Douglas Rogerson & Cea

 

One True One of Anything (Green)
Peeled paint fragments on 4′ x 8′ plywood, installed on Dekalb Ave construction site, Brooklyn NY, August 2023.
Douglas Rogerson

 

 
For you—

I’m at Julius’s again just thinking out quiet here for a minute not really trying to do a poem after all. I am thinking how to write to you, how to tell about yr work in a way that matters, which is really to say how to tell you about us, me and you, our whole history and why should that love letter matter to anyone outside of it. Other writers I love seem to do it so easy. Other people I mean who are people but also who write about not just things I love but in a way that makes me feel like maybe I could love them too—the people and the subjects both I mean. So what if we are each other’s subjects. Gwendolyn Brooks she already said it best when she said: “we are each other’s / harvest: / we are each other’s / business: / we are each other’s / magnitude and bond.”1 There oughta be a closer word than business though I think, something less transactional. What I mean is, whoever else is reading this, I don’t maybe know you, not yet, and here I have an opportunity to invite you into such a love. Asking you kiss the next can you kick down the street.

This place used to be a place.

 
 
1 From Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “Paul Robeson,” first published in 1970. That’s 22 years before I was born. Easily 50 years before I ever really knew what she meant. Before I really felt it for myself.


 
 

 
 
 

One True One of Anything (Green), detail.
 
 

Every day the concrete blooms. The ruins in progress blossom, flower, shed their rubble in the morning. Scaffolding sprouts along the walk stealing the sun from the trees. Blue tarp billows out the flameblasted windows and birds are chirping somewhere near but there’s not a taste of green in sight. These are transitory lands, wandering lands. Graffiti tags like area codes tattooed across town, constantly re-zoning the neighborhood. For years the laundromat on the corner said simply “STEVE” in big green letters. Then one day that awful off-white come to cover it up. Now it says “TE AMO JUAN” in pink, big heart around it all. I love you Juan. I miss you Steve. More men I’ll never get to know.

It’s too many men I only know like this—by the suggestions their names leave behind. Each boarded up school or half-begun residential casts its shadow of Times Square, of the Chelsea Piers, the People’s Beach, the Old City, of the screens in my hand and the capital letters in my veins. The letters weather me away. Each morning I swallow the men come to patch my repairs—they come in hardhats, heavy boots, bright electric vests, their skin is dark and gentle. They caulk the leaky corners, re-bolster the baseboards. They are doing the best that they can. It’s always something new in this old house. They come and they go and they will be back again tomorrow and the next day until I can no longer afford the repairs. Maybe then I’ll go back down to my materials, make shelter for others to come in from the cold. Until then, I walk me out into the rain and snow, let the old wheel inside the wheel keep its pace.2 Do you still let the land take you like this too. If I was where I would be, when I get there will you show me what you see. All those photos from yr roll on my wall, in their frames. There’s nobody in the shot but all I can see is us.


 
 
2 Lyrics from the final track on Gillian Welch’s 2001 record, Time (the Revelator), “I Dream A Highway.” Spent half my life with you on dark highways, overgrown backroads, at the feet of steep cul-de-sac driveways. Neither of us have cars anymore. Let this letter be a highway back to you.


 
 
 

 

 

Images from Dekalb Ave construction site, Brooklyn NY, August 2022.
 
 

There was a place not so far away from here that could have been a place. Big empty lot between two houses, not even a patch of grass just wet dirt and metal pieces strewn through. People could be doing a life there. Making a casserole. Watching TV. Camping in the field out back with the spiders and the moon. Fucking each other gentle and kind in the privacy of their own consent. Now the place is stuck in possibility. Sticky with potential. And I am furious about all the joy that should be happening here instead. The only green here coating the wooden slabs to keep the future out. Wood struck down and splintered, pulverized, re-made in its own image. Sometimes the paint peels back and I think: Good. I see you. Staples where the POST NO BILLS flyers would be. Splinters on the walk. I’d bring them all back home if I could. But a home it comes with you follows you Home.

On the way to yr place one day, another tattoo tag this time: REAL LOVE IS QUEER RAGE. One foot across the sea you are building yr own green, and I am on yr floor again where I’ve always felt the safest. I was probably playing the music, blues on the ceiling as usual.3

–Where are you gonna put it.

–Just down the street, you know the place.

–Do you need help.

–I think I need to do it myself.

 
 
3 First time I heard a Karen Dalton rendition of “Blues on the Ceiling” was on her 1969 debut studio recording, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best. “I’ll never get out of these blues alive,” she sang. AIDS took her in March of ‘93, just a few months before you were born. I’d barely been around for a year before she left. You take my blue, I’ll keep yr green. Without you I wouldn’t be.



 
 

REAL LOVE IS Queer RAGE, graffiti tag, Dekalb Ave construction site, Brooklyn NY, August 2022. Artist/author unknown (speculatively a contributor to the ACT UP group Queer Nation).

 

Now I see green different. And those deli bags, the ones with the purple roses I used to save for you. The sunbleached blue of a plastic mesh fence. Taped up mattresses on the walk. All the scattered, discarded, precious debris. I can hardly bear it. Our version of carving initials into the tree, you and me. And you too, whoever you are, whoever put those words there. I wonder did you leave this here for me to find. Well I’ve found it. And so I leave this here for you. Are you even reading this. I wrote it all for you, after all. And we have to find each other too just like this. How we’ve always found each other, in the shadows of our capital letters.


 
 

 

One True One of Anything (Green)
Peeled paint fragments on 4′ x 8′ plywood, installed on Dekalb Ave construction site, Brooklyn NY, August 2023.
Douglas Rogerson

 
 
 
 

**

DOUGLAS ROGERSON grew up in Knoxville, TN and studied a combination of physics, philosophy, and art at Washington University in St. Louis. He subsequently received a fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany under the disciplines of Visual Art and Humanities before joining Brooklyn’s fabrication industry for several years. His work has been installed in domestic and streetside settings, published in Schlosspost’s Gemini — The Journal, The Solitude Blog, and Issue 03 of Passing Notes, as well as exhibited at Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center and Weatherproof’s “The Hole” (forthcoming, Dec 2023). He is currently pursuing his MFA at Glasgow School of Art.

CEA / (CONSTANTINE JONES) is an interdisciplinary Greek-American thingmaker raised in Tennessee & housed in Brooklyn. They are the director of the Visual AIDS Oral History Project, THE BODY AS AN ARCHIVE, as well as a member of the collective, What Would An HIV Doula Do?. They are the author of the novel, IN STILL ROOMS (Operating System, 2020) & a collaborative chapbook with Portuguese visual artist Vicente Sampaio, BALEEN: A POEM IN TWELVE DAYS (Ursus Americanus, 2022). Their work has been performed or exhibited across NYC & Tennessee.

Joe Milutis


More Elephant Jokes
 

An elephant walks into a bar

don’t let it bother you

 

An elephant walks into a bar

runs around the bar, grabs the peanuts,
rinse and repeat.

 

An elephant walks into a bar

with his dog.

He shouts to the bartender, ‘Hey barkeep, want to hear the elephant joke?’ The bartender says s s you right after I serve this guy here.’ It is now my turn,’ said Bill.

The elephant says, ‘Why did the worm crawl across the road?’ The bartender then replies, they can’t or you’ll never see your dog again my friend’.

 

An elephant walks into a bar

The elephant and the barman look at each other

and the elephant says: “Give me a beer”

So the bartender gives him a beer.

The elephant belches and then laughs at his own joke.

So, The Laughing Elephant goes back to his son and tells him …

“You know son, all your life, I’ve used my strength and power as The Biggest land animal on Earth to avoid work of any kind. That was up until tonight…” ,

 

An elephant walks into a bar

and starts smashing all the furniture. The bartender says, “What’s the matter?” The elephant replies, “I’m blind. I want to be depressed.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

and orders a drink. The bartender says, “What’ll it be?” and the elephant says, “I’ll have a beer, a scotch and a tequila.” The bartender pours the drinks and says, “That’ll be $14.50.” The elephant hands him a $20 bill and says, “Keep the change.” The bartender says, “Where are you from?” and the elephant says, “Africa.” The bartender says, “How’d you get here?” and the elephant says, “I flew.” The bartender says, “You flew?” and the elephant says, “Sure. I sat on the wing and let myself be blown out of my cage.” The bartender says, “You’re an amazing animal.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

and the bartender says, “Hey, we don’t serve elephants.” So the elephant leaves. The next day the elephant is back and the bartender says, “Sorry pal, we don’t serve elephants.” The elephant leaves. The next day the elephant reappears and the bartender says, “We don’t serve elephants.” The elephant calmly reaches into his pocket and pulls out a picture of the bartender’s daughter. The bartender says, “You showed me the wrong picture yesterday.” The elephant replies, “I have two daughters.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

, orders a drink, and then pulls out a gun and shoots the bartender dead.

Elephant: “Sorry, I haven’t shot anybody for two days.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

The bartender says, “Hey, where’s your piano?”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

Barkeep says, “What?”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

Barkeep says, “Then why did you say, ‘Hey, where’s your piano?”‘

Elephant says, “It’s under the piano.”

Barkeep says, “You’re one sick elephant.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

The bartender says, “You’re not fooling me.”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

The bartender says, “You’re not convincing me.”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

The bartender says, “I don’t believe it.”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

The bartender says, “You’re out of your mind.”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

The bartender says, “You’re nuts.”

Elephant says, “On my piano!”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

, orders a beer, and starts playing the piano.

A few minutes later a giraffe walks in, orders a beer, and starts playing the drums.

The bartender can’t believe it. “What’s going on here?” he says. “We have two of the most talented animals in the world in the same place, but they’re ignoring each other.”

The giraffe replies, “Well, I’m good, but the elephant is perfect.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

and says, “Can I have a beer?” The bartender, shocked, says, “Why yes, I suppose you can. The elephant replies, “Good, because I’m a frickin’ parrot.”

 

A parrot walks into a bar

and says, “I’ll have a martini.” The bartender says, “You’ll have to wait ten minutes to order.” The parrot says, “Ten minutes? I’ve got to wait ten minutes to order a martini,” and flies away.

A parrot walks into a bar and asks, “Have you seen my brother?” The bartender says, “No, but I think I heard him saying something about a bar.”

A parrot walks into a bar, sits down, and says, “Gimme a beer.” The bartender says, “We don’t serve beer to parrots.” The parrot says, “Why the fuck not?” The bartender says, “Because you look like a parrot.” The parrot says, “And you look like a fucking bartender.”

A parrot walks into a bar and says “Do you have any peanuts?” The bartender says, “No.” The parrot says, “Do you have any crackers?” The bartender says, “No.” The parrot says, “Do you have any money?” The bartender says, “Yes.” The parrot says, “Good, give me a beer.”

A parrot walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a beer, and a mop.” The bartender says, “You’ve got to be kidding. You can’t have a beer, and a mop.” The parrot says, “I’m not kidding. I really want a beer and a mop.” The bartender says, “Well, I’ll have to mop the floor before I can give you a beer.” The parrot says, “I’ll have a beer, and a mop.”

 

An elephant walks into a bar

and says, “Can I have a beer?”

The bartender says, “No, you’re an elephant .”

The elephant says, “I’m so thirsty.”

The bartender says, “You’re an elephant, eat some grass.”

The elephant says, “How about a cigarette?”

The bartender says, “No, you’re an elephant.”

The elephant says, “I’m so stressed out.”

The bartender says, “You’re an elephant, go home and take a shower.”

The elephant says, “Can I at least stand on the bar?”

The bartender says, “No, you’re an elephant.”

The elephant says, “I’m going crazy, I’m going nuts. I feel like a tiny mouse.”

The bartender says, “You’re an elephant.”

The elephant says, “I’m leaving.”

The bartender says, “You’re right. I’ll call you a taxi.”

This is a true and funny story, and I can’t help but wonder how many times the elephant was told “you’re an elephant” before he finally left.

Elephants are magnificent creatures

 
 
 
**
 
 
 

The Writer for the Stranger

He wore his own design. He told me about how many crystals he went through before he found one that was just the right hue. One time, I saw him on a train. He had his chain draped around his neck like a cape. He seemed to be taking mental notes on other riders. I asked him what he was going to write about me in his column, and he said he wasn’t sure. “I just want to put you in my album,” he said.

He told me that he admired “Bling Bling” because it was honest. He told me that I was “perfect.” At one point, I told him that I had written about him for the Stranger. He said that it wasn’t “too bad.” I asked him what my review was like, and he said, “Fine, actually.” Then he laughed.

The next time I saw him, it was at the same comic-book store. He came down the stairs with an expression of genuine surprise on his face. “You’re still here,” he said. I said I was working, but that I would be free after four. “Wow,” he said. “We’ll get together soon.”

“It’s not a date,” I said.

“I know. I know,” he said. “But we should make it one. Let’s have a movie. What’s your favorite movie?”

“That’s a great idea.”

“Me too.” He paused. “But a pizza first.”

I looked around. I saw a pizza place, and I said I was going to get one. We walked outside.

“Tell me one thing about yourself,” he said.

“What?”

“When was the last time you had sex?”

“Um … I don’t know.” I thought about it. “When I was in ninth grade,” I said. “At a sleepover.”

“You’re kidding,” he said.

“No, I’m not.”

“Was it with a boy or a girl?”

“A girl. Or a boy. Both.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. I had oral sex.”

“Wow.”

“I’m not kidding.”

“Really?” He paused. “When was the last time you had it?”

“Oh, when my boyfriend and I broke up. In April.”

“That’s terrible.”

“I know.”

“My condolences.”

“Thank you.”

He nodded his head. “I’m going to write about you.”

That wasn’t true, but I decided to make the whole thing up.

“When did you start dating Brian?” I said. “I’ve known Brian for a really long time. Since ninth grade.”

He did. “I’m going to write about you,” he said.

I told him that I was going to get some water and that I’d be right back. I got some water and then came back.

“What are you doing?” he said.

“I thought I’d wait outside.”

“No,” he said. “Come inside.”

I went inside. I sat down on the couch. He came over to me and sat down.

“Well, we can’t do the movie,” he said. “We need to make up a date for you to be my girlfriend.”

“What? You mean the one where we just make it up?”

“Yes, the one where we make it up. Are you ready?”

I put my hand on his leg.

“My girlfriend. You’re my girlfriend.”

“But I told you that we couldn’t make it up.”

“That’s my problem, not yours. You said we should make it up. And I’m going to. So, no. No boyfriend.”

I left.

I walked out of the store and down the street. It was 10 p.m. I walked and walked until my legs felt like they had been sliced with a knife. I got on a bus and went home. I opened my phone and there were pictures of him. He was sitting on a bench with his head on his hand, a dog lying beside him.

“If I don’t see you again,” he said to me, “I’m going to blame you.”

I never saw him again. I don’t know if he used the words girlfriend or girlfriend-boyfriend or boyfriend-girlfriend to anyone else. But that’s what I was to him. I was a girlfriend, and it had been a long time.

 
 
 
**
 
 
 

What He Really Wanted

What he really wanted, really and desperately, were the Things of life. The camera obscura of DeQuincey, out of which dreams were projected, did not interest him. But Things! Things of people, of places, of objects, of old and new bodies and spirits that were not human, of great things that lived before human beings were—oh, of those smelly crudities that he loathed to encounter in the street.

“What do I want!” he said, triumphantly. “I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I will not ruin or change or coerce or go against nature, which is good!”

In this, one could say, he was wanting want. The self sufficed. But there was something more to it. He wanted things, because they were what he needed, what was necessary. They were the raw material of his imagination. What he wanted were, in a sense, images that he had seen. Images of people and things, that had been cast in the moving image factory of his mind.

“I have even been dreaming of things I have never seen,” DeQuincey once said, “of things I have never heard of, or seen, or smelt, or tasted, or touched, or heard.”

What he had not seen and heard and smelled and tasted were things that could not be seen and heard and tasted and touched—things which were not the true Things of this world, not the Things of this moment, things which had some rough black fabric or thin and fragile pearl, some slight organic curve and knuckle, some curling fin or bony ridged pectoral, or even the iridescent glass color of an egg.

He did not know the color of love. He knew that he could not make himself love without the Things he needed, without the distillations and alien materials that could do this. He had been trying them all out on people and things, since he was small enough to taste and touch.

What he could not make were things like love, or the least strange or delicate wisps of human memory, like women’s hair or something that might be a fragment of human speech. He knew that he could not make a dead body talk to him. He could not make a limb grow. He could not make a heart beat.

In a book he had read long ago, of a Russian traveler’s journey to Constantinople, the author had described Constantinople as “a great brain,” a thought balloon into which all the strange and sad and absurd things of the world, a great whole, “had been forced,” and there still remained “a tight, aching sack full of memories of all the ways in which the infinite has ever been.”

It would seem a contradiction, in not needing things, to need them all the more, in not needing dreams, to create one’s own. But this had always been his experience: no matter how distant the object or feeling, his mind was the magnet and the barometer that guided him to it.

All of this he saw and felt. He saw through the bright, clear lens of the device into the box of colors that was his head and then he would fall into another fugue of passion. This momentary condition could easily turn itself into an obsession, as happened with DeQuincey. The Madness would lie in wait for him, or there was a meeting of desires that had to be addressed immediately, before he forgot all about it.

Sometimes, when his control was beginning to falter, his senses beginning to loosen their hold, his memory begin to wander, his sense of proportion begin to flag, it would just come, out of the blue, that feeling of being absolutely alive. That breathless, blood-rush sensation of being alive. He did not feel sick or tired. He felt as if he had been running along, up in the mountains, and had paused to rest. Then, as suddenly as that feeling had come on him, it was gone, gone like someone having read a great battle off a map, or seeing a movie about that battle. Then he would feel sad. And like something had been lost, something stolen from him.

“What was that I saw? What was that I felt? Who am I?” he would ask himself, that long, long time after. And what came back was not the image of any particular thing. It was the shabby, coarse smell of something, a smell that he could not really place. It might have been a cigarette butt. It might have been blood on the sidewalk. It might have been unripe plum in a child’s hand.

He would ask himself those questions, again and again, until he knew that he must not trust his thoughts. They were going in circles, like the ships of Descartes’ mind, full of about as much truth as a Dicken’s war novel, full of little, easily predictable rips and splits in the layers of awareness. He tried to focus. He tried to concentrate on his physical senses. He tried to locate his voice within his own brain. But nothing seemed to come. He made himself laugh. He made himself walk down the street, singing to himself. Nothing came of it. He tried to ignore it, and pretended he was not there, even though it felt more and more as if he had become something more than a human.

At times, he would awaken, several days or weeks later, in a cold sweat, totally confused, shivering with terror. But he was not trying to escape from reality. In fact, he now felt that he was in danger of losing himself.

He did not want to love, or be loved, or dream of women. He did not want to make someone who would always remind him of his mind.

He did not want to make this thing that ran inside his body.

He was not a physical being.

All the same,

he did not want to die. For many of his patients, that was the way out, the way back. He was no exception. He did not want to lose his experience of life. “What would be the point of living if I could not experience it, live it, enjoy it?” he asked himself. “What if all I had left to keep me in this world was this alien horror that robbed me of my ability to laugh?”

But while these inquiries ran through his mind, a physical illness crept into his system, a sickness of the heart, of the soul. He became inexplicably depressed.

“Why can’t I be myself?” he asked himself. “Is this what it means to live—to be someone else?”

And then he began to dream. Dreams that were of no particular significance, no particular place, and so in many ways perfect, with no particular significance, of that type that we never know what they mean, and yet we dream of them anyway, as if in some way they are our deepest thoughts,
our deepest feelings.

Just before he woke up, he could feel a strange sensation at his feet. The feeling was pain.

“What is this?” he asked himself, in a perfectly calm, perfectly normal voice.

But the voice that came back to him was not his own. It was a voice that did not belong to anyone living or dead.

“Yes,” it said.

“Is that really what it is?” he asked, and the voice repeated, “Yes.”

He woke up to a dull headache, the kind you get on Sundays, after you spend too much time with your family on Saturday.

And that, of course, was when he finally began to see his drawings, and listen to his own voice.

 
 
 



Author’s Note: These texts were generated from a pre-ChatGPT AI text generator in 2021.

 
 

**

JOE MILUTIS is a writer and artist who teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington-Bothell. He is the author of various books, parabooks and expanded essays, including most recently a translation and commentary of Roland Barthes’ largely forgotten, posthumous art book all except you (punctum, 2023).

Gabriel Coffman




**

GABRIEL COFFMAN is a PhD Candidate in the University at Buffalo and has been a reader/screener for Fiction Collective 2, Subito Press, and Timber Journal. His work can be found in: Softblow, Yalobusha, Psychopomp, Gone Lawn, Red Ogre, Dream Pop, and elsewhere.

Ben Roylance

from The Horoi Control System

1. At the Plot

A private woodland clearing,
two figures, a
Surveyor and his Client,
some stones and statues,
trees around, dirt and foliage,
just past noon.

Surveyor: professional with tools of trade, dagger, and wounded left eye

Client: a man worried over new laws affecting his property, one robotic hand

Surveyor (ceremonially):

Day’s work like this, I love to
See it right, as light cliffs off
The midday sun above the high
Level, fair to bring it to a level rest,
Tape pulled as taught as firstest vine,
Real left eye wanders cross the right’s line,
Hey, it looks to easy meet the straight
And oldest track to this rightmost virt-
Ue stars elapse thru in siring time’s material,
The work of he who ‘spects the land is
Best performed in talismanic hurt, so say:
I enact again the introduct of Pain’s Pain—

Client:

Again? Hard knife feasting in? In-
To gel of sinister eye? The plain violation
Of the holy orb, why? How? To charge a
Slash across someday’s pipe? Or now?

Surveyor:

Clearer sight thru punctured ‘ball,
Knife charmed, yclept Pain’s Pain,
Charms the survey, cuts open in-
Ner compass rose, draped on pain,
Like a jacket closet-kept ‘til winter
Makes in dream an appearance, in dre-
Am knowing where it hides, behind
A door hid itself inside a mirror,
This blade injects the primal minist-
Rations for the psyche’s closed peeper,
Second ghostly left eye just an atom’s
Breadth ahead of first, untouched
By all the physics of decay or growth,
Our study but a con without pro-
Visions for the waking up that Survey’s
Eye.

Client:

A knife cuts open 2nd sight, like lance
In royal tales of disc tableau,
Grail or saucer to allay the sick?
The day eclipses all but other side
Of such a sword, your night, ‘pon
Which’s coming comes the law
Of bounds, of total stony rule.

Surveyor (friendlily):

The why of getting’s start, to be-
At a nightfall’s new nature: Control
System superposing rock on life,
Roused past dusk the mind com-
Posed of them inscribed and standing,
To say tis better groping to a sense
While day’s on guard than risk, yes,
The coming of the final structure: Horoi.

Client (suddenly grim):

HCS, sociomagicolithical
Reappraisal of the humble bound-
Ary stone, does on this final day
At end begin. Horoi Control System!
100 lunar years’ plans come to night,
And my plot still not in order…

Surveyor:

We’ll with steel tape’s shimmer
Set it right, these dozen and five
Squat standing text-tat’d liths en-
Act their will at dusk’s calculated
Coming, suggesting our seven hours
For filing with the lithauthority a chart—

Client (interrupting):

That new landlord dios which evicts all ten-
Ants at work-colony on his gridded lands,
Not a personage or inarticulable spir-
It, but a System of reactivated so-called
Stones, variously hermae, posts, mono-
Liths, blocks, mortgage stones, fence
Stones, oldenough trees carved, folkrocks,
Termini, absences, stones, quartzes, stony
Gargoylic assemblages, stacks of stones,
Flat iron plate embedded in, a mask,
All coalescing into-as Horoi Control System,
An intelligent noös around the deepthr-
Oaten wild well of wild life on former Earth,
Now soon not so named.

Surveyor:

All aware, as all are warned,
In preparation for new land-
Marking, new make of mornings’ mort-
Gage at institution/activation of the horoi
Various, we’ll seek escape from lot
But find stone bars across all egress,
All having been scolded into sub-tracts,
As here we chat in final hours of agency
Measuring with these tools ancient
A stubborn square whose incalc-
Ubility seeps pressure into your life,
Client.

Client:

Panics approach, as tricks turn
Parcels to crimes, jests of earth,
Some deep-set unearth in earth
There in northeast corner of my
Square, hire uncertified surveyor,
You, whose works I’ve seen in clips,
For sorting this out off the books quick,
And we sharing a sympathy divine
Do to inner faculties plain resort, no
Common perfidy leaks out from ei-
Ther altered state we people: your eye,
My hand, both left both modified
By spirit and by highest artifice…

Surveyor:

As the plural in the System name Horoi imp-
Lies law’s centerless mesh we two as poles, hor-
Os and horos, our own mobile bounds,
Herma to herma, flank a center in dia-
Logue, that core a congregation, the mom-
Ent of the fathering of the next, I keep
It understood, it all kept level, my transit nimble
Like of tomorrow’s ocule all-seeing we whis-
Per good, I say, as true dimensions unspool
Like silk and rough cord through theodolite’s
Cold gaze, an eye for an eye all-seeming,
Which at dark’s threshold begins to look!,
My left eye, skewered such by knife Pain’s P-
Ain, and opening its ghost-eye so to see
All much further clearer your plot’s pecu-
Liar problem, a solitary swollen clod
Up yonder where we’ll hurry now.

Client:

Consult the plat man, notice lack
Of notice given on anomaly, no
Break in evenly uneven land where
Now a bulging pit doth breathe
With wind or thunder, what hints
At subtle buried voice, I love it not!,
Not on my land, that is, let’s uproot
Mandrake or gnome intact therein
So as to get it far from what for which
I’ll be responsible in just some hours’
Time upon the coming of the HCS!

Surveyor:

Calm, client, we’ll dig
And chart again around
This excess or deficiency,
Not too broad a scar up-
On the tract to warrant pan-
Ic, though woods ecology
As here we find can make
A survey less than straight,
And though this odd tossed
Mound might make a fuss
Of our wish for gridding,
The watcher stones yet
Slumber, we’ll sort all out
While deep the so-called
Horoi sleep, defending none.

Client:

Here, we come to it:
Down with your theo-
Dolite, delight to as
You promised dig!
Here, my false hand,
False in that tis more than
Real, robotic hand which
Cuts with claw and cup,
A memory of other life
Might overcome the light
That sets the present up,
Ancient horos birthing up
Nymphe temple boundary
One of thousands same,
But under that, just to
The side, what’s there?

Surveyor (digging, effortful):

The horos in tradition does
Delimit Athenian space, like
Post or rock or fence, like
Here it marks what once where
Else was temple ground, now
Space is bit confused, con-
Fining all in cursing town-
Ships, here is where ano-
Maly perverts the plot, I
Feel bad time wafting up, ap-
Otropaia hum down there…

Client:

Halt there, it’s there,
That which warps this wood,
Uproot that shape, what?

Surveyor (unearthing the object):

Oh? A head… cut clean from her trunk,
All dead, but hush… No, you hear
It speak? You see lips stretch and tongue
Leak lather’d intellect? No?

Client:

No.

Surveyor:

Yes, tale slips in through Pain’s
Pain’s slit, aural-ocular input
In bits antique, I’ll interpret:
“Bells, bell rings, conden-
Satiated hallucinated chimes bell, I
Stuck stray between two instances,
Oh my anticipation of second peal
Which comes but never comes,
Here stood, here stood, my prop-
Itiations, nymphe, masseuse of
Earth, bells, kept in shape, kept her
In shape, mark my space, we
Kept the earth in right form,
Remasturbated and aligned all the
Trees, perpetual fertility pill-
Ars, what work this was, and
Here my only skull interred, how
Sad for me, as all the buried shuf-
Fled are, fly from rightful crypt
To any suburbia, what blo-
Omed from your iteration of
The same thing we worshipped,
Social?, so finally social, had to bat-
Ten it down, was said, nine fingers
On to eight, to seven, left the boun-
Dary stones and not much else o-
Ver aft’r, this head won’t rot, but ch-
Ange, lopped off of me, angel- nymph,
Sexless and so encompassing all
Sex, young as having not
Been born except as eternity
Births presents in a tracking flow,
Ancient and so maiden-crone,
The sanctity of brothel-math era-
Sing songs of sorrow, songs of joy,
Ghosts do so sing, hush and enter ecto-
Parlor boys, here, enter…” ack,
She’s left, the head is mute…

Client (with concern):

Around thine dagger’d eye,
Blood where once was cleanest
Entry, does Pain’s Pain cause same,
Pain? I thought as you spake out
I heard a tonal shiver, so feminine,
But pitched high and higher, cut
Out, then blood bled out, dizzy?
Come, we’ll set down here at
Fallen pine, we’ve worked the
Problem into sense, let rest
That grisly head— oh, it?

Surveyor:

Tricky! It’s nymph no longer, but
A species of silver skull? What’s this all?
As bald and mineral as trench it
Exited, silent ore, ah, it’s out now
At last and least, I’ll steady again
And work my tools to straighten
This tract con horas to spare ‘fore
Horoi crack their flinty ojos at us…
Here, hold this, the land now will chart.

Client (dazed, skull in hand):

Do you hear it not? Unna-
Tural voice rings in my hand,
Echoes up the arm to ear,
It sparks, it speaks, pron-
Ouncements of a great mac-
Hine, what clipped the fruit
From future’s final first tree: help!
It speaks through me to me and
You, survey-lancer: “Oh TDH 51-17
Mechanical hand attached to hum-
An arm! How sunny a channel
You open for me, the coming man,
First dead, concomitantly buri-
Ed with a nymph, now share
A skull, can catch confusion’s dou-
Bling shimmer down in here in 2-
As-1, but TDH 51-17, and who-
Mever man you serve, hello,
Long ahead when I can see you
Again, crushing the cosmic egg
Between bludgeon-fingers miles
Thick, I see you now at horos-edge,
Seder-sorting out the well-hole we
Slack’d in, grave of was and will,
Pair of discorps in dissonance, what
Makes for harmony anyway, what
Comes to be, Design!, design,
As microboundaries mutate
The scope and angle of man, just h-
Ours now, all property, all seen,
Mechanical hand, usurp your
Canvas, theodolite and tape,
Witch’d knife, overthrow your
Man, comes soon the strict net! – “

Surveyor (snatching the skull):

I hate its music! Mete your mea-
Surer, head, and back in a ditch with
You! My dagger-sheathing eye sees
A planted oracle when it sees, a trick
Of pending HCS, we’ll waste not an-
Other minute—”

Client:

Hold off, there’s nothing
Left, the cranium is vapor,
Is this serious? Or a hoax?
Landmeater, what in your
Art might wipe this foggy
Mirr’r clean? Nymphe, to
Metal-electrical skull, how
Cougheth up a plot this object
So indeterminate? Absent here.

Surveyor:

Absent now. I’ll…
I’ll adjust the plat, gem it
Well for high geolicarchon, slick it
With the thickest gel of craft, we’ll…
We’ve got the property enume-
Rated, no computer’d think
Once or twice of its veracities,
No horos or herma’d que-
Stion the placement of a single
Stem, post, stalk, or fertility
Glyph on your land. Fill
The hole and I’ll seal the map.

Client (aside, filling excavation pit):

All land is scene. Long bones
Cross the fields and wait for Horoi
Night when bounds comb a-
Cross what wields a standing man,
A horos is a nickéd tree just o-
Ver property line, a heap, a
Mound, classically an inscri-
Ption-bearing hunk of ston, yes,
But HCS generalizes, spans all
Borders, wars, and private places
Now, control encompassing, no
Private spaces when the nodes
Of antique boundary grow eyes
For careful integration of duration
And extent, all rather roughly done,
Sudden etched into the social man-
Dala, data and force, and care and
Justice, not blind but all seeing as
Chiseled into rock unblinking,
Amoral Hermae and Termini den-
Oting lines unseen now invisibly
Imagino-electrified for souls’ con-
Course, and I here in my hum-
Blest family tract of woods procr-
Astinated on by a mystery’s head,
I flex my artifice, crack its joints…

Surveyor:

Behind you, friend, behind,
I’ll not start you out of self-
Conferring, but note: I’ve
Living yet codified your plot,
And in time for a brief lunch,
Pain’s Pain at last unsheathed
From eye, survey now conc-
Luded, that nymph-cum-skull
A vapor now, may be had been
But telluric prank in total –

Client (interrupting):

No geo-jester’s puckish

Play was that oddity, sur-
Veyor, a veil of tempo-space
For we each was torn aside,
Whatever contact came
Came in same reality as HCS
And our business here, I
In my submental mech-
Hand unmind feel a lonely shift,
A melty mirror over day,
A slate marked up with all
To emanate from yet,
Ah, geodet, can’t chart this?
Can’t survey my thought?

Surveyor:

I have fastened a bolt.
And see: humble effigy I’ve
Shaped from oak with Pain’s Pain’s
Sharper edge, now set above the
Pit whence that shifty visage
Spewed, subsumed soon,
I know, into the net of nod-
Ules, but this homunc will
Disobey, follow old cadastral
Code, a kind of old magician’s
Law, not a double but a single
Agent, apotropaic gnome, a trick
Of my own against the ‘merging
Control System on your behalf…

Client:

And why? to tempt the forces?
Knower of the bounds is bound
To test them? Fine, we’ll soon
Final parcel off this land for do-
Nation and a tax-incentive under
‘Morrow’s governor, a cursed
Tablet-figure left as spoof is but
A drop of water in not-water’s sea.

Surveyor:

You heard and spoke
An android skull’s forecast, I
The forlorn and olden wis-
Dom of a sacred nymph,
Both out of time and place,
Both speaking of the boiling pot-
Ency of a horos stone. Nerv-
Ous laughs echo round the
Global village as approaches
Limit of a former way, a route
Surveyed and deflected through cent-
Ral-dispersed pseudintelligence,
Who knew it who waited for …
Hey, here, a brutalized dummy
To deceive and keep away archon,
My hobby a superstitious techne,
But come, let’s retire, land in or-
Der, counterprank pulled, angels app-
Eased, I’ll hope, and see you grin,
Neck grows stiff from labor now,
I’ll accept my pay’s latter installm-
Ent over finest coffee, ….
We went (?).

Client (slowly):

We did go, left my land,
But some now of us stayed.

Surveyor (surprised, slowly):

It’s the time all at once.
Mind, my doll has snapped
Apart, sky grown hideous
With this unfriendly advent,
Into which pit did our hours
Siphon? Unearthed again?
A feigning human head!

Client (plainly):

Wake. You’re seeing the thing
From thy puppet’s working,
Exfoliates the earth’s spirits, let’s go,
It’s really not yet time, but a trick
You’ve pulled on you with wild
Magic, here, this way to patch’s exit.

Surveyor:

A hijacked trance.
HCS reroutes counter-
Surveillance. Bad om-
En moment.

Client (leading Surveyor uphill through woods path):

Though through illusions’ shrill protest,
The job scratched out is done. The land
Is known as known we’ll get it. He-
Re, the sun lower now, from this vant-
Age, up a modest hill away, my plot
Looks just about as how you’ve mapt,
Bounds crisp, ready for Horoi System’s
Strictest eyes. No memory kept need be
Of that vision shared…Exit with me.

Surveyor arrives with Client at the latter’s home
a short distance from the surveyed land.
Approaching dusk.
Client offers coffee
and steers conversation toward a lecture.

End: 1. At the Plot

 
 
 
**

BEN ROYLANCE operates Apport Used Books. He is the author of A Talking Skull (the holon project, 2022, audio edition from Peace Isn’t Luck, 2021) and AQ Saga: Neuro-Piratical Self Help in Pocket Universe 17! (forthcoming from Hiding Press).

Kristen Gallagher & Tara Nelson


 
 
 
 
 
 

In early 2020, Kristen Gallagher and Tara Nelson began a collaboration working with the large, underexplored collection of lantern slides at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, where Nelson is an archive curator. Periodically, Nelson chooses a group of 3-5 slides and shares images of them with Gallagher, who chooses from among the selection, writes a brief response (under 500 words), and records herself reading it. Nelson then makes a short film featuring the slide and Gallagher’s soundtrack. The idea is to keep things moving, process-oriented, anarchic, quick and dirty, against perfectionism. The plan is to continue the series until every slide in the collection has been included—a goal neither artist will live long enough to accomplish. This project was awarded a 2021 NYSCA Artist’s Grant. Videos from the collaboration can also be found at Air/Light and Dīstantia.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

**

KRISTEN GALLAGHER is a writer interested in form, ecology, and the weird. Her books include 85% True/minor ecologies (Skeleton Man 2017), Grand Central (Troll Thread 2016) and We Are Here (Truck Books 2011). Recent work appears in Peach Mag, The Baffler, and Air/Light. A 2021 collaboration with David Diaz (Human Scale), “hs341: 85% True/minor ecologies,” an infinitely generative audio piece using recorded sounds of Florida, is available through the Human Scale app. Her hybrid work “Six Years in Florida” was a finalist for the 2020 Essay Press Creative Nonfiction contest. Selections from 85% True appeared in the Best American Experimental Writing edited by Myung Mi Kim.

TARA MERENDA NELSON is a filmmaker, curator, programmer and lecturer working with film and digital media. Her films, videos and installations have been shown at MoMA, Flaherty NYC, Views from the Avant Garde (NYFF), the Dallas Medianale, VideoEx Film Festival (Switzerland), Anthology Film Archives, MONO NO AWARE, the Warhol Museum, and many galleries and festivals throughout the US, Canada and Europe. She is the Curator and Director of Public Programs at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, and Assistant Editor of the Film Art Book imprint of VSW Press.

Steve Orth


Favorite Gray T-Shirt

  
I'm in my living room, eating some sardines, increasing my omegas.

Got a little bit of oil from the sardine can on my khakis,

and that’s a bummer.

I'm not sure if that'll come out in the wash.

Sometimes stuff like that comes out in the wash and other times it doesn't.

It can ruin your clothes if it doesn't.

It got close to happening once with my favorite gray t-shirt.

A few months ago, I was frying some food, doing some cooking

and I was wearing my favorite gray t-shirt.

It was a perfect storm of me being too laissez-faire with my favorite shirt.

I should've worn an apron or changed into a different shirt,

a shirt I didn’t give a shit about.

Hey, remember when we were kids and we were painting

and they advised you to bring in one of your dad's old shirts,

like a button shirt that you wear backwards.

I could've done that, even though my dad and I are the same size now.

The point I'm trying to make is that I should have done something.

That's what I'm trying to say.

Because, sure as the wind blows, some grease splattered

on to my shirt, as soon as I added these beautiful lean boneless

skinless chicken thighs to the hot pan.

I remember yelling in a rage that I got grease on my favorite gray shirt.

My then-girlfriend Bernice came running out from the bedroom.

I told her what happened, and she told me to take the shirt off

and so I did. And she started putting a bunch of salt on the shirt

and I'm thinking, "why the fuck is she seasoning my shirt?"

But I'm in the middle of cooking these lean boneless

skinless chicken thighs, and I've got to focus.

And hot grease is still splashing out, hitting my stomach,

my bare chest, and my nipples.

I scream out each time the grease splashes me.

I look over at Bernice, wondering why she's not reacting

to my screams of pain, and it's because she's too focused

on my gray t-shirt which, at this point, seemed fruitless.

She should probably just throw it in the garbage,

because it's probably ruined, but Bernice was now dabbing it with club soda.

And I say to her, "what the fuck are you doing?"

And she's like, "what?" and I’m like, "don't use the club soda!"

and she's says, "I'm trying to save your favorite gray t-shirt."

and I in response say very powerfully, "But, I was going to make mojitos!

I need the club soda for mojitos!" And then fucking Bernice,

you know what she said?

She said, "I thought you promised you were going to quit drinking!"

And I was taken aback. Because I didn't think she was serious about that.

So I said, "I am going to quit drinking.

I was planning to cook us a beautiful meal and have mojitos

as a kind of send-off to drinking. Like one final night of celebration.

That's why I was wearing my favorite shirt, because it was a special occasion."

Bernice stopped scrubbing my shirt and looked really serious.

She said, "I can't believe after everything I said to you last night,

after you came home at 4am with dried blood on your face…"

But as she was talking, I realized that the chicken was burning

and I had to turn away from her, so I could focus on the chicken,

because I was trying to salvage our special dinner.

Bernice yelled at me, "You need to listen to me!"

And I was like, "Babe, hold on. The chicken is burning."

And so, I flipped the birds in the pan, and yeah, they were dark,

but I had managed to save them from burning.

I moved them around in the pan a bit and added some pepper

and that's when I heard the door open and shut.

And I guess that was Bernice's way of breaking up with me.

So mature! The stain did come out of the shirt, thank god.

But now I'm in a very similar situation in the present day

with the sardine oil and my khaki pants.

And I'm all out of club soda because last night I made mojitos again.

So, I don't know. I might be shit out of luck with these khakis,

which sucks. They were my favorite pair of pants.

 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 

Me and My Horse

  
Dear Abby,

I feel like my horse is upset with me.

Yesterday, he refused all hay.

And today he won't even look at me.

I'm afraid to ride to be honest.

Our trust seems splintered.

He's never been violent,

but he's never treated me this way before.

I don't know what I did wrong.

I wish he would learn to speak and tell

me if I did something to offend him.

My gut thinks it has something to do 

when recently we were out on a ride

and a swarm of bees circled my head.

I lost my composure and kicked and pulled 

at the same time. And my horse hated that.

Abby, if you were to Google the phrase,

"what not to do when riding a horse,"

kicking and pulling at the same time

is number 3 on the list.

Number 6 is "showing off"

and I never shown off.

I am actually a pretty bashful rider

because I frequently masturbate while riding my horse.

This is just something I like to do.

It all started, a few months ago,

when I was still reeling from a breakup

and feeling awfully lonesome.

And with the rhythm of the gallop between my legs,

I thought "hey, this feels pretty darn good."

But the best time, the greatest time happened just

the other day when we rode out to Hickshaw Ridge

and I saw the most beautiful sunset I've ever laid eyes on.

The clouds were pink and blackberry and the whole sky

was purple and teal.

It was like I felt the power of the universe

for the first time. A swell of nature's majesty

and that's hot as hell!

So, I started going at it & it felt really great.

It got so intense as I was nearing climax,

I was hootin' and hollarin', fully giving myself over to the sunset,

and that's when my horse started neighing, and rearing, 

standing up on its hind legs. This element 

of danger really pushed my orgasm into the stratosphere.

And I was able to fully let go

of any inhibitions, and the fears of dread that have plagued me

through my recent years.

My eyes stayed transfixed towards the hot pink phenomenon

And that disappearing sun was a portal to not just sex ecstasy, 

but, dare I say, the divine. A real thrill ride!

I headed home as the dusk filled the sky,

taking long drags from my Marlboro Red.

And that's when we ran into all those damn bees!

 

I would love to get my horse feeling good

again, so I can return to the ridge

and get off on that exquisite reminder of grace

and fragility the universe surrounds us with.

Do you know much about horses?

And if so, what should I do?

  
Sincerely,
Guy With A Horse

 
 

**


STEVE ORTH is a poet based out of Oakland, CA. His books include Lust for Life (Travelin’ Lite, 2018), The Life & Times of Steve Orth (Dogpark Collective, 2020), and most recently Inflatable Ball (Bottlecap Press, 2023). His work has appeared in Hot Pink Magazine, SFMOMA blog, Afternoon Visitor, the Bullshit Lit Anthology, and Trilobite.

Zoe Darsee & Elise Houcek




**

ZOE DARESEE is a poet, translator, publisher and teacher based in Berlin. Together with Nat Marcus, they are the co-founder of TABLOID press, a publishing initiative grounded in the poetics of the local. They are the author of BELL LOGIC (Spiral Editions, 2022) and Anzündkind (Creative Writing Department, 2023). A short story, Efflorescence in Stucco (2023), is recently out from Earthbound Press. Their translations of poet Mara Genschel are forthcoming.

ELISE HOUCEK is a writer, artist, and teacher. She is the author of TRACTATUS (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021) and The Leafs (Creative Writing Department, 2022). Recent writing has appeared in Keith LLC, APARTMENT Poetry, NOMATERIALISM, and DIAGRAM.

hannah rubin

I will tend to you like the snapped threads of a broken fan.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In a movie script we are sweating in a small motel room, there is a pink handkerchief wrapped around my forehead. It is impossible to tell one water for another.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dreams where you are naked and running through grocery stores. Dreams where you hold out your hand and it is glimmering with algae, trash. Dreams where the aloneness of being alone turns better men ravaged, and I become the forgotten steak too mangled for feasting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I grasp with fingers more akin to claws as I am told in every sequence just let go. How to snap without losing balance. The long threaded footfall of where, headed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I can’t help but turn a question in subtle rounds. What comes first the murder or the murderer? What I am asking is simple — when is the thing that happens? And how do we become it?

In the religion of my childhood, the content of your mind is irrelevant to outcome. This was seen as forgiving: Judgement only in perceivable movement. Reality only what has existed already. You can have dirty thoughts, with a tight smile, and still be innocent in the courtroom of your god.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Such solid lines make me think wound. A tear that is Cartesian in its inaccessibility, its push to grip a mouth around the absolute.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

And what about all of the things I didn’t say? Where do they reside in the landscape of this absence. The ground underfoot, a map, twisting into red line of could have as far out as the horizon.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In imagined planes I dance while sweat accumulates on every crest, though without dehydration. A green water relieves me. There is no place like this — and so, every spring the salmon are shot through small cannons in order for them to make it upstream, past the dried parts. The Colorado River runs often as a nest of alluvium deposits and tightly wound hosing. Where it splashes there are cameras ready to deliver. Deep rock sits, waiting. Waiting for the big leak.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It seems I’m always finding cups to pour myself into. Always finding words that sound like you. Always finding elegies for whispered thoughts, for decay. For the slow stolidness of an imagined face.

Skin as it builds. Amassing in soft waves— violent in insistence to dapple back with eyes. The edge of your teeth is hard against my sternum.

Please, I whisper, do not go away.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
**

hannah rubin is a writer, poet, artist, and educator based in LA. Their writing about queer ecologies and trans aesthetics has appeared in Canthius Journal, Rivulet, Berkeley Poetry Review, smoke + mold, and Ghost City Review, as well as other publications and anthologies. They co-host a monthly radio show called mellow drama, and teach sticky poetry in living rooms, backyards, and galleries around LA.

CJ Martin


Complete Poem
or the Arthur Russell Sonnet
or The Death of Poetry Reading Series

 
Maybe don’t *start* w/ how memory fucks us up,
all the lang, some good little days
all papered down, half capable of love, comfort,
one time it was just reassuring ppl from
the double number I did on taste, a body musical I’d disrupt,
& if the fashionable lie of a hotel shone then, as if
to say memories of a drive
& prolly parking, then the big dish-washing locomotive cry
& heavy silence I go to (as go-to)
was a real ex-life thing,
& I was like will
& cried of looking, & C. was a dog-mother
& that was life, horrible but alright
, the Jacks just like cartoons, the grass
so still, the country “ours” again, the Sierras “ours,”
our basement hearts so small, touchy,
all windswept off snow & snowbeam,
& from fatigue, things washed down sick,
& breakfast was a lot of cantaloupe,
dinner all Iroquois,
our notebook trash in brass &
pocket-wrtg on asshole Ed,
in the living delay of grass & afterwards poems
like a grass that needs mown,
backdrop to just basically abuse,
the switch our grammar-measure (a bar the poet walks into),
poems worn like a spacesuit, really, a public’s forum
on being moved by the moving image,
& by July, just nuns & flood-the-gas,
trash outtakes
now caked like likeness lost asleep,
like a lost junkie or gigolo,
there was this party when they asked the face
(past dust), the flighty/excited dress
like hips in ballrooms in the dream,
down dusty stairs w/pleasant little reaching hands,
strolling space & wearing fashion,
& we were just about to kick the bucket,
buy the farm or cash in our chips
—there was a sequence of unavoidable calamities—
or else it was a grand vocab,
words for a house as in the Blackmur narrative,
as bit & brass & sat beside her w/mail
to the heart of middle-fashion,
each noise a little noisier than the last,
so this was just like the movies,
I don’t know if there was more to the lesson than that,
or explanation really won’t much help,
it’s just the common work we later went crazy for,
Ash, Colleen, Mark, Les—TX hippies were basically Masons
or trying mamas or maybe
just burglars casing the joint,
today
it’s funny arabesques, MIX-glistening,
MIX-missed & un-graphed,
someone said we should make the shirt of it,
I hear it now as part of the furniture
(what did a mouth lack, asked a uterus)
, but the last line’s exact, the traffic stopped
for these huge benevolent cows in the dream,
this chasing-ticking feeling of shadow speech
the smiling-brinking boy can’t
at first know as his own heart, being taken for trash—
& goes to earth starting to chase me
over my garden aches, singing trash-country
plus maybe saying some Stevens,
this one time some lit trash jumped
to the pasture & all the neighbors came,
like we’re ghosts to one another when we see each other,
why always rocks/ash/river (gland/strata/deposit),
Joy was a baby she lost she’d sing hymns to
for art, as a kid she’d witness it,
she was “a wonderful witness” she said,
or me I’m just breast-beating & reiterate
that lament was a textual omission, absorbed as of a paltry grief
where the poem’s for high-speed chases instead,
drives erratically then crashes through the courthouse,
I eat & toss
along the basic lay of the land
& then something gets me anyway,
a human regard (grass, light—everything),
“the imposition of showing up as a person,”
where improvising lasts like a brief aside,
it’s when you wash your hands,
all nostalgic for some place,
or it’s slow w/o fiction, thick-heavy w/shape, bass w/o
vibration really, just a background of,
a margin-music, bewildered space
as a kind of lightness (space-waste),
the way I sing w/loudspeakers blasting muzak for ex.,
& some sounds that happen in/as a mouth,
a tendency to living,
remind yourself about that,
like how you been in & around in my lns.
as star-life & stupid lasting poetry,
like the pasture spring, the name-deep classroom
plus just plain loving yourself,
the past explains the present, so for you I’d
wash ashore to hear
where desire/pleasure lurks, oh no,
maybe my best understanding of clarity,
that it was precisely what’s difficult
for me to paraphrase,
cats writing tail-chasing sonnets, & us wandering home, oh,
or I dwelt w/o board, I sat by shady years & ages,
I was born & born by the tented river,
mamas trying after mamas, like life—
oh no mamas (bonneted) stop into a church
& the interest goes, like romance,
some last parenthetical word
I only survive as a reference
to weather, just some shit they threw in, so go tell Bill that’s the measure,
the con was always small (men talking,
free-tongueing Whitman),
or just easy idle chatter aft an aesthetic
easiness in wild Jacques,
a ride on the pleasure horse,
“the non-rapport” I’m over but
that ride in back was sung amplitude,
the name a numb chest coming up
through our pores as bare geological ruin,
great natural
land removes & pastoral greatness parting
on a garden pass, garden scenes where assistants come,
I tell John today how hist. was never much
my thing, just some words like stones the body makes,
glassed down by cameras, mammoth paintings
abt speech as prepared into little earth,
& at the same
plowing grove he’s shooting horses, isn’t he?,
a mustache w/asthma, & earlier
the mind was serious, northerly,
down trees’ years, some basic hitch-eagle
traffic, sticks in place/in pasture,
so thankfully the day wasn’t a loss,
got pizzas & cigs & pistachio gelato,
& this was where the cattle drove the runner,
some trailers shone
up a coast as cost, cast of
the last of body-physics or
ceaseless hungry lang & animal-ship, Homer’s
(superlative) horse, all dust & mouth-pass, all brain
just past the last corner, stand & snort into the wood,
if I let my focus blur I’ll catch their passing forms,
& friends in the grass & mock-
breath, exact as jokes in
the pleasure experiment (for ex.),
to be lately as mine (the love salutation),
a younger person might’ve been more easily seduced,
the come-on saturates then house then grasses,
late-neon workdays, gas & simple double conscience,
the breakfast wig & dinnertime wig/aperitif,
our pronouns plural as a kind of wish
re-assembled on the lawn,
in defense of making just music, as if
buds whistle as dresses moving, as rush
of our/their hearts out there, last prairies grown still over
old/other taste (sought solutions in prose today),
so what if ppl are aching ports, bad lang & living grassland
+ telephone voiceovers, the life past that
of northern plants in view,
& I’m still on a linguistic coast where preachers stop preaching,
Henri’s prose is pure form, better than asshole prose
on assholes, is maybe all I’m getting at,
Christ carrying you on a beach
& in the poems, too: the last 2 lns are a musical awkwardness
& cloudy tribute, there was a want
passing as pleasant aloneness on an open beach
where the tempo refracts, ask around & you’ll find it’s
little tokens of a frenship has gone & us
awaiting updates about breaks in the case I always thought,
how Teresa’s more prayer than precedent,
a spiritual proposition or passage in discourse
(was Julia’s point tonight)—not altogether
elastic, but a real group shirt-shape, waving
folded/feminine prints & country heads—October was
mannered “bastard” poetry & poem waste,
the grass produced in the grass, happy hiding
blind, blasted love underbrush—the glow in anyone’s grass,
pitched wrtg as off-heading space, so I begin all human
like saying “don’t leave” or
how I got from Jean that the mystery’s public
w/the audience as collaborators, the performance
like the way rent transforms a visual art,
there was a family on music-drugs & when they did
German operettas
a counter-bass rang! & chilly wind!
, everywhere I strug & pass & you’re not there,
I’m trying to just casually walk past
art’s intent (publications, gossip),
so here I come w/friends to street topics
as kids sounding an overdub,
all glimmer in glass
like tried-on hats & shades, when tramps made
thriftstore poems in Boulder it was hilarious,
then the Dollar Suite was a station composition,
I break a brick to tease the concert out,
you have words on cassettes, & living w/wrtg as
a country-assed phrase (“lo-o-ove oh love let me”),
the love-magic in Johnny’s attitude as elegy-
to-be-here or something,
then the house lightning, workhorse-in-the-grass or grass
as character in a Scalapino novel,
the beach itself working as nurse or caretaker,
at the rest-stop ppl asking for rain, on turnpikes
& in ln at the coastal passing plateau, so that
I can’t tell am I okay or basically furious,
& the car’s dead oil’s LS again,
babies crying in joy class, hands above shopping bag,
& cop cars passing up over / organized bus-
waiting, flopping like push-grass,
pillows, light
b/w waves &, reading, rows
of surface panic, teargas blasted
/cruising & angry milling
street ppl,
Les Others returning as
le vibraphone, before a heap of gas across a roof (pronounced ‘ruff’),
last night just like that 1 day, 4 times to rehab class,
when Julius was buried just for looking into something
(aft walk at dusk to find bats),
the present become hands in the past, like these
basso clubs, 3 horns/3 bass w/
some added controversy (where’re the hits?),
shortish stanzas in switched-up elegies,
the solitary dream-image of boyish running / pastoral cuts
dressed for ruin in kid tests (for LB’s passing today),
so hold this easy day or two
then read memory as soft casein, or pleasure b/w forms,
a water-repellant mass we ask little of,
the central dread or impasse
(same as use)
& the show’s just talking to us,
we do viewer sequences as social kids,
& when we speak of voice, voice was a real
image-of-life refrain, how I experience pain, for ex.,
or music where llamas sing in the ditches,
sham dolls or how this tragic elder-love creates an ordinary impasse,
we ride bikes to render the romance of persons, superior sex-fights
or big adolescent passion for fixed sleep & passive night, a pastel beach
in popular dark & glassed-in stillness (pride?) now flat
behind clouds,
& life gone out all down around me like a worn sun,
keeping even spigots on bathtubs preoccupied,
love-acting, basically, to reverb on the train,
say living is fussing, but please don’t crowd
that last life in & so-called time in film & western shirts,
8:00 nude flag desecration w/ Bob,
then a souvenir-based laughter,
we mark the holiday w/ withered times & classic anarchism,
big taste, image of tiny TVs ending in sparks,
a struggle towards lap-center as if
I’d, like, lost the confessional, been flung far past hope
-less musing speech I used to could bear, was a pro
& sometimes I’d sing the gone field as abrupter age began,
& words left out like washing,
was prolly just this greeny evidence
that the birds were as yet un
-remembered of an eye, case fabric & nothing-nothing,
me in a corner slouching out past
talk I think, glass looks & missing amazemt,
old ash I frequented in a bookstall
to catalog (basically) couplets, the lord grooms
prose as sextets, but the phrase
that crossed Roseanne was just trying out being pleased of poetry,
they lean in & the poem pronounces
the cloud—structural ash of
light walking as measure,
so corruption’s so easy, it’s all abt. adding uneasiness
against easy fear, sleep
downstairs as the track winds down,
easily & fr confusion of meaning
in the 2nd chorus, clash of
needs & new mamas we leave,
we sing flat measures in the clash, we outlast our own appeal,
so my favorite track’s fascination, warp as method’s
easy-wide course, okay?, fitting well in the changes,
an easy read like this one I’m also in the mood for,
so I’m out cold, touchable as such—fog’s, um,
somewhere moving faster than us,
as invisible archive of fog parties,
occupied as maps, tangles of
the look the beasts do, the ‘oh
my cryin last,’ or under some flowy nets, the passengers
asleep behind the latch, heave breasts in sleep, “I don’t
mind the mood you leave—& I climb on up on occasion,”
to no repose of gridwork—
foreseen like points among a loss,
easier on voice-wounds I brought & nursed,
so for a minute we cast shadows w/Friederike in the pasture (still in song)
as symphonic order, or at least
that’s how it went in the bananas dream,
halfway asleep thr just anything,
all my connections / bright on every thing
to appear all done
& pleasurable,
grass-like, a room picked-up of Polaroids,
& the great familiar breakfast of, say, rose flowers,
lowercased Charles & something still so pleasure-dirty
in your walk, in sleep, but you asked abt. need—
the wool, the tree, the phrase,
the flesh-place under: these monastics,
whereas other ppl miss the country
& me I’m still pining over these crying-disaster wars,
pleasure’s silent hum’s just heartbreak,
a para-tense of the masculine
or the romance of bright warm days, breakfast,
heat pinning us down as passers in a street,
the music lasts & fades in close-up
so I’m uneasy beneath a formal
exile fr. ease until I basically give up & feel something anyway,
“Ocean Bird (Washup),” the shed where we change
thr. ashes fr. leaves,
earthen grasses nearby,
we pass the days as speaking cameras
w/ notes on viewer-biography,
so the price then’s just our ugliness, trashy novels of
composure pleasure,
harsh light on occasion of practice
in the poetry of some asshole,
on view at the pass, the color
over-passing the view,
in facets in grass, like right alongside it,
& cattle in the film all deathless now along hard work,
as legs at rest,
I wish I was a scrap of wind, hot smoke, breakfast
w/ ideas in space like loudness’s last finale,
I feel it as an outline of our separation
where the day begins w/ cops in class,
the flora does a drag diaspora
fr. today to Sat., someone wants to pass an aimless Maine
so fuck the cops & fuck the kid they wanted,
there’s a awareness of boring lit & the strange ideas of boring lit profs
—we cut & dip like youth & cloud sound from past lives
as a little crucifix against the casual case—we go all contrasty
in the filter-maker piece, a globe has
ours as living forms in knitted space,
the din b/w or during class where
we number lg. events as civil acts on love, & then the band’s together
again & attitude is its common theme,
it’s basically just unbaptism, adoration’s pretty long
if not perpetual, as spendthrift of just
co-signed arms taken up
as costume of value in the film, embarassmt upon effort,
the afternoon’s an easy pass,
lustrous ankle on film, appearing tossed (ankle-to-parasol),
the pasture & the pasture-wife, as I look up
was just the funny jokes we meant to be,
pass always on out past the harrow-ends,
my life as animal/trash gesture,
passing before me like a cup, the dim
-inishing rain of thought passing
like dogs, &, like, you & me
was never there that long but
the disaster is I’m just
still asleep on the phone, the pain lasts like hours,
life & power releasing,
& I thought the pastoral a so-called practice creek,
goodbye to a compass, we emphasize friends
& basic storytelling,
visible branch or classic branching sentence
I write up hills as slopes in memory,
the drama figures are tasks in a sea
or a complex of counter-looking as forest preference,
whatever’s left of someone’s coastal crisis,
fr the get-go to be so livable,
the story I was told was objects
staring out as passing-waiting,
before the weather occasion drags us past the visitor,
down glass edge into parking lot,
they’re using words as shapes, errors,
blasting country tunnels like ants,
like warm-ups for just asking for & giving some notes
(the A-side’s ethnography
but the B-side’s
just these natural sands),
the little century’s turned away fr what it was,
we were fibrous as wool & we founded
a body-health, panoramas, say, a written treatise on torment
washing over ppl’s
roll-call in ash, so
Sunday was a lark I was at,
the world where you refuse (beings/plants)
(in youth) (on tape)
, or this version where
we’ve been working fr. (the funeral) home.


 

**

CJ MARTIN (he/him) teaches writing and publishing in Colorado and does Further Other Book Works with the poet Julia Drescher, where he published his most recent book, novelppl/practicebk. Other books and chapbooks came out from NewLights Press, Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, Compline, Delete Press, and supersuperette.

Parker Menzimer


Waiting by the Telephone

“No?” Who else might care that “As William James put it
a century ago, ‘Nothing includes everything.’” And that
“the word ‘and’ follows along after every sentence.” And
if you’re reading this, I waited by the telephone; you might
have recognized my outline behind the velvet curtains.
And once you said, “This waiting is salt in the wound.”
This is the romance novel I’m named after (William James
called this “a synthetic scheme”). I made myself someone
you might call when the cherries bloomed at Prospect Park.
I waited by the telephone. And the utterance begins “No.”
And so you said, adding the rest.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That last bit was written in a world where substitutes are
always available. As if between takes, I tend to stand by,
deactivated. To this role I bring my love of cliché,
which brings me closer to what we know. In Berkeley I feel
limited to two positions: loving some unloving marble
and waiting to be loved, recording seedlike California valley
quail scattering. The Berkeley City Club’s disapproving
staff. The winter’s inroads on the mellow climate. My mother
extends a fist of pearly knuckles. Translucent and daily. Am I
her? “Not knowing exactly is something I find fascinating.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The book of love was certainly plagiarized, copied from
the throats of American birds. For example, I noticed
cryptic arrows beneath your seat cushion: experience,
subtext, and a thank-you note. Everyone, someday,
will regret a word spoken in anger to a child, then die
comparing unit prices in a windowless room. With an
eyeball dependent on the inversion of the original picture.
With a love of the derivative and its interoperability.
In an anagram of some stock phrase, you might recognize
my outline.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Frankly, as someone who feels always trapped in a “synthetic
scheme,” I’ve relied on backward glances. Retinal after-effects.
A love of obedience. As the obviousness of night ironizes
the amorous encounter, this morning, I decoded the sidewalk
graffiti. It follows a sunken, meandering creek, shunted
beneath the city sidewalk. Waterways buried in urban landscapes
remind me of my own childhood, and childhood generally. And
today, once again, “today, transfigured leaves individuate
corruption.” From my position, huddled next to a public
telephone, I make illegible notes on the outdoors.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

To my point: I feel alert to afterimages, having stared
too long and looked too late. Now the wet paint on my cheek
seems reflected in the window’s predawn dark. Though it’s said
that the life of a leading man drags the leading man along with it,
I see muqarnas above the wainscotting; fingers loosely
interlaced; Ikea flatware scattered across the floor; red wax
from a votive candle frozen to the sideboard. I’ve wish for this
life to be more like a tessellation, where proliferation
adds nothing that might really accumulate. Wherever I’ve lived,
I’ve struggled to see my own bedroom. Only afterimages
on a painted surface. Then, singing begins: delicately, amorously.

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poem beginning with the line “My own name struck me like a bullet”

My own name struck me like a bullet
Without one particular fault, lacklustering
You should not have apologized, feeling is art
Technopharmacological comforts – ruined, I felt
comfort

Ruined palaces cannot but advertise
Their walls, I feel their well-versed blank misuse
You are no comfort at all within your means
And I cannot but feel – amphetamine

Without one particular fault, the Paul Klees
Disappear like a hopeless neglected wink
Docents heavy with particulars
Round the amphoralike stair, starry-eyed

The shockfest survives exegesis
Undeified magpie’d divinization

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poem beginning with the line “I’m sorry Marianne, it may be the altitude”

I’m sorry Marianne, it may be the altitude
My finger upraised, my trolley glamourized
I have a serious nature, brow-beaten, too high
A working knowledge of unwholesome winners
I feel

Nonexcellence, not wholesome, raspberries
Accustomed, unaccounted precapitulation
Microcritters, in Cuba & Mexico I enclose
Dearest Marianne, with joy and misunderstandings

Today transfigured leaves individuate corruption
Invalidators and goofazoids, greying not
Graying at the temples, a diagnosis
En plein air, I take my foodstuffs inside

I seem to miss the season every year
Dewinged, unlanguaged matrimonialis

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poem ending with the line “The corrupted darlings went for a nude swim

Once dismissed, I witnessed Cartoon Network
Circling the celestial orifice
The broken ozone gave a setting
To stage my formless basement play
seed

The ground for opioids to burgeon handsomely
Rebar makes any utopia enhanced
We do know by whose bodies by what lengths
American larpers get deputized

Atilt, in high relief, on the right shoulder
Of despair, more unloaded heavy clips sound
In unhurried air, define the weather
Send us to heaven in a barrel

Save any Tuesday, Tuesday before noon
The corrupted darlings went for a nude swim

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poem ending with the line “The lenses & prisms & the balsam”

The overblunt speechifier watches
Through lenses & prisms, his pewter spoon
Stirring an oversteamed puppucino
I never saw any one idling
So stupidly

I badly want to be counterpresent
An anyman playing unrandom themes
I want so badly to get something good
Done in New York with my binoculars

Did someone put spam in my word salad
A shabby, makeshift, sorry day
I feel myself to be disownably
Watching life through optical instruments

Pale vulgar instruments of every kind
The lenses & prisms & the balsam

 
 
 
 
 


**

PARKER MENZIMER is the author of the chapbook The Links (1080press, 2022). He works as Public Programs Manager at the Poetry Society of America, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at Brooklyn College, and an editor of Topos Press. He has lived and worked in New York since 2009.