He felt himself fidget a bit as he always did when he was in
front of an audience. The music was booming across the place. He leaned in close to Tina.
“We’ve got to go.”
Tina looked at him, surprise across her face. Zara and Mickey leaned in. Zara’s voice blared above the
song.
“What’s going on?”
Tom raised his own voice to match.
“We’ve got to go.”
Zara looked confused.
“Why?”
Tom felt on the edge of panic. Couldn’t they see? Couldn’t they understand? He hadn’t wanted to
come. He had let himself get talked into it. A mistake. It had all been a stupid mistake.
“Just trust me.”
Zara looked cross.
“No, tell us why the hell…….”
“Just trust me.”
Tom’s voice was louder than he had meant it to be. People looked up, for a moment staring directly
rather than just out of the corner of their eyes. Mickey licked his lips. He glanced around.
“I’m ready to go.”
The girls closed their tabs and the group headed towards the door. Tom looked back as they pushed
their way out. The dance floor was crowded. Figures rising up to fill it to the brim. The mocking false grin of
the monkey butler was the last thing Tom saw before the door swung closed.
The fat man was scanning a couple coming in. They looked up with surprise at Tom and the group
coming out. The fat man didn’t say a word. Neither did the skinny shadow behind the scratched up
glass. Outside, people were smoking, eyes and teeth bright in their faces. Tom could almost swear that he
could read their minds. He politely apologized as he pushed his way past the throng, leading the way in the
retreat the two blocks it took to get back to the Vendetta.
The bar was full of smiling faces framed by beards and glasses that flashed in the muted light. The
entryway was clogged by houseplants magically transported from the childhoods of everyone inside. The group
pushed through the crowd and stood about unsure for a second before a couple in matching flannels and
Carhartt beanies abandoned a booth next to one of the big windows. A pale girl, her skin almost translucent,
with dreads and her septum pierced came over to take their order. Vodka soda, IPA, and whiskey ginger. Tom
ordered a PBR.
Zara leaned forward.
“I was having fun, why the hell did we have to leave?”
Tom willed the muscles in his shoulders to loosen, but they refused to comply.
“A guy asked me if we wanted to get our picture taken with him.”
“So what?”
The pale girl brought back the drinks. Tom waited until she walked away.
“Think about it.”
Tina’s face was scrunched up in that way it did when she was thinking, her eyes locked on the drink in
front of her. Mickey was staring at his own reflection in the window, pretending to see the wider world outside.
Zara rolled her eyes.
“So one guy was an asshole. So what?”
Tom looked up at the purposefully exposed pipes, wires, and venting overhead.
“It wasn’t just the guy. They obviously didn’t want us there.”
“We weren’t bothering anybody.”
Tom looked back down at Zara. Her face was full of righteous defiance. He took a sip from the tallboy
can in front of him.
“Jesus Zara, we were in their space.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Did you see anyone else that looked like us in there?”
“So I’m only allowed to go certain places?”
Tom rubbed his face with his hand and let out an audible sigh of frustration. Tina looked up, her voice
was quiet.
“It felt fine to me. Just a place full of people.”
Tom looked to Mickey for help, but Mickey just kept pretending to look out the window. Zara blithely
plunged her way forward.
“I’m Persian. I wouldn’t care if they came into a Persian place.”
Tom gritted his teeth. If Zara never mentioned she was Persian nobody would ever know. Tom thought
about pointing this out, but decided to keep focus on the matter at hand. He took a breath in and let it out.
“Us being there wasn’t the problem.”
Zara rolled her eyes.
“Then what was the fucking problem?”
Tom took another drink from his beer. He could feel his temper starting to rise.
“Why the hell did we go there?”
It was louder than Tom meant it to be. Zara’s volume rose to meet his.
“I went to have a beer and go dancing.”
“Bullshit!”
Tom slapped his hand down on the table, rattling the drinks. Heads across the bar swung around to look.
Tom took in another deep breath and let it out. He counted silently in his head. The heads swung away. Tina
was looking at her drink again, her forehead creased with thought. Zara refused to stop.
“Then why was I there Tom? Huh? Why was I there?”
She was going to force him to say it. She was fucking going to force him to declare it out loud. He
chewed on the insides of his cheeks. When he spoke, he kept his voice as calm and even as he could, only the
barest hint of his anger forcing its way through.
“It was their space. It was their space and we acted like it was a fucking zoo.”
The color drained out of Tina’s face. Zara started laughing.
“Fuck Tom, you are so naive.”
Tom slumped in his seat, exhausted. She didn’t get it. She just didn’t get it. Mickey turned his
attention back to the group.
“I think I’m going to head home.”
Tom rose to let him out. Tina looked up, a hint of guilt in her eyes.
“I think I’ll head home too.”
They all rose. For a moment there was a pause as payment was silently considered, but Tom ended it by
putting some cash on the table that should more than cover it. Goodbyes were somber and subdued, the hugs
quick and perfunctory. At the door they split up, Tom going up the street and the rest going down. Tom pushed
his way past a few smokers and looked back. Zara was laughing, her arm intertwined with Tina’s. Mickey was
slightly ahead of them. Tom turned and started walking toward home, newly built structures of steel, concrete,
and glass rising on either side.
Sasha Sinclair

Sunday

Easily I succumb to forget mine mind


Wreaking havoc in such colourful devastation
I drink the Lord’s blood as if it were wine

Please do not think me as unkind


I sell cancer to children with crying carnations
Easily I succumb to forget mine mind

On crow’s feet and angel’s wings I dine


Forbidden fruit teases the way to temptation
I drink the Lord’s blood as if it were wine

Father time plays xylophone upon your frigid spine


Heed the heavenly skies in its hungry desperation
Easily I succumb to forget to mine mind

I bathe in Holy water watching my tears go blind


Witness unworthy confessions seeking salvation
I drink the Lord’s blood as if it were wine

Results may vary in the stillness of time


Begins the descent of our accursed creation
Easily I succumb to forget mine mind
I drink the Lord’s blood as if it were wine
Ballade of a Scarecrow

A lost testimony walks alone


Unhindered by the cool velvet darkness that surrounds
The deafening silence
Broken only by her stiletto serenade
Thundered down the vacant halls with echo shudders
In her peril
Engulfed by the emotions ensued
A pair of brightness occurs
In the shallow midst of death
They flicker mere hope
Under a blanket of moths

As the lonely testimony


Walks ways of the unspoken path
Her destiny of hypocrisy
Fulfilled through dead cherub’s past
She wishes them hell
And bade them farewell
Remembering the innocent
Touched in filthy heat
Between cold sheets

She falls to her knees


Soaking in red vein
And sobs out her secret
On unforgiving concrete tombs
God equals rape, and rape equals hate
Through hate, a life of suffering
So those weak hearted souls perish
The world screams their last breath
That breaks her audible silence
Through cries of rejected prayers

So the only testimony


Cuts the skin a little bit deeper
Her destiny of debauchery
Will soon meet the hands of the Reaper
She wishes them well
And bade them farewell
Remembering the innocent
Groped in filthy heat
Between urine sheets

The light suddenly becomes brighter


Its moth blanket burned to ash
And she looks towards those burning eyes of jesus
Her symphony begins
To her renewed stiletto serenade
The notes jarring slightly as she staggers in drunken stupor
Desperate to reach those protective arms of jesus
At last she collapses at the foot of his warmth
And glances up
Expecting long awaited security
But to her dismay
Finds that jesus’ eyes were merely two pillars
Of candles white
Enclosed in the candle’s casket of light
Was steel gallows
Polished in blood

Then the phony testimony


Bleeds the dream to the very last drop
Her destiny of inhumanity
Forbids the pain to ever stop
She wishes them hell
And bade them farewell
Remembering the innocent
Fucked in filthy heat
Between sperm sheets

Amidst the shadows of the jesus candle’s eyes


She captured a glimpse of a scarecrow
Dancing the foxtrot
Atop the steel-blood gallows
He notices his visitor
Hops down to greet her
Presenting his suitcase of skeletons
Then without warning
Tosses it into the air
Showering them in a gale of bones
That left a tinkling shatter throughout the hall
He took a bow
And kissed her hand, with a mouth full of maggots
Through his lips of burlap
Hissed a voice of mock kindness
Lined heavily with spite
And so he gave his proposition:

“Do you ever find yourself growing claws


And climbing up the walls?
Where the molested child cries for god
And their neglected prayers prove him a fraud?
If so, the time has come for judgment day
God will never answer
No matter how much you pray
You’re a scar for life
With your territorial goodbyes
There’ll be no more lingering shadows
That haunt your eyes
If you come with me
I can set you free…”

The scarecrow held out his hand


And the candles gave a dull flicker
She looked into his empty eyes
And grabbed his hand without hesitation
It cracked like dry fingernails
At her satin touch
He led his testimony where the corpse of a priest hung
And they exchanged their final vows
Under the red-stained steel
Sharing their first kiss
Lips blue with death against a slash of rotting burlap
With quivering maggots caressing a cold tongue
That blew jesus’ eyes out
Scott Glassman

Book of Redundant Funerals

A wild rabbit
Chewing a blade of grass
Has bankrupted our
System of officiants
So that nothing can become
Betrothed to anything else
I wish it were my toe
It was chewing
And not the soft binding
Of a meadow
Because when the pages
Of clouds and trees
Come loose like that
It is almost impossible
To get them back
In order
Bike Ride

Go ride your bike


Why
Because I said so
Go ride your bike
Why
It is good to get outdoors
Go ride your bike
Why
The teeth of the box
You are in
Won’t kill you as easily
Go ride your bike
Why
I don’t know
If there will be
Any more daylight
Why
Because they have determined
It is unessential
So
If I ride my bike
Will you love me
Of course
Absolutely
Without question
Driftwood

You woke up with a dry mouth


It was either the desert of dreaming
Or an unseasonably cold night
I said get some water
You said I poured it on the bed
No don’t do that
But it was a fact
We floated in the Bering Sea
On a raft made of candlesticks
How we floated
I could not tell you
I wore a vest of white carnations
Your black cocktail dress
Was unaffected by the waves
I blamed you for turning our bed
Into an ocean
You said let’s get another
Cheesesteak egg roll before they are all gone
The server never did
Come around again
The raft was actually
A piece of fuselage
Charred around its edges
It was already night
And I asked you how many years
It had been since we got married
You looked at me and said really
Was I born in a barn
No, but I do think
We have more to talk about
If they find us
Dinner Party

Roses are red


Violets are blue
You’ve heard this one
I ate the roses
And turned red
Wilting in the careful arrangement
Of our home
Whatever you put in the water
Didn’t help
I wilted and you said
This is downright
Ridiculous
Staying at home
Like this
Eating our flowers
Allowing yourself to wilt
I said what’s done is done
What will we put on the table
In its place you asked
The violets
Because nothing can fool the dead
Like violets
At the Altar

As the lawnmowers worked outside


To neaten corners
I stared at the smoke detector
And found God
Through its two small openings
I wondered what
You might sound like
Before the echo
The awkward silence
No sudden miracles
Around the escalation
A thrown bouquet
Arms extended
Names crossed off
The guest list
Shu Cao Mo

from the waters to the sky and back

I want to talk to you about love


But when I see how you love, with such compassionate passion and immediate intimacy,
I know that I know nothing of love

Nonetheless, I will articulate what I can,


while entreating you to tolerate my clumsy attempt

Love writes itself in the stars


in constellation forms

Love is atonement made by one god for the other

and we, the sacrifice.

Love whispers to me,


my incompletion without you;
a swirling centrifuge of pure love and desire,
of yearning and longing for one another toward
completion, toward a melodic reunion; a dance of reenactment; a present un-locked via time in space

In the swirling waters


when the death instinct is invoked,
when one recognizes one’s own insignificance
when one soul is recognized by another
when in solitude,
in discovery of the depth of one's sorrows
in the willingness to dive in, going deeper,
to take one more step,
toward the unexplored.
in looking at the stars together
yielding, turning the neck up
watching, the motion of a full moon
gently, proudly, unapologetically, rises from east to and falls in the west

The moon rarely encounters the sun, But we, never, call upon one without forgetting the other.

Sometimes, when I do see the two hanging in the sky together, I recognize the loneliness of one, in the
other.

Tell me when
My heart will drop its yearning
for the heat of the desert
and the petals flowing on the pool
for the skillful maneuvering of
a vehicle, squirming for recognition

You dissolve the aching of my heart’s longing, by calling for me the spirit of my brothers. I cry out: I have
been waiting for you all these years.

I see lightning across the sky; the next millisecond, it is gone. I can’t prove that it has ever happened, to the
eyes who have missed it. I see the majesty of nature’s creation. I look on, in a state of awe.

I fall away, in my yearning for you,

both of you are parts of me,

and I —

(the same sound in Mandarin as the word for love, in English)

Please continue on living,


and live well,
I wish so so selfishly, because without you,
I would have lost my soul self.

If you don't see me again,

go to the ocean
taste the saltiness of ocean breeze, and
dance to the rhythm of the seagull cooing.

If you can’t make it to the sea,


close your eyes,
and see blue.

If you are keen on cross pathing, please let a pebble drop into your heart while murmuring the following words:

"I belong to life.


and life belongs to me."
a child and her mother

How did I become your daughter?


Art is not your forte, physics is your subject.
I am so different from you,
Jarring is our difference,
Unplanned is perhaps this unity
Almost uncanny is our past
Negotiating as I am with it
Sitting in wonder.

Heaven and
Earth,
Nihilates our difference.

Love, a dirty word, born out of


shame, out of an ill-locked marriage web.
Love is what remains unsaid
denying articulation
when a child returns to her moon-shaped cradle.

Love is holding onto her breaths, holding—


one, two three, holding on—
her breathes stopped,
her fists clenched,
as she heard the beating hand
her mother’s muffled resistance,
her own heartbeats, loud as drumbeat,
risen up her throat,
and fallen into her mother’s heart, unbroken
Love is what remains when a child falls into a coma.

Love is a bucket of blood spilled over and wiped off


from the tips of her man’s lips.
Love is a count to infinity, of screams
of muffled shouts into the air,
over and over, that made you forget—
that you had existed.
Love is loneliness borne out of suffering
Love is a tapestry of solitude that wrapped
both her and her mother up,
enveloping as they doze off into the finite night.

Love is waking up and picking up the breadcrumbs


left untouched at the dining table
Love is keeping her mouth shut so her being
light as feather, not a disturbance to anyone around her,
the air, thin and untouched.

Love is pretending that silence is the new normal,


following traces of deafening silence like breadcrumbs,
fallen off the edges.

Love is silence after


fights of the night before,
the day before,
and the day after,
Until tomorrow,
become just another day,
like today, frozen and untouched.

Love is staring into your eyes on the subway,


Into the abyss of dismal pain,
And forgotten which city they were trapped in time,
Which country,
Whose land,
And whose forceful request of silencing us,
We had disciplined ourselves to acquiesce.

Love is for you and me,


Papa.
pain is a web for spiders

It eats me up periodically while I lust after that bloated sensation of bladder convulsion.
My eyes are patched up with cucumber slices and cutting sounds from a chopping board nearby.
Aphrodite dips her toes into a jar filled with blue ink

Eroticism unwinds me, the twisted spider curling, zig-zagging


The willows trees nodding, inviting in the spring equinox,
in Victoria Park, chemi, a la carte,
Dingy cockroaches making a farce in a cursed pandora box filled with Beauty and Justice
Statue of Liberty waves her triumphant torch at the sailors, their boats docked, I leap to her arms
She with her never ending, unbearable surprises
Will build a coalition of with armed workers
Humming, soothing, harmonious schizophrenia

The Will to Power, is the road to Power of Will


My grandfather in the Big Apple,
Was the best old hound dog,
I ever did know.

The spider tells my cockroaches to find the path to free will while I am still in love with you on the
chopping board

A web full of spiders.


a walk on mt. shasta

I am walking out of my father’s shadow.


I ask myself, is anything possible?
I dust myself off snowfalls of self-doubts and wrangle myself free from whispers of Fate

I tie my rosary around my wrist,


I start spinning it, so each bean of curse is turning into a blessing.
I am walking out of my father’s shadow.

I mull over my rosary starry-eyed,


In the limbo of light and dark, my lips hang on tight to my prayer.
I dust myself off snowfalls of self-doubts and wrangle myself free from whispers of Fate

I step into another trap, fallen but not given in,


I tilt my head and let the sunshine cascading on my left shoulder,
Falling, I am walking out of my father’s shadow.

I hold up the mirror called Narcissus


I spit on that mirror
I dust myself off snowfalls of self-doubts and wrangle myself free from whispers of Fate.
on the holy and the chaste

This is a conversation between me and god alone.

No one comes between me and him.

In the garden of Eden, we see our own nudity.

Ashamed we have become.

Of knowing wisdom.

Of knowing good from evil.

Of becoming, mortals.

What do I see?

What do I know?

I see nothing. I know nothing.

Ignorance is bliss.

I am afraid of ugliness.

I am afraid of beauty.

I am afraid of seeing darkness inside of me.

I am afraid of being overcome by grace.

We are no more angels.

Angels do not distinguish between

good and evil.


We are mirrors

of gods.

Innocent, no longer. Fallen, we have.

Belonging.

Dwelling.

Lost a world.

Gained a planet.

Recovering from the trauma of the Copernicus turn,

Too sharp was the turn from Galileo that the anthropocene got dizzy.

Tibetan flowers ceremony.

Look at a flower and then smile.

Think about death and choose life.

I pretend that I have not walked East of Eden.

Through the declaration that, I am.

One day, I killed my Self, like what Caine did to Abel.

I usurped her life, and God become vengeful.

I don’t know in which order the events took place.

My days are filled with resurrections of hope.


I take each moment like how a minute ticks,

walking on the clock of eternity.

And your mother never had sex with your father,

is this something that you are proud of Jesus?

For Christ’s sake.

When did chastity turn into a poker game for control and/or power?

How did sex become equated with women’s loss of freedom?

Plan B is contingency, not an evil, plan

When pharmaceuticals are part of God’s plan.

Wearing a cross undoes suffering.

I watch it dingle on the chest of nuns,

It is a deliberate, and perhaps—

divine, choice.

Willingly suspend all forms of disbelief.

Ask not: what is possible for you? Ask instead: what do you want?

Highlight you, please.

Women of innocence wear their hearts on their sleeves.

What size of a suitcase does a man need to put your heart in?
Stuart Cooke

Jilin

He was slowly going mad in that hotel, but otherwise the fortnight had passed more or less without incident.
Each night he would see them at dinner, and their conversation would be pleasant enough, if not hopelessly
guarded. During the afternoons he walked in rings around the hotel compound, counting the remaining time
until the next meal while the lawns choked in the low light. As he walked he would think back to earlier
residencies, which were the closest experiences he’d had to something like this. Did he always feel this same
sense of isolation, like he had been quarantined, somehow, from what was happening? It felt so precarious.
Everyone was very friendly and smiled when he sat down at the table, but he could say the wrong thing, or he
could not say enough good things, and no doubt it would be all over soon enough. Whatever he thought might
happen here was all hidden now beneath layers of routine and awkwardness, and any attempt to retrieve it
would only result in disappointment.
Partly, he felt, it was because there were too many of them. In addition to the five international writers,
there was a veritable entourage of translators, assistants and photographers, along with some thirty local writers.
Wherever they went, they went in droves. He felt like he couldn’t feel anything, travelling in this way. So much
energy and attention were spent on the dynamics of the group that he had little left to think about the
landscape. “Paradoxically,” he said to one of the other guests, an older poet from Texas, on a stroll after dinner,
“I only feel comfortable writing about a place if I have experienced it on my own. When I’m introduced to it
with locals and all their knowledge and context, it’s as if I haven’t any access to it, like whatever it is that I’m
after has been hidden.” But the Texan poet had little time for axioms or theories and only smiled, and looked up
at the stars.
So mostly what he wrote was for a deadline back home, something which could have been written
anywhere, at almost any time. Other than that, he wondered what more he could do, where life was to be
found, how to write about something other than being a writer. Because for a while now he had seemed
incapable of writing about anything else. After breakfast one morning, with a playwright from Panama, he
discussed the ingredients of a good memoir, though he had hardly read any. In general he liked to decry writing
that was so focused on the self. Yet all that seemed to interest him these days was his own experience of the
world—not just his own thoughts and feelings, but the world as it presented itself to his body. Virtually all of
his recent stories had featured only one character, a nameless male who was as forgettable as possible so as not
to get in the way or impede his record of the encounter of light with objects. In the same way, all of his poems
were accounts of moments, of intense sensations, and the body—his, anyone’s—was but the vehicle for their
description.
Indeed, he wasn’t even sure if he had anything new to say anymore; sometimes it seemed to him that all
he enjoyed was the act of writing itself, the vibrations of a slicked ball-point as it glided across the page, the
looping notation of his cursive like a kind of sketching, a graphic confirmation that something had happened,
that beauty was being formed. If nothing else, writing by hand demanded a patience and attention to detail that
had started to evaporate from other parts of his life.
These were the thoughts with which he was preoccupied as the days went by—the same thoughts, really,
that he might have had back home, or anywhere else, for that matter. But he had flown thousands of kilometres
to get here, as had the rest of the international contingent. He almost scoffed to himself when he thought of the
vast sums of money involved, of how little any of it had been put to good use. After a tour to a local volcano on
the first two days, during which everyone was too jetlagged to take much in, they had moved to another city for
the beginning of ‘the program’, which consisted primarily of occasional meetings with the local writers in a large
room deep inside the hotel, with plush, cream carpet and ostentatious wooden panelling. But the local writers
couldn’t speak English, and those from overseas knew nothing of Mandarin, so conversation was a dull, stilted
affair that had to be channelled entirely through one exhausted translator.
Much of his focus in the meetings was on trying not to look insufferably bored. It wasn’t that he didn’t
recognise the incredible privilege of having been invited here, of having been flown across the globe to attend
and to share his ideas, but rather that the distance between what the program could have been and what it was
frustrated him. Indeed, when this distance was overcome, when life realised or surpassed his expectations, then
he seemed ready to write, he was brimming with the desire to tell. Otherwise, there was the beautifully blank
page, which promised so little but, when filled with even a modestly coherent piece of writing, suggested a near-
miraculous evolution of form against the overwhelming probabilities of the void.
What if it was all little more than a relationship between absence and presence? On the way out for
another afternoon stroll, he decided to go to the gardens by the lake, with their concentric circles of paths and
plants. On such occasions he imagined that he would discover something—some form or colour or
conjunction—that would inspire more work. But so far he had come up short. This time, he came upon one of
the local writers down by the edge of the water. He liked the look of her, she seemed very calm and self-aware,
and he had enjoyed what she’d said in the meetings, albeit as it came to him through the translator. But when
she saw him, he noticed how she paused a moment, as if, like him, she felt exposed in the open air. But with
little other option than to try and talk, they smiled and said hello.
“I like what you say,” she said, “that it’s—it’s important to think about the nature, and—and climate
change—and not to just say pretty thing—only pretty thing—yes?”
“Yes, exactly!” he said, maybe a little too eagerly, “Nature is very beautiful, but it is also very serious.”
Even though he was smiling, she didn’t seem to relax. “You are always—very—very serious!” she said,
“Never smiling.”
If his laugh sounded hysterical, it was because he wanted to render her comment unbelievable. A little
earlier, back at the hotel over lunch, he had had the other international writers laughing about his obsessive
hygiene habits; of their group, he was the one they’d turn to for comic relief. But something about her comment
thrust him immediately into his childhood body, to the back of a car, to his angry mother telling him to stop
moping about, to be grateful for what everyone was doing for him. He was repulsed—whether by this writer or
by the memories of his self, he couldn’t be sure—and he needed to get away. Her eyes, which before he had
considered compassionate, had grown tense and flashed sharp spines. As the two bodies bowed and backed
away until they could be swept up in the anonymity of light, he was reeling, already searching desperately for
somewhere else to rest his mind.
Of course, he knew that she had exposed what is most vulnerable in the traveller, his relationship to his
home. It was all very well to explore new places but, given the superficial level on which he understood most of
them, exploration could do little more than coat over a deeper question: why did you leave home? Only with
other travellers, smiling in their mutual acceptance, could he avoid the turn, and encounter newness as if he
were at the beginning of another world so glorious that it consumed time and erased any trace of the past.
And so he returned a little more eagerly than usual to the hotel and the impending dinner hour. There
they all were in the dining hall again, a lethargic flock slowly pecking through their food and of what they could
see of others’ thoughts. Already two of the women writers had become quite close. They touched each other in
consolation, held each other in happiness. He watched them laugh. Why won’t they hold me? On one of the
first nights he had thought that one of them liked him, but in the morning she had forgotten his name. He was
aware that it was something to do with his demeanour, with the way he frowned as he ate, how he appeared
aloof or self-contained, when really it was a shield for his shyness. One of the photographers told him that he
looked like a soldier. If individual moments seemed to flare up like shooting stars before disappearing into
time’s inky flow, it was because their lives had been compressed onto train tracks: beyond one horizon, what
they had left behind; beyond another, what appeared to be the future but would, ultimately, bend back into the
past. In between there was only this preposterously large hotel, and successions of buffet meals, and circles
through emerald woods. The challenge of dealing with it seemed as great as trying to craft it into some kind of
story. For what purpose was he here? To what end?
What was most perplexing was that the absence of obvious answers to these questions didn’t seem to
have any impact on the weight of his own being—as much as the difficulty of the questions seemed to imply
that his life, even if temporarily, had become unmoored or unstuck, or that he had lost hold of what was most
necessary or compelling, he was still left with the raw facts of his body and its complete immersion in the events
of his surroundings. And nothing in the expressions of others suggested that he could manage to be any deeper
inside the place in which he found himself or, indeed, somewhere else on another timeline altogether.
The task, then, was to identify a way in which it could all end, or to order events into a sequence that
would suggest a plausible logic for his movements through the world, a teleology which could explain whatever
it was he was doing, whatever he wanted to do, by situating it as a cog or a cell or a step in a larger mechanism.
So he kept returning to the fold, to the dining room and its worn carpet, to the polite chatter of people who
cared little for one another but nevertheless cared more for each other than for solitude, or the possibility of
destitution. Who was applying for which residency? Whose book had been published with the most mistakes?
If he tried to focus on any moment in particular, all that emerged from the examination was a conviction that
the story was not being told.
Certainly, if he had been content to remain a poet then none of this need have been of concern. He
might have kept drifting, perfectly happy, to be caught by whatever temporary foothold the world might offer
him. But his determination to write stories kept pressing him up against a troubling realisation: no matter how
long the string of events leading to the present moment grew, he was completely incapable of combining them
into some form of impetus, of imagining how things might from here on unfold. All he could do was hope to be
able to catalogue and assess the information as it came to hand as quickly as possible, and to narrate it to himself
while life took place in real time, live. He could only observe, not postulate.
Still, he was aware of a slowly building pressure, a sense that something, soon, must happen and, if it
did, then a direction between this point and the next, future one could at last be established and time, presently
slumped like a dirty cloud around his head, would be extended into a long, smooth lie like a thread pulled from
a ball of yarn. It was the final piece of the railway track, the one that would join the future to the past. Steadily
enough, the possibilities dissolved until it seemed most likely that something singular from the present would
need to emerge which, with its striking uniqueness, would signal a significance, or a shift in tone or structure,
any of which might then be harnessed to forge a dam or disruption, a trip large enough to disable the circuit for
a moment, to introduce asymmetry, to induce the close.
Would it be today? he wondered over lunch during the final week. They were comparing how many
languages they spoke. How many do you speak? And you? There was French, German, Russian, Arabic,
Spanish, Italian. He had Spanish but everyone else did too, so he felt bland, and inadequate. Next thing,
everyone was competing for trauma. His father committed suicide when he was 20. He had been a political
prisoner. Her mother was dead. It all slipped by like a river, it all burned out into darkness like so many sparks.
For his walk that afternoon he felt like he needed to get out. He snuck from the hotel grounds and
walked into the city centre, where he had hoped to find some souvenirs for loved ones. But the enterprise was
largely fruitless. As he circled block after block, his anxiety slowly grew. How he could actually enter a store?
What would he say? And everyone would turn and stare at this strange, pale man. No, better to find things at
the airport!
But while returning to the hotel he was also conscious of how this anxiety had prevented a story from
taking hold, had stopped his search for some kind of drama, for an opera of forces that would knot together all
the trajectories and leave the story with enough energy only for the end. As if, in looking too closely, he pushed
the world away with his sight. He re-entered the hotel compound via a path that skirted the lake. A small boat
was tracing a line across the water; another of the foreign writers, a novelist from France, was watching it come
towards her. He waved, somewhat reluctantly, and she stood there waiting and squinting.
“Having a break?” she asked.
“It’s more that I can’t get started.”
She looked back out across the lake, and in so doing seemed to take part of his own being and spread it
over the water.
“Maybe you just need to stop,” she said. “Only then can you determine what’s essential.”
They started to walk slowly along the shore.
“Are you writing?”
“Yes, I can’t seem to stop. Nothing seems to be about this place or what we’re doing here, but so much is
welling up from the past, and now with all this time I can fashion it into anything I want.”
“But don’t you find that because of the sheer weight of it all it just gets stuck? How do you know where
to begin?” A chilled wind came barrelling over the lake.
“I try not to speak for the whole,” she said. “I try to find a thread and pull on it gently. If you lose focus,
you’ll flounder.” He could feel her about to drift away, as if she were able to float across the water.
“What about big ideas, then? Do stories always have to be so modest?”
“I suppose,” she said, “that the question is about time. If you can’t wait, if the forms can’t grow slowly
and then keep growing after the story’s over, then maybe you shouldn’t write it. Maybe some other kind of
prose would be better.”
“Or perhaps the ideas could use the story as a vehicle, like tics on the back of a dog.”
“Perhaps,” as she watched the boat, “but already we are in the realm of speculation, not story.”
“There’s a difference?”
“Yes, but it’s to do with feeling, not language. If you can’t feel it move then you probably aren’t telling a
story.”
She had become hazier, her face long since subsumed by her thoughts. Even as he focused on her
careful, measured steps across the earth, he could see her humanity disappear like wisps of her hair into the
wind, until what remained was a collection of warm symbols—some even scalding—whose meanings he
couldn’t discern but whose shapes were as clear as the twigs and pebbles on the ground. She was not a person
but a character, and barely a character at that; he saw only what she pointed to, but the world inside of her
remained hidden.
But at that moment she paused and looked back to him. Sunlight poured over her face. He hadn’t
moved, but his sight had followed, and now it collided with her own. There were no sounds, no more colours—
it wasn’t like that, there were no signs for interpretation. There was only a sense of rushing toward her body and
crashing against it like a wave, spray flying into the air, her orange-flecked eyes, strands of hair like flickers of
fossilised time.
But this wasn’t happening, at least not outside of his head, and as the day grew brighter—the sun
released from behind frail clouds—her entry into the world was recovered: she had waited for him long enough.
As she turned to walk away, he could feel the threads between them stretch, and begin to tear. And although he
started to follow after her, he had become a butterfly in gusts of wind, struggling for purchase in a medium that
suddenly blustered, and hurled; he was flying, or thrown away, or breaking free.
Susan Bowman

Delivering Love

The government sent a food box


A volunteer placed it down.
He wore a mask and silicone gloves,
He carefully looked around,
And tapping at the door frame,
Stepped away with dignified care,
While I cowered inside my home
Pretending I wasn’t there.
The bravest man I’ve seen today,
With a wave and a smile was on his way.
WILDLIFE

At first, they roam without aim


then, fueled by lust they seek the rest.
More eager, louder, braver, with all to gain,
they creep from door to door and test
what lurks within, as worth the cost
never prepared for a nights hunt lost.

Deciding when at last a proposition seems


to offer promise of carnal delight,
with hungry anticipation, the hunter deems,
worth a chance and disappears from sight.
Lost in the wilderness from dark til sun,
mingling with the species, having fun,
they while away the night.

Some hours pass as the sounds of the night diminish,


as flashing lights and music dim with the heat,
time to escape, to leave, to finish,
out they rush into the street.
Running wild with energy now,
they cower or they stand and fight;
the wildlife commonly spotted,
The city on a Saturday night.

Foxes
Under the moonlight, vixen prowls
amid the long grass damp with dew.
The quick red fox, no longer fast;
her belly almost dragging on the ground
heavy with cubs unborn, still demand
she obeys their need for food.

Tired and hungry, steadfast in her search,


looking for rodents on which to feed
and finding none resorts to grubs and slugs.
The odd frog will have to do tonight.
Tomorrow she will have to risk the town
Where she is not welcome but food abounds.

Exhausted now, she returns to the den


and there she tries to rest but aggravated by pain,
she shifts and fidgets and in the early hours of morn
with screams and whimpering groans
seven perfect female cubs are born.
She hasn’t long to rest before the need for food returns.
With babies suckling at her breast
her empty stomach burns.


Susan Lewis

Between the Creases


of our yearning there were racetracks of solitude & towers
of identification. Like reptiles we retrieved our long-lost
souls, absorbed in the harmonics of glaciated rubble.
Notes rained on our unsuspecting skin until the silence
swallowed us, although Everyman’s appetite for spectacle
could not be appeased. Why is none of this necessary you said,
knowing the sun had burned off our discernment & there
was no point digging through pearls for the quivering
tenderness of their risible makers.
Convinced of His Own Inconsequence

he spun off sparks like wedding complements or barbs


from a closet rival. Committees of the helpless assembled
quorums of frustration while chlorophyll drained from
every greeny cheek. There was little point in worming our
way into the muddied waters of Plato’s adoration, which
was palpable & sexual in equal & opposite measure.
Children were produced & scattered to the frightful
cosmic winds. Talk of the self was banned as idle
speculation, which quieted the mirrored halls of glower,
tickling our virtual monad to renew our liminal lease.
20 Fall 2020
Sylvester Close

You really
You really
cared You
about really
Youcared
really about
caredmy
You about
son,
really
cared heYouis
about really
my son,
doing
he my
well
is son, he is
cared about
You really
my son, cared
doing hewell
isabout
doing
mynow
well
son,
caredYou
about he
You
doing is
my son,
really
well he is
now now
really
doing
my son, well
he
now cared
is doing
aboutwell
nowcared myabout
now
son, he is
doingmywell
son, he is
now doingdoing
well
well
now
now
MRS. X IS BEING
BLACKMAILED.
MR. X SAID NOTHING
THAT SHE WOULD NOT
SAY TO A LOVER.
I FOLDED MY GOWN
AROUND MY WAIST.
LATER, I TOLD HIM I
WANTED TO BE JUST
LIKE HIM
You’re brilliant Mr
Crossword.
Is someone in
trouble?
He made himself
comfortable in my
armchair
And we had nothing
better to do than
eat curiously strong
peppermint candy
Tamizh Ponni

A STUNNING VISUAL

In the wake of the rain, I glimpsed a magic


That lit up the world with flare and frolic
Rubbing my eyes, I gaped in awe
Across the skies as murky clouds moved
Violet brought in the vivacity

Through tons of tints, smooth and slinky


Indigo glitzed it all up with radiance
While lucid lights dyed the vapoury lenses
Blue’s brilliance shined so bold
Azure and Sapphire; cyan in fold
Green was glossy with lustrous shine
Gleaming and glowing; fair and fine
Yellow’s golden flash, envied the rich
Holding them colours by an invisible stitch
Orange’s beams were soft and slight
Painting the space with a gaudy patch
Thanks to Red and its jazzy hues
The sky blushed like a deep red rose
Trimming the clouds with vivid bows
Their origin and end, nobody knows.
OUTCAST

How do I live a perfect life?


Amidst this fight to survive
Can’t it be black and white?
These grey areas are getting hostile
One mislaid tile on the floor
Is already giving them an eyesore
Even the purest halogen couldn’t kill
All the carnal pathogens in full
Is anything truly flawless or faultless?
Every so often, it all becomes a mess
While the world is busy conditioning
All the tiny little heads in the academy
Criminals preaching and preying
Upon the stages; among the flock
Of clueless sheep lapping up
The colourful lies flooding them
As I observed it all for a while
With endless doubts and ambiguity
I wondered who these saints were
To decide what’s right or wrong
To judge what’s lawful and not
Sorry folks,
I couldn’t fit the moulds
And forgot to follow the books
I was getting very busy
Emulating my beliefs,
Embracing my defects
Paying no heed
To the intentions of the world
Not really knowing
I was an outcast in the making.
Therese Murphy

Streams

It is so easy to get caught up in all that life incessantly demands of us. So much of what makes us feel
worthwhile or successful comes from the outside. It seems like there can never be enough. We collect
complements and trophies and money because it seems indistinguishable from our existence. But imagine a
stream running through the forest. It is beautiful and perfect and endless without agenda. If I stood by its side
and yelled so loudly that my voice scared the birds from the trees, the stream would not stop or change. It would
still dance. I could yell at the stream and tell it that it was worth nothing, and it would still dance. I could point
at it and say that it’s a shame that it wasn’t better, but it would still dance. “Why are you not a river or an ocean?
Why are you not louder or softer?” It would still dance. It just is, endlessly. Maybe I can still dance too.
Pearls

I don’t want to live life with a built-in valve - a one-way exchange between myself and the world, often letting
everything flood in and allowing nothing to escape. You can only do that for so long until you swell and leak
and eventually burst without order or regulation. You can’t sort that kind of mess logically for the world to
understand you and all of your little pieces. They are left to be picked through by lovers and strangers and
friends, but those people can’t see how they should fit together. Even worse, they might leave behind your
favorite ones in the wreckage. You see your shining gold and magnets and pearls where they saw nothing worth
saving. That is perhaps the worst part. I don’t want to have to tell anyone that a pearl is a pearl.
Mirrors

Three feet back from the mirror. I don’t like what I see. I pull out my endless scroll to recite the sacred litany of
flaws, but today something stops me. I walk so close to myself that my breath fogs the mirror. I look straight
into my eyes. Here I do not see any ugliness or hatred, no sense of being underwhelming or below standards. I
see the joy of first riding a bike, and the exhaustion of swimming for six hours on a hot summer day. I see
playing dress up as a child and running through a forest and cutting my own hair. I see freedom and love and
laughter and joy. Myself, unfiltered. People say that perspective comes with distance. But when the fight is
between you and your mirror, move closer.
Tony Trigilio

Heart-to-Heart Daytime Programming

The fingernail brings heart-to-heart


daytime programming by industrious
filmmakers. It begins in early November,
coinciding with this year’s evocation
of the pundit’s deadbeat fetter:
three kettle drummers astride
their thrill-provoking finches
and wisecrack dogs. We admire grass
roots in their eggshells. We admire
agnostics willing to tailgate Sunday
scrimmages. Their only misunderstanding—
pessimists and ex-project managers.
In other words, does there exist an absolute
between war of position and passive revolution?
The Passive-Aggressive Specter Fastened to a Ventilator

The passive-aggressive specter fastened


to a ventilator swore a vow of kindness.
His mustache directly overlooking the center,
the summer-house bonsai is cuckoo
with receipts. Enjoy the woodsmen, he said,
and your sophistry. If this assertion were true,
then the determining matrix of history
would be the kitchen and revolutions

would coincide with radical changes


in diet. The northern prowler released
military commerce, which was translated
by the grown-ups. Our browsers
penetrated their foul and camphor.
Frost advanced toward the clairvoyant.
How Do You Shingle Yourself

How do you shingle


yourself against neighbors
who withdraw to the geeky
telephone, the padre-

sniffing metropolitan?
This exemplifies
the theoretical problem
posed in The Poverty

of Philosophy of how
dialectic must be understood—
but now that you’ve gone
witch-hunt, your news-flash

dazzle stays bronze through


resin out by the roadside.
Wade Stevenson

THE BODY HAS CHARMS

The body has charms the mind will never know


The mind makes memories the body cannot undo
How lucky we were
In the right moment at the right time the right place
To meet at the entrance room to the permanent dream
No harm could come, no pain would remain
We each bore silent witness
To the essential mystery of the other
No one will ever need to ask or know
What between you and me will never be forgotten
It was our moment our time
From a beautiful thirst to a yearning mouth
Completing the circle a violent slash
Of red X will mark the invisible spot
Where the fact of love will never unhappen
THE TRUTH OF THE TIGER

In the maw of the moment


The bang of the now
The flash of the feeling
The spark of the instant
In the maw of the now
The bang of the moment
The spark of the feeling
The flash of the instant
From the danger of being
Born, to the hurtful memories
Of all our forgotten tomorrows
In the deep wilderness of our love ----
All of its wildness --- lurks
The sudden truth
Of the tooth of the tiger
HAPPENING

It’s going to happen it can’t happen it won’t happen but it will


We both knew it would happen and it will
When it does it will be exactly like the way we felt it would be
It will be a happening of a unique kind
The special one that could only happen between
In spite of it’s happening and our knowing it is going to happen
There is nothing we nor anyone else can say or act
To keep it from happening, and there is also this fact ---
How we know when it does happen it will be suddenly
Crashing any words that might try to describe it
Soundless explosion, an act of such pure happening
That it contains both itself and everything outside it
You, me, the earth
Whitney Stewart

It’s a Pokémon’s World

In dedication of summer, 2016.

Video games and real life


Finally found the perfect compromise.
All it took was creativity
And the impulse
To waste every Pokeball on a shiny.

Every morning,
I am awoken to Rattata’s and Raticate’s
Claws, scrapping along
Downtown Tulsa’s streets.
Teeth chattering all the while.

Bulbasaur’s and Oddish’s


Have taken up residents,
Alongside Central Park’s abundant statues.
Who knew ‘Alice in Wonderland’
Would look more alive alongside living plants.

The elusive Ponyta’s and Rapidash’s


Continue to outsmart track and fielders.
While jocks have enough trouble
Keeping pace
With the swift footed Dodrio.
During bedlam games,
Visitors and athletes alike can put away
Their differences and rivalries.
Especially,
When Team Rocket comes a calling.

On the wild Texas plains,


Tauro’s are found grazing,
Kangaskan’s are caring for their young,
Fearow’s are nesting on cliff sides,
And Diglett’s are burrowing away.

To Britain’s Royal family,


Persian is the Queens
Beloved lap animal.
Arcanine is the self-appointed
Nanny of George, Charlotte, and Louis.

Outside,
Royal guards and palace tourists
Remain unaware
Of the Primeape,
Scaling along the side of Big Ben.

Golduck is an infamous guest


To Trevi Fountain.
Jynx is Vatican Cities groundskeeper.
The Pope considers Alakazam and Slowbro
To be his friends.

Mr. Mime enjoys performing on Bourbon St.


Beachside goer’s in California
Will run straight out into the Pacific Ocean;
Just for the chance to catch a powerful
Blastoise or Gyrados.

In the Grand Canyon,


Omanyte, Omastar, Kabuto, and Kabutop
Fossils have recently been discovered.
How I wish I could go back in time
To see them with my own eyes.

‘Koffing and Weezing have been blamed


For the gas explosion on Wall Street.’
Says an anchorwoman on the news.
They’ve just now
Figured that out?

Hitmonchan and Machamp are battling in out


Under the big lights of Madison Square Garden.
That will be a network event for the ages!
The deep sea special last night on Dish was awesome too.
I hope to see Tentacruel’s and Seaking’s in person.

Never again will I go for a stroll in the woods


Without an extra-large can of bug spray.
I never knew Weedle’s and Caterpie’s could get that big.
Not to mention that scare I gave to a colony of Scyther’s,
When I blindly barreled through the underbrush.

My best friend is regarded as the Eveelution Queen.


Her strongest Pokemon is Vaporeon,
It clocks in at over 3500 CP.
My Dads crowning achievement
Was the day he finally caught a Dragonite.

All it took was flying up the Canada


And marching through customs at the airport.
My Moms shadow is her Ninetales.
Always with her step-for-step.
Baby Vulpix hot on her mother’s heels.

While on vacation in Eureka Springs, I made an unexpected encounter.


It was my first electric Pokémon;
A Pikachu no less.
Bobbing back and forth on the dash of my car,
As I drove down the animated main street.
Acta Biographia

Adam Day

Adam Day is the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press, 2020), and of Model of a City in Civil
War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger,
Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award. He is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Divine Orphans of the Poetic
Project, from 1913 Press, and he is the publisher of the cultural magazine, Action, Spectacle.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Anatoly Kudryavitsky lives in Dublin, Ireland, and in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. He is the editor of SurVision
poetry magazine. His most recent poetry collections are 'The Two-Headed Man and the Paper Life' (MadHat
Press, USA, 2019) and 'Scultura Involontaria' (Casa della poesia, Italy, 2020; a bilingual English/Italian
edition). His latest novel, 'The Flying Dutchman', has been published by Glagoslav Publications, England, in
2018. In 2020, he won an English PEN Translate Award for his anthology of Russian dissident poetry 1960-
1980 entitled 'Accursed Poets' (Smokestack Books, 2020).

André Spears

André Spears’s Shrinkrap: Litany in Quadraphony, Xo: A Tale for the New Atlantis and From the Lost Land
(I – XII) were recently published by BlazeVOX (2020). He is quarantined in Greenwich Village for the
duration of the pandemic.

Ann Pedone

Ann Pedone graduated from Bard College in 1992 with a degree in English Literature. She has a Master’s
degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Ann’s work has recently appeared in
Neologism, Ornery Quarterly, Unbroken Journal, Alba, Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, and Poet head among
others. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Anne-Adele Wight

Anne-Adele Wight is the author of An Internet of Containment (2018), The Age of Greenhouses (2016),
Opera House Arterial (2013), and Sidestep Catapult (2011), all from BlazeVOX Books. She has read
extensively in the United States and her work has been published internationally in print and online. Until
recently she curated the multi-genre performance series Jubilant Thicket. She lives and writes in Philadelphia.

Anna Kapungu

The author has a BA (Hons) from Southbank University and has published a poetry collection entitled 'Water
falling between words'. Her poems have appeared in Adelaide Literary, Halycon, Aaduna, Blue Review, One
Persons Trash, The poetry foundation. Jonah, and The Canadian Institute of poetry

Barnaby Smith

Barnaby Smith is a poet, critic and musician based near Sydney, Australia. His poetry has appeared in Cordite,
Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal, Australian Poetry Anthology, Best Australian Poems, The Blue Nib,
Molly Bloom and many others. He records music under the name Brigadoon and recently released his first
album, Itch Factor. www.brigadoon.bandcamp.com

Charles Borkhuis

Charles Borkhuis, poet and playwright. Finalist for a W.C. Williams Book Award. His 9 books of poems
include Dead Ringer (BlazeVOX, 2017). Recipient of a Drama-logue Award. His two radio plays aired over
NPR (www.pennsound). Foreign Bodies was produced in Paris Jan.-June, 2019.
Blue Period will be produced in San Diego in 2021.

Cornelia Veenendaal

Cornelia Veenendaal's fourth book of poems, An Argument of Roots, was published in 2015 by
BlazeVOX[books]. A founding member of Alice James Books, and teacher at the University of
Massachusetts/Boston, she is working now on a fifth collection, in the north country of New Hampshire, where
she lives with her family.
Dan Cardoza

Dan’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction: BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Coffin Bell, Door=Jar, Entropy,
Gravel, O:JA&L/Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, Spelk, and
Your Impossible Voice. Coffin Bell has nominated Dan for the Best of the Net Anthology, 2020.

Daniel Y. Harris

Daniel Y. Harris is the author of numerous collections of xperimental writing. His Posthuman Series includes
The Reincarnation of Anna Phylactic (BlazeVOX, 2019), Volume III, The Tryst of Thetica Zorg (BlazeVOX,
2018), Volume II and The Rapture of Eddy Daemon (BlazeVOX, 2016), Volume I. His collections include The
Underworld of Lesser Degrees (NYQ Books, 2015) and Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Červená Barva Press, 2013). His
xperimental writing and sauvage art have been published in Alligatorzine, BlazeVOX, The Denver Quarterly,
European Judaism, Exquisite Corpse, GAMMM, Marsh Hawk Press Review, The New York Quarterly, Notre
Dame Review and Poetry Salzburg Review. He is the Publisher of X-Peri & Var(2x). His website is
danielyharris.com.

David Rushmer

David Rushmer has published artworks and poetry in many journals and websites including; Angel
Exhaust, Archive of the Now, Epizootics, E.ratio, Human Repair Kit, Molly Bloom, and, Shearsman. His first
full length collection of poetry, Remains to Be Seen, was published by Shearsman in 2018. He works at the
English Faculty Library, University of Cambridge.

David Trinidad

David Trinidad is the author of Notes on a Past Life (BlazeVOX [books]). Other books include Dear
Prudence: New and Selected Poems (2011) and Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera (2013), both
published by Turtle Point Press. He is also the editor of A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim
Dlugos (Nightboat Books, 2011). Trinidad lives in Chicago, where he is a Professor of Creative
Writing/Poetry at Columbia College.

Deborah Meadows

Deborah Meadows is an Emerita faculty member with California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She
lives with her husband in Los Angeles’ Arts District/Little Tokyo. Her books are: Lecture Notes: A duration
poem in twelve parts(BlazeVOX books, 2018), The Demotion of Pluto: Poems and Plays (BlazeVOX books,
2017), Three Plays (BlazeVox, 2015), Translation, the bass accompaniment – Selected Poems (Shearsman
Press, 2013), Saccade Patterns (BlazeVOX books, 2011), among several other books of poetry.
Her Electronic Poetry Center author page is located: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/meadows/
PennSound author page: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Meadows.php

Deborah Ritchie

Deborah Ritchie has published short fiction and poetry. She also co-wrote Judas Kisses: A True Story of
Betrayal and Survival, the best-selling memoir of burns survivor, Donna Carson, published by Hardie Grant
Books in 2007. Deborah holds an MA in Creative Writing from Macquarie University and a Bachelor of
Education from the University of Wollongong. She lives in Australia, in the Southern Highlands of New South
Wales.

Don Donato

I received a Masters of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing and Literature from Harvard University, College of
Extended studies, in 2019. My graduate interest was studying the writing of the Lost Generation living in Paris
in the 1920’s.

Dorin Schumacher

Doug Jones

Doug was born in Romford and initially studied English at Warwick, he then completed an MPhil on the
anarchist poet Bill Griffiths. While doing his MPhil he fell in with Bob Cobbing’s Writers Forum group –
which was a huge influence. After college, he worked as a nurse in east London and then retrained as a doctor.
He has published three poetry books with Veer and one with Salo. Work has also appeared in datableed,
VLAK, Chicago Review – as well as a few other places. He is currently working as a family physician in
Yarmouth

Ed Makowski

Ed Makowski is a poet from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has a degree in journalism from the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He likes riding bikes with or without engines and generally prefers arrows to ordnance.
www.edmakowski.com
Eleanor Levine

Eleanor Levine’s work has been published in more than 80 publications. Her poetry collection, Waitress at the
Red Moon Pizzeria, was published in 2016. Eleanor has worked as a journalist and critic and is currently a
medical copy editor and lives in Monmouth County, New Jersey. She is the author of short fiction
collection Kissing a Tree Surgeon (Guernica Editions, 2020).

Emalisa Rose

Emalisa Rose is a poet, macrame artist and animal rescue volunteer. She lives by a shore town which provides
much of the inspiration for her art. Her current passion is birding which she enjoys weaving into her work. She
also loves to salsa!
Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman’s first volume of poetry, Words for Things Left Unsaid, is just out from Kelsay Books. Ethan
is co-founder of It Takes a Community, a Montgomery College initiative bringing poetry to students and local
residents. Ethan is also founder and producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on EarthTalk.org.

Gregory Wallace

Gregory Wallace is a poet and artist living in northern California. His work has appeared in Black Scat Review,
BlazeVOX, Clockwise Cat, Five 2 One, Danse Macabre & Outsider Poetry. His full length poetry collection,
Exile and Kingdom Come, was published in 2019.

Haley Wednesday

Haley Wednesday holds her roots in San Francisco, California. She currently works as a forestry technician,
serving public lands in Utah; a career path she describes as “a labor of love”. While her college degree is science
based, she has always been a creative at heart. Writing proves to be more than just an outlet for Ms.
Wednesday, and serves as a way to connect herself more deeply with her experiences, her peers, her spirituality
and the natural world around her.

Heller Levinson

Heller Levinson, the originator of Hinge Theory, lives in New York. His latest book is Seep (Black Widow
Press, 2020). Lurk is scheduled for a Spring 2021 release from Black Widow Press.
hiromi suzuki

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried - 77
poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE
SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019). Her works have been published
internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies. Web site:
https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com/

Hung Kien Lui

Irene Koronas

Irene Koronas is the author of numerous collections of xperimental writing. Her Grammaton Series includes
holyrit (BlazeVOX, 2019), Volume IV, declivities (BlazeVOX, 2018), Volume III, ninth iota (The Knives Forks
and Spoons Press, 2018), Volume II and Codify (Éditions du Cygne, 2017), Volume I. Her collections include
Turtle Grass (Muddy River Books, 2014), Emily Dickinson (Propaganda Press, 2010) and Pentakomo Cyprus
(Červená Press, 2009). Her xperimental writing and sauvage art have been published in
Alligatorzine, BlazeVOX, The Boston Globe, Cambridge Chronicles, E·ratio, New Mystics, Offcourse,
Otoliths, Poesy, Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Silver Pinion and Word For/Word. She is the
Publisher of X-Peri & Var(2x). Her website is irenekoronas.com.

J. Chester Johnson

J. Chester Johnson is known as a poet, essayist, and translator. Author of several books of poetry, he has also
written non-fiction works, including Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of
Reconciliation (published by Pegasus; distributed by Simon & Schuster), which was released in May, 2020. W.
H. Auden (1968-1971) and Johnson (1971-1979) served as the poets on the drafting committee for the
retranslation of the Psalms, contained in the Book of Common Prayer; published in 1979, this version of the
Psalms became a standard. Johnson’s poems for BlazeVOX20 are part of cycle of poems entitled The Elaine
Race Massacre: Drama In Verse, a volume to be published.

J. D. Nelson

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. He is the author of several
collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Visit www.MadVerse.com for
more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.
Jacob Jirák

I live in Prague though I grew up in rural central Kansas. I attended college at Columbia University where I
contributed some non-fiction to the campus newspaper's various publications and studied English.
Jeffery Conway

Jeffery Conway’s latest book is Descent of the Dolls: Part I published by BlazeVOX [books], a collaboration
with Gillian McCain and David Trinidad about the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls. His other books
include Showgirls: The Movie in Sestinas (BlazeVOX [books], 2014), The Album That Changed My
Life (Cold Calm Press, 2006), and a collaboration with Lynn Crosbie and David Trinidad, Phoebe 2002: An
Essay in Verse (Turtle Point Press, 2003). Current work can be found in the anthology Lovejets. Conway is
also featured in the 2019 documentary film You Don’t Nomi.

Joseph Harrington

Joseph Harrington is the author of Of Some Sky (BlazeVOX Books 2018); Goodnight Whoever’s
Listening (Essay Press 2015); Things Come On (an amneoir) (Wesleyan UP 2011); and the critical
work Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan UP 2002). His creative work has appeared in BAX: The Best American
Experimental Writing 2016, Colorado Review, The Rumpus, Hotel America, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere.
His real-time verse-chronicle of the climate crisis continues to grow at Writing Out of Time.

Judith Goode

Judith Goode was awarded a full fellowship to the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her short stories have been
published in numerous literary magazines, such as Calliope and The Forge. She was born and raised in New
York City, and lives in Saugerties NY.

Julie Chou

Based in Beijing, China, Julie Chou is a seventeen-year-old highschooler who has a zest for creative writing.
She serves as a literary columnist for her school magazine and an editor at Polyphony Lit. She's an alum of
Interlochen Arts Camp, where she honed her craft of writing. Her works include poetry and fiction and have
been recognized by Shanghai Poetry Zine. Follow her on medium (Julielit: medium.com/@juliette20030509) to
see more of her works!
Kate Noble

"Kate Noble's professional life in disability advocacy has led to a keen interest in social justice, women’s issues,
mental health and well-being. She is 54 years of age and lives north of Lancaster, England, United Kingdom.
She aims to produce a unique reading experience 'waking up' the mind whilst touching the soul."
K. Alma Peterson

K. Alma Peterson is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. She makes her home in
Florida, with appreciation for shorebirds and palm trees, having lived in Minnesota for most of her life. Her two
books of poems have been published by BlazeVOX: Was There No Interlude When Light Sprawled the Fen,
and The Last Place I Lived.

Kevin Thurston

Kristina Marie Darling

Laura Hinton & Toni Simon—2020 bios

Laura Hinton is a multi-media poet, literary critic, and editor as well as an educator. Her most recent poetry
book is Ubermutter’s Death Dance (BlazeVox); she has staged this performance work in poetry venues from
Tucson to Maine to New York City, where she lives and teaches. Critical books and edited collections include
The Perverse Gaze of Sympathy: Sadomasochistic Sentiments from Clarissa to Rescue 911 (SUNY Press), We
Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics (co-editor) and Jayne
Cortez, Adrienne Rich, and the Feminist Superhero: Voice, Vision, Politics and Performance in the U.S.
Contemporary Women’s Poetics (editor). She is a Professor at the City College of New York (CCNY of
CUNY), where she teaches feminist and literary theory, poetics, film and visual studies, as well as creative
writing. She is also the editor of the hybrid-poetics journal Chant de la Sirene
(www.chantdelasirenejournal.com). Hinton’s website is at laurahinton-singingsirens.com.

Toni Simon is a multimedia artist and writer whose work encompasses the ways in which the future might
appear, accessed through trance states. The process of channeled, automatic writing led to her illustrated book
of experimental prose poetry Earth After Earth (Lunar Chandelier Press, 2012) and her current manuscript and
video animation Telescope Highway. Her drawings have been exhibited at the Drawing Center, Odetta and
A.I.R. Gallery in NYC.
Len Krisak

Len Krisak's latest book is a complete verse


translation of The Aeneid. The winner of the
Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, and
RIchard Wilbur Prizes, he is a four-time
champion on Jeopardy!

Linda King

Linda King is the author of five poetry collections including Reality Wayfarers (Shoe Music Press, 2014) and
antibodies in the alphabet (BlazeVOX Books, 2019) Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in
Canada and internationally. She has been nominated for Best of the Net and also for the Pushcart Prize. King
lives and writes on The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

M. Kaat Toy

M. Kaat Toy (Katherine Toy Miller) of Taos, New Mexico, has published a prose poem chapbook, In a Cosmic
Egg (2012), at Finishing Line Press; a flash fiction book, Disturbed Sleep (2013), at FutureCycle Press; novel
excerpts; short stories; creative nonfiction; journalism; scholarly essays; and art. Shanti Arts will publish her
short story collection Many Worlds: Some American Odysseys and illustrations (2020). Livingston Press at The
University of West Alabama will publish her novel Madness with Grief and illustrations (2021). These prose
poems are from her nearly-completed prose poem book with illustrations, Silences.

Marcia Arrieta

Artist, traveler, poet—Marcia Arrieta 's recent poetry collections includeperimeter homespun (BlazeVOX) and
vestiges (Dancing Girl). Her recent work can be found in Hole in the Head, Bee House, Claw & Blossom, Otis
Nebula, Otoliths, Word For/Word, Cloudbank, South Dakota Review, Angel City, Anastamos, Hobart,
& Tiger Moth, among others. She edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry/art journal.

Mark DuCharme

Mark DuCharme is the author of We, the Monstrous: Script for an Unrealizable Film, Counter Fluencies 1-20,
The Unfinished: Books I-VI, Answer, The Sensory Cabinet and other works. His poetry has appeared widely
in such venues as Caliban Online, Colorado Review, First Intensity, New American Writing, Noon, Otoliths,
Shiny, Talisman, Unlikely Stories, Word/ for Word, and “Poetics for the More-Than-Human World,” a
special issue of Dispatches from the Poetry Wars. His work has been anthologized in The Bedside Guide to
No Tell Motel— 2nd Floor; Litscapes: Collected US Writings; Noon: An Anthology of Short
Poems; Uncontained: Writers and Photographers in the Garden and on the Margins; Water,Water
Everywhere: Paean to a Vanishing Resource and elsewhere. A recipient of the Neodata Endowment in
Literature and the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Mark Hannon

Mark Hannon is a retired firefighter who grew up in Buffalo. He and his family currently make their home in
Baltimore. He is the author of two novels about Buffalo, "Every Man for Himself" and "The Vultures,"
published by Apprentice House Press.

Mark Niedzwiedz

From the UK, Mark is a professional composer and lyricist, which helps bring rhythm and musicality to his
poetry. Lyric writing may pave the way for penning poetry, but Mark is well aware that song lyrics and poetry
most of the time are at best distant cousins.

Mark has his own take on the world and though life is a serious business, his poems are often lightened, or
darkened with humour and sometimes the mysterious. Poetry is a relatively new venture for Mark and with that
comes the usual insecurity about whether or not his poems are any good, but publication does wonders for self-
doubt!

Mark Young

Mark Young's most recent books are a collection of visual pieces, The Comedians, from Stale Objects de
Press; turning to drones, from Concrete Mist Press; & turpentine from Luna Bisonte Prods.

Mary Newell

Mary Newell is the author of the chapbook TILT/ HOVER/ VEER, poems in various journals, essays, and
ecocritical encyclopedia entries on Whitman and Dickinson. She is co-editor of the Poetics for the More-
thanHuman-World Anthology (Spuyten Duyvil Press). A former Assistant Professor, she is an outside poetry
editor for ISLE, curates the Hudson Highlands Poetry Series in Garrison NY, and teaches occasional classes
through The Poetry Barn. Newell (MA Columbia, BA Berkeley) received a doctorate from Fordham University
with a focus on American literature and the environment. Website: https://manitoulive.wixsite.com/maryn.

Matthew Bruce

Matthew Bruce's writing has appeared in journals such as West Branch, Sixth Finch,At Length, Nashville
Review, and Cincinnati Review. He lives and teaches in Minnesota.

Michael Basinski

Just outside of Buffalo, New York, Michael Basinski lives a little past the airport. He has published three books
of poetry with BlazeVOX Books: All My Eggs are Broken (2007), Trailers (2011), and Salvage (2019). He
continues to pick up where he left off.
Michael Mc Aloran

Michael Mc Aloran was born in Belfast, (1976). His work has appeared in numerous zines, magazines &
anthologies. He is the author of over 30 collections of poetry, prose poetry, aphorisms and prose. His most
recent publications were with Editions du Cygne (FR), VoidFront Press (U.S), Veer Books, (U.K) & also by
Black Editions Press. He was recently published by Infinity Land Press (U.K). He lives & breathes in Co.
Clare, Ireland...

Michael Joyce

Michael Kelleher

Michael Kelleher is the author of four poetry collections, including Visible Instruments (Chax, 2017) and
Museum Hours (BlazeVOX, 2016). His poems have appeared most recently in The Harvard Review, The
Indian Quarterly (Mumbai), and Doek! (Namibia). He is the Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes at
Yale University. He lives in Connecticut.

Michael Paul Hogan

Born in London, Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and fiction writer whose work has appeared
extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. He is the author of six poetry collections and is currently
working on a book of short stories, several of which have already been published in, among others, Big
Bridge in California, The Blue Nib in Ireland, The Oddville Press in London and Adelaide Literary
Magazine in New York.

Michael Ruby

Michael Ruby is the author of seven full-length poetry collections, including At an Intersection (Alef, 2002),
Window on the City (BlazeVOX, 2006), The Edge of the Underworld (BlazeVOX, 2010), Compulsive Words
(BlazeVOX, 2010), American Songbook (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), The Mouth of the Bay (BlazeVOX,
2019) and The Star-Spangled Banner (Station Hill, 2020). His trilogy in prose and poetry, Memories, Dreams
and Inner Voices (Station Hill, 2012), includes ebooks Fleeting Memories (Ugly Duckling, 2008) and Inner
Voices Heard Before Sleep (Argotist Online, 2011). He is also the author of the ebooks Close Your Eyes
(Argotist, 2018) and Titles & First Lines (Mudlark, 2018), and five chapbooks with the Dusie Kollektiv. He co-
edited Bernadette Mayer’s collected early books, Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words (Station Hill, 2015),
and Mayer’s and Lewis Warsh’s prose collaboration Piece of Cake (Station Hill, 2020). A graduate of Harvard
College and Brown University’s writing program, he works as an editor of U.S. news and political articles at The
Wall Street Journal.

Nakia Tinsley

Nava Fader

Nava Fader received her MA in Poetics from the University at Buffalo, writing her thesis on the poetry of
Adrienne Rich. She is the author of the collections All the Jawing Jackdaw and Hitching Post, as well as
several chapbooks, and has been published hither and yon in print and online. A school librarian in Buffalo, she
is a frequent practitioner of false translation and pilfering. Lately, from Michael Basinski, Rimbaud, Dante,
Rilke, and Plath, and also from Wikipedia. Recently, she has been working with shadowboxing in poetry:
tinkering with boxing and grids and arranging lines, seeing how corralling by means of line and template and
form support and limit creativity.

Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman was born in 1968 in Ireland. His books include The Wow Signal (stories, 2007), The
Negative Cutter (novellas, 2014), and So Long, Napoleon Solo (novel, 2017). His poetry collections are
Jazztown (1991), The New Pornography (1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (2007), A Shopping Mall
on Mars (2008), The Darwin Vampires (2010), A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems (2012), Slow
Clocks of Decay (2016) and Open Season on the Moon (2019). He has written audio dramas for Doctor Who
and Dan Dare; a short film; and much television for children. For BBC Radio 4 he produced B7’s 2014
dramatisation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. With Dimitra Xidous he edits an online poetry
magazine, The Pickled Body.

Peter Quinn

Peter Quinn is a former army helicopter pilot and intelligence officer with over five combat tours in
Afghanistan, some of which was spent living with the Afghans, working for the DEA, NATO and U.S. Special
Operations. This story has been cleared for publication by the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security
Review.

Peter Siedlecki

PETER SIEDLECKI is professor emeritus and poet-in-residence at Daemen College, where he directs the
Readings at the RIC Series. He also coordinates the Catherine Parker Artists’ Salon at St. Joseph University
Parish. His full-length collections of poetry include “Voyeur” (2006), “Going With The Flow” (2015), and “Le
Trou- vère Prétendu” (BlazeVOX Books, 2019).

Phillip Henry Christopher

Poet, novelist and singer/songwriter Phillip Henry Christopher spent


his early years in France, Germany and Greece. His nomadic family
then took him to Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio and Vermont before
settling in the steel mill town of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where he
grew up in the smokestack shadows of blue collar America. Escaping
high school, he made Philadelphia his home, alternating between Philly
and cities across America, living for a time in Buffalo, New Orleans,
Fort Worth, even remote Fairfield, Iowa, before settling in
Indianapolis. While wandering America he has placed poems and stories
in publications across the country and in Europe and Asia, including
such noteworthy journals as The Caribbean Writer, Gargoyle, Lullwater
Review, Blazevox Y26, Blue Collar Review, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Blind
Man’s Rainbow and New York Quarterly and many more. His songwriter persona,
Philadelphia Phil, can be found online at www.reverbnation.com/philadelphiaphil,
where streaming music and videos reside.
Rachel Anszelowicz

Rachel Anszelowicz is an artist from Long Island, New York. She is 22 years old and a recent graduate from
SUNY Binghamton University with degrees in Philosophy, Political Science and Classical and Near Eastern
Studies. This is the first publication of her poetry.

Rich Murphy

Rich Murphy’s poetry has won national book awards: 2020 Press Americana Poetry Prize for “The Left
Behind” (out February 2021), 2013 Press Americana Poetry Prize for Americana, and 2008 Gival Press Poetry
Prize for Voyeur. Other books: Asylum Seeker 2018, Body Politic 2017, Hunting and Pecking 2009,
The Apple in the Monkey Tree 2007. Chapbooks: Great Grandfather, Family Secret, Phoems for Mobile
Vices (BlazeVox), and Paideia.

Robert Wexelblatt

Robert Wexelblatt is a professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has
published seven fiction collections; two books of essays; two short novels; two books of poems; stories, essays,
and poems in a variety of journals, and a novel awarded the Indie Book Awards first prize for fiction.
Roger Craik

Roger Craik was born in Leicester and has worked in universities in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and America.
He has written four full-length books of poetry, of which the latest is Down Stranger Roads (BlazeVOX,
2014). He lives in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Roger G. Singer

S.W. Campbell

S.W. Campbell was born in Eastern Oregon. He currently resides in Portland where he works as an economist
and lives with a house plant named Morton. Over the past five years he has had thirty-five short stories
published in numerous magazines and reviews across three countries. If you’d like to read more of his writing,
check out his website: www.shawnwcampbell.com.
Sasha Sinclair

Sasha Sinclair is a nurse in Florida who has always had a penchant for reading and writing since a young age.
She enjoys writing research, but also likes to write about real life experiences. While her professional career has
taken her down the medical path, she still enjoys writing in her free time; it has always been a great outlet for
her. It is her dream in life to find a nice Victorian style house somewhere and become the Boo Radley of the
neighbourhood.

Scott Glassman

Scott Glassman is a psychologist and the author of a chapbook of poetry, Exertions (Cy Gist, 2006), a full-
length collaboration Quaternity with Sheila E. Murphy (Otoliths, 2009), and a self-transformation title
forthcoming from New Harbinger Publications. His poems have appeared in Iowa Review, jubilat, the tiny,
Sentence, and other journals. He was also included in Best New Poets 2007. Scott lives in New Jersey with his
wife and 11-year-old son, who share his mission to create positive spaces in the world.

Shu Cao Mo

Susan Bowman

My name is Susan Bowman, I’m 68 years old, a retired cytologist and I enjoy many hobbies and interests. I have
recently published my first book of poetry on Amazon and I’m currently editing my first novel and I have begun
my second, a thriller/mystery with a female lead. I’ve recently been included in several anthologies of poetry
and short stories.

Susan Lewis

Susan Lewis (www.susanlewis.net) is the author of Zoom, winner of the Washington Prize (The Word Works,
2018), Heisenberg’s Salon and This Visit, both from BlazeVox, How to be Another, and State of the Union.
Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including They Said (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Resist
Much, Obey Little (Dispatches Editions, 2017), and Carrying the Branch (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), as well as
in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, The
New Orleans Review, Raritan, Seneca Review, Verse, VOLT, and Verse Daily. She is the founding editor of
Posit, a journal of literature and art (www.positjournal.com).
Stuart Cooke

Stuart lives in Brisbane, Australia, where he lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith
University. His latest books include the poetry collection Lyre (UWAP, 2019) and a translation of Gianni
Siccardi's The Blackbird (Vagabond, 2018).

Sylvester Close

Sylvester Close is a polar bear living in a small ice cave in the northern tip of Svalbard. When he is not fishing,
he is busy writing poems about ice, snow and how hard it is to be an climate activist in a world full of people
who don't seem to care that they share the planet with a multitude of other creature who are just as magnificent
as human beings.

Tamizh Ponni

Tamizh Ponni worked as Design Facilitator in an International School, Bengaluru, India for 7 years. She has a
Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, an MBA in Human Resources and a Masters in English
Literature. She is currently pursuing her M.Tech, PhD integrated course in Data Science. She has worked as a
Professional Development Coach and as a Tech Integrationist. Tamizh believes that the best thing in being an
educator is that beyond teaching there's a lot of deep learning involved in the process. Tamizh sees learning as a
never-ending process and with technology integration, it gives her an interesting dimension to knowledge
acquisition and skill-building. Tamizh spends most of her free time painting, reading, writing articles, stories
and poems, playing keyboard and watching documentaries/movies.

Therese Murphy

Tony Trigilio

Tony Trigilio’s newest books are Proof Something Happened (Marsh Hawk Press, forthcoming 2021)
and Ghosts of the Upper Floor (BlazeVOX [books], 2019). His selected poems, Fuera del Taller del Cosmos,
was published in Guatemala in 2018 by Editorial Poe (translated by Bony Hernández). He is a Professor of
English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Wade Stevenson

Wade Stevenson is the author of the memoir “One Time in Paris”, the novel “The Electric Affinities”
and several books of poetry, including “Songs of the Sun Amor” and “Going Head to Head”, published
by BlazeVOX.

Whitney Stewart

This is the first time I’ve passed out my work with hopes of being published, but I’ve actually been writing for
quite a few years. Starting my freshman year of high school, I began writing on a site called Fanfiction as a way
to unwind after a long week and just to have fun expressing my creative side. Initially I enrolled at Oklahoma
State University in Tulsa, with the intention of pursuing a degree in Accounting. But after only one semester of
Finance, I decided it wasn’t the career path for me. By that point, writing was the only thing that remotely
interested me, so I decided to switch majors to Creative Writing the following semester. My style of writing is
all over the place; much of my inspiration comes from music, nature, movies, and sometimes my over eccentric
mind. But that’s the way I like it.