Cabildo Quarterly. Issue #9. Spring 2016. Belchertown MA; Pittsburgh PA. But they were my teeth. And I was weightless. Whistler’s Nocturne by Laura Lee Washburn Blue and gold Southampton water, night is coming on; I want to dive into that water, my own bay, tanker in the right distance, the yellow ball of sun submersible with my thumb. The sea is a wavering tomb where the group is always subsumed in favor and honor of the one in fluid harmony— not even a choice this tandem motion with your universe. This is my wish, never for death, but to go down into that salt and blue, to be alone only as the sun is alone. Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize)She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky, and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.
People Who Led to My Self-Publishing (From Bagging the Beats at Midnight, a bookstore memoir in progress) By Karen Lillis There was our customer Arthur Nersesian, who told me the story of The Fuck Up, his trademark novel of East Village slackerdom (years before Linklater owned the concept): He had published it himself and sold it on the street for 11 years before Akashic Press picked it up; MTV Books republished it from there and he finally got paid. He sold it on the street; Arthur was a street bookseller for years before he taught writing and then left that behind when he had enough royalty-generating novels to write full-time. When he was teaching at a college in the Bronx, he had a young fiction hopeful come onto him after class; concerned, he asked a senior colleague, “What do I do?” “Oh, you can take her up to the roof,” was the reply. Arthur didn’t miss teaching and was a disciplined daily writer by the time I met him, often composing on his laptop at a nearby Starbucks. Though he never stayed long, he came into the store so frequently to chat with the clerks that he was like an honorary coworker. I had the feeling that he might have been popping by like this for decades. In any case, I considered the publishing trajectory of The Fuck Up a kind of realistic rags-to-riches story I could aspire to. Anaïs Nin was another predecessor in self-publishing. I found her thin volume of nonfiction, In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, in the Literature section early in my time at St Mark’s and devoured her essays about men and women—I ended up buying a number of copies for different women friends who were also navigating the dating line between emotionally-retarded hipsters and expressive–but-retrograde machos. Meanwhile her “Story of My Printing Press” neatly laid out the how’s and the why’s of self-publishing. You self-publish because the commercial world could take decades to catch up to your brand of brilliance, because it’s best to get your work out there while it’s fresh, and because as long as you’re able-bodied and don’t mind wearing different hats (writer, book designer, printer, binder, publisher, promoter, etc.), why the hell not? If you’re lucky, Frances Steloff from Gotham Book Mart will chip in to help back you. And actually, I was lucky: Bob didn’t hand me money and I didn’t even steal the use of his store’s basement copy machine; but when the time came, he put my novel in the window and faced it out on the front wall—and I was grateful for the attention and sales. Hunter Kennedy was an ambitious writer disguised as the ultimate Southern slacker. He ran a literary magazine, and was someone I’d known since I was 17. First as an undergrad in Charlottesville when we were both cordoned off in the Nerd Dorm and later shared a photography class, and a few years after that when we each ended up in Austin, Texas. There Hunter helped me buy an enlarger in return for
the chance to use my makeshift darkroom sometimes. We crossed paths again when he had a first-floor loft in Williamsburg and I was in a Greenpoint railroad apartment, and during those years I also saw him in the bookstore. In Austin, where none of us worked too hard or too often at our dayjobs, Hunter had published this great one-page monthly called The Minus Times. While computerscience geekery swirled around us in the tech sector of Texas, Hunter pecked away at an old typewriter, working on a novel set in his native South Carolina and putting out this simple, two-sided xeroxed sheet of short, typewritten stories or novel excerpts, thiftstore yearbook portraits, “Letters From the Editor,” and cut-ups (which he called “Random Ax”) made from newspaper clippings. By the time I ran into him at the bookstore, the record label Drag City had picked up his zine and he’d turned it into a 20-page lit mag with writings and drawings by David Berman and an interview with Southern novelist Barry Hannah. The magazine was no longer xeroxed, but he did a great job of keeping the aesthetics deeply lo-fi and the techniques still relatively Luddite. Sander Hicks was someone I met from at least three different directions when I first got to New York in 1992. I was addicted to the copy machine by then, having adopted it during my art major as a kind of accessible tool of printmaking, and also needing a trail of everything I wrote. Two of my pals from Charlottesville had migrated from my favorite Kinko’s there to the Kinko’s on 12th Street near University Place around the same time I moved north, so naturally I frequented that copy spot. While xeroxing my letters, art reviews, and collages, I crushed out on the tall, charismatic, and dapper cashier whose nametag read “Sander.” Then I met him officially at a party some other Charlottesville friends were throwing—Sander was briefly in a band with my buddies Jon and Eric. At the end of that summer, my childhood friend Elizabeth moved in with me and talked about looking up her college theater cohort, Sander—same fellow. Around the time I shot photos for the demo tape of Sander’s band Subterfuge, Sander started using his graveyard shift at Kinko’s to produce soft-bound books via the copy and binding machines. (A book or two before he learned Quark, he xeroxed his first novel in a funny 5” x 6” format made of one-sided copies. That was the form in which I found a stack of his book Foam in the stairwell of St Mark’s Bookshop--when it was at 12 St Mark’s Place.) Soft Skull Press was born as a venture after my own Robin Hood heart—a completely pirated press showcasing punk literature by underground rockers like Todd Colby, Lee Ranaldo, John S. Hall, and Sander himself. (Sander, having grown up in DC at the moment that Fugazi was vocalizing a new unrest, had been inspired by the hero of Do-It-Yourself, Ian McKaye.) Then a year or two after I reviewed Sander’s senior thesis play for The Southern Quarterly, the press went legit. When I began working at the bookstore, I started seeing Sander replenishing poetry titles on consignment. By then I was completely jazzed about the idea of an edgy publishing house (angry at all the right things) produced by the “people’s printing press”—the xerox machine. It occurs to me that Soft Skull was one of the small presses that was closest to the bookstore in terms of its mission and aesthetics—on the one hand, it was about a relentless critique of the Powers That Be, and on the other hand it celebrated the freshest avant-garde literature, publishing intense and absolutely readable poetry and prose by the newest and best emerging writers. Soft Skull didn’t fuck around with pedigrees or writing that was opaque—the press’ underlying urgency to communicate both signaled and created a community of readers, writers, and activists. Poet Julien Poirier was a pal who eventually showed up as a customer at the bookstore after several months spent writing in Morocco. I had met him a few times when we were the only two writers at academic parties in Greenpoint thrown by my roommate and his grammar school friend’s girlfriend. We would eventually turn every conversation to the dilemma of getting published, and the elated feeling we had when we finished a work—the feeling that made us want to xerox copies of it and hand it out to everyone we knew. We had both proceeded to do so, but in relatively clumsy formats that only our friends could possibly forgive. It was later that we both got into self-publishing in a more serious fashion. Of course, self-publishing was in the air at St Mark’s Bookshop. There were all the iconic authors we knew
had self-published—Nin, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Kathy Acker, Gertrude Stein. There was our distant notion of the samizdat press in Soviet Russia, or our knee-deep knowledge of the zine culture in America, still going pretty strong in the late 90s. The store carried a whole world of books by underground or unknown authors and artists submitted for sale on consignment. These included but also stretched beyond “the consignment shelf ”—a tall, thin, wooden structure with pocket shelves situated approximately in between Anais Nin’s diaries and the John O’Hara titles in the Literature section. The consignment shelf was full of copy-machine and other handmade offerings of comics, poetry, political screeds, and literary (and other) prose. The store had a totally open policy for such items, accepting three copies from any self-publisher with a local address. But the shelf was so notorious, it drew some seriously talented folks from near and far, and was perused religiously by certain customers. The idea of self-publishing slid easily into the realm of micro publishing or small-run anthologies—which recalls my favorite truism of Diana the magazine buyer. Whenever the staff gathered like hyenas around an arch-hip new literary magazine (finding it not up to snuff), our most frequent put-down was that the editor was just “publishing his friends.” Diana would laugh and remind us: “Most literary magazines start out as a collection of the editor’s friends. It’s just that some people have really interesting friends.” Karen Lillis the author of four short novels. Her writing has appeared in The Austin Chronicle, Blink Ink, Lit Hub, New York Nights, Pulse/Berlin, TRIPCITY, Undie Press, and Volume 1 Brooklyn, among others. She received a2014 Acker Award for Avant Garde Excellence in Fiction.
Where Else? by Jacob Fricke written in transit, momentarily pausing in the middle of nowhere every place is stuffed with sunlight every hour’s beneath the sky there is never any travel none need find a reason why the rooms and faces keep on shifting shimmering through time and space that is just the sunlight’s circle trees might grow in any waste in the street or up mt. mansfield they twist proper, every one though we know them but in passing everywhere is with the sun Jacob Fricke was Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine.
AN AWESOME MUSTACHE AND OTHER STOPS ON THE WAY TO ENLIGHTENMENT by Matthias Holt I wish you could see a picture of my mustache. It's pretty awesome. Seriously. I say this with tons of humility because before the last few weeks there had never been anything truly awesome about my face and I was the first guy to admit it. So when I say this mustache is extraordinary, believe it. Burt Reynolds would weep. I tried to get a picture of it, but it doesn't really translate to Instagram. You've got to see it move I think. I guess it's an action mustache. Imagine the perfect Wyoming sunset, the sound of horses' hooves in the distance, the smell of fire and tobacco, some dude playing a tough-ass song on a harmonica. Now imagine that, only in facial hair. That's this mustache. And it's pretty lucky because the rest of my beard is sort of splotchy and I'm getting thin up top. It's like all my hair growth power got sucked into a black hole of excellence between my lip and nostrils. Also, I wish you could hear me read this essay out loud. Because my mustache really adds a timbre to my voice that is sort of hard to describe. I’m not saying it’s my
mustache that literally does it. That would be insane. But I swear it changes the sound a bit. Mostly, I think it’s the confidence which I guess I never had before. Imagine Orson Welles meets Alec Baldwin. That’s sort of what I sound like now. Alec Baldwin when his character is having a sinister insight right into the camera – that's the sort of thing this mustache can do. My voice used to be okay, don't get me wrong. It was maybe at the level of Ira Glass from This American Life. Maybe not quite that good but I never had any complaints. Anyway, imagine this awesome voice reading these words in your head. I've been meditating a lot. Like every day. And doing yoga. Not every day but almost. I'm not awesome at these things necessarily but I'm pretty good. I'm not going to be asked to model yoga poses or anything, but sometimes my teacher looks at me in class and raises her eyebrows like she’s saying 'Nice!' And I don't want to brag, but she's sort of famous. I won't say her name, because that wouldn't be very humble, but she has tons of followers on Facebook. I only say this so you know that when I mention the thing about the eyebrows we're not talking about some novice doing that. I mean I can't do an inverted full lotus pose or anything, but I can stand on my hands for a whole bunch of breaths and I have really good posture. And sometimes I have thoughts in Sanskrit. Not that I'm fluent. No at all. I can’t even really pronounce it correctly or remember the Sanskrit names for the yoga poses, but occasionally I'll just be eating some quinoa or something and I'll think this thought and later when we’re chanting in Sanskrit I'll be like, “oh that thought I had earlier was totally from this Sanskrit chant, not in English as you would naturally assume.” But, anyway, I wish you could see my face right now because it looks super enlightened. I'm not talking Dali Lama enlightened, but pretty good. You may not know it if you just looked at me, but if you compare my face now to my old face you'd be like, wow, that dude is super enlightened. I look at that last paragraph and it seems like I'm bragging, but I'm not. Well, probably I am a little bit because I'm not totally enlightened. I still have some ego, but I'm pretty humble. It's from the meditating. I'm just trying to say that I'm a little bit enlightened and I happen to have, through no real fault of my own, an awesome mustache, and I want you to know that that's where these suggestions are coming from. Because this is my point: it's awesome to be a little bit enlightened and have an awesome mustache. Meditating with an awesome mustache is a different experience from just normal meditating. Not that the Dalai Lama can't grow a killer stash or that Burt Reynolds can't be enlightened, but think about it, those things rarely happen together. And even the thing with the voice – that's pretty rare. You don't hear Thich Nat Hahn and think, wow, that dude should record some audio books. You think, that dude should write some more books and get Baldwin to record them. But, anyway, my point isn’t only about mustaches and cool voices. Those are metaphors. I'm talking about cool things that you have generally, whatever they are. Whatever you have in your life that’s equivalent to my mustache. It might be some awesome yoga ability or maybe you're super good at cooking. It could be anything. But it's your thing. My point is that it's okay to do that thing or have that thing and meditate. And if your thing is having a mustache, then it's awesome to have that thing and meditate at the same time. I say that because they don’t really interfere with each other. Some people would disagree with me. They think that if you’re meditating you should only meditate, that you can’t have anything awesome that keeps you from being more enlightened. They probably think I should shave off my mustache and start talking louder. But that’s bullshit. The point is: if you see me or someone like me in a yoga or meditation class looking proud of their mustache, don’t judge us! I’m thinking of two particular people here, but it applies to anyone. It’s totally okay to glance at my stash between poses and sort of nod or whatever. You’re not too good for that. It won’t hurt you to acknowledge my mustache’s resonant qualities when you hear me talk during the break. But this doesn’t just go for me. Remember, the “mustache” is a metaphor. You could also compliment Alice on the cool yoga pants that she tie dyed herself. You're not more enlightened than us just because you can meditate like a fucking statue whose nose never itches or you're awesome at inverted lotuses and other cool poses. Because you know what? For some people, enlightenment is their awesome thing. So, when they meditate or do yoga, they’re also experiencing their “mustache.” La de da. Good for them. But so what? We all have to have a thing.
Sure, you may be more enlightened, but that's because you meditate more and do yoga all day long. But then what? That all you got? I guess what I'm saying is I'd rather be part way enlightened with an awesome stash and a sweet speaking voice than all the way enlightened and no stash. Same thing with Alice and the sweet pants. And that's just who we are and you're not better than us because of it. Okay, so maybe my ego likes that my face has an awesome stash. Whose wouldn't? Why can't I have both? I'm enlightened and detached from desire one moment, like allthe-way detached, but then, oh look I just remembered about my mustache and that makes me smile but then I put it out of my mind and once again I'm just as enlightened as the next guy. I'm balancing the two realities. And in that moment, I'm just as enlightened as anyone else. I may only be enlightened right-side up or only occasionally or whatever, but basically I'm just as enlightened as the next guy. Matthias Holt is a Midwestern writer who currently resides in California. You can find him online on twitter @matthiaszholt.
Needlework by Josh Davis When I visit the moon in her cave, she hands me a heap of white cloth stretched on a hoop. As I sew, stitch after stitch starts to bleed, so I tear out my heart at each X. Do it again, says the moon. Josh Davis has recent poems in Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and forthcoming poems in The Rotary Dial and Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman. He lives and writes in Athens, Ohio.
My Communist Leanings by Jennifer Bannan I am fifteen. My boyfriend is trying to describe Cuba, where he lived until he was six. He slides open the shower door while I towel off. We never worry anymore about his grandparents coming around. They’re wise enough to stay put in their garage apartment while his parents are still at work. He holds up the soap to demonstrate. The wet hairs of his stomach cling together in furtive twists. The tile gleams pink in the fluorescence. “You can have soap,” he says, giving it a glance, then tossing it into the tile’s upturned porcelain palm. “Or the towel.” His smile is maniacal – and demanding. Can you believe? He says, pick one. You can only have one. He ignores me and my shrugging. I don’t know what to say. From my middle class perch – from my place of hi-fi and National Geographics and ground chuck and Levolor – I know I should be scandalized. I hug my own towel around me. His father, he tells me, taught him how to swipe the liquid off his body. He shows me, makes a squeegee of his hand across his skin. He shakes his thick black hair like a dog, droplets flying. And I give him my towel, stand there naked. I say, “So I guess your dad was a soap man.” What I want to say is that maybe the squeegee action proves a towel is overkill. Not to mention the twenty others piled high in the cupboard behind us. But I just used the towel, so saying something like that would make me a hypocrite. “You can’t imagine what it’s like,” he mutters. And maybe he’s right. But who cares about soap? Who wants a towel? If I must consume, make it that body. That young man. I don’t want to think about which dead thing to choose, not when I’m in the presence of this bursting life. Jennifer Bannan’s short stories have appeared in ACM, Passages North, Café Eighties, womenwriters.net, Radio Transcript Newspaper and others. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s creative writing program, she lives in Pittsburgh.
The Unexpected by Ellen Goldsmith Cherries hold their pits in defiance Tulips are saddest before they bloom Like butter that softens in the sun and spoils the heart not listening for the unexpected wilts Ellen Goldsmith is the author of Where to Look, Such Distances and No Pine Tree in This Forest Is Perfect which won the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center 1997 chapbook contest. “The Secret of Life” from Such Distances was A resident of Cushing, Maine, she is a professor emeritus of The City University of New York.
No Bus. No Hope. by Rebecca Griffin I’m sitting on the bench Waiting for the bus Watching one car Two. Watching the next car Neck craning—can I see the bus? I hear a Jake brake, is that the bus? I hear a motorcycle, is that the bus? A girl walks up with a book. Do you know the time? No. Not me. Not at this time. No bus. Is there a bus? There is no bus. I lose faith in the bus. I think there will never be a bus, just like there will never be another Jesus. But then there is the hopeful girl with the book here. And the hopefuls across the street. They have not lost hope. There’s a house there, and a steeple there. Hey, I’ll do the house steeple bit with my hands. Haven’t done that in a while. I’m late. I’m late. If I walk the two miles, maybe I can still beat the bus. I want to walk. But I don’t want to be late. A bunch of people across the street. Here is a bus. Here it is and now it is stopping waaaayyyy down the street. Which bus, which bus, which bus? Bus with a broken fender on the front. The electric sign with the route information is dark and then flashes “Out of Service.” Fake bus. Not even a bus at all, but a man going home to his family A man speeding toward the place where buses spend the night The place where buses have their windows washed Their sparkplugs replaced. A place with hoses and tools and lots and lots of buses. Seeing this bus, even though it is not my bus Makes me believe in my bus. Waiting for the bus. A pigeon and a man on his bike in a blue shirt. A woman with a baby carriage. The baby wants the flower and the mother picks it from the bush and gives it to her baby. Boy on a bike. He peddles hard and goes fast. You can here him sucking the wind in through his teeth making a snake sound, except when he inhales instead of exhales. There is no bus. No bus No bus No bus Rebecca Griffin lives in Belchertown MA. She has just completed her dissertation on union auto workers of the 30’s at UMass Amherst. She writes one poem a year.
Cabildo Quarterly #9. First press of 1000 copies 3/26/2016, printed at Collective Copies in Amherst MA. (This quarter = almost eight months.) Michael T. Fournier, publisher/fiction; Lisa Panepinto, organization/poetry. Free in/around Belchertown MA/Pittsburgh PA. Additional copies and/or back issues available at a buck per/five bucks for a stack to CQHQ, POB 784, Belchertown MA 01007. (Be advised/forewarned this address will soon be changing -- and thanks to the saints at the Belchertown post office for putting up with us so kindly for the past five years.) Submissions? Yes! Fiction of no more than 3000 words to email@example.com; 3-5 new poems to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a 25word bio with both kinds of submissions, yo.(No .pdf ’s, please -- they’re brutal to format.) This issue’s release coincides with AWP 2016 in Los Angeles. Mike will be reading with Alice Bag, Keith Morris and Michelle Gonzales at Pehrspace on Saturday 4/2. Then on Friday 4/8 it’s back to Amherst, where Mike will be presenting at the ‘Documenting Punk’ conference with Byron Coley, Lydia Lunch, Sara Marcus, Tanya Pearson and more. Rad! After that, likely some readings this summer in Western Mass and Brooklyn with Thee Mike Faloon (whose work will be featured in issue #10 -- as it happens, the 4th anniversary ish.). Thanks for reading, and to to Bec and Ryan for putting up with us. Listen to Dead Trend!