2/26/10

Lucas Farrell

BLUE. AS IN, “I’LL KILL YOU” (A PHYSIOGRAPHY)

Today: Sunny. Highs near 20 Degrees. Winds Northwest 5 to 10 mph.
The Weather Channel forecast for Weld, ME, January 23, 2010


1
a bird hiccups in flight

    its outstretched wing
slicing open the sky

bluespattering the depths
    of a moment


2
that’s how blue
the sky was
this morning


3
the sky over the lake
was elegantly
    fractured
like an elegantly
fractured
    ice tray


4
the moment doesn’t pass, it bulges,
then collapses, then is sliced open
by the wing of a bird


5
    spilling out
the guts of the sky


6
like a thousand
    shiny quarters


7
somewhere in the future,
    a frozen lake
        stretches its spine

and *boom*


    flashes
of former devotions
        bloom

like mayflies


8
so let’s make love
go like this
with its hands

so so s
o

as to eclipse
the projectorlight of the moon
which is blue
    which is entirely
    deciduously
blue


9
like a shadow puppet
unclasping bra straps
    (birds blasted
    out of the sky)

into unfamiliar frames
of reference
    upon
    reference




10
blue vomits
itself all over
        itself

after a night spent
under the weather


11
above a frozen lake,
a bird hiccups in flight,
its outstretched wing slicing open
the sky, via jagged compulsions,
absolving the blue
from the blue:

a thousand shiny quarters
        tumble down


12
like birdsong


13
a thousand shiny quarters housed in former-jukeboxes


14
(which, in turn, are housed in the smoky arcades
of our youth)

    perceived through the wild vaginas
of time


15
that’s how blue my sky was
for you


16
blue, as in, I’ll kill you


17
the blue being a phenomenal teller
of fibs

    told the ice-fishermen
the only cure
for the hiccups         if you’re a bird
is to swallow the sun ten times
real fast


18
told them: slide your
quarter into the slot
and hope that it
forces its brethren
off the precipice


19
        jackpot:
even
my blind spots
wore mascara

that’s how blue
how blue


20
I entreat you


21
to describe the meadow
as a “green incarnation of rain” (Ponge)


22
or to connote fog
by saying:

“the tree stepped out from the gray jelly” (Patchen)


23
to say, simply, “I love you
more than anyone could
ever do” (Spicer)


24
I want to undress
the parlance

to unclasp our handle on common grief

until
        fear is laid bare

is finally
        utterable


I want my love
to bear

    to smear you

with the magenta
of newly explicit
endearment


25
to believe:
“The sun comes loose
Like the bright orange thread
I used to bite off a new pair of dungarees” (Stanford)


26
or:
“I watched the clouds
Mosey over
Like blind men
Picking apples” (ibid)


27
the new moon rose vivid
in the wet dream
of my daughter (unborn)

    like the thumbprint
    of a serial
    god (born again)


28
or: the moon held its breath
through the tunnel
        of suspicion
    (filled its cheeks with
    the light at the end of
the image)


29
    the moon’s guilty
    of divining
    the wild vaginas
    of the moment (public)

lovespattering the depths
of a moment (etc)


30
“The moon is a white mouth eating the poor heads of trees” (Patchen)


31
the sun went *pop*
like those little
white packets
full of minerals
that ignite
when you huck em
at the handsomely
fearful


32
    (housed in the smoky arcades of our youth)


33
why do birds,
    when dying,
become something else
entirely

become nearly

        (perfectly)

    suggestive


34
the way this poem
becomes (perfectly)
        moonless


35
as in, come here
o come here

(that’s how blue
how blue     the sky was)


36
to fib:
    I scanned the price of skyguts
of lovesong
of elegiac
    birdsong
with my uniquely
    bar-coded
handle on grief

        on want

so as to make blue
go like this
with its
    mouth
        (for you)
with its
impossibly
    cavernous
god-mouth


37
I don’t know what
there isn’t
to say

    anymore


38
red splash of fish organs
in snow

that’s how blue
the sky was





January 23, 2010 (Weld, ME)

LUCAS FARRELL is the author of two chapbooks: The Blue-Collar Sun (Alice Blue Books, 2009), and Bird Any Damn Kind (Caketrain Press, forthcoming 2010). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Jubilat, Diagram, Cannibal, Forklift, Ohio and elsewhere. He co-edits the poetry journal Slope and lives and works on a goat farm in Vermont.

2/25/10

Amanda C. Davis

Eyes of Ripe Lemon

After the shipwreck, the natives came to us with fruit in their eyes and scarlet skirts that kissed their ankles; they winked papayas and fluttered mangoes and we ate richly of them, to cores and pits and seeds.

We took bliss from each other while exacting mutual revenge. I rubbed my cheek against a kiwi before peeling back the skin with the tips of my incisors, biting free the sweet-tart green, as her arms encircled me and her fingers gripped too tightly. The seeds in her irises caught in my molars. My gums grew soft with her acid tears.

When rescued, we left our feastfellows blind, weeping apple cider and lemonade, pressing their hands to their pocked cheeks. They left us sugar-sick and sticky. The sea tossed our stomachs while we daydreamed of crunching fruitflesh.

We rode high in a ticker-tape parade. Afterward a woman winked at me with confetti flashing beneath her eyelids. She pulled me through rain to a corner of wet brick. I drew the blackberry pupils into my lips and licked the juice bubbling beneath her brows. I cracked my teeth on her ankles, sucking until she was seedless, but I never lost the flavor of scarlet skirts on my tongue.



Amanda C. Davis can be found at http://www.amandacdavis.com/.

2/24/10

Ben Spivey

Epilogue to Ocean
Light shined dull. Once our bodies were fluttering strips in the breeze, fragmented, compiled moments (strained through stacked stone), separated into the ocean's glow, spread through the current, we sank. Light flapped on the surface, it tickled our noses, pulsing. My wife's velvet feet rested in the coiling sand, layered over time. Her stomach flattened, opening over the sea, washed on shore. I heard whispers from my mother. Father inhaled dusty smirks between his charcoal teeth. My hands stretched through the water, but were not long enough to reach beyond the waves into the light. My lungs caved in. I called for my wife from someplace else, my mouth floating near her ear for a moment that passed with the next wave. Stones tumbled into the ocean's dirty windows. My father threw himself into the water. We watched from many angles, and with many bodies we consumed him as he begged.

Ben Spivey is the author of a novel, Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, forthcoming from Blue Square Press. He lives in Atlanta.

2/23/10

Heather Palmer

[Pitta gets a gift]

Shoes he ties bent to her knees, blue laces. Why blue, a brown tongue weaved over, he’s adept with straps, pulls each through the loophole and doubleknots. She thanks with knees buckled to touch at the caps, loses the balance she steadies with her hand to his head.

-Well there. I think they fit.

For a moment he’s not taller. Two faces reflect back what the fire tells but he looks away. Pitta’s used to, lives under heat. A fairy tale her mother told how fire burns in the body. How fire outside the skin runs blood she runs from. Only half of the story turned out.

Cuts of knees from child-play let the blood seep true a past life. No wonder the mother covered Pitta’s skin so quickly. To hide what Pitta’s scabs healed into shadow.

Fire reminds her of tales she lived. A small person in the tale he tells, a small person lives in trees and eats from the ground, never lifts its legs before its wings. Flies where berries fall. All these stories Ronan tells. Pitta soaks-in. Her palms face-out turn red with warmth, joy.

Ronan must turn away, his skin still secret with thin flesh. Pitta knows he’s story’s hidden.

He doesn’t even know that yet.

His face bounces off the light of hers.

-You know those kinds of kids with no siblings?

Pitta sits Indian style on the floor for the story in his mouth.

-You’re not like that.

Stops to brew the tea. Offers a biscuit she would never take, her hand over mouth, judging the sweet too close to confession, speech.

-Golden children are real. All children are. I don’t think that was ever the problem.

Nominology. Is that the word for real? If I scout her face I might name. Like a good bark. Skin lifts for another’s, gives its lines. One finger slides over a freckle, Pitta flinches.

-Gold is made, you know. Has to go through flame. They say that, that’s not me saying that.
She looks to the fire she’s been. Her new shoes she nearly forgot. Stands to feel toes in the space squish, the sound interrupts him.

-Dross burns. Drips off, like fat. That’s how to make a gold.

What’s mother’s songs:
And did they tell you stories ‘bout the saints of old?
Stories about their faith?
They say stories like that make a boy grow bold,
stories like that make a man walk straight
She said to read and read and write. She said prayers that can’t escape turn to song. Remember by their relation to the body. Who was it that walked through fire without getting burned?

-I didn’t make it up.


Heather Palmer received her MFA recently from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and now has time to write, work, and collect microbatch dark chocolate bars. Published or forthcoming work is or will be in Elimae, No Posit, Unlikely Stories, Lark Magazine, Fiction at Work, Storyglossia. Lamination Colony, Omphalos, Willow Swept Review, the2ndhand, The Creative Guild, and dispatch litareview.

2/22/10

Ching-In Chen

Shiny City, Origins

    A city named after carnage though imaginary.
    The flint and glut of your white-ringed yogurt bottles, empty hearts of glass chewed on by low-riding pedestrians.
    Yes, I dreamt of you in my wooden bed, ramshackled to the grilled iron shine of the handles that box you in.
    A city expelling its suitors, a city packed tightly in the suitcase.
    We bring you with us – a layer of exfoliated skin – wherever we go.



Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press). Daughter of Chinese immigrants, Ching-In has worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Boston. Her poems appear in Tea Party, Fifth Wednesday Journal, OCHO, Iron Horse Literary Review, Water~Stone Review and elsewhere. A Kundiman, Lambda and Macondo Fellow, she has been awarded residencies at Soul Mountain Retreat, Paden Institute, and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation. You can find her at http://www.chinginchen.com/.

2/19/10

Kristen Gleason

GREEN MAGAZINE

ROMAN
A Roman man won’t peddle nonsense, nor will he tolerate things trivial. Put to bed your smaller concerns: symbol or object, red or black, fly or drive. Gather indicators of your wholesome nature. Wear these like lighted strings and twirl, do. He enjoys whimsy, though he can’t join in. Remember your parents and your cousin; the Roman man abhors a forked branch. He walks in plain shoes bearing his mark. Should he choose you, the mark will change.

Be prepared to visit fine neighborhoods on the arm of a Roman man. Visit, but do not insist on staying. Don’t insist on a night in “the sweet room near the garden.” During the day, he tends that garden – on his knees. You mustn’t be an old lady making him sleep near his work. Instead, show him a pillow beneath a manzanita. He’ll kneel to dry his knees, and when he does, you can test the red bark with your cheek: smooth.

When parting company with a Roman man, sit quietly by the fountain. If you display reluctance, he will marry a woman from Japan. If, however, you give him a gentle shove, two years later he’ll return on the city bus. The driver will blast the signal. A cloud of flies will zip him up the line and into your bedroom window. Straight through a pane of glass, he’ll tumble, nary a scratch on his fine Roman nose.

A Roman man anticipates the death of his brother. High on a hill is a bench where he prefers to slouch. Bore him with the retelling of your dream, and so divert him from his own. Speak of a stone monument in the desert. Call it the Wind Eye. Ascribe to the whole a most obvious meaning. Lower the grate over death when it comes, so that from the street it appears to be closed.

Dear reader: what advantage do you seek? If you are frequently called talented, surely, you can find your way forward alone. There are others of us, more retiring, who might require the wide thumb of a Roman man. There are others of us who require a deep pressing. You are being selfish. You who could survive a slow poisoning – you are greedily gathering surplus. Look elsewhere.

ETRUSCAN
The Etruscan man sees the world through a narrow shunt. Do not inquire as to its origin; smell the thing. Dress in shades of metal, and flit across his circle. Make him spin. Make him into a periscope. How he loves to search the horizon! Presage touch with the prick of a needle. Not requiring affection, he will not offer it, but there are ways. Become a flag and wave your color. Claim a place on your body, and his hand will come to claim it back.

Bare-chested, the Etruscan man will take you to a film. Keep your reservations to yourself. In the magic of the dark, he’ll become the film star you see on the screen – a French child in glasses. Hand in hand with that child, you’ll exit the theatre. Do not be a mother to him. Give him glimpses of your palm. Misbehave into the back of a police car. There are sounds in leather only men can hear. Shift in your seat to call the Etruscan back. Somewhere the boy will fall sleep again.

Each evening’s end takes the Etruscan man by surprise. Leave him quickly, and his friends will say you’ve escaped. He’ll run a stop sign through a wide oak tree before he sets up camp. In the morning, he’ll take a draught of air and call it poison. You will not have existed. Take it slow, do. Toss just a handful of dirt on the fire. In his locket is an insect made of hair, and there’s space enough for your fingertip there, should you choose to leave it behind.

The Etruscan man has been warned – overly. Nothing will do but four hexagonal chains around his wallet. Drape those chains about your shoulders and say “how light.” Manage two household tasks at once. Build furniture from bone-piles, and beckon gangsters to dinner. Seated so, at the table with danger, the Etruscan man will forget. All he feared stolen he will proffer his guests: his bike, his camera, his rarest map.

Dear reader: find out what measure you are in. Discover the true course of your ambition. Must you sniff around here for inspiration? If you’re picking from the bowl of grapes, you’ve got a partner. However ill, he is better for your future than the Estruscan man. There are too many symbols on your tent, and you have lived through many victories. Now you conquer only abstraction. You take from the slow what they cannot own by knowing. Look elsewhere.


Kristen Gleason lives in Montana. Her work appears in Fan of Michael Jackson, I Miss You, Michael Jackson, Always Remember Michael Jackson, RIP Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson RIP (We Miss You), MICHAEL JACKSON, R.I.P. Michael Jackson, We Love You.

2/18/10

Ray Succre

Parade!

Parade, lively boy, on the binge of orange drinks,
and fish in the liquid a sugar’s shout:

My nervy American empery prolongs
its precious mid-aged babies, yet ignores
all but the gems, whose world
is overtly all the world.

Parade, little man, from your second annual cake,
and jump to unseat your energy:

My parade no longer wears conical hats or noise,
and I must fish my own liquid for a slower solve.

So parade, boy of mine, until I sleep:
This age will chirrup its fare far between us.


Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and son. He has been published in a variety of publications across dozens of countries. His novels Tatterdemalion (2008) and Amphisbaena (2009), both through Cauliay, are widely available in print and a third novel, A Fine Young Day, is forthcoming in Summer 2010.

2/17/10

Cooper Renner

Philoctetes / Sophocles / Melita

Because he was Greek and not barbaros; because he was a soldier writing of soldiers; because he could not reason with the unreasoning night, I pity him, lonely evermore.

*

Hai! let Philoctetes cry in his misery, the hero's knees biting the sand, arms flung outward to the ship, his fellows forsaking him, Hera's accursed. Biting the sand, arms arched upward into the sky, his god forsaking him, Hera's accursed. The sand splashed by his pizzle like a wolf's, and one star only shining down, its light yellow as honey.

*

He goes on three, a wounded cur, lifting the suppurus of the fourth, the bitten heel, to his thigh--or dragging it behind, as though from the dissocketed hip of a hart the wolves have torn.
    Or does he stand on one, ignoring the pulsing fester, the dark dealings of the gods, leading with the staff of the halt and lame though he dreams of the larruping lope of the pack at midnight, of sniffing female rump, of awaking from his caninity to murmur like a man in the pit of the night, reft of all life's gifts, unable to bite down his laugh?

*

Does he remember the boat by which he left Chryse?
    He says it was a dream, that he sailed with the moon, nuzzling her breasts and calling her Mother.
    Does he remember eating the lotos?
    It was ever honey he ate, and the comb dripped inside the ribcage of the wolf.
    Does he remember the bite of the viper, the temple his shot foot rendered unholy?
    It was the wolf who bit me, who healed me with his bite. It was the curled pelf of my shins that made me holy, the curve of her hands around my calves which invited me in. When I bowed to her over the font, it was the lean snout of my brothers I saw gazing back at me; it was then she named me Lykos.

*

Call me Sophocles, who translates the gods to the Athenians. Because I am Greek and not barbaros, because I am a soldier writing of soldiers, because the gods have whispered in my ear an anguish that finds no cure, and Echo babbles pitiless in the capsule of my skull.

*

Let the pads of his paws find their rhythm among the stones of Hagar Qim for he is the sun-barque of his Goddess.
    Let his bristling ears hearken to her footsteps on the pavements of Ggantija for he is the eros of his Goddess.
    Let the sinews of his throat tauten in the passages of Ta' Hagrat for he is the strophe of his Goddess, turning at the summit where the moon burns like the honey she scatters from her palms to the dappled beasts of the field.


Cooper Renner's fiction, most of it concerned with his Maltese lycanthropic cycle, has appeared in New York Tyrant, Keyhole, Anemone Sidecar, Sleeping Fish and other magazines. Mud Luscious Press will publish the illustrated chapbook Dr Polidori's Sketchbook in March. His art has also appeared in such magazines as Lamination Colony and Upstairs at Duroc, as well as in several chapbooks from Bannock Street Press, most recently Meg Pokrass's Lost and Found.

2/16/10

Juliet Cook

TEST KITCHEN

the connective tissue rips, the beaver pigs out, bone
spurs fly, electric beater frisks bloody pulp into pink
chiffon filling some delicate new dessert product

or maybe delicate isn’t quite the right word for this
pulverized pussy footing across a tile floor texturized
like lemon squares drizzled with personal lubricant

which he’s never used for pleasure in his
“real life” but this is the “test kitchen” it makes a sound
like how anal electrocution sometimes leads to mink coat

sure it will start shaky, she’ll wobble a little on her stilt
like high heels at first, but then she’ll start walking, cat
walking away from the crime scene’s furry little carcass

shaved clean, erase all stray marks completely or else
a delay in processing the answer sheet; put your #2
pencil in the hole; it’s not called a cake-hole for nothing

snatch of devil’s food batter, multiple choice attack:
(a) If she didn’t want to take off her dress, why did she do that?
(b) In “real life”, she’s a “real woman” and who wants that?
(c) what might she subject herself to just to be wanted?

(d) all of the above plus stupid bitch fucking sandwich
spread he had always suspected her skin
looked like pimento loaf underneath, he knew

the finger vibe wouldn’t be strong enough for that slut
she’s either a real woman or she’s too pulpy, can’t balance
on that stilt anymore, all of the whore holes are already filled

none of the above was never one of the choices




(note: the italicized line was borrowed from poet Mairéad Byrne, with her permission)


Juliet Cook’s poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Abjective, Action Yes, Diagram, Diode, Oranges & Sardines, Robot Melon and many other online and print sources. She is the editor of Blood Pudding Press and Thirteen Myna Birds. She is author of numerous chapbooks, most recently including PINK LEOTARD & SHOCK COLLAR (Spooky Girlfriend Press), Tongue Like a Stinger (Wheelhouse), and FONDANT PIG ANGST (Slash Pine Press). Her first full-length poetry collection, Horrific Confection, was published by BlazeVOX in 2008. For more information, feel free to visit her website at http://www.julietcook.weebly.com/.

2/15/10

T.A. Noonan

Dorothy Hamill Defends Her Vioxx Statement in Court



1: Claim

I’ve told this story before:
one woman, one paycheck,
just one testimony. That’s the truth.
Doesn’t matter who or what, except

one woman and one paycheck.
Maybe it’s me, maybe not. Really
doesn’t matter who or what—except
making a statement. I support that.

Maybe it’s me, maybe not. Really,
the commercial, sir? Yes. I had to
make my statement: I support that
product. People trust me because I’m

the commercial, sir. Yes, I had to
move as I once did. My legs are
products. People trust me because I’m
famous. It’s good news: now arthritics

move as I once did. My legs are
walking advertisements; bodies, my
fame. Oh, it’s good news. Now arthritics,
they bend, fall like children. They’re

walking advertisements, bodies. My
words are nothing. Forget that
they bend and fall. Like children, their
pain travels from bone to heart.

Words are nothing. No, forget that
testimony. The truth is, just one
pain travels from bone to heart
because I’ve told the story before.


2: Counterclaim

I’ve told that story before:
pain travels from bone to heart
as one. Just testimony? The truth is,
words are nothing. No, forget that

pains travel from bone to heart,
bend, fall like children. There,
words are nothing. Forget that
walking advertisement. Bodies? My,

they bend and fall like children. They’re
famous. It’s good news. Now arthritics
—walking advertisements, bodies—
move as I once did. My legs are

famous. It’s good news: now arthritics
produce. People trust me because I
move as I once did. My legs are
the commercial, sir. Yes, I have to

produce. People trust me because I
make a statement; I support that
commercial, sir. Yes, I have to.
Maybe it’s me, maybe not. Really

making a statement—I support that.
Doesn’t matter who or what. Except
maybe it’s me, maybe not. Really,
I’m one woman. One paycheck

doesn’t matter. Who or what I accept
is just one truth. That’s the testimony
of a woman whose one paycheck
has told this story before.


T.A. Noonan's first collection, The Bone Folders, won the Heartland Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Cracked Slab Books. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, No Tell Motel, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol. II: Mississippi, Phoebe, RHINO, Specs, Harpur Palate, and many others. Currently, she lives, writes, and teaches on Florida’s First Coast.

2/12/10

Eugene Ostashevsky

The Pirate Who Does Not Know The Value Of Pi and His Parrot Meet the Nudnik Who Became a Jihadnik: An Eclogue

One day the Pirate and the Parrot went to see their friend, the Nudnik Who Became a Jihadnik, as he energetically engaged in preparing eggplant salad with his whistling scimitar of damascene steel while crouched outside the cave that constituted his secret location.

“Hola!” hollered the parrot.
“Hola to you too,” replied the Nudnik Who Became a Jihadnik.

My friends, he then added, it is
such a perfect pleasure to see you!
You, parrot, put on fifteen pounds,
you, pirate, look puffy and pale.
How can be so unhale
in this ambiance indo-iranic?
Have some eggplant. It’s rich in vitamins,
it has no chemicals, it’s organic!

The friends tasted the eggplant and pronounced it good.

In all my adventures in nature,
avowed the good-natured pirate,
whenever I took a break from
plundering to set out hiking
or, as more usual, swimming,
or when, with my tread betraying
escalating excitement,
I entered an eating establishment
such as restaurant, cafeteria,
taco stand, noodle shop, kiosk
specializing in local
specialties or that
global gobble, I’ve never
and I mean “never,” never,
no I never, not ever ever,
ever tasted such enticing eggplant!
It is as gentle as babies when they are barely born
and not detrimental like rabies infecting a mammal forlorn,
yes it is tasty and zesty like the leaping of a grasshopper above a freshly-ploughed furrow,
yet it’s not noisy and nasty like the weeping of a teenybopper when she stands on the subway platform thinking about ending it all because something her “friends” did awoke the dracula of her inner sorrow,

no it’s more like that split second when the human pain of that young shopper and, more importantly, her resolution to throw herself under a train after Stephanie and Jennie compared her to a small landlocked sockeye salmon called kokanee, because that sort of insensitivity is common to young people from an outlying borough,

suddenly dissolves to the unheard strain of Little Orphan Annie singing “Tomorrow and tomorrow.”

This eggplant, responded the Nudnik
Who Became a Jihadnik
because his therapist told him
he kept too much on the insidenik,
reminds me of capitalism
and its relationship with imperialism,
for I have poisoned this eggplant,
yes friends I have poisoned this eggplant
but not like poisoned poisoned
so that you fall down and expire,
no, lightly and unmethodically
as if I were adding a seasoning
like cumin or maybe cardamom,
sufficient for diarrhea
lasting perhaps a few hours
or several days, not more.
My aims for this were pedagogical,
my means were both psychological
and gastroenterological,
because memory respects suffering
much more than it does the logical—
were it not so! but it is—
ratiocination. So, please,
avoid capitalism, friends:
that’s all that my dish demands.

PIRATE:
Don’t eat the eggplant, parrot! It’s poisoned!

PARROT:
Allack and welladay! Diarrhea, here I come!


Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza and Iterature, two books of poetry published by Ugly Duckling Presse. This poem, an earlier and different version of which appeared in Zeek, comes from a novel / poem-sequence in progress, called The Pirate Who Does Not Know The Value of Pi.

2/11/10

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Two Questions Between Two Roundtable Discussions

Just now, Desmond Kon (Shangxin-Yuèmu) asked Desmond Kon (Zixu-Wuyǒu) this question: “Do you believe in purple prose or do you just like the cover of Tzvetan Todorov’s Symbolism and Interpretation?” To which I replied matter-of-factly, “Look, over there, purple angularity in that sign, purple haze in your Jimi Hendrix eye, purple in that lenticulus cloud in this evening sky. Look, look, purple like a petunia over my Smoky Martini, its soft four-petal crunch the same way Philip Guston told me wild strawberries go splendidly with pink champagne. Purple in peach schnapps in my Fuck-Me-Sideways recipe, purple in magenta which likely accounts for every other CMYK colour between Gutenberg and Serkland’s Acrobat, hand-built before the velvet stripes over perfect terra sig. Look, purple in your Donegal Tweed, purple in your purple yoga mat beside purple pilates unitard, purple on Lady Gaga and her ‘Speechless’ and ‘So Happy I Could Die’ that you have on repeat, over and over again, till I go purple-and-blue in this pixellating long-ago face. Purple purpling like clarity and pride and a parade all over Van Gogh’s oils, his lavender orchard softly trundling, undulation upon undulation, its purple aslant, looking out into Arles.”

~

I woke up today to abstinence, refraining from crack-of-dawn sex, because libido is ab-fantastic for tapping the Orphic muse. I’ll be sleeping in my own Murphy bed tonight, alone, what with this inner city retreat expecting lights-out at nine. Not a pickle situation, given that 70% of art historiographers in this Abstract Expressionist painting live in public housing, albeit in living spaces ranging from a Glory-box studio to a double-storeyed apartment. Think of them as high-rise villages, tiered but loosely bound, and perfect for what I’m calling “Sandwich Wallism: The Poetics of Confined Spaces”. It’s myo-nouveau theory, percolating like my partner’s prose after reading After Poststructuralism: Reading, Stories and Theory, thank every dreamy notion for Colin Davis, his staggering, dripping intellect like Wittgenstein writing into his notebook, “It all depends on settling what distinguishes the proposition from the mere picture”. Who said “let Jeremy Bentham floss in private behind black-out curtains in his Pleasantville model home of Truman-Show proportions?" Who will walk in with Wallace Stevens and together intone: “Say that it is a crude effect, black reds, / Pink yellows, orange whites, too much as they are / To be anything else in the sunlight of the room.”




Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has edited more than 10 books and co-produced 3 audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. His work in lifestyle and developmental journalism took him to Australia, Cambodia, France, Hong Kong and Spain, and saw him writing numerous stories, including features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman. Trained in book publishing at Stanford, with a theology masters in world religions from Harvard and fine arts masters in creative writing from Notre Dame, Desmond is a recipient of the Singapore Internationale Grant, awarded to launch the anthology For the Love of God at the First Prague International Poetry Festival. His poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, Blackbird, Confrontation, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, New Orleans Review, Sonora Review, Seneca Review, and Versal. Also working in clay, Desmond sculpts commemorative ceramic pieces for his Potter Poetics Collection. These works are housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

2/10/10

Sarah Sarai

Buñuel's Magic Arrow

Place thumb and forefinger on a baby's ankle. So pudgy!
Obtuse Rex-es and the gods plague my self-esteem.
Hard to keep them separate: gods; Rex-es; me.
Penelope was tricky herself. Laura primped for
genteel callers while a thousand putti wept.
Job loved too much, perhaps, and was bewared of gifts.
Philoctetes needs a good talking to.
I'll escort him to a showing of Simon of the Desert.
Simon stood on a pillar in a bright Bibley landscape.
Philoctetes is a study in shadow puppetry.
A lot of people are forsaken then learn a craft.
The Greeks don't have “that goddam Bide-a-Wee Home
heart of [Franny's]” do they.
Life would be gentler if gentlemen wore make-up.
For the discothèque, St. Simon Stylites and Philoctetes
might rub a Hercules beetle exoskeleton before
its blue is black. Is everything subject to change?



Sarah Sarai's poetry collection, The Future Is Happy, was published by BlazeVOX in 2009. New work is forthcoming in Boston Review, Parthenon West Review, FRiGG and others. She blogs at my3000lovingarms.blogspot.com and lives at home, which is currently New York City.

2/9/10

M.T. Fallon

Menchov Gets the Key to the City

Menchov, I said to Menchov, are you ready for the ball, I said. No, Menchov said, I am not going to the ball, he said. Balls to the ball, he said, untying his tie. Menchov, I said, the mayor is giving you the key to the city, I said. Yes, Menchov said, the so-called key to the city, he said, taking off his tuxedo coat. The mayor is giving me the so-called key to the city, but I do not want the key to this city, said Menchov, removing his suspenders. You don’t want to meet the mayor and get the key to the city, I said to Menchov, shaking my head. This so-called city is in fact a shitty city, Menchov said, unbuttoning his shirt, this so-called city is in fact a shitbox, he said. I do not want the key to a shitbox, Menchov said, pointing at me. What about the mayor, I said, the mayor is expecting you, I said. The mayor, Menchov said, laughing aloud, the mayor is the shithead of the shitbox, he said. And what about the city palace, I said, the city palace is a pretty palace, I said. The city palace is a pretty shitty palace, Menchov said, throwing off his cummerbund, a pretty shitty palace in a pretty shitty city, he said, unbuckling his belt. If you had a shitbox, Menchov said, pointing at me, if you had a shitty little shitbox, would you want a key for it, said Menchov, taking off his pants. No, I said, I would not want a key to a shitbox, because I would not want to open it. Precisely, Menchov said, taking off his socks, now you know why I do not want the key to the city, he said, pecking his finger on my chest. Now you know, said Menchov, removing his underpants. But you already live in the city, I said to Menchov, you are already inside the shitbox, I said. You are always already inside the shitbox, I said. Ah, Menchov said, rubbing his chin in his hand, you are right, he said, pointing his finger at me. I am always already inside the shitbox, he said, scratching himself. Do you think, Menchov said, rubbing his chin, do you think this key could get me out, he said, scratching his behind, do you think this key could get me out of the shitbox, Menchov said. It is possible, I said, everything is possible phonologically, I said. Come, Menchov said, let’s get ready for the ball, he said, gathering his clothes. We don’t want to be late for the ball, he said.


M. T. Fallon lives in Colorado. Excerpts from Introduction to the Work of Ivan Menchov by Igor Lenchov, from which this piece is taken, have also appeared in Cafe Irreal, Sleeping Fish, and New York Tyrant.

2/8/10

CA Conrad

ANOINT THYSELF
for John Coletti & Jess Mynes

Visit the home of a deceased poet you admire and bring some natural thing back with you. I went to Emily Dickinson's house the day after a reading event with my friend Susie Timmons. I scraped dirt from the foot of huge trees in the backyard into a little pot. We then drove into the woods where we found miniature pears, apples and cherries to eat. I meditated in the arms of an oak tree with the pot of Emily's dirt, waking to the flutter of a red cardinal on a branch a foot or so from my face, staring, showing me his little tongue. When I returned to Philadelphia I didn't shower for three days, then rubbed Emily's dirt all over my body, kneaded her rich Massachusetts soil deeply into my flesh, then put on my clothes and went out into the world. Every once in awhile I stuck my nose inside the neck of my shirt to inhale her delicious, sweet earth covering me. I felt revirginized through the ceremony of my senses, I could feel her power tell me these are the ways to walk and speak and shift each glance into total concentration for maximum usage of our little allotment of time on a planet. LOSE AND WASTE NO MORE TIME POET! Lose and waste no more time she said to me as I took note after note on the world around me for the poem.





EMILY DICKINSON CAME TO EARTH AND THEN SHE LEFT

your sweaty party dress and my sweaty party dress lasted a few minutes until the tomato was gone some day they will disambiguate you but not while I'm around our species won Emily we won it feels so good to be winning the flame of victory pass it around it never goes out dinosaurs ruled Massachusetts dinosaurs fucking and laying eggs in Amherst Boston Mount Holyoke then you appeared high priestess pulling it out of the goddamned garden with both hands you Emily remembered the first time comprehending a struck match can spread a flame it feels good to win this fair and square protest my assessment all you want but not needing to dream is like not needing to see the world awaken to itself indestructible epiphanies consume the path and just because you're having fun doesn't mean you're not going to die recrimination is the fruit to defy with unexpected appetite I will be your outsider if that's how you need me electric company's stupid threatening letters cannot affect a poet who has faced death




CAConrad is the recipient of The Gil Ott Book Award for The Book of Frank (Chax Press, 2009). He is also the author of Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009), (Soma)tic Midge (Faux Press, 2008), Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006), and a collaboration with poet Frank Sherlock titled The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010). The son of white trash asphyxiation, his childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. Visit him online at http://caconrad.blogspot.com/ and his friends at http://phillysound.blogspot.com/.

2/5/10

Crispin Best

The Beggarwoman of Locarno
by Heinrich von Kleist
trans. Crispin Best


Click image to read Crispin Best's translation of "The Beggarwoman of Locarno" by Heinrich von Kleist.


Crispin Best needs your help here. His pipes are frozen. He has no running water.

2/4/10

Chloe Jarren

Two About Three

Three people awoke. A maid would make them bathe, and a fifth slept in the pantry.

They were all entirely incompatible.

They never washed their bed nor allowed anyone else to do so.

Even so it was all completely disagreeable, but in the dining room that morning they were polite.

For breakfast Judy served them pancakes. Judy had been long in the kitchen and then went around the table with a large plate of the pancakes and placed three of them on each of the plates. A second help was also in the room and also had a plate. The second help was a small woman named Mary and a warm plate of butter was on hers, which she put in the center of the table, then quickly took a seat at the fourth place of the table where there was not a plate.

After a few hours of this breakfast, Mary was left alone at the table with the leftovers.

***

Three women are sitting at a tea party.

The one with spooky hair gets up and touches something on the wall. What it is is Gertrude's invention, a bicycle-like, metallic device. It is easy to see that Gertrude was not serious at all with her thoughts, thought Esther, as she returned to the laughing table, and dealt a hand.

At once she took a very small sip of the bitter tea and looked towards the couch where the dog was picking at a paw. A little farther behind was a small person who was hiding in the darkened corner and was scribbling away at a notebook.

Another woman who was unaccounted for telephoned. In the conversation with Alice, she explained her situation very badly. Anyway, she was also really bad at favors and didn't have a costume. And in fact, she never had a costume, although sometimes her favors were very generous, for example, the double cake.

And the hours passed and the light dwelt more in the corner, which revealed that the boy was wearing lavender, a yellowish lavender cape with satin frills, and his eyes seemed even brighter somehow now that he was standing over them.

What Gertrude said to him then I am almost completely in agreement with, but in response he took a little oar out from behind his back and smashed it upon the table.



Chloe Jarren is a North Pacific American.

2/3/10

Caren Beilin

The Argyle Eagle

There is an argyle eagle in the shed, but now it’s hopped out of it and sits on the small roof. It is the kind of shed that appears like a small house, a young house if houses grew. Gray and blue diamonds fall into neat interlocking rows on the argyle eagle’s wings and there is an isolated diamond on its head, but it is not footwear. Not even close!

We go up to it because a) we’re bored and b) it’s rare and fantastic, the kind of thing you’d want to touch if only on the top of its clutching claw, if you stand on your toes next to our shed.

“Hi there,” we say, sounding neighborly. It creeps its eyes into the sun. Its irises are not in the shape of diamonds. This, if anything, is where the pattern breaks, two glowering circles.

Eagles have been known to fell great-sized trees, redwoods, so there is a part of us that wants to shoo it off the shed, as much as we really want to make it stay. There is a trapping part of us, a packing part, a part of us that yearns to put it in a box.

“You there,” we say, which is not very neighborly sounding, much more accusatory, like policemen finding lingering or black kids.

We don’t know where it came from, or how it’ll go back. It doesn’t look at us at all. It doesn’t do anything. It is statuesque except that its wings go calmly up and down, as though this needs to happen. The wing-underneaths have no diamonds. They are shockingly red. We jump back.

“I’ve never jumped back because of a color before,” I tell you. And you look at me very warmly, with that look that says we’ve built this life together but here you are, surprising me with a new aspect, an intellectualism. And I want to fuck you, after a month of not wanting to fuck you. I want to fuck you in the shed with the argyle eagle on top of it.

I think that’s why couples like us, out here, here-ing it, get small-house sheds. We want a little fuck room. We want to go into our small house and do everything very differently, the shrunken, emboldened versions of our large selves.

We go inside of it, through the door that looks like a house door, and this makes the argyle eagle look briefly down at us. I just wish it would go away now, go back to Rara Avis Island, or whatever. I wish it would lift off and never come back. The whole time we’re in the shed, that I’m fucking you differently than I do in the big house—I put my scrotum on your open eye and command you to blink rapidly, something I’ve always wanted to ask, “Look at me five hundred times, you cunt,”—I can’t help but be concerned we’re going to collapse.


Caren Beilin's fiction has appeared or will in McSweeney's, The Lifted Brow, Torpedo, LIT, and in the illustrated book We Are The Friction. She lives in Montana.

2/2/10

Sandra Doller

Severed Line.

Demi

chorus lending/arch/road’s long

say so


wall sounds blows cool


+ i cannot work where i shouldn’t be


alley candle clings

miles

ninety + miss a little/the frost


miss the margins the season rakes


as war width hollers close/how corporal

the stinger


matures the oh



narrative bruise repeats people

don’t buff with stone/people


slumber coral

in the gym/a tergum same time

this leather’s a riot


Sam Cooke cul-de-sac


there will be in the stirring of the vocal vain

open to stone’s throw’s throw

to throw oneself


into the valley cool candle to

sever one’s parts/there is a home there.



Sandra Doller’s first book was Oriflamme—a word featured in the 2009 National Spelling Bee—and her second collection, Chora, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press in March 2010; she recently finished a new manuscript, called Man Years. Doller is the founder & editrice of the curiously named 1913 a journal of forms/1913 Press and Assistant Professor at California State University. She lives way out west with her man and their dogs.

2/1/10

Arlene Ang

So Mother Likes to Tell It

She was young. Hairspray kept everything in its rightful place or at least slowed the process of destruction. The first symptom was a baby. Her cousin, Claus needed to be changed. Previously, she was taught how to wrap the fish in newspapers. The tapeworm came out unannounced—the length of which would have buried a whole Hitchcock film. Her mother conserved energy by passing out on the floor. What else was there to do? She grabbed one end and pulled out the worm. She learned things that day. One, everything is detachable—except perhaps for this desire to belong to some body. Second, we are full of unexpected guests. If you listen carefully, you can hear that cap twist just before your father starts drinking from the bottle.


Arlene Ang is the author of four poetry collections, the most recent being a collaborative work with Valerie Fox, Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press, 2008). She lives in Spinea, Italy where she serves as staff editor for The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. More of her work may be viewed at http://www.leafscape.org/.