Linggo, Marso 18, 2012


Rocky Marciano leans into a lucky one.  Takes a fall.  But it’s early in his career.  He staggers back after the punch, shakes his head left, then right.  This is years before million dollar purses and ESPN.  But Marciano isn’t Jake LaMotta either: bloated, eyes dulled, Scorcese filmed-in-balck-and-white.  Let’s make this an allegory.  LaMotta will be capitalsim-slowing, slowed, unable to speak through a shattered mouthguard and broken teeth.  No, that’s not right either.

Let’s go to the videotape.

There, Marciano leans into it -he wanted that punch, maybe to make himself angry enough to win: angrier than a million dollars, angrier than the nightly news.

Cut to commercial.

[Are your breath, armpits, eyebrows fetid?  Febrile?  Feral?  Do you hanker after lo-cal, low sodium, low maintenance?  Is your hunger the insatiable need to fill the unfillable?  What defines you?  Localize.  Itemize.  Narcotize.  Intensify, intensify.]

The universe expands, except for a black hole, which swallows-not even light escapes.  I once knew someone who swallowed light.  Could make each noontime as bleak and cold as a Russian bunker, where friends and loved ones would be trapped for years, etching out their names with hardened, uncut fingernails.  For two years after the war ended, six

soldiers were trapped in a Soviet bunker.  No light, no way to move the corpses as the men died off one by one.  Only two made it out, one falling dead as the light glinted off his ashen flesh when he stepped out into the sun after that long, long stay.  Rocky Marciano hits the canvas, blinks as the ref makes the count.  Rocky Marciano leans into a

lucky one.  Or is it lucky?  Maybe Marciano staggers back a bit; maybe he sees stars, or hallucinates, sees himself as a thirteen year old boy watching police boats drag the Hudson River.  It’s nighttime and Marciano flattens against the barroom wall.  He isn’t drunk, but maybe he should be.  Two decades as a prize fighter and anger gets boring-

become too familiar, rage a priori - a buzzing that he doesn’t quite hear anymore.  Like people who live near the trainyard and can sleep through the night.  You know those people when you meet them, their voices carrying over everything else, voices raw and thin from yelling all day.  A Camaro in the passing lane shakes with bass, with Led

Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” looped and a hiphop vocal track added.  What’s that anger?  It’s a kind of violence you hear, a violence that fills everything you see.  Inside the ear.  What’s more intimate that that?  Rocky Marciano leans into a lucky one and his ear swells up.  He’s stone deaf within the year.  No buzz, no bell to end the round - just the vast echo of finitude reaching out past the ropes at the edge of the ring.

by Richard Deming


Virginia Woolf committed suicide in 1941 when the German bombing campaign against England was at its peak and when she was reading Freud whom she had staved off until then.

Edith Stein, recently and controversially beatified by the Pope, who had successfully worked to transform an existential vocabulary into a theological one, was taken to Auschwitz in August, 1942.

One year later Simone Weil died in a hospital in England--of illness and depression--determined to know what it is to know. She, as much as Woolf and Stein, sought salvation in a choice of words.

But multitudes succumb to the sorrow induced by an inexact vocabulary.

While a whole change in discourse is a sign of conversion, the alteration of a single word only signals a kind of doubt about the value of the surrounding words.
Poets tend to hover over words in this troubled state of mind.
What holds them poised in this position is the occasional eruption of happiness.

While we would all like to know if the individual person is a phenomenon either culturally or spiritually conceived and why everyone doesn't kill everyone else, including themselves, since they can--poets act out the problem with their words.

Is there, perhaps, a quality in each person--hidden like a laugh inside a sob--that loves even more than it loves to live?
If there is, can it be expressed in the form of the lyric line?

Dostoevsky defended his later religious belief, saying of his work "Even in Europe there have never been atheistic expressions of such power. My hosannah has gone through a great furnace of doubt."

According to certain friends, Simone Weil would have given everything she wrote to be apoet. It was an ideal but she was wary of charm and the inauthentic. She saw herself as stuck in fact with a rational prose line for her sugery on modern thought. She might be tha rchetiypal doubter but the language of the lyric was perhaps too uncertain.

As far as we know she wrote a play and some poems and one little prose poem called Prelude.

Yet Weil could be called a poet, if Wittgenstein could, despite her own estimation of her writing, because of the longing for a conversion through writing her ideas down. In Prelude the narrator is an uprooted seeker who still hopes that a transformation will come to her from the outside. The desired teacher arrives bearing the best of everything, including delucious wine and bread, affection, tolerance, solidarity (people come and go) and authority. This is a man who even has faith and loves truth.

She is happy. Then suddenly, without any cause, he tells her it's over. She is out on the streets without direction, without memory. Indeed she is unable to remember even what he told her without his presence there to repeat it, this amnesia being the ultimate dereliciton.

If memory fails, then the mind is air in a skull.
This loss of memory forces her to abandon hope for either rescue or certainty.

And now is the moment where doubt--as an active function--emerges and magnifies the world. It eliminates memory. And it turns the figure inside a mirror, looking outwards for her moves. She is a forgery. When all the structures granted by common agreement fall away and that "reliable chain of cause and effect" that Hannah Arendt talks about--breaks--then a person's inner logic also collapses.

Yet strangely it is in this moment that doubt shows itself to be the physical double to belief; it is the quality that nourishes willpower, and the one that is the invisible engine behind every step taken. Doubt is what allows a single gesture to have a heart.

In this prose poem Weil's narrator recovers her balance after a series of reactive revulsions to the surrounding culture by confessing to the most palpable human wish: that whoever he was, he loved her.

Hope seems to resist extermination as much as a roach does.

Hannah Arendt talks about the abyss of nothingness that opens up before any deed that cannot be accounted for." Consciousness of this abyss is the source of belief for most converts. Weil's conviction that evil proves the existence of God is cut out of this consciousness.

Her Terrible Prayer--that she be reduced to a paralyzed nobody--desires an obedience to that moment where coming and going intersect before annihilation.

And her desire: "To be only an intermediary between the blank page and the poem" is a desire for a whole-heartedness that eliminates personality.

Virginia Woolf, a maestro of lyric resistance, was frightened by Freud's claustrophobic determinism since she had no ground of defense against it. The hideous vocabulary of mental science crushed her dazzling star-thoughts into powder and brought her latent despair into the open air.
Born int a family devoted to skepticism and experiment, she had made a superhuman effort at creating a prose-world where doubt was a mesmerizing and glorious force.

Anyone who tries, as she did, out of a sytematic training in secularism, to forge a rhetoric of belief is fighting against the odds. Disappointments are everywhere waiting to catch you, and an ironic realism is always convincing.

Simone Weil's family was skeptical too, and secular while attentive to the development of the mind. Her older brother fed her early sense of inferiority with intellectual put-downs. Later, her notebooks chart a superhuman effort at conversion to a belief in affliction as a sign of God's presence.

Her prose itself is tense from sustained and solutary concentration. After all, to convert by choice (that is, without a blast of revelation or a personal disaster) requires that you shift the names for things, and force a new language out of your mind onto the page.

You have to make yourself believe. Is this possible? Can you turn "void" into "God" by switching the words over and over again?
Any act of self-salvation is a problem because of death which always has the last laugh, and if there has been a dramatic and continual despair hanging over childhood, then it may even be impossible.

After all, can you call "doubt" "bewilderment" and suddenly be relieved?

Not if your mind has been fatally poisoned...
But even then, it seems, the dream of having no doubt continues, finding its way into love and work. After all choices matter exactly as much as they don't matter--especially when history is on your side. 

by Fanny Howe


    If the hill overlooking our city has always been known as Adam's Grave, only at dusk can you see the recumbent giant, his head turned to the west, his right arm resting for ever on Eve's haunch
    can you learn, from the way he looks up at the scandalous pair, what a citizen really thinks of his citizenship,
    just as now you can hear in a drunkard's caterwaul his rebel sorrows crying for a parental discipline, in lustful eyes perceive a disconsolate soul, scanning with desperation all passing limbs for some vestige of her faceless angel who in that long ago when wishing was a help mounted her once and vanished:
    For Sun and Moon supply their conforming masks, but in this hour of civil twilight all must wear their own faces.
    And it is now that our two paths cross.
    Both simultaneously recognise his Anti-type: that I am an Arcadian, that he is a Utopian.
    He notes, with contempt, my Aquarian belly: I note, with alarm, his Scorpion's mouth.
    He would like to see me cleaning latrines: I would like to see him removed to some other planet.
    Neither speaks. What experience could we possibly share?
    Glancing at a lampshade in a store window, I observe it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy: He observes it is too expensive for a peasant to buy.
    Passing a slum child with rickets, I look the other way: He looks the other way if he passes a chubby one.
    I hope our senators will behave like saints, provided they don't reform me: He hopes they will behave like baritone cattivi, and, when lights bum late in the Citadel, I (who have never seen the inside of a police station) am shocked and think: 'Were the city as free as they say, after sundown all her bureaus would be huge black stones':
    He (who has been beaten up several times) is not shocked at all but thinks: 'One fine night our boys will be working up there.'
    You can see, then, why, between my Eden and his New Jerusalem, no treaty is negotiable.
    In my Eden a person who dislikes Bellini has the good manners not to get born: In his New Jerusalem a person who dislikes work will be very sorry he was born.
    In my Eden we have a few beam-engines, saddle-tank locomotives, overshot waterwheels and other beautiful pieces of obsolete machinery to play with: In his New Jerusalem even chefs will be cucumber-cool machine minders.
    In my Eden our only source of political news is gossip: In his New Jerusalem there will be a special daily in simplified spelling for non-verbal types.
    In my Eden each observes his compulsive rituals and superstitious tabus but we have no morals: In his New Jerusalem the temples will be empty but all will practise the rational virtues.
    One reason for his contempt is that I have only to close my eyes, cross the iron footbridge to the tow-path, take the barge through the short brick tunnel and there I stand in Eden again, welcomed back by the krumhorns, doppions, sordumes of jolly miners and a bob major from the Cathedral (romanesque) of St Sophie (Die Kalte):
    One reason for my alarm is that, when he closes his eyes, he arrives, not in New Jerusalem, but on some august day of outrage when hellikins cavort through ruined drawing-rooms and fish-wives intervene in the Chamber or
    some autumn night of deletions and noyades when the unrepentant thieves (including me) are sequestered and those he hates shall hate themselves instead.

    So with a passing glance we take the other's posture; already, our steps recede, heading, incorrigible each, towards his kind of meal and evening.
    Was it (as it must look to any god of cross-roads) simply a fortuitous intersection of life-paths, loyal to different fibs
    or also a rendezvous between accomplices who, in spite of themselves, cannot resist meeting
    to remind the other (do both, at bottom, desire truth?) of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget
    forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence)
    on whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded:
    For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.

by W. H. Auden

Aaron by Edwin Denby

What We Miss

Who says it's so easy to save a life? In the middle of an interview for
the job you might get you see the cat from the window of the seven-
teenth floor just as he's crossing the street against traffic, just as
you're answering a question about your worst character flaw and lying
that you are too careful. What if you keep seeing the cat at every
moment you are unable to save him? Failure is more like this than like
duels and marathons. Everything can be saved, and bad timing pre-
vents it. Every minute, you are answering the question and looking
out the window of the church to see your one great love blinded by
the glare, crossing the street, alone.

by Sarah Manguso

The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the ponies made a lot of money. Now a month’s supply of pills came in a hard blue case with a handle. You opened it & found the usual vial plus six tiny ponies of assorted shapes & sizes, softly breathing in the Styrofoam. Often they had to be pried out & would wobble a little when first put on the ground. In the beginning the children tried to play with them, but the sharp hooves nicked their fingers & the ponies refused to jump over pencil hurdles. The children stopped feeding them sugarwater & the ponies were left to break their legs on the gardens’ gravel paths or drown in the gutters. On the first day of the month, rats gathered on doorsteps & spat out only the bitter manes. Many a pony’s last sight was a bounding squirrel with its tail hovering over its head like a halo. Behind the movie theatre the hardier ponies gathered in packs amongst the cigarette butts, getting their hooves stuck in wads of gum. They lined the hills at funerals, huddled under folding chairs at weddings. It became a matter of pride if one of your ponies proved unusually sturdy. People would smile & say, “This would have been an awful month for me,” pointing to the glossy palomino trotting energetically around their ankles. Eventually, the ponies were no longer needed. People had learned to imagine their sadness trotting away. & when they wanted something more tangible, they could always go to the racetrack & study the larger horses’ faces. Gloom, #341, with those big black eyes, was almost sure to win.

by Matthea Harvey

An American Story

Two possums dressed as children (their mother raised them as such) were crying when their father (not a possum) came home.  Their mother (not a possum either) was already there.  She stayed home with the children everyday and kept house (though actually they lived in a bog swamp).  There was a family dog too but it doesn’t come up until later (when it dies).  Now the mother had sent the children outside to play so she could get some cleaning done (an optimistic thought in a bog swamp).  The children sat under a tree and ate the apples that had fallen to the ground (they were rotten).  The ripe apples were still hanging from the boughs but the children were not allowed to climb the tree because they hung from their tails (which disturbed their parents to no end).  As the children stuffed their mouths with the brown, sticky fruit, their dog, Ernest (a Laplander), bounded across the street to join them and was struck by a car.  Now I’d like to tell you the dog died quickly, so I will, but actually it was a long, agonizing death involving hours of grueling pain and convulsions. The children were devastated.  They ran into the house bawling, which is how their father found them when he came home with the money he had stolen from the bank.  He was a raccoon and a master thief.  He and his accomplice had been planning the heist for weeks.  His wife had known nothing about it, although she knew his accomplice all too well.  He was a dashing possum with a broad toothy grin and a weakness for tragic women.

by Jamey Dunham

The Page Torn Out by Anselm Berrigan

Hot Ass Poem

Hey check out the ass on that guy he’s got a really hot ass I’d like to see his ass naked with his hot naked ass Hey check out her hot ass that chick’s got a hot ass she’s a red hot ass chick I want to touch it Hey check out the ass on that old man thats one hot old man ass look at his ass his ass his old man ass Hey check out that dog’s ass wow that dog’s ass is hot that dog’s got a hot dog ass I want to squeeze that dog’s hot dog ass like a ball but a hot ball a hot ass ball Hey check out the ass on that bird how’s a bird get a hot ass like that that’s one hot ass bird ass I want to put that bird’s hot ass in my mouth and swish it around and around and around Hey check out the ass on that bike damn that bike’s ass is h-o-t you ever see a bike with an ass that hot I want to put my hot ass on that bike’s hot ass and make a double hot ass bike Hey check out that building it’s got a really really really hot ass and the doorman and the ladies in the informatiom booth and the guy in the elevator got themselves a butt load of hot ass I want to wrap my arms around the whole hot ass building and squeeze myself right through its hot ass and out the other side I want to get me a hot ass piece of all 86 floors of hot hot hot hot ass!” 

by Jennifer Knox

Mango, Number 61

Pescado grande was number 14, while pescado chico, was number 12; dinero, money, was number 10. This was la charada, the sacred and obsessive numerology my abuela used to predict lottery numbers or winning trifectas at the dog track. The grocery stores and pawn shops on Flagler street handed out complementary wallet-size cards printed with the entire charada, numbers 1 through 100: number 70 was coco, number 89 was melón and number 61 was mango. Mango was Mrs. Pike, the last americana on the block with the best mango tree in the neighborhood. Mamá would coerce her in granting us picking rights--after all, los americanos don't eat mango, she'd reason. Mango was fruit wrapped in brown paper bags, hidden like ripening secrets in the kitchen oven. Mango was the perfect house warming gift and a marmalade dessert with thick slices of cream cheese at birthday dinners and Thanksgiving. Mangos, watching like amber cat's eyes. Mangos, perfectly still in their speckled maroon shells like giant unhatched eggs. Number 48 was cucaracha, number 36 was bodega, but mango was my uncle's bodega, where everyone spoke only loud Spanish, the precious gold fruit towering in tres-por-un-peso pyramids. Mango was mango shakes made with milk, sugar and a pinch of salt--my grandfather's treat at the 8th street market after baseball practice. Number 60 was sol, number 18 was palma, but mango was my father and I under the largest shade tree at the edges of Tamiami park. Mango was abuela and I hunched over the counter covered with the Spanish newspaper, devouring the dissected flesh of the fruit slithering like molten gold through our fingers, the nectar cascading from our binging chins, abuela consumed in her rapture and convinced that I absolutely loved mangos. Those messy mangos. Number 79 was cubano--us, and number 93 was revolución, though I always thought it should be 58, the actual year of the revolution--the reason why, I'm told, we live so obsessively and nostalgically eating number 61's, mangos, here in number 87, América.

by Richard Blanco

from Blasted Fields of Clover Bring Harrowing and Regretful Sighs

Now the sea moves up the lawn for him as those nearby view his life passing before their eyes. Someone his own age lean in black pants and a white shirt sits on a plastic chair with a block of massive green light. Facing of someone else away (bluebird). This is not happening to him. Unaccountable ejaculation. Briefs halted at the knees alter his walk. The basement conceals a surplus of chairs while overground the yards remain square and trimmed to uniform length (clouds). This was written on his arm. Its words occupy a grid and move among cells at random with great speed. A car leaves a driveway and exclamations are made about wood left over and what could make it burn.
.   .   .
Stacked circles (rain down) say green it releases nothing. Bundled wires. Ellsworth Kelly strides from one red iceberg to the next. Each face projects onto antennae forging a domain expressed as a skewered pod. Transparency behind a desk elusive plunge. A dissection of thought into its components the weight of meat up the wrong street the wrong backdoor. The blazer missed too as the wiry one observed. Someone slipped him diet Orangina and he went ballistic. The whole staff crayoned their names onto the good luck card while unwitting partygoers waited for the elevator. Mogul and musician separated at birth one suggested. Hubris. The directions very specific and yet so many stood idle. She ravished in black. He charmed in lime. 

by Mark Bibbins 

When Kiss Spells Contradiction

    When kiss spells contradiction it spills an ocean of open clothes. I gave me to one who hung hearts so high it was a mast in mute blue weather, the clang and strop of it, the undercover wet. Said are they sails your impenetrables that only winds can jibe them, the arc and the rip and the rush of all that flood. But his were slow words, more a storm than a sending, what his hands knew of tack and tumble I will not tell.

    If kiss were conquest, were conclusion, I might be true. In the bluebit, heartquit leaping I might be binded. But tongue, lip, lap are brim beginning, a prank of yet. I waxed for a man all hum and hover and stuttered must, what he’d read of snowlight and sunder I’ll never pearl. I said, Are they moons, that they bleach in your fingers, and so much wrack at the socket, and rune and run. (Like a moon he was sharp when new and blunt when done.)

    If kiss were question, were caution. What he knew of. Trice and tender. I’ll never. None.

by Karen Volkman

It Could Be a Bird

It could be a bird that says summer, that says gather no late failing harvest in a wealth of arms. Lost weed, still you remember, in a storm-suit, the sky came down to walk among us, oh to talk. Such grey conviction, cracked calculus, chasm. Black earth repeating, I was never him, and so many green words of schism, that and this. If a tree could say, if a tree could say, what are you? to my dim attention, to my wayward random shape. Suit, suit, you're a cold suit, your stiched rain shivers and splinters, what web is this? Unnumbered mesh of other, kill, kiss.

by Karen Volkman

Twelve Epistles from Letter’s To Wendy’s by Joe Wenderoth

 August 19, 1996 

Today I was thinking that it might be nice to be able, in one’s last days, to move into a Wendy’s. Perhaps a Wendy’s life-support system could even be created and given a Wendy’s slant; liquid fries, for instance, and burgers and Frosties continually dripped into one’s vegetable dream locust. It would intensify the visits of the well, too, to see such a care is being taken for their destiny.    

                                         August 26, 1996 
Very high on marijuana brownies, I could not speak today at the register. I kept stepping aside for other customers and staring hard at the menu. I was overwhelmed by the chicken sandwich pictured there, but no words for it. I kept saying ‘there, that one… the man dressed like a woman.” It’s hard to get served when on understands the signifier as a process.

                                        August 27, 1996
Still high on those brownies, but coming down. I’ve eaten, in the past twenty-four hours, so very many burgers and chicken sandwiches. The Sea of Coke is heavy today with meat- its cold swells with the meaty goodness that objects to language. Some kids drift by, talking. One of them says “that sucks dead donkey dicks,” and the other agrees. Imagine.

                                        September 5, 1996

Naturally I think about smashing the skulls and rib-cages of the other customers. They stand in line so smug-like they were safe, out-side the desires of or for an other. It’s as if, for them, there is no other’s desire- as if desire was one thing, and was ours. Restraining myself is dishonest. It’s a way of maintaining a keen sense of the unforeseeable injuries which shall certainly reunite us.

                                         October 8, 1996
It would bring me to despair to think that I could get a Frosty in my own kitchen. I need to believe a frosty can only be gotten outside of where I ordinarily dwell. To be constantly in the place of real Frosties- this is unthinabke, somehow unbearable. The fact is this: to be a subject of language is to desire an Event, and an Event needs to be nothing to move out of, to seem to begin.

                                         November 17, 1996

I eavesdrop on people at Wendy’s. I notice they never talk about their assholes. It’s not that I think an asshole, as an abstract (as Platonic form if you will), is so interesting. It’s specific assholes that are interesting - my asshole as compared with Nick’s, yours as compared with Ted’s or Mary’s. How one experiences another’s asshole speaks volumes- it seems selfish not to make these volumes readily available.
                                         November 25, 1996 
This idiotic notion that one should love the other customers. Love here really means: agree, for the time being, not to attack. People pretend, thought, that each customer is an irreplaceable piece of some priceless puzzle- like the death of each customer is significant for every other customer. It’s just not true; one cannot love what one does not know, and - fortunately- one knows very little.

                                         December 27, 1996 

I can say without hesitation that if Wendy’s ever started to “deliver” i would end my life. And in a way, my suicide would mimic Wendy’s decision to “deliver.” That is, I would decide that my blood, which, in my body, made sense, should flow out in to the dust, where it makes just more dust. Our homes are dust?  you ask. Yes, our homes are dust. Don’t pretend you are surprised.

                                            January 3, 1997    

I’ve been sort of hesitant to mention this, but i believe that one of your employees- you must know the one I speak of - is a beaver. It’s impossible to look into her face, to hear the sounds she makes, and to see the way she moves, the way she carries bits of wood, and to not feel that this is a beaver. I’ve not mentioned this before because, obviously, beavers are powerful creatures.

                                           January 19, 1997    

These fucking teeny-bopper cunts- they’ll steal your man as soon as look at you. Even if you don’t have a man, they’ll steal him. They’ll steal him and they’ll take him back to their fucking teeny-bopper bed-room. They they’ll suck his dick real slow as thought they’ve never sucked a dick before and they’ll say, “its so big!” even if it isn’t. And then afterwards they’ll act like they never said it was big at all.

                                              March 14, 1997 

As I look around the restaurant at all the beautiful folks enjoying themselves, I wonder what catastrophe awaits each one. Young man, will your heart explode? Will your intestines fill with blood? Perhaps a seizure on a boat in the middle of a lake. The sun shinning down. The stars concealed once and for all. I always feel less anxious when I recognize that the collision is already well under way.

                                               June 28, 1997

My previous statements were made in haste. I was hungry and confused, and i longed for purpose. I wanted to seem like i was in the process of focusing in on something important. I wanted to feel purpose rising like an ancient city from the excavator’s pick and shovel. I wanted this so much that I rushed- I swung my pick wildly, and I brought a great delicate city to the dust it had always verged on.

A Defense of Poetry by Gabriel Gudding

The test of such poetry
is that it discomfits.
                - Charles Bernstein

The lake trout is not a furious animal, for which I apologize that you have the mental capacity of the Anchovy.
Yes the greatest of your sister's facial pimples did outweigh a Turkey.
I was eating Vulture Beast Cream, I was eating Lippy Dung Corn, and I said "Your ugly dog is very ugly," for he is.
And that is when I turned and a snowflake banged into my eye like a rusty barge and I killed your gloomy dog with a mitten.
For I have bombed your cat and stabbed it. For I am the ambassador of this wheelbarrow and you are the janitor of a dandelion. Indeed, you are a teacher of great chickens, for you are from the town of Fat Blastoroma, O tawdry realtor. For I have clapped your dillywong in a sizeable door.
You have an achey knee which is where I clubbed your achey and pompous knee. I shoot your buffalo, may you be hanged by the upper lip and somehow burned in a canoe.
Is your butt driving through traffic that it should toot so at the world? I am averse to urine, yet I shake your hand upon occasion;
I have made a whiskey of your tears - and Joe-Bob made a flu-liqueur of your night-mucus;
That some of your gas has been banging around the market like a small soldier carrying a table. God booby.[1]
I overlook your titties. Your sneeze erased the blackboard and your cough knocked a dog into loneliness;
For you remind me of a dog hurled over a roof - yapping to no effect. And furthermore the habitual peristalsis in your bowels sounds like a barfight in a whale. In addition, that as a boy you lassoed storks with a petty friend named Jerry.
And just as you swallowed a cherry's stone and produced a tree, you recently ate a burger and found a bull honking among your feces.
For I would more expect a Pigeon to tote a rifle
than a wise syllable issue from your cheesepipe.
And as your nose is packed with Error I advise you to pick it often.
For you are a buttock.
Indeed you are the balls of the bullock and the calls of the peacock; you are the pony in the paddock near the bullock and the peacock; you are the futtock on the keel and the fetlock (or the heel) of the pony in the paddock:
Indeed you are the burdock on the fetlock and the beetle on the burdock and the mite on the beetle on the burdock on the fetlock of the pony in the paddock and the padlock of the gate of the paddock of the bullock and the peacock.
Thus with you I am fed-up. For you are Prufrock and I am Wild Bill Hickok at a roadblock with the wind in my forelock and a bullet in my flintlock. You are Watson I am Sherlock.
For you are the hillock and I am the hill; I am Hitchcock, O Buttock. You - are Cecil B. De Mille.
Yes you have thrown a squirrel at me which came through the air like a disjointed hairbrush.
I will clean your nose with a bundle of flaming spikenard.
That a brick might fit in your butt, and an arrow vacation in your eyeball. That I have mentioned y our red butt before - and why should your butt be red, except by inappropriate use.
The fact that the sequins on your dress caused you to look like the instrument panel of an airliner during a three-engine flame-out did not escape anyone's attention;
That your heart is a colostomy bag[2] and your brain is the Peanut of Abomination.[3] And that the cake frosting you just ate is actually earwax.
I saw your mother standing naked next to a bowl of bananas; one of them was missing.
And since suing you would be like suing a squirrel, and since I would rather eat a mixture of powdered mummy and water than talk with you again,[4] I will try to punch your head hard enough[5] so that you will not dare chase me, but not so hard that others will hunt me.
For you have killed my family[6] and I have killed your dog, your bird, and the mouse of your daughter;
Your cousins Rosie, Yolanda, Amelia, Harriet, Johanna, and Carol have all been decapitated.
But we pushed Judy over a cliff.[7]
Just as the fog is shackled to the dirty valley stream and cannot go out loosely to join the loopy clouds who contain hollering eagles and whooshing falcons but must stand low and bound and suffer the scratch of a bush and the round poop of deer and the odd black spoor of the American black bear or the bump of a car on a road or the sick crashes of paintings thrown from a rural porch, so also is your mind bound to the low reach of trash and the wet wan game of worms and the dripping dick of a torpid dog - and unlike the clouds above you you do not feel swell but clammy and pokey and sweaty: a leaf-smell follows you, odd breezes juke your brook-chaff, lambs and rachel-bugs go up and forth in you, and when a car passes through you, windows down, the car-pillows in that car get puffy, absorbing water in the air, and those pillows become bosoms, gaseous moving bosoms, and that is the nearest you come to bosoms.
For these reasons and more, Dolores rightly asked as you walked by, "What is that smell that smells so much it is audible, is it a spoor?" I said it is the smell of a dillywong slammed in a door.
Or the Dingleberry of Reason.
Some have called your mouth Bippy-Swingset, and someone who seemed to resemble your physician called the orifice in question the birth-hole of a Raven, whereas it is common knowledge all Ravens are born in burning forests, for the beast is a charred contraption, being well-cooked and near dead. Some say that Crows are born out of a sail's white leeward wall, others that thun Crow is as an millet-corporal to the Raven's brook-colonel, that a pelican has goiter and that a Crow is in truth the silhouette of a gull knocked loose from that gull, which can happen in the case of an Sudden Explosion, where, in the afterclap and initial desolation, gulls will breach the sky with such celerity their silhouettes break free and fall like dark packs to the ground, which is why the crow is a kind of angry bird, being now without grace and having a charred voice. Some insist the crow is in fact a drunk, though at which saloon he find his beer or how he should pay for it, or whether he have beer, port, or an highball, these "poets" will not aver: either way he follows not the Doctrine of Christ and is a derisive and condemnable bird and ought therefore to be avoided and never frighten a gull. Another annoying beast can be the Squirrel. For he is midget blowhard.
And like a pipe thrown at an eagle I will send you folding to the humpy.
I heard you once enquiring how you were born and I told you then you were created because your mother subjected her privates to the attentions of a bull. Which is why you insist a cow says Ma when it is clearly saying Moo.
For: There was an Bee, who, flinging himself against his shadow in a Brooke, did drown, and so washed of his own Enmity, he did sail like a dark and brittle Bubble, to the general amphitheater of the Sea, where he was drowned a second time. Thus first he was sunk from Life and second from the Known; and now lies twice dead. Like this captious Bee, you will drop from the world and sink to oblivion.

Intermission in Four Acts

The thing in play (Act l)
A world outside this plot prevents our intermission from being
uninvolved—a present, its past in the queue outside the toilet,
in each drink dulling the room. Hence our overwhelming desire
to forgive some, forget others. Even so, we are here and, as yet,
I cannot release us to here, cannot know and still go on as if all
the world were staged. Who believes, "Not a big mess but rather
an unfortunate accident arrived us here." Our plot assumes
presence. It stays awkward, clumping in the mouth: I shall so
want. And this is necessary time. Only now do we respect
(or is it forget) the depths of our mistakes. There often rises
from the fatigue of the surface a great affection for order. Plot,
its grammar, is the linen no one disgorges into. Excuse me.
From that which is systemic we try to detach ourselves; we cling to,
cellophane ourselves into man-made regulations, so neatly
educated, so nearly laid: He maketh me to die down. But some
of us have drowned and coughed ourselves up. The deep
morning lifts its swollen legs high upon the stage. Some wanting
amnesia float personified abstractions. Some wash ashore, but
not into the audience, not able to look on. Help me if who you
are now helps you to know the world differently; if who you are
wants not to live life so.

Still in play (Act II)
On the street where children now reside, the speed limit is 25.
Green owns the season and will be God. A rain, that was, put
a chill in every leaf, every blade of grass. The red brick, the
asphalt, cold, cold. The front step, the doorknob, the banister,
the knife, the fork. A faucet opens and the woman, Liv, arrives
as debris formed in the sea's intestine, floating in to be washed
ashore and perfumed. In time she opens her mouth and out
rushes, "Why is the feeling this? Am I offal? Has an unfortunate
accident arrived me here? Does anyone whisper Stay awhile, or
the blasphemous Resemble me, resemble me"? Those watching
say with their silence, That is Liv, she has styes on her eyes,
or she needs to forget the why of some moment. She doesn't
look right. She is pulling the red plastic handle toward her,
checking around her. She's washing, then watching hands, feet
and shouting Assemble me. Assemble me. She is wearing shoes
and avoiding electrical wires, others, steep drops, forgotten
luggage. Those are her dangers. She cannot regret. A hook out of
its eye, she's the underside of a turtle shell. Riveted, and riven,
the others stare, contemplating the proximity of prison to person
before realizing the quickest route away from is to wave her on.
They are waving her on. Liv is waved on. Everything remains
but the shouting. A cake is cooling on a rack. Someone is
squeezing out excess water. Another is seasoning with salt. The
blacker cat is in heat. A man sucks the mint in his mouth. The
minutes are letting go. A hose is invisible on the darkened lawn.

Musical interlude (act 111)
A certain type of life is plot-driven. A certain slant in life. A man
sucking his mint lozenge. He is waiting for the other foot to
drop: his own, mind you. In a wide second he will be center

His song will be the congregation of hope. He will drain his
voice to let Liv know she cannot move toward birth without
trespassing on here: To succumb to life is to be gummed to
the reverberating scum seemingly arrested.

Erland knows Liv is as if in a sling, broken in the disappeared
essence, the spirit perhaps: catfoot in a moist soil, at the lowest
altitude or simply streamside, though seeming fine.

He knows he too, sometimes, is as if below, pained, non-
circulatory, in an interval, the spirit perhaps in an interval.
But then frictionized, rubbed hard—

sweet-life-everlasting, he is singing softly beneath his meaning
in the sediment of connotation where everyone's nervously
missing, so missed. His melody is vertical, surrendering
suddenly to outcome, affording a heart,

recalling, after all, another sort of knowing because some
remainder, some ladder leftover, is biddy-bop, biddy-bop, and
again. His voice catches. It feels like tenderness beckoning and
it is into her voice, rejoicing.

In mortal theater (Act 1V)
                                           blessedly the absolute miscarries
and in its release this birth pulls me toward that which is without
comparison. in the still water. of green pasture. Lord and Lamb
and Shepherd in all circumstances. daylight in increase. always
the floating clouds. ceaseless the bustling leaves. we exist as if
conceived by our whole lives—the upsurge. its insides. in all
our yesterdays. moreover

asking and borne into residence. the life that fills fills in a world
without synonym. I labor. this is the applause. This—mercy
grown within complexity. and in truth these lies cannot be
separated out: I see as deep as the deep flows. I am as willing
as is recognized.

                                           I am.
                                           am almost to be touching

by Claudia Rankine

The Most Beautiful Word

t h e    m o s t    b e a u t i f u l    w o r d
--- L I N H   D I N H

I think "vesicle" is the most beautiful word in the English language.
He was lying face down, his shirt burnt off, back steaming. I myself
was bleeding. There was a harvest of vesicles on his back. His body
wept. "Yaw" may be the ugliest. Don't say, "The bullet yawed inside
the body." Say, "The bullet danced inside the body." Say, "The bul-
let tumbled forward and upward." Light slanted down. All the lesser
muscles in my face twitched. I flipped my man over gently, like an
impatient lover, careful not to fracture his C-spine. Dominoes
clanked under crusty skin: Clack! Clack! A collapsed face stared up.
There was a pink spray in the air, then a brief rainbow. The mandible
was stitched with blue threads to the soul. I extracted a tooth from
the tongue. He had swallowed the rest.

by Linh Dinh

The Prose Poem

On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk's descent from the lightning-struck tree. You've passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?

by Campbell McGrath

Commencement Address

I have no more to say about throwing up or causing myself to get diarrhea there’s nothing heroic about it though the movies on TV want us to endure quietly and cry appropriately. It’s a wonderful role for any young actress to place herself in some dead household where the dialogue is sexual between all of them including dead grandparents who are still alive in theory and very much inside everyone’s bodies, clucking away like old geezers with huge inflated egos bruised by the failure of their children to spend each moment worshiping their self-created sun. So the girl you see who opens her legs to the idea of fucking everyone who says hello but also wants to feel like a nun with vaginal orgasm rather than the ones his kisses and teeth cause which seem to come to e.g., Saint Therese the Little Flower just from prayer in her cloister for hours which made the girl, the subject of this poem, cry for its truth and its nakedness. Because how could it be good to have that curly-haired boy put his face between your legs nearly every afternoon who will not even say he loves you and this is what your parents don’t like about it: he will not spend his money on you or take you places in his car. But of course we have to learn to live inside fences and to sweep and clean lower our heads until in the end it is this which gives me flutters I do not need his teeth and lips at my sacred entrance I find release in order and demure discipline the needle and thread tongue-tied when you accept that you do not have this choice if you become a slut, after you see the error of your ways, you renounce them, you become someone who will live easily within his four walls where he keeps you like the flame of live inside his body there’s no need to find the way out this is the way it will be and always was: all the mirrors around you say sacrifice order and love.

by Stephanie Brown

Sabado, Marso 17, 2012


Several Frenchmen meet in the city square. Their conversation is lively and wide ranging. At dusk, Diderot, Rousseau and Condorcet go their separate ways. A couple of days later I dropped by The Gauntlet in West Hollywood, where Bob worked. As I looked around, photos of something Bob called a "Prince Albert" caught my attention. He spent a few minutes explaining how it works and how much he had been enjoying his own Prince Albert, etc. He was delighted when I said I planned to give serious consideration to getting one for myself.

by Michael Friedman

Lecture by Michael Friedman

Always Have a Joyful Mind by Nin Andrews

Notes on the Orgasm

The orgasm is your invisible counterpart. She goes out in the world,
wreaking havoc.

The orgasm knows all things are animate. The houses groan with
grief and passion. Sometimes a mirror bursts from a wall and shatters,
no longer content with mere images.

The orgasm tells you to be careful or, in the language of orgasms, to
have fears. Orgasms thrive on danger.

The orgasm says we are all parts of herself. We are but launching pads
for her spiritual development. After she is done with us, she will be
ready for fucking angels.

The orgasm encourages us to let our minds wander. Usually this is
good advice, but sometimes she gets lost in thought.

When the orgasm tells you that you are a mere object of her scientific
research and the only real man on earth, the orgasm is slowly
dissecting your body.

The orgasm will peel you like an orange. You may feel exposed, raw,
even wounded. The orgasm wants you to live life without the rind.

The orgasm thinks people are like dresses. You don’t just buy the first
one off the rack. You try them on for size.

The orgasm tells you many stories. Some she will never finish. She
cannot help herself. She always lies. Such beautiful lies. You want them
all. Why would you need truth when you can have an orgasm?

Every now and then a casualty occurs. An orgasm accidentally injures
or murders a man. She is startled by the moans escaping from his lips
at this moment, so much like those of pleasure. She wonders if human
pain is a kind of celebration.

Sometimes the orgasm falls in love with you. She cannot tear herself
from your pungent flesh. For days you walk around, gasping for air.
You are in a state of constant excitement. One day the orgasm abandons
you. The entire world is reduced to a memory, a mere elegy to an

In a single sitting a hungry orgasm can consume a man, socks and all.
Women take more time.

Many dislike the speed of orgasm, the way she comes and goes and
takes all she can get. The orgasm cannot help herself. She has no

According to the orgasm, there is no difference between real and imaginary
events. Everything is a secret message only she can decipher.

Often the orgasm tells you a story about you. About you and about
the secret powers lying dormant within you. She waits for you on
street corners and follows you down dark alleys, whispering your
name, softly, her hands passing continually over your hair, caressing
your bare shoulders. At night you sleep fitfully and dream of her. You
are unable to tell whether you are a dream of the orgasm, or if the
orgasm is a dream of you.

The orgasm is very happy to be an orgasm. Sometimes she wonders
what it would be like to be a man, sort of like the small boy who fills
a Mason jar with spiders, wondering what it’s like to be a fly.

by Nin Andrews

Of Flesh and Spirit

I was a virgin till I was 23. Then I always had more than one lover at the same time all secret.

In China, people are given the death sentence for watching a porno video while they can get free condoms and pills at any department store provided and mandated by law.

When my mother handed me my first bra which she made for me, I screamed and ran out the door in shame. She cut the bra into pieces because it was too small for her own use.

For 800 years, women’s bound feet were the most beautiful and erotic objects for Chinese men. Tits and buns were nothing compared to a pair of three-inch “golden lotuses.” They must be crazy or their noses must have had problems. My grandma’s feet, wrapped day and night with layers of bandages, smelled like rotten fish.

The asshole in Chinese: the eye of the fart.

A 25-year-old single woman in China worries her parents. A 28-year-old single woman worries her friends and colleagues. A 30-year-old single woman worries her bosses. A 35-year-old single woman is pitied and treated as a sexual pervert.

The most powerful curse: fuck your mother, fuck your grandmother, fuck your great grandmother of eighteen generations.

One day, my father asked my mother if our young rooster was mature enough to jump, meaning to “mate.” I cut in before my mother answered: “Yes, I saw him jump onto the roof of the chicken shed.” I was ten years old.

Women call menstruation “the old ghost,” the science book calls it “the moon period,” and the refined people say “the moonlight is flooding the ditch.”

My first lover vowed to marry me in America after he had my virginity. He had two kids, and an uneducated wife, and dared not ask for a divorce from the police. He took me to see his American Chinese cousin who was staying in the Beijing Hotel and tried to persuade his cousin to sponsor him to come to America. But his cousin sponsored me instead. That’s how I am here and why he went back to his wife and is probably still cursing me.

Chinese peasants call their wives: that one in my house; Chinese intellectuals call their wives and concubines: the doll in a golden house; in the socialist system, husbands and wives call each other “my lover.”

The story my grandma never tired of telling was about a man who was punished for his greed and had to walk around with a penis hanging on his forehead.

We don’t say “fall in love,” but “talk love.”

When I left home, my father told me: never talk love before you are 25 years old. I didn’t listen. Well, my first lover was a married coward. My first marriage lasted a week. My husband slept with me once, and I never saw him again.

by Wang Ping

No Sorry

Do you have any scissors I could borrow? No, I’m sorry I don’t. What about a knife? Do you have any knives? A good paring knife would do or a simple butcher knife or maybe a cleaver? No, sorry all I have is this old bread knife my grandfather used to butter his bread with every morning. Well then, how about a hand drill or a hammer, a bike chain, or some barbed wire? You got any rusty razor-edged barbed wire? You got a chain saw? No sorry I don’t. Well then maybe you have some sticks? I’m sorry, I don’t have any sticks. How about some stones? No I don’t have any sticks or stones. Well how about a stone tied to a stick? You mean a club? Yeah a club. You got a club? No, sorry, I don’t have any clubs. What about some fighting picks, war axes, military forks, or tomahawks? No, sorry, I don’t have any kind of war fork, axe, or tomahawk. What about a morning star? A morning Star? Yeah, you know, those spiked ball and chains they sell for riot control. No, nothing like that. Sorry. Now, I know you said you don’t have a knife except for that dull old thing your grandfather used to butter his bread with every morning and he passed down to you but I thought maybe you just might have an Australian dagger with a quartz blade and a wood handle, or a bone dagger, or a Bowie, you know it doesn’t hurt to ask? O perhaps one of those lethal multipurpose stilettos? No, sorry. Or maybe you have a simple blow pipe? Or a complex airgun? No, I don’t have a simple blow pipe or a complex airgun. Well then maybe you have a jungle carbine, a Colt, a revolver, a Ruger, an axis bolt-action repeating rifle with telescopic sight for sniping, a sawed-off shotgun? Or better yet, a gas-operated self-loading fully automatic assault weapon? No, sorry I don’t. How about a hand grenade? No. How about a tank? No. Shrapnel? No. Napalm? No. Napalm 2? No, sorry I don’t. Let me ask you this. Do you have any inter-Continental ballistic missiles? Or submarine-Launched cruise missiles? Or Multiple independently targeted reentry missiles? Or terminally guided anti-tank shells or projectiles? Let me ask you this. Do you have any fission bombs or hydrogen bombs? Do you have any thermonuclear warheads? Got any electronic measures or electronic counter-measures or electronic counter-counter-measures? Got any biological weapons or germ warfare, preferably in aerosol form? Got any enhanced tactical neutron lasers emitting massive doses of whole-body gamma radiation? Wait a minute. Got any plutonium? Got any chemical agency, nerve agents, blister agents, you know, like mustard gas, any choking agents or incapacitating agents or toxin agents? Well I’m not sure. What do they look like? Liquid vapor powder colorless gas. Invisible. I’m not sure. What do they smell like? They smell like fruit, garlic, fish or soap, new-mown hay, apple blossoms, or like those little green peppers that your grandfather probably would tend to in his garden every morning after he buttered his bread with that old bread knife that he passed down to you.

by Catherine Bowman

Avant-Dernières Pensées

The letters are carefully packed with case histories that go off like timed explosives. I can see you waiting for each one to go off, wondering if the one you designed for me will do the trick. One summer, you say, a Portuguese fisherman received this letter and burned it. He spent the rest of his life trying to read the ashes.

by Dionisio D. Martinez

The Bear-Boy of Lithuania

Girls, take my advice, marry an animal. A wooly one is most consoling. Find a fur man, born midwinter. Reared in the mountains. Fond of boxing. Make sure he has black rubbery lips, and a sticky-sweet mouth. A winter sleeper. Pick one who likes to tussle, who clowns around the kitchen, juggles hot baked potatoes, gnaws playfully on a corner of your apron. Not one mocked by his lumbering instincts, or who’s forever wrestling with himself, tainted with shame, itchy with chagrin, but a good-tempered beast who plunges in greedily, grinning and roaring. His backslapping manner makes him popular with the neighbors, till he digs up and eats their Dutch tulip bulbs. Then you see just how stuffy human beings can be. On Sundays his buddies come over to play watermelon football. When they finally get tired, they collapse on heaps of dried grass and leaves, scratching themselves elaborately, while I hand out big hunks of honeycomb. They’ve no problem swallowing dead bees stuck in the honey.

A bear-boy likes to stretch out on the floor and be roughly brushed with a broom. Never tease him about his small tail, which is much like a chipmunk’s. If you do, he’ll withdraw to the hollow of some tree, as my husband has done whenever offended since he first left the broadleaf woodlands to live in this city, which is so difficult for him. Let him be happy in his own way: filling the bathtub with huckleberries, or packing dark, earthwormy dirt under the sofa. Don’t mention the clawmarks on the refrigerator. (You know he can’t retract them.) Nothing pleases him more than a violent change in climate, especially if it snows while he’s asleep and he wakes to find the landscape blanketed. Then his teeth chatter with delight. He stamps and paws the air for joy. Exuberance is a bear’s inheritance. He likes northern light. Excuse me, please. His bellow summons me.

Let me start again. True, his speech is shaggy music. But by such gruff instruction, I come to know love. It’s difficult to hear the story of his forest years with dry eyes. He always snuffs damply at my hand before kissing it. My fingers tingle at the thought of that sensitive, mobile nose. You’ve no idea how long his tongue is. At night, I get into bed, pyjama pockets full of walnuts. He rides me around the garden in the wheelbarrow now that I’m getting heavy with his cubs. I hope our sons will be much like their father, but not suffer so much discomfort wearing shoes.

by Amy Gerstler

Bitter Angel

You appear in a tinny, nickel-and-dime light. The light of turned milk and gloved insults. It could be a gray light you're bathed in; at any rate, it isn't quite white. It's possible you show up coated in a finite layer of the dust that rubs off moths' wings onto kids' grubby fingers. Or you arrive cloaked in a toothache's smoldering glow. Or you stand wrapped like a maypole in rumpled streamers of light torn from threadbare bed sheets. Your gaze flickers like a silent film. You make me lose track. Which dim, deluded light did I last see you in? The light of extinction, most likely, where there are no more primitive tribesmen that worship clumps of human hair. No more roads that turn into snakes, or ribbons. There's no nightlife or lion's share, none of the black and red roulette wheels of methedrine that would-be seers like me dream of. You alone exist: eyes like locomotives. A terrible succession of images buffets you: human faces pile up in your sight, like heaps of some flunkey's smudged, undone paperwork.

by Amy Gerstler

Dear Boy George

Only three things on earth seem useful or soothing to me.

One: wearing stolen shoes. Two: photos of exquisitely

dressed redheads. Three: your voice on the radio. Those songs

fall smack-dab into my range! Not to embarrass you with my

raw American awe, or let you think I’m the kinda girl who

bends over for any guy who plucks his eyebrows and can make

tight braids – but you’re the plump bisexual cherub of the

eighties: clusters of Rubens’ painted angels, plus a dollop of the

Pillsbury dough boy, all rolled into one! We could go skating,

or just lie around my house eating pineapple. I could pierce

your ears: I know how to freeze the lobes with ice so it doesn’t

hurt. When I misunderstand your lyrics, they get even better.

I thought the line I’M YOUR LOVER, NOT YOUR RIVAL, was I’M


or UNDERCOVER BOUGHT ARRIVAL. Great, huh? See, we’re of like

minds. I almost died when I read in the Times how you saved

that girl from drowning . . . dived down and pulled the blub-

bering sissy up. I’d give anything to be the limp, dripping

form you stumbled from the lake with, wrapped over your pale,

motherly arms, in a grateful faint, as your mascara ran and ran.

by Amy Gerstler

Sleeping with the Dictionary

I beg to dicker with my silver-tongued companion, whose lips are ready to read my shining gloss. A versatile partner, conversant and well-versed in the verbal art, the dictionary is not averse to the solitary habits of the curiously wide-awake reader. In the dark night’s insomnia, the book is a stimulating sedative, awakening my tired imagination to the hypnagogic trance of language. Retiring to the canopy of the bedroom, turning on the bedside light, taking the big dictionary to bed, clutching the unabridged bulk, heavy with the weight of all the meanings between these covers, smoothing the thin sheets, thick with accented syllables—all are exercises in the conscious regimen of dreamers, who toss words on their tongues while turning illuminated pages. To go through all these motions and procedures, groping in the dark for an alluring word, is the poet’s nocturnal mission. Aroused by myriad possibilities, we try out the most perverse positions in the practice of our nightly act, the penetration of the denotative body of the work. Any exit from the logic of language might be an entry in a symptomatic dictionary. The alphabetical order of this ample block of knowledge might render a dense lexicon of lucid hallucinations. Beside the bed, a pad lies open to record the meandering of migratory words. In the rapid eye movement of the poet’s night vision, this dictum can be decoded, like the secret acrostic of a lover’s name.

by Harryette Mullen

The Anthropic Principle

The pope of cosmology addresses a convention. When he talks the whole atmosphere changes. He speaks through a computer. When he asks can you hear me, the whole audience says yes. It's a science locked up in a philosophical debate. There are a few different theories. There could be many different realities. You might say ours exists because we do. You could take a few pounds of matter, heat it to an ungodly temperature, or the universe was a freak accident. There may be a limit to our arrogance, but one day the laws of physics will read like a detailed instruction manual. A plane that took off from its hub in my hometown just crashed in the President's hometown. The news anchor says the pilot is among the dead. I was hoping for news of the President's foreign affair with a diplomat's wife. I felt a mystical connection to the number of confirmed dead whose names were not released. Like the time I was three handshakes from the President. Like when I thought I heard that humanitarians dropped a smart blond on the Chinese embassy. Like when the cable was severed and chairs fell from the sky because the pilot flew with rusty maps. What sane pilot would land in that severe rain with hard hail and gale-force wind. With no signal of distress. With no foghorns to warn the civilians, the pilot lost our moral compass in the bloody quagmire of collateral damage. One theory says it's just a freak accident locked up in a philosophical debate. It's like playing poker and all the cards are wild. Like the arcane analysis of a black box full of insinuations of error.

by Harryette Mullen

Variation on a Theme Park

My Mickey Mouse ears are nothing like sonar. Colorado is far
less rusty than Walt's lyric riddles. If sorrow is wintergreen,
well then Walt's breakdancers are dunderheads. If hoecakes are
Wonder Bras, blond Wonder Bras grow on Walt's horny toad. I
have seen roadkill damaged, riddled and wintergreen, but no
such roadkill see I in Walt's checkbook. And in some purchases
there is more deliberation than in the bargains that my Mickey
Mouse redeems. I love to herd Walt's sheep, yet well I know
that muskrats have a far more platonic sonogram. I grant I
never saw a googolplex groan. My Mickey Mouse, when Walt
waddles, trips on garbanzos. And yet, by halogen-light, I think
my loneliness as reckless as any souvenir bought with free

by Harryette Mullen

An Anointing

Boys have to slash their fingers to become brothers. Girls trade their Kotex, me and Molly do it in the mall's public facility.

Me and Molly never remember each other's birthdays. On purpose. We don't like scores of any kind. We don't wear watches or weigh ourselves.

Me and Molly have tasted beer. We drank our shampoo. We went to the doctor together and lifted our specimen cups in a toast. We didn't drink that stuff. We just gargled.

When Me and Molly get the urge, we are careful to put it back exactly as we found it. It looks untouched.

Between the two of us, Me and Molly have 20/20 vision.

Me and Molly are in eighth grade for good. We like it there. We adore the view. We looked both ways and decided not to cross the street. Others who'd been to the other side didn't return. It was a trap.

Me and Molly don't double date. We don't multiply anything. We don't kow our multiplication tables from a coffee table. We'll never be decent waitresses, indecent ones maybe.

Me and Molly do not believe in going ape or going bananas or going Dutch. We go as who we are. We go as what we are.

Me and Molly have wiped each other's asses with ferns. Made emergency tampons of our fingers. Me and Molly made do with what we have. Me and Molly are in love with wiping the blackboard with each other's hair. The chalk give me and Molly and idea of what old age is like; it is dusty and makes us sneeze. We are allergic to it.

Me and Molly, that's M and M, melt in your mouth.

What are we doing in your mouth? Me and Molly bet you'll never guess. Not in a million years. We plan to be around that long. Together that long. Even if we must freeze the moment and treat the photograph like the real thing.

Me and Molly don't care what people think. We're just glad that they do.

Me and Molly lick the dew off the morning grasses but taste no honey till we lick each other's tounges.

We wear full maternity sails. We boat upon my broken water. The katabatic action begins, Molly down my canal binnacle first, her water breaking in me like an anointing.

by Thylias Moss