Stephen Ira



Tony Perkins at the Ice Capades



a paparazzi

You’re looking straight
at me, away from Tab
who’s touching your arm
looking into your long
face, which is sweeter
than my lover’s, sweeter
than any other star
I photograph, sweeter
than the starlets’
flanking you and Tab
on either side. But—oh!
You’re angry with me,
Tony, for trying to see you
and with the studio
for setting up this Ice

Capade against the rumors.
It smudges your face
into sharpness Tab
cannot ease out. Your feet
are up, your hands are on
his arm, you’re saying, “We
are being photographed—”




Tab Hunter

Why didn’t you realize
when we arrived?
I saw the fellow,
and Norma’s enthralled.
She’ll overwhelm the shot
or I will.  I will
not even touch you,
only reach as agents
do and then pull back
or shake, spread fingers
red, extended, “This
son of a bitch, here—”
Would we be sent here
if someone out there
didn’t need to see us
at the Ice Capades together?



Jan Chaney

Follies, actually,
The Ice Follies, Los
Angeles. Off brand
but I adored it.
All night they axelled,
double, triple axelled
in skirts too small to flair.
Their open muscles
reminded me of baseball

and the player Tab
had played before, who
Tony was playing
then. One on TV
and one on the screen.
I barely watched them,
that night or ever.
I knew why I
was there, a privilege
few alive have.
And I didn’t know
that Tab would be mocked
into worklessness soon,
like me, and Tony
lose his beauty.


Norma Moore

The whole time I put my face on he fingered the small of his back. Twice he stopped, to zip me up and to (unusual) take Seconal.  At last I asked. And as if practiced he turned his back and lifted his shirt. I loved its drape. In the last decent place, straight in the landscape’s dip, a little slit.  A coin of glass.  He pulled the lens a little way out. When he saw I was frightened he told me, “Most of us get something installed.”


The Knowers

Time Cube was a personal web page and cult internet phenomenon, founded in 1997 by the self-proclaimed “wisest man on earth”, the late Otis Eugene “Gene” Ray. It outlined a theory of everything. Gene Ray died in 2015, and his domain expired shortly after, but devoted fans have resurrected the site in mirror form.

Time is cubic because it has a front, back, top, bottom, and two sides. I have him the way that I do because the two of you did something different. He did good and bad things because that time was different. He does good and bad things. You and I know something nobody knows. 4 CORNER DAYS, CUBES 4 QUAD EARTH. No 1 Day God. I don’t know about Time Cube because it is useful. I don’t know. I don’t know you.


I walk towards him through water, the first time. I almost turn back, but I put a stop to my putting of stops, and that’s when I run into you. I walk towards him through water. I do it again. And again, and a lot. You do too. This all happened in order. That doesn’t matter. If this were happening in order, it would be over by now.



Belly Button Logic Works. When Does Teenager Die? Adults Eat Teenagers Alive, No Record Of Their Deaths. Did you have any Time Cube tattoos? I think I saw in a picture. “Sex Is Suffering” was one one tattoo I saw. Is sex suffering? This seems important, important to know. You don’t even have ears anymore (like plenty of people) or a tongue (imagine a life with a tongue!) or tattoos. “I’m serious about sex.” I think that’s what “Sex Is Suffering” means. “I might not seem so, but I am.” I was told, actually, you weren’t serious—ever. Seems likely. I’m sorry. I’m desperate and know it and know it.



One person wakes up a desire and gets help from the person who has it. Another one finds the desire. He walks out there as far as he can. One person wakes up a desire, walks away from it for hours, burns to death. In that order. A third person is not a transsexual. At the same time. In order. One person burns to death for no reason except for the world. Indignity of death by unrelated world. What I have avoided. A third person is not a transsexual. Any third person, impossible. One person wakes up a desire. And you have a question, I hope.


Even when the bride’s a stranger, I see all my friends at the trans woman funeral. I see yours—they’re mine too. Time to not foul (already wrong) bible time. I go to tend grief and find mine. “She’d never have gotten on hormones without him, she always said that.” It was like they all said it at once. What he refused to want someone to say. She was always saying it. If we were saying what people should say, and if he weren’t one of the people, he’d want me to say it. I know and I know.


A third person is not a transsexual, another one is with the third on an abandoned beach and loves him and loves him and asks how desire began. And that third kind answers how the third kind always answers—Is it as bad as it feels, though I like it? They always tell the story of their lives. And I was happy then, when he was telling me about you. How did it begin? Maybe a Genius knew Math to achieve my Cubic Wisdom. He isn’t like the rest of them, but he does the things they do. He does them slowly. The eyes of the flounder fish were relocated, why were yours relocated?


Never heard from him about holding your hand or not holding your hand. I heard it from your lover and I held it all day long. Heard and heard it and carried. While I comforted him later, I was carrying. And elsewhere I was on his arm, all over places at so many parties. Sorry. Sorry. In silence, what I carry, I carry on water. Something your lover said when I said mine was sad. I understand. Would I say much, in silence, on water? She would understand what it means. How it’s all that he means. How he’s all that it means, or means, or means.


Do you know Time Cube? I said. And he, naturally, said no. I pulled up the new mirror—the real one is gone. Nothing happened. Well, it either gets you or not. The ONEist educated with their flawed 1 eye perspective. This third person, he tried to actually read it. This is the place within which we wouldn’t say much. And he wouldn’t like it; we’d have that together. When I am good to him is it for you? If it’s true, then it’s useless. I was good to you, in the water. I did try. Is that sad? Do you think that is sad?


I am outside of what you have with him. You are outside of what I have with him. He is outside of what we have together. If it’s true that we have it together. If this very old impulse is real. And what we have together is not what either has with him—we are strangers. What lives between us does because of what we are instead of who. We thought we’d have more time between the water and the words. I am a Knower of 4 corner simultaneous 24 hour Days that occur within a single rotation of Earth.



STEPHEN IRA is a writer and performer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FENCE, Poetry, and other venues. He is a co-founder and co-editor of Vetch: A Magazine of Trans Poetry and Poetics. Ira has performed his solo work at venues like La Mama, directed several short plays, and originated roles in new works by Maxe Crandall and Bernadette Mayer. In 2013, he was a Lambda Literary Fellow. He studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Elizaveta Shneyderman

Banu Cennetoğlu at SculptureCenter

I almost missed it: a photo of two white men sandwiched between an advertisement for Turkish rugs and the latest soccer score. One man sports a red fedora and red tee; the other has glasses and a shirt boasting the Creative Commons logo. The two stand in front of a laptop adorned with stickers. Squinting, I make out stickers that read I <3 the Internet and FIGHT FOR YOUR DIGITAL RIGHTS! effacing the Apple logo. The only German word I decipher in the accompanying caption translates as “journalists.” Next to the image is an unusually frigid weather report, suggesting that I am a time-traveler gawking at the anachronism, making sense of the misinformation before me.

The clipping is part of a 142-volume bound compilation of all newspapers published in a country in a single day—in this case, (11.08.2015) in Wolfsburger Allgemeine. The newspaper project features prominently in Banu Cennetoğlu’s solo exhibition at the SculptureCenter, with a devoted reading room set up for the viewer-time-traveler. The volumes vary in size and scale depending on the country, but their methodology is clear: no single viewer can comprehend the work in its entirety. Instead, what one encounters is a particularity—a happenstance relationship between text and image (the journalists I spotted occupy a tiny speck of the German compilation, glanced over entirely by chance.) The optical clash is at times glossily banal (German Creative Commons advocates), at times painfully foundational (disproportionate numbers of scantily clad femmes across time and space). The encounter is mystifying, opening onto a greater theme embedded in the exhibition: information overload and the kind of looking that accompanies it.

The newspapers become a single image, prompting a viewer to adopt an ethnographic type of looking. A story is woven in the margins, the negative space between bylines, and the offbeat advertisements aggressively spliced into them. Images become the indexical traces of what once happened in the world, including detritus ordinarily left out—rubbish, spam, hyperbole. Flipping through a large quantity of the compilations sees certain themes emerge. The unsurprising indulgence of sexist base tropes; malicious advertising strategies based on racial profiling; political cartoons with remarkably violent imagery —the tropes are possible to see when looking en masse. The patchwork of images frozen in time read as cinematic stills, while the subtended text performs the role of resuscitation, quietly animating them. Newspaper-as-viewing-apparatus through which to see many worldly sectors—advertising, headlines, weather, scores, solicitation—as interrelated.

Installation view, Banu Cennetoğlu, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Photo: Kyle Knodell

The leather-bound volumes which make up the newspaper project pay homage to the existing depth of information left unprocessed. Some countries are better represented than others; together, they allude to the breadth of international coverage and the fact of its distribution. They are the negative space of the encounter, the spam cast aside of the spectacular newscycle. The classic hierarchy of information is evacuated by the sex workers, Turkish rug advertisements, off-cycle weather reports, and German journalists. The volumes hardly account for five cubic square feet, and yet, they are inexhaustible. The combined visitation history of viewers of the exhibition would still not be enough to piece together the entirety of its contents.

Cennetoğlu’s other works play with this triangulation of forces—artwork, archive, and indexicality. At the heart of the exhibition is a colossal work occupying most of the gallery space, consisting of the artist’s entire personal archive. Entitled 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018 · H O W B E I T · Guilty feet have got no rhythm · Keçiboynuzu · AS IS · MurMur · I measure every grief I meet · Taq u Raq · A piercing Comfort it affords · Stitch · Made in Fall · Yes. But. We had a golden heart. · One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game (2018), the work is an unedited stream of data. Playing on a 128-hour loop—again, impossible to view in one-sitting—Yes. But. We had a golden heart (the titles comprising the work are interchangeable with one another) moves through film, video, and stills (and in doing so informally indexes the history of visual recording devices in the 2000s.) Watching the archive is similar to the experience of leafing through the newspaper volumes. It is possible to encounter a long loop of children’s toys belonging to the artist’s daughter or a violent clash between police in riot gear and protestors, but it is unclear where in the five-day loop either stands.

The possibility of a forceful juxtaposition presents itself again, absorbing two unrelated images into one overarching look. Perhaps the disorientation is intentional—more akin to the experience of actualized violence and the way in which it disenfranchises its enemies. The difference here, of course, is in positionality: there is no comparing the voyeurism of an exhibition with a body at real risk. A viewer stands at a remove from the violence on display, literally and figuratively (the projection requires a good deal of distance to get into view). Discomfort ushers forth from watching the events unfold in a collegial space. You don’t know what you’ll get: either real people staving away real violence from the purported safety of a rooftop or flitting images of colorful playthings. Either an outdated weather report or an image of a military strike sitting side-by-side a pastel illustration of a swan swaddling a lake. The transitions are dizzying, an uncomfortable reminder of the temporal lag between the images’ capture and their presentation.

Banu Cennetoğlu, 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018 · H O W B E I T · Guilty feet have got no rhythm · Keçiboynuzu · AS IS · MurMur · I measure every grief I meet · Taq u Raq · A piercing Comfort it affords · Stitch · Made in Fall · Yes. But. We had a golden heart. · One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game, 2018, installation view, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Video, images, sound; 22 parts, 46,685 files. 128 hours and 22 minutes. Metadata: 687 pages, 11.7 x 16.5 inches (279 mm x 432 mm). Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo, London/Piraeus. Photo: Kyle Knodell

Through this contradictory valence of images, what comes into view is images and their mediation. Sight is attached and reattached by proxy. Horror becomes invisible enough to make its counterpart visible. Advertisements that digital-era eyes are trained to glaze over suddenly appear as monoliths. Equivocation is set up by the terms of engagement, in the unsuspecting time of infinitely different viewing experiences. It is for these reasons that it is not magnitude on display, but the chance encounter.

This is a familiar mechanism. With the advent of targeted advertising, it is becoming easier to accidentally censor what information comes in and what information stays out. The algorithmic choreography of targeted advertising and Google-backed surveillance renders the space of viewing quantifiable. Neuromarketing claims to understand its users through (nonconsensually obtained) data, which poses the risk of discrimination, stigmatization, and coercion. And just this past year, AI proved its capacity to auto-generate a convincing stream of fake news, suggesting the ubiquity of misinformation to come.

The superficially coherent image-stream of Guilty feet have got no rhythm (2018) mimics the discriminatory mechanism of targeted advertising, only in reverse. Cennetoğlu’s work is not concerned with the free flow of information, but in the capacity for violence hidden in the attention span of contemporary constituents. Because the works operate squarely within the realm of art, the awkward voyeurism is theoretically easier to brush off. It is an uncomfortable reminder of the training in spectatorial passivity undergone in the digital-era.

Another work in the exhibition, What is it that you are worried about? (2014), further allegorizes this spectatorial encounter. Staged between the newspaper reading room and the monolithic archive, the eponymous What is it that you are worried about? is etched onto a mirror confronting the viewer. The work divides the two rooms and is thus impossible to avoid, ensuring its question is posed multilaterally. It mirrors the unending image-stream of A piercing Comfort it affords back to the viewer, whose own reflection sits side-by-side Cennetoğlu’s moving image repository. The mirror ensures that the digital stockpile is inescapable, trapped by an act of exhibitionism on the part of the viewer. Like the unsolicited and algorithmic mechanisms by which content reaches us, What is it that you are worried about? Draws attention to the pleasure of watching someone else’s life unfold in the same space as a body doing the consuming. The data cannot be escaped—it hits you on all sides, in front and behind, in sight of your own avatar.

Installation view, Banu Cennetoğlu, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Photo: Kyle Knodell

Art historian Julian Stallabrass coined the term “data sublime” to describe the subjects of contemporary art which take data as their aesthetic linchpin. Typically manifested as large-scale displays of data, the data sublime has the power to elicit fear of data itself by denying the conceptual tools required to make sense of it.[1] Stallabrass contends that, “The sublime is often used for conservative purposes: to frame or manage a common social fear (of the masses, quite often, but also more recently of data itself) and offer it up for consumption.” In Cennetoğlu’s case, data is presented as a mechanism which indexes the wide swath of feeling-states a singular life is privy to: pain, hostility, comeuppance, indifference, triumph, birth. There is no easy way into the abyss—what you see is what you get. And what you get, from reading room to large-scale installation, is a transmission model for speaking in the void.

In providing the viewer with a spectacle of data—chaotically complex, immense in scope—Cennetoğlu exploits the notion that putting data on display, no matter how pure and guileless, is the same as indexing truth. Because there is far too much material to make sense of, a reader is left to decipher the repository on their terms and without guidance. But all those featured in 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018—her friends, her daughter, the curators and museum directors involved—are visualized through Cennetoğlu’s oeuvre, flattening the looking into one of bias. One wonders what that means for the subjects involved, whose ability to act as free-form social agents is superseded by their presentation as raw material for viewer interpretation. Like the feeling of scrolling through endless streams of online spectacle, indifference is born out of abundance. At risk here is the preservation of passivity, severing the connection between images and their veracity.

All digital media is indexical, if we bear in mind what level of materiality they are indexing.[2] From the imperfect flow of electrons to the social networks in which they exist, digital media cannot hide or transpose the mechanisms that constitute them. In Cennetoğlu case, indexicality is an unabashed window into subjectivity—her subjectivity. It is access to emotional rhythms eking out of still images; flashes of a banal and intimate private life; the imprint of loss on the surface; an unruly tangle of montage. Distanced from the fantasy of capturing truth, Cennetoğlu’s indexicality itself indexes the collapse of objectivity. It is as though the moving images—diegetic in their presentation—slink into the newfangled territory of the non-diegetic. They are the fabricated debris of images occurring outside of the story-world, a soundtrack the protagonists are oblivious to.

The real draw of the exhibition is the idea that raw data can even be made to be “on view.” The disjunction between, on the one hand, material that suggests Banu is a cultural producer and, on the other, rioting and violence, thematizes the mechanisms of abstraction that “truth” is subject to. Metadata can be made of the chaos of life. Pain is an ingredient of statistical measure. A psychedelic juxtaposition can be more real because it feels more real. An intimate encounter with the artist’s daughter or the blase and self-reflexive conversations with curators responsible for exhibition’s fruition: a mimicry of the harder-to-parse mechanisms of life that do not easily parlay into algorithm, and which cannot easily be measured. It’s a disorienting view into the register of reverse-surveillance, where time capsules offer data without interpretation. But as with surveillance, the vibrating danger of material to be used against you still hangs in the air. Trust becomes a factor inherent in the interface with material.

Banu Cennetoğlu, 1 January 1970 – 21 March 2018 · H O W B E I T · Guilty feet have got no rhythm · Keçiboynuzu · AS IS · MurMur · I measure every grief I meet · Taq u Raq · A piercing Comfort it affords · Stitch · Made in Fall · Yes. But. We had a golden heart. · One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game, 2018, installation view, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Video, images, sound; 22 parts, 46,685 files. 128 hours and 22 minutes. Metadata: 687 pages, 11.7 x 16.5 inches (279 mm x 432 mm). Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy the artist and Rodeo, London/Piraeus. Photo: Kyle Knodell

In this way, the works on display each have an air of speculative realism, where non-representation becomes their representational mode. The newspaper project literally condenses a day into a bound volume, whereas A piercing Comfort it affords surveys years in the life of Cennetoğlu. Dictated by a politics of production, the particular abstraction on view veers into whimsical territory. Because the material is presented in the realm of art and under the umbrella of an institution, the ‘raw’ data reads closer to a manipulated image than to evidence or document. I wonder where this self-presentation makes room for self-criticality.

It is precisely the collapse of artist, institution, and archive which puts into view not only the futility of ‘total’ information, but the danger of its fruition. Cennetoğlu sets up material inundation purposefully, in order to address the deeper structural concerns regarding the sanctity of information and the proliferation of images. But this also sets up the possibility for a violent and indifferent viewing experience, where reflecting on ‘pure’ metadata comes with the possibility of complacency or, worse yet, equivocation. Hal Foster has argued that even critical ethnographic projects can stray “from collaboration to self-fashioning, from a decentering of the artist as cultural authority to a remaking of the other in neo-primitivist guise.”[3] Though the exhibition has less to do with Cennetoğlu than with the general lack of safeguards against the sanctity of truth, we nonetheless have a responsibility to be aware of a shift into sublime. Otherwise, a trap: the inscrutability leaves a viewer to stitch their own story, whether or not they have the tools to decipher it.

Author’s Note: Banu Cennetoğlu’s solo exhibition was on view at SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York, from January 14 to March 25, 2019.

[1] Julian Stallabrass, “Negative Dialectics in the Google Era: A Conversation with Trevor Paglen”, October 138, 2011, 3.

[2] Laura Marks, Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, 190.

[3] Hal Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-garde at the End of the Century, Boston, MA: The MIT Press, 1996.



ELIZAVETA SHNEYDERMAN is a writer and curator based in New York. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, BOMB Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and Rhizome, among others. She is the author of Exchange Variation with Adriana Ramić (Wendy’s Subway, 2019). She has curated exhibitions at White Columns Online, Hunter East Harlem Gallery, Fastnet, and Mana Contemporary as part of Rail Curatorial Projects. She is Co-Founder and Editor of Natasha, a magazine of new nonfiction writing.

Alina Gregorian

Films Boasting of Tehran

Here we see streets lined with apricots; museums measured for sequined garments. Patches through gilas-filled wallpaper. Everything smells like roses and nay. There we see monuments of yesterday. Carpentry and figurative speech remind us of oud players marching down the boulevard. Take me back to the khiabon, where I once had a peach on a plate. Where I saw you zereshk sheep into the grove. When it was summer. Now winter is casting its glare, asking us to settle down.

Tangerines Dipped in Salt  

Horizon is a kind of gradient I can only naz to understand. There are almonds in the way you address the area of a rectangle. Purple is as sphere as you want it to be. And we can’t be gilas to suggest the opposite of laughter is light. We walk towards ajeel, and we know it. We furnish living rooms and paint book covers to khatar the woods. We funnel wind with our hands while whispering oddities. My favorite way to listen to the news is in a language I don’t understand. There’s an egg in the air. Let’s use adjectives to appear more real. The metaphor is yallah there’s a metaphor. Staring at this website like it will tell me something. Like it will bend towards me without refreshing. Like it will convince me to cut my hair. The sun sets in the mooshin. Handful of almonds. What are almonds.

What We Call Cantaloupe, Is What You Call Orange

This kind of energy belongs to those who walk with felt hats. It is a continuous process, this unraveling mind. Giving shevid to the motion allows you to contemplate the most precious portions. Even the seagulls agree: we desire more than our fingers can type. When you say chaman three different ways. You are contemplating an ajeel evening. Even when the stars dim, we are frantically preparing for the night. And in the morning, we are preparing for the sun.


Author’s Note: The following poems feature Persian words I learned growing up (the Persian words are transliterated and italicized within the text). Until recently, I thought they were Armenian, my first language. My parents are from Iran, so these words are a part of their vocabulary.



ALINA GREGORIAN is a poet and artist. She is the author of Flags for Adjectives (Diez) and Navigational Clouds (Monk Books). Her first gallery exhibition, Talk to Me in Parsley and Tambourines: Artists of the Armenian Diaspora, was held at Babycastles in 2018.

Charlotte Bonjour & Clara Lou

Questions for Admission
In the last six months, have you experienced any of the following phenomena?
Option A: une surface elastique
Option B: the hour of the bacteria
Option C: a blown up dot
Option D: des gens agés, qui jouent à la pétanque dans le square
In the last six months, which of the following has been causing you the most problems?
Option A: foliage
Option B: architecture
Option C: fragmentation
Option D: melting
What is your favorite material?
Option A: cardboard
Option B: sky
Option C: plaster
Option D: grid
In the last six months, have you experienced any of the following phenomena?
Option A: the curve
Option B: beige clair
Option C: the planets
Option D: l’ombre
In the last six months, which of the following has been causing you the most problems?
Option A: le fer
Option B: gravitation
Option C: E. coli
Option D: turquoise pale
Which year are we in?
Option A: 1839
Option B: 1928
Option C: 2008 or 2009
Option D: L’an 207,778


CHARLOTTE BONJOUR oscillates between fascination and mistrust for imaging technologies. Sometimes she swaps pictures for sound and bends circuits. She used her best English to write with Clara.
CLARA LOU is an artist who works with sound, text and performance. At the moment, she is auditioning international cities in which to live, welcoming any input. She speaks medium French and big English.

Nora Claire Miller

nora claire miller tagvverk submission-3nora claire miller tagvverk submission-4nora claire miller tagvverk submission-5

nora claire miller tagvverk submission-6
nora claire miller tagvverk submission-7


NORA CLAIRE MILLER is a poet and playwright from New York City. Nora’s poems have appeared in APARTMENT, the Brooklyn Review, DMQ Review, DecomP, and elsewhere. Nora earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Con Messinger

rope or some tiny elevator covered
exactly in packing sheets – so that
you would not recognize it gesturing or moving upwards
to you – then the object’s obscured – you / i then
wander upward through some series of images of
tracks in rows ‘trains’ and us two being carried and
it’s reeling, not falling but going upward –

i remember it differently now – not having escaped
but rather going up with her.
now this is different – more stopping – no movement as if
everything slid down – moves to the side – or
ends to that side. a terminal not a body of play
that’s it. not a backyard.
two equal parallel structures – waiting for some
folding – that’s it someone says it – over it
finding the rising action – the blue wave that
goes over – not a green streak. it’s about free time –
some waiting goes on forever –

some call it borrowing –
i think i loved you. i wouldn’t call that fading
pink exactly – more movement a ‘ground swell’
that’s an overture, she walks behind the plexiglass
then the play opens and she almost falls out of her seat
and who could forgive her green eyes locked in
snow – then we do some walking
those were the notes you sent me
on performing time. so that
to think everything’s been performed already implies a
lack – of person – or patterning
you then create the wrong pattern – that you is unfortunate.
to disintegrate implies a reduction
or taking things without something in
your stomach – plain like that like
what you would call it. fair – for
example. now my father is in line in
massachusetts. an exuberant lesbian
cook hits on me. we walk a whole
half hour – my mother takes up biking



CON MESSINGER is a poet and translator living in Iowa City, IA. She is the author of the digital chapbook The Love of God (Inpatient Press, 2016) and The Land Was V There (89+/LUMA, 2014). Her translation of Juana Isola’s chapbook You Need a Long Table Behind a Pile of Firewood to Have Lunch with Your Children in Ray Bans was recently published by Monster House Press.

Anastasia Kolas

Cyborg Transition


AKOLAS_transition to cyborg_pic


Forensic anthropological facial reconstructions floated up, one by one, on my screen. Many of the subjects depicted were reportedly incapacitated and deceased by the way of dental cysts. The credit notes under the images stated my age as the age of the subject’s death. I felt warm and fuzzy: the innovation was here, prolonging my life, my desires, my desirability, and with them, my residue imprint.


Last year, in addition to the hybrid I have been for most of my life, I became a cyborg, too. Living in 6 countries is a privilege when it isn’t a dislocation, which it is, in my case that we study here. Arguably, so is the prosthesis: a privilege when not a dislocation, which it isn’t, in my case that we study here. Albeit I will live with this prop for the rest of my life, mine, is a benign story of an artificial part, centered around aesthetics more than around its function.


The right molar #5, next to canine, has never been happy.


#5 bid its goodbyes to the cruel world when I was 18 as I prepared to abandon the ship of disarrayed homeland for the promise of gloss or a version of “Go West” track. That music video from where I stand is mind bogglingly confusing in its, what is it — narrative, a metaphor? It samples the Soviet Hymn during the 1993 timeline of mass-exodus after the break down of the bloc. I do hope it is meant to be a self-parody of the promise of the escape. There must be a subtext there that eludes my ESL eyes, as many other high-school era references of my peers, do.


As my mother rushed around gathering — gathering papers, stamps, gathering signatures, to exit, responsibly, properly, legally endorsed fresh start, an antsy middle-aged man was about to fix me before I boarded a train and then plane, away from it all. He must have been handsome in another life, a decade before he started to drink. Everyone around these parts eventually did, particularly if they were a man, particularly if they were handsome. This was done methodically, as if to cancel anything that signaled a possibility of a better life because better was not on the menu for as long as anyone could remember. It was hard to reset the palate, no matter the produce at hand.


Smudged into the abyss of nondescript east-south-west beyond Minsk Circle Road was a standard cell in a cement suburban high rise. This was the home office of the formerly handsome dentist recommended by my father. The space was implanted at the center with a medical chair, a mid-century Soviet buffet and a dining table with crochet napkins trimming its sides. The dentist desaturated into the beige wallpaper, shakily attempting to charm me while extracting the departed nerve. His unsteady handiwork left a trail of breadcrumbs that followed me as I follow myself: everywhere I go there I am and there it was. A photo series of x-rays have diligently documented the decline of the root canal with a pocket of air the dissolving man left behind as if a hapless gift. A clubland for microbes, their sweaty techno pulsated on a loop in my jaw for 20 forthcoming years.


2005. Forgetting to breathe, swaddled in rental blankets of my Parisian apartment populated by a euro-normative French roommate and French rats, I bit a post-soviet chocolate candy. Denied a working visa, not chic or seasoned enough to be sponsored for working permit as an Eastern non-EU designer with unimportant education credentials, I stared at my analog mapbook that displayed swirling irregular streets of unfamiliar London names. Bethnal Green, soon to be my new dream address, burned anxiety holes through my eyes. The dream meant mostly survival crimes of photocopying whited-out, omitted and edited, work permits and the diet of canapé, mineral water and when luck strikes, champagne, at soirees and vernissages. The molar #5 didn’t like the hard body of candied nuts I bit into, and took its cue to escape for the 2nd time. Dental and visas have always been entwined in my life, like lovers that return to each other, as if bound by an invisible force, break up after break up.


Back in Toronto for rescue operation molar #5, and for a new legitimate UK working visa, L., my Ukrainian dentist abroad, shook her head: “Well… we knew this was going to happen. I will try my best, but I give it two years tops.” L. pressed play on her dentist chair and my world started to tilt. Now in business class position I clocked that the screen has migrated since my last visit a few years ago and was now on the ceiling, meeting my reclined gaze head on. National Geographics Channel narrated a scene in which whales stole baby seals entering the ocean waters for the first time and bouncing their meager bodies in air with tail and fin performed a sort of baskeballish activity. Clubbed to death baby seals were flopped about for whales’ amusement and eventually shrugged off and discarded to wash up to the devastated seal families at the shore. This answered the question I’d had about animals only killing to eat or was it ever, to toy, like humans do with things and people? The housecat story was hard to fact-check. These self-selectively adopted beings were incrementally fed and their parts were cut out or trimmed to suit human sanitary and interior design needs. Hunting was a distant memory for my animal kin companion, reflected in her lazy chewing and spitting of a moth, pawing at a semi-dead mouse she had no plans to consume, bringing a strangled bird or a stunned roach as a gift to my bed.


Games of morbid fascination. Life and death drives in a perpetual conflict of interest. Me too. I’d like to be the white noise, or I’d like to be a cyborg, because things are moving too fast, baby/ and I can’t keep up, baby/ My model is of earlier kind/ Regrets of life cycle timing. I digress.


L. is a kind of cyborg magician. Her immaculate practice is buttressed on each side by a perfect accident of irony. The L. dental office is set between two cavity friendly Ukrainian and Polish bakeries, both specializing in old-world classics with new-world materials of refined flour and sugar. Retooled, the 2005 version of molar #5 was once again miraculously repaired and reinstated, and left Toronto anew, managed to survive several London visas and financial crash, and another relocation, and too many visas to count during the 10 years spent making it, in New York.


Decade later, as I was about to leave the pinnacle of capitalist extasis that began to feel like home, until all the sources of money dried out and some, the techno club of the molar #5 has burnt down and a full blown mutiny was seeping from my gum. Imagine the zeros on those invoices. There was no looking back at the crumbled monument to my resilience. It was time to weaponize this mouth with the sharpest tools for the glossy life that kept on slipping away decades at a time. Be mine! You will be.


Here are some insider pro-tip not colloquially discussed, at least not in my circle, of what, besides the astronomical costs, an implant entails. No one really talks about the time factor involved or more specifically the length of time you will be toothless or lisping: three to ten month, the latter more likely. Depending on the location of your situation it will affect your self esteem, and dating, and sex life. Please don’t tell me how you are so above it, I am not buying. Bereft, is what the gap feels like shedding clots of congealed blood onto your tongue. What is also not colloquially discussed is the fact that you will be padded with someone’s remains, the allograft, bone matter from a deceased donor or a cadaver that has been cleaned and stored in a tissue bank. The dust of someone whose driving license generously stated, like mine does: Organ Donor. Because why wouldn’t I be dead and sharing? I will be sharing as worm food or ashes even if I tick a box not to. This graft matter has to agree with you, or else you may begin to rot. There will be a hole drilled in your skull. A dentist, if you are like me and are doing it in Minsk because it’s the cheapest place on earth to do this thing, may say to the nurse while tears roll down your grownup cheeks, not from pain but from terror: “See that bit of meat hanging right there, can you nip that off?


From experience, I can recommend a solution to sex life issues of the cyborg transition process, and it is: suburbia. Sleeping with ghosts from the life past who remember you intact in your whole, taught and youthful beauty. Or, sleeping with 2nd generation Canadian youth in the parks and in your semi-suburban apartment where everyone can hear your thoughts, but no matter you are young again by association and you can EXPRESS YOURSELF. 2nd generation is the best of all worlds, aware of “the elsewhere” but distant from its traumas, too cool to care about the void in my smile. Though the self-esteem of a hybrid like me took a dent nevertheless. So, if you are one too, be prepared. Meditate. See your therapist, take walks, don’t look at social media. You know. Following the transition I am inclined to suggest that perhaps aesthetics must be further adjusted to include body decay as acceptable natural progression. If we are to be really body positive, why not a hollow pocket in my jaw.


I keep thinking about impressionism at the time of steel cage crinoline dresses and how bewildering the proposal of fragmented painting must have been to the eyesight and mores of the European public at the time. Impressionism was a manifest of uncertainty of depiction, or reference to impression, an iridescent sliver of light spectrum, a tint of first smog, nacreous scab, and not yet an allograft of a cadaver, now merged into my jaw secured by the titanium grip. If the implant is my crinoline now, then I need to revise my uncertainty settings, lest I be convinced of my invincibility. I would only be readying for yet another rude awakening.


Updating in the background are wants: the old-school glitz, a touch of jet-set, body updates, body maintenance and, simultaneously — acceptance of all earthly temporality. But then — the desire for infinite life, too. The want to experiment, the want to care, the want to poker face my irreverence towards “the system.” What will tomorrow judge my choices for implant as? Meanwhile, there is a whole set of sensations to grapple with. It may be the titanium talking, or the matter of the deceased who may have been a speed junkie that ran themselves into a ditch. Sharp and tenacious, my redux jaw feels firm and certain as it imagines itself ready for a new spin on that glossy dance floor. Or is there another option? I am open to suggestions.


Born in Belarus, and based everywhere, ANASTASIA KOLAS is an artist, writer and the founding editor of Nacre Journal. Anastasia is a graduate of the Bard MFA program and has exhibited internationally. She is working on a collection of auto-fiction essays titled “Fashion,” based on her life across countries and continents, her past work as a fashion designer, and present travels through The Arts and its theories.

Emily Heilker

conversation with the stones of césar vallejo
Rocks land in the Seine. Ripples move

closer, twist arm

back into socket. I hear you

speaking among book

stalls, propped up in their pages, hesitant

casually slouched. Who’s now

in front of a boulangerie, baguette under arm, striding

here into this future that’s already happened?

Thursdays rain down on this Made Thing. Snap

covers shut & the rocks go

plunk. I cannot get you

from me.
i could build nothing
Starlings roost
in boned eaves, infect my
dreams, murmur-
ation twisting
through nape & crown. Draw
seams together, de-


Grey, the laced sites of involution, of sentences looking
for bearing. Eye, a mirror or a glass.

Critical trans-
ition: frisson through & up—

What means starlings drag with them.
Lean-tos, nesting in the dendrites, leafed with

detritus, quaking, memory’s pink flowers. Catch

rituals: rings, like echoes,
fading, sometimes, thickening like trees. You

tell it over &


Starlings pitched pain-hum beneath lowing dreams.

Repetition lends a thread to memory.

Image constitutes in a flood of light.


flow: dragging

a corpse that won’t
sink in water.

“moving, gesture un-



Couch history

in large print. Pixels the size of walnuts—to be safe, break

all the reading glasses

in two. Twilight zone mis-

takes : a low voice doesn’t carry better than a saw’s.

The arm that holds on for millennia, a lasting stick. Gregorio Allegri pierces

Wednesday. In book’s laboratory : it took

stories to cushion the

blows. Symbolic versus the feeling

of sentences, diagrammed.

Language, an inflatable mattress : breathed.



EMILY HEILKER hails from Atlanta & has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has previously published in places like Ghost Proposal, Sonora Review, Loose Change Magazine, & The Nottingham Review.

JFK Randhawa



In both cases we might (we must) speak of an intense immobility: linked to a detail (a detonator), an explosion makes a little star on the pane of text or of the photograph: neither the Haiku nor the Photograph makes us “dream.”
– R Barthes

Long voices brushed out. Canyons momentarily dry are moistened with shit and flimsy voltaic plastics. When I wake, I meet the dream: stones are in our stones are in our mouths. Pockets out, thundering and stationary machine. Touching the silicone machine to machine, two or one or three, and perimorph. Mastic indigo marriage to mechanism. I listen out for the rows of benches, for their sea-songs. They point green slats flush against the silver oak shade, crushed shells from the bay or the interior (imports, tax, maybe), sidewalks which preceded the wars. First, limestone. And my imagination must be destroyed in the name of name, to destruct name and the will to it, honey. The benches empty as to seem or to (never) forget are violently full.

Wandering up a hill, the hand. And then hush there is a moss, candescent green, marking a velvet seam. This is gentle. Gem-gentle, as their compressions take refuge in the loam curve outfit of the road, let out the waist at the rib, a ribbon, refuge from testing mandate rushing together forgetting the rivers. The lumen we find in iron twitches for future. Name of the transgression a typical labor. The buried and archived solids anterior to formation; at the end of the island, you find a mask molded from my second face, parametric wind. Sodden anther.

All empty, the benches, monument with abandon. How is it—as the bus goes by blue, new camouflage concealing its cargo (geotypical?), and the anachronistic water towers bruise what’s left of sky—that?

Green when bleached by an orb, sun or moon: like tide here, too subtle hierarch, such as a time, not enough ecologists in this rind of a town. Does lightlessness also bleach? Yes. Could we pursue life in a town where resemblances are the only expression? Yes, once could, only one.

Ignore Taconic orogenies, Acadian, the dimpled water. Dripping, who spoke of it, the ruined room takes her lacerations toward impermanence.

Ice on the boulders, encapsulating ice shadows. Law happens in a scan.

Inconsequential that we live shadow to shadow, search begotten with temperature, outlasting the can’t take it anymore, I’m tired of their charts. Wind again, scooping out the hill, here again, hill, the hill. Defunding the cliffs. Your daughter your lover the company, calling from, what’s the difference? To become recognizable—to undo it.

Gridmonth the first. Sitting alignment in status parcel. Status, numbering the visual beats, bearing us percussion turquoise. Gridmonth of the borderless hedgerow—my umbilical pellet, how long did she crave the earliest mention of resin? Fasten. Who comes to my ladder anymore? Glistening in snow volcano, no light overground or molecular resistance. My hand flickers. Tonight, this afternoon, an hour gussied toward horizon, before the one stalling curl, a marathon of interruption. Yes, honey, no more Januaries ever again, that’s it.


Blue was valued even less than green, the color of vegetation and death, which was sometimes the intermediary…Blue was nothing or very little; it was even absent from the sky, which most authors and artists portrayed as white, red, or gold.
– M Postereau

Under sweltering watershed west lapped a shadow stream stuck to this world by rotting knots. To harbor in tidebearing, lost, and none bother to hum its melody or breathe its tangy perfume—before, it existed just to snap across their faces and, later, to hiss into electrical current. We tracked the storm together, hanging up paper maps, marking the precise locations of dizzy spells with pins. Here, who is it, ecstatic.

One morning, this, I balked. I sweat, paint drips, suddenly grey-afraid of your disgust. Am I certainly not dead? The present peels into reverie. I come to believe we have forgotten the dexterity attempt and let panic spill, time to run. Amid the quiet carbon you emit in the morning as infinite emerges from the inches suspending our shapes. Astride me now, on a shaded hill, no—underground in a train car—the aging, in puckered hiking boots discuss sassafras and mushrooms, planting rice in a traditional way.

Above, a crackling teleo-phone, I mean blue sky. Cutting collapsible dynamics, swatting away the blight; it convinces our bodies. What is reasonable is long in dying, axis fraction. I also want to be dead, when I tell you, you say, go on, this isn’t like you. What resembles your dense resistance more than hibernation, the wound of karmic stutter. Refuse to be slight in my body, in an anemia I also inherit. You are watching the tears and tightening. Be the window.

The halls of sandstone catch hold of the clouds—long voices. Expels saturation from corridors. Pure as in fulgurating essential, the extension, in ascent becomes what it could mean to be dimpled by the light, here, wintering. I have considered the spaces silver, grey, an absence of green. Citations. How I am upset by this modernity: I have read that hues green black and grey were interchangeable transolvents, interlocutors and direct apparitions of the sacred, throughout the mean Christian centuries. This study of blue around blue.


Maybe a poem you half translate:
Germ aligns with edge, love at the
Formal, fast
corrodes with
My empress spread her news
Into the earth in augur bruises
The sand mistook for cloth, and salt
Her letter
On the glittering turn

Edging its way into my more subjunctive spores. Tight spirals, words such as plastic and method rituals and pleistocene.


Lover, it’s a confusing day in the ritual. I’ve been reduced to the container (name) of my intention. Which food, whose music was revolutionary, what revolution, how have we been, and how will we continue because of course we will. I am tired, manic, pleading to be recognized as my aunt born again in reverse, the schizophrenic. You question where the echoes can be let out, open to their broadening. And I feel you also despair their bodies. That for me is a discovery. Sometimes language is not enough—it happens like a shock. Lover, I am listening, hoping that in your turns I will swarm like a blossomed hillside. Dormant root. Today I walked my thousandth. Today I wake to your cord of stones laced over the land.

A blindness, the absence world, the pressure of those rendered invisible, pressing and shoving.

I have dreamt the recall, and my inner thighs are chalked. I am shuttled north and south to unlock apartment doors, ascend steps, pluck a guitar for a cat, offer pellets and mice to mouths of dog and snake. Blink the coat tight around my chin. I’m not called back by most of my names this season, though certainly I am not a ghost. Have you? Seen his new advertisement? Squeals of a dialogue between schist,
pulley, and handbrake. I lose faith that even my body could be of monetary value.

Goddess singing. Valence virgin. Kidney arrival.

The monstrous platelet I’m cut from. Who is sick? Vacuum domesticana. My dissipation, her face, which tulip tree, the barbiturate elect ridicules her tomb. Then the line mellows, over time, a wine winnows, the river bloats from a monsoon in the north and is dyed with indigo and turmeric. Among those who live in the village, it is encouraged that all touch this universe painted anew (again, as it’s climate, it’s tradition); the birth goes on for hours. By the time the sun has shrunk to dwelling height there has been a transformation: many have leapt into the yonni of silt and emerged with skin soaked with combination: true form, time mutation, appearance. The residents will carry on, and so it is a village. A village of the inexplicable, in all sizes, will be undetectable and unrecognizable to each in the haze of twilight. Beveling through night. Does not this disambiguation happen every night, without the mask, what happened around the stream, in any village? To endure the mirrors armed with olive and arrow. Tonight, an ineffable transfusion alters parable (parabolic) traces.

Stillmention, basin with the rain in my chest. Above, your wavering visitation.

Once a skipping blue satin, perhaps a dress, perhaps your public stomach: whose spine have I lingered over recently, language of my ruin? A mountain imprint. Rolled out, carved in for visual texture. Impassioned over the once thriving saturate, cushions snip flora and beetles, cream and adrift. The blue cigarette case, canalize I heard, slip cast of a shadow at the café. I am catching essential shapes: archipelagos in the remnant linoleum floor. On the empty runnels toiled over in your workday to make room for their emptiness: you are profoundly sad about getting older, side by side made of the drive to cease existing or to die many times over. Phones surge, yelp me dry, and I find there is not enough silence left to defend life. It is bad faith to consider your life an exception. Our bodies are wrecked from this fourth hour, carry on.


JHANI/J is a writer and artist currently based in Los Angeles. J is interested in the intersections of precarity, ecology, diaspora, and cultural schizophrenia. J co-edits the journal rivulet.

Liz Bowen


does your mother know you melt like this

spittle shower
acid humid

human pulped to preserves


ate the foot and tasted saltine

tasted a bed of bodega flowers

would you taste an ethical human
I mean

would you sample the foot

obtained ethically


watermelon cheek I slurp u up

duck head melon rind

a grandmother’s portion


“is there anything you would not taste”


is there any form

over which the tongue

does not make an ugly

sovereign costume




inching fertile and perpendicular
a caress cleaves gender into gender

a spasm marks a timesheet in topsoil
first year grad school advice: procreate now

or not until tenure 
but what if I
lay thirty eggs in a hole one by one

what if I just can’t put a lid on it

contrary to popular belief
newborn labor movements need not be slapped

upon emergence /
they are leatherleaf
they respire through a thousand surface cells

in the wet dark between a rock and a
slick mantle, human desire congeals

toward the reptilian face of repulsion
borne of the impulse to eat what is loved

by the fingers
does the provost want us
eaten with fingers or a tiny fork?

to love or to be compensated
bite the hand that feeds you table scraps


Have they deigned to look at you. Have they been startled by your appearance on an otherwise sunny day. Have you blended into the carpet at the function until a cat sniffs you out. Have you grown used to being known as either quiet or infernal. Has your one good lung opened up to the institutional air. Dense and recycled. Whistling like a kettle. Mucus monarch, back at the clinic, do you trail kleenex behind you. Walking in and walking in, can you not get an appointment with the person you saw before. Do you not bother to lower your voice when you say “valacyclovir” at the pharmacy. Does your lower lip geyser each December and May like clockwork. Do you gum your way through old rice and beans in the car. Does the leftover tofu curdle in your gut. Did you know it had probably turned when you ate it. Did you pay one-sixth of your income in taxes. Did you treat yourself to a teeth cleaning anyway! But, oh, has the off-duty cop kicked you out of the room you fell asleep in on campus again. Have you spit darts at him while slinking off into the newly landscaped dirt. Do you wake up choking on mandatory reporting. Has a full professor inched up your leg. Have you kept a secret asphalt hot. Have you sat next to a toad at the bar and laughed, and hoped he wouldn’t get hungry. Have they called your three months’ thinking “too easy.” Do you hold on to the tail end of your three-hour naps like holding on to the back of a moving truck. Have you woken up, or has the truck toppled over and spilled its gelatinous contents. Carmex. KY. Undercooked lesson plans. Kraft mac and cheese. The obscenities you swallow while passing the philosophers’ names etched into the library facade. Homer Herodotus who the fuck even Sophocles Plato probably pigs Aristotle Demosthenes I eat your legacy Cicero Virgil with my public school pedigree. From whence this truck. Who ordered all this. Does it spill over at the university loading dock. Does it spill up over the edges of the bed, oh, does it pile up on your chest, does it weigh so much, like a pillar of salt. Does it weigh so much like a descending sole, does it weigh so much like a clamping beak, does it weigh so much like a collective silence, does it weigh so much like the breaking of ground, does it weigh so much like dirt from a backhoe, does it weigh so much like the long scrolls of grass rolled out across campus, does it weigh so much like the new conference building where once was a bait shop and a strip club and a laundromat, does it weigh so much like a symposium, does it weigh so much like the Modern Language Association, does it weigh so much like famous feminists’ loyalties, does it weigh so much like all the shit you know and can’t say about the men in this room, does it weigh so much like a dossier of complaints that doesn’t weigh quite enough to get a man removed from the classroom, does it weigh so much like that.

Have you woken up. The contents suck back into the truck in a flash. This time, the driver is a teamster. The truck turns around at the picket line, refuses to deliver.



LIZ BOWEN is a poet and critic living in New York. She is the author of Sugarblood (Metatron 2017) and the chapbook Compassion Fountain (Hyacinth Girl Press 2019). Her recent writing can be found in The New Inquiry, American Poetry Review, Lit Hub, Boston Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Dream Pop Press, glitterMOB, The Wanderer, and elsewhere. She is a Ph.D. candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, and a poetry editor for Peach Mag.