Q uiet L

ightning
s P A R K L E
& b L I N K
3.0


eOCÒg¤]
¡
`¤)Þg
as performed on
Nov 7 11
@
Chez Poulet

© 2011 Quiet Lightning
ISBN 978-1-105-17835-1

art by McKenzie Coonce
mckenziecoonce.wordpress.com

curated by Quiet Lightning

edited by Evan Karp
evankarp.com

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Contents

SIDE Q

Nora Toomey
De-vice 7
A Conversation w/Patti 9
The Waitress Puts on Something Heavy 10

SB Stokes
from Gone from the Boat, Far from the Ocean 11

Susanna Solomon
Sheriff’s Calls 13

Siamak Vossoughi
Nine Innings 17

Keely Hyslop
Anne Bonny Advises 23
from Things I Say to Pirates on Nights When I Miss You

Lindy Hough
The Wake of the Wave 27
from Wild Horses, Wild Dreams

L.J. Moore
from suburban gothic: a grimoire 29

Steven Gray
Fire on the Beach 37

3.0

McKenzie Coonce
Vines (left) front cover
Vines (right) back cover

SIDE L

Leigh Lucas
Alphabet Soup 39

Christin Rice
Rollercoaster Dogma 42

Sarah Agnes O.
February w/Emma&Adam (fingers) 46
Good Manners, w/Pluck and Luck 48

Frank Weisberg
from “Your God Has Nipples” 50

Sam Benjamin
from American Gangbang: A Love Story 54

Cassandra Dallett
Of Bushes and Wood 58

Lauren Eggert-Crowe + Lisa Ciccarello
Untitled 60


info + guide to other readings 62


7
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
De-vice

–noun

1. a thing made for a particular purpose; an invention or
contrivance, especially a mechanical or electrical one.
2. a plan or scheme for effecting a purpose.
3. a crafty scheme; trick.
—Merriam Webster

In the dream
I was categorizing moments
everything noted, then labeled
as “bracket” or “dash.”
This was the only way
I could make sense of things.
A bracket [ ]
infinitely more devastating,
than a dash –
Please, not another bracket.
In the dream
everything could be categorized
this way
your intentions, your shirt,
your lover’s face,
her ugly mouth,
the way a bath towel
fell to the floor.
Each moment carefully weighed,
then slipped into a folder
called forgiveness.
I imagine if I kept on dreaming,
none of it would matter anymore.
A bracket becomes a dash,
becomes a bracket.
All floating into the space
where you don’t touch me anymore.
8
Nora Toomey —–––––––––––

9
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
A Conversation with Patti

Tell me about your sleepwalking.
I used to do it when I was pregnant.

And what was that like?
Like holding stones in honey water.

Tell me about your sisters.
They have moons in their bellies.

And their teeth?
They were always bigger than mine.

Who did you like best, your mother
or your father?
My father.

And love?
Was it ever hard for you?
Yes. It was hard sometimes.

Tell me you’re a bird.
I’m a bird.

Have you crawled down
the pink and squeeze of a cow’s throat?
Yes. I have crawled there.

Was it to sleep a little?
Yes. Just to sleep a little.

Are you the grass now, Patti?
Yes. I am the grass.

Can you see us rinsing
out our silks and sugar mouths?
10
Nora Toomey —–––––––––––
Yes. I can see you.

Do you love us more for this?
Yes.

Do you love us more
than a windmill on a mountain top?
Yes.

Could your love be as sturdy
as our wrist bones, as our breakfast milk?

The Waitress Puts on Something Heavy

I haven't heard this album
since we were on acid
in that cold, cold
Vermont apartment.
I haven't listened to it on purpose.
Remember?
You were armed with two best friends.
All I had was messy living.
You broke my heart,
then drove our car
back to your parent's house.
It was February,
and you were late for a birthday dinner.
11
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
from Gone From the Boat, Far from
the Ocean

I go into your house
I wear your clothes

I talk to your wife
like I know her

We eat food together
sit so close and silent

I look into her face
her eyes two animals

struggling in black tar
frantic, an endless twilight

her body drooping
I hold her hands in mine

I tell her
It really will be alright

but we both know
We remember

your laughter filling us
with joy and surprise,
from the other room

12
Susanna Van Leuven —–––––––––––
13
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Sheriff’s Calls
From the Point Reyes Light, June 30, 2011
There were no local calls. Good job, West Marin.

Mildred Darcy, 93, stepped into her tub at 12053
Drakes View Drive and did not slip.
Mace McKinley, practicing horse jumping for
the first time at her cousin Freda’s house in Inverness,
did not fall off the horse as he saw a blue tent in the
woods, bucked and charged off the trail.
Miles Foreman, a software developer from
Sunnyvale, in a hurry to attend his best friend’s
wedding, did not drive his BMW into a ditch on the
Petaluma-Pt. Reyes road.
In Bolinas, six drunk teenagers from Eastern San
Rafael, who had been drinking all day and playing
volleyball on the beach at Bolinas, did not pass out on
the beach under a tarp. Actually, no one was camping
at all on the beach, first time that had happened in
over one hundred and fifty days.
Giacomini’s cows, out on Route 1, nudged and
pushed on a barbed wire fence near Marshall, hunting
for the bright green grass on the edge of the road. An
MG speedster, black, convertible, going 60 miles an
hour in a 35, sped by, radio blaring. The cows,
contented with mouthfuls of green grass, nosed their
way back inside their pasture.
Frank Turner, 24, single and despondent over
the loss of his girlfriend, his job and his house in a
matter of months, took his last sip of his father’s Jim
Beam that Dad had left on the counter by mistake,
and reached for the Seconal to down them all as he’d
thought about all day; instead, he staggered to the
bathroom and fell asleep nudged under the porcelain
throne. In the morning he had a hell of a headache
and the pills had vanished from his hands.
14
Susanna Van Leuven —–––––––––––
No one was out in front of Smiley’s saloon, in
Bolinas, yelling obscenities, wearing bright orange
and blue clothes and talking to dogs.
Out in San Geronimo, five youths, wearing
white shirts and basketball clothing, holding bags of
half-rotten apples, eyed the stagecoach bus heading
for a stop. They hid behind some trees. Tommy, the
youngest of the few, heard his mother calling him in
for dinner. He dropped his apples and the other boys
followed. They were hungry too.
In Lagunitas, a white middle-aged man wearing
a white shirt and blue jeans was talking to himself
and picking up trash. A nearby sheriff, sitting in his
overheated car, took a bite out of his muffin and
turned off his radio.
In Muir Beach, Sandra Littlejohn, 42, was upset
because someone had parked on the street in front of
her home. Instead of calling 911, she headed to the
Pelican Inn for a drink.
William Havens, a landlord, faced his tenant, a
distraught Penny Hennessy, who was not having one
of her best days. Unable to fork over rent and two
months in arrears, she pleaded with William to give
her a little more time. Instead of filing a three-day
eviction notice, as he was about to do, his cell phone
buzzed in his rear pocket. It was his mother, asking
him for a ride to church. William gave Penny another
month and straightened his tie.
All over West Marin a miracle occurred: no one
who got drunk drove; the usual reality-challenged
residents did not call the sheriff for an imaginary
trespasser; no one stole a video, a bicycle, a camera or
a cell phone. No one sped into a ditch, no bicyclists
crashed, no one was evicted and people holding
firecrackers behaved sensibly.
“What is the world coming to?” asked Mildred
Fitzpatrick, of Olema, flipping through the pages of
15
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
the Point Reyes Light. “I’m disappointed, Harold, how
‘bout you?”
Harold, a deeply devoted Giants fan, rose out of
deep concentration while watching Lincecum pitch.
“What is that you are looking for, Mildred?” he
asked.
“Trouble,” she said, loading her gun.
16
Susanna Van Leuven —–––––––––––

17
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Nine Innings

She was in New York and I was in San Francisco, and
I was getting better at not thinking about her each
day, but on T.V. at Nick's the Giants were playing the
Mets, which meant that I could see with my own two
eyes that something in San Francisco could touch
something in New York, and it was not me touching
her, but still it was possible, a guy could get on a
plane and a little while later he'd be in New York, not
at a ballpark but at a woman's apartment, and so I
told myself, okay, you've got nine innings, then let it
go.
By the seventh, it was 16-2 Mets.
"Lousy game," the guy next to me said.
"In what sense?" I said.
In the eighth the bartender made a move to
change the channel.
"No," I said.
"We're getting killed."
"There is a woman I love in New York," I said.
"Is she at the game?"
“No. She doesn’t like baseball.”
"If she was at the game, that would be one
thing," the guy next to me said.
"She's in the city. She's going to see all these
people tomorrow."
It was true. She was going to see all of them
tomorrow and I was going to see everybody in San
Francisco tomorrow and they were all perfectly nice
people to see, but none of them would be her. Those
fellows understood. They understood even if they
didn't know it just then.
I saw another fellow at the end of the bar seem
to ask the bartender to change it, and the bartender
nodded towards me. I can tell you the whole story if
you want, I thought. I can tell you how we knew each
18
Siamak Vossoughi —–––––––––––
other in college and somehow we both knew that if I
ever felt the world steadily enough under my own
two feet, that it would be love. It had been love back
then too, only I had only declarations and dramatic
gestures to offer her back then, not the easy and sure
understanding of what life was and how love fit into
it, rather than the other way around. I'd thought of
myself as an expert on love back then and a beginner
at life, and I tried not to think about expertise at all
these days, but the other way around was a good
place to start at least.
So when we saw each other back home in
Seattle at Christmas and she saw what had fallen
away from me and what was left, we picked up right
where I had always wished we'd left off.
In the ninth, Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run
home run. I didn't say a word. 16 to 5 was nothing to
get excited about anyway. The fellows at the bar took
on the look of old hands, knowing that only someone
who was some kind of beginner at baseball would
think there was a chance.
But the Giants put a couple of hits together, a
single and two doubles, and it was 16 to 7. Nine runs
was still an impossibility. But I saw the fellow at the
end of the bar staring intently at his beer, as if in
reconsideration of something. There was a walk and
then Andres Torres hit a three-run shot. 16-10. I saw
the fellow get up and walk towards me.
"I hope you see her soon," he said.
"Thank you," I said.
"I did not want to watch the game any more.
When they said you'd asked to leave it on because of
a woman in New York, I thought that was foolish. I
am sorry for thinking that."
"It's all right," I said. "16 to 2 is a blowout."
19
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
"Yes it is. But I should show a little more faith.
Whatever happens now, I should show a little more
faith."
We watched as Freddy Sanchez hit a double.
"I hope you see her too," the guy next to me
said. "She must be something," he said, as if she was
the one standing on second base.
"She is."
She would've liked these two guys. She liked
people and their funny old ways. She was like me -
she got angry about people and she loved them and
she tried to lean a little more to the part of her that
loved them. That was what was so nice about seeing
each other in Seattle, was that we saw how hard each
of us had been working since college, and love was
seeing the possibility at least of someone you didn't
have to work your hardest around. It was almost too
much to look at, for me.
Buster Posey hit a bloop to right that fell in, so it
was men on first and third, one out. When Pablo hit a
double, the place went crazy.
"Listen," the fellow from the end of the bar said.
"You need to get on a plane and go to New York."
"That's nice of you to say."
"Forget nice. We're watching this because of her.
If she can do this all the way in New York, imagine
what she can do when you're in the same place."
"She can do more than this," I said.
"That is what I am saying."
There was a strikeout, but along the way there
was a wild pitch and Pablo made it to third. Then
Mike Fontenot singled him home. 16 to 13.
"If we win this," the guy said. "I'm going to help
buy your ticket. That's all there is to it. You have to
go."

20
Siamak Vossoughi —–––––––––––
Men can get drunk in all kinds of ways, and one of
them is witnessing the greatest sobriety of others. The
Giants looked as sober as I had ever seen them, but
every man in the bar was drunk. They'd gone
somewhere they didn't think they could go. Nobody
knew that when it came to drunkenness, I'd had to set
up some rules since the last time I saw her: Three
drinks if the music being played didn't make me
think of her, two drinks if it did.
"I'll help out too," the other guy said.
It was beautiful. They wanted to do something
like the Giants were doing on T.V. They wanted to
exceed something. I thought I might just have to give
them the chance.
Aaron Rowand was up. I watched the ball leave
his bat on the second pitch. I smiled. Maybe I really
would see her. He didn't hit many out, but when he
did, you knew it off the bat.
Everybody embraced. It was a magnificent
moment. She had done it. She had done it without
even trying, which was how she did everything. That
and trying very hard.
I had to remember that we were still down by a
run. But I felt like I had won because everybody
believed me that there was a woman in New York
that I loved.
"If you don't go now," the first guy said. "I am
going to be upset."
"I certainly don't want to make you upset."
"No you don't. You need to go and tell her about
this. Thirteen runs in an inning. In the ninth."
"I'll try. But she doesn't know much about
baseball."
"This isn't baseball. It's more than that."
"What is it?"
"Love."
21
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
It was good to hear someone else say it. We
didn't have a street we could walk down together or a
bar we could sit in together, but there was a guy in
San Francisco who could see it, having seen the
Giants score thirteen runs in the ninth.
The next batter struck out. I don't want to say
his name because it was too heartbreaking.
"Still," the fellow from the end of the bar said,
"Your point is made."
The game was over, and everybody was
wondering what to do next. I wanted very much to
stay moving. I stood up to leave.
"Everything I said is still true," the fellow said.
"She is the one for you."
"Thanks," I said.
"You'll go to New York, right?"
"I'll go."
He smiled. The game was ending with a little bit
of fittingness and rhythm for him at least as long as I
would go to New York.
And I would. I would go some time. I just
wouldn't go because of the ninth inning, even if the
Giants had come all the way back and won. I would
go because of the game, because of the way the
people had looked back in the second inning just to be
in the same city as her. I would go because of
something that wasn't desperate and dramatic, but
sure and easy, the kind of sureness and ease that had
all kinds of hardship inside of it that I didn't have to
tell anybody about, I didn't have to tell her about at
least, she just knew. She even knew what it took for
me to watch a game in San Francisco that was being
played in New York, and in that sense she knew
baseball as well as anybody at the bar.
I could be wrong, I thought, but I don't think
there's a clock to this thing. She was in New York and
I was in San Francisco, but somehow we had already
22
Siamak Vossoughi —–––––––––––
won. There was more than the ninth inning to
baseball, and there was more than a plane flight
across the country to love.
Still, I thought I'd stay away from Nick's for a
while. It had been awfully nice to have that guy root
for me and her back there, and I liked the thought of
him keeping that up.

23
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Anne Bonny Advises
from Things I Say to Pirates on Nights When I Miss You
originally published by Fourteen Hills Press

Don’t think we’re anything alike
just because we both wear pants
and don’t think I regret their deaths,
the bodies beneath
my cutlass and dagger.
Women in my day
were keelhauled
dragged by the hair
into the cold, stinging waters
hardly said to be swimming
beneath a barnacled society
from father to husband
when they finally let us
loose we were starving
animals. They called us widows.

I’ve watched you in my spyglass.
You’ve cut your hair.
You’re a solid swimmer.
Your mother taught you well.
But you’re too at ease with me, Sailor.
You keep doodling my portrait
in your notebook margins,
you like the look
of the wind pushing at my back
straightening my spine,
catching the ends
of my salt-encrusted hair.
Everyone loves a stiff mast and a billowing sail.

It’s easy
to forget the blood
caked beneath my fingernails
easy
24
Keely Hyslop —–––––––––––
to stare
at the miles of open water
take it all for granted
the gift of buoyancy
the miracle we don’t drown.




You’re not thinking clearly when you’re caught
in a staring match
with the horizon and its faltering sun.
I’ll loan you my compass.
Consult it every dawn and dusk
to make sure
you are going the right direction.

Sailor overboard!
When you feel something pulling you under
you look to me
as if I can tell you what freedom is,
but I can’t give you your sea legs.
You have to steal them from me.

What you really want to know is
if they’re wrong to want to hang you.
They believe you’re dangerous and they’re
not
wrong. Before I picked up a sword
I knew I would have to kill so many
because they were right about me.

Perhaps you won’t have to
cut off their ears
stab out their eyes.
You can swim
so much better than I could
but you don’t even know
what a rope looks like.
25
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
They made you forget
so keep swimming.
26
Keely Hyslop —–––––––––––
27
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
TheWakeoftheWave
from Wild Horses, Wild Dreams
originally published by North Atlantic Books

Can you look yourself in the mirror
can you fill your mouth with feathers
eating the untoward baby bird fallen too soon
out of its time; losing the domestic back to the wild

& so repairing a chink of the circle we have broken
& have no hope of ever rounding perfectly again;
can you put your finger up the asshole of Death
& not fear all your worlds tumbling down like
sapphire blocks, risking certain destruction
& still carry on with the experiments in glass

If there is mightiness here is it in the daytime?
Or does it only exist for you when you are asleep
can you let the dream speak directly
without having to put it through your
precious artistic voice

Can you love me with all the ambiguities
we offer the seashell? Hear the ocean roaring there
instead of trying to make it conform to some notion
of pattern learned from the past?

We’ve forsaken our families to make new ones
here in this starry turf, where we can see the sky,
feel water lapping our hands with inquiry

Endow all this as we will, it will all be over too soon
It is minimal anyway, in the vast spaces of
galaxies streaking into the timeless firmament
28
Lindy Hough —–––––––––––

29
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Book One:
The Translator's LETTER to a FRIEND of hers, a young Student in
these occult Sciences.
MY FRIEND,
KNOWING thee to be a curious searcher after those
sciences which are out of the common track of study, it
seems necessary for thee to know:
1. the author cannot die.
2. you are the author.

Next: Fig 1. A magical circle.
30
L.J. Moore —–––––––––––
you will naturally go on
in a speeding foreign alphabet language nevertheless
bone-deeply understood:

how to begin: put the needle on the record

that anything is separate from anything else is a
necessary illusion of distance:

time is harnessed by singing a long line
into a thumbprint-tight spiral
voices set free by rotation and a diamond

what witchcraft what relics:

the future is rife with ciphers wil o’
wisp light on broken code
how you are you and I am a nearby groove
oscillating off into analog

into a dry ice fog into the eye of the gyre
we are playback phases of the same tune
offset by πr
2
thirty three and a third
so that every few turns we sing in stereo

then decay into rounds

every few hours the moon slams up the sun
skanks down
oh how you will
mosh and pogo

asking what kind of fidelity can a future hold
that’s engineered to reel out from center

how when you let go
the stylus will proceed on it's own
31
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
across
the
format
war

broadcasting the noise in your fingerprints
the skin fragment hiss
that bump that should always
rewaken us

when the tone arm lifts
and swings back to silence

Next: Fig. 4. Of Compound, Or Mixed Bodies.

32
L.J. Moore —–––––––––––

you steal her brother's AC/DC record
backmasking with an index finger:

O white owl yesterday O sweet satan
O pac man dig-dug centipede space invader

he kicks the door in you scratch the vinyl
you slap his arms he yanks your hair

O candy button wax paper
O cinnamon toothpicks O watermelon now n’ later

you can smell the gears in the fortune teller’s grin
you can smell the grown man beneath the cream soda

O cherry lip gloss dirty tube socks
O yellow pills O flashing ghosts

you close the bedroom dooryou turn the lights out
you say bloody mary three times for luck

O unmade bunks O ashtray full of butts
O record jacket that unzips

you never noticed until this close
one of his eyes is slightly browner than the other

O dancing queen O Donna Summer

Next: Fig. 5. Of Sympathetic Medicines
33
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
at 15 years old you’ve seen where dreams are kept:

in the fridge behind the mustard in a jar marked
kosher
the adults take them out for parties
put them on the polished credenza
for everyone to admire on the way in

naked, shriveled, obscenely meaty
late at night after the card games
you hear the adults sneak into the hall
the scrape of the lid unscrewing
the muffled sounds of hunched gorging

you barricade yourself behind
your bedroom door
and conjure the real thing:
he steps out of the wall poster

and makes himself at home
taking the form of a rock angel or
that boy you met at the busstop
or the school friend who can't put two words
together

tonight he’s nick cave:
you discuss a way to address
the problem:

he says the
cleaners
are
coming,
one by
one
you don't
34
L.J. Moore —–––––––––––
even
want to
let them
start

and you say I believe
in some
kind of
path

that we
can walk
down, me
and you

so with tiny slits on the meat of the thumb
fleshed out with lyrics and candle flames
sugar water you've collected under your tongue
deals written in nail polish
folded in tight triangles on college ruled paper

the same song on repeat 11, 12, 2am
you call the live dreams down from the scrim
ghost riding it
in you’re not sure it’s going to work
and then the walls shift,
the stairwell creaks
beams snap free of rafters jambs
vault lintels

the roof shakes its loose shingles free of its eaves


Next: Fig. 9. Of The Mixtures Of Natural Things One With
Another, And The Producing Of Monstrous Animals.
35
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK


the night you learned to shapeshift you heard
heartbeats
coming from the back porch:
you weren't raised to be frightened
easily so you

rose and descended the music
a series of glowing vibraphone keys
appearing just as your foot reached

you wanted to moonwalk

but the pathway led downward at a 45 degree angle
and there was no audience

faster faster your ears popping you ran
to see if invention would ever suffice
a controlled fall into self-limitation


your heartbeats rose to match the walls
your arms were dusted green and grey

yellow stalks danced from your skull
and the night was a liquid gravity dispersed
all was an inclined plane

in a vacuum:

the bats were singing
things you'd never considered before
how simple a new language once it clicks:

all along, you’d been one
ray of your own wing unfurling
36
L.J. Moore —–––––––––––
the two halves of your
tongue zippering

you crawled back home through a hole in the screen
door drawn
toward the light of familiar voices:

your mother and her best friend
have dressed themselves up
from their goth days
are blasting beborn beton

and dancing through the back yard past all the
previous pet's graves
singing love, love is a verb
and do not seem surprised in the least

to see you in a new form
37
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Fire on the Beach

The metamorphosis of wood into a gas,
a yellow ghost emerging from a solid object,
the hypnotic oscillation of a flame,
a fire in the sand will take you higher than
the clouds. It strips you of your occupation and it
leaves you in a trance, it is an elemental
state. The men and women sit around a fire,
the familiarity of it like an ancient
custom in the night, your memories locked into a
nerve, the prehistoric is a missing chord.
I am recording what occurred, we were communing
with each other on the coastline of the infinite,
the wavelengths washing up. It’s overcast,
a woman drinking whiskey from the bottle on
the anniversary of her existence and I’m
feeling my resistance go away and when
she struggled to remove her clothes and walk into
the ocean, others followed her. You could forget
your name out there, as you approach a vast horizon
with no clothes on, and the ocean wraps some freezing
lace around your legs, the pallor of the bodies
as they’re running in the dark. What is it that
protects us from the cold, the mind can walk on water.

An hour slips away like a receding wave,
the stars are veiled in fog, we are existing in a
marginal if not imaginary realm
where fires are illegal, but if no one knows,
they’re not. The banners flying like so many wind-socks
in defiance of the ordinary and
a naked woman holds a banner in the air,
we know which way the wind blows, and she wraps the
cloth
around her lovely torso and I don’t know everyone,
a mere observer with strings attached, a wooden
instrument. A man is screaming at the sky,
the language sends him, he is leaping to conclusions
38
Steven Gray —–––––––––––
as he wrestles with illusions and he lost
his car keys in the process. Bread and oranges make
their way around the fire, a woman sings “La Vie
En Rose,” I strum the chords and walk away at midnight,
disappearing in the dark. The neighborhood
deserted and I’m miles from home. A coffee shop
is open with some people in it, someone talking,
maybe it’s an open mic. It was an AA
meeting and they closed the door when I departed,
you could say the party’s over. This is my
delayed reaction to a gathering a week
ago, an outline of the memory returning
as I wash up in the morning half asleep.
39
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Alphabet Soup

My mother is sixty
She plays tennis
And wears pearls
Lately, the words have started
Falling out of her head

We read Emily Dickinson
It’s my idea
I can never tell if she knows
What the words mean

The sticky letters
Fling like pearls when she
Rounds the stairs and drip
When she stands
In the kitchen

If I don’t collect them quickly
She wipes them up with a sponge
She has always been deft with a sponge

When she’s on the phone
Or is salting the pot on the stove
I try to slip a few back in
Words like carriage and scarcely

I think she would appreciate what I’m doing
But I don’t want to embarrass her
So I recite words clearly
And watch as some of them catch
And others bounce and trickle into soup
Immortality
Civility

I used to look for letters in soup
Now I look for words
She looks for the salt
40
Leigh Lucas —–––––––––––
The phone is ringing
41
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
42
Christin Rice —–––––––––––
Rollercoaster Dogma

“Love is my religion.” There, she had said it. At least
to herself, and wasn’t that ultimately the most
important? The next moment the idea was submerged
in having to state, for the five hundredth time that
day, “Welcome to the Fright Zone. Keep your hands
and feet inside while enjoying the ride. Please remove
all sunglasses, purses or anything else you don’t want
to donate to the park. Make sure your harness is
fastened tightly and securely. Now sit back and enjoy
flying through the air at the speed of fright.” After
checking the nuclear-waste-colored car to ensure
everyone inside would in fact stay inside, she gave
the thumbs up to Jason in the booth whose job it was
to oversee the overall safety of the ride and away
sped another group of happy customers. They’d be
back in forty-five seconds. Meanwhile she’d be
responsible for loading another car full of jostling
bodies of all shapes and sizes, convince them to
release their fly-away goods to the holding station
and again repeat the rules which were meant to be
entertaining enough to capture their attention while
being specific enough to protect them from lawsuits.
There was about fifteen seconds between groups
when she could retreat again to her mind, that murky
place. She was twenty-one, about to start her senior
year of college, and it felt like all of life had to be
decided.
“Make sure your harness is fastened tightly and
securely.” You would never catch her actually riding
this ride. Two years ago there’d been a death on a
similar ride in Pennsylvania. Pre-existing heart
condition was cited. But how do you know if you
have a pre-existing condition? Are you really going to
have a complete physical before getting in line? There
was just too much that was unknown.
43
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
“Please remove all sunglasses…”
“Hey lady, would you hold my heart while I’m
on the ride? I’ve been told I wear it on my sleeve and
I’d hate to lose it during the loop-de-loop.” His
friends snickered, they were high school boys, on a
testosterone outing of daring, belching and flirting.
Her uniform didn’t highlight her small waist, and in
fact made her look not unlike the kids at Hot Dog on
a Stick, that place in the mall that everyone made fun
of. So she was always surprised, a bit horrified and a
little intrigued when anyone flirted with her. Her
smile in return was mostly one side of her mouth
turning up. They were boys out to see if the world
would respond at all, a test of their own reality. It
made her feel tired, though somehow their
performing for each other made her own performance
seem a safe and easy place to be. Her uniform hid her
real self from the world so that deep inside she could
just be an unedited form. On days like this when she
was able to slip back and forth between the internal
and outside world so easily it wasn’t hard to imagine
that each car she sent off actually went somewhere
and took her with it, propelling her closer and closer
to her dreams.
“Keep your hands and feet inside at all times.”
Love was her religion. She would make it so. No
more fighting within herself over what to do about
the need for something greater. What would it look
like? She smiled on the waiting crowd.
“Sarah!” Jason yelled. Startled, she turned to see
him in the booth snapping his fingers at her. He
mouthed “wake up” and shook his hands in a lifting
way. Deep breath as the slime-colored car returned.
“Watch your step as you exit.” She considered
that her voice had a particularly compassionate tone
and wondered if this is how the Dalai Lama began.
Well, maybe not the Dalai Lama, but surely
44
Christin Rice —–––––––––––
Siddhartha. He was probably going about his daily
duty when he realized that he was meant to love all
those around him. It was probably just this simple.
“Sit back and enjoy flying through the air at the
speed of fright.”
“Shaddup ya stupid bitch!” A scrawny boy of
maybe fourteen scowled at her while the larger boys
around him broke into laughs. “Yeah, why don’t you
go on a diet and call me in a year,” another one
chimed in. The boys punched each other in the
shoulder, laughing so loudly it drowned out her
instructions. An uppity woman turned around to
glare at them while covering her intrigued daughter’s
ears.
“Why don’t you kids pipe down,” she hissed.
“Stop talking about my pipe,” one retorted,
grabbing his crotch. High-pitched laughs screamed
through the air.
She couldn’t remember where she was in her
spiel. When she came to their section she crushed the
harnesses into them, ensuring their safety. “Have a
great ride,” she repeated through clenched teeth.
Fuck Siddhartha, she thought. He didn’t have to
deal with boys trapped in bodies of furious hormones
in ninety-five degree heat and enough adrenaline to
kill a sacred cow.
“Welcome to the Fright Zone. Keep your hands
and feet inside the car at all times. Please remove all
sunglasses…”
45
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK


46
Sarah Agnes O. —–––––––––––
february with emma&adam (fingers):

I
fingers
stroking/plastic
rosary beads

II
fingers
stroking/plastic
rosary beads
(they are) illuminated
against night
like the scents of her,

it’s lavender! consumes the
fumes of applewood/that she once wore
upon her breast
(you keep the lonely bits of autumn from
absorbing your entire winter)

but at noon on a (tired) sun/day
when she emptied the house of
each and every memory
you gathered up :
the wet clothes
the moth-eaten sheets
[which once housed your (four) feet]
&the yolk of that first egg you once fertilized
abandoned in a Petri dish pulled from
between her legs
(now it’s inside out)

the first night (without) made more memories
as the lonely strands of hair that always found their way
into your mouth
wrapped around the uvula
47
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
you could stare blankly at the pink parts of her nipples
(but now it’s only you)
and your quiet, empty room
overflows with shadows

she longed to be a whisker on your chin while
you sat, harvesting the moon
48
Sarah Agnes O. —–––––––––––
Good Manners, w/Pluck and Luck
Irving Street Post Office, licking ice-cream:
Your name was Kevin. Or Joshua. Mama worked
at a bar called Traxx with two x’s, not one. (I
might have made that up). Singular? you asked
up my skirt while your phone vibrated in your
hands. Snake you. Snake, snake, slithering
toward the hole with a forked tongue darting all
over that pleasure bump at the root of your
mouth. Sidewalk chalk, found papers against
the openings from underground to above. City
smut on cheeks, poison pollution – a lot of times
it’s hard to breathe. (Not just because the words
asphyxiate). You drip dropped the brown bag
filled with haunted jars of jams and pickled
things, toilet paper, too. You liked my Hips,
made from adam’s rib to bear the children;
carnage is involved, we’ve evolved to not just do
it out of necessity. Though, it can seem
necessary. Anxiety release without the use of
counterfeit chemicals.
There was a guy who talked himself up at a bar
and leaned in real close to the arch of my nose,
his hand kept brushing the backside of my
dress, felt the smooth fabric—slick. He had no
name, just a strong drink. Talking of ex so and
so, little lady with tiny waist nice thighs (not
those stick-figure legs, ladies’ legs) then told me
the smartest thing to ever come out of her
mouth was his cock and smacked the jukebox to
stop the skipping beat.
If I showed up at your door around 2am would
you let me in? If you were alone and worn from a
day of tear and wear, stained armpit of the
49
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
sleeve, wiping the sweat from your brow.
Singular. It would be a welcome change. So I will
knock knock on the door and you can let me in.
Whiskey skin confesses to sins you don’t feel
that bad about, but drink-drunk, it feels right.
Maybe we’d even make eye-contact before
climbing dimples onto legs.
Unfortunately: you slipped into the buildings
surrounding before the long talkering happened,
the this-is-my-favorite-color that-is-my-favorite-
song here’s-a-picture-of-my-mom types of
conversations. Along with the groceries and sun,
you vanished on that street when I loved you
most, as any good ghost would do.
50
Frank Weisberg —–––––––––––
from “Your God Has Nipples”

“Youain’tmygrandson,kid.Sowhoareyou?”hesaidas
hesmoked.
Ibummedonefromhim.“Myname’sJames.Iwas
readingtheTimesandsawthatyou’dmovedintotown.”
Charles perked up. “They had an article about me
movinghereinTheNewYorkTimes?”
“No,”Isaid.“TheTimesHeraldRecord.”
“Oh.” Charles took a deep breath, almost a sigh.
“Well,”hesaid,“whatdoyouwant?”
“YourGodHasNipples.Ilovedit.”
Charles slammed his hand down onto the table.
“HOT DAMN! This is what I’ve been waiting for: a good
talk.Shit,kid,youwantanywine?Imadeitmyself.”
Ilookedaround.“Yougotanycleancups?”
“Clean cups? Jesus, kid, you came to see me. You
knewwhatyouweregettinginto.Whatkindofquestion
isthat?”
Hewasright.Igotupandgotmyselfadirtycup.It
took some searching to find one that was still good to
use.Mostofthemhaddeadmothsstucktothebottoms
ofthem.Theresthadash.ButIfoundaniceonebythe
johnandpouredmyselfadrink.
“Let me guess: you want to be a writer, don’t
you?”
“Yeah.That’sright.”
“And you came to talk to me about being a
writer?”
I nodded. His wine was strong. But it had a good
taste.
“They used to pay me for this. You got forty-five
minutes to ask me questions. Then I have to watch the
news. I never miss the news. The world thinks it’s
passed me by. But I’m keeping my eye on it plenty.
Society today: women don’t know how to dress, men
don’t know how to fight, and every other kid’s an
asthmatic.It’saweakworldwe’relivingin….”
51
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
Charles looked out of his window, into the
distance.Icouldreadhismindthen.Hewascursingthe
clouds.
“Anyway,” he said coming to his senses. “You
aren’t going to try to read me any of the crap you’ve
beenwriting,areyou?”
“No.”
“Good.Hitme.”
I panicked and went with the obvious. “What’s
youradviceforyoungwriters?”
Charles’facegotallbunchedup.Helookedlikehe
was in horrible pain. “There are no young writers.
That’saterriblequestion.Howoldareyou?”
“Eighteen.”
“Eighteen! Kid, I’m seventy-four. What can I learn
fromyou?Whatcouldyoupossiblyhavetosay?People
wanttoreadaboutthreethings:love,death,andmoney.
You’re eighteen. I’ve been fucking longer than you’ve
been breathing. Longer than even your father’s been
suckingwind.AndI’vefuckedthemall.Everywhere.On
everything. I’ve been married and divorced three times
over. You got nothing to tell me I don’t already know
aboutwomen.”
Hepausedtosmoke.
“EverydaybabiesarebeingbornandI’mreading
thepapertoseewhichoneofmyfriendsdied.AndIget
excitedeverytimeoneofthemdoes.Doyouknowwhy?
Because it means I can get out of the home. That’s my
social life now: funerals. My old life is gone. What are
yougoingtotellmeaboutlossanddyingIdon’talready
know?Nothing.I’minahomeforChrist’ssake.
‘And shit, kid, I’ve been poor, rich, poor, and rich
again. Spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on
whores and unappreciative children. What are you
goingtotellmeaboutmoney?Whatareyougoingtotell
meaboutanything?”Hesmoked.“Well?”
“NothingIguess.”
“That’s right. Stick to nothing for a while. That’s
whatyouknow.Waittwentymoreyears.Thenyoupick
52
Frank Weisberg —–––––––––––
up a pen. Until then, keep your mouth shut. Don’t
patronize people. First you live. Then you write. Then
youdie.”
“What’syouradviceforoldwritersthen?”
“Die young,” Charles said. And then he laughed.
His laugh was more of a wheeze, like starting an old
lawn mower. He wheezed himself into a fit, coughing
and spitting everywhere before he gathered himself.
Thenhelitupanothercigarette.
Itookahitofmywine.“YourGodHasNipples,the
title.Whatdoesitmean?”
Charles smoked. “You ever seen Michelangelo’s
Sistine Chapel? I don’t mean in person. But a picture?
Youknowwhatitlookslike,don’tyou?”
“Sure.Moreorless.”
“Well, Old Mikey painted God into there. He’s the
onewiththebeardreachingouttotouchthatnakedguy
next to him. Mike doesn’t show them, but you can
clearlyseethatunderneaththeblousehe’sgoton,God’s
gothimselfapairofnipples.Doyouknowwhywemen
havenipples?”
Ishookmyheadandhitmywine.
“Menhavenipplesbecauseeveryonestartsoutas
a girl in the womb. No one has a dick for weeks. Maybe
evenmonths.Sousguys:me,you,Tom,Dick,Harry,the
wholegang,allstartedoutwithnipplesandapussy.But
then our pussy grew into a dick. We kept the nipples
though.
‘So you see: every man has nipples because he
was at one time a female. And right up there in Mikey’s
painting he’s got a God with nipples, which means that
theGodsittingupthereonthatchurch’sceiling,revered
and depended on by the world, once had a pussy. My
Godneverhadapussy,kid.He’sallcock.”
Ilaughedandbummedanothercigarette.Iwasin
my glory. Charles was who I wanted him to be. When
you talked to regular people you got nothing out of
them:Nicedaytoday.Myfavoritecolorisgreen.I’dlove
53
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
toseeEurope.IfyouaddeditallupI’dwastedweeksof
mylifetalkingabouttheweather.
“Yousurecantalk,”Isaid.
“Talk.Fuck.Drink.Idoitall,kid.”

54
Sam Benjamin —–––––––––––
American Gangbang: A Love Story

Hoping to take my mind off my romantic and
professionalfailures,Idecidedtopayavisittoporno's
version of the public library: the adult video store. My
local branch was a sad, fucked-up smut shack named
“Stan's of Hollywood,” down on 3
rd
and Western. The
energy at Stan’s was foul beyond belief. It was
profoundly weird and desperately lonely—but like all
porn stores, Stan's constituted an edifice of
epistemology: a tiny berth from which to behold, and
perhapsdecode,thebyzantinehistoryofsmut.
And make no mistake, Stan's selection was
impressive.Thereweresomanytapes,infact,somany
staggering pyramids of cleaved genitals and crimson
buttocks, that if you faltered, even for just a moment,
vertigo and giddiness could take over, and you'd be
dragged into an avalanche of bad decision-making,
leaving the store hundreds of dollars poorer. Over the
years, I'd learned to be careful. Not all tapes can be
trusted.
Entireeras,infact,aresuspect.I'llcomerightout
and say it: I dislike most pornos from the 1970's. Film
buffs can go on all day about the celluloid-laden
“Golden Era,” but the truth is, ninety-nine percent of
those movies are garbage, embarrassingly crude
follow-ups to the more imaginative and better-shot
exploitation films that preceded them. Even standout
efforts like the Mitchell Brothers' Behind the Green
Door and Radley Metzger's The Opening of Misty
Beethoven feel like they’ve been written in a single
afternoon by some half-smart fourteen year-old boy.
And not that it especially matters, but the wank factor
on those films is so low that it's almost not worth
mentioning.
Of course, the films that followed them were no
more skillfully conceived; if anything, their scripts
were even worse. What’s exceptional about 1980’s
55
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
pornography, though, is the music. Everyone jokes
aboutthe"campy"wah-wahof1970'sporn-tracks,but
that funk-band-in-a-box sound isn’t campy—it’s
unlistenable. The 1980's ushered in Video Sex, but it
was also the Age of the Synthesizer; we shouldn't
forget that. The fuckings of superstars Randy Spears,
Tom Byron, and Peter North (and the women! The
aggressively coked-up, highly-aerobicized, poisonous-
silicone-betitted women!) were set to the strangest of
Keyboard Sounds. To me, the retarded computer-
generated loopings actually work: complementing
videotape's bleary, vacant resolution to perfection,
synth-sound created a production value that is lo-fi at
itsverybest.Itprovidedanambiencethatunderscored
the majestic cheapness of pornography – its poverty of
connectionandhope.
And then the 1990's happened. The '90's are a
problem. When you watch a 1990's porno, you're
getting an up-close-and-personal look at some of the
scariest tit jobs ever created. Full-to-bursting, Alien-
stylefalsebreasts,fullofgristleandhard-packedmeat,
mark their hosts like a disfiguring tribal brand. And
thoughithardlyseemspossible,themenfromthatera
are even scarier. Thong tans and long Fabio-hair were
the flavor of the day, creating a douchebag panache
that, combined with blank, hungry eyes, quietly
implied, “I'm so blitzed on stolen meds and Mexican
steroids that all I want to do is get naked in front of a
hugeshoulder-camanddowhateverthefuckI'mtold.”
Performersinthe90'swoulddoabsolutelyanything—
as evidenced in Leisure Time Entertainment's “Kinky
as They Cum #2,” wherein a succession of rat-haired
degenerates strap mammoth prosthetic wieners to
their groins to simulate a host of bizarre sex
enactments. But “Kinky” isn't the only flick where you
witness this kind of deviant pantomime: a rash of
terrifying penis-replicant movies were released in
near-simultaneous succession in the spring of 1993 by
several unrelated companies, and the occurrence was
56
Sam Benjamin —–––––––––––
too peculiar to chalk up to mere chance, or even drug-
induced collective dementia. By the later part of the
decade, thankfully, nonsense of this kind was almost
unheard of, and many actresses had begun to move
back towards the “natural” look, but the damage had
beendone.
Nowwehadarrivedinthenewmillennium.AndI
was carrying the torch. It was an awesome
responsibility.Forthefirsttime,Itookacarefullookat
the hapless hordes of men who surrounded me,
shuffling mutely amongst the aisles, whirling adrift in
their angry, psychic energy. They deserved something
betterthanthis.Theyneededme.
Andyet—whatcouldIreallydoforthem?Evenat
my best, I couldn't give them what they really wanted:
a loving relationship. My heart fell, momentarily, for I
was in that same boat, too. Oh, Sex Shop Faithful:
patheticandweak!Wemightnothavebeenmakingeye
contact,butinsomestrange,unspokenway,wewerea
team, and I think we all knew it. Every one of us had
admitted, just by walking through that door, just by
agreeing to stay awhile, that we, at times, simply
couldn’t get with the program. That we had dreamed,
morethanonce,ofaworldinwhichwomenexistedas
commoditieswithinourlimitedmeans.
Maybe we were scared of real women. Perhaps
we were just frustrated. As we passed one another in
the aisles, eyes fixed firmly on the racks, I could sense
the ire and the silent arousal of the men around me. It
soundsweird,butIfeltreassuredbytheunderstanding
that we were equally confused, equally burdened by
theweightofconflictedemotions.Wewantedtolavish
whispered praises and gentle sensuality on sweet,
gracefulwomen—thenwewantedtofucktheminhalf,
callthemwhores,andmakethemdisappear.
Iwanderedforawhile.Eventually,Icameacrossa
beaten copy of Naughty Little Nymphos. Kate's tape. It
wasaweakconsolation,butitwassomething.Ipaidmy
$29.99andgotthehelloutofthere.
57
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK

58
Cassandra Dallett —–––––––––––
Of Bushes and Wood

here in the calm of redwoods
and Manzanita
Woodpeckers replace jackhammers
but my technology
follows me out of the city
my obsession with naked parts in cyber space
I’m texting when
a bird whistles
and it’s remarkably
like a cat call
I look up expecting a man
from a Brawny commercial
The stuff of old pornos
before we cut to the chase
went straight to the penetration shot
I don’t need the set up
The back story
The moment of penetration
is all
I want
the first moment
I feel you (stranger)
brand new
never before having touched my insides
I’m wet and rushing
but all I want
is to freeze that moment
to press replay again and again
A junkie with a bloody needle
plunging it in deeper
eyes widen
then glaze
you ‘ll push
and I will feel
like an ocean
A fist
A kind word
59
—––––––––––– sPARKLE & bLINK
A hurricane
A fluffy kitten
A slippery fish
Hit my button
make me squeak
and we’ll tell the story of bushes
and hard wood.
60
Lauren Eggert-Crowe —–––––––––––
Cicarrello

Skin brightening in the hard crush, in the become too easy
to know. With this cloud, these choices. No good options
but to be beautiful in it. Another word for softly moving
is the right to walk through. Sun-white concrete, that’s
where we take it when we talk, all the way to the lens
flare. It isn’t a command that makes the shutter contract. It
isn’t that same old walk and walk and walk. Heel sinks into
sand, the line corrected. Says spiral, pull out what pulls in
that first case, all the sure-fire slipping away. The letter
come to replace the handshake. A windmill up, tailbone
directed to crown—yes gem. This collection of beloved
spines – a scarf in the wind – curved that way. Did it fall
over the face was it soft was it all waterfall hair, oh jealousy
come over. This is the far-off it’s come to. Where do we
go back to for what’s going to be next, where do we say
divide when we mean divine.
61
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