bedfellows summer 2015
Copyright Â© 2015 press Cover by Amanda Craig All rights reserved. ISBN-13: 978-0692489888 ISBN-10: 0692489886
Lovers disappear in each other. Do they disappear forever? Where do they go? â€” Kathy Acker, from Eurydice in the Underworld
LOVE & FAIL | 9 THERE ARE MANY WAYS | 10 THINKING OF THE COAST IN FEBRUARY | 11 SLEPTEMBER | 12 from THE FAMULUS DIARIES | 13 PENNYTOSS | 20 TAKING TIME ON DARIEN STREET | 21 ONE NIGHT | 25 BONDS | 26 PASTORAL: INTERAPOCALYPTACOURSE | 32
ONE-NIGHT STAND | 34 ON INSIGNIFICANT LOVE | 35 JUNE | 36
from MARGERYKEMPETHING | 38 CASA ALOMA | 40 LOVEJOY IN THE NEW YEAR | 42 A TASTE FOR IT | 43 ALL KNOWN EXES OF THIS WORLD GETTING MARRIED SIMULTANEOUSLY | 44
CONTRIBUTOR KEY | 49 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS | 51 EDITORS | 53
LOVE & FAIL | I This is baloney, you get to sit, reading Calvino, & eat yogurt. I’d like some yogurt, too. Who cares about Calvino, he’ll be around. But you never know, cultures frequently die, so eat up. I’ll be making bookshelves & thinking about love. About how I don’t love like I should. I love & fail to listen.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS | I in collaboration with Stephen Potter There are many ways to get nailed There’s Willem Dafoe In Body of Evidence There’s Charlotte Gainsbourg in Anti-Christ There’s a fly in my house There’s never enough time to lay text Sheena she was good to go with a little Funky Cold Medina Sheena was a man Anyone who’s serious About **** always shaves Be careful he’ll just show up
THINKING OF THE COAST IN FEBRUARY | I Rachmaninoff was smart. He knew when it was time to fuck off to California after the Bolsheviks came to power. All those peasants looked so hot in their smocks. Maybe if the czars were still alive they’d have tattoos in mysterious places. Isn’t the czar kinkier with the cz than the ts? They’d tattoo the landmarks of the Silk Road between their toes. Their lovers would find their way to the private rooms in the palace, where the only plans they make are when to see each other again. See what the old composer is missing! All this Hollywood-style corruption and deceit: Sergei wants for nothing, writing in the nude.
SLEPTEMBER | II She said it was harder than she thought it would be. Fiction is never just pretty. The curve of the desk matches your cheekbone perfectly. If we’re careful, we can really blend this all together well. Yes, you’re smarter than you think. I could live in this apartment forever. What apartment? Oh, the one in the prettiest city in America. You know the type. All I need is this notebook, and poems! I’m sorry I’m missing your doctor’s appointment.
from THE FAMULUS DIARIES | III IV.
the right jargon, gesture to cu
pnosis The old quiet
fore for sentencing.
e e d
dis s ing.
gate the last
bread and olives ,
a crowbar and a hacksaw.
The gap had been wired
stalk in white bikini
a brown in a
my final t
hasp the padlock bolt,
a m un
PENNYTOSS | IV I left my house with good intentions and walked to the wishing well, Wednesday in the spring, my books abandoned on the table, some still pristine like starched linen. Crisp. A long day, my stomach in knots, mostly watching the bucket descend as I turn the crank and mostly watching for the shape of you behind me, blocking out birds and wind and the dangling ornaments of houses in the distance with their endless quaint clamoring and I listen for your footsteps. Kneel in loose dirt, trace my fingers in places you may have stood, soil like the inverse salt on my hardwood: the one ghostly picket fence Iâ€™m likely to have in this world. I lick the ground with my tongue I press my cheek on the indent and, inevitably, thereâ€™s dirt on my face when you finally approach and I know you know everything I do to keep you closer.
TAKING TIME ON DARIEN STREET | V “I met you in the morning waiting for the tides of time” — The Beatles, ‘What Goes On’ I stole some time and brought it to Darien Street. She lets me in at 3am. She’s wearing pink socks and pajama bottoms with birds in top hats printed on them, hair in a bun. She had been texting me for hours and looked uncertain now that I was here, like maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, like maybe this, whatever it was, wasn’t going to fit in either of our lives. “This can’t be a real thing,” she says. “I know,” I say, and I do, “but look,” and show her my cupped hands, fingers tight, with a small pool of time ebbing and flowing against the shores of my pointer fingers. “Where did you find that?” she asks, eyes brightening. “Around,” I say, “quick—” She dips her fingers in and presses the time on her forehead, anointing first herself, then me. Then we plunge. The air gets thicker then. Reality is just a little bit more resistant to my movements, and I tingle all over. Her clothes are rippling a little, and I reach up and take her hair tie. Once freed, her long brown hair begins to float and sway around her head. My hair floats too, and brushes past the lenses of my glasses and up into the atmosphere. 21
She slips my glasses gently off my face, down my nose, and places them on the table. The barrier that keeps me safe from the world is gone and this is the sexiest thing anyone has ever done. We spent most of our first few inserted hours sleeping, if you can believe it, but there’s so little time for rest. In my sleep, I feel arms slipping across my chest and around my neck. She snorts and tosses. We wake. Sound echoes slightly, reverberating off the walls, bouncing around and back to me in muffled tones. Colors are darker now, and the shadows seem to ripple and move where they don’t make sense. It would be unnerving if I were alone, I think, but now that I’m with her, I’m only reminded that we’re in a safe space, or as safe as we’re going to get, that probabilities and nature are off kilter in this bubble I’ve made. We live in our own place, just the two of us for a while, and the shadows celebrate their liberty too. We kiss and pull and clothing floats away and we see all the places we never got the chance to before. When she comes, her legs hover over the bed and shake down to her quivering toes. She pulls my hair and pushes her face into my neck. We sit on the couch and there is this: a girl warms her cold toes, purple paint chipping in my hands on a thawing Sunday afternoon. Later, this is what I remember most. But you can’t steal time, not really. Every last second will be bought and paid for.
I vomit in the bathroom as the universe begins to correct itself. She tries not to listen, and I know now that she won’t kiss me on the mouth again. I don’t blame her; even after I use the rest of her mouthwash, I can still taste the bile on my tongue as it bobs in the back of my throat. She’s coming to herself now. The air is lighter again, easy to move through, the shadows aren’t rippling. She’s remembering her life and how I complicate it. I go; a swift kiss on the cheek, chaste, maybe she thinks this shouldn’t have happened. As my shoes scuff the stone steps that lead from her door, I’m too faded to argue. The only real thing I can feel is the pounding in my head. She looks a goodbye at me, one hand holding her robe, closed at the neck, and another on the door. I stand for a moment outside as her face disappears, silent upon a step on Darien. I don’t remember the walk home. I’m greasy and feverish, my muscles are sore; I can feel my blood cells rushing through my veins, like they’ve overslept for work and are trying to make up the time. When I’m finally lulled to sleep on Sunday afternoon, it’s with a dull ache and the rain falling softly against the windows of my small apartment. I’m covered in heavy blankets, shivering.
A week later, and the world moves so fast now. Lights and cars speed by and I canâ€™t get work in on the deadline. It seems like I should have had longer to do it. People are uncomfortable around me that week, and I around them. Itâ€™s like they can sense something hanging around me, an aura of something unnatural. I find a gray hair on Wednesday, and on Friday I throw my back out while brushing my teeth. I drink coffee alone on the next Sunday. Most of the week, I could keep from crying. Not today. My bones hurt from time running through my joints. Holding on to extra time is scooping holy water out of a basin and trying to carry it out of a church: you can only get so far before it drips through your fingers, no matter how tight you hold. Your attempt at salvation pooling on the floor. But in the hereafter of this tiny apocalypse, I see her in dozing dreams and I am warm and holy.
ONE NIGHT | VI — and from across the parquet dance floor you snapped your hand into the air, a fishing pole, invisible wire. Come here. And I did, knowing my tits looked great in that teal chiffon dress and “I Had the Time of My Life” was blaring through drunk wires. Champagne, red velvet cake, garnet rings on white tablecloths, the chlorinechoked pool at the Holiday Inn Express. Come here. And I did, sure nobody saw when I pinched your ass on the way to the elevator. I count: Five unreturned texts. Three dates cancelled. One girl pretending the junior wealth advisor who fucked her at the wedding is worth a damn. Come on. -- sucked your mouth as the key card slipped in the slot. Chiffon hit the floor. You put on Hootie and the Blowfish. Unironically. Come on. I know you just broke up with someone but would it kill you to cue up some Jodeci for a one night stand at your family friend’s nuptials? Oh, my two-pump chump. My bloated groomsman. My cousin saw us slip away, tripping over the corporate carpet and told your buddy anyway. 25
BONDS | VII Houdini standing with his hands cuffed, tailored suit, white shirt. His fall over the cliff. Barrel nailed shut, unseen grimace. This is the sexiest act. This is the biggest faith. An escape down water to a middle point; an act tied from incomprehensible slots and flaps. His body nestles and slides on nothing but restraints.
A yellow parrot, fringey you saidâ€”haphazardâ€” paused on a railing over the beach, never moving. We stared quietly at his colors, his lack of flying away. I asked the guy reclined beneath the parrot Does that bird belong to you? Who can something yellow and green and alive belong to? And the man shook his head no, pointed to the people crowded near the waterline: They read magazines, talked sandwiches, indifferent. The bird stayed and stays, trusts in his rail and blue lintel of sky.
Houdini pulled twenty needles from his mouth strung on one thread and a skeptical conjuror explains to todayâ€™s audience how Houdini fooled us, he held the needles close together in his mouth so their eyes were aligned-and threaded them all at once using his tongue. The thread was there all along in his mouth. As if this defuses our wanting to watch the magic. As if this explains anything at all.
The deer, two deer unconcerned in the shoulder eat open to all the cars that drive past. The speeds absurd and the shoulders so narrow. The animals prove the usual dangers have all been mis-identified.
I like the part where your clothes are still on and you might come around the corner with a coke and open a door for me. I like the part where all my misplaced affections all these years now turn into something I always wantedâ€” stretched, arms tied, blue torso.
When you went onto the theater set and stole a lamp iridescent with flowers and bronze filigree, there stood one less thing to turn on. One less trick, one less kingly prop. And that lamp is always in your house, on. And given light, how tightly you can hold someone with a gaze. How the light holds the whole room hostage and you and I, we wish we could cover our eyes, bellowing no to the idea of light, to the idea of our attachments and supple thoughts being illuminated. Your loud and comical “no,” seeing my finger on the light-switch, “no” to the idea of work, to the idea of leaving this captivity “no” to the idea of finite corners and white.
PASTORAL: INTERAPOCALYPTACOURSE | VIII The obliteration. (A convulsing hole.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I feel protected. The end days. (A blue-hung cliff.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I finally relax. The slipped coil. (A gaping violence.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I believe spring may yet come. The annihilation. (A viscous, rhythmic lack.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I persist. The destruction of the planet. (A darkened peak.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I have faith, or stop caring about faith. The apocalypse into which I grind my teeth. (A swollen weapon.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I temporarily imagine the possibility of safety. The little death. (A set of gasps.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I am relieved. The big death. (A warm abyss.) How when you fuck me so hard it hurts, I am the Zen
It’s hard to breathe. It’s hard to sleep at night, living in the crisis world as we come, through consciousness, to know it. Is this the postmodern condition, or was it this way in 1915, 1815? 715 BC? I imagine it was: every time is a war-time, an end-time, and us a race of mortality-driven survivors. Not as good at it as rats or roaches, but just as pleasurehungry, drawn toward sugar.
The sun will explode. The clean water will be gone. Nuclear or meteor, we are not meant to last. And yet we obsess about lasting. The only time I don’t obsess about lasting is when you are deliciously destroying me. That’s why I need it harder. More. Fuck the pain away, the song goes. Fuck the pain in, more like it. The pain is a way of being alive. An aliveness that temporarily glosses over, goes deep, fills a void.
Being in the constant crisis, one may understandably want a vaccine. But I’ve never trusted Big Pharm, and the only kind of disruption of my immuno-nervous system can bear is the one that comes from your wellintentioned slamming of my internal organs. In these moments, I think, I am meant to be demolished. It is my good purpose. In these moments, I blessedly do not think at all. nothing that connects to everything.
ONE-NIGHT STAND | IX a cascading soak I flow into the room paper water morning paper water & for a hundredth time ask what living like this means I mean, what's the point of drowning in America if you're not going to do it in the tap water? part of my nocturnal survey, I use dogs to search the woods & give weight to the body to sink & to watch it become the womanless all-woman of this bed, from whom I shrink.
ON INSIGNIFICANT LOVE | IX Underneath the sheets of fish, which drift & dart amongst each other in a pattern so refined they know not what it is and coordinate without conductorâ€” enormous like intrepid spheresâ€”their skins never meeting each frictionless atmosphere sliding in perfectly distorted closeness, is the sandfish who always, unexpected, sinks her teeth.
JUNE | X It’s June, impossible again. That trochaic phrase foxtrots through my head. I’m in love with myself. That’s why I drink too much. Tawny beers disappear in spilled stains on my tank top. I’m in love with myself. So who shouldn’t fuck me? Take me home, take me out back and shoot me. Who the fuck cares really? Some nights I stare like everyone is a pebble to suck on, a salt block to lick, a hand to bite in early June. If my hand brushes my zipper, will that man over there want to fuck me in the ass? Will those two ask me 36
to go home with them? If they do will I remember where I am? I am that weed lurking in the garden – stylish, stout, and easily pulled at. It’s June. Shouldn’t I be better at this? Yank on me, and I won’t remember. I’ll wake up with a hangover, and a bucket of blood on my sheets, wishing I was more in love with myself.
from MARGERYKEMPETHING | XI the poem for the first baby is easy for the first time you fuck someone (margery kempe that means swive) but what about the hundredth the hundred-hundredth time when your body is not the one that shivered in its shift & said
don't worry I'm not afraid of you
margery kempe invents in vulgar tongue it's better to marry than to burn
mean with my heart what you do with your mouth we draw winterward
we marry & burn
one hundred-hundred times inordinately his body yow again
suffyr me to medele wyth swivel suffer me this
domestic tongue (in ordinary use)
you are the shape of my midlife crisis margery kempe
where is your body
the cairn to mark you
a crewelworked shroud
it's true you had one hundred hands
braids patient pigeons you've done my head in sche menyth not wyth hir heart as sche seyth with hir mowthe poem for the fourth eighth fourteenth baby yes sir
this creature means it with her whole mouth
the hundred-hundredth suffer me meddle me the main function of the goodwifthing is what
this creature means it with her whole mouth
& by definition one cannot get any closer to the offing
not get any closer to that past body
CASA ALOMA | XII The first time I met DeJuan was in a hallway in Lake Howell: I was wandering on a bathroom pass & he was in his locker & he called me over & asked me if I wanted to buy some acid & I said yes I’d like to buy some acid. I was told losing one’s virginity is supposed to be special so when I lost my virginity at 15 while on acid with my friend’s
older sister I thought I was fulfilling that expectation: it was a doctor’s office courtyard & it was night & summer & rising inside me was a great cypress tree in a dark lake and Spanish moss spun inside my gut and she said there there it’s ok it’s ok I’ve done this I’ve done this
LOVEJOY IN THE NEW YEAR | XIII A rival to annihilate, Lovejoy's tail sweeps across faint stars, across Hercules. He shudders beneath a naked constellation seven light-minutes closer to the deepest exposure. A crack in the atmosphere. Waking up to Hercules is easy. Getting out of bed is stickier. Surrender is the best medicine. His forfeit gesture rests
outside a foot deep.
All day long, people will carry off its wetter parts and envy their neighbor's icicles.
A TASTE FOR IT | XIV Nudity is like salt, it makes everything taste better, like picking a winning horse. The texture of your skin is the smell of thyme still growing, in the sun, in a windowbox just within reach. O’Hara, hear me now: we have gotten too far away from what the Romans knew so well: muta cupido, our dumb desire, is magic and comedy in equal measure. * Dumb show: like shadow puppets stretched by the light of passing cars, we contract and elongate and say nothing. * In rooms by the sea me and the gulls cackle ka-ha-ha-ha-ha in the early sun, they’re diving for fish, don’t care what you’ve done.
ALL KNOWN EXES OF THIS WORLD GETTING MARRIED SIMULTANEOUSLY | XV you have been sick you have been sick + swarmed under for a month or over concerned about moisture in post-light. + leaking + folded over in a dark room breathing heavily. through eyelids. + elsewhere all exes getting married simultaneously– all in their millions, yours and mine, all exes knotted in a tender pile touching their red bandanas to one another gingerly go forth + investigate. unknot the knot of webby limbs. where does love live here? wither love’s liver? the people are enmeshed in one another’s politics, they say “honey” they say “sugar” + remember that your touch was fractal only and mutable. I mean, mine too. all your exes are changing their facebook cover pics to interchangeable beach bods emerging out of chemical weddings.
the women, the men. all my exes are chanting in identical robes with identical daggers, in transit from red to gold substance, bubbling off a little sand a remainder you can scrape up + consider. our exes automatically clarifying their formsâ€“ species suspended + missed immensely + bodies flying off into the embarrassed ocean + sex ghoul trapped beneath wood desk+ priestess with an underbite + wizard locking a bathroom door unadorned handle with ribbonsâ€“ all these instances subsumed deep inside the bods elsewhere in the world all your parentsâ€™ houses begin to smell like forbidden knowledge, pine-scented cleaner, novels for teens you were too young to look at. elsewhere dust is flying into your eyes + mouth. under green arcades you start sniffling uncontrollably overwhelmed by the phantom of touch + your throat swells shut your eyes itch in the old days your body cohered adorably mine too upside down in a magic lens carted before you on the backs of enraptured petitioners
like Albertine, you know, from Proust our exes ascend in airplanes + come down in flames that speak. #TIL that all forms persist forever + speak forever out of red smoke dressed forever in permanent fashions, scarf folded over the vision of a limb extended out from the curtain, out from a million separate sofa cushions. everything in the universe is sliding into your DM’s, everything is becoming, comrade and co-religionist + oldest living artifact, what’s your new #, everything offers up that here is when the ceremony is, everything insists upon you, please come early and here is the job you’ll do–
CONTRIBUTOR KEY I| II |
STAN MIR JULIA BLOCH
V| VI | VII | VIII | IX | X| XI | XII |
KEVIN TRAVERS RAE PAGLIARULO CYNTHIA ARRIEU-KING ARIELLE GREENBURG HB IRWIN BOSTON GORDON PATTIE MCCARTHY JOHN EBERSOLE
We would like to thankâ€” Patrick Blagrave for his editorial eyes, Amanda Craig for providing us with a lovely cover, Leslie at Lâ€™Etage for her hospitality, and the Philadelphia poetry community for being our home.
bedfellows staff Co-Editors Jaclyn Sadicario | Alina Pleskova
Managing Editor Laura Blagrave