Q uiet L


Sparkle & Blink
as performed on Jun 6 11 @ 111 Minna Gallery
© 2011 Quiet Lightning

art by Paul Madonna paulmadonna.com edited by Evan Karp evankarp.com
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Q uiet Lightning
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Quiet Lightning
NH, v.3

Side A Q
D. A. Powell Panic in the Year Zero
first published in Harvard Magazine


Meg Day say Yes

14 20 For all the Times I’ll Think I Hate You 22
Enzymatic Capitalism    


Graham Gremore The Headless Virgin Tamim Ansary Excerpt from Road Trip Caitlin Myer Harrison is Falling




Side B L
Jane Ganahl Valencia 73 William Taylor Jr. A Few More Hours of Sunlight The Dead and the Living Alike Paris in the Spring The People You Try Not to Look At Jack Boulware Kesey, Dude Rob Brezsny If I Am Elected Steven Gray Bail Out Free Words 51

62 64 66 68



90 92

All images from the strip All Over Coffee by Paul Madonna copyright 2011 Paul Madonna paulmadonna.com

Panic in the Year Zero

Bless the tourists in their “Alcatraz Rocks!” parkas on the upper deck of a double-decker in any given February bluster. They could have sworn it would be warm here, just because the cryometer says it isn’t cold. Who the hell would look at a cryometer? People from arctic places, I suppose. People who must have flown in over the map’s flat face; who must have seen the latest developments; the delta’s brackish mouth; windmills waving white banderoles against the crisping brown hills. Spring looks a lot like summer looks a lot like drought. What would anyone expect if they knew the way planarity invites the opportunist. Aren’t the dispatches the same,
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reaching them in Chehalis, Waterloo and Asbury Park. Even if folks don’t watch what passes now for news,


I assume they go to cocktail parties. Or they Twitter. They don’t all have snug jammies and Ovaltine, though they seem to get snugger by the minute. What kind of help could they get if they could get help? Help them make this dull show seem like art. Help the supporting cast appear in the end, summoned from the cities of the plain, and appear to end and end again as in a wide shot of the Battle of the Marne. Be tolerant of those you cannot seem to

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understand. And other such advice. It’s the quiet part of the morning service, while I’m writing this down: Thank God for the quiet part. And thank God for the one who held me to my wickedness; who asked me to revel in it, even though it cost us both a little dignity. It’s easy for me to look back at what’s destroyed. I knew it would be destroyed, like a wicked town. I never thought “that town is where the heart is.” I simply thought “that town is where the town is.” Usually someplace inhospitable, and filled with handsome men. The kind who kill you with their handsomeness, or their acute cordage. Hell is the most miraculous invention of love,
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no matter how the love turns out. Hell is the place from whence the music of longing— which accounts for most of what we call music— gets written.


Yet, I’m tired of this idea of hell, no matter how functional. Sure, I’ve had my petty doubts. Like the extra pills I’ve put in my Eva Braun box, waiting for the bomb to hit Bakersfield, or some other place in the near distance (this plan only works if there’s some kind of distance) the sign that it’s time to pull up stakes, head for those durable hills with my pemmican, my Port-o-pot, my jerry cans, and yes, I too would have Ovaltine. Though I guess it would be Ovaltine made
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with water instead of milk. Such would be the dark days if we think the dark days really must come. But I have lived through perilous times, and I do not love them. I cannot pretend I’m smart about such things. I mean: look at the sloppy slew I’ve been. And you were there. And you. You’ve seen me rumple down the sidewalk like a moocher. Lord knows, you’ve seen me hit that sidewalk on my keister. “Scandalous,” the tourists said, and flashed. And when the worst of the drama came, they clucked their tongues and threw their change. Something inside each one of us is cocked like the ear of a hound, and half the time we hunt, and half the
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time we rescue, because we’re never really sure


if the humans will beat us or feed us. If we are our better selves, it’s just a wonder. And if we’re not. Even in our legends, angels come. They try their best. But we’re such shits. And it’s not because we want to screw them. We screw everything. We’re mankind. It’s what we do. I’ve probably sullied a few white wings myself. That’s not the problem. So much has passed between us, we’re practically cousins. The problem is, we’re so bent on an ending, we’ll sunder the entire valley, with conviction. With an invented coda of immunity.
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Nobody in this picture is granted immunity. If it were available, I’d have gotten it for myself. Enough with the apocalypse, already. Think of all the history you’ve read. It started somewhere. It started at absolute zero, is what you thought. Just because you couldn’t know what came before. But imagine: something did.

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14 D. A. Powell —–––––––––––

say Yes

be patient with me; i woke up at the vanishing point, the one where every body is headed, not knowing that by nightfall i'd be moonwalking back toward my bed, away from the finish line of certainties & backstroking against dreams of China Beach & the glassblown of your orchard skies i thought you were built in the shape of so many things i knew by heart, all of them sweet apples gone rotten at the core; i can only count on one hand the years i've spent sober from ferment, & three times that the cidered lips that have kept me filling the glass in the other forgive me. it's been a long time since i've sat in the living room of my body with someone who hasn't asked to begin redecorating -15 —––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK

i've only just remembered that i was born Huckleberry Finn & you are the first in a long time to not mistake my cowlicks for curls or ask me to be Sarah Mary Williams, to not pull the red lever on this gender elevator & beg me to stand still they say there is violence to every new beginning, so let me love you gently --


as if you & i hadn't both been gravityslammed on & catapulted off the seesaw of visibility or found our bodies buried in far-off distant hillside cities with Leviticus breathing down our backs -let me love you in olde english or family recipes in every language that hasn't yet ruined the season's first snow or the meaning of Yes
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let me love you the way my grandpa loved whiskey: shamelessly & with abandon let me make watermarks in your hardwood, bump my glass hip to yours there is a four poster bed in my chest with your handkerchief knotted to its banister & i am splintering, bent & bowed low like a tree in monsoon season, proposing with all of my twenty-six rings: how 'bout Oklahoma. or Nebraska maybe a rocker in Southern Georgia or porch steps on the coast of Maine because you & i? we have both tried doing it Right too many times & i want this, so Baby, get messy with me let's do it all Wrong leave the tired to their ruts & invent something other than the wheel with me
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i don't want anything labeled, processed or prewrapped, don't want Forward if it's toward what we already know i want slow motion; let me slow dance you in the kitchen while the artichokes boil over, i want to boil over with you. paint the kitchen the color of our water damage forget children, i wanna raise a barn with you -put hammer to nail & barrel-buckle our bodies to community i want the blister of handmade on my heart & the dirt of homegrown in our bed & if it's true that only fools rush in then fuck -- take my hand take my whole life, too because you have made me bold enough to think that even backwards is better


Meg Day —–––––––––––

than what we've tried to bend ourselves into & it's true that i've got fistfights in my belly for every coward that's handcuffed their hurt to loving you & i know you've never charged for extra baggage but this body is a suitcase & i don't intend on letting you carry it, no walk beside me. let your brack & tweed stand alongside the midwestern yearn of my urban swoon, show me your swagger just by pop & locking your garter belt i want to write your name in the dust of a train car's exhale somewhere south of the Mason Dixon, kick wasp nests deep into the hills of Julian where you found that bomb & still made it back to show me how to ball yarn & crowbar myself open wide enough for the helium of your hearthatch
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to hot air balloon us into the chariot of every afternoon's swung low so let's go -lungshock headroll off the dock & into crisp lake water of the next sixty new beginnings all hands & no hesitation


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Enzymatic Capitalism or, for the Sleepwalkers

i am praying again; pushing fists into steeples & dowsing for sky, i am every violin that rosins a note, no matter how flat, & yet still seems to sound another’s the way the gulpblossom knows to lean before turning its face to the sun, pistons lagging – the way the plums so sweet & so cold ripened each other – i already know what my fossil will look like we are all built in the shape of each other’s relief if you’ve ever doubted adding machines, i’m your man if you’ve ever woken from a dream of hallway pace
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to find yourself found, know that yes: topsoil turns dark before the sun thinks to set & there are other ways – better words, chemical excuses – to forget we are responsible


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For All the Times I’ll Think I Hate You: Remember

after Oklahoma we started running at the mouth pulled our tongues wet with every kicked wasp nest & crossed professor the sting of salt water slaps from summers marked only by the welt of their radio hits. we told every story Kansas corn could hold in its stride, the long lank of field not unlike that of city block but slower somehow, a forty-five clicked to seventy with the tires keeping time a cloudless blue flash between wide streaks
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of yellow-tipped everything we spoke steadily deep into the swing of September into crabgrass & porch steps pocket watches leaned open in palms like old men in gold rockers as if the deep yawn of autumn didn’t swallow us whole & Virginia couldn’t hear us coming


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The Headless Virgin

If there was one thing all the residents on Selby Avenue had in common, it was an affinity for mowing their lawns in the summertime. From June to September, one could not escape the incessant drone of an electric lawnmower somewhere in the distance. Perhaps the worst lawn-mowing offender was our neighbor, Elmer Dump. Mr. Dump was a cantankerous 68-year old bachelor who lived one door down and across the street from us in a twostory brick house with yellow trim. In the summer months, he would mow his lawn every day. Sometimes twice a day. It was a very long and complicated procedure that took several hours to complete as it involved a number of different machines: a lawnmower, a weed whacker, a hedge trimmer, and a leaf blower. “The cacophony!” my father once complained. “Why does he have to use so many noisy machines to do his yard work?” “I don’t know. Why don’t you go over there and ask,” my mother replied as she flipped the latest Woman’s Day magazine. My father snorted. “Like that would do any good. The man’s a lunatic. And
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everyone knows you can’t reason with a crazy person.” “Oh, believe me,” my mother replied, “I know.” Over the years, Mr. Dump developed a reputation in the neighborhood for being both crazy and reclusive. He went to great lengths to separate himself from all the other neighbors. For instance, every year in the early autumn there would be a block party on Selby Avenue. The street would be closed off to traffic and everyone in the neighborhood would gather outside for a pot luck picnic and games. Everyone, that is, except for Elmer Dump. He remained cooped up inside his little brick house, scowling down at our jubilation with disgust from one of the upstairs windows. “Why don’t you think he wants to come down here?” I asked my older sister, Georgia, one year at the party. We were standing in the street, looking up at him as he glowered down at us. “Because he’s a dick,” she replied. “A flaccid, old, piece of shit dick.” Georgia never liked Mr. Dump. It all began the year he yelled at her for ringing his doorbell on Halloween. She was ten or eleven at the time. I had been stuck at home with the chicken pox that
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year, but according to my sister, the story went something like this: She rang Mr. Dump’s doorbell. He didn’t answer at first so she rang again. Moments later, the front door flew open. “WHAT?!” the old man barked. “Trick-or-treat.” My sister held out her pillowcase. “Fuck off!” Mr. Dump hollered, then slammed the door in her face. After that night Georgia swore off trick-or-treating for good. While Mr. Dump may not have participated in the annual Selby Avenue block party or holidays like Halloween, he did partake in Christmas. Each December he would set up his fourteen-piece, near life size nativity scene outside in his front yard. It included all of Christmas’ major players: the virgin Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, an angel of some sort, the wisemen, a shepherd boy, and a few animals. Much like mowing his lawn, the process of setting up the nativity scene took hours and required a lot of shifting, unshifting, then shifting back of various figurines until Mr. Dump got it just right. Then one year something bad happened. In the middle of the night, someone -a teenager, perhaps, or maybe a vagabond passing through town -- snuck
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into Mr. Dump’s yard and stole the baby Jesus. Not only that, but they also severed Mary’s head from her body then placed it in the savior’s empty crib along with a hand-written note that read: Hark! Behold the headless virgin! The ensuing morning, Mr. Dump drafted a letter condemning whoever was responsible for beheading the holy virgin and threatening to contact the local authorities. He then distributed copies of it to everyone on the block before moving the entire fourteen-piece nativity scene from his front yard and onto his front porch, which was enclosed. Because the figurines were near life sized and Mr. Dump’s front porch wasn’t very large, he had to cram the statues so close together that it didn’t so much look like a nativity scene anymore as it did an orgy. He tried re-attaching Mary’s head, but was unsuccessful, and so, to this very day, she remains headless. Years later, I was snooping through Georgia’s room in search of her diary, when I discovered an oddly shaped package wrapped in a beach towel and duct tape on the top shelf of her closet. I took it down and carefully unwrapped it.
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Inside was Mr. Dump’s Baby Jesus. After silently congratulating my sister on a job well done, I re-wrapped the package as best I could then quietly set it back where I’d found it… Because it’s true what they say: Some secrets are better left buried. And others make for really great stories.

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Excerpt from Road Trip

When I was twenty-one years old, I got expelled from Reed College. Well, Reed didn’t use the word expelled. They called it graduating, but it came to the same thing: I was told to move along now. Move on. I had been in the United States for six years at that point, but had spent all of those years as a dirt-poor Afghan scholarship student living in expensive and luxurious private schools, surrounded by the sons and daughters of the rich and very rich. Now, having graduated from college, I lived in plain old Portland, and honor demanded that I even tell my mother to stop sending me $20 a week: I was a big boy now, I told her; I could take care of myself. Actually, I was still a very small boy. I had no money, no source of money, and no idea how to make money. I had graduated from one of the country’s finest small colleges, but all I had studied there were ideas, all I knew how to do was think, and all I knew how to be was a student. At being-a-student I was very good. In those last days, Reed heaped honors and awards on me and nominated me for prestigious fellowships. Every element of my life screamed at me to go to graduate
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school, get an advanced degree in critical theory, and enter academia. But the existential absurdity of that course made me shiver. What was the point of going to school to become a college professor, who could then teach others how to become college professors, who would then teach others how to become college professors… ? How was this not a Ponzi scheme? I had to get out of the academia scam. I had to do something “real.” This was the only thing I knew for sure. After six years in America, however, the only professionals I had seen up close were college professors. I had no idea what anyone else did for a living out there. Writing was my passion, but the only writing work I knew about that paid was journalism. I was no journalist, but I wrote to the Oregonian and asked if they would hire me. Some editor invited me to come chat with him. It wasn’t a job interview. He just wanted to give me some sage advice. He was an extremely aged guy, one foot in the grave—in short, twenty or thirty years younger than I am now. He told me there were no openings at the Oregonian and never would be for a guy like me. To get a job at an important paper like that, I would have to clock a few years at a
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smaller place “getting my feet wet.” In fact, he knew of one such place right now. Then he looked guilty, and I knew his suggestion was going to be bad. He steeled himself and put it out there. “The nuclear reactor at Mount St. Helens is looking for someone to help them with public relations—if you’re interested.” Work as a flak for the nuclear power industry? Had I fallen so low that I would make my living telling lies for Satan? “Not for me,” I said politely. “I didn’t think so,” he admitted. “Well then your only other choice would be to contact some small town newspaper. The one in the Dalles might be willing to give you a shot, if you don’t mind starting at the bottom.” The Dalles (yes, “the” was part of its name) was a small town sixty miles east of Portland, surrounded by ranches. I pictured the cowboys there roping me and cutting off my hair…and I knew what would happen next. I had seen Deliverance. It wasn’t for me. That left jobs in Portland. I pored through the classified ads every day. I called, I wrote, I went out, but I couldn’t find a job. I don’t mean “a job in my field.” What field? I had been a literature student. To my knowledge, no one was getting cash to comment on literature. I
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was looking for “any job.” It never occurred to me to look for work that might require a college degree. I assumed jobs like that would be too hard to get, since everyone would want them. So when people asked what kind of work I was seeking, I said “anything,” the theory being that if I were the least picky I would be the most employable. Actually, since “anything” is a job for which “anyone” qualifies, the competition for such jobs tends to be intense, especially in hard times like the recession of 1970. The odds of getting a job that only a few people can do is better for those few who can do it. But in the summer of 1970, this logic eluded me. So I applied to sell life insurance, file papers, haul boxes. All turned me down. I applied to work at a pickle factory, but the manager felt I was not pickle-factory material. I tried to get work at a garment factory, a furniture plant, a junkyard. No go. I applied for day laborer jobs: digging sewer lines. I got up at the crack of dawn but scores of people had lined up ahead of me, even for those jobs, and anyone who looked more muscular than me—which is to say, anyone—always got the nod.
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So I went to an employment agency. They had me fill out a form. I sat in their waiting room for two hours. At last a counselor could see me. I made my way to a cubicle of a room and took a seat across a desk from a blond woman in a red polyester suit. She had hair done up in a fashionable bob and hairsprayed into place. She wore nylons and lipstick and earrings. She looked nothing like girls did in real life. Women like her, I had seen only in magazines, movies, and TV shows. I was aware that in some universe of aesthetics quite alien to me, this peculiar, platinumheaded creature would be labeled “attractive.” Her body language told me she was pretty certain of her own allure. But being so close to one of these creatures in real life made me uneasy. I was nervous about the possible cancercausing effects of the many chemicals so obviously caked onto her face and possibly her body. She smelled of sprays, deodorants, colognes and other noxious industrial products. She seemed to find my substances somewhat noxious too, or so I guessed from the way she kept curling her nostrils. Wriggling uncomfortably on her pantyhosed bottom, she studied the form I had filled out,. “So…you went to... ?” She squinted and looked closer. “Reed
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College, it says here…? What is that, a junior college?” “No. It’s a four-year college.” “I see. What did you study there? Says here, literature. What is that, like… literature from different companies? Or what? How to write literature for all the different companies?” “No, not how to write it so much. More what’s great about it. Authors.” “Authors!” She had no handle for that one. “Well, what company’s literature have you…studied?” “No, no! Not the literature of companies. We studied real literature, like War and Peace, you know, George Elliot, people like that. You know.” “Uh huh. Okay. Well, you must have studied some business English.” “Business English? No.” “Accounting?” “No.” “Shorthand?” “No.” “What about bookkeeping?’ “No.” “Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” she said. “You went to four years of college, you didn’t pick up any accounting, no bookkeeping, and you can’t even spell—” “I can spell!”
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“But you don’t have any background in business English!” “Well--” “Mr. Ansary.” She leaned forward and fixed me with her carefully-penciled eyes: “Did it ever occur to you that you just wasted four years of your life?” I was at a loss. Had I just wasted four years of my life? That question only makes sense if you have a destination. If you do, you can measure how much closer you’ve gotten to it each year. But I was only trying to stay alive and happy each day. From that perspective, my last four years had been very successful. I had explored cosmic ideas with some of the brightest minds in America, I had smoked a lot of dope and taken a lot of acid, I had enjoyed transcendent love and incendiary sex for the last eight months, and I was still alive. But now that those years were over, did it matter that they had ever been? Of all that I had gained in those four years, what did I still possess except my life?

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Harrison is Falling

Harrison's sister pulls back her hair to show him the gill. A little opening like a mouth on her pale neck. He asks if she can breathe through it. She tells him to plug her nose and cover her mouth and put his ear next to the gill to listen for breath. But maybe she has to be underwater, so they jump in the pool and float in the blue world and watch each other. Harrison gives up first, swimming up toward the sun. Harrison unfolds his palm. BUY MILK is written on his hand. The doctor presses RECORD on the video camera. Harrison watches the red light blink on. He watches himself in the monitor. I'm jumping on the bed with my sister, Harrison watches himself say. Her hair is sticking up. Harrison's son is jumping on the bed. His oldest son, the one that’s older than the younger one. Both of them jumping on the bed, their sweet screaming laughs, Get up Dad, Get up Dad!

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Harrison’s days slide one over the other. Yesterday might be when he teaches the neighbor’s dog how to dance, or when he shuts himself in his room and plays his record so loud his dad pounds on the door. Maybe it’s his wife pounding on the door and not his dad. Harrison tells his sister and her friend that he’s going to grow up to be a mosquito. Already he can feel it happening, he says. Their faces laugh. His sister’s friend laughs with her whole face. I know everything about everything, Harrison says, but his sister’s friend’s name slips away from him. It shifts under his feet, like the days and days that other people see one after another in consistent, marching order. Is Harrison sixteen or twenty-six or forty-eight? His sister’s friend is a little girl playing in the basement, the two girls turning faces to him, shaped ready to laugh. She’s a teenager in his entryway when his sister is out. She kisses him standing under the light at the bottom of the stairs and lets him feel her breasts, sliding his hands up and under her shirt, her skin cold and sheened with damp.
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I dreamed I was falling, she says, her voice squeezed through the telephone line. Falling forever, like Alice down the well. He thinks of her as Alice although that isn’t her name. Harrison tells her about a planet where gravity is met with another force that pushes out and everyone falls all the time. Alice asks him how it feels to be married. It feels like lying in the bed in the basement of his parents’ house and watching his wife get ready for work. It feels like being out in the world, as she pulls on a slip and hooks her bra and brushes her hair and when she turns she’s his wife and she’s also a social worker, she’s a person out there, but he stays in here for when the boys jump on the bed and then he’s a person for them. What year is it, the nurse asks. The nurse says the fall made him this way. He was different before, she says, and the word “before” rolls loose in Harrison’s head. Harrison is mooning his new brother-in-law on the front lawn, the father and mother41 —––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK



in-law watching through the living room window. His new wife tells him to take his medicine; that he shouldn’t moon people in public places. At church, the Bishop shakes Harrison’s hand. It’s fucking great to see you, says Harrison. His wife opens the bottle that hangs around his neck, and shakes a little white pill into the palm of his hand. Harrison must be grown up, because his boys are jumping on the bed, his older son Oscar playing with Harrison’s hair while sucking his thumb. He doesn’t know them as teenagers, so they must still be just boys. Harrison is drawing block letters on Alice’s hand. L-O-V-E. Alice squints at him. You don’t love someone you made out with once, she says. She licks her palm and puts her hand on his face. He can smell her spit. In the mirror, his face says L-O-V-E. Harrison is telling Alice he got married. She laughs through the phone, and he tells her how they drove to Las Vegas and had to get a preacher out of bed, and his hair
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was sticking up. Alice asks him how it feels to be married. I fucked her brains out, Harrison says. He can’t say this in church, but Alice laughs. Harrison is holding his fiancée’s hand in church. She draws a pattern on his palm with her finger. What day of the week is it, his fiancée asks. You're wearing your pink dress, says Harrison. She closes her eyes. I still want to marry you, she says. Her face is puffy in the hospital light. Her pink dress rustles as she wraps her arms around her chest, moonlight shining off the sidewalk. I’ll build you a house so big, it will curve around the earth, he says. No matter where you are, you’ll always be home. Marry me, and I’ll build the whole world in your house. Julie Andrews is singing on the television. Nothing comes from nothing, Julie sings. Harrison fake-wrestles with his brother, skin against skin and laughing breath and slap, trying to get a grip on each other, but Harrison is wet and just a towel around
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his waist, his skin wet, so his brother can’t get a good grip, his hands keep slipping. Does she know she’s marrying an overgrown boy? His mother asks, leaning in the doorway of the kitchen. Outside, outside, not near my table. They’re out on the deck and Julie Andrews is singing, Somewhere in my youth, or childhood, and Harrison’s feet slip on the wet deck and his brother thinks he’s faking him out, pretending to slip, so he does the fake “don’t fall” thing over the railing but Harrison is falling anyway. Harrison's towel is falling away, his penis hanging bare and defenseless in the air, Harrison holding onto the floor of the deck with his fingers, then slipping on the wet, and Harrison falling and falling like a bad dream, like a falling dream, but Harrison doesn’t have those dreams. Harrison lives in god time, where each moment is itself, each moment exists, all moments in all the time of the world exist together and Harrison can turn and turn and live in each one. It isn’t omniscience that makes a god, it’s only this, only the
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ability to see each moment side by side instead of squeezed through a long tunnel. Harrison isn’t a god, though. He can’t see the moments in tomorrow or the day after that. He can’t live in the moment he dies or the moment his youngest son gets married. He can’t see, ahead of time, the moment his wife stands in front of him in her blouse and work skirt, holding his sons by the hands. Harrison doesn’t know until it happens that his wife has on a face that’s tired when she says she can’t do it anymore. He sees that face when she pulls on her nylons and says there isn’t any milk. Her tired face saying he’s forgotten the milk again. He tries to tell her the milk is always there and always not there, but her face gets longer and more tired. She is writing BUY MILK on his hand. She is washing his hand at night, the letters melting off and running in the water. Her mouth is held very still while she rolls the bar of soap over and over his hand. He can’t be a god if he doesn’t know this until now. But maybe even god is surprised. If every moment exists, maybe god can be surprised in each one.

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Harrison is surprised to see his wife pull at Oscar’s hand. She pulls at his hand like she’s going to lift him from the floor, but she doesn’t. She has Niles by the other hand and Niles is the one that is crying. She says she can’t do it anymore and she wants to live in a real house and not his parents’ basement. Harrison sees her tired face but this one is different. It is tired and pulled very thin onto her bones. Harrison is driving to the store and being sure to buy milk. There’s nothing written on his hand, but he buys milk and peanut butter and rice cakes because Oscar can’t eat wheat and ice cream because both of the boys like ice cream. He tells them the story of the noseless witch who lives in the mountain. She’s very very old and very very ugly, and she has no nose because a man cut it off. He leans in and smells their hair and it smells like little boys. It’s a goddamn beautiful day, says Harrison, and his boys giggle and squirm, one under each arm. Harrison is falling.
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Who is the President, the doctor asks. Harrison is with his wife on their wedding night, in their room in Circus Circus. She draws one finger down the center of her bare chest, and Harrison imagines a line appearing behind her finger. She opens her chest at the line and birds rustle out of her body, wings beating soft and dry against his face. Harrison touches his sister’s scar from the removal of her gill. He feels the bump where an absence creates a new thing in its place, larger than what was there before. Harrison is falling. He is always falling, always his white towel spiraling down below, always his penis shrinking in. Always his fiancée is pulling her hair back so he can kiss her pale neck. Harrison is in his sons’ empty room, the emptiness blasting his ears like a cannon. Harrison is falling and his sons are jumping on the bed, their hair sticking up. He’s swimming up toward the sun and he’s falling. The milk is turning sour in the fridge.

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Harrison is falling and the wind beats against his ears like the wings of a hundred birds. Harrison’s wife is always leaving and always coming on the bed at Circus Circus. Harrison is thirty-five years old and eight years old and twenty-one years old and falling.

48 Tamim Ansary —–––––––––––


Valencia 73

At nightfall, written directions in hand, I found the Waldorf near the central plaza. It was one of the only swanky hotels in Valencia, boasting shiny marble floors, chandeliers and a decidedly un-Spanish, Euro-mod look. Pushing through the glass revolving door, I stood in the lobby in my appliquéd Osh-Kosh overalls and clogs, and realized I was getting the eye from hotel staff. Hearing music pulsing from a downward staircase, I descended to the cellar and found La Bruja. Its pitchdarkness was mitigated by flashing disco lights, and I could see an unattended DJ booth and plush booths around the perimeter of the dance floor. It was almost empty, but for a few groups gathered in the corners. Too early for the dance crowd, I thought. Feeling suddenly awkward, and unsure of my mission – perhaps I’d been given wrong information? – I considered turning tail and retreating. Then as my eyes accustomed to the dark, I saw Vicente huddled with some cronies, deep in furtive conversation. When he looked up, he caught and held my gaze. I started to walk toward him, when a burly doorman put out his arm to stop me and
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demanded money. I bristled. “For what? There is no party yet…” Suddenly Vicente was there and murmured something to the doorman, who grudgingly let me pass. I stood face to face with the student leader, and was at a loss for words – partly because I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to say or what I had to offer, and partly because he was so imposing: well over six feet tall, he towered over me, and his dark eyes were some of the most piercing I’d seen up close. He was beautiful – with a patrician, aquiline nose and clean-shaven olive skin, nearly-black ringlets for shoulder-length hair, marginally tamed by a headband. And where I’d seen him in the student union laughing and looking light-hearted, he was clearly not in a mood to make idle chit-chat tonight. “Que quieres?” he said tersely. What do you want? I stammered, “Solamente ayudar” – only to help.

52 Jane Ganahl —–––––––––––

“Help what? Why?” He stared so intently into my eyes I almost forgot my mission. “I know who you are, and I know what you do,” I said, lowering my voice to approximate an Emma Peel, spy-like quality. “And I have the skills to help.” He cracked a smile, then it faded just as quickly. “Go home, American girl,” he said in English. “You do not want this trouble.” And he turned to walk away. “Wait,” I called after him. “I marched in the moratoriums of 69 and 70!” “So did the whole world,” he said, not looking back. I gave it one last try. “But I know Joan Baez!” He stopped walking. I trotted up to where he stood. “How do you know Joan Baez?” he asked without turning around. “I’m from California, and worked for the Institute for Nonviolence in high school, and I met her a few times… You know, we
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had…” I groped for the Spanish word for potlucks, but drew a blank. “Meals?” He turned around and smiled broadly. “What is your name?” Jane. He took my arm and escorted me back to his group – a group of maybe ten exhausted looking young people, all in either the hippie or mod camp, all regarding me with suspicion. They erupted in chatter when I sat down – Capitan, who is she? Why is she here? How can you trust a stranger? Vicente held up one hand to quiet them down. “This is Jane from California, and she is buen amigas – close personal friends – with Joan Baez!” Suddenly their faces went from closed to open, and some breathed the word “Jooooan,” as if speaking the name of a deity. I wanted to disabuse them of the notion that Joan Baez knew me from Adam – other than the red-haired teenager who hung around the institute photocopying political flyers and flirting
54 Jane Ganahl —–––––––––––

with the draft resistors – but it seemed the wrong moment for such truth-telling. When they resumed their discourse on the crisis at hand – students being held in jail with no word on their status – I just sat quietly and listened. The office of Hermano Lobo (Brother Wolf), an underground, student-run publication that satirized the Franco regime, had been broken into and trashed. Everyone knew it was Franco’s secret police. I watched Vicente closely, observing how he was both strong-willed and egalitarian; everyone’s opinion mattered, and he listened intently and quietly before rendering a decision. His minions clearly adored him, even called him capitan – captain – which I found sweetly amusing. If there were squabbles he would silence them with a wave of his hand and a reminder that we have to keep the ultimate goal in mind: bringing down the Franco regime – or at least obtaining freedom of the press. I was dazzled that this person just a few years older than me (I estimated he was around 24) had this kind of command – of both himself and others – and felt the swelling of admiration in my chest.

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Or maybe it was just lust. Good lord. While trying to focus on the discussion of how to help Hermano Lobo get back on its publishing feet and whom we might bribe to free the incarcerated students, my eyes would wander to the love beads that dangled down Vicente’s front. His Moroccan shirt, open to the middle of his chest, revealed a tantalizing few tufts of hair on dove-like pectorals. He was thin like Nacho (didn’t these Spanish guys eat?) and his jeans were so tight that heaven was within a focused stare. I smiled, wondering if Louise Reed Bryant fantasized about John Reed’s penis while planning the rise of communism in America. At that moment, a cohort of Vicente’s burst breathlessly into La Bruja, waving a piece of paper. Vicente stood up and took the paper, and read it aloud. It was from Esteban, one of his jailed lieutenants, who had bribed a guard to convey his note to the underground. He reported that the arrested students had been beaten, and he thought his and some others’ ribs had been broken, but he could not be sure since they were not allowing them to see a doctor. The
56 Jane Ganahl —–––––––––––

students who were not involved in the protest but were swept up by soldiers were likely to be released within a day or two, but he and others who had been carrying signs and wearing armbands were likely to spend weeks in grim jail conditions, maybe even months. As I listened, I felt stunned – almost felt like I was in a movie. This kind of thing doesn’t actually happen in 1973, does it? I guess it does. I felt a stab of guilt at continually mocking my own country for the harm it did, without considering the abuses that would never occur there. The messenger regarded me with suspicion. I watched him nod quizzically in my direction to another student, who shrugged and whispered, “she’s a close personal friend of Joan Baez!” Sangria pitchers and tapas suddenly arrived at the table but no one seemed surprised. Perhaps these angels had fairy godmothers? And talk of bribes, torture and jail was temporarily tabled in deference to drinking and cena. Vicente mingled with the students, eventually making his way to where I was chatting with a young woman from Asturias. Vicente took me aside, munching a slice of tortilla Espanola, and asked pointedly,
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but with a hint of flirtation: “So, Jane from California, why are you really here?” Good God – these Spanish men: so intense! Doesn’t anyone make casual small talk in this country? With Vicente standing inches from me, staring intently down into my face, it was tempting to become idiot girl, all weak in the knees. But I’d been down this road. I could deal. “I’m here in Spain to do a lot of things,” I said, summoning my confidence and looking back at him without blinking. “I’m here to improve my language skills, play a role in finishing off Franco’s regime, drink as much sangria as possible…” we clinked glasses. “…And dance with El Capitan.” Vicente threw his head back and laughed – the first time I’d seen him do that – reached out and took my waist in his arm, and began to move, swaying his hips side to side as the DJ started spinning “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. I started to move with him, syncing my hips with his, buoyant on sangria, light as a feather in the arms of my own personal John Reed.

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Then, he paused in our bump-andgrinding and looked me in the eye. “I have seen you with the son of Rincon, Franco’s pigeon in Valencia. What is he to you?” Oh man – I was not prepared to be asked this. “He was a friend, but not anymore,” I said. “Is that all?” he persisted, arm still around me. “You understand why I have to know – Franco has spies everywhere.” “Is that the only reason you want to know?” I teased, moving closer to him. “Because you think an American girl who has only been in Spain for two weeks might already be a spy for the secret police?” I giggled flirtatiously. It was not beneath me at times like this. “I…” Vicente’s superb elocution seemed to fail him for a moment. “I also wanted to know if you are free.” “I am,” I said with a smile, never lowering my gaze, “about as free as possible.” He grinned broadly, and we kept dancing, on and on for hours, the flashing
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overhead lights causing his love beads to flicker like fireworks about to explode.

60 Jane Ganahl —–––––––––––

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A Few More Hours of Sunlight

We drink beer in your kitchen and talk of the lives of dead poets while outside the window is the September sun and beneath it the city streets and the people who carry their lives like corpses on their backs. They wait for buses and taxis, they wait for their tiny phones to ring and all the lights to finally turn green as if they truly believed things had some interest in being done. Ambition is for the ambitious and let us leave them to it. If history's to be believed we'll all end up badly one day, and what of it?
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We've another bottle in the fridge and a few more hours of sunlight.

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The Dead and the Living Alike

Last night they found a woman stuffed in a suitcase drifting in the San Francisco bay I read the news and ponder the underlying terror of life how it comes crashing like a wave pouring through the cracks of our pretty dreams when we least expect and I understand this is how it ends up for all of us more or less I understand that I too am a woman stuffed in a suitcase and thrown to indifferent waters maybe it hasn't
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happened yet or maybe I don't remember but the fact of it is there and I guess that's why we have god and television narcotics and drink and some days I am frightened of the dead and the living alike the enormity of the sky and the purity of its blue strikes a fear in me as I walk beneath it weeping for things I don't understand.

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Paris In The Spring

Today we'll drink wine in the sunlight and pretend the gods have some love to spare for us. You hold your glass just so dreaming of 1935 and Paris in the spring but all we've got is Polk St and a plastic table that wobbles in this stillborn century that feels like an afterthought to a story long done. Yet still we dream that all the bodies in all the graves will bloom into love letters never burned and that the gaping wound of existence will pour forth desperate joy instead of blood. We'll forgive all the pretty things that never loved us and love them all the more
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and strive to be beautiful despite the indifference of the day, if only because no one else is trying.

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The People You Try Not To Look At

I awoke with the terror today usually it comes and goes with the night but this morning it lingered in the unmade bed the dirty dishes the bathroom mirror and through the day it dogged me, blooming into the corners everything I saw it in the man on the bus and the woman in the grocery store and wondered if they saw it in me some people you see how the terror has taken hold of them and it will be all they know for the rest of their days
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these are the people you try not to look at most everyone knows the terror more than they will say at some point we made a collective decision not to speak of it except in books and poems and other things we cast aside the young know the terror only through stories and the faces of the old they don't yet believe the rest of us go about our lives as best we can we lose ourselves in crowds and pray it will not find us let it take the others
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let someone find a way to save us.

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Kesey, Dude

An hour after my last college final, I got a job. I had no burning desire to pursue a career in local television, but there I was, shaking hands and becoming an employee, before the diploma was even in my possession. This was President Reagan’s trickle-down in action. We had entrusted the president with, in his words, the stewardship of our dreams. And apparently I would be cashing the checks. I joined a crew of other young people in the production department of a TV station, helping serve up the typical mix of newscasts and talk shows for viewers of Eugene, Oregon. We adjusted lights, and operated cameras, and because I had a sliver of radio experience, I was also enlisted to do voiceover work. A slide of the cast of MASH would appear on the screen, accompanied by my peppy tagline: “Hawkeye adopts a horse for the 4077th, with hi-larious results…tomorrow night at 7, on KVAL-TV, Eugene!”
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Once a week the SPCA would bring in dogs to be adopted, and we would film the “Pet Of the Day” segments, with each animal looking into the camera, hoping for a better life outside the cage. Sometimes a dog would get spooked by the equipment, but there was never time to calm it down and reshoot. So viewers would see a terrified Cocker Spaniel cowering behind a pair of legs, as a cheery voice intoned, “This little guy’s name is Rusty, he’s two years old, and he loves children.” The crew would joke amongst ourselves, “Well, Rusty’s going to get gassed.” My parents were ecstatic that I was employed. I was miserable. Is this it? Is this where I end up – fat and divorced, filming pets and treating southwestern Oregon to phrases like “The quest of ambition, the passion of dreams, can be yours each week…on Falcon Crest”? I thought I wanted to be a writer. I read lots of books. Or at least I owned lots of books. I took creative writing classes. I kept a boxful of journals. But I needed
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some more input. Some influence from a grander source, that would help me make something of myself. The flyers were all over Eugene: Ken Kesey was to give a one-day writers’ workshop. Kesey was the hometown hero. He grew up across the river and had graduated from the U of Oregon. My friends and I were big fans of Tom Wolfe’s Electric KoolAid book, and the hippie bus adventures. But before his LSD clown career came two brilliant novels. The classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, published when he was only 27. A New York Times bestseller, written from the perspective of an American Indian mental patient. In 1964 he followed that with Sometimes a Great Notion, another daring work which incorporated multiple points of view, sometimes within the same sentence. Two groundbreaking books, crackling with energy, birthed in a strange little bubble of history after the Beats and before the hippies, mirroring a nation on the cusp of mass confusion.
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The film version of Cuckoo’s Nest was pretty compelling, especially for a kid in junior high. But I later discovered the novels and realized Kesey’s characters epitomized the West—loggers, Indians, land developers, village drunks and crazies. I was from this part of the country. I could identify with all of it. By this time I’d read some East Coast writers, like Plimpton, Salinger, Updike. They were really smart, but their books seemed like dispatches from foreign lands. Too neurotic, too much hand-wringing. That wasn’t the America I knew. Kesey hadn’t written any fiction in nearly 20 years. But still, this was my first opportunity to hear an actual writer from my side of the Mississippi. I walked into the classroom and immediately knew I’d made a mistake. The seats were filled with Deadheads, sporting their Guatemalan yarn hats and little satchels decorated with beadwork. A few were reminiscing about a recent appearance by Kesey and Jerry Garcia on the Tomorrow Show program with Tom
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Snyder, and how hilarious it was because the two were obviously totally stoned! I had nothing against Deadheads. You couldn’t. In Eugene, they were inescapable. Even U of O professors wore the T-shirts. You’d go to a house party and the never-ending Dead soundtrack was always on the stereo, with somebody saying, “Yeah, this is a soundcheck from Sweden, ’72…they played for four hours before the show even started...” I liked some of the music, and respected that they carved out their own niche. But I always wondered how a band could have two drummers and still sound so sloppy. And I really had nothing against acid at the time. I once went to the Oregon coast with a few friends, tripping heavily, and we discovered an injured seagull sitting in the sand. We all crept up, wondering how we could save this poor animal, this innocent creature of God. Maybe its wing was broken. Maybe another animal had attacked it, and it was mortally wounded,
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waiting to die. We knelt down to inspect, and the gull looked at us, and stood up and flew away, and blew all of our minds. Acid was said to open doors, heighten perception, strip away the ego and tune you into the infinite oneness. My big acid revelation? Birds are not always injured. Kesey strolled into the room late, smiling and wearing a dirty serape, sipping a smoothie through a straw. The organizers had collected stories from students, and he read through a few of them, making a few general comments, very simple suggestions. It reminded me of an article I once read about John Lennon in a recording studio. He never tweaked a lot of knobs. He would always make one simple adjustment. The similarity made even more sense when I realized these were two guys who had both done a lot of drugs. Mostly, Kesey cracked a lot of jokes, which the saucer-eyed Deadheads devoured, sniggering as though the whole experience was some sort of secret satirical joyride. Nobody had any
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questions or comments. But the connection was amazing to witness. The room was hyper-focused into Kesey’s every mannerism, every aside. Even a well-timed pause to sip the smoothie would elicit a ripple of chuckles. To my earnest little mind, it had fuck-all to do about writing. I slunk out of the workshop in disgust. Maybe I should have gotten high. But then, I might not have remembered anything at all. I didn’t know what I wanted. I don’t blame Kesey for coasting on his success. Bestselling books, a Broadway play, a film that swept the Oscars. Those are hard acts to follow. Kicking back and making Deadheads giggle would be a lot easier than sitting in a room by yourself, writing books. But I’m sorry. This was 1983. Elvis Costello had released eight albums by this time. What was up with all the hippie shit? Having learned nothing, other than the John Lennon similarity, I continued my pathetic non-career for several more
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months, working at the TV station, sleeping with a few of the female staff along the way. I performed sketch comedy in biker bars. I scribbled in more journals, wrote a couple of astoundingly bad one-act plays. And suddenly, as it often occurs to the young and the frustrated, I realized I could just leave. I gave up my studio apartment, which overlooked a greasy dumpster behind a KFC, and packed everything I owned into a car. My last night in Oregon, the production crew of the station threw me a going-away party. The sun came up, and then I said goodbye and drove to San Francisco and got a job washing dishes. In a way, I never would have done it without Ken Kesey. So wherever you are, sipping a smoothie in the great psychedelic beyond, thanks for the nudge.

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If I Am Elected

My dear friends… my beloved enemies… beauty and truth fans… spirit wrestlers… people of the zero… and all of you secret messiahs and unknown avatars… This is a perfect moment. This moment is a climax of the most perfect anger I have ever achieved. I have followed my bliss and my bliss has revealed to me that I must follow my rage. At this moment I know with mystical clarity that I would have to kill my own ego if I did not begin to express my sublime rage for those so-called leaders who have appropriated the 13 Perfect Secrets from the Beginning of Time and used them against us. But friends: You can help save me from my anger. You can give me the right and the privilege to control the uncontrollable. You
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can command me to give in to my desire to have absolute power… over myself. Whoever you are… whatever beautiful monster you have made into your god… whatever media viruses you have invited into your most intimate places… you can decide right now to vote for me. You can decide right now that you are ready to change your lives… and change your signs… and change your changing. Because when you vote for me, you vote for your own purified, glorified, unified, and mystifying self. If I am elected, I will teach you how to kick your own ass and wash your own brain before somebody nasty beats you to it. If I am elected, I will show you in a million ways why we should all be totally opposed to all duality. If I am elected, I will prove to you that everyone who believes in the devil is the devil.

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If I am elected, I will reveal the secret meaning of the fact that "stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards. If I am elected, YA YA will be YA YA. YA YA will not be NYAA NYAA. If I am elected, the word "asshole" will be used as a term of endearment rather than abuse. My beloved friends and monsters, understand me or go to hell. I love you. I love you, goddammit. I love you more than I love you. And I'll prove to you how much I love you if I have to ruthlessly destroy my destructiveness in order to do it. This language prevents crime. This engineering moves us to sing These advertisements make us smart. This rhythm frees all prisoners of childhood. It is high time for you and me to stop colluding with the so-called entertainers
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who are perpetrating the genocide of the imagination. It is high time for us to stop heeding the lies of the necrophiliac journalists and the goddess-killing CEOs and the criminally insane politicians who are torturing the 13 Perfect Secrets from the Beginning of Time. Do you know how to tell the difference between your own thoughts and those of the celebrities who have demonically possessed you? If I am elected, you will know the difference beyond a doubt. If I am elected, there will be a new bill of rights. And the first amendment will be: "Your daily wage is directly tied to the beauty and truth and love you provide." If I am elected, I will prove to you why it is so important to the future of daffodils and sea urchins and the jet stream that childbirth be broadcast on primetime TV on one of the major networks every night. If I am elected, we will add an eleventh commandment to the standard ten: "Thou shalt not bore God."
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If I am elected, when anchormen report tragedies on their nightly TV shows, they'll break down and cry and let their emotions show. No more poker faces. If I am elected, you and I will grow up to be exhilarationists instead of terrorists. Exhilarationists are tricky saints who steal your pain and drive you insane with joy and pleasure. Exhilarationists are brilliant fools who break the rules to make you drool with shocking delight and outrageous beauty. You are becoming very relaxed. Your eyes are growing very calm. All tension is leaving your body. But you are NOT getting sleepy. In fact, you have never felt more awake and alive in your entire life. You will obey… everything I don't say. You will obey… everything I don't know. You will obey… everything I forgot. You will obey… nothing at all.

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If I am elected, there'll be legal highs, not legal lows… mystical science and logical horoscopes. Compassion will be an aphrodisiac, and I'll be a pyrokleptomaniac -- with a compulsion to steal fire. If I am elected, there'll be a magical realist democracy, where millions vote for ecstasy. April Fool's will come once a week. Plutocracy will be a felony. If I am elected, there will be seven genders that can all marry each other. The moon will be your father; the sun will be your mother. There'll be sacred shopping malls where you can buy magic carpets and waterfalls. Meditation will be taught in schools. There'll be seven billion different golden rules. If am elected, advertising will be a terrorist crime. And the national slogan will be "Erotically ingenious, spiritually suave workers of the world unite. Seize the means of production and use it to abolish all need for work." Who says you can't have it all?
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And get this: We'll have shamanic doughnuts -- organic vegan low-fat shamanic doughnuts -- that open your third eye. If I am corrected, rejected, infected and perfected, I will buy all the Pizza Huts in the world and convert them into a global network of menstrual huts -- where for a few days each month, every one of us, men and women alike, can resign from the crazy-making 9-5. We'll drop out and slow down, break trance and dive down into eternal time. We'll sleep nine hours every night and practice our lucid dreams; think with our hearts and feel with our heads; study the difference between stupid, boring pain smart, fascinating pain until we get it right;
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wear wildflower crowns and magic underwear made of eagle feathers and spider webs; think up bigger, better, more original sins and wilder, wetter, more interesting problems. I'm the president now. And so are you! I am the Psychic Judge of the Invisible Government of Bloody Disneyland. And so are you! I am the Sacred Janitor of the United Snakes of Rosicrucian Coca-Cola. And so are you! I am the Supreme Teacher of permanent Orgasm! And so are you! And what we proclaim is that in the new world we will love our neighbors as ourselves, even if our neighbors are jerks. We will never divide the world into Us Against Them. We will search for the divine spark even in the people we most despise, and we will never never never dehumanize anyone, even those who dehumanize us.

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If I am elected, every one of us will sooner or later become a well-rounded, highly skilled, incredibly rich master of rowdy bliss -an ecstatically compassionate connoisseur of insurrectionary beauty -with lots of leisure time and an orgiastic feminist conscience. Let me hear you say YA YA. Let me hear you say YA YA LA LA. Let me hear you say YA YA LA LA GA GA. Let me hear you say YA YA LA LA GA GA MA MA PA PA HA HA.

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Bail Out or The People Are Too Big To Fail


For the Libyan pilot who refused to bomb his own people

A pilot has ejected, he rejected the regime, he’s floating in the air, a parachute protecting him, it’s downright paranormal, and his fighter jet is going on without him. He has bailed out of the war machine and hangs suspended by his principles a mile above the ground. A parachute is fragile as a flower or a cloud, but it supports a man. It’s focused on the human, it’s a renaissance parachute, the lines are like a poem which can save your life. The old regime is losing its grip,
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it’s showing what it’s all about when pilots have been told to bomb their countrymen, to cut them into pieces on the ground. The pilot is responding to a higher authority, instead of dropping a bomb he drops himself – it is another way to join the crowd. Instead of acting like a robot in a dictatorial cockpit, he is landing like a man and walks away. His fighter jet will burn out in the desert like a cigarette in a bowl of sand.

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Free Words

Spoken word and self promotion, there’s a sound-wave locomotion with the local yokels vocalizing, words are volatile, they are connected to the brain, a neurological refrain, it hits you like a lightning bolt, it’s in your blood and the revolt is running you. It’s hot and cold inside my head, a sense of dread connected to an empty bed, demented though, as if he meant it and the sidewalks have cemented my relationship to city living. The audacity of everybody’s audio, the poets saying adios until they’re black and blue in the face, a nervous nerve in outer space and that’s where everybody lives and I believe that it forgives our sins. It is a scintillating universe, a vacillating destiny inherited by virtue of unmerited
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arrival through the vaginal. Your ego is imaginal, your magic subjectivity can generate activity that takes a lifetime to resolve, I am revolving into something else, and some of us are singing in the graveyard, it is bringing it all back home because you live in your lungs. It gives you breathing room and airy brain-waves I assume and if the oxygen is making you an airhead and you’re taking liberties and think you should be getting royalties I wouldn’t disagree. Refine your voice, your sins forgiven by the void. You’re trashy and delusional, the dizziness as usual, the sound-effects are kind of cruel, the human body is a tool, it’s tuning up the intuition as you walk into the ocean or an uninhibited lake with your libido on the make, it takes a certain attitude, we’re looking for some latitude according to the laws of matter
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and the purple light inside a glass of wine, the smoothest ride in town and all the intonations of complete communication when the poets get together and the literary weather can be dry or is it stormy with no reason and the normal folks are hit by winds and lightning bolts and if they want to lighten up they smoke a little weed and later get back to the word, feeling like they somersaulted with a joint. It’s not their fault if there are signals in the air, an existential laissez-faire, who needs a two-dimensional tension when you have the fourth dimension for expanding your persona, it is filling up the phone. But maybe it’s unrealistic living in a long linguistic dream, an old preoccupation, could have had an occupation but instead you were diverted by the voices and the words
94 Steven Gray —–––––––––––

inside your head, a time-consuming way of being where you’re zooming in on the remote, I’m living by remote control, it’s giving me an air of being not all there and then I hear the call of nature. The brain by definition is a warp, a human heat wave on two feet, a four dimensional transparency, it’s more than I can hold a candle to and there are times that I can’t handle it, but others have it worse, incapable of writing verse, their lives are such a bump and grind, the turbulence inside the mind like writing on a Muni bus and every sentence is a bust, the meanings are illegible and so you’re getting kind of edgy your mentality deflected, your dimension disconnected. Lost in space I feel more grounded with a woman, lost and found inside of her, a twilight zone of estrogen, it sets the tone for all of those misunderstandings,
95 —––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK

but you come in for a landing with a woman, and the earth is moving. Maybe it isn’t worth it, seeing your autonomy eclipsed by her anatomy, but life is like a woman bending over and I know the ending.

96 Steven Gray —–––––––––––


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