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3.4

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a
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artwork by

Gabrielle Wilson-Sealy

sPARKLE & bLINK 3.4 © 2012 Quiet Lightning ISBN 978-1-105-56011-8 a version of “Whatever Happened to Our Us?” by Jarett Kobek appeared in If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? (Penny-Ante Editions ) artwork © Gabrielle Wilson-Sealy http://www.facebook.com/gwilsonsealy edited by Evan Karp evankarp.com book design by j. brandon loberg set in Absara Promotional rights only. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from individual authors. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the author(s) is illegal. Your support is crucial and appreciated.

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Contents
Frank Weisberg Albert Flynn DeSilver from The Book of Todd 1 a field guide to the emotions Hope 7 Gratitude 9 Longing 11 Blame 13 Truth 15 M’Scar Dream 5: Jukebox The Axe You Cannot Possibly Think That’s Acceptable to Wear A List in My Pocket Mouse Excerpt Out 17 21 22 25 27 33 39

Mr. Lucky Mary Paynter Sherwin

Siamak Vossoughi Katherine Chatel Sloan Willet Jarett Kobek

from if you won’t read, then why should i write? Kim Kardashian and Ray J Wait For Their Flight… 43 Miley Cyrus Smokes Salvia… 47 Whatever Happened to Our Us? Step Off

Paul Corman-Roberts

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Annie Avery

Quiet Lightning
A 501c3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet Lightning is to foster a community based on literary expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on the first Monday of every month, of which these books (sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts. Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the board of QL is currently: Meghan Thornton – secretary Josey Duncan – director of pr Nicole McFeely – director of outreach Brandon Loberg – director of design Kristen Kramer – treasurer Chris Cole – vice treasurer Charles Kruger – chairman of the board Evan Karp – president If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in helping—on any level—please send us a line: evan@quietlightning.org

Frank Weisberg
from The Book of Todd
“What were you doing at that freak show?” I asked. “I wanted to help the owner,” Jesus said. “He’s a good Christian man. No mortal sins. Has always been faithful to his wife and donated what he could on Sunday. He needs some money to save his house. I joined his show to try to bring him crowds, giving him the funds to save his home. But the worshippers never came…” Jesus shrugged. “You have to understand, even for me there are some things that are out of my hands. Coney Island is just so far away.” “Fuckin’ A it is,” I said and sipped my wine. “What’s that wedding ring all about?” I asked, nodding towards it on the table. Jesus looked down at the ring on his finger and laughed. “I’m revamping my image for the new dawn. People love a family man. So I started wearing the ring. Everyone is suspicious of bachelors.” I shook my head. “That’ll never work. People will have too many questions if they see you with that thing on.”
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“Alright,” he said, “you don’t like it.” He stared at the ring for a minute or two, and poof, it was gone. I finished my sandwich. “What did you mean when you said you could help me?” Jesus thought a moment. “James, Christianity has been around for a very long time. And with anything that’s been around for a while, sometimes people tend to get bored with the faith. Other times the faith is wracked with scandal and people turn against it. When this happens, it’s my duty to employ people like you to help me advertise my services in an effort to build strength and numbers. Think of it as public relations. Are you familiar with the Apostles?” I nodded. He paused for effect. “What I want you to do, is use your incredible writing talents to draft a new testament and book of the bible, focusing on my progressive and accepting nature towards homosexuality, which I will then have discovered. This discovery of a new book of the bible will be a media juggernaut, drumming up positive publicity and interest in myself, which will in turn make me marketable to a broader base of people, reaching new audiences and triggering a steady increase in the number of Judeo-Christians…”

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He went on. I lost interest in his reasoning. All I heard was juggernaut. “Think about it, James,” he said. “Tens of millions will read your work. It will be studied and debated till the end of time. Why, my son, we can even call your testament: The Book of Todd.” I thought about it. “Where does you helping me come in?” “I have resources,” Jesus said. I shook my head. “This sounds like my last job. I write something, you take the credit, I get paid and no one knows I’ve done anything. I’m through with punch up. It’s not about the money.” “I offer more than money, my son.” I lit a cigarette. “Yeah, well, I’m not interested in the Kingdom of Heaven either.” Jesus smiled. “Would a novel interest you, James?” I exhaled. “How do you mean?” “What is it you think I mean?” “It sounds like you’re saying if I write this Book of Todd for you, you’ll get me a book deal.”
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Jesus bowed his head. “I’m talking about a deal with a major publisher here, Christ, with publicity and all that crap. Not some small time bullshit Catholic Daughters press. I want to see the book on the shelf and reviews in the paper, you understand?” Jesus bowed his head again. I put out my cigarette and eyeballed him. “You can do all that?” He threw his hands up. “I’m Christ,” he said. I smiled and leaned back in my chair. “The Book of Todd. I like the sound of that.” I looked down at my watch. It was almost ten. “Shit,” I said. “They’re about to draw the numbers.” I jumped up and ran for the television, taking a seat in my easy chair and turning on the news. I was just in time. A blonde woman was standing over the number machine gearing up to turn it on and pick the winners. Jesus was at my side. “What is this, my son?” “It’s the lotto. Watch, that blonde over there is going to pick numbered ping pong balls out of that machine, and if I have the numbers she picks on my
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tickets, I win a hundred million dollars.” “But James,” said Jesus. “I thought you said you didn’t want money.” I looked up at him. “What the hell are you talking about? I said I don’t write for the money. And I don’t. All I want out of writing is a novel on the shelf. And I don’t gamble for the money either. I gamble for the chance to win money. There’s a difference.” “What will you do if you win?” “Anything I want, I guess.” “You’ll still write The Book of Todd, won’t you?” I laughed and told Jesus to be quiet so I could listen to the drawing. Jesus clasped his hands under his chin and lowered his head. He looked like he was concentrating real hard on something, like when he made his ring disappear. Just then the numbers came up and the blonde was reading them off. I hadn’t hit a single one on either ticket. “Son of a bitch!” I said. I looked up at Jesus. He was smiling to himself. “Did you change the numbers, Christ?”

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“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. You must not give into temptation, James.” “Don’t give me that crap! Did you change the numbers on me or what?” “It does not matter whether or not I changed the numbers. All that matters is what you believe. And whether you believe I changed the numbers or did not change the numbers, you must understand it was for your benefit.” “Oh, hell,” I said. “It was just a little gambling.” I lit another cigarette. “It’s sad, so sad,” said Jesus. “Oh it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word.” I laughed. “Was that Elton John?” Jesus smiled. “Yes. It was.” “You like Elton John?” I asked. “Of course. How could you not?” I smiled and took a hit of my cig. “You know what, Christ? You’re starting to grow on me.”

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Albert Flynn DeSilver
A Field Guide to the Emotions

Hope
The poem that is called the poem is not the eternal poem the one that can be read aloud isn’t it either the poem that is both written & unwritten like the spray painted tag on the side of the abandoned Chevy’s Fresh Mex in charcoal black saying “yo blamzz” The poem is the origins of abandonment and that scattered bag of diapers on the side of the freeway, the freeway—the poem is the mother, father, baby sister

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brother cousin of the 10,000 bits of trash and littered trees I saw blinking by on the 101 today, the poem ever desireless goes on poeming in the face of such trash & trees, the mystery at ease with itself hand in hand with the poem’s bright hand, is the gateway to great understanding.

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Gratitude
Eat of the movement, moment notice the smile of limes, love is so quiet dressed in shiny green. being dead isn’t a problem— emblem of spaciousness delicacy of knowledge. time being lovely is lovely being lifted up by the collar, corralled by the ether by thought itself—thought with its buzzy little fingers noodling about in everybody’s

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pies you’re not the wave you’re just the water I heard the brave baker say, I can taste it in your eyes

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Longing
Vacancy see-saws against the persimmon sunlight distance at war with presence breeze of eucalyptus hustling through a train-less tunnel, self absorption is so pretty bouncing about in the dappled light under the Richmond Bridge. Monday wanting Wednesday, Wednesday wanting Friday, Friday evening envious of the un-numbered night, who loses itself in the tender arms of dawn. Enter tasty stranger standing on air at the corner of 4th & C, sharp blue eyes like impatient ice, your hormonal cyclone closing in, oh how alone you are, you of the poem, soon

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revealed to be a moody type of sky, oh heart of the ineffable soaring through…

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Blame
blame it on the rain drop, yes, that one to my left… and the rickety heart of the innocent the not-so-innocent, the redolent blame it on the maybe, the might-have-been, the woulda, coulda, and shoulda blame it on larry, mo, & curly blame it on the Mayberry’s, the blueberry the famous weary clouds married to the famous sky blame it on the color green, the triple mirror beaming back, your shaving cream, and that heart attack fault the pole vaulter for the economic downturn, for burning the turn-overs, for the atomic yearning between your thighs, and that nasty hairpin turn lay it upon the ladder rungs, the lamb’s tongue, the young ones put it upon the uppity ups, the dumb clucks, the crooked clocks

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name the naysayers, the doomsdayers, the beautiful brick layer’s daughter blindsided by the limelight litigate the waitress, the one in the snake dress and her accomplice the powder-faced empress accuse the fuse box, the rooster’s friend Mr. Fox, the drunken loser, and that crumple-nosed bruiser berate the tomato paste maker, the hay baler, that communist traitor down the street blame it on the mustard, the f-ing bastard, the charred custard and that boy with the purple umbrella pointing back at the guilty rain

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Truth
that mountain is glyphic shrills— pick a color. I am not safe in pieces, keep me hollow or whole like a new moon. I am a hovering undeniable animal of harbor, your darling star-ghost roving unbound

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Mr. Lucky
M’Scar
Interyer freckle-face, smile best you can through the dots, Southern girl pitching the ditches you dug—you dig me— I’m a digged guy, your old source of May Faires and who the hell day cares, so, down the martinis! damn the marionettes! Then, you opted for a shack on the ridge: dim room on the north side with an inconsiderate hotplate and some control freak who said had house so you made history–whisking and shrugging, hurting the side of your planet that only deserved witty, and pretty, and city history, blooming plants in apartments, developing dents in the face. Here’s to the old Confederate cigarette girl schlepping candy through bars, what a rack of flowering light bulbs, breath mints and unfortunate cookies, of course cause they called you Cookie, once everyone heard about mini-bites and your spouse, the convertible blouse–your come ons swerving like a Plymouth to get it on with those mouth commas, those lit tits.
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Sneaking in, speaking girl, I’ve missed you like crime, missed you like bullets; singing by, missed you like plates, my faults, like gestalts, confessions cracking the path; missed your somersaults, your tumbling air. Backing in has-been: if you wanna re-be, re-boot poor me, tear a new bean on a pin, okay? I’ll look and lock onto into your face with my key: it’s a handsome clueless one, it’s my skeleton, it’s the sky you originally wanted, preening our question mark on top of the finned horse that coursed through the midway in the mid-eighties, dodging ugly galaxies to your most inner place, jumping the chunks to the pink blue space, seeking the air inside— see, remember where I died.

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Little clyde, Vanquish my amoebas like placebos, screw me till I sleep ignoring the ancient bugs in your rugs— a pillory, your pillow was my window, seething, viewing, seeing, seen the astute jets? I love you, Gibralter. Your set, a sea face, a stasis, love your grace, your straits, your gates.

Mr. lu cky

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Mary Paynter Sherwin
Dream 5: Jukebox
Near the beginning, there was a list, as if I was actually reading a book, and it was slowly becoming true, becoming real, a list of people’s names, seven people, and the last person’s name was Maggie, who was me, the second to last person’s name was Yashfalk there was a piece of music, high pitched, artificial sounding—think of a music box but with an android ballet dancer, we knew the song was important, ine of us was trying to slow it all down, reprogram it so we could imagine it with voices, and then it was another day, I was in a room and realized the song was Niohts in White Satin and it was a jukebox in my head, and it was a horror movie, pervasive dread, and it was a paramedic kneeling over one of the women on the list, who was dead, I went to another place and a woman said that makes four, because these two men were dead, there was a bathroom there, I went inside, a big claw-foot bathtub with curtains around it, I told the person to shut the door, I opened the curtains, there was a girl floating in the tub, her eyes open, and her hair sticking out like she was frozen but not icy, just still, I thought she was dead, so I reached in to take her out, she woke up. She said she was sorry. She said she was the only one who ever let me lie in the cracks of her spine.

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The Axe
Today stand by the river from Arkansas, from Montana, four hundred mile crossing, blood water picks up speed triple paints back doors two paychecks for January rent. I have never owned a slave, stuffed tamales, smoked peyote, prayed in terror, knitted socks, or split firewood. My people, folded steamer-trunk thin, couldn’t spell revolution, sewed skirts for the civil celebration, came to America, a land already half buried in brown hair. We could not kill a single living thing. The river mud sucking our knee sockets legs branches in overgrown orchards At night, we laid on the floor, five to a room perfectly still ghosts speak in a foreign language,

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howling dogs, sand becoming glass, and our silence Wait for the smell of burning prairie grass under the widest sky in the world with no stars, only soldiers and snakes

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The slaughterhouse promise to an immigrant boy: the pressure washed killing floor hooks, hammers, and shovels dissect, lift, and grind a prepaid tombstone and a cemetery plot that floods in late spring. George Washington is dead and the cherry trees rise up like dandelions by a river that is never frozen. In ten years we will be there, a bouquet of lilies, fourth position in a cascade of black linen. September swelter after two evenings of incense and antiseptic with two parts bleach, catching the smell from a bowl of apples available for guests. pristine, untouched.

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You Cannot Possibly Think That’s Acceptable to Wear
from this city the little boymen and their silly getups comings and goings in the afternoon whose party? in five hours got to iron and fold, tuck and brush you cannot possibly think that’s acceptable to wear dressed to the nines in them new friend shoes wingtip black polish ends up on pant cuffs before the moon has even set everyone forgets to let them dry for a day then you go dancing, you have to plan it’s in there somewhere, the harmonizing cell, the twisty slide blood can’t climb up maybe nudged by this needle or that tooth or when your father laughed at your first homerun let me fix your tie, honey, you’re hopeless too many times you fell asleep on the right hands folded under the pillow or caught in hair marked with mascara or wet with vodka tonic Fourteen months and the night winds down after a while, you can’t keep up but you’ll not overlook the dead for long the grass is smooth and even over her grave
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her mother told me not to make a fuss and you only found out because there was another you made, cross field, another you scraped lunch money together for to buy flowers there are only so many places for boymen and their coat hangers to go We are reducing, square pizza and short shorts maybe the music, syncopated jazz hands fretting over morphine drips, forging signatures for next-of-kin and who the hell is feeding my cat? He refuses to die wearing hospital booties they are sold out of oversized sunglasses and appointment books are playing bingo with each other, true friends know all the songs, the relatives and allergies, how many casseroles your oven can handle at once whose service? but they wear the same outfits wingtip black polish don’t open your mailbox let them leave a message odds are in your favor you have to plan then you go dancing.

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Siamak Vossoughi
A List in My Pocket
All the places I was not killed deserved a list of their own, deserved a book of their own, though I couldn’t tell if it was a tragic book or a beautiful one.  I wasn’t killed in the Peloponnesian War or the Punic Wars or the Hundred Years’ War.  I don’t know how I made it.  I wasn’t killed in the Civil War or in the Middle Passage, for that matter.  I don’t know how I did it.  All I know is that I wasn’t killed in World War I or World War II or the Vietnam War or the Gulf War or the Iraq War or the War in Afghanistan. Nobody who was killed was any different from me.  Some of them looked like me and some of them had names like mine.  Some of them spoke my language and some of them cared about the same books.  All the countries where I was not killed made a long list, and all the cities where I was not killed made a very long one. It wasn’t such a bad idea to make a list like that.  I couldn’t expect to give it to somebody and have them see the significance of it, but it would be significant to me.  If I had a list like that, I would keep it in my pocket but I would never look at it.  I would just feel glad to know it was there.  I would never look at it because by rights I shouldn’t need reminding.  I would just like to know it was there.  It would make
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it easier to learn about new places where somebody was killed in a war because I could just pull out my list and write the name of another place where I was not killed and put the list back in my pocket. What do you have there? the people I was with would say, and I would tell them: It is a list of all the places where I was not killed.  They could think it was precious if they wanted to.  I wouldn’t make a big deal about it either way.  I would try to do it in the course of the conversation.  I would try to keep an awareness of the time and the place, and if it came to it, I would say, I know this does not seem like the time and place for it, but it helps me to keep track of all the places where I was not killed. As it is, I keep that list in my head.  It’s not such a bad place for it either.  I can carry it however I want.  A political discussion comes up, and the subject turns to war, any war, and the first thing I have to think of is, first of all, I made it.  I don’t know how, but I did.  Someone who survived a war is obligated to speak of it with solemnity.  So someone on their way somewhere where a political discussion might come up might as well leave some room in themselves for solemnity.  That’s where the list in my pocket would come in handy.  I would grab it right along with my wallet and keys.  It would be just as practical as a wallet and keys.  I need a wallet to buy things and keys to open doors and a list of all the places where I wasn’t killed to know where I am.  I am in
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San Francisco, California, and I was not killed in Gaza, South Africa, Rwanda, or the Sioux Territory.  Look at that guy, moving like he’s dancing, like he’s got something ready for gracefulness in his steps.  I was not killed in Algeria, Nicaragua, Korea, or Japan.  Look at him singing, singing like he could be anywhere.  It’s the list in my pocket, I want to tell them.  It usually doesn’t start with dancing or singing, but it doesn’t know where else to go.  Each time I step outside, I see thousands of people with the same list in their pockets, whether they know it or not.  That is something.  It ought to be enough to make a little dancing or singing understandable. And at the same time, it is a lonely list.  It is the loneliest list I’ve ever had, because I haven’t forgotten about the people who don’t have a list like that, who were killed in one of those places.  We have something between us now that we didn’t have before.  It is as lonely as a man though.  It is exactly as lonely as a man, like when a man is by himself but doesn’t feel lonely when he has a world he feels proud of.  The point of making a list like that is keeping it, keeping it in my pocket instead of throwing it in a trashcan or burning it.  I would still feel proud of all those places when I looked at that list.  I would feel proud of the people who stayed living and the people who were killed.  It was the only thing that could make me make a list of those places and keep that list in my pocket.  I studied their capital cities when I was a boy from lists that others had made, but nothing
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made me want to keep those lists in my pocket. I guess you couldn’t get away with that as a teacher.  I guess you couldn’t get away with standing before a roomful of students and saying ‘Today we are going to learn about all the places where you weren’t killed, all the places where you somehow survived.’  My guess is that teacher would be called into the principal’s office, where he would say ‘I am sorry.  It is the only way I can make sense of still being here among the living,’ and then the best he could hope for would be a sympathetic principal turning to him and saying, ‘Maybe teaching is not the thing.  Have you ever thought about becoming a writer?’ It is not that the people don’t want to know.  It is not that they don’t want to hear that list, which they know is in their pocket as well.  It is a fear that they have done wrong by the people who were killed by being among the living.  There is a place for that fear, but not with the regularity of living and moving and breathing.  Everything about life is asking us to move in rhythm, so there is nothing wrong with fear when it comes hand-in-hand with courage.  There is a courage that says: It wouldn’t have been me, the bullet would’ve missed me, the bomb would’ve landed too far away… but it is a false courage.  It is looking to conquer fear, not to move in rhythm with it. I would keep that list in my pocket and if I showed it to someone, I don’t know if they would know how
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much rhythm it has.  I don’t know if they would know that they were looking at a poem or a song.  But if I ever showed it to someone and they showed me that they had the same list in their pocket, that they had the same list and knew it, it would be a rejoicing.  It would be a party right there on the street.  We wouldn’t know what else to do.  It would be one of the greatest parties the world had ever seen. In the meantime, there can be little parties along the way that the world does not take much notice of.  They add up to something.  They add up to the source of poetry and song in the first place.  The first poet and the first singer looked up from where they stood to see that they were still alive, and then it became very obvious what they should do.  Poetry and song come out of what is left behind as naturally as a flower from the earth.  And that list in my pocket is to let me know that I am what is left behind, I am what is left behind after all of it, somehow all of it was for me, because every one of them who was killed believed that they were continuing something good, and I want to tell them that it was something good, that if their last view of the world had any kind of beauty to it, that they were right about that, that they were right about that here among the living. And they don’t need me to confirm it.  I admit that I would be keeping a list in my pocket for myself.  I would be keeping it the way I used to keep a favorite toy in my pocket as a kid.  It’s probably for the same
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reason: to remember who I was when I went out into the world.  I was a fellow with feelings.  You couldn’t see them when you looked at me, but you could see the object of those feelings when you saw the toy.  I guess the reason I haven’t made that list and carried it in my pocket is that you can look at me and see that I wasn’t killed in all those places, and I guess if I am going to show it, I want to all the way show it, I don’t want to leave any room for doubt.

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Katherine Chatel
Mouse Excerpt
from Color Code
Lying on our stomachs, Mouse slips the magazine out from under her pillow. Christa Miller’s on the cover in an unbuttoned Indians baseball jersey and red underwear. We take turns flipping the pages— looking at women and ads and reading the articles— Mouse reads the articles and I move my eyes to look like I’m reading. I watch Mouse profile—watch as she licks her finger to turn the page—the same way her Mom does. Reading the articles is like finishing broccoli before dessert. There’s that swirly feeling in my stomach looking at a woman in a striped bikini leaning over the hood of a red convertible. Mouse’s face is pink. She reaches off the edge of the bed for her backpack and I hold her long legs down so she won’t go overboard, my finger covering a mole on the back of her calf. When she makes it back up on the bed she tosses me a cardboard pack of thin pretzel sticks with cellophane wrapped around the little window. We peel off the plastic and lie on our backs crunching. Her hair fans out tickling my face. I lean into her. She smells like white frosting, dandelion and sweat—not a real stinky sweat but a thin salty scent made sweet. After we dump the salt from the bottom of our

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pretzel boxes into our mouths Mouse sits up. “You know, I’m thinking about going down to the practice rooms next week to find Silver.” What day would she go? Maybe it’d be the day I have biology last period in the basement. I could wait. I could watch her talk to him—to Silver. Mouse, Em, Luz, Di, Topanga, and I have a color-code system for boys. That way when we’re in Ms. C’s class we can talk about Matt Q’s soccer legs using Teal without anyone knowing what we’re talking about. Mouse’s main crush is Silver—Blake Aarons—a lanky boy with a lopsided haircut who takes base guitar lessons afterschool in one of the basement classrooms. You could count the number of hairs sprouting from his chin. He has long knobby fingers with badass callouses from pressing back strings and dirt under his nails. He has a concave stomach and wears his belt one loop off center. It’s true that when he smiles it feels good but that’s because he never frickin’ smiles. I sort of get crushes but mostly on boys outside our class—like rock stars—but still only sort of. It’s not imagining them real—their hand moving the cloth of my t-shirt around my waist or the way they smell. Mostly I crush on the idea of what boys can do— make babies—but I don’t talk about this. Not even
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always to Luz. It’s too strange to want a baby more than a boy crush—to get that slippery feeling in my stomach thinking of a baby sucking my knuckle— chubby little cheeks working chubby little lips taking in the taste of that little part of me. It’s too strange to want a baby more than a set of pet mice. It’s too strange to want a baby every Christmas but you don’t say so. It’s too strange to believe in a baby coming the way you used to believe in Santa Claus. If I think about a crush long enough—on something I really do like—than part of me gets into it. I call Teal my main crush because he is safe because we all like Teal but none of us make a move. “Maybe I’ll just go down to the basement,” Mouse says. She is getting too close to an actual plan of talking to him. “What would you say?” She flosses a piece of her hair between her teeth. “I don’t know, do you think I should?” “No.” “Why not?” I can’t say because one of our rules is to always have an active crush on a boy but Mouse has been stuck on Silver too long. I roll over on her bed facing a
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poster of two Australian Shepherds with the words Adoption Option in pink caps at the bottom. Mouse talks about Silver like we would Billy Corgan or Robert DeLeo. I can’t tell anymore what’s talk and what’s real. I dangle my arm off the side of the bed touching a stack of books. She’s like Luz she can read a whole book in a day or two. I pick the top one off the stack and flip it over—Letters from Inside by John Marsden. I feel Mouse on the bed moving closer to me. I put it down and go back to staring at the poster. “Hey,” she says pushing my shoulder. “Let’s go upstairs.” Still staring at the poster I say, “We are upstairs.” Her lips are close enough to the back of my neck I can almost feel their humming. “I mean really upstairs.” I turn around. There’s another upstairs? Softly she says, “Come on.” I give in. How have I never seen her attic? She stands up. Reaching one of her long small fingers back behind her molar, she frees chewed pretzel then reaches down for a sneaker. “Put your shoes on.” Forget Silver. Outside a door in the hallway Mouse
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bunches her frizzy blond hair into a ponytail. “I want to show you something.” The attic stairs are cracked with ruler-long splinters. “Come on,” Mouse says. “I’m right here.” I’m thinking about next week. What if Silver asks her to the dance? At the top on the left is a leather saddle slung over the two by four banister, on the right, a stack of cardboard filing cabinet boxes and rolled posters. Light slips in through the slats of the covered window to the left. It’s just light enough to see each other. She doesn’t turn on a light. Mouse’s hand glides over the saddle; a finger traces the paisley stitching flanking the horn. She looks at me in the half-dark her blue eyes lit up and darting. “Want to play horses?” she says. “Sure.” She pets the back of the saddle, dust lifting in the strands of light. “This is my horse but you can share.”

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“What’s your horse’s name?” “Midnight,” she says. She tucks the loose hair from her ponytail behind her ears. “Help me on.” She sticks her sneaker toe into the stirrup. “Hold the saddle.” The saddle slips toward me and she loses her balance falling into me. “Hold it steady.” I hold it around her. Her right leg knocks my arm as she swings it across to the other side. Her butt looks tight in those jeans—like one of the women we see in her brother’s magazines. Patting the air in front of the saddle I say, “Good boy, Midnight.” “Midnight’s a girl.” She pulls the ponytail band from her hair and wiggles a couple fingers into her tight jeans pocket to put it away. Clucking the air between her cheeks she rises up in the saddle pushing her sneakers down in the stirrups. Even through her jeans I can see how strong her legs are—those legs that peddle fast on a bicycle in front of me, jump tree high on the trampoline, and walk the laps in gym. I’ve never seen her ride a real horse but it isn’t hard to imagine.
38

Sloan Willet
Out
Overflowing with nuance, I find a finger puppet on the side of the road; blue jagged teeth and snout and remember me I am your childhood breathing pretend and haunting the way childhood does. -Bean shut that door. But heffalumps and woozles. Do do dum do do dum. Sun through the morning windows where the cat chatters wagtail and I’ll-catch-and-torture to the birds on the other side of the pane. Do do dum do do dum. The breakfast nook and food in there rotting into the smell of old sneakers and hamburger under or over cooked depending on the person cooking, mom or gram. We are lingering forms of all sizes around tables and counters with mouths ready, fingers tapping and knees bobbing. Our heads too big, limbs too lanky, eye sight needing glasses, within earshot, up and down like the heffalumps and woozles, darkening the kitchen light on my mother as she tells us out- outside, out of the kitchen, out of my hair, out of my way, out of my sight, out of the fidgety air you have created in number and movement, out! I just want….No just. OUT!

39

I just want an ice pop. I’m just standing here. I’m just eight, ten, four, seven, nine, bratty, normal, being believed, believing, hungry, watching, wanting to learn, wanting to be near you, I’m just-OUT! Do do dum do do dum. The sound of the screen door hitting the doorjamb. The sound of the feet on the mud ground outside. The sound of the games, the dandelions smushed under us, being plucked and thrown, the faces they land on with a thud. Birds chirp and we are spinning the plastic octopus, the circus colored tree house tent covering our secrets about anti hamburger house kitchen mom purple sweat pants never allowed get out do do dum do do dum. Heffalump coming home to woozle into the space that was ours for a moment until we were Out and it is raining and we are loving that we were ordered to make a mess of ourselves and then the house when we trample in and stay on the mat all five\four\ seven of us don’t fit on the mat, the tile don’t go near the rug! Wait there. Take your clothes off and go up stairs to shower. We are hungry, shivering, hair dripping wet into our eyes and smirking. You told us dirty wet shivering mess up your floor take another hot shower today. We like the hot shower and the feel of it beading clean onto our backs. -Bean shut that door.

40

Wasn’t hamburger. Was chicken. Again. Chicken like shoe leather tasting of some flesh. More green beans. More potato. More lemonade. We’ve already drank it all. Fingers in our cups stirring an invisible solution into existence: pink lemonade mixture with salt, hiccups to finish it off. Stop playing with your food! It’s a drink. Your drink then. Stop playing and finish eating! Can we go back out? No it’s raining. But you told us to go out before. No you’ve already showered. Out I want to go out. The rain is pounding on the tin of the air conditioner, the cool of the rain and the underbelly humid seeping in around the seal made to hold the contraption in place. It is humid in the belly cool of the rain. I left my shoes outside. What?! They are soaked by now. Forget about them. Why did you do that? I didn’t mean to. Why were your shoes off? I like to run barefoot. The dandelions crunch rip thud, the feet thud thud, the knees softer bobble and less fall to the ground- get back up- hide in the playhouse with the key lime shutters, sprout out of the window with a handful of thud thud thud dandelions on the face- hey! you cheater! There are no rules. Run around the tree, get to the fun ride, climb and grab hold, teetering across the yard in assembly line speed, lifted wiggling bodies on the horizon of the fence, disheveled forms. Me next my turn dandelions in piles near the ladder forgotten thud thuds to the wiz of speedy suspension. Eat your green beans! I hate green beans. Your father’s going to walk in any minute and if he sees
sloan Wi lle t

41

you aren’t eating your green beans. She looses momentum, turning to the pitter of the rain on the deck, on the seats of the outdoor chairs, on the squish of the soles of our soaked shoes. Famous’ green beans are in his milk. Elle slips them under the table, under kicking feet making bouncing head and the dogs are happy to eat them, they lick buttholes and chew cardboard. -Bean open the door for your father. The heffalump is bounding in like a tidal wave of thermos clank, duffle bag shuffle of nylon against nylon, sweat and rain head dripping, assholes on the road skidding, working, working, working, where’s my dinner. Smack Jay and Famous are smiling spilling food out of their mouths as they hit each other in the arms. Boys stop it. My father is disrobing in the room with the door open, the air on is freezing for our little bodies and heads too big shiver like the rain but with less happy about our ordered dirty. -Close the door heffalump. -Stop being a woozle. The cat is chattering at the rain she would only shrink and slink under, shake her paws off like she is ridding herself of the humans.
42

Jarett Kobek
from If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write?

Kim Kardashian and Ray J Wait For Their Flight to Cabo at a Burger King Inside LAX
RAY J:

We at the airport, you know what I mean? I know you don’t know what I mean cause I haven’t told you anything yet.
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Do you know what he means?
RAY J:

Yeah we going to Cabo cause it’s Kim’s birthday.
KIM KARDASHIAN:

No, Wait.
RAY J:

November twenty three.
KIM KARDASHIAN:

You gotta, you gotta film my mistake.
RAY J:

Yeah, Kim just wasted syrup all over her pants and start tripping out on me, like ‘You moron! Clean me! Clean me!’
43

KIM KARDASHIAN:

I did not say you moron. I don’t even think you can see it here, the worst [indecipherable.] Right there, all wet.
RAY J:

Is there anything you wanna tell the, tell your fans, Kim?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Not yet.
RAY J:

Huh?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Not yet.
RAY J:

Yeah, we in Burger King right now. We in the LAX. I’m gonna try to get some plane footage if they let me. If not, I’ll see y’all in Cabo. On the beach. Getting black as ever.
RAY J:

Like to watch it?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Wait a minute. He just spilled orange juice on himself. Do you want me to clean you? You need to go change.
44

RAY J:

Seriously?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Definitely. Don’t take my move.
RAY J:

What’s your move?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

My move is… oops. That’s my move. You using touch screen?
RAY J:

Yeah. Kourtney got the illest camera with the touch screen.
KIM KARDASHIAN:

I’m gonna get scratches on my bling-bling.
RAY J:

Let’s check out the watch. Let’s check out the bling.
KIM KARDASHIAN:

It approximately says it’s five o’clock, when it’s really ten. But it looks good. Check out the bling on my foot. Can you see it? Wait, enough with the camera.
RAY J:

Naw, let me see your toes.

Ja re t t kobe k

45

KIM KARDASHIAN:

Stop, Ray…
RAY J:

Why you running?
KIM KARDASHIAN:

Stop. Ray, stop. Turn it off.
RAY J:

[laughing] Kim don’t want me to see her toes. That’s crazy. I’m out.

46

Miley Cyrus Smokes Salvia Divinorum, a Legal Hallucinogenic, While Listening to Bush, a British Band Fronted by the Husband of Gwen Stefani
YOUNG MALE #1:

…take all of that in. Hold it.
YOUNG MALE #2:

Hold it.
ANNA OLIVER:

[indecipherable]
MILEY CYRUS:

Okay, I’m about to lose it now.
ANNA OLIVER:

Just lay down, my dear.
MILEY CYRUS:

Ha ha ha ha ha!
ANNA OLIVER:

Just going to document the shit out of this right now. Yeah?
MILEY CYRUS:

I’m having a little bit of a bad trip.

Ja re t t kobe k

47

ANNA OLIVER:

Really? What’s happening?
MILEY CYRUS:

Oh, oh, my god. Is that a fucking Liam look-alike or what the hell is that? Is that my boyfriend? Is that my boyfriend? Oh my god.
ANNA OLIVER:

Hey… tell him not to bust up.
MILEY CYRUS:

Oh my god. He’s looks so much like Liam. Oh my god.
ANNA OLIVER:

[indecipherable]
MILEY CYRUS:

Is that me tripping? Is that me tripping? He doesn’t look like Liam at all? Okay, well, he looks just like Liam. Dude, I know. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA.
ANNA OLIVER:

Uh oh, whoa oah.
MILEY CYRUS:

Are you sure he doesn’t look just like him? Oh my god!
ANNA OLIVER:

What’s up, what’s up? Tell us your thoughts, girl, tell
48

us what’s on your mind.
MILEY CYRUS:

All right, I know she’s being weird, right?
ANNA OLIVER:

Tell us what’s on your mind girlfriend. Tell us! Talk to me! Talk to me! Talk to me!
MILEY CYRUS:

Are you being as weird as I think you are right now? Huh oh? Oh well ajSDJASJDKJASDKJASKJDASKDASJAJjasjsjsa Just kidding! Those aren’t mine! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Shit. What you make me do I don’t everyone wanna know that. SayhellotoAnnaNicoleSmith! SayhellotoMaryBethJoseph! Yesmydearyou’resoexplosive! SayhellotoAnnaNicoleSmith! AASdasdaiofhehrnfgbh uhduf8342589342#####jsdjiejfajsdogjmjomvb ZCXKkzckzxciocjdfjd
ANNA OLIVER:

You are gonna shit a brick when you this. Oh yeah. Knock out girl. Get it.
MILEY CYRUS:

I want more of that shit, I swear.
ANNA OLIVER:

Yeah, you need to do more. You’re not like, as fucked up as you should be.
Ja re t t kobe k

49

YOUNG MALE #1:

You shoulda seen me… We were at home…
MILEY CYRUS:

Okay, you know what Liam looks like?

50

Paul Corman-Roberts
Whatever Happened to Our Us?
Is there anything emptier Than the plots Where our tents stood Inn the now sterile plazas Playing host only to the long crystalline wind Which have swept away The final stand Of a perceived righteousness With giant mechanized vacuum tubes Operated by men in hoodies And ski masks The police of the underbelly With their rallying cry “Occupy this cap bitch” Wrapped our sleeping bags Around us like a noose Packages to be dragged away By uniformed sanitation mercenaries Leaving only these darkish stains And a Prius with a “got hope?” Bumper sticker in the 14th and Ogawa intersection sitting at a red light Idling ?

51

Do you remember? Somewhere on this timeline between Waco ‘93 And The compost of our walls and grimy floor these rebels don’t care enough to keep clean anymore.   There is a dated sexual revolution Somewhere among the heaps of rot Strewn about this Occupy. There is a forgotten labor movement Crumpled at the bottom of a hippie’s dufflebag, A civil rights mandate Stuffed beneath an empty greasy pizza box. The only movement visible now Is toward the horrible clarity of sobriety.   We’ve been squatting beneath these canvass barricades for so long now. Long enough for history to go all fuzzy via time exposure. Long enough to believe maybe recess is over & maybe the bell rang & maybe we actually missed it.   Don’t you remember when the enemies’ advance battalions arrived in their matching Circle K polyester? Don’t you remember when they surrounded us
52

and just ...camped out? Swilling their Crazy Horse malt liquor and processing legalese?   Our bastions were shelled By batteries of forms our turrets strafed by business return envelops An armada of B-1 bureaucratic bombers Dumping their impressive payloads of competing deregulated utility bills and eviction notices.   & we laughed. & we pointed in their faces & we called them names & so in turn they rolled out high-pressure hoses & opened them upon our ranks Dousing and bruising us CNN brand vitriol & still we took our eternal youth for granted.   Don’t you remember American Express’s special assault forces scaling their way through our computer monitors and into our wallets? When treaties were nailed to the front gates offering truce in exchange for letting the insurance Gestapo impose an existence tax?  So some stuck their heads out and cried
Pau l corMan- robe rt s

53

“all we want is our sex, drugs and rock and roll to be on sale down at the mall!” And then others stuck their necks out to protest that this was not at all what the rest of us wanted. Only to have their heads blown off by Wall Street columnists safely ensconced in sniper nests. And after mourning and moaning and tragedy making There came the diplomatic concierge of Hollywood agents, recording industry executives and Silicon Valley Angels waving mall itineraries and proclaiming “we’ve consulted with Jesus and he says one out of three ain’t bad!” And even fewer cried out “we’ll take it!”  So that those few of us that were left stuck their necks out to protest that this was even less than what they wanted. Only to have investment speculators armed with invisible profit certainties of mass destruction come to forcibly remove us from our families.   I remember Looking for a way out For the few who were left Then eventually looking For a way out For one.   I remember seeing daylight through cracks in a wall
54

clinging to its seduction of offered passage Only to watch it fade Behind the mounting paperwork mortars that once seemed so harmless.   I remember seeing these things again and again, too many times to count. That’s just the way things cycle here in the encampment. Like I said, history gets fuzzy. I think the power has been turned off I think the escape routes have been cut off & the urban-khaki storm troopers have gapped the plumbing.   & that’s all right, because the few of us left didn’t want to go through a social cleansing anyway.  It would have been unsatisfactory knowing what awaits the party lizard that manages to survive till the gray dawn light.  We’d rather wallow in the stink of the bunker.  We’d rather smile, smile, smile and wait for the barricades we grew and the tents we set down and the community we tried to build
Pau l corMan- robe rt s

55

to copulate with the diplomats and special interest market forces and the existence gestapo in one shining moment of clarity when nothing stands between our pure existence and their lust to consume and reprogram us in their image. What an amazing moment that is going to be.

56

Annie Avery
Step Off
I just might step off here And glide through the silky dark Through brawling waves Through fresh ancient streets Through undulating currents of thick varied voices Through thick breaths of flirty herb I fly I step back onto soggy streets Past glittering pavement corners The earth swells and falls Dust still breathing Nightfall my easy cap

57

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