Page 1

issue seventeen Bay Area Artists

{ managing editor Rebecca Woolston

assistant editor Davey Davis

fiction editor Keri Shroeder

poetry editor Garin Hay

incoming editor

Bay Area Artists Issue 17 • Copyright 2015

ISSN: 1523-4762


design + layout

WEBSITE Davey Davis Valarie Williams

template: emji spero design: Rebecca Woolston Garin Hay


cover art

Valarie Williams

Micheline Marcom

Deborah Sherman

Map Darin Jensen


Edited by a revolving staff of graduate students at Mills College, 580 Split aims to publish innovative poetry, prose, and visual art. The journal takes its name from the highway ramps, overpasses, and interchanges near the college. 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613 You can find submission guidelines at: website and online archives:

Mills College Oakland, 2015

issue seventeen

bay area artists



Cleave/Corporeal Mercy


The Sissies



Rex Leonowicz


Summer Arcana


When Gender is Mischief




Case Studies


Only You



Brittany Billmeyer-Finn



who do you think you are.





Nite Selfie

Rebekah Edwards

Felix McGuire


Cunt Teeth Mixtape Tracks 1-4 Kate Robinson


The Whiteness Poems


The Shopgirl Handbook


Anna Avery

Zack Haber


Ivy Johnson

Evan Kennedy

ZoĂŤ Tuck

Nicole Trigg

Michael Levesque

Jenny Williams

Sarah Schwartz

Jelal Huyler

Cosmo Spinosa

Joel Gregory



excerpt, The Geography of Half our


excerpt, Year of the Rat


St. Anthony of Potrero Emily Kiernan


One Flew South Emily Tsukanov

visual art Alison Kreitzberg Felix McGuire Travis Jackson Irene Dellett Emily Ritz Hannah Schoetz Julie Chen Rachel Walther

non-fiction / essay


The Impediments


Tender Points

Nicole Trigg

Amy Berkowitz

long interviews

38 66 108 137 228

Doug Rice Cheena Marie Lo Gerone Sprull Emily Ritz David Bra-

short interviews

240 241 243

Emily Lazo


Becki CouchAlvarado

248 249

B. Khairy

Layton Han Margaret Ann Miller

Tom Wagner

from the Editor Rebecca Woolston When the editorial team sat down this year for that discussion of “what do we want to do?” we were coming back from a summer of strange things. Mills had just gone through a radical political moment and it was heavy on all of our minds. At the time we weren’t sure we still had The Place for Writers, which usually helps 580 out with visiting writers to interview. So Micheline asked, “But what about here? What is happening here, in the Bay?” It felt like an obvious question, but I think we all realized how imporant it was to ask. She was right, the Bay hums and so we started an investigation. To begin, we had themes: education, labor, environment, tech, art. But they all bled into each other. It’s hard to ask someone to talk about just one thing. So, life. To have had that moment where we thought, “ok, we are going to look at artists that live and work around us,” matters so much to this journal. We are a product of this home. How do we make a living? How do we support ourselves so we can continue to do the work of the soul? All of the work in here feels like it tries to answer this question in some way. Cheena’s interview is a great place to look for how someone out of an MFA program begins to negotiate the space between debt and education so many of us find ourselves in. This journal is full of artists who live and/or work in the Bay Area. As it turns out, a lot of the writers in here were in the MFA at Mills at one point, so in some ways, this is a bit of an alumnus tribute issue. Some have since left the area, but there is something about the Bay that clings to you forever and calls you forward and back, always. Maybe it’s something in the fog that gets into your skin and never leaves. The cover map is another way to visually see how artists here move through their world. All the locations marked are mentioned in the text in this journal. This is how we move through the cities, these are the places that support us. There is something haunting about the Bay and I don’t mean that in a ghostly way. I mean that in the sense that it calls to you with all its lovely people and water and mountains and fog. There are tons of voices here and this year, we wanted to give another home to them.

excerpt from Cleave/Corporeal Mercy Rebekah Edwards

CLEAVE (for the double choir) The Prophet said to Jibril, “What is Mika’il in charge of?” He replied, “The plants and the rain.”

Corporeal Mercies “Mercy: That which arrives in time and exceeds the reasonable.” A. B. Huber

14 Rebekah Edwards

Attend the rain. The fennel and docks wait for it. I do. The cement waits for it and when it comes hot to the gutter, a summer squats down, knees the legs open.

To hydrant. The open vein against the concrete radiant. Hollers of light. To wash.

Orchard Yesterday, driving through the mountains I passed a farmhouse with a side yard full of persimmon trees: bare and kinetic, leaves gone from the branches but the fruit heavy in the rain. Plenty. Orange and brassy against a fog that shifts up, catches on the treed hills as if matter was a longed-for tether. How many trees make an orchard? Is there a number at which meaning shifts from just some trees in the yard to this event: six or thirteen or two? Is it the tending: intention that garners? May one alone be an orchard? I keep reaching for the dictionary. What is the difference between a yard and an orchard, between forgiveness and mercy, between intention and season or location and desire? Between what and when? Is it the passage offered in the narrow alleyways between these terms or in the how of the light that breaks, small and high, on the wall? Not agency but resonance? Duration?


Shelter. Us. The seed tucked between the scapula. Blub and skin-call asylum. Call your corrugated roof and what sounds its tin.

To pidgin. The pulse wrapped in linen, limb tied, and hauled far enough. Wings beat this distance, feather at it, the concealed, across fields and tenements. To return.

Duration Mercy is enfleshed by when, for mercy must arrive in time or it is only a wish. “I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened. I wish this never happened.” Poet and visual artist Truong Tran repurposes this line from a poem in his book Four Letter Word as the material for his large assemblage piece “1, 000 Wishes: A Work in Progress.” The piece, in full, is 10 frames (each 2.5 feet by 3.5 feet). Each frame contains 100 chromatically organized paint samples. Handwritten on each chip is the line from the poem: I wish this had never happened . Over the handwriting is pinned a bleached wishbone. The repetition of the paint chips, statement and bones ask us to think


Rebekah Edwards

about duration. The scale of the piece: 1,000 wishes, 1,000 bones, 1,000 gradations of color, rising 14 feet up the wall and stretching 12 feet wide, remind us about how long it takes to have regret work its way out of one’s system, how long it takes to make art, how long it takes to bring a wish into being, and how impossible some wishes are. For no matter how many bones you seek out and collect and clean and cherish and put into a formation that is meant to set free a wish, there are simply some violences that are impossible to undo. The wish is the unreasonable that did not arrive in time. That is why the wish is necessary. The wish is witness.


That the house is boarded up against what taps the pines, against the 3 p.m. heat & my burnt mouth. That there are needs that do not scab. That I cannot.

To needle. Not the eye as litmus test but the stitch. The piercing and joins. Hinged. To mend.

Witness Adorno declared that writing lyric poetry after Auschswitz was “barbaric” because the beauty of the lyric might make the “unimaginable ordeal…appear as if it had some ulterior purpose.” Blanchot said yes, but. Yes, “…disaster…defies speech and compels silence.” Yes. But also, “…writing is the patient response of this helplessness.” Or to gloss this contradiction in the negative, the poet both can’t and can’t not respond. Forché names the poetics that emerges from this demand the poetry of witness. I want to hold someone accountable. M was murdered last week, two days shy of his eighteenth birthday, two yards from his front steps, his toddler in the window watching. D’s manufactured cancer has gone rogue. Yesterday, a student was found beaten and dead. And those are just the ones whose names have had a home in my mouth. Not even the ones in the news. (None of these made


Rebekah Edwards

the news.) I promised myself I’d stop counting. The testimony of numbers, I argued, strips the dead of the infinitesimal possibility that they might shelter in lyric agency. A poetry of witness caresses the curves of jaw, the calloused palm, the flatness of face broken open by a grin and a scar that runs from forehead to jaw, the odd, rocking walk caused by a stiff hip. But I am running out of rooms. Ledgers take up less space. “If we forgive [our fathers,] what is left?” Yes, Dick Lourie. Forgiveness feels empty. Almost nihilistic. Mercy seems easier because in its troubling implication that someone has power to grant mercy over someone else (think ~ judges, kings, g-d) it suggests that there are still two together, one granting, one granted. Company.


Skellig Mhichil How did anything grow in the gravel between rock hives backed against sea-light the texture of stone? How did their fingers stretch towards that one cold beam and know it beyond doubt to be you?

To bed. Wool silence against bodies cold in their alone, in their thin hemp rags of long night, a flare coiled at the sternum. To witness.

Company The vulnerability of the body (enfleshed, present tense, mortal) contests a mercy formulated in the Judeo-Christian tradition as “salvation” (specifically as a salvation from sin or error.) Between 2008-2012 more than 10,000 people were murdered in Juarez, Mexico. Everyone seemed to have witnessed a murder, knew someone who witnessed a murder. Teenagers listened to the police radio. They dressed as angels: wings, silver make-up and long robes. They went to the spot where someone had been murdered. They stood on chairs, on ladders, on cars, still as statues, holding signs denouncing the drug cartels and the police: “Policia Corrupto Busca a Dios” or “Cartel de Jaurez Arrepientete.” One looks at the photos and notices the thickness of the silver paint on the skin, notices the sweat and wonders at the heat of it, at the weight of the huge cardboard wings covered with feathers, at the flimsiness of the folding chairs they stand upon. How to navigate wrongs so systemic that they have no address? How else than to identify with the righteous holiness of angels? But what protection does signifying offer a mortal body?


Rebekah Edwards

Why do we go to the location of death? Stand over or near or next to? Throw up an altar of candles and stuffed animals on a busy corner in North Oakland? Write on the walls? Dance at an intersection? What vigil do we imagine that the ground needs or do we want the where to give us access to what we have loss in our when?


Eyes open under water and light is paint trails off brushes in the fresh rinse jar. Mouthed air. Pockets. Is the kelp your charge too?

To conjunction. It isn’t either or but always. But both and. It’s the sweet spot between forefinger and thumb offered, the lemon and salt on the lover’s tongue. To forgive.

Metaphor The warning is for heavy wind and urban flood yet at the moment the rain is light and the light is thin and silver. The bush tree outside the far window is davening; the plum tree three yards over is moved to shudders, its pink blossoms tossed off to a damp pile; the stocky white blooming apple next door barely shifts. The wind is never fixed in itself but always shaped by the size of its objects. Metaphor. I suspect that last night’s discussion of subject/abject/object would have gone much better if I’d used metaphors rather than nouns (Freud, Kristeva, Butler). The cold of these early hours before the light makes me want to run to soup kitchens and pick up a ladle. Drive around with blankets to cover people asleep in doorways. It is constant, the suffering out there. Most days I just put my head down and keep moving but this cold forces the look up. For months now I’ve been having a conversation in my head about what a poem should do. What makes a poem a good poem? When is a poem simply talking to oneself and what good is that?


Rebekah Edwards

I am dreaming knives and weeping for the tension between hips and hands. The ache of too long and maybe never. And please. Do something.

To mercy. To hold off, to hold the reins, to hold back, to hold down, to hold on. To hold.

Touch It forces the subject, the suffering of others. Calls us into a self who chooses; who does, or does not, do something. The call to mercy is always intersubjective: a call for intersession, witness, company. Whether it calls upon divine, legal, institutional, or social -- justice; whether it manifests as an act of individual intervention or in the palliative and liberatory space opened within aesthetic or activist praxis – mercy denotes the Other. The call to mercy is productive, like Manning’s claim that in a politics of touch, “every act of reaching towards enables the creation of worlds.” Mercy travels as affect, travels by affect (if affect is that pulse, that urge, that right-before which animates emotion). Celan wrote, “Poems … are making toward something…[t]oward something standing open, occupiable, perhaps toward an addressable Thou...” The reciprocal co-creation of subjects is inherent to mercy’s call and response. Malleable and over- determined and animate, corporeal mercy incubates the semantic and the sensual; enacts the chaos of touch.

Tenderness. A word of the flesh. A word that is as body bound and given as it may be psychic-emotional. Bruise and caress and gesture. This tactility, palpation, grope. This mercy, incarnated by its object: tender, bitter, made of touch.



Alison Krietzberg




Poems Rex Leonowicz

supreme and inaccessible light, how far you are from me maybe the problem has something to do with the limits of our cosmic vision, the speed of light restraining what we understand possible, we find ourselves too often in the dark, too caught up in the bulb burned out. at one point, i had faith believed in the magic of our resolve. i had been walking past boots and saddle, on the same concrete hardened for my people to walk on. i had been walking on roosevelt ave, i had been gathering names in cursive in agreement to implicate christine quinn. i had been walking at night across the queensboro bridge, what they want us to call the ed koch queensboro bridge as if he connected anyone to any part of the city i didn’t know how to leave, the codependent lover i can become. i had dreamed myself invincible, omnipotent walking along the perimeter of lake merritt, waves pixelated by the sun’s reflection. in this version of this moment, i had turned something off and could just cherish (the song i was listening to from toxic-pink headphones).


perish is a word that more than applies.

Rex Leonowicz

my parallels weren’t evident. the walk was just one universe, and the others: the universe where i was confronted with my many faces betraying each other, the universe where i felt phantom presences in the dark… all collapsed into one dimension, oblivious to each other, stepping into the a-ha illustration, take on me. life inside the piece of paper, un-nuanced at one angle, with other realities out of frame, to all unfold later at once like the pages of a pop-up book—a landscape of textures and depth— but not now. if you stay exactly where you are, you might run into yourself. you might find you aren’t the only one of you.


i offer my fatigue and perplexities

as reparation for sin

the consolation is you have work in the first place, so don’t complain hours at a time taken by shoe stores and science museum gift shops, monopoly money made so as to think in terms of more shoes to be bought from the company and stones from the exploratorium to help with sleep, so as to talk them up to tourists from other cities: yes, i am dressed in brand, yes it is the crystal you read about in the mineral room, i keep it under my pillow to mellow my nightmares.

sorry i wore the fishnets and cut-off stone-washed shorts to my shift, i thought the blue velvet teen goth pumps were enough to make up for my personality alternate to the goals of the company;

sorry i want to talk about the layoffs, exorbitant spending, inaccessibility of this institution to many communities; time is money i’m wasting and heaven is an endless meeting;

high end fashion steve madden: the applebee’s of footwear franchises; exploratorium: the white death of art and learning.


sorry but doesn’t anyone wanna pay us for fucking anymore take our dirty underwear, save me the task of laundry. we aren’t above anything, we know the compartments we keep our friends in, and politics.

Rex Leonowicz

no shame, just entrepreneurial and such and such. to be self-made and beautiful! and open for business! two women and (t)man, all coming from nowhere. sitting on brown couch talking out the profiles of our skills. self-respect is just an idea we have already, it’s not going anywhere without us.


oh, to be old-fashioned! dreams of a personal ad in a seedy gay paper lonely $$$ for a sometimes companion. dreams of a phone line we can soften our voices for, oh, what i would do to you leaking from our mouths like milk, if only everything weren’t outsourced to the internet,,; all the options are out for us, medieval eaters of the tangible, so say sorry

that you flinch every time top 40 plays outside of the 40 hours a week you hear it: this girl is on fire friction at the level of sound, slow death been there done that messed around roux of ramen water and a cracked egg i share with a friend hours after the dancefloor, hours after leg lifted up on the stage or watching myself in the 20-second video sent to my email of me “air-fucking” a stranger in light wash overalls and white lace bra on a potted, person-sized plant. never heard the end of that one, even twelve saturdays later.

at brunch, i remember everything i did in the moment i didn’t care, i loved it someone tapped me and said i love your passion, when i was sandwiched between a woman and a wooly speaker; trends of my behavior: inanimate-object- lover, getting low back to person, face to speaker. fan out my limp wrist—cliché response—oh my god i love your eyes your face full of blue club floodlight.


one would say that these were his treasures, and that his heart was there. i go home to the thought: room with no light save for the strip of moon or street lamp above the blocked out purple curtain, it’s the same here, but it isn’t the same light, it’s higher, and less filtered by muggy haze, or i am missing the summer showing itself in the orange bulbs marking every midpoint and more sizzling in evening heat on the avenue or boulevard, still awake with people, it was lovely to be away, then. childhood of streets and jelly shoes, broken hydrants, blisters and august silhouettes of maple leaves penciled in blue on pavement watching the wind and its puppetry from a stoop step every night, urban pastoral dream of somewhere else looking at you from a window adorned with bars meant to save me from plummeting to the bottom before my time, before queens and brooklyn meant anything but barren orange lived-in light of late evening; in the sf queer youth coordinator job interview i talked about riding the subway till the end of the line and back


Rex Leonowicz

all night, basically a child, young and full of no one but a mention in a book i so much loved and felt myself in at night, a child, young screaming what’s up, buddy! to those who can’t handle what i look like: so beautiful, so awful, so everything i’ve ever wanted to be noticed and not for; so i know what it means to be lonely and not have a person next to you, vying for nothing but recognition: it can be so sweet, so beautiful, so awful, so everything in all its imperfections; i wonder if my love will go as far, will ride its way back to me in the night on a line that doesn’t exist. it feels shitty to care about loss of a line you loved, made and destroyed for best impact, who needs to find home, and who it doesn’t matter for if they do or don’t; i don’t know, maybe it doesn’t mean as much as i make it; i haven’t been anywhere in awhile, anymore i love the city that made me, as i love the trauma that brought me to leaving, always fighting the gentrified heart that trundles among entrails, the shit looks the same anywhere,



the tracks could lead you to home, if you let it, if you look hard or not enough, it may seem the same journey, same hopelessness which feels almost lovely, feels almost noble when you find a heart that pulses as shoddily as yours, wherever you are, the cardiologist doesn’t understand why so irregular, why so specifically different than anyone else’s, the point of reference doesn’t include your heart or mine, what they together hold, how they sound so otherly than they are supposed to, the condition is so awkward and awful— to feel so much irregularly churning in the core of yourself, but it’s okay, good to know it won’t kill you, just follow you everywhere forever, consolation is little more than acceptance of a sort of disappointment or suffering, all night, so fluorescent and alone, and starkly beautiful in the night inside entrails, i don’t know where i’ve been or not, what stop


Rex Leonowicz

i passed, express or local, it’s all of me, consumed by nothing that lives anymore except for a memory embedded in a dream i try to process waking up in sweat falling off me in big beans of liquid and no easy breath to help me through the experience of knowing i have, in ways, left for good and given up the idea that anything pretty, any type of change or sameness, could still be sustained here, my home, my gentrified heart.


“erlinda” oil on canvas 24x30 october 2014 36

When Gender Is Mischief

Felix McGuire

“She looks like a man” “You aren’t a straight couple?” “I didn’t read you as gay” “One of you is a boy, the other a girl” “I totally get it” It’s funny living in a world where gender is understood within such a narrow dim// dull spectrum Where Masculinity and Femininity embodied//enacted by the queer subject isn’t seen as an immaculate unique intelligent by-product

of human experience and self realization May our mischievous genders and honest self-realizations continue to: perplex confuse manipulate// subvert your silly silly worm’s-eye view of the world


An Interview with Doug Rice

rebecca woolston

Doug Rice is the author of An Erotics of Seeing, Between Appear and Disappear, Dream Memoirs of a Fabulist and other books. He has been a Literature Fellow at the Akademie Scholls Solitude and teaches at Sacramento State University.

Doug Rice: Photographs are forever in mourning. They tend to be trapped by a desire that has disappeared, a desire, a moment past, but one that suffers from being neither here nor there. We have yet to discover a tense for a photograph. Grammar, in a photograph, at best is a wound that cannot heal. In every photograph there is always a sensation of the just-missed or the notyet-appeared. A waiting that is trapped by time, but also loose from time. Why does eroticism remain such a secret when it is so visible? Rebecca Woolston:

How did you start street photography? Was there an artist you admired or curiosity about the gaze?



Doug Rice

DR: Purely by accident. I was a Literature Fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude and went into Stuttgart one day to simply take typical tourist photographs. While photographing the hauptbahnhof, a woman walked in front of me. I nearly deleted the photograph, but for some reason, kept it. When I returned to my studio at the Akademie, I was intrigued and surprised by what the photograph revealed. So I began playing with seeing through a camera to learn more about seeing through my language. There are many photographers I deeply admire: Francesca Woodman, Carrie Mae Weems, Gordon Parks, Eugene Atget, Glenn Ligon, W. Eugene Smith, Danny Lyon, Lorna Simpson, Shirin Neshat, Gary Winogrand, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and others.

RW: As the photographer, how do you think about the gaze while taking a photo of a stranger?

DR: It is a complex relationship. I am not shooting with an intention in mind. I am trying to see in new ways and am quite often surprised by what I see later, when I look at the actual photograph. I am always surprised by what becomes visible that was not visible when I originally took the photograph. It is similar to writing a sentence. I believe that every sentence is a form of devotion and prayer: a way to be with the writing. In the photograph, it is a way to be with seeing. And, like every sentence, every photograph should be an experiment with seeing.

RW: How have you

DR: These are such different situations. Typically, when I am working with a person who I know, I am working with an intention of creating an image that will correspond in some way to a text. And if it is someone I know, both of us bring a knowledge of each other to the photograph. In part, then, it becomes a challenge to forget this knowing of each other, because that confuses the image and the potential for something new emerging from the image. I feel that it places limits on us discovering the impossible or the new; whereas, with strangers, I do not need to worry about discovering ways to defamiliarize myself and the person I am photographing. The uncanny and the unexpected are a priori part of the moment. The candid street photograph makes a kind of pure immanence possible, which I do think is as possible in a photograph that is posed and performed. Years ago, I liked the work of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Mariko Mori, and others like them. I still have deep respect for their work, but it is so performative that, anymore to me it seems only designed to make an obvious point. Such work makes them the darlings of postmodern theory, but, other than that, I do not see that

noticed the gaze differs from strangers to people you know (both from your and their perspectives)?


their work sees into much. They reflect the surface. Again, I still admire their work, but I have moved in a different direction.

RW: What started your interest in photographing people of/in San Francisco? Was it the locality of the city to Sacramento? Is there something about the way the people move themselves through the city, or is it more about social dynamics?

DR: San Francisco has a lot of diversity. And San Francisco is going through a radical gentrification now, which also transforms how people move in the city and how they are living in the city. Much of what is happening in San Francisco is similar to, but on a larger scale and at a more accelerated pace, what was called Renaissance II in Pittsburgh, not simply a displacement of people, but an almost complete erasure of people, as money destroys the possibility of living. The people who lived in and, in some cases, built, their neighborhoods can no longer afford to buy a cup of coffee in their neighborhoods. And obviously, a big draw to San Francisco is that it is the largest city near Sacramento and that it has wonderful neighborhoods. It also has an almost east-coast quality about it, the artistic and intellectual environment of the city. And people do move differently in San Francisco than they do in Sacramento, and at different times of days it is always interesting to see how people’s bodies are moving through the streets. We forget our daily movements. We go from here to there. We do not chronicle these fugitive movements. I like trying to unlock the epiphanies in the everyday. In a day, in an hour, we will forget what our bodies experienced walking down Market Street, or Mission Street, or up Clay Street. We will forget what we were thinking about and feeling. I like to open and stop this time of forgetting by capturing these moments, which are not


Doug Rice

meant to be remembered. The never of always. RW: When you add text to your photographs, do you have a sentence or word in mind while taking the photo? Or does the story come after you review your shots?

DR: The two original acts—the one of writing and the one of taking photographs— is followed by a third act, that of reflecting on the original two acts. This reflection forms more of a caesura between, a rupture that connects and disappears at the same time. So the text never simply offers an explanation of the photograph, and the photograph never simply supports the text. There is a tension between photograph and text that creates a “near-to”, an “almost-said” or “almost-revealed”, that, hopefully, activates the reader/ viewer to create something with it. All writing, all forms of art, is a gift, and, like any gift, it is up to the person receiving the gift to do something, to make something from the gift. I do not want my text to “settle” meaning for readers. If anything, I would rather have the text trouble meaning. In terms of what comes first, I feel like I am attempting to answer the chicken and the egg question. I am writing and at nearly the exact same moment. The text and the photograph do have a relationship, each to each, of sorts, but I cannot clearly say what it is. In an important way, I use photographing as a way of learning how to see in ways other than seeing with language. My former teacher, John C. Gardner, always insisted that we find other artistic practices to slow down our seeing and to see how a scene can be composed. I do all I can, in my daily practice of living, to slow down. Most people are so distracted that they cannot see. All such people can see is what has already been seen and named. Any artist tries to unname what has been named. We try to erase what covers over seeing. The more slowly we move, not only will more be-


come visible, but, more importantly, we will see into what we see.

RW: Do people on the street remind you of characters from your novel?

DR: This is always a difficult question to answer. I feel the roles of photography and of writing are nearly mystical. That is, they are somehow related, but related in a realm that I have not yet been able to explain in words.

RW: What type of actions/looks/light seem to attract the most shots from you while in San Francisco?

DR: I like capturing a moment when someone looks away from their own world and toward the lens of my camera, the moment when they think that perhaps they are being photographed but are not sure. Something at that moment emerges from their eyes, something that can never be planned or performed.

RW: You’ve taken

DR: Photographing in cities where I have no past creates new possibilities for seeing and for understanding movement and bodies. Nothing I was seeing, particularly during my first summer in Stuttgart and in Paris, had my “own” past or sense of my own past embedded in my seeing. It was not “charged with thoughts” in that Proustian remembrance-of-things past sort of way, so it seemed easier to lift veils. But I say “seemed” because, in the end, of course, all that I was seeing, even in the cities I was visiting for the first time, was still covered by my own desires. I was very curious, and remain curious, about the way people experienced time and lived inside time differently in different cities; that is, the ways that they

photos of people in other countries—Germany, France—as well as here. How do the bodies and the movements differ from cities like Paris to cities like San Francisco or Stuttgart?


Doug Rice

walked the streets and moved through the streets. There are different rhythms in different cities, and I feel the rhythms make new meanings possible. In Stuttgart, for example, people in the city tended to wander more, almost as if they were lost or not so concerned with where they were going or how they were going to arrive. Once I have worked in a city for a while, I discover that I have to create ways to unnerve my own expectations, to defamiliarize myself to seeing. This is even true with my return to Stuttgart and Paris. Even being away from Stuttgart for nine months, I found my own memories intruding on how I was wanting to see in some other way. RW: In some of your photographs, the subject is looking right at the lens. Eye contact, more or less. A lot of other photos, they’re not. Have you noticed a different kind of intimacy between the two? Is one deeper than the other?

DR: In moments like these, when my camera suddenly captures a moment of someone looking directly at me, I become most interested in the presence of the unforeseeable. This cannot happen with any sort of a more traditional artistic premeditation. Most often, I do not see what can be seen until much later, when I am looking into the photograph after it has been printed. These moments create an intersection between a desire to see beauty and a desire to see into something more complex, an unconscious secret on the part of both me and the person being photographed. Sometimes such a meaning appears for a fleeting moment in their gaze back at me. And inside this moment is a realization that we will never see each other again. Once this moment washes away, we will disappear from each other’s lives.


Still, I always have this sense that there is a kind of Jamesian figure-in-the-carpet meaning that is held and revealed inside this. I always return to the notion of “this never of always.” A meaning and sense of beauty that is both there and not there, a Derridean sense of presence, that will be forgotten only to be remembered.

RW: Lastly and related to the last question, I keep thinking about Wendy Steiner’s essay on Marlene Dumas and complicating the image by giving the model the ability to look back at the painter. Do you feel like, by not having a model, per se, that you are able to stay out of a power


Doug Rice

DR: I am in many ways simply enchanted by the mystery of such moments. It is a kind of embrace. We, all of us, are always forever in search of lost intimacy. We are always toying with meaning and desire that disappears. And any photographic moment can create a wound as easily as it can create an intimacy. I think that taking a photograph that is truly intimate and innocent at the same time would be wonderful. But such a photograph, I imagine, would disappear when someone looked at it. As soon as any photograph is taken, it becomes something else. Most moments like this one that you are speaking of often are moments begging to be forgiven. The beauty of such a moment becomes vulnerable and fragile once a photograph “happens” to it.

Cunt Teeth Mixtape Tracks 1-4 Kate Robinson 1 an extreme increase of real tension makes all art questionable the real problem suggests completion means art is a lie maybe it blew my mind like circular logic, head or tails what’s the meaning of all the text? difference managed by opposition it depends upon human beings themselves whether they will extinguish these lights and awake from a nightmare which only threatens to become actual as long as men believe it1. we need to seek destruction i’ve had this dream do you not hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence? act on the changing world and change it the state of malaise in which instability has left it the exhausting solitude of god a cave of solitude a stupefying silence you are melting me down

Theodor Adorno, The Schema of Mass Culture 1


2 this day while biking to work in jeans and a crop top, wet hair drying under helmet a man yelled at me. “WONDERFUL!” from the open window of his dumpy white station wagon, a ford or a saturn or whatever. the response in that moment from my body is familiar my friend liz tells me about the dream she had last night. i was in it. a gang of the powerful women in her life were massacring men. slitting their throats with daggers. brutally dismembering rapists and other perpetrators of gender violence. while impeccably dressed. i told her it made sense. then my roommate told me about the breeding cats that lived under his house screeching when he was a toddler. wasted screaming dude at the bus stop says “you look like someone who reads books.” i say “what makes you say that? the book in my hand?” “no.” he says, “i didn’t see your book. you know the almighty god knows us better than we know ourselves.” and i tell him that’s probably true, but i don’t tell him that what i think of as god is probably different from his idea, and that i would never utter the phrase “almighty god.” but they are actually probably the same.


Kate Robinson

3 a blur and divide between, glow three frames, hollowed turned and laid, the door slams and divide abyss of glowing blur and a small corner of light divide light there is no separation between constructed, laid and abyss, blurred except division of light framed, hollowed saved in a jar, jarred submerged and in close proximity to others crowded and preserved three containers of accumulation in varying densities, states all curving planted a hand against


cut pushed into the bramble cut out center divide spotted against hand resting upon bramble dividing cut out self close to the ground resting dry grasses brushing ankles close to the ground resting upon passing through awnings above and frame moving too quickly a fragment of the future contained in the passing moment under awning passing down the sidewalk

48 Kate Robinson

inside divided from outside figures passing divided a sense of the future butts up against the passing incomplete+* moment

+misremembered *unencumbered


4 never listen to poets or other writers never explain careful consideration should’ve zipped it when i had the chance i’m pointing and you have to guess where could have ripped it with household utensils much talk about opens and closeds to kill: here is an overused verb this is not doing nothing but losing work your ass off work your ass off work your ass off experiential variation solutions are the atmosphere is maybe a mirror or two still reeling from a story about i am going to have your job he said i want you to go to hell, i said compared to other people you went like this. is this gonna fix you? this? anybody else? and i never saw a man more frightened anyone else? a piece of language that came out of us


Kate Robinson

The Whiteness Poems Anna Avery

I. hello, my name is anna. i am a white artist this is white art:

this art will not be arrested for stealing, and if this art is caught stealing, this art will receive a minimal jail sentence and probation. a policeman will not pull this art over and shoot. this art can float in and out of the academy without being accused of using identity politics as a crutch. this art can be bought and sold for money if it wanted to. this art has privilege.this art is boring.


II. The Moment You Become Impressed with the White Person’s Conceptual Poem:

whiteness is fiction yet it controls everything like the urge to swallow or pee just think your way out of whiteness (you can’t). 


Anna Avery

the space around the page colonizing the letters


Bullshit Commodity Popularity Contest:

so much white art white art? how much?


Anna Avery

III Announcement after the Grand Jury Decision for Darren Wilson

slavery is to abolitionists as the civil rights movement is to the sncc as Ferguson is to _________?

You can start a revolution on social media, you just can’t finish it on social media.

white artists: Do Something (without colonizing the cause).


Bike Lock Travis Jackson


excerpt from the shopgirl handbook brittany billmeyer-finn


when the law does not provide for you well then you go to the witch


the legends mix. the place of her birth is not the same in all traditions. represented with many breasts. she appeals to your emotions by appearing to be real. never conquered by love. a radical escape. a bringer of sudden death. it is said she was led to the barren ground. surrounded by tree limbs & red clay. where the bodies of the children rested.


the shopgirl picks the flowers held in the hands of the field. the oddest flower strikes her curiosity. she wonders, is it a flower at all? the field rumbles, rolls & rises breaking open. a long crack through it. the shopgirl is carried away by the earth.


after work the shopgirl visits her friend S. they drink whiskey & smoke pot together & talk for a while. the friends talk about community, isolation, exhaustion, & the mundane, old friends, being present. the shopgirl & S cast a spell for prophetic dreams. they create an altar. they light a candle & draw 3 tarot cards: the empress, the hermit & the moon.

the snake cannot leave the circle a charm against all terrors by night i have a hunch an intuition to share radically that sort of curse with justice behind it


they place crystals & shells on the cards as talisman for dreaming & intuition. they walk into a forest. they find a sanctuary. they enter the sanctuary. there is an altar in the center. on the altar is a scroll. of demons we speak as if they invade us….. the pigs are sick listening to the wind in the trees & looking at the full moon we invoke thee to appear


the shopgirl often encounters the dead. the dead say things like, “i miss my mother.” “what happened to me?” “where am i?” or “am I free?” the shopgirl instructs the dead to walk through the fire to burn their mortality & release the nostalgic & sentimental remains. the shopgirl is rather sentimental but she is good at her work, a sincere performance of never having walked through the fire.

dwell in the fields shine brightly in the darkness the shades in gloom showered in light beneath the hollow earth the end of mortal life free from further wandering


the shopgirl’s kindergarten teacher, sister katherine takes the kindergarteners on a tour of her convent. she shows the kindergartners her bedroom. she says, “this is where I sleep & wake up. this is where I pray. this is my bed, this is my bedside table, this is my window & this is my bible.” in second grade the shopgirl receives her first communion. in the year of my first communion, i was obsessed with st. cecilia, a martyr & the patron of music. i would later learn that her death was an act of sexual violence.

58 Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

in the year of my first communion my class put on a play. i am the virgin mary. my teacher, sister ann margaret instructs me to wear blue & bring sandals. the only sandals i have are hot pink jelly shoes…it is 1991… i put them on over my white socks & find jesus in the temple. sister anne margaret leads us in a prayer for father coughlin who built the church with limestone unable to be burned down. “yonder comes father coughlin, wearin’ the silver chain, gas on the stomach & hitler on the brain.”


the shopgirl picks the flowers from the hands of the field. the shopgirl grasps at the hands as she is carried away by the earth. withdrawing her harvest.


the shopgirl has worked at the consignment shop for 2 years now. she has recently been promoted to supervisor. she makes a livable wage. the shopgirl opens the consignment shop. she color coordinates the racks. she dusts the shelving. she merchandises the products, she responds to the emails, she engages with customers, she takes out the recycling, she counts the money & she answers the phone. she straightens the shoes. she texts her boss at the end of the day. she put the computers to sleep. the object relays impulses

sacrifice to the earth


the shopgirl & her mama drive across the country from michigan to california. they drive 9 hours everyday for 3 days. they arrive in california & surrender their fruit. the shopgirl & her mama have matching poppy tattoos. the mama’s is on her thigh & the shopgirl has a poppy on her ankle. i run my finger over it. its color has faded. green orange & black.


the mama grieves. the shopgirl breaks bread & honors the mama & is devoured. the mama creates winter. the shopgirl wanders in the field & the forest. the mama leaves the sky & sits on a rock. she invites the shopgirl to sit with her. they smile & reveal themselves to each other. they walk out of the forest into the field. there are roses, irises, & violets, crocuses, hyacinth & the narcissus. the shopgirl & the mama speak & gesture to one another in the field with great excitement & tenderness. the sun beats down on them. their voices do not carry. they are alone. the mama covers the shopgirl’s eyes & speaks to the sky. she says, “through the fruitless air with my eyes i saw nothing for with your beams you look down from the bright upper air over all the earth & sea - tell me truly of my dear child, if you have seen her anywhere, what god or mortal has violently seized her against her will & mine, & so made off.”


the shopgirl finishes counting the drawer & stuffs the money in the green envelope.


the shopgirl’s work is almost done for the day. the dead have walked through the fire & become the smoke. she stokes the flame. she cries. she says to the dead, your mother misses you, you have died, you are here, now but she does not speak to freedom.


the shopgirl often feels she has been put somewhere where she is not. it is an uncanny feeling.


the shopgirl meets T at the tree that borders the field & the forest. T is a medical assistant & a doula. T asks the hard questions. the tree is spirited away. & T is part of its roots. T keeps the tree from being hollow. the birds nest in their skin. the shopgirl & T meet at acme bar. they talk about work, pivotal life moments, community, isolation, somatic therapy, white cis privilege, imposters & fear.


Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

they are full of ideas & plans. they pose together in the photo booth. as the light changes the hair of the beast becomes visible. it coats the bar floor. it multiplies. the beast licks the shopgirl’s face, shoulders, armpits, clavicle, breasts, stomach, hands, cunt, hips, thighs, ass, knees, shins, calves, achilles heel, foot & each toe. T says, “get away your beast.” the shopgirl reads the shopgirl poems to Z. together they sit in their living room, which is octagonal in shape. the filing cabinet is too big for the room & so somewhat awkward. the carpet is stained, their chihuahua, patsy is curled in Z’s lap. Z is in the brown leather chair, her legs outstretched on the ottoman. Z interrupts, “so, can I ask…what’s up with the beast? is there going to be a labyrinth?”


a labyrinth of stars. being shut up in the belly

the shopgirl walks from one place to another. as she walks to black spring coffee, or walgreens, or oasis, she passes. fat/freckled/white/ cis/ in a vintage dress /a cardigan/ cardigan clips that read femme witch/there might be a floral pattern/a quiver of arrows/a bun on her head/a tote bag/a pomegranate/small scars from stoking the flame.


it is a day of the week. if it is tuesday the shopgirl’s workweek has just begun & if it is saturday it is the end of her workweek but it might be something in between. the shopgirl hits snooze. she is donald ducking & Z has stolen the blanket. the shopgirl scoots & curves her body around Z’s & pulls the blanket over her bare ass. Z’s curly hair invades the shopgirl’s nose. the shopgirl wakes up from her contentment & hits snooze again. then again.


she drives to work. she takes the 24, to the 19 & gets off at park. she is in the hills 5-6 days a week. she pulls in & enters the shop. she counts the cash, she windexes the jewelry cases & mirrors, she listens to voicemails, she checks the email, she picks the pandora stations, she flips the open sign. sometimes customers are waiting outside with coffee & croissants from the bakery next door. “hi, how are you?” “hi there” “looking for anything in particular today?” “did you have any luck?” “can i help you with something?” “can i start you a fitting room” “would you like a copy of your receipt today?” “do you need a bag?” “thanks for stopping in” “see you next time” “hi, how are you?” “hi there” “looking for anything in particular today? “did you have any luck.” “can i help you with something?” “can i start you a fitting room” “would you like a copy of your receipt today?” “do you need a bag?” “thanks for stopping in” “see you next time” “hi, how are you?” “hi there” “looking for anything in particular today? “did you have any luck.” “can i help you with something?” “can i start you a fitting room” “would you like a copy of your receipt today?” “do you need a bag?” “thanks for stopping in” “see you next time” “hi, how are you?” “hi there” “looking for anything in particular today? “did you have any luck.” “can I help you with something?” “can i start you a fitting room” “would you like a copy of your receipt today?” “do you need a bag?” “thanks for stopping in” “see you next time”


the shopgirl sits on a patch of grass with K at lake merritt. a teenage boy sits on a bench behind them. he sits with his arm around a girl he is attempting to impress & so throws a glass bottle over K & the shopgirl’s heads that shatters against the trashcan. K yells, “what the fuck?” the shopgirl & K take out notebooks. they talk about ritual, alma or the dead woman, improvisation, conceptual poetry, gender rage. they share a beer. they draw diagrams for a performance piece. they walk around the lake. people are sitting scattered on the hill under the fairyland sign.

62 Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

as K & the shopgirl walk past, a man yells “fat bitch.”

escape the cruel bellowing bound & being led along alive.


in 8th grade the shopgirl receives the sacrament, confirmation. the shopgirl chooses the confirmation name anne because it is her mama’s middle name. st. anne is the virgin mary’s mother. she is the patron of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor, grandmothers, horseback riders, cabinet-makers & the patron saint of brittany. in high school, the spanish teacher tells me to kneel in the hallway. she puts a coke can against my thigh. my skirt brushes the top of the can. she says, “just made it.” i am 14 years old & locked in a room between the administrative offices at my high school. I am locked in with my best friend at the time, L & three adult women. two are administrative assistants in the office & mothers of students at the school & my history teacher mrs. padesky is there. they tell us that we dress to taunt the boys & use our bodies to get sexual attention & that we are acting like whores or destined to be whores if we keep up this unbecoming behavior & of course boys will be boys. L laughed & i cried but wished i had laughed instead.


bring them forth from where they hide hair, blood & nail that with it may this spell be made this union ever to remain two separate links to form a chain


the shopgirl is in a basement room of the omni commons. they are all vampires in the library. there is a shelf with board games like anti-monopoly & the vampires are talking about carthage, mina harker, dracula, dido, medea, the men, the strain, possession, menstrual blood, tarot, divination, witches, ebola & hunger.



the shopgirl is in the anthology towards the end/the shopgirl is reading citizen by claudia rankine/the shopgirl is singing the house of the rising sun at jaguar karaoke/the shopgirl is walking patsy to the corner & back/the shopgirl is eating pizza with pineapple on it/ the shopgirl is at bookstore holding a pile of books & thinking/the shopgirl is with a friend at home, in a hot tub, at a bar, at a reading/ the shopgirl is visiting michigan in the winter/the shopgirl is on facebook liking things/ the shopgirl is in the streets with T & C & S & ML among thousands/ the shopgirl is not on the streets but hears the helicopters & watches the live feed/the shopgirl is at the meeting about direct action concerning sexual assault & misogyny/ /the shopgirl is on the email thread/the shopgirl is having sex/the shopgirl is watching gilmore girls or criminal minds/the shopgirl is having an awkward conversation/the shopgirl is reading her horoscope/the shopgirl is dreaming/the shopgirl is casting the spell/ the shopgirl is reading the scroll/the shopgirl is writing a letter of accountability/the shopgirl is reading his letter of accountability/ the shopgirl is watching 5 ways to be an ally @chescaleigh/the shopgirl is in the convent/the shopgirl is locked in the room/ the shopgirl is in the field & the forest/the shopgirl is with the dead/ the shopgirl is temporary/the shopgirl is naked/ the shopgirl is on the bart/ the shopgirl is being carried away by the earth.

64 Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

Ath MUG Travis Jackson


An Interview with Cheena Marie Lo davey davis Cheena Marie Lo is a Bay Area poet and Mills alumnus who, like many artists, must strike the balance between working a day job and cultivating their craft. As well as learning more about their upcoming projects and collaborations, I wanted to hear about their approach to being a queer working artist in the Bay Area with an MFA in poetry.

Davey Davis: Would it

be alright to ask you how switching jobs has changed or informed your creative process? In regards to being a working artist, because you still have to pay bills.

DD: hustling.

6666 Cheena Marie Lo

CheenaMarieLo: Yeah, I mean, what can I say? Right out of the MFA I was doing a temp job at UC Berkeley, while working at Mills part time as the admin assistant in the English department. After the temp job ended, I kept up the admin work which was like ten hours a week, and supplemented that with part time work at restaurants. I was happy to have that job—I really liked working there, I really cared about the program. I was also happy to have “just one” job. What can I say? I was like, okay, great. I really like doing this whole thing. CML: Yeah, which, allowed me the time to work on my writing, but it’s also hard to get into that creative space when you’re hustling all the time. I was always so tired. I usually worked at cafes, and always preferred the opening shifts because you get more tips and theoretically get the whole day to do what you will after your shift. Often times though, you’re exhausted after being on your feet and talking to difficult people for seven, eight hours in a row, and you don’t want to do any-

thing except take a long nap. Working on top of being an artist is hard. Even if you have just one job, which is reliable with a fixed schedule, but it still takes up a lot of your time and getting back into a creative mindset after sitting in front of a computer staring at spreadsheets all day is hard. So, the end of that admin job was actually sort of great, because I had just been talking about all of these projects I wanted to work on, but it was going slowly because the day job got in the way. After I processed what happened, I was like “maybe this is a sign!” And I did have a productive summer. When all of the work/ career stuff was falling apart, the creative stuff, the work I care about, was really good. I was invited to read at the Oakland Museum as part of their Friday night programming; I got to read in their Judy Chicago exhibition. I participated in this symposium at the California Institute of Integral Studies called “From Trauma to Catharsis: Performing the Asian Avant Garde” and I presented alongside some writers that I really admire. I did a residency at a local art gallery and produced a small chapbook of work; I went to New York and did a few readings there. And my first book is getting published next year. So it was a weird summer, I spent a lot of it being stressed out about work and making money, but all of the other work I really cared about was going so well.


DD: You can’t really en-

CML: Yeah, and I tried to use my time off to write and it would go well for the first part of the morning every day, but then there would be the panic of, oh my god, I haven’t worked in so long—I’ve had a job in one form or another since I was 15, even through college and grad school—and then I would spend the rest of the afternoon working on my resume and looking at job postings and thinking about work. So even though there was no job, there was still the hustle.

DD: tell me about your

CML: It’s actually what I wrote for my thesis at Mills and it is - god, I haven’t talked about it in so long. It’s so funny, it’s getting published but I’m like, I need to start working on it and revisit it. I haven’t worked on it in so long.

DD: when did you gradu-

CML: 2012. I sent the book out to a number of publishers and presses and then put it away because I was like, well, maybe it’s not that time for it, and then my thesis advisor was like, “hey, what’s up, what’s going on with that manuscript?” So it ended up that Commune Editions picked it up. Basically it is one long poem, a lot of found language. It’s about disaster. At some points it uses hurricane katrina as a frame.

DD: Has any of this gone

CML: Yeah, it’s on the website A lot of it is very procedural and I used many sources and just put it all together. It’s sort of meant to be like some sort of archive. The whole manuscript is an abecedarian poem. It’s arranged alphabetically, so there’s a section for each letter. And no, I need to sit down with the CE, but I think next year.

joy it because in the back of your mind, or not even in the back of your mind, are your bills.



online, because I read something of yours that sounds reminiscent of that.Do you know the release date yet?


Cheena Marie Lo

DD: are you wokring on

CML: Yeah, I’ve been working on three different things that might end up as one manuscript. I’ve been working on this manuscript that is really personal about gender and debt and the economy. But it has felt so difficult to write because I’m very much in it, and then I start writing something which I think is different, but it ends up relating back to a lot of those ideas.

DD: like educational

CML: Mostly. I am in a boatload of educational debt that I’ll never be able to pay back. But also other kinds. My parents’ home was foreclosed last year and I’ve been processing that in the writing. I’m trying to examine identity as an impossible arrival and explore the way the self and the body push against structures such as capitalism, work, gender multiplicities, language, social landscapes, etc. It’s all sort of a mess right now but will hopefully come together at some point.

other new projects?


DD: I keep going back

to questions about the material outcomes of the MFA. These questions are always on my mind. The idea for any kind of graduate degree would be for it to be lucrative. [laugh]

CML: Or at least, it’s a program that you likely have to take out a lot of debt for. It’s funny because there are a lot of other programs that will pay you to go there.


DD: But the idea being

CML: It’s like when you get to grad school one the of the first things they tell you in orientation is, you’re not gonna get a teaching job because there are so few jobs in academia.

DD: and if you do, it’s not

CML: Totally. You have to have a PhD if you want that, or an MFA with a few books published and lots of teaching experience, and even then it’s not guaranteed. After the program I was like, those material outcomes of the MFA, are those what you learn in the program or do they just happen when you’re in a community of writers? Putting together the reading series, putting together the journal, those were the most valuable parts of the program for me. Did I need to be in the program to do this? It’s hard to say.

DD: Certainly work-

CML: Totally. I definitely don’t regret my experience in the MFA—I learned so much from the professors I worked with, and met some of my best friends and collaborators. The time spent in the program was important. I grew a lot as a writer and reader. Now I’m at that point where I’ve been out of the program about as long as I was in the program. Life looks very much the same but also very different than what it looked like before the MFA. I work, I write, I read, I spend time with friends, all that ordinary day to day stuff. But different in that I take myself seriously as a poet in a way that I didn’t before, which seeps into all the other

you’re paying this money and at some point there’s a payoff for you, yet it’s setting you up for positions that don’t exist or, don’t exist anymore.

gonna be tenure track.

ing with writers that I admire and respect, peers and faculty both, has been priceless in a lot of ways, and I don’t want to downplay that. But the fact remains there are still thousands of dollars I’m going to be spending a long time paying back. Is it worth it? I won’t know till it’s all done.


Cheena Marie Lo

parts in my life. I keep trying to tell my mom, who thought after grad school I’d get a book published and become rich and famous and be all set forever that it doesn’t actually look like that. It looks like the readings and the conversations and the collaborations. She’s only just starting to get it. But she’s supportive. DD: I guess you learn

about being an artist— not that there’s necessarily a “right” way. There isn’t a course or track, which I guess is just the nature of the beast. That anxiety is what we’ve talked about with 580. there’s a lot of anxiety around being someone who lives in the Bay Area. There are all kinds of crises manifesting. How do any of them inform what you’re working on right now?

CML: Tech culture is affecting everyone right now in so many different ways. I did some writing around it in my residency at Aggregate Space. I was really happy that the month I did my residency was during the show Survival Adaptations, which was an exhibition featuring responses to the current economic climate of the Bay Area, how it affects artists and artists’ communities. I had already been thinking about and writing about some of that stuff in my project, about work and the economy and the past/possible futures and what it means to be part of a community etc., so it was cool to sit with that exhibition and see how other artists have been responding as well. And yeah, the internet, I love it! [laughter] I’m all over it. There are a lot of interesting and important discussions happening on Facebook of all places, between poets, artists, organizers, etc. There was that Ello moment for like, a week, and someone’s status on Ello was, “I don’t understand how you’re supposed to fight about poetry on here.”


DD: I never got one. I’m

CML: Tumblr world is pretty amazing, especially with queer folks. When I was a young queer in Tucson, Arizona, I had a LiveJournal and lurked on the now-defunct strap-on. org message board, which was an offshoot of the Chainsaw Records message board. It was a bunch of queer musicians, artists, writers, zinesters, organizers, weirdos. It was crucial to my development as a queer person and artist and politically aware person! It was so amazing to find other queer people, even if it was just on the internet.

DD: I hear a lot of criti-

CML: Totally. I feel like I made some of my best friends on LiveJournal. Before I went to college there was a LiveJournal group for people who were newly accepted to Emerson, which was where I went to undergrad. There are a number of people I still keep in touch with who I originally met on LiveJournal. Sometimes I Google myself and I’m like, omg, what’s on there? These days I feel like I’m a little more conscious of internet oversharing.

addicted to Tumblr.

cism of online communities like Tumblr, for being an echo chamber, especially when we’re talking about the tangible aspects of gender queerness, like preferred pronouns. People say that’s a development of the Tumblr circle jerk and “making up” the use of gender neutral pronouns. But for me, I don’t know where my queer development or queer experience would be without those online communities. And that old online presence hangs around forever. Like, here’s my angsty teenage poetry, still online.


Cheena Marie Lo

DD: I wanted to ask

about your experiences as a genderqueer person with gender neutral pronouns in professional or administrative environments, like when you worked at Mills.

DD: what happened?

CML: Stephanie [Young] was so good about my pronouns and it was so great to have your boss back you up. I have to have that conversation with my new boss. I’ve brought it up in job interviews before and I’ve had a bad experience.

CML: I said during an interview, “Something that’s important to me is I identify as genderqueer, I use they/them pronouns, and I was wondering how your department is inclusive of that sort of diversity.” They got defensive and were like, oh, well, we don’t believe in identity markers, we’re all just people. I knew then it wasn’t going to be a good fit. I go back and forth about pronouns at work because oftentimes, my co-workers are just my coworkers. I never see them outside of work or talk to them about anything that doesn’t involve work. It feels like too much to sit down and have “the talk” with them.

DD: Like maybe you aren’t

CML: Totally. I don’t feel like I need to educate you. I also feel confident that this new job is a place where I’d like to be for a while so I’ll probably try and talk to them about it. Send them an email or something.

DD: Email helps organize

CML: Yeah, it’s like, “I know you’re gonna mess up. I’m just letting you know what I prefer.” And yeah, for some people, they’ll just say, “I know I’m screwing up but it’s just so hard!” But you’re doing something wrong!

sure there’s going to be pushback, but it’s just not something a lot of people have the energy to do.

my thoughts. And people feel less like they’re being put on the spot when it’s not in person. It’s funny that the kneejerk response from some is, “I’m gonna mess up! So I’ll just do it on purpose instead.”


DD: that’s where I am,

CML: I defintely don’t.

DD: When you worked at

CML: I know! It’s funny because I never even told anybody at Mills except for Jess [Heaney] and Stephanie because they are my friends. I sent out an email to close friends and collaborators about my pronouns, like, “Hey, I’m using these pronouns now. Please respect that. Thank you. I expect that you will mess up but it’s okay, just try not to do it a lot. But also if you find somebody using the wrong pronoun, it’s sometimes exhausting for me to correct them, so it would be super helpful if you could.” So I think Jess and Stephanie must have taken that on at Mills which was so awesome because I wasn’t even there much at first, only working on-campus once a week. I’m assuming a conversation must have happened between other folks in the department and my pronouns started getting used. Now I feel totally spoiled because at this new position, I’m going to have to have the conversation myself [laughter]. At Mills, it was great to have colleagues who really took that on and advocated for me.

too. my girlfriend knows and my friends know. At some point you have to let it go. An acquaintance of mine corrects people aggressively and I like it, I think it’s effective, but I think you also have to have that kind of personality and I don’t.

Mills, I’d never seen anyone in an administrative position who used those pronouns and had them in official emails. It made me excited!


Cheena Marie Lo

DD: Lastly, are there any other local artists or projects that you’re interested in or excited about?

CML: Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, who was also in the Mills MFA. The manuscript she wrote for her thesis won a first book contest so it’s getting published next year! It’s called the meshes. She’s also adapted it into a play which will be performed at the Garage next year. It’s been a privilege to see this work evolve as much as it has. I remember being in workshop with her and seeing the beginnings of this project. I’m so proud of her! She has been a big collaborator of mine, we’ve put on so many events together.


who do you think you are. Zack Haber

who do you think you are? / who do you think you are? / who do you think you-who do you think you-who do you think you-who do do do-get your ass-get get your ass-get get your ass in class / get your ass in the class-in the class-in the class-get your ass back in that class and the rest of your body too. and the rest of your body too. get your ass-get your ass-get your ass-back back and the rest of your body too body too body too body too body too body rest of the body too.


Zack Haber

fuck you. bitch. no. fuck no. fuck you.


Oakland High School May 2014 23 year old School security officer, Marchell Mitchell, beat Francisco Martinez, 17 teen year old Student With cerebral palsy. I watched a video of it online It’s online At the time I’m writing this. I don’t want to watch the video again I remember Mitchell Pushing Martinez in his wheelchair Down the hall And then suddenly Marchell hit him in the face hard From behind his back / Sucker slap On the side of his face Once Twice Three times Maybe four / Throws Martinez to the floor / Maybe spits on him. Martinez on his stomach on the floor. Martinez lying on the floor on his stomach. Martinez with his face against the floor. And cold. Martinez with his wheelchair on its side knocked over next to him. Students and administrators gathered around / Marchell Mitchell standing there / Video silent.


Zack Haber

get your ass in your ass in your ass in your ass in your ass in your ass in your ass. and your ass in the class in your ass in the class is your ass in the class of your ass. and your ass in your ass is your ass’s ass and your ass in your ass is your class. and your class is your ass and your ass is your class and your class’s ass is your ass. and your ass is not the grass. and the grass is not your ass.


Oakland High School Principal Matin “Abdel-Qawi said that around 9 a.m. on May 19, two school security officers were urging students to go to class. But some of the students, including one in a wheelchair, continued to linger in the hallway. When one of the security officers approached the student in the wheelchair and ordered him to move toward his next class, the student either refused or was slow to do so, Abdel-Qawi said. The officer then proceeded to take the student’s chair by its handles and wheel him to class, at which point the student objected and attempted to slap away the security officer’s hands, Abdel-Qawi said. The security officer handcuffed the student and continued to roll him toward class when the student turned around and spat on the officer’s face. The security officer allegedly struck the student several times before dumping him from his wheelchair onto the floor face down.” -Riya Bhattacharjee, NBC Bay Area, May 31st


Zack Haber

Should anything be mandatory? Should anyone be forced to be at a certain place at a certain time? If yes, under what circumstances? Is it more painful to get spit on in your face, and not seek revenge? Or is it more painful to get spit on in your face, and then beat a 17 year old with cerebral palsy? Is it more painful to beat or be beaten? Is the answer to that question the same under every circumstance? Why or why not? If the only way to keep young people in school is through violence, should people use violence to keep young people in school? When is violence against young people appropriate? Is it better to use violence, or allow a young person to leave a school? Is preventing someone from leaving somewhere where where they don’t want to be violence? When is violence appropriate? What is the difference between handcuffing someone, dragging their body from a hallway to a classroom, and handcuffing someone and pushing their wheelchair (which their body is bound to) to a classroom? Why does one seem less evil to me than the other?


Evil in the evil in the evil in the other. Other in the evil in the other in the other. Other in the evil. Evil in the other. Evil in the other in the other in the evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil other other other other other other other other other other other other other other other other Evil in the evil in the other in the other evil.


Zack Haber

Oakland High School Principal Matin “Abdel-Qawi said that around 9 a.m. on May 19, two school security officers were urging students to go to class. But some of the students, including one in a wheelchair, continued to linger in the hallway. When one of the security officers approached the student in the wheelchair and ordered him to move toward his next class, the student either refused or was slow to do so, Abdel-Qawi said. The officer then proceeded to take the student’s chair by its handles and wheel him to class, at which point the student objected and attempted to slap away the security officer’s hands, Abdel-Qawi said. The security officer handcuffed the student and continued to roll him toward class when the student turned around and spat on the officer’s face. The security officer allegedly struck the student several times before dumping him from his wheelchair onto the floor face down.” -Riya Bhattacharjee, NBC Bay Area, May 31st 2014


Here’s a short story! When I was in high school--16--I punched Ethan Appleby in the face. Ethan was richer than me. He had kissed girls and I hadn’t kissed girls. He played lacrosse. He went to parties on the weekend and drank beers and I didn’t go to parties on the weekend and drink beers. Do you know the song You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson? One day this guy Derrick (who once called out in the middle of history class to ask Mr Ruffin, “what kind of haircut is that?”) was taunting Ethan after school. He was singing to Ethan to the tune of that Michael Jackson song:

Ethan really sucks He can suck my nuts Although he thinks he’s cool He really actually sucks Ethan laughed at Derrick’s singing. When I saw Ethan in school the next day I sang the song to him but he didn’t think it was funny. He pushed me into my locker. I went to the bathroom and thought about what to do. I went to the locker area and I found Ethan talking to a female. I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around and I punched him in the eye and I walked away. He had a black eye. For a few years after that incident I thought back on it with pride. Then for a while I didn’t know what to think. Lately I’ve been looking back at it with a faint dull dim persistent pain. Because I acted like as asshole.


Zack Haber

I’m wondering about the damage violence does to the perpetrator.--In Western Europe and its colonies, executioners have often been shunned by their neighbors.--If others deserve our violence, do we deserve the violence we do to ourselves administering it?--The profession of executioner sometimes ran through a family,--In 2009, I was in Bihar in India, I saw a newspaper article saying there were so many people on death row but they couldn’t be executed because no one in Bihar would agree to perform the execution.--In Japan, executioners have been held in contempt as part of the Burakumin class--But when I did research for this poem, I couldn’t find any info supporting that story about Bihar. So I think it might have been a fake article I saw.--In the Ottoman Empire, only gypsies could be executioners.--Still I hope not, I would like to live in a place where no one agreed to be the executioner.--Executioners were seen as “damned” people, even their graveyards were separate from public graveyards.--I told Carrie she “didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about” during an argument over whether or not to use coconut oil while cooking dinner.--The lack of social shunning for executioners in places like North America may be attributed to the infrequency of executions in modern times and the ease in which prison or judicial officials are able to conceal their daily job duties.--She got really upset.--I spent a long time convincing her I didn’t mean it to sound so angry I was sorry and I love her. --(about 40% text from the Wikipedia article “Executioner” August, 2014)


Forms Travis Jackson


excerpt from The Geography of Half Our Lives Margaret Ann Miller

Decay 1 It is astounding to realize how much we don’t know about our own bodies. Axe prods the fabric, pinching the needle with thumb and forefinger. Each stab—mere variations of the A’s, C’s, T’s, and G’s of Axe’s mother; father; of the inherited past. Axe is a small copy. In deep dark caverns, between soft white ribs, a small copy pinches and pulls at the skin, protruding inward, searching for the original; their original. The thread pulls taut as Axe shortens the cuffs. They want to do this by hand, not with Moira’s old sewing machine. It wouldn’t seem quite right. What each of us is given amounts to a blueprint. Axe, with unsteady hands, cuts a large chunk of black fabric. Watches it fall to the floor, in a small, overlapping curl. They measure the arms to see if the length is the same on both sides. They want the jacket to fit smoothly in just the same pattern as the skin that’s tugged over bones and sewed into movement by animal sinews. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, they think. Just love it love it love it. Love the tightness of the calves, the heavy breathing, and the fact that every day there remains a distinct communication between parts. As Axe’s blood pumps, a jutting vein pulsing along their forehead, their body sweats and the jacket blooms with finishing touches, collecting bodily architecture in each curve and line, until the jacket collapses with Axe’s skin, presses into them until the two pieces are form fitted together in sheer perfection. Along many wires and synaptic pulses, Axe’s mind tells them that this is right; and in this room, and in this moment, there is agreement between parts and thus, their mind is at peace; no longer strained with the jutting terrain, that’s underneath layers of fabric, of skin, of etched veins, that slopes from the top of the head to the soles that dig and


unearth, and dig the earth up, to secure a semblance of place. Axe makes their mark with a forest green tie. They say: I am right here. No one ever hears when the body stops. It stops way before when we tell it to run faster, move further away—it stops when we try to outrun the physical terrain—the arms that extend forward and back and forward, the friction forcing the body to pant and perspire across warm flesh. As if we can escape, as if there is truth to this running away, as if the body will not slow: will not stop. The body always stops, unable to keep up with its hardwiring for genetic perfection. That’s what happened. Now Axe wears the jacket, now smaller, to fit their tiny frame. There are still shadows and pockets in the jacket where their shoulders will not stretch and places where the jacket may still be too small across the chest and they are okay with this, in this moment, and in this room, because perhaps the only way to be is by leaving some room for Pete. 2 Axe hears something they should have expected all along. All real men are lost, missing, or stranded on distant shores. There are none in the entire world because of this, Axe’s grandmother Moira says. She does not raise her head or her eyes. She must mean the words for Axe who stands close, but not too close. Hello Moira, it’s good to see you. The words ring false and Axe wishes they could erase them from their tongue. They are not actually thrilled to see Moira. Not in the slightest. Though Moira raised them, they have been separated for a long time now. Axe has grown into their womanly body, which they regret every day. The hips, thighs, and breasts always show through and they hate how Moira remains calm, only puts a little weight on her cane, knowing that their genes have done their duty, have done right by her, giving her a granddaughter to replace her daughter, Axe’s mother. That’s the point of grandchildren. They fix earlier mistakes, can be tinkered with,

88 Margaret Ann Miller

given different settings and rules in order to program their existence. All of it really just means pulling from that earlier rib and remaking the same daughter with a few different materials for better results. For Axe, to reject that earlier copy is an unkindness in spite of the fact that if there is a rib Axe was pulled from, it wasn’t Moira’s or their mother’s, but their grandfather Pete’s, which grew out of the very clay mud soil of the land they stand on. Axe can only ever be born from the frontier; that’s just the downright fact of the matter. They were born on the Rocky Mountains. No one knows how it happened; even Axe can’t quite explain the christening process, as Pete referred to their first day at Lookout Mountain. Lumberjacks, those fellas are the real heroes, Pete said as they ploughed their big leather boots through the green expanse, trying not to crush too many small green blades in their path. Lumberjacks were Pete’s obsession. He convinced Axe when they were about knee high that Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe were real historical heroes. They made pacts with trees and forests and sang tunes, whistled through their teeth, calling the trees right out of the earth and on top of it. Pete said Paul Bunyan and Babe weren’t much different from gardeners, just a tad more macho. On Axe’s thirteenth birthday, up there at Lookout Mountain, Pete grabbed their shoulder, squeezed it so hard they were certain he left his prints on them and said Axe sounded like a name on par with Paul Bunyan. The two of them dug their hands deep in the earth and threw clumps of dirt, exhuming any remaining spirits. It was a sort of baptism. A promise. It’s just you and me, kid. The name was blessed by Pete’s one true love, Mother Nature herself. Over the years, Axe has learned to give Moira space. Their hand barely brushes Moira’s as they hand her another flower. Moira winces, and lets the flower fall to the floor. No words pass between them. Axe crouches down. Picks up the pieces. They press the pink petals to their lips and bite down, like a hunting dog with a pheasant, feeling the fragile, flattened material fall limp; their molars, pointed and pinched together, holding the destroyed life in their grasp. This is what it means to be a man when you are not a man or a woman.


__________, what are you doing? Axe holds the moistened petals in their hands. They’ve already curled around the edges, marred with teeth marks. They’re poised to die without the stem that connects all the bits to all the pieces. Without the stem, the petals are loose and alone and It dies so beautifully. Moira continues to rearrange other pinks and reds with carelessness. Some stems are too short or she places the wilted roses closer to the front so they sag over as if being pulled back to the earth. They watch Moira pull out baby’s breath and place it next to a few lilies. Then she sighs and tosses it aside. No tulips. No sunflowers. And Axe knows: those were his favorites. Just lilies and pink roses. That’s all she’ll let him have now. They offer help again, but Moira cuts the stems. She cuts without a thought. One pink rose loses all branching and shape. Moira, agitated, swipes the ruined rose from the table. Axe moves not a limb. The rose: untouched. Axe listens to Moira’s words again in their head. They hold the words tightly, pressing them between their lips. They insist it’s a rejection. They squeeze the bulbous knot of the tie higher up, until they can’t breathe with ease. This is what they want, but they are not supposed to want it or not want it in equal passing. The It is the thing Axe has no control over. The It is when they use he, but then sometimes It is when they use she, but other times those few letters cannot be welded or forged out of iron into It: the thing Axe cannot explain. They know what Moira is thinking, but it would be much too bold for her to just say the thing, the thing on her mind. A freak. That’s the word Moira uses to describe them. The word never reverberates along vocal chords or dampens a tongue or palpitates in a short iamb rhythm, but she sees them through glassy blue tinted eyes. Moira’s much too polite, much too refine with her pearl earrings and slim gold watch and little brown nylon socks that hide her varicose veins to ever imply such a phrase. Maybe because Pete is dead, Moira thinks they are dead too, in the same way as old technologies and older forms. She says goodbye to them by not using the word. The word that will crush them. But

90 Margaret Ann Miller

which word is it? One or the other. The problem is, sometimes the word is right, accurate, and perceptive, and sometimes the word is so wrong it should be blasphemous, removed from language etymologically, somehow. But then what would people do without the words, because in reality, there are more than one—the words they did not even know had the ability to harm. Axe returns to Moira and her thoughts on them and Pete. In Moira’s mind, Pete and Axe are archaic. They are outmoded and from a time no longer available. Dear, will you go find the programs? You might have to ask Pastor Jim. They’re yellow. There is a way Axe moves about the chapel like a ghost. Their thin frame, still thinning, still losing its shape as though trying to fade away and disappear. They touch none of the surfaces in the chapel. Not the holy water font, not the pews, not the framed photos of Pete, definitely none of Moira’s bouquets now. That’s the first rule of archaeology: don’t disturb the artifacts. They call it primary context. You are supposed to leave things undisturbed from their original deposition for as long as possible. Axe leaves not a single mark. If they were to disappear, the only cause for concern would be where they ended up. If there was a guarantee they’d end up with Pete, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Dying. Is it really so bad for the person who’s dead? All the knowing stops and by extent, all the caring. But even then, Axe doesn’t quite want to hold onto such a thought, the thought being that Pete, now dead, no longer cares about them because in all of the living bodies that are to be passing through the chapel doors not long from now, there’s not even a handful that really love them. All the love is made from the same brittle material that makes up all the cells in the body. There’s not even a chance that with time, Moira’s mouth, a frown of wrinkles, will gravitate anywhere, but down into the earth like a wilted flower. There’s not enough time in this life for Moira to peel away the sad glint and really see Axe, though they always wait, shoulders pulled back, head held high like a child who only wants to be noticed without the weight of a single, heavy word just waiting to be said in a moment of anger or disappointment. It’s


always troubled times and Axe stuffs two petite hands into the caves of Pete’s pockets, and bunches the inside lining all the way together until each dark cavern is crushed between each tiny fist. They say nothing, but only grimace at the cheese and crackers and the pitiful girlish roses and lilies that would have really yanked Pete’s chain about the whole setup, considering he was not the type of man to blush or spout sentimentalities. He thought cheese and crackers and wine were sadder than any funeral. Now see, there’s corned beef, I like that, and maybe some liver and onions too. Keep it simple. Some chicken pot pies straight out of the oven, delicious. Don’t need to send me to heaven, kid, I’m already there. Axe could hear his voice, right there, behind their ear, spouting off in his gruff, beer drenched whisper. Pete had learned to live off very few glamorous provisions while in the Korean War. All along the small, narrow room, with cracks in the white ceiling overhead and too many stain glass mosaics of Jesus adorning a cross or carrying a cross and looking weak and pitiful, are all the red candles a company could possibly make in a year. They flicker across every wood surface just itching to be down to the wick and melted over, scorched right into the very church Pete nearly died at when he was only a little bundle. Moira is the one who has told Axe this story. There’s a chance she has exaggerated its contents, which Axe knows, but they do not care because it is a story that has left a mark and they are not willing to sacrifice its impression based on questions of accuracy. Pete’s mother Kathy nearly burned him to bits on the steps of St. Francis Church. She flicked a lit cigarette and burned his tattered yellow blanket down to the size of a washcloth. She was the type of woman who wore dark lipstick only to accentuate her already toughened pale skin. She hadn’t even known she had done it; too busy scratching at her arm, little dead flakes that rained down like ash. Even when Axe asked Pete about his mother, he shook his head, his saggy bunch of chin skin shaking too, and said, no kid, not today, today’s not the day I want to talk about that woman, but maybe another day, like a good day at the horses, something like that. Pete had seemed spooked and it sent a chill sprinting up and down Axe’s own spine. After that, they never

92 Margaret Ann Miller

wanted to go to church again. In any event, Axe found that Pete kept her ruby colored rosary in his sock drawer. Sometimes all one could do was keep a parent in the dark corner of a sock drawer. It was a sign. Axe presses their arms and elbows into their ribs, casually reminding their body that the ruby colored rosary is still in the lining of the inside pocket; Kathy still nestled between them and Pete. Even though he is no longer here, his fear of churches still runs thick and in him is still that little baby boy, scared, and even though mothers tend to fail on most accounts, they are embedded in our bones and in their essence is a security only their shape can give. Inheritance is accidental. Each time Moira goes back to arranging the flowers, they blow out a candle. No touching involved. Axe returns to Moira, empty handed, doesn’t say so, but merely holds their open hands up, as a form of reply. Did you ask? I bet they forgot to print the programs. Axe cannot deny it. Even now, in Pete’s jacket, his mother’s rosary in the lining pocket—Axe hates this version. They hate it less than other versions, but the distaste is so heavy, they are unable to tell Moira that in their hands is a brown paper bag with a black and white dress and secretary heels balled up inside. Little bottles and little cases of makeup too. They do not want to say so because Moira will be relieved. She will move closer to Axe, a cane in one hand and the other on the middle of their back. Moira will tell Axe her dress is lovely and she will show everyone just the type of granddaughter Moira has raised. Without Pete, the soft sweet pieces will grow back; the soil no longer poisoned. Axe tries to remember the last time they saw Moira. Was it before or after the change? The problem being the change was gradual—still is. Not a lot has changed, but everything has been muddled together and in their confusion, they have a hard time determining the actual moment when Moira left. Time’s been all fucked up and it gets lodged in Axe’s throat, making it swell with the now and the then because time has no real frame. What a terrible shame that people believe you can pinpoint a single moment.


Pete’s already dead, but the thought leans into Axe and their hands drop to their sides in realization and in shock. In that moment, Pete’s gone. It’s continuously happening. Axe continuously decides what Pete will never experience again: the Korean War, which is a relief. Sex, which they still haven’t experienced so that’s something Pete and Axe can share. A cold one, which Axe still isn’t quite sure is a past time they will ever want, but probably should want if they would ever like a girl to take her pants off for them. Still early and still cold. Snow’s been coming down for days, ever since Axe found Pete’s dead cold body and wrapped their hands arms body around his cold dead collarbone. There were no holes in his flesh. Nothing tore through it. There were no rips. Nothing. It’s January. Axe is missing the start of the second quarter of college. The pastor opens the door wide, to let the spirit of God in, he says, and the wind’s breath gushes, grips Axe by the back of the neck, their cheeks flush. They’re a little more awake now; their eyelids pulled a little further up so they can really see. Behind the pastor, the trees look like exoskeletons: bald, bony, all their leaves shook down to their bases. The snow, in large white bundles, keeps piling up like sediment layers, like Denver’s going to be the city a mile underneath ice. The pastor shakes the sprinkles of white out of his hair and he smiles in an unforced manner; he’s so happy to be here at work, loving his job where everyone shrinks beneath his gaze and his clerical garments—with the small white piece to the collar. In his room, Axe pulled so hard at Pete’s collar, (they didn’t know while sitting there, no longer thick skinned, no longer unapologetic, no longer able to even muster, you’re going to die alone, a sentiment said only days ago, which they had regretted then and there, in the moment the words left their mouth, but even more so now that their mouth became so heavy, their jaw and chin curled into themselves, into their neck because the tears needed a place to go and they did not like being aware that the droplets hung like rain at the end of a gutter, pattering down onto Pete’s black and grey chest hairs), that they did not even realize the white t-shirt collar had stretched, ripped in their fist and

94 Margaret Ann Miller

there it was, the place Axe rested their head, right on Pete’s chest, didn’t even bother to pat down the hairs, but they really listened, had to, in order to believe that Pete’s old ticker really stopped, that it was physiologically possible for someone to die of a broken heart. The hollow sound of the not-ticking, of the no-beating, pounded against Axe’s ear drum until their whole body rang and shook with grief and the gasped-for-sobs couldn’t even crush the pain of silence. There are very few people and in the low lighting, Moira does not say a thing about the black suit and forest green tie. She says nothing of its size and shape, or the weight of Axe’s figure within the nooks and pockets of the various materials. Axe wonders if it’s too late to pray. They go to the entrance of the chapel where the holy water font rests. They dip both hands in, until submerged at the wrist—the cuffs of Pete’s suit dampen and drip. They make the sign of the cross—twice. They smudge the water into each pore, to bless the DNA strands in each tissue bed, in each contracting muscle twitch; to wipe the slate clean. Axe returns. The wine red chapel room fills with the scent of Moira’s fresh cut flowers. Pete hated fresh cut flowers. Once you take them from the ground, clip them, or cut them away from their roots, it’s all over, he said. 3 Moira finally tracks down the programs. She hands them to Axe; again, being conscious of where her hand and Axe’s come together. She slides her thumb away, in case they are to touch. Axe has never noticed before, the way Moira takes to keeping her body to herself. It seems such a selfish gesture. Then a memory hits Axe. Moira’s words from before, maybe they are not simply a denial on her part, but rather a tic, a repetition that resurfaces when a person can no longer cope. The last time Moira talked about leaving, it was in the form of a question. Why do men always leave? she said. Moira had been gone for almost a week. This was the second concrete time Moira had tried

Jenna Caravello


to leave Axe and Pete. She couldn’t follow through. Her little tan suitcases all in a row by the door: home. They were relieved to have her back in the house that had only clung to sadness since her departure, all hollowed out—empty. The day she returned, Axe was outside riding their bike. Even before Moira could say anything that day, Jack, one of the neighbor boys, asked the same question. Jack said to them, hey, what’s with your body? A question, like a promise once heard by another body can never be taken back, but only betrayed again & again & again. Jack was a little bigger than them, a little older than eleven. He picked at a scab and watched it ooze. He licked the blood to see what it tasted like. Axe wore one of their grandfather’s black t-shirts. A shadow of doubt against all of the boys’ bigger bodies. The shirt had creamy paint splotches all over from Pete’s tiling business. Probably grout or some other crusting material. The shirt billowed in the wind, and was a bit too big for them. Jack looked at Axe’s body as the form of a question. All the kids until that day had shared the same physical type. If their bodies were landscapes, they shared the same terrain. But at that age, Axe’s body began to grow in certain ways they did not want and they did their best to push those parts back inside and flatten them out. Stop, they told their body. Axe sat in the double shade of adulthood and womanhood, wanting neither. Then they fell. Axe lay, arms and legs stretched and splayed around their body, not moving, the heat of blood and adrenaline pumping through them, their heart buzzing, a large sting in their chest they felt residually from their head. All the neighbor boys laughed until they realized Axe was hurt. Then in one huge, cracking voice, they all shouted hey lady, lady, lady lady lady at Moira. Then she appeared and Axe toughed the whole situation out because Pete had once told them that their family was made in the rugged image of the Rocky Mountains and unfortunately, were not allowed to cry—Mother Nature’s rules. Before she even thought to go to Axe, Moira secured two green-edged, sunflower-patched gardening gloves over her hands. The gloves were caked in dirt. The outsides that is; the insides

96 Margaret Ann Miller

were clean and soft, perhaps a comfort to her hands. Axe did not mention the possibility of infection or what might happen if more dirt than blood and brain guts went back into their head. They weren’t quite sure of the answer themselves, but nonetheless knew the result could not be good. Why do men always leave? Moira pressed a white cloth to Axe’s head hard, as if to press the blood and brain guts back in. She dabbed at their head. Axe remained quiet, biting the whimper right out of their lips, hoping they did not expose their real self to the neighbor boys who were still there, watching and waiting. Moira’s hand trembled, not at the sight of the blood, but at the way Axe held their body like they were trying to stop the thing dead in its tracks. She repeated the question, why do men always leave, under her breath. Axe had no answer, other than the obvious. They wanted to say, I’m right here, aren’t I? I haven’t left. Who Moira really meant to talk about though was Axe’s grandfather. In her mind, all men were Pete. She asked about him because though she said she loved Axe, they knew this was not where Moira wanted to be today. She wanted to be at her part-time nursing gig. Pete’s job was to help them when they popped up on their back bike wheel, beat their chest, just like all the neighbor boys, but forgot their helmet and bits of their skin ran away from other bits of skin. The days he was supposed to be there were the days he missed the most. Moira had called the landline at his tiling business. As usual, the machine picked up and at the end of the message, Pete’s voice boomed: hey kid, if that’s you, I’ll call you back soon, you got that? I actually like talking to you a whole bunch. Then click. Even though he was never at work in those moments, Moira still said he was out on business. At least on the days he came home a little wobbly and a little red warm in the face with wads of cash bulging from his jacket pockets, even the little yellow notebook bouncing around underneath, Axe and Moira were treated to a big steak dinner. He called them, Meaty Mondays. After a while, Moira removed one of her gardening gloves and lit a cigarette. Moira never smoked in front of Axe. She finally shooed the neighbor boys away, sprinkling ash all over the front


steps. She continued holding the white cloth to Axe’s head. She held the cigarette between two uncovered, wrinkled pink fingers: When I was twelve or so I broke my arm roller skating, got going too fast down a hill. My dad was livid. He slapped me on the back of the head, calling me stupid the whole time. It cost him a hefty paycheck to see a doctor and get my arm in a sling. He said it was safer and easier if I stayed inside, like a lady. He also said I looked a lot prettier without the sling too. After the accident, anytime Axe was home alone with Moira, the two of them stayed inside like a couple of ladies and made cookies. There Moira was, staring out the front window, tempting herself to leave again. She tapped an unlit cigarette on the windowsill, but then left the cigarette there, unsmoked. She probably kept the two of them inside more for herself than for Axe. Axe hears Moira tap the end of her cane into the mahogany carpet. The rhythm follows suit with each slap of the yellow program onto the wood bench. Not so harsh, will you? They weren’t cheap. Moira says yellow makes people smile. The programs are not a pale yellow, but a blinding canary yellow. Axe rolls their eyes and bids a mock curtsy and begins to place the programs down like they really are small yellow birds. So much for being a good archaeologist they think, as they continue to touch, taint and fuck up the whole scene. Hurry up, will you, dear? Everything’s got to be in its perfect place, Moira says. Axe stops. The front door opens again and outside near a far tree, through the sheet of white, there’s Pete. Like when they used to play hide and seek on Lookout Mountain. He has his big green mittens on. He doesn’t wave. He just stands. Axe sees him and nearly crumples the remaining programs as if they have crushed forty tiny birds. As one moment passes through another, Pete’s gone again. Death is a matter of remembering.

98 Margaret Ann Miller

Buffet Travis Jackson


excerpt from year of the rat excerpt from YEAR OF THE RAT Marc Anthony Richardson

Comparison is the root of all pain, my love, a suffering choice, a separation, a schism of the heart: I should’ve never revisited you. Last winter I should’ve heeded the warnings of nostalgia. Reopened the wound. Out west every palm was a promise of no snow, a rainbow, and after years of reliving this city, this natal city, I feel the way a prisoner must feel about prison and picking up litter along the interstate: once you’re inside you should stay inside until you’re out for good, no sense in torturing yourself with glimpses of what you already have to forget. The Pacific. I forget it. Making love to you, Medusa, inside the gutted mother of a redwood only to reemerge covered in charcoal from that burnt-out womb. I forget fucking on the edge of an ocean cliff: the tall rippling sea of yellow grass, the marine clamor against your perpendicular spine, the jangle of your bracelets, and that roll of you grounding me out like a breaker, spuming, with the sun shouldering your significance while shining about the buoyant silhouette of kelp curls—or could I have been basking beneath the free-swimming sexual form of a subumbrella, being stung obliviously? I forget not seeing your face of death. All I could see from under your ass was the silhouette of a medusa saying, Someone’s coming, Someone’s coming, and then a long guttural sigh, some release by way of my removal of that long yellow screw in your thigh (for rarely did you arrive like this, with me inside of you), for in this upright epilepsy, in this trancelike state, you had pushed away my hands as though I were interfering. And when I went stiff and hoisted you, the lightness of your weight, I could feel the cool ocean spray on my shins as I tasted the saltiness of my sea…. I forget the pleasure of crossing the Golden Gate, of taking the longer drive, of how at an intersection


Marc Anthony Richardson

in the city of Saint Francis you pointed towards one of the dispossessed seated upon an isle, and I was first struck by the robbery of her teeth, by the jutted register of her mandible, and then by her hands that were clasping something big and furry, wet and black: it had a semi-prehensile tail that nearly coiled a forearm, like an opossum’s or a cat’s, but it was a gargantuan rat’s—and she was stroking it as it nuzzled her bottom lip. She was crying manically as the rat was kissing her as though it were trying to offer some great comfort during a greater time of torment. And I forget asking you, later over the bay, if love was an emotion. And you said that you can’t divide the indivisible any more than you can divide the individual. Individual, you said, such a tragic misuse of the word: one who is undivided…. I forget the halo of light wrangling the Lake of Merritt at night, that tidal lagoon over the bridge dividing the bay, and that newly constructed cathedral, a fortress of belief, a sparkly spacecraft, a glass vulva refracting the sunlight inside the atrium; I forget the sundry population of aquatic fowls ducking their domes beneath the feather-skinned soup as upside-down periscopes combing for food, the school of waddling geese stopping traffic like a field trip, the meek inheriting the earth without a care or a clue, the great virgin pelican flying its star-like gourd, the black-crowned night heron balancing upon a solitary stilt, a leg, with its spearhead pointing towards the tidal mouth with the prescience and the patience of an antediluvian angler, just as indiscriminately as its beady red eyes would wait for a morsel of meat to plop out of the backside of an aluminum-enwrapped Burrito truck. I forget the weird and twisted ground-crawling pines, reclining old ladies in floppy virescent hats, inspiring growth beyond timberlines, the fewer people, the ghost town-tumble weed feeling compared to here, the palm fronds fanning the easy laughter of the blacks, the parched and rainless mouths of the summer months, the blue hills, the verdant terra firma, the cows and the whiff of their coprophagists-covered dung tailing the breeze, the long-mane steeds, the ambassadors of legroom, taking in the deep bucolic


gulps of their hair, the highway being miles away, and the speed boat, a jet engine, trailing the white frothy wake across the patch of cloudless waters…I forget the star easing into the ocean for that slow-motion submersion, inspiring applause while silencing the hands of a haiku death poet, for he would clearly hear the hiss could the ears be plugged with the gist of it; I forget the chilly summer fog rolling over the steep hills of the city of Saint Francis, a terminal city on the edge of the night of the world it seems when crossing the bay, an international date line, and whose whites are always absorbed by the fog of prosperity; I forget the look on the mother’s face when she was visiting, when she saw the city’s sewage plant, surrounded by blacks and Samoans, bright with the orange nighttime lights of an oil refinery—and yet when we stood on a Hunter’s Point hill, in that cesspool, even I had to concede its spectacular view; I forget the magnificent Pacific lapping her ankles for the very first time, the only time: it took us twenty minutes to cross Stinson sands and another twenty for her to rest upon a wet log, yet as soon as her breath was abated and the pants were rolled up, like a pudgy pelagic bird, she was out there wading into the tongue—and I forget the sorrow of seeing it. She was so free. I forget those everlastingly living redwood groves, those giant sequoias, the largest living things on this rock, past or present, those towering methuselahs indestructibly held up by the strength of their interwoven roots—fused together—as they grip fog drip, fog which sometimes crosses the bay only to dissipate before the borders of your city, the Cradle of the Panther: for in times of indecisiveness, when the ground is most fertile, it is very important to not be afraid of being afraid.


Marc Anthony Richardson

Poems Ivy Johnson


On a hilltop in Italy in 1971, young people assembled from all over the world to spread this message, which they put into a beautiful folk song: “I’d like to buy the world a home/ And furnish it with love/ Grow apple trees and honey bees/ And snow white turtle doves./ I’d like to teach the world to sing/ In perfect harmony/ I’d like to buy the world a Coke/ And keep it company/ That’s the real thing. /


11 Long fishing wire threaded under the clit and pulled A tugging on the nipple strings Oh, free floating puppeteer Enter my room and shower me in glitter How do you manifest yourself in so many places throughout the day With no strings attached, cute and cruelty-free I yearn for the nostalgia of your logo The simplicity of mechanisms yore How do you have ten thousand fingers always already inside me The cilia of my lungs, my cunt thing Breathing


Ivy Johnson

12 Self-imposed hunger supplants more ethereal forms of desire and Eclipses other unsavory carnal desire-formations In hunger I am everything A bastard Lolita A platonic nightmare Fueled by Coke Zero The perfect commodity I can say nothing But give wish to the command of me My ontology as a woman What is my desire but to be And the hegemon sang, “Let it be� And it was good and it pleased him On the sixth day, I am told, There will be formal mourning This dirty little surplus is burning I rip off the root of my sex and I starve In ecstasy, in war Oh, how the face quickens to a mirror And empathy slights to parody Look at me



I have been a hungry waif I have given my authentic potency to the moneyed I have begged for it from the other I have othered the perceived authentic I have lived among cannibals The voided center is A mouth, is a cunt, an empty stomach I dream in ideology I dream that the sky is a snake, is a tornado, is sucking all the water Held in its vacuous basin I am the voice of one calling in the desert And if the devil does tempt me I will call him the left hand of God Taking what he has offered


Ivy Johnson

Alison Kreitzberg


An Interview with Gerone Spruill davey davis

An artist at Creative Growth in Oakland since June 1993, Gerone Spruill

is a Bay Area native whose body of work grounds the fanciful and fetishistic in the precisely-lined environs of Chocolate City. Inspired by his narrative prismacolor and ink drawings and his multidisciplinary aesthetic—Spruill, a funk enthusiast, is a musician and DJ as well as a visual artist—he was asked to answer a few questions about his influences, process, and plans for the future.

Davey Davis: It seems like you’re really influenced by George Clinton & Parliament. Who else has influenced you? Are there any visual artists you admire in particular?

Gerone Spruill: Overton Loyd, a good friend of George Clinton. Pedro Bell, also a friend of George Clinton. He did mostly the Funkadelic Series. I like the album cover artists from the 70’s. Tom Nikosey and Dennis Miller who did the Cameo illustrations.

DD: You’ve been at Creative Growth for more than 20 years! What do you want to accomplish artistically in the next 20?

GS: I hope to start Chocolate City of Oakland Records and Filmworks. It will include comics, movies, music and comedy. I will still do artwork too, comic books and drawings. I want to share with people how creative I am and talented I am in many different ways.

DD: What’s the most difficult aspect of your artistic process?

GS: Learning animation on the computer. Once I get the hang of it I’ll have to practice and practice until I get it right. Getting the right pose for each character. I like to pose my cartoon characters the way the old school people did in the 1970’s.

108 108Gerone Spruill

DD: What is your favorite part about being an artist? What is your least favorite?

DD: How has living in the Bay Area inspired you and your work?

DD: Where do you go or what do you do for inspiration?

GS: I like the idea of giving cartoon characters color when I use prisma color pencils. I like to show people my knowledge of music and also my way of entertaining. My least favorite is getting paper and the supplies I need.

GS: Living in Oakland is my home and I represent the Dark Chocolate town of Oakland all day everyday. People here can be talented in their special ways like I am, and it keeps me and my work successful. Although being a successful artist in Oakland is hard work, once you find your way you can be successful and happy. Not only am I a good cartoonist, I’m a DJ, which is my way of keeping Chocolate City of Oakland alive.

GS: When I’m not at Creative Growth I head down to one of my favorite record stores in Berkeley, Rasputins, or Guitar Center in Emeryville. I like looking at classic album covers.


Alison Kreitzberg



excerpt from The Sissies Evan Kennedy

A weeknight baseball game pledges its ticket holders a variety of extravagant processions and dalliances, and I am only one of its frequent enthusiasts spinning the turnstiles. Evenings here become lessons in piety, a refrain reduced to the simplest expression of worthier hungers. Troublesome, splendid concerns—how to carry myself like and through the city, how to enclose myself within some private calm—engage me at every level in the open-air stadium, and I ascend each level because I sit within the cheapest. Among the wind-whipped flags, I carry out a similar lashing upon myself with my mind’s tongue, albeit with good humor since I have yet to arrive at a serious period of my life. But of all cities, this one understands bouts of seriousness, and whether someone in the clutches of such crisis decides to change his life, there will be no objection among the ticket holders. Litter swirls and sweeps itself past them. Wildly customized hats aslant on children’s heads orbit the condiment table. A bearded boy stands haloed by the glowing hoard of cut spuds sitting beneath heat lamps. Like a cascade of song, endless beverages pour from trumpetlike spouts. I am still fair-skinned, perhaps a bit queer and dangerous, but childlike—a bizarrely perfected image of masculinity and prowess delivering my sinewy frame through this. I have always been barked at by certain types go evolve.


Evan Kennedy

A wilderness contains no diamond. And because a diamond has been built for us, we must be distant from regions that threaten our civility. I speak about civility with a laugh, of course, but it’s good-natured. “The universe falls apart and discloses a diamond,” according to the dictation transcribed by Jack Spicer, who was not quite Francis of Assisi, though both spent their lives in despair making toys to amuse the infant Christ. Whether the voice of dictation resembled that of our home team’s radio announcer or the San Damiano cross—“Francis, rebuild my church”— is a matter of taste, such as taste in furniture. At any rate, Hunter Pence grounds into yet another double play, and we are stuck in our deference. A city could be built out from the baselines of a diamond. Far from the hospital near where I live and where Spicer died, the city’s edge meets wilderness, and my reception crackles—how’s yours. I am trying to design my solace at a point shared by different stations, but the ballpark seagulls become a menace to my anxious antenna. Most nights they circle overhead until game’s end when it is safe to ransack the leftover food, but in an inning distended past anyone’s enjoyment—a hangover’s early arrival—they settle upon the outfield. Their skepticism must be a sad sight for the rookie at bat, a spooky parody of messianic expectation. I mean we are smack-dab within a quiet, null moment of life (on earth) winding down to a supposed eternal hurrah deemed paradise.

Happy Hour Tom Committa


since it is a part of origin there’s a place for it in this praise, since it is part of the cities and is the cities I’ve kept a note for it, arrived here and known, announced here and heard, this is being heard here correct, it can be asked and then announced, announced and then noted no matter the city, the weather it is found in and the arrival ongoing, what I’ve known in the city, they found a place so found their place in praise, and there is to be no need for elsewhere, the thought of elsewhere I no longer need it, being arrived at this and a day, with usual articles and bearings, and others that correspond, those that make themselves known as friends perhaps, I’ve made place to make such hellos, as part of the ongoing there’s a place for it and place for it in praise, sounding the horn so to speak, and not stray but set, and not apart but arrived, those writing it down


Evan Kennedy

arriving to a place in this praise, no matter the part of this they’re writing, here I name their qualities, and it’s here so it’s praise, it is my mouth after all, in a way, alongside those awfully weak but not awful, and terribly lost but not terrible, they are rather arrived in this meekness and putting up with it, the bruises and all, a kind upon light rather lightness, and arrived at this and the day I have, the likeness arrived at, not just family but ongoing, and the hurt they’ve known, what hands and what legs helping one sustain itself to praise, the legs and wings helping those arrived, whether alive or dead to the city, or found or unfound, I’ve kept a note for those in this, since you’ve amounted to likeness, a kind that’s familial, and to be named through praise since they are all of them and I praise all along in this, praise all you in this direct address, those dispossessed now


found in a calm, whatever force to have no habit, I eradicate their anger since I am of their anger, and of the humiliation that made those bravest, what feet helping one leave quickly and arrive at whatever site of articulation, and not having become reviled and unknown to family but arrived to likeness, in usual articles and bearings, I amount to their solace since I am of their solace, and I am not to see division since I’ve parsed it in praise, under and below my feet, I’ve passed it in praise, through and between my teeth, it’s nature passing through and taking up residence in streets of cities, and all arrived on the same level of essential dignity, isn’t that so, and no animal humiliated and likewise all of you, no head is too hard to hear through, I hear through mine well enough and make this boundless thanks, your presence before me and farthest, no matter the


Evan Kennedy

creature you are or have become, risen or already moving about on the face of the earth, I’m alongside you and grateful to be, what with your calls and your ears and your hearts given wide open, hear me now with those hearts calling wide open, and remembering, however much ahead and aligned, since it’s a kind of mediator for those in speech composing at once, and in belief speaking at once having arrived and arrived of it, of love again, at all times and all at the same time, in all measures and all in the same measure, around the avenues and leas, you inside your own bodies and electing to be, go clarify your selves if you have not already, and if you have already keep at it in that good measure, according to that mediation, according to the mouth in the head over which mediation reached, and the probability without limit, that a mouth can align to approach that need


St. Anthony of Potrero Emily Kiernan

This is a place of many crannies—streets pushed together at odd angles and secret coves huddled by hills and waters. The fog glides in and vision is concentrated to a foot, or to five feet, or to the end of the block. This supports the common misconception that it is easy to hide things here, or easy to lose them. This belief has taken on metaphorical and spiritual dimensions, all of them false. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world, but I know that it is impossible to lose anything in San Francisco. The ground spits up anything you bury. This is a place of re-emergences—buried hatchets, bad laws, old boyfriends—they all tend to come back around. While some of the city is, indeed, built on ancient Indian burial grounds, more of it is built on landfill, an efficient substance for material resurrections. Nothing is lost, but it is only fair to admit that, every now and again, something may become lost to you. Short-sighted concealment of difficult facts and objects is obtainable, within certain bounds—go to a place you do not know well, cover the thing with sticks and leaves or nudge it into a particularly dark afternoon shadow, walk away, and never come to that spot again, even in dreams. It isn’t lost, but you’ve left it for someone else to find. In most cases, that will be me. I am a prodigious finder of the things you’ve left behind. There is nothing unusual in the way that I find, though I flatter myself that I have made an ethic of noticing. A friend who works for the housing projects out on Alameda tells me the kids dug up a barrel of jet fuel left over from the military base. “They only had to put that stuff a few feet deep,” she said. Out in the desert, they found a girl who’d been buried in 1965. For fifty years the wind had stood at her graveside and scooped the dirt away in handfuls, like a good dog or a lover, down on wind-hands and wind-knees. Once when I was young, a spring flood brought up the box in which


Emily Kiernan

I’d buried the last year’s hamster. Bobbing in the small creek, the box had been shining, hard plastic, bright purple and irresistible—like something with sunken treasures inside. Now there has been no rain for three years, but the dust has proved just as good for uncovering. This is earthquake weather—hot and dry and so still that sounds drop into quiet—you hear the drop into quiet more than the sound itself. Earthquake weather is finding weather. All that shifting—it churns things up faster, and from deeper down. In 1989 I found an iron wedge from pioneering times, and my neighbor in Bernal Heights saw the entire history of his failed first marriage expurged onto the lawn. He pulled two folding chairs out of the garage and we sat side by side, sipping beers that had gotten warm, and he let me look through what was there. The earthquake is just the world’s mistaken belief that it can lose us. On today’s search I found a full can of navy beans, three women’s highheeled shoes, a stained and stinking twenty-dollar bill, five handfuls of animal fur, and a piece of carved rock that could be from almost any age of human history. Yesterday I found a love letter to a man who shares my name and many details of my personal life, a piece of green cloth, and a small fire burning. Tomorrow I expect to find smooth stones, sea glass, and a long, curling red hair, but that is only speculation, and what I do find may be very different. I have found only one body (a too-brave swimmer, washed to the top of Ocean Beach), but I have discovered many pieces—blood dotting the sidewalk outside a Valencia St. bar on a Sunday morning, a crushed and tiny tooth beneath the monkey bars in a Bayview schoolyard, bits of fingernails everywhere, blending into the fine gutter-grit. Tony Bennett left his heart here; I wonder who found that. I am not a collector. I do not take these things home. I have watched a man’s flannel shirt decay into loam just outside the gates of the McKinley Square dog park. The lost things are rarely found, almost never used. Not long ago, I found something that disturbed me. I found it at rush hour in the Embarcadero Bart station. People were bending around it like it was something dangerous, great streams of people parting all around it but no one looking. I stopped a woman to ask her if she saw the thing and knew why she was walking this arcing path, but when she looked at me there was real fear on her face, and so I let her go and said that I was sorry.


I took that thing home. It is sitting on my bookshelf now, but I am growing less and less sure of it. It wants to be lost more than most things—it comes closer to achieving it. I am restless now, at night. I count the things I have found the way I was once told to count sheep, but the moment when my mind loses hold of them always shocks me back awake. An empty Starbucks cup on Telegraph Hill bleeds its image into an empty Peet’s cup in North Beach, and I am clammy-hands-heart-pounding, the last one who knew the difference. I look at the thing on the bookshelf. I try to remember it before I open my eyes. The details shift and blur. I remember a blue necklace sitting on top of a closed trash bag outside a hair salon in the Avenues. I remember four or five different discarded barbie dolls, smooth and pink. I remember a rusted metal coil poking out of soccer-field sod. I remember these things and fix them in place. I look at the thing on the bookshelf and for a moment I am reassured. I close my eyes and let things slip. I hear the settling of the house or the rustling of the woman downstairs awakening and dressing for a late night shift, and I think I am hearing the crackling of faultlines. In every passing truck I feel the rumbling of the big one that will launch the California coastline into the sea, bobbing and drifting—finally, fully shaken loose.


Emily Kiernan

Summer Arcana Zoe¨ Tuck

Summer Arcana 1. Content at a job well (the work of life while life goes on doesn’t formally end so I in desperate hunger for culmination decide to call a project) done another swan who once was a duck looks out the window of a mirror at the capacity of my invisible limbs and parts to act Once I said imaginary for invisible and you corrected me ghost body rides the surface of her waters


mindful of succumbing to pride’s misdirection shells orcas moons feathers fishments claws my hat a crab hat my hand a lunar gauntlet asking myself if towards is also always away from a chest in my attic room bursting with schemes not nurtured to fruition tray of muffins never fully baked or never brought to batter online a writer jokes “I need a wife” but the dream of teeth crumbling like wax means to me that I wish to become part angelof-the-house sometimes a crab shell sometimes a snail’s fragile coil when “if I could make a wish I think I’d pass” has two meanings Do y’all perceive me as an escape artist? In this time


¨ Tuck Zoe

when the theater is confused with the agora the public place where y’all see me scape I see myself take flight packing the last box to take out of these wet clothes into a dry land which was never promised to me


Summer Arcana 2. The Muses gave—all nine— their love to me: Melliphone and Transichore, Symbolon, Affectuelle not forgetting Justiceme (tho’ I have only begun learning to pronounce hir name), Radiqueen, too, smiled on me and Collaborach did the same Bonmemoir guided my hand across the surface of the rock and X or Ichs gave succor and breath—luminescent trail thru darkest waters and when my chest was opened an audience for no song I dipped a pen in my body its own shape for to draw but my daintiness arrested the making of the mark I plucked not drew my body until my skin was raw and once upon an oxbow bend I knew how to take my leave now this faint muscle memory’s still sleeping; an imminent goodbye Intermission’s ending


¨ Tuck Zoe

the usher flicks the lights The guy we came to watch escaped spat key into palm wowed us all and lingers in this telling where we return repeatedly to hang our feet into the ocean It’s not a place exactly more family that we’ve traced a strong elastic line that gives when I must away to the library beneath the sands the precondition and consequence of Pan’s lusty content creative pride but let me not go sulking nor tangle the twine tie myself up trip you or block the door I’ve discovered how to stack feathers in a square To find the flue and sit in the chimney as a we thereLaTasha N. Nevada Diggs works with words, sound,


Summer Arcana 4. I didn’t want to do this when I shed my skin (die) what’s left is love so the master says Maya Angelou has died like the day does or the year You have not died but what will greet you on the other side of the ring of fire I wish I could tear the octopus off of your head use my magic & translate you to my kitchen-without-trauma with tea and tinctures transport you to the Dead Sea where every tear has been shed and all that’s left to do is float from the buoyancy of our bad business plans I want you to know that I don’t see it as a weakening when your arm goes limp though you know the rock will roll down to crush you I am a silver linings gal


¨ Tuck Zoe

when armies lay siege to my castle I send my hawk with a message to my allies which you are by which I mean my friends which you are The last card shows a smiling face nine vessels pour love on her and she can enjoy it because she knows even a little she’s earned it I’m a silver linings gal I would say it’ll be okay but I don’t know that but I do see nine vessels hanging over your head spilling possibilities


Summer Arcana 10. I’m not some Sisyphus just rolling a rock up a hill anymore The novelty I’ve clamored for has arrived in the form of: what is the opposite of a slow leak? Some solar kiss with a bit of tooth leaves red impressions I have been chosen to head up SOLAR PROJECT 1 not having experience in saying I humbly accept this honor what does it mean to accept an honor to turn it into pages in the book / dog food in the bowl What would it feel like to have enough? a grace that extends to all my roots and branches sumptuous bone meal by the lac in whose mirror my maiden form


Zoe ¨ Tuck

Bird-of-Gold speaks of ascent which I heard then as departure through time from my roost in my slapdash domestic idiom Into this time of bone I must bring the ontogeny of the lessons of water humility and insistent discernment to eat your books and spit out the seeds when I at last complete construction of my bone room will it look like a model of the moon in 1:1 scale Will I see it as I was a kid on a swingset a single drop of ocean a piece of surf will that kid see herself as the architect of her bone-deep submission to these oscillations?


You didn’t see me locking my bike to a parking meter on the hill to watch the fireworks It’s hard to explain “Anomalies have started to appear. Doorways in time to a world we can barely imagine. The anomalies are conclusive proof that the past exists, a fourth dimension that is as real & solid as those we already know.” My job is to perceive the anomalies and express them. I am so full of skies. Surprised by a beginning which is not like a birth so much as the opposite of death What is the opposite of death? and where does it leave my life blogging nocturnal peripatetic hermit in the lecture hall


Zoe ¨ Tuck

Summer Arcana 12. I’ll be your teacher my name is spelled P-I-N-E-C-O-N-E I was one/barely-there transistor bringing the lightning in through my hand down to my core out the other hand when a dog showed up to show me to my seat at the present moment when wild fiery nights come at me as if out of my own past when the stars were reeling & I was, from the beer I think the image from the deep past is me in the future some gaunt old disobedient huntress still bringing mourning doves to your porch I allow myself We allowed ourselves the dream of movement permission not to be hardened by circumstance in the shape of a city’s pain dust jagged edges permission to follow wonder


and care without relent The possibility of the failed quest vs. near certainty of hustle and plod and lack of room for roots I’m hoping yet to be freed from something in how (I & the world) read my body letting go to reach (to start to try to reach) the big self The most obvious thing the dark matter 80% of my universe until I change into something not merely conjecturable faintly detectable but able to be touched by light I guess you see my bounty I do too but am hesitant to change real gold for fool’s so as to buy a little light but disaster is victory & money isn’t real (don’t laugh!) and I must learn to let go & be me


Zoe ¨ Tuck

Emily Ritz





An Interview with Emily Ritz Garin Hay Emily Ritz is a painter and musician based in the Bay Area since 2006. Her drawings, small sculptures and embroideries consist of imagined plant life and creatures. She is inspired by the tide pools, mosses and colors that surround her where she lives in West Marin. The art that she makes comes from a practice of blissful play and conversation with her materials. After finishing film school at CCA in 2011, Emily shifted her creative practice and began simply playing with patterns and colors. What came out were organic forms that over time became a complex visual language which she now uses to create her own world. There is both freedom and control within her drawings. Each piece takes a balance of confidence, playfulness and patience. It is her meditation and escape.

Garin Hay: Your work is incredibly unique, and some of that uniqueness comes from the variety of media you use to create your worlds. Tell us about the materials you’re working with in your sculptures as well as your paintings. How did you arrive at these techniques to begin with?

Emily Ritz: The materials I work with are very important because they help decide the subject matter. By playing with them, we come up with ideas together. They show me something they can do and I use their ability to enhance my visual language. The limitations of each material act as guidelines and inspiration for the work itself. For the drawings I use watercolor on wet paper so the colors drip and bleed, making beautiful shapes. This came from experimentation and play which gave me the idea to switch my process from line first, color last, to color first and then line. That was how I invented what I call ‘Lumplands’. It is when the colors make their mark on the paper, then I choose which plants go where and it slowly comes together like a puzzle. When I make 3D versions of my plants I like using Sculpy because it is very easy to work with and you can blend colors quite well. For ages I knew I wanted to translate my plant language into 3D, but was imagining ceramics of some kind. Then one day while roaming the art store I spotted Sculpy and re-

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membered playing with it as a kid. It’s great because I can work piece by piece and bake them in my toaster oven. Once they have hardened, arranging them on the canvas feels very similar to the puzzle aspect of the drawings.

GH: Through our conversations, you’ve remarked that you draw some of your inspiration from the nature around your home in Inverness and Point Reyes. I’m wondering if there are times of the year that certain colors, weathers, or other changes strike you and enter your work? Do you have any rituals or favorite activities to do that bring you close to your natural inspiration?


Emily Ritz

ER: I am indeed very inspired by where I live. I began developing my plant language while living in Oakland and it felt like more of an escape. I was creating worlds on paper that represented where I really wanted to be. Now l live in a world much closer to my art work. When I see five different kinds of brightly colored moss covering a tree, or a whole world of colors and textures in a tiny tidepool, all of my senses activate and I want to relate to these natural wonders, as in become them. It’s a strange sensation that I can’t fully explain. Making my art brings me closest to fulfilling this desire. So I suppose the inspiration I receive by living here isn’t so much that I am copying a pattern or plant or color that I see; it’s more about connecting with how all the details and gems of this mysterious, magical land make me feel.

GH: There has been

some shift in your paintings lately from the paracosmic botanies of your imaginary worlds to more familiar earthly animals. Yet these animals themselves are formed of the dreamlike flora reminiscent of your earlier work. I’m curious what inspired the shift to familiar ani-

ER: I am always open to new ideas on how to elevate or expand my craft. After years of making landscapes and Lumplands, a friend saw my work and said “I want to see an animal made out of this!” It completely sparked something in me. I immediately made my first bird and got hooked. The shapes of animals make for such interesting compositions and it’s so exciting to introduce a new guideline like this to the language. It’s endlessly inspiring to me.


GH: Your plant life

often looks like it might come from the ocean floor. Have you had a particular attachment to marine flora? Where did you find the inspiration for your imaginary geographies and their plants in the first place?

ER: Most of my plants really come from just playing and finding shapes and patterns that feel good to me. I am indeed very amazed and inspired by the ocean floor but it feels like my affinity for it came through making this work. It’s like I thought I was making up a language and it turns out I wasn’t the first one, and I found out who else speaks it and it’s the ocean. I can see that many of my early plants were much more grassy and flowery. Somehow it moved toward the aquatic nature over time. These days I feel a lot like I wish I were a mermaid or could at least breathe underwater so I could live in my drawings, since coral reefs are the closest things to them in the real world. I could never create anything nearly as miraculous as what lives in the ocean. Coral reefs are a true wonder, they have it all.


One Flew South

Emily Tsukanov

There is nothing more satisfying than a fine meal. I’m partial to protein myself. A nice thick steak to tear into, some delicate poultry to appreciate slowly; they each possess their own appeal. What I savor most is the experience: the heady perfume of well-aged meat, the satisfying texture and slight warmth one feels as it slides down the throat. I cannot imagine what the point of living would be if there was no joy to be found in eating. I, for one, give thanks for sustenance on a daily basis. The trick is not being too picky: it is taking the fatty and the lean, the gamey and the sweet, and being grateful. That is not to deny, however, that we do all have our preferences. To be honest, my favorite flesh is of the human variety. The average human is so coddled, so comfortable, so lazy that their bodies remain as tender as a newborn throughout their whole lives; they are blessed with a perfect marbling of fat, and their meat tears off the bone with ease. At the same time, one must be cautious when consuming human to not ingest too much. They are a spoiled lot, and one must be careful of becoming what one eats. I think nothing of the judgment I receive, for there is only one who has the right to judge me. While the appearance of my iridescent black plumage is thought by many to be a bad omen, and my jarring guttural call a harbinger of death, I can state with certainty that I have never caused the demise of any living creature. Which is more than I can say for many humans. Scavenging for carrion, feeding off the remains of corpses might offend a more sheltered tongue, but it is simply part of the role I play on this earth. Things that were once living die every day, and someone has to be there to pick up the pieces, to make room for new life. I am as integral as the spinning worm and the stinging bee. With that said I am, at the moment, concerned with something other than finding a meal. I picked at an adder for breakfast and am quite satiated, so I must address more pressing matters. Winters in England are


Emily Tsukanov

nothing short of miserable: the cold leaves one’s bones rigid and inadequate for flight, and the snow engulfs a body the moment it becomes still, trapping the tender flesh of potential prey under a frozen, impenetrable crust. If the constant rain is not trouble enough, there is always the wind that blows with the ferocity and confusion of a mid-life crisis. And I doubt that there would be any decent fellow to let me in if I went knocking at his chamber door. Unfortunately the word “crow” has neither the sound quality nor the syllables that “raven” does. No matter, I’ve been meaning to go on holiday regardless. I have decided on Côte d’Ivoire, having vacationed there once before and finding the beaches to be magnificent. The smell of decaying crab and tourists cooking under the hot sun, their skin red and crisp from sunburn, is intoxicating. I began to head south on a particularly overcast day knowing the threat of winter was not far behind, when the most curious thing happened. I have always prided myself on my sense of smell; I can pinpoint the location of a corpse from miles away. Which is why, on this day, it was particularly troubling that I could have been so wrong. I was on my way to Côte d’Ivoire, thinking of warm weather and exotic delicacies when I sensed it: the pungent, alluring smell of rotting flesh. I had not planned to stop so early in my travels; I was not even out of England yet, but the scent was fresh and almost overwhelmingly strong, so I justified my descent by reminding myself that I would need my strength for the long trip ahead. I was just outside of Southampton, and as I glided down I was surprised to find myself in an unremarkable little suburb. I scowled, indignant that my detour would probably result in nothing more than some scraps of common road kill contaminated with gravel and tire marks. But the smell carried a certain rich perfume that can only come with a significant amount of death, and it was emanating from one particular house. This house appeared almost identical to every other on the street; it sported a dull, unassuming paint color that was recycled every few lots down, and by the looks of it had the same floor plan as well. The only thing remotely unique about this home was the large weeping willow tree rooted in the front yard. Since willows need a significant amount of water to thrive I assumed it was a remnant of marshland that had been here before it was destroyed to make more of these big gray cubes. As I perched on one of its


branches I noticed how frail the tree was. I doubted it would be able to survive the winter. Only a few limp strands of leaves clung on, quivering as if they would fling themselves to the ground and commit suicide like their brothers and sisters at any moment. The tree itself was hunched as if in pain: a gnarled, balding old woman suffering her last heart attack. I would have pitied it longer had a car not pulled up and into the driveway, followed by a large, yellow van. How remarkable that the car was the same unassertive color as the house; it was as if the color had bled out of everything these people owned. A man exited the car first; he walked around it and opened the door for a woman holding two infants, one in each arm. The quiet little bundles looked to be the same size. Twins? Possibly. Then again, all human children look alike. I was struck by how bland they all looked. I believed I would be very unhappy if I was that bland. But the man raised his arm, shook a set of keys and smiled, and the woman laughed in return. They seemed quite happy. There was no death here that I could see, but what of the smell? I attributed it to wishful thinking. I had been imagining what I would get to eat on holiday, and I supposed there was always a first time to be wrong; none of us are perfect after all. Since there was nothing for me on the property I should have gone on my way. But it hadn’t become unbearably cold yet, and I had developed a budding interest in this family. So I stayed for a while and observed. The very concept of accumulating vast amounts of junk and then hauling it all wherever one goes is a stifling practice unique to humans. From my perch I watched the man accompanied by three more (bulkier, and wearing matching uniforms) haul endless boxes from the moving van into the family’s big, gray cube. The ritual went on for hours and the men continued, seemingly exhausted, stopping to catch their breath every few minutes. This is precisely why I do my best to renounce earthly possessions; all that baggage only weighs you down. I find it amusing that humans consider themselves superior to other animals when it is only the most enlightened of them that attempts to live like the rest of us. The woman initially went inside, and continued to stay there for the most part, nesting no doubt. She wandered out a few times, just to the edge Muzzy Moskowitz


Emily Tsukanov

of the porch but no further, and asked about the progress. Each time she did this she was holding one of the babies in her arms, bouncing it up and down for some strange reason. I could not tell if she continued to bring one child outside, or if she switched between the two. Judging by their size they were no more than a few weeks old. Two helpless, pink, little worms… I felt pity for them; if I had offspring of my own I’d probably be feeding them worms. At some point of the arduous process the woman came out wearing a bright blue handkerchief covering her hair. It was quite striking in comparison to everything else around it. The little triangle of color radiated light against the dull gray of the cement, the cars, the house, and the humans’ skin as light faded well into the evening. I had no idea what the ceremonial garb meant, but it suited her. Darkness came and I realized I would have to delay my journey yet again. Having no one to roost with for the night I pressed close to the base of the willow. It gave off an intense heat, which was immeasurably pleasant to me, but also felt quite similar to feverishness. We entered into a sort of symbiotic relationship that night, the tree and I. At least I like to think it enjoyed my company in what were most likely its final moments. We slept quite peacefully together. But dawn came as it always does, and brought with it a new morning chill. I yielded to nature and finally went on my way.

Everything was still. The morning air hung suspended as if holding its breath. For once everything was quiet, but Jane was already awake. The twins had been colicky all night, or one of them was and the other merely wailed out of sympathy or annoyance. They woke her every hour, wanting to nurse for comfort more than anything else. Their father, who slept right next to Jane and therefore almost just as close to the baby monitor, did not wake once for their cries. Either he was very good at feigning sleep, or he really was exhausted from hauling boxes all day. Jane did not try to wake him for success would only lead to passive aggressive retaliation later on: he would do something wrong and use his incompetence to argue that she should do it next time, and every time after that, because she was just “better at it”. She had almost given up on breastfeeding, the twins just wouldn’t take to it, and


their breast pump (a thoughtful present from Ed’s parents) had been one of the last things to be packed before she went into labor. It had subsequently been lost in the sea of boxes during the move, and Jane had a feeling it would happen to be in the last one they unpacked. Jane supposed she was meant to sleep when the babies slept; at least that’s what everyone told her, but she had tried and failed all night and the twins would be up again within the hour. She put on a pot of coffee. At least they had managed to find one damned thing before the day was through.

By the time Ed woke up, got out of bed and put on his suit, Jane had made two pots of coffee along with breakfast, which he ate while she fed Oswald and Isabella. He stole secret glances at her from across the small room. She was so good with them and everything to do with motherhood seemed to come so naturally to her. Sure she looked tired, but tired and beautiful, especially when they were in her arms. It was amazing to Ed that they were already two distinct, tiny people. They looked so different, as fraternal twins do, although they were still perfectly in sync with each other. They felt each other’s emotions, and often it seemed like they communicated with a single look. Still, Ozzy was a bit longer, a little heavier. He hoped Ozzy would grow up always wanting to protect his “little” sister. The boy definitely had Ed’s family’s genes; Ed detected his father’s slim nose, his mother’s blue eyes. Ozzy had this admirable trait where he would stare at something with the most serious expression on his face, furrow his nonexistent brow and squint as if he were analyzing and compiling data about it. Izzy was already a beauty like her mother; she had her green eyes, and gorgeous freckles like Jane’s mother, who was half Irish. She could already smile, which always melted his heart even after Jane told him that at this age it was just gas.

This is one of the longest trips I have ever made. Though I know it will be worth it when I arrive. I can rest whenever I choose, but the cold continues to blanket the land behind me, nipping at the tips of my feathers. For a while I joined a lovely murder. They were quite a sociable lot, and certainly

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agreeable enough, though not the brightest of my kin. This became glaringly apparent when their eyes glazed over as I tried to engage them in a discussion of gothic architecture sparked by our passing over the Notre-Dame de Reims. Despite the fact that it can be nice to spend time around one’s own, the lack of stimulating conversation reminded me why I prefer to be alone. I politely excused myself somewhere over the south of France. Feeling a bit tired and very hungry, I stopped in Spain. I landed, purposefully, in Barcelona because the atmosphere and brilliant color are unparalleled in the world, what I have seen of it anyway. If it did not sport such similar winters to England I would have certainly chosen to vacation here: the meat is very well spiced. I perched on a beautiful mosaic tile wall and surveyed the area. Not much in the way of food. There was, however a very alive young boy of about ten playing on the road. He looked so effortless with his long honey hair and tanned bare feet; his shoes hung tied by the laces around his shoulders. He was playing some sort of game with a ball, kicking it up into the air with his feet. It was a very pleasant sight and I couldn’t help but let out a caw of amusement. This informed the boy of my presence and he looked up at me. He crouched to the ground and I peered down at him, curious, wondering if he was going to offer me some food. Instead I felt a stinging blow to my chest as he began pelting me with small stones and shells. Furious, I flew away, all the while wishing I did have the ability to curse people with bad luck.

It seemed to Jane that everything was crumbling. It had been one month since the Ward family had moved into their perfect little home. The space had been designed specifically with a family in mind: the kitchen was completely walled off, leaving Jane feeling isolated anytime she cooked for her new family; the decorative stone flooring in the entryway was just the right combination of slick and hard for little children to slip and crack their delicate skulls open, and the wood floors and detailing throughout the house (which had initially been a selling point) were shoddily installed and resulted in almost daily splinters. The best feature of all was probably the interior design, which Jane took all credit for herself. She considered it a mix


of trash-eclectic and storage container chic. Half of the boxes had been partially emptied, their contents put through the beginning stages of organization and then abandoned. The other half were completely untouched and loomed in stacked piles in every room. The boxes were the problem more than anything else: Jane tripped over and bumped into them so often that she could never remember what clumsy incident had caused her always fresh bruises. For that whole first month Jane had strained to battle the chaos, had tried to be a good little housewife and put everything in order. She set aside time, every day when the twins were napping, but only seemed to succeed in making a larger mess. She would find the silverware, but no tray to organize it in the drawer; she found all the books, but the bookshelves were still being repaired (having been damaged in the move). The day Jane found the breast pump was the happiest she’d had in weeks; perhaps Ed would take part in feeding his children, and she could get some sleep. It ended up taking forever to use and hurt like hell. Jane had a strong suspicion that Ed stayed at work longer than he needed to on purpose. He was always so quick to get out of the house in the mornings, and he worked nine, sometimes ten hour days. When he did come home he’d shrug off all her pleas for assistance, claiming he was drained and needed a fifteen-minute nap. He would end up sleeping until dinner was ready. After they ate he would consider his fatherly duties fulfilled by laying one of the twins on his stomach while he watched television. Jane didn’t blame him for wanting to be away, she envied that he could. She would give anything to be able to go to work again, to get away from those two hungry parasites and their banshee screams. She never left the house except for her one hour, weekly sessions with her therapist who did nothing but prescribe pills, she took them happily as they were the only thing that allowed her to feel like a functioning human being.

I love the way my feathers look in bright sunlight. They are often mistaken for black, but when the light catches them just so they shift: an iridescent green, a sheen of purple shimmer over a rich midnight base. Like an

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oil slick: we stand out, the both of us, dark gothic rainbows, our beauty recognized only by a select few. My coloring is enhanced by the glossiness of my plumage, which is thanks to the high fat content of my diet. I’ve been eating well here, I must say. When people go on vacation they manage to become even lazier, even greedier. Lines of fat humans clothed in tacky flourescent hues and garish tropical prints go back and forth from their beach chairs and towels to the counters of all-you-can-eat buffets. They settle down again with plates upon plates and gorge themselves on piles of crab legs and slices of roast pig. They never finish it all and they never care to clean up, making their holiday mine as well. While I am a scavenger by nature I see no reason to turn down the easily accessible feast that is being provided for me. And if someone happens to drown, happens to get a muscle cramp or swim out too far to sea, well, I’ll be right there. Today I rest perched atop a thatched straw canopy. The heat of the sun and the salty air of the ocean mix together to create an enticing aroma that wafts towards me every time a wave struggles onto the white crystal shore. It smells like salt-cured bacon sizzling on a hot summer sidewalk. The tourists wade around sluggishly as usual, going about their useless lives. No one drops dead of a massive heart attack; it’s a shame really, since all of them are currently prepared the way I like my steak: quickly seared on the outside and rare in the middle. My attention is caught when I hear a scream. Thinking, hopefully, that someone might be hurt, I fly over to the source. The screams come from a little girl; she is hurt, but not seriously. Her ice blonde hair whirls around her in a frenzy as she grabs one foot and hops around on the other. She must have cut herself on the sharp edge of a shell. The child’s cries cause an older woman slathered in cream, also with pale blonde hair and presumably the girl’s mother, to turn to her. Cursing, she grabs the girl’s sunburnt wrist and yanks her off balance causing her to fall in the sand. This elicits an even more distressed tantrum and groups of people begin to stare. The mother narrows her eyes, breathing quick and shallow. She slaps the daughter across the face leaving a red mark even brighter and more intense than the sunburn that has already damaged the girl’s once pale skin.


It was six in the evening when Ed pulled his car into the driveway and already the world was dark. Even though he had been promising Jane for months now that he would start coming home earlier Ed found it increasingly difficult to leave his work; at least there he felt competent. He was surprised as he walked up to the house to find he could see no lights on through the windows. The structure appeared a solid dark mass; it had more presence than usual, as if the walls had thickened and the glass been bulletproofed. As he began to unlock the door, noting that it felt like he was pushing the key through clay, Ed noticed a sound coming from inside. Hysterical screams traveled through the darkness and seemed to plunge into him the second he opened the door. His panic beginning to build, he called out to Jane but received no answer. He rushed up the stairs and tripped halfway, over a bin of baby clothes, and chastised himself for not thinking to turn on the lights. Once upstairs he headed straight for the nursery, passing the master bedroom in the process. Out of the corner of his eye Ed saw Jane sprawled out on their bed. Her unkempt hair covered most of her face, but her eyes were open and they followed him across the doorway as he passed. He flicked on the lights in the nursery to reveal his two wailing children. Ozzy was crying much louder, and it seemed that Izzy was fine, just worried about her brother. He grabbed Ozzy out of the crib to inspect him and watched his diaper sag and liquid drip onto his work shoes. The poor thing had wet himself god knows how many times and hadn’t been changed. He changed the boy, and then his sister who was dangerously close to being in the same situation. After putting them both in her crib Ed began removing Ozzy’s sodden sheets, only to find that the mattress had been leaked onto as well. He cursed at Jane loudly, hoping she would hear him, and ripped the sheets off the mattress. Handfuls of pills fell to the floor. Ed stared at all the multicolored tablets now decorating the carpet, adorning it like the playful buttons on children’s clothing. He made it a point to check her bottle every once in a while to be sure the quantity of pills was going down. She hadn’t been taking them; instead she hid them

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between the folds of their infant son’s jungle-themed sheets when she tucked them around the mattress.

As winter began to shed its thick skin, and like the phoenix was reborn into a much softer version of itself: all wet, silk petals and velvet newborn hide, I began to feel, rather than hear the call, as creatures of nature are wont to do, urging me back to my point of origin. I flew toward England in early March, and as I journeyed back I watched the landscape transform underneath me. Masses of color exploded before me like paint on the canvas of an overenthusiastic artist; the world opened to me, clusters of dew still lingering from the womb, sprigs of life breaking through the crust of the earth. I rode the spring like a wave, warm honeysuckle wind caressing the tips of my wings. As I was just about to reach my destination I was stopped by a familiar force. That smell. That lovely scent that had beckoned me to it months ago. That false promise that had yielded such fruitlessness. But it was stronger this time, so much stronger; as if it had ripened with time, like fine wine allowed to keep in a cool, dry cellar. I wondered if the source had also been left to develop in those conditions, like that of a crypt. I circled, spiraling down until I reached my place of interest. The smell had become almost overwhelming, and while I prided myself on my gift of keen senses I found it difficult to believe that no one in the neighborhood noticed it. It should have been reported by now; it isn’t healthy for that much death to linger. The little gray house appeared quite unchanged. Except that wasn’t true. For a moment there was something off about the façade that I couldn’t place, something about the asymmetry of the windows. At a second glance it was gone, and the residence was once again unidentifiable to all except for its position on the street and my old friend willow, who still clung stubbornly to the parched earth in the front yard. I surveyed the feeble tree, admiring its tenacity; by all accounts it should have been dead months ago. Its branches were bare; no new strands of leaves began to bud. There would be no rebirth here. The tree gave off its own pungent odor, but it was nowhere near as strong as the one that had caught my attention from so far above. I noticed that the bark had turned an odd color,


as flesh does when it begins to decay. Once settled on a branch as I had done so many months before I was able to see that the tree was blanketed in maggots. They created a film of slime with their bodies as they attempted to burrow into the soft, rotting wood. Let me get those for you, old chap. I began picking them off, one by one like kernels of corn. They continued to squirm all the way down my throat, blind to my presence. It was better that way. When I had almost had my fill a car pulled into the driveway. The man got out; it took me a moment to recognize him as he barely looked himself. His dark neutral suit swallowed his now thin frame; the stiff collar gaped around his scrawny neck, revealing pointed collarbones. The tender hollows of his eyes were sunken in and framed in shadow. He muttered to himself as he pulled a briefcase out of the back seat. Slamming the door, he accidentally smashed his finger. Howling, he kicked the car hard enough to leave a sizeable dent. The man walked up to the house and, sucking the injured finger, unlocked the front door. When he attempted to push it open he seemed to have some trouble, as if something blocked its path. He pushed on the door a few times with his free hand, and finding no success let out a growl of frustration. He hurled his briefcase at the ground and the contents spilled on the cement porch. He began lunging at the door, calling out the woman’s name between increasingly manic breaths. Turning on his side he heaved into it with his shoulder. Now able to see his face I detected in his eyes an emotion shared by all animals: fear. I puzzled at the man’s curious behavior, his actions seemed erratic, frantic; however, the entrance to his home had been barricaded shut. I suppose even humans experience instinct on the rare occasion. He finally wedged the door open enough to slip inside. Through the opening I could see that countless cardboard boxes had been stacked in front of the entryway. He disappeared, but I could hear him calling out the woman’s name, the volume of his voice rising even as he ran further into the house, and then hard thumps of running up the stairs. I followed the show upward, perching on a second story windowsill at the front of the house. The window looked into the twin babies’ nursery. I saw the scene before he did. The contents of the room hung in disar-

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ray: rumpled children’s clothes lay in discarded piles, broken toys littered the carpet of builder-grade beige. One of the cribs had fallen, turned over on its side. The woman, wearing only a shear, wrinkled night dress sat hunched in the corner. And in the remaining crib, covered with blankets of cartoon blue and pink kitty cats, lay the children. Their bodies were still, and one would have assumed them to be sleeping, if not for the two little pillows that covered their faces.

Ed saw them, and he did not see them. Surely those weren’t his children lying lifeless on their fragile backs. Their covered faces delayed his recognition of who was who, but only for a moment: Ozzy’s feet, adorned in white cotton socks, stuck out farther than his smaller sister’s. Izzy, to his right, wore only one. For a brief moment his eyes shifted to his wife huddled on the floor to his left. She was muttering to herself, her words indiscernible as she also chewed on a dirty, blue rag. Ed took a single step into the room. His hand, barely able to release its clench on the door frame, entered last and sank to his side. With his eyes still on the twins he addressed Jane. “What have you done?” She stopped her quiet mumbling to let out a whimper through the cloth, but only to begin again as she gave him no response. Ed started for the crib; little lifetimes passing with each hesitant step. He did not take a breath until he reached them. From his new perspective above the bodies Ed could see that the twins were as profoundly connected as always: they had both stretched an arm out to the other, and their limp fingertips just barely touched. At this, Ed began to cry. He made no attempt to wipe his tears, instead removing the fluffy shrouds from their faces. He cupped his son’s soft head in one hand, gently caressing the malleable skull with his thumb. With the other hand he reached for his daughter, and with delicate touches he traced the line of her smooth brow, her tiny nose, her round cheeks. The sun had just begun to set, and through the window it cast a golden rosy glow on the twins. The angelic light enveloped them, making them appear healthy and pink; it created illuminated, angelic halos around their limp forms. Ed thought the scene too fitting, for the twins he realized, like angels, were no longer of this world.


“Jane!” he pushed the vile syllable through clenched teeth. He spun around and really registered her for the first time. Her hair was a knotted mess, her eyes bloodshot and dripping. His voice, louder this time, seemed to snap her out of her daze. She began to rise, the saliva soaked rag falling from her mouth, her eyes knowing and fearful. “They wouldn’t stop crying. They wouldn’t… stop. They wouldn’t stop!” She began to sob, loud, wet sounds that triggered a fit of coughing. Jane reached her arms out to him, as one would searching for comfort and healing from a saint. He mimicked her movement, coming toward her with arms outstretched. And went for her throat.

I was startled by the man’s sudden movement and had to work to keep my balance on the window ledge. He went for her with such force that they crashed against the wall behind her, causing the building to shake. He seemed to take note of this as he wrapped his comparatively large hands around her neck and began to bash her head against the wall repeatedly. I was intrigued by the simultaneous changing of the woman’s face to a morbid shade of blue and the turning of the spot on the wall behind her a bright red. It really was a beautiful contrast. But each gruesome thud succeeded in shaking me off my perch, and so, out of annoyance I pecked at the glass. The man heard me and took notice of my presence. His eyes widened and cleared, and he released his grip on his mate. As she sank, the back of her head painted a red stripe that connected the original spatter mark to the floor. He crouched beside her, hands moving all over to check for remaining life, to atone for sin. But, of course, by then it was already too late. I watched him, watched him panic, watched him wander around like the stupid creature he was, watched him understand, watched him go numb. It was almost dark when he finally did what I was expecting he would. He dragged the woman’s body to the backyard in increments unable to carry her because of his weakened state. First he tugged her through the hallway, then down the stairs. I could tell, from the lack of skull thumping on wood,

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when he paused to catch his almost nonexistent breath. Then I heard even louder, more erratic sounds, and could only presume he had fallen down the rest of the stairs with the corpse. When he finally made it to the backyard he propped the body against the back gate; from far enough away she looked almost normal: a young sweetheart about to enjoy a romantic moonlight picnic. The man began to dig into the earth with his bare hands. No, not here. It’s not remote enough. I cawed. He motioned to shoo me away though I was well above his reach, but my plan worked; he looked around, seemingly aware that there were neighboring houses all around him. He unlatched the gate, pulled the body through and began down the sloping hill toward the marshes, where the world was still wild. I followed. It was almost time to feast. The marshes were a thing of beauty, in my opinion at least. The low, long rooted plants and water weeds, much like myself, might never be romanticized, but we know how to survive. Even in the dark I had no trouble tracking my meal: he was struggling against the plant life and his feet sloshed without caution in the still water. I began to circle, starting high, my rotations wide. There would be plenty of time to spiral down. He found a spot, nestled in thick brush, where the water came up to his knees. He pressed the floating body down, deep into the thick, pliable mud. I could tell he was exhausted; he had already been in bad health, and after this ordeal I did not think he’d have much will to live. The man barely managed to pull himself onto a mud bank, sparing himself from drowning, though it would make little difference. I began to circle closer, planning the menu for the evening. I’ll begin with his cheeks, small and tender; they would make a nice, light amuse-gueule to start. Then the tongue perhaps, flavorful enough for a first course, succulent, but not too heavy. Then the eyes, cooling and gelatinous; they make a refreshing palate cleanser. Now, what to do for the main course? Something grand is required; this is a rare occasion after all. It would have to be the liver. I have a weakness for liver; rich and decadent, it provides a perfect finish to the meal and end to the evening. But enough talk, where are my manners? The table is set, the silver is gleaming and the first course has already been brought out.



Nicole Trigg

The corner I never saw because I always rounded it The sensitivity of a poet is real, even though there isn’t use for it Stop thinking about yourself The poet struggles, “who-fucking-cares-why-do-I-still-feel-sadWhy think “brown edges of roses” “ An eco-picnic lays down prepares to dissolve on top of acids Someone cut a hole in the bush and sat there, in the hole, waitingfor people to pass by, thinking what to say This someone barely has any flesh on her, she’s more like a hoop skirt of cardboard tubes over a corrugated core lashed with bread wrappers So she rests in the bush without distending it The bag contained many practical items; I wondered about their uses; It was hard to say what they were for without unpacking them; The woman saw me eyeing her things as she struggled to walk up the steps to her house It was the second spherical object of around one and a half inches in diameter I had seen lying in the grass next to the sidewalk, only this was an actual vegetable:


Nicole Trigg

A tiny, pale zucchini It was the first spherical object of around one and a half inches in diameter I would see lying in the grass next to the sidewalk, only this was a real thing someone had made with a machine and synthetic materials: A dark yellow ball that looked heavy and smooth with a rotten leaf stuck to it like a hair topper, which is a piece of material to look like hair on top of a doll The woman grimaces at the sun behind my head, I smile back While she avoids the sun she is trying to read a palm device that she holds a few feet in front of her body, in her palm, on the same invisible line that goes from My sun to The head and beyond from there The sun is in my eyes so I twist them into bowties, and my top lip rises over my teeth making a rhomboid opening The woman sees and swivels like a mirror just for me, and makes a small sound like “iiii,” which is when I notice her I untie my eyes and try to match her facial expression Wish for the feeling of having smiled she doubled down on me I think about how it operates - like all I am capable of is this, this naked and flat, just plain Observations, objects startling because hollow, either that or their two-dimensionality that is at the same time presented as truth or bald like we don’t actually have feelings, or feelings aren’t real The likeness is very good We’re the cardboard cutouts with edible prints Transparent taste To scale, or made to appear larger Because to describe all the flesh and the heat would distract ppl, maybe it would disgust, ppl


Would retch, and would take away from the portrait of the world as life-sized illustrations of the things that we want and need & so many things we don’t even know exist: we’d like to discover If it’s easy then why don’t I deserve it? The word stops before the thing the thing stops before the word the thing is made to stop by the word the hard thing is to go behind the thing, or inside the wound with the word like a finger hook periscope full revolution without tearing what is the point if not to tear The violence is the description The easy thing is receiving the transmission encompassing the sender dismantling the property housing the new life


Nicole Trigg


that’s our inferiority complex what do we do we do we for you we pat you pat us back how to coerce a future we don’t know yet what we are watching with intent, do principles of evolution still precipitate a host of needled noses straight to the pits in flowers to be plugged, smeared and shared out when we climb our best ideas mount the head sway naturally? lean on something invisible pretend to think of nothing we could possibly do to improve ourselves


FEMALE TROUBLE If I open my eyes I can see you sleeping next to me I can see you approaching You are already close If I keep my eyes wide If I wear my eyes with the wet part out I forget to blink because you’re catching my interest So they dry like their dry part Only painted with the inside color A little bit exaggeratedly because you may as well Because it is dark so I go out making faces If I want to watch something I tune to your channel What’s interesting to you about my body? You came to see my skin fluttering in the sheets? I’m all gills: pink and white but nothing Bloody, blind slats rattle to let you through waving scarves Crushing flowers No (patiently), No, That’s the feeling, which is beside The point that is the object You are sussing That is also me pan out For full effect, see me indeterminate I need to spice up my expression Won’t you Narrow down on me again?


Nicole Trigg

If I want to pretend to have a different body than my own, I can! In order to learn empathy for others, just look at your body – your looking makes a movie I watch – I pretend to “have” your body – I reach out and touch your body with your hand – gravitating to my cock, naturally, gravitating like my whole self goes to it – slightly feel sorry for the other body… Tumbleweed never got any sympathy but knew she rolled over something good

The film by John Waters is called Female Trouble and stars the drag queen Divine, who went to my high school in Baltimore. She plays two roles, one delinquent teen girl runaway and one male truck driver. When they encounter each other on the road, the man part rapes the woman part, or maybe it’s consensual. Hard to say, but the violence of the scene was awful until I realized both were Divine, or rather, Divine was multiple and full of intention. In the movie she not only fucks, but impregnates herself, then goes on to raise the child.


The Impediments

Nicole Trigg

Day by day after the accident, the body told its story: she was able to make out the figure of the second man in the new silhouette. She recalled there was a first man, whom she’d cleared to the left, only to be met by a second man. Afterward he gave her his hand to hold to indicate regret, and a gentle squeeze to her stunned fingers meant goodbye. But she wanted to remember. She arranged for an artist to make a ž view contour drawing of her head from behind. The lower right half of her face showed the boldest impression.


Nicole trigg

Tilda As usual, I was stuck on Tilda Swinton. It was 2009, her hair looked fantastic, and I was obsessed with the new film I Am Love. Her role as the Russian wife of a Milanese don—a foreigner embraced and embedded by the ruthlessly elegant Italian elite, adept, willing to perform yet precarious, pulsing with an energy from elsewhere that frees her in the final scene— seemed an analogy for Tilda, actually. How or what is Tilda? Beautiful and strange. Delicate; nimble; wild; translucent. Almost see-through. By far my favorite fetish object. I imagined she’d been practicing. She found a patch of ferns in her back woods to rehearse in. It reminded her of the “secret place” she/I used to visit as a child, a clearing on the side of a hill where privacy felt like gentle pressure rolling over my shoulders. But now the object was to draw a crowd, so the location could be a secret only insofar as it was talked about—versus a secret without keepers, that had never been born. Compacting the ferns with her body weight, she lay perfectly still, and sustained a low hum with each exhalation for a radiant effect. Meanwhile she meditated on the centerpiece of fruits, floating candles, tulips and tusk that had anchored the communal table of her young adulthood. Table like a strip of runway, she used to think, longing for a vacation. She lay on her side in the ferns so the mound of her hip was the highest point, echoing the tusk, hung up on the still life like a telephone receiver. The table decoration had been modeled after a severe Japanese landscape that featured stone cylinders on water, so she rolled her eyes back like she was going


to sleep for hundreds of years. Her inanimate surface would nonetheless suggest life, outside time. Sure enough, animals came: soft, brown, roly-poly bluebirds, as well as people, to get beside Tilda’s haloes from heaven. Eventually, we occupied the clearing to capacity so that it no longer stood out from the surrounding area. With some reluctance, we widened the ring to accept newcomers. Sometimes a whole family or other bonded group would pack in around Tilda, obliging the closest circle to wedge the long parts of their feet under her body. Who knew that Tilda’s body would delineate a twodimensional area by its constellation of contact with the floor, and manifest an impediment? The idea for The Impediments project was derived from the essay A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. The main point of the essay is that a woman needs her own room, money, and time in order to write, yet even the woman privileged with all of the above goes on to confront innumerable other challenges in the course of her career. Woolf calls them “impediments.” Two examples, she suggests, are fear and bitterness. I envisioned sheets of writing paper, each marked with the solid contour drawing of a unique, abstract form—around which writing flowed, but never crossed. The nature of the concept—impedimentum, hindrance; from impedire to impede; to shackle the feet—dictates that the writing is compromised by the impediment, never the other way around. Even when Paper wins at Rock, Paper, Scissors, by covering Rock, it bends to fit it and by no means hides it. Rock’s three dimensions trump Paper’s two, so its defeat is just a token; it remains exactly the same before and after Paper lays down on it.


Nicole Trigg

The invincibility of Rock, then, is not only the model for people’s fists, but also for the fetal position. In the simulations in 1995 and 2013, “The Maybe” by Tilda Swinton and collaborators was adapted to building codes at the Serpentine Gallery, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, respectively, that restricted physical touching by placing the artist inside an elevated vitrine. Probably Tilda was glad for the buffer because the free-for-alls in the forest had sapped her. It takes gallons to make a capful of syrup, and we’d drained every drop of her bittersweet water. Now she could begin to replenish her sugars, out of reach, but still on display. The later iteration seemed timely in the wake of the 2010 Marina Abramovic retrospective, “The Artist is Present.” Compared to Abramovic’s heroic performance of endurance1 in the atrium of the MOMA, however, Tilda’s was a disappointment. Besides, critics complained, Swinton is a movie star, not a performance artist, and more famous than ever in spite of her unconventional looks and career choices. So “The Maybe” is an opportunity to ogle a celebrity at close range. BYOB and snacks for the vigil. I thought—feeling betrayed—it might be more helpful if she set up her vitrine in a slum or warzone, or under a bridge somewhere. I’d conjured her an unbroken surface; she gave it back

“A pioneer of performance art, Marina Abramovic (born Yugoslavia, 1946) began using her own body as the subject, object, and medium of her work in the early 1970s. For the exhibition Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Abramovic performed in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium every day the Museum was open between March 14 and May 31, 2010. Visitors were encouraged to sit silently across from the artist for a duration of their choosing, becoming participants in the artwork. The Artist Is Present is Abramovic’s longest performance to date.”—from the museum’s website 1


to me; now I wanted to destroy it. I brought my hammer, but she wasn’t in her box on the day I visited the museum. There are many ways to interpret the body as impediment, including: Objectification; Fatigue; Superstition; Susceptibility; Touchability; Visibility; Noisy; Odor, flavor; Formed; Curled; Elongated; Bunched; Bloating; Dying

The Bean The silver monument sits in the way like a pancake with its edge upturned and flopped over, pointlessly reflecting everything. Since it was installed in everybody’s way, it was made to withstand abuse. The silly silver face reflects the attacker’s twisted one, and never scratches. The problem with the monument is that it takes up space, but it’s only a surface. Its undulations distort the things that appear in it, as enlarged or shrunken, winnowing, stretched, etc. The monument distracts the onlooker with his image, skewing his face, as the arbitrary nature of its own, slouched bag lip shape remains constant and dissociated. Here the two irrelevances don’t equal relevance. In the realm of art is an argument for uselessness, however. See the bodies balloon and flash in its patina like an ecosystem collapsing. I wrote about the silver monument with disdain that wasn’t mine but that I had overheard. I hesitated to name “Cloud Gate,” by Anish Kapoor, also called The Bean, because I pretended to hate it. Now I name it because I deny it, but I begin to doubt the denial at the same time.


Nicole trigg

I dug my heels back into the place where something broad and mirrored silver lay flashing in the center of a downtown area—I used to visit it from my neighborhood five miles south along the lakeshore. I retracted my limbs to make the “cashew curlicue,” which they recommended for speed. My bean-form was the living embodiment of motion and transformation, and in such a way I defied the monument that only stood for these things: I could roll. “Woman am I. Spirit am I. I am the infinite inside myself. I have

no beginning and I have no end. All this I know.” Barely steering my bicycle along the gently curved path beside the lake, barely contained by my form, I chanted what I’d learned from the lesbian counselor at Quaker camp when I was 12. Then my tire slipped off the edge of the raised pavement into gravel, and I went down on the low side, facefirst. Consider a clock face large enough to pull over the head laced with spokes and opened in a plane perpendicular to the spine, as a giant collar. Consider the tip of the nose like a hand registering 12 o’clock. The face was impacted at 1:30, so its rigid components leaned left and back, while the flesh swelled right and forward. Peeling open the lower lip revealed a tear below the gum line spanning the right half of the jaw. The septum of the nose bowed from right to left, leaving lopsided nostril shapes.


Cracks Then again, all writing is up against the dominion of things, and can’t compare. Since words are inadequate to describe more than a surface, they spill over and fall between the cracks of people, stones, houses… shimmering across my skin like the silk sheath I only wear at home, while I read Jacques Rancière. Because he makes arguments by knitting detritus in a circular form with his beak, I think to myself, exhausted, I’d rather be picking apart an actual bird’s nest right now, or fraying cords, or brushing my hair. Gradually, I synthesize ideas. 1) When language is officiated and terms fixed, their referents become barriers, blockades, authoritative checks, thus defining the normative superstructure, or “distribution of the sensible.” This orientation is linked with the speech category, and

inextricable from hierarchical power structures. On the other hand, 2) writing potentially undoes those structures. In The Politics of Aesthetics, Rancière writes: By stealing away to wander aimlessly without knowing who to speak to or who not to speak to, writing destroys every legitimate foundation for the circulation of words, for the relationship between the effects of language and the positions of bodies in shared space. That is, when language is un-officiated (released from dominant meaning), a new, playful relationship with entities comes about, by which we question and reconfigure what we know. So writing around things goes without saying as the ‘nature’ of language, and can be characterized by free movement and creativity when we acknowledge it as such, as superficial. When, that is, we acknowledge that language isn’t truth, or even true to what it describes—except—perhaps—when in flux. You complain, saying words are just a bunch of wooden pegs and joinery we move into new combinations: lay them down, stand them up,


Nicole Trigg

to the side, make an arch, etc.—and I admire the complexity of your monologue. Beading in the crevices between actual, bodied things as well as bodies of knowledge or ideology, they say language becomes an emancipatory tool that loosens authority by opening perspective. Now with Paper formed around it the boulder could care or be crushed, would prefer to be approached, and wants to play. Punch it to see if the Rock is still there.


Bucking War Horse I drew an impediment on a clean page in my “NOTE Sketchbook,” which is divided vertically into ruled and unruled sides, then began to write around it. the impediments she referred to weren’t tangible forms. some examples of what she meant by impediments to women’s writing are FEAR, BITTERNESS, and DESPAIR. I had the idea for a project: a series of hand-drawn obstacles surrounded by handwriting. the first drawing was asymmetrical, but rounded and not unattractive. in some aspects it resembled the profile of A BUCKING WAR HORSE. I intended to make something beautiful, which, on the one hand, would not seem to depict or convey difficulty. rather than block writing, a shape’s torque could nudge it across the page… in a sense I could relax into this readymade like A DEN OF PILLOWS, a visual component that could substitute for significating words, no matter what I wrote or didn’t. all this to say the drawn impediment doesn’t impede—au contraire—a line of handwriting wraps nimbly around it. TOO BEAUTIFUL TO BE AN OBSTACLE, AND YET NOT, AND YET PRECISELY NOT. BEAUTIFUL FORMS RULED HER… if the sketched impediment becomes a facile decoration that neuters writing in advance? isn’t beauty itself a fundamental obstacle to creating new forms? answer: roll my eyes / all the way back / into my throat


Nicole Trigg

Twill I underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete the weaving in the cast-iron fence.2 In reality I sat there day after day for a month, my back to the street, steadily raising lines of weft. I made several mistakes and had to undo hours of work to correct each one. The weaving and I endured rainstorms, so the wet threads began to felt and my coveralls stank of mildew. But I didn’t mind the inconvenience, or the endless, painstaking repetition. I positioned myself in the way of passersby so I didn’t feel so alone when I had to fix a problem. As the taut blanket crept up over the open bars of the fence, inches from my face, I became carefree: twill was my only thought. Ironically, the ability to see through it had made the fence a greater barrier than the solid tapestry, because from either vantage point its bars provided—outside the property looking in, or vice versa—I could clearly make out the other side. The fence told me what I was and by contrast, what I wasn’t—revealing “the one that was standing apart from me.”3 Peering through it I was in my place: 1, alone, and I was not enough. Until the weaving began to encompass the fence, all white and opaque with tiny fibers uplifted from its surface, reaching for a source of heat. I drew one card at a time: the Ten of Swords, followed by the Ace of Cups. I might have stopped at the Ten of Swords had it not been apparent that the card did not represent an answer to my romantic question—and motive for the

Jen Bervin, Weaving, GRIDSPACE, 2011, Brooklyn, NY The English title of Celui qui ne m’accompagnait pas, by Maurice Blanchot, translated by Lydia Davis. Paralyzed by apartness, the speaker/writer’s only recourse is his own exhaustive thought, with which he suspends himself. Take a deep breath between paragraphs, a drink of water. Blanchot: “...all the power of the emptiness tightens around me, encloses me, holds me and pushes me back into the depth of an endless fall, so that the gap into which I fall has the exact dimensions of my body.” (1993, p. 62) 2



reading—but the foundation and context for that question. As such, its seemliness was absolute: I was laid out on a rock, my back arched to match the curve of the stone, beneath a spray of hovering spears pointed at my neck and shoulders. For the first 24 hours after surgery under general anesthesia, I didn’t move my neck at all, so when I finally did the tendons spasmed and stuck out on both sides.

Cross-section Eventually Goenka laughed, and said, Oh ho ho, you need a break. Oh ho ho, your butt must ache. Each evening of the Vipassana conference ended this way, with a video lecture by the old teacher in Burma. He reminded me now of Frog, then of Toad, from the story “Frog and Toad Are Friends.” The day would have passed much like the others: 12 hours of meditation in one-hour increments. We learned to endure the emergent pain that pooled in one quadrant of the body at a time by mastering itches first. Met with the sensation of an ant scaling the soft side of my wrist, for example, I didn’t scratch it. I’d only note it, then move on along my surface in endless figure eights, down, up, and down again, scanning for feeling. In this way, itches I couldn’t scratch were a boon: simple sensations I could attend to while suspending my reaction to them until they passed away. Around the third day Goenka instructed us to avoid moving altogether for the duration of the sit. The pain that then lodged in my hip, and spread in all directions, made me wail on the


Nicole Trigg

inside. And outside, real tears dripped from my chin into my unmoving lap, saturating an area of my skirt so I could add wetness to the log of sensations. By day five, we were all swaying like cattails. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t any pain, but rather that the pain was permeable by our attention. Against the advice of Goenka and the assistant teachers, we had begun to enjoy an encompassing feeling of effervescence, like being washed in champagne. Such enjoyment would lead to the desire for more, they warned, til the ego that had been tamped down would reinflate as a giant clown balloon, aping the sitter’s gentle motion, its long red shoes pinned under her rear. Indeed, I wondered about the feelings of accomplishment like a feather mantle down my back that my shoulders squared and spine stretched up to display, but the faint sense of mastery seemed more humane than the earlier abyss. I didn’t ponder whether or not humaneness was the point of the workshop. So when the teacher suggested a new, advanced technique on the eighth day, I accepted the challenge: to scan through, rather than around our bodies, traversing them cross-wise with our attention. Dragging my consciousness across my insides caused my stomach to wrinkle and my breath to syncopate, as certain parts had never been touched before. Like an ocean passing through tight layers of mesh, it made no difference to the ocean, but the mesh knew it was being crossed. What does the object feel when it is printed out, one flat sheet at a time until it has dimensions? I thought of the night at the museum when I found the horse— sliced—available to peruse like posters. I didn’t agree with this answer to the impediments—I’m a vegetarian. Even if I was touching my internal organs with my mind, I knew that as soon as I left the retreat, my body would zip its bag shut again and hustle to the center of the room or wherever it needed to go and not be sorry.


Shredded Cock I became concerned about my ability to make work that could a) speak for itself and b) speak to others; a) talk, and b) talk back; a) reflect the ineffable and b) not be ff-ed; a) verbalize without violence and b) violate verbs; a) demonstrate and demolish and b) not be a demo; a) be the verb and b) not the noun form. The large, intelligent dog will refuse to move if you leash him, for example, holding his position while staring sideways at the lake. Then, the dead weight is too much for one person to lift— you will have to call a friend. It’s like the difference between a descriptive paragraph and a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poem, though both are a kind of burden. Difficult to snap out of my dizzy spell since I wrote about vertigo at the waterfalls when I was 10, I remain ensorcelled by the mist floating up around me and softening my skin that I wouldn’t have noticed, had I been gesturing or talking loudly, for one to two decades. No bodies jumped that day, but every thought plummeted direct to the one conclusion: a white writhing, constantly refreshed. For instance, a video loop. About his installation at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 2012, which he named after the sci-fi short story by Gene Wolfe, “Forlesen,” William Pope.L said, “It’s only a quarter cock,” and, “Which way is the penis pointing?” Lauren Berlant called it the abject shredding of the symbolic. I call it shredded cock, and what IF the impediment is cock-shaped? Indeed, we form ourselves around it willingly. But Berlant means something else: the impediment swirls us into the impasse, which is a space. When space and time pass by us, we scrutinize time because we are finite in it, and disregard space unless it is some kind of incredible view. The im-


Niole Trigg

passe is space uncoupled from time, where the time line goes slack and settles down on itself, becomes a pile of string instead. Berlant frames possibility temporally, and the title of her book Cruel Optimism is to say our narratives of “looking forward” are fucked. There is possibility for change where we no longer grease the tracks cut for something else’s flourishing, but catch instead on the “thick present” that continues from our bodies and touches everything simultaneously. Reflecting on her participation in the performance-event Time of Action4, Irina Pavovarova wrote: …here all of a sudden this inexcusable waste of time. How can this be? Time flows so freely, wastes itself on practically anything. At the same time, it was nice to become aware of this. Aware that… and why not? Maybe all of this economizing that we are doing is actually empty. And maybe this very long action is actually time filled up. At any rate, it did not have a sense of emptiness, but of abundance, sufficiency. Pope.L’s 40 foot-long quarter-cock shaped room and installation is an impasse, says Berlant. In it, we can’t move forward to cognize anything because nothing is legible, even though the title of the show recalls the German phrase für lessen, or “for reading.” Because it holds us, once we pass inside it it is less COCK, all shadowless, than SHELTER. Inside the cock are smudged charcoal drawings that are messy and minimal at the same time with overlays of coffee, and acrylic medium to look like cum; little t.v.s embedded in the plywood construction running video abstracted from VHS porn; and glasses of water. Additionally, the artist has invented a new material to coat the outside of the cock gallery, a mixture of joint compound and ketchup, which separates into large, heavy flakes when it dries.


The idea was about as interesting as if you said to a bunch of skater kids, consider the surfaces you grind over, how you go from one to the next making a line, and breaking it where you jump between materials or the materials drop out. How when you carve a long arc, you see the shape as you inscribe it because your body keeps it too, when you curl like the leaf of the sensitive plant asserts the endurance of its form. I started getting bored watching the skate video “Welcome to Hell.” Even though this was a movie genre I’d never encountered before that I was curious about, I couldn’t latch on. I realized what was missing: the succession of tricks was unbroken, “seamless” as it were, despite what it was, or, a seam of disparate things touching. No spills, wrecks, or wipeouts punctuated the scraping sound that fuzzed out Sonic Youth, The Sundays, Black Sabbath… just silent gaps in the architecture did. The video shows how it looks and sounds to physically trace the city— something I dream about, like I could take a rubbing of an entire place with my body if I had large enough paper.

4 “In a forest, not far from the edge of a field, among the trees, we hung a drum on which we had previously wound seven kilometers of white string. The drum was hung in such a way that it was not visible from the opposite side of the field, where, across 200 meters of open space and freshly plowed earth, the end of the string was drawn and the audience (20 people) and two action participants were located… the action participants and some audience members took turns continuously pulling the rope that was unwinding from the drum. The rope’s end was not attached to the drum, and in this way, all of the rope was pulled out of the forest in the course of the action.”—Moscow Conceptualism co-founder A. Monastyrski’s description of the performance near Moscow in 1978 Time of Action. Cited from: Collective Actions, trans. Yelena Kalinsky, (Chicago: Soberscove Press, 2012) 9, 93.


Hannah Schoetz



Case Study- Carbon Tetrachloride 2-2 Michael Levesque

In 1921 Maurice C. Hall recommended carbon tetrachloride as a hookworm anthelmintic for man.1

A therapeutic appears at first sight an extremely obvious trivial thing 1.59 g/cm³ 153.82 g/mol Colourless Liquid Boiling point, 170.1°F (76.72°C) Melting point, -9.256°F (-22.92°C) Soluble in water Monoclinic Tetrahedral

Its analysis reveals that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.

By our activity, we change the forms of the materials in nature in such a way as to make them useful to ourselves. 2 Lüük Honey


Extinguishes Fires Stuns Worms Cleans Surfaces Refrigeration Kills Insects Depletes Ozone Assists Neutrino Detection Reveals Water Marks

As soon as it emerges as a therapeutic, it changes into a thing that transcends sensuousness.

Within the Clinic A prisoner, condemned to be hanged Dogs kept in cages and observed several times a day Receive the treatment Given maximum dose of 10 c.c. of carbon tetrachloride This man will be executed Dogs will be sacrificed Quiet due to confinement No symptoms of intoxication Sacrificed Necropsy performed after death Bodies searched for helminths 3 4

The mysterious character of the therapeutic form consists therefore simply in the fact that the therapeutic


Michael Levesque

reflects the social characteristics of our vital labor as objective characteristics in the products of health.

286,486 persons in the South Pacific Islands were treated with carbon tetrachloride and other drugs Seven deaths occurred among the persons treated All among East Indians

One a young boy Was due to a congenital malformation of the intestine A deformity that would have prevented the patient from living to maturity

Another was that of a woman Who was addicted to the use of alcohol

The remainder were children Who were heavily infected with Ascaris lumbricoides

Poisoning with carbon tetrachloride occurs when There is a lowered blood calcium Or irritation or mechanical obstruction by ascarides Or chronic or acute alcoholism Or when undigested food is present in the intestinal tract

Nurses say that after treatment is given in a native village there is a strange unusual silence for the rest of the day


Quiet Headache Nausea Some are exhilarated drunk off therapy 5 Managed Idiosyncrasy Becomes the Bridge Through Which Life Spent pays for Life Earned Equivalence without Equal What Remains Remains Sacrificed Remains Productive Remains

Lambert, S. 1933. Hookworm disease in the south pacific: ten years of tetrachlorides. Journal of the American Medical Association. Volume 100, no. 1

4. pp.247-248 2 Marx, Karl. 1990. Capital Vol I. Penguin Books. New York, NY. 3 Lamson, P. & Wing, R. 1926. Early cirrhosis of the liver produced in dogs by carbon tetrachloride. The Journal of Pharmaceuticals and Experimental Therapy. Vol xxix, no. 1. Pp. 191-202. 4 Leach, C. 1922. Carbon tetrachloride in the treatment of hookworm disease. Journal of the American Medical Association. Volume 78, no. 23. Pp. 17891790.

Lambert, S. 1933. Hookworm disease in the south pacific: ten years of tetrachlorides. Journal of the American Medical Association. Volume 100, no. 4. pp.247-248 5


Michael Levesque

Case Study- Oil of Chenopodium I. The oil of chenopodium is an essential oil that is distilled from American wormseed or Jerusalem oak, a weed quite common in Maryland and in the states farther south1 A most effective remedy for expelling Ascaris Oxyuris Trichocephalus A source of gratification to the patient or parent2 However, an extraordinary number of complaints Dizziness and weakness Two to three days Tingling in the hands Petty in themselves But a great influence in preventing further treatment A heat with an unfavorable psychic effect Reported in 1916 Alarming symptoms and sometimes death Administration of the drug in Accordance with Accepted methods of treatment And in nearly every instance At less than the maximum dose


Have been reported In the Southern States In the West Indian Colonies In Panama In Nicaragua In Ceylon In Egypt A Powerful Poison Uncertain in Action Uncertain in Preparation Uncertain in Administration

Extreme Discrimination Rules Required

In Central America In Nicaragua As a Rule Dr. Molly proposed Dose is portioned according to age Two drops for each year of age until 24 Highest dose, 48 drops

Dropped from a Dropping Bottle Weighing 2.00 grams Interval Between Portions Hourly

Administered in a mixture of By this means the drug is Three parts Chenopodium Easily taken One part Eucalyptus Flavor masked, odor reduced Given to recruits of the Nicara- guan Army


Michael Levesque

In Central America In Costa Rica As a Rule Age Dose Years Drops 2…………………………………………… 1 3…………………………………………… 3 4…………………………………………… 4 5…………………………………………… 6 6…………………………………………… 8 7…………………………………………… 10 8…………………………………………… 12 Dropped from a Dropping 9…………………………………………… 14 Bottle 11…………………………………………... 8 15 Drops Equaling .46 c.c. 12…………………………………………... 20 Interval Between Treat13…………………………………………... 22 ments 10 days 14…………………………………………... 24 15…………………………………………... 26 16…………………………………………... 28 17…………………………………………... 30 18…………………………………………... 32 19…………………………………………... 34 20 to 50…………………………………….. 36 Over 50……………………………………... 26


Administered in a mixture of equal parts By this means the drug is Syrup of Brown Sugar Easily taken Extract of Coffee Flavor masked, dizziness re- duced Preferred to Thymol In the West Indies In Trinidad Oil of Chenopodium was used In lieu of Thymol In one district In no way different from other districts The drug was Supplied in bulk by the medical storekeeper of this colony Carefully measured in capsules of proper size Properly supervised by the Medical Officer in Charge Delivered by a most successful nurse Used in the same week Less than satisfactory results were reported As a Rule For an adult male or large female Dosage is 21 minims For the average female Dosage is 17 minims For children Dosage is 1 minim for each year of age As a Rule Prior to Treatment Fecal specimens are collected From the Patient Placed in centrifuge Examined under microscope Eggs Counted


Michael Levesque

The night before Treatment The first purge of Magnesium sulfate because Impossible to induce People of the lower class to take castor oil One third of the dose is administered at 6 a.m. One third of the dose is administered at 7 a.m. One third of the dose is administered at 8 a.m. During the Treatment at 10 a.m. The second purge of Magnesium sulfate because Impossible to induce People of the lower class to take castor oil Fasting until Noon

As a Rule Six days after the Treatment Fecal specimens are collected Placed in centrifuge Examined under microscope Eggs counted

From the Patient

Cured if none found

In Practice Six or seven days after Treatment Sixty-three fecal specimens collected From Patients Placed in centrifuge Examined Under microscope Eggs counted Negative


In Practice Five to ten days after Re-evaluation Twenty-five fecal specimens collected From Patients Placed in centrifuge Examined Under microscope Eggs counted Positive Worms are not killed Reproduction interrupted Test inconclusive Further research required No serious effects reported except Dizziness and weakness Two to three days Tingling in the hands Petty in themselves But a great influence in preventing further treatment A heat with an unfavorable psychic effect

II. Reported in 19173 Alarming symptoms and sometimes death Administration of the drug in Accordance with Accepted methods of treatment


Michael Levesque

And in nearly every instance At less than the maximum dose Have been reported In Ceylon In Panama In Dutch Guiana In Brazil In Other Countries An analysis of the cases shows that Among persons more than 12 years of age Among persons less than 12 years of age Among persons less than 7 years of age A reduction in children’s doses Should be seriously considered Apparently the Dosage Heretofore recommended is too high

¼ of cases ¾ of cases ½ of cases

As a Rule

Standing at the bedside of a child The best intentions Characteristic of Chenopodium Not a toxic dose Begins with dizziness The child still died And then a headache And then nausea And then comatose And then the jerking of the arms and legs for hours And then death4 A Powerful Poison Uncertain in Action Uncertain in Preparation Uncertain in Administration

Further research is required Do not use in the Weak Or Poorly Nourished Or Neurotic5


III. The data that presented concerning oil of chenopodium Is derived from Darling, Barber and Hacker’s report To the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation On the subject of the effect of hookworm infection On the working efficiency of the people in the Malay Peninsula And Java And Fiji6 Experimented on batches of male Prisoners Chosen at random Chinese favored by anclyostomes Balanced by nationality Malay favored by necators A proper experiment Tamil favored by necators Experimental Dosing One c.c. of chenopodium in freshly filled capsules Three times at hourly intervals Given until the stools tested negative for ova Symptoms In Comparison to Thymol Dizziness More Common Muscular Incoordination More Marked Inability to Rise Much More Frequent Semicomatose State Only Rarely Noticed Burning in Stomach Noted Headache Noted Tingling of the Hands and Feet Noted Vomiting 79 cases Albuminuria Renal 1 case Gonorheal 4 cases Not Diagnosed 10 cases Deafness 5 cases Death 2 cases


Michael Levesque

Deaths occurred within ten days of each other Due to expedited work As a result the period between treatments was lengthened No other serious or fatal incident occurred

From Darling And Chinese Prisoners And Barber And Malay Prisoners And Hacker And Tamil Prisoners A New Standard Method7 As a Rule No food from 8 p.m. of the day preceding treatment Treatment administered at 6 a.m. At 7 a.m., however, a small cup of black coffee may be permitted As a Rule For an Adult No preliminary purge is given A dose of 1.5 mils Followed by a saline purge

Administered in freshly filled Hard gelatin capsules Interval between Portions Two Hours

As a Rule For a Child No preliminary purge is given A dose graded according to age Dropped from a Dropping Bottle For Children five and eight Thirty drops equals one mil. One Drop for each year of age Interval between Portions For Children over eight Two Hours Two Drops for each year Followed by a saline purge


A most effective remedy for expelling Ascaris Clonorchis Taenia Oxyuris Trichocephalus

Salant, William. 1917. The pharmacology of the oil of chenopodium. JAMA. Vol. 69, No. 24. Pp. 2016-2017. 2 Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report 1916 3 Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report 1917 4 Lamson, P., Brown, H., & Ward. C. 1932. Anthelmintics: some therapeutic and practical considerations on their use. JAMA, vol. 99, number 4. Pp. 292-295. 5 Salant, William. 1917. The pharmacology of the oil of chenopodium. JAMA. Vol. 69, No. 24. Pp. 2016-2017. 6 Darling, S., Barber, M., & Hacker, H. 1918. The treatment of hookworm infection. JAMA, vol. 70, no. 8. Pp. 499-507. 7 Rockefeller Foundation Annual Report 1918 1


Michael Levesque

excerpt from Tender Points Amy Berkowitz

∆ I’ve been thinking a lot about Krang lately. If you don’t know who Krang is, he’s one of the villains from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s a brain without a body who uses an “exosuit’ or “robot body” for mobility. He used to have a body, but for reasons that are never explained, he lost it when he was banished from Dimension X. This happened before the start of the show, so we never see what Krang looked like before he was banished. Krang is angry. That “ang” is half his name. Other villains are angry, too, but their anger is a cold, sweeping, wrathful anger. Krang’s anger is more personal, petty. He’s cranky—that’s the other half of his name. His voice is a high-pitched, feminine whine that sounds like a mean caricature of a mother-in-law. A lot of the time, he’s angry about his disability. He moans, “My robot body is not working!” and “There would be no problem if I had a body!” I googled “Krang” and “disability” and all of the results were videos of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episodes with comments disabled or embedding disabled.

∆∆ They’re just nasty fat women who want to collect disability checks. “Doing stuff makes me tired, give me some money and/or drugs.” Lazyass slugs who sit at home and watch Judge Judy while the rest of the world


works for a living. 71% of them are fat women who don’t ever get off their ass. Sorry if you don’t like facts. Anyone who can read an Internet article and say “ow” 11 times can have it.

∆∆∆ In The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry describes pain’s essential inexpressibility: “For the person in pain, so incontestably and unnegotiably present is it, that ‘having pain’ may come to be thought of as the most vibrant example of what it is to ‘have certainty,’ while for the other person it is so elusive that ‘hearing about pain’ may exist as the primary model of what it is ‘to have doubt.’”

∆∆∆∆ I have to deal with these nutcases at work and I flat out call them fakers to their face. They need to get up off their lard-asses and get a job. They’re just whiny people who love to be “sick.” I knew a woman with it; she was miserable and had a whole Myspace dedicated to the constant pain. ∆∆∆∆∆ At the Poetics of Healing symposium last April, Melissa Buzzeo asked questions: “Why are people who are sick also looked at as waste products in society? Why do people, especially women, especially sick women, not want to draw too much attention to themselves? What does it mean to talk about yourself?” Welcome to the Myspace of my constant pain.


Amy Berkowitz

∆∆∆∆∆∆ It’s 2010 and my boyfriend’s bed is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Brown comforter and pillow and tan sheets the exact color of peanut butter. He makes me omelets with expensive ingredients and buys me a record player for my birthday. This, I think, is care. I’m having a hard time finding a job because I just moved to the city and because my disability substantially narrows my options. Avoid repetitive motions. That’s kind of the definition of a job, repetitive motions. The temp agency called it administrative slash data entry, but it turns out to be pure data entry. I’m entering data from massive binders of handwritten medical records into a series of online forms. The data is so thick with abbreviations that I have no idea what any of it means. It’s a terrible office, with low, square-tiled ceilings; everything beige and dusty. I sit in a cubicle on a mostly deserted floor. I scavenge the empty cubes for thick reference books and a cardboard box so I can make a monitor riser and a footrest and approximate an ergonomic setup. Despite these interventions, I can’t physically tolerate the work. By my fourth week, my wrist feels tight and numb as it hovers above the ten-key. I try wearing a brace, but it doesn’t help. I tell my supervisor, and within the hour, I get a call from the temp agency informing me that the assignment is over. That night, I am a fucking mess. I’m angry at my body, I’m angry at the temp agency, I’m angry at the man I blame for this pain. And I’m overwhelmed, thinking “How the fuck am I ever going to support myself?” And my boyfriend says: “Well, don’t wallow in it. That’s not going to help. Just pick yourself up and get back out there.”


These are the words of a little league coach but I am not a little league team. I am a grown person with a disability. After that, his bed doesn’t look like a giant piece of chocolate anymore. It looks like a bed.

∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ I’m hanging out with a friend who just finished her MFA, and she’s telling me about her job search. She shrugs and says, “Well, I can always go back to being a barista for a while.” I am bitterly jealous of people who can always go back to being a barista for a while.

∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ I’m 21 years old and I feel like I’m 50. I’m 50, I feel like I’m 90. I am only 22 and I feel like I am like 60 or 70 years old. I feel like I’m in my 80s, but I’m only 46. People in my life may think I am exaggerating but I am truly in pain.

∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ I keep having this vision of my body shot through with systems of hidden stairs and hallways—secret, steep, ill-maintained servants’ quarters. I’ve tried drawing diagrams, but they aren’t very good. Imagine that the stairs climb up my arm and neck and lead to doors in and out my ears, then back down the other arm. In these dim, drafty passages, memories creep through my body right next to present perceptions.


Amy Berkowitz

After the death of her husband, Sarah Winchester used her share of the Winchester rifle fortune to build a sprawling and peculiar mansion to appease the spirits of the vast number of people killed by her husband’s rifles. Convinced that the spirits would murder her if she ever stopped construction, Sarah hired workers to build round the clock, so that the house was never complete. This continued for 36 years, until her death in 1922. Many people with fibromyalgia experience non-restorative sleep; that is, no matter how long they sleep, they wake up feeling tired. Like many things about fibromyalgia, the cause of this sleep disorder is unknown. One theory is that the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response is constantly activated, increasing nocturnal vigilance and preventing restful sleep. What vigil is my sympathetic nervous system keeping? It seems to be supervising construction of a mansion designed to ward off evil spirits. It’s building secret passages inside my body to route the past around the present and keep trauma out of sight, like servants in a smoothly running household.

∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ Every morning I wake up feeling like I was run over by a truck. I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I wake up feeling like I got whiplash. I wake up feeling like I slept on the floor. I wake up feeling like I’ve been chewed up and spit out. Multiple alarms and I always feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Hopefully through this website I can find some support and maybe I can convince my husband to try to learn more about what is going on with me.


∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆ I sent some of this writing to a friend who’s also writing about pain. She sent me an email about my writing, and her writing. At the end she added, “Also, on a side slash main note, I’m sorry to hear you are living with chronic pain. It sucks in every way.” I don’t remember how it feels not to be in pain. At the doctor’s office, pain scales are impossible because I lost my zero. I choose a number because I’m supposed to choose a number. It’s only when the pain is severe or when the pain prevents me from doing something that I’m forced to think about it. But even when I’m not thinking about it, it’s still there. My body is riding BART and it’s in pain. My body is peeling an orange and it’s in pain. My body is worrying about something stupid and it’s in pain. My body is writing this and it’s in pain. What I’m trying to say is: I like what my friend wrote. Chronic pain is always on a side slash main note.


Amhy Berkowitz

DeathCabGreen Travis Jackson


Alison Kreitzberg


Only You Jenny Williams Leave Me Alone In A Room Leave Me Alone Where Remember It All Slides Down The Walls Gone Yellow When You Will Leave Me Alone To Lie In A Room Where Lowering Leave Me Alone Where A Room All Slides Down The Walls Gone Leave Me Alone Lowering because that’s where I’ve seen the door before when you are low enough with dirt all wet halfway up your nose that’s where it happens to you where the door happens to you


Blessed you are Blessed this access who we buried in the ground The Earth it sparkles too The Earth Also Of The Cosmos it sparkles too if the room is dark enough with their eyes closed our eyes closed under the dirt is how we see The Earth sparkles too you are asleep Also Of The Cosmos and safe you see me as a shape Also Of The Cosmos in the doorway in my bed now The demons whose voices are loudest in the morning. Are the only voices I hear In the morning IS YOUR MOUTH FULL OF BLOOD I DON’T THINK your mouth is full of blood Because the last time my mouth was full of blood I was not sitting at the kitchen table smelling like soap pouring from a french press only imagining he would hit me I Know You Can Do Better Than That


Jenny Williams


Sarah Schwartz

WIND LIKE GOSSIP One hundred flyers wave in the unchained wind. One hundred eyes looking down. Stray litter. Tree trunks jutting. She is two of them, examining cracks. She is two of them unable to meet two of them. Outside the train station, protesters hold signs that say, “The People are TOO BIG TO FAIL” and “We are the 99%.” If someone would speak to her, maybe—but she is just as alien among aliens, a tent city that will not move. Who taught us to be cautious? The ones who taught us to love. The blank sheet of the sky makes late morning of the day. Too late to do what should be done. Too early for any last minute resolutions. She does not raise her voice because the volume changes the meaning. Anyway, she has some money in the stock market. Feeding. She feels all wind blowing on her. She hears its whisper like gossip. She can’t apologize enough because the world demands an apology for apologizing. Her generation is not angry enough. They are insanely sorry. Action requires more delusion. Her generation has rediscovered that the world is flat and can choose to fall off the edge of it. But her sore shoulders indicate she is sorrowful enough to be alive. Last night, she scoffed at the idea of purpose, but today she mourns its loss. She mistook the setup for the punch line. Someone must hold something close, someone. On a day like this, she may let anyone touch her.



Over a rare slice of beef, a date becomes an argument about shoplifting. She says, why should I be committed to a ghost? A high-rise wreckage. He says, how can you say when a profit is a living, when a ghost is a man? A breathing machine. Tender shavings of parmesan pucker on the plate. She ravages the fleshy remains. He tastes nothing.


Sarah Schwartz

WHEN THE EARTHQUAKE COMES When the earthquake comes, you will be standing at the West Oakland BART stop, on the platform, facing the haze of a coming rain. When the earthquake comes, industrial creatures will continue to graze along an edge of water. When the earthquake comes, the heart of a train will be quick and murderous. When the earthquake comes, everything will facture. You will fracture. Not sad as much as quaking. Not emotion, but motion. It will not be reasonable. There will be no reason for our drifting and splitting. All the ways our bodies will ache and grasp. Wracked. What sort of place will our bodies be? What is the body a place for? You think you are a body, walking through places. But you are really places, walking through a body. There is an outline of a self pinned to the wall. The world spins and fills the outline with a new geography, contingent upon continental shifting. Here, your sputtering form holds a purple palindrome—hill, valley, bay, valley, hill. You are watery and sloped. Vestiges of a diverted cataclysm. When the earthquake comes, I will remember the heated splendor of our first December. His rough, dry hands. Shaking. I will think, my God, how far off love is now. I have laid my giving nature to rest under the epiphany of stone. I will think, I have seen no one for days, weeks, months. I have been calculating each exchange and have been blinded by loss. I have been a harvest of good will, but I cannot taste myself. When the earthquake comes, fennel and tansy. When the earthquake comes, I will growl my heart into a form I can bear. When have I ever put a voice to rest? When the earthquake comes, the place will read like a transgressive text, erotic and arbitrary. Mustard on a carrot. Looking at lips and imagin-


ing contact in all its incarnations and deincarnations. When the earthquake comes, piss and pilfer. When the earthquake comes, the grass will crackle. When the earthquake comes, there will be no time to assume a posture. The earth will be torn apart with the violence of hands. When the earthquake comes, what will exhaust me is how desperately I want to touch your skin. When the earthquake comes, men will sleep like babies in the sunshine. And babies will face a screen of flashing images. They will be living in the future of biodegradable plastic and the intermediaries of chips and bits. In the future everything will be better and worse than it has been in centuries. Piss and pilfer. As when it hasn’t rained in weeks and I do not know whether to ache or sing. When the earthquake comes, amusement and panic will share a root. When the earthquake comes, vervain. Lovage. Angelica. When the earthquake comes, bless the absence of the human mind. We were noisy and craving, and then we were gone. There will be no struggle when water gobbles up the rifts. Time was not counted, and never did count. One goes out west to dream, and when your dreams are water-logged and furious, what will the landscape give you? Terror of the impending earthquake, a purple slope to slip behind? Let that go. Someone’s bass echoes down the street and a squabble of geese parade in the park. The drought is moving through your body. Succulent is a stranger.


Sarah Schwartz


Jelal Huyler

compared to what fingers.clicking against an unforgiving thigh. meshwork of a segregation.sound frm silence.time is not on their side. them inside furrowed up like brows into dry sweat comforters spiderskittering across dark fat goose bumps on a mechanized skin that bumps back and glows salient and grows sentience.and it is dark.the whirr is an erratic breath no one knows how to tell calming.and food reheating just out of arms reach ‘dings’ and the wind outside does not howl.there are far too many built up structures.the locked gates wiggle a little sometimes and every once in a some-color-of moon there is a gathering of more than two for more than thirty minutes at a is long.and god has been seemingly brooding over something in another room.and the pterodactyls all wear leather now and quaff their thick topofthehead thick skin to the side with blunt abject arms shaped like sorta kinda wings.buffalo sauce sinking deeper into the last remnants of a tinged greenbrown grey around their great.wide.lips.the rest is pink now.and the humanoids.they are sad.sad and still specifically differently color coded into sections of some reasoning everyone alive has forgotten.still.the thing sticks.if it is not broken.they say. . .life is long.and only fleetingly fun-filled for most.for some it is a good thing.and for a smaller sum more it is marvelous.fourteen living called it magnificently extravagantly gorgeous.but all of them were born in poor lower grade skins from shadowy’er sides of town.where pterodactyls don’t come.but the squealing ones do.their rigid dickt bristles always angrily touchy and hunting for outlet.voices like three buckets of brine heavily infused with five day’s nightsoil from the backsides of seven lonesome bachelors who don’t know how to make a sustenance that is not button bachelors from the side quite a bit less shadowy where the squealing ones don’t squeal and wash twice a day.and say hello as you pass by.and know your first name but put a mister before your last and say that instead. where they doff their uniform headwear and ask old niceskinned ladies do they need some help?


things can be firmly understood by a massive quantity of understand’ers and still make absolutely no sense. their fingers click frantic more frantic and frantic against the shuttering world’s unlaws.shoveling the blade redundant into open space to grip back mouthfuls of greedily slurped up light.pupils like two open wells.the whirring is growing louder and someone coughs.someone sneezes and looks into the handkerchief to find small granular stringlets of angrysad red veining the Rorschach’d mucus.someone is fast forward sculpting a handle out of the vague materia of their own lap.some one is crying laughing into a blue glow.and somewhere two some one.s are becomingeachother in the dark. and somewhere a baby comes crying out like a bursting waterpack of tofu. and somewhere someone is dying. and somewhere a speaker for the dead.


Jelal Huyler

simple. check12. there are only so many places one can go before one finds themself smack in front a forgiving eyed mirror watching tears become wisps of good black smoke.


sight and _ the room spinning again all these shadows whispering and lightning’s crooked finger, reflected in the liquidskin of molasses flickring imgur memes all on my thought process sticky and the captions aint funny except to those who laugh blind to what aint them louder than what is silence reigns supreme over here where the voices all match the ears and time aint got much to say neither so the years loaf around loose as unshelved books evrythingslightly a skew silence

the pill is a smiley face without the face parts little squiggles instead the girl/ is lipstick and liquor the boy/ cigarettes and coffee /there becomes a gun trigger pulled back head shot. they wake up concaved and flexing eyes snaking each other’s earth like grass tongues green in the strange noon light two fine little monsters/ grinning on each other fangs all a glisten sniffing at each other’s lack of shower


Jelal Huyler

grinning more noise ...

another scoops him up and carries him home in her mouth lays him down and bathes him in wishful thinking opens his mouth and inspects his teeth another gives him her taste and runs away when she sees how his lips lick another tells him she is sorry and means something else another says something angry and stutters a door another slaps him another begs him into her another pushes him out another into another into { here there exists a pause }

he wakes up and the condom is still on drymouth saran wrap flaccid what’s that jigga song? ‘this cant be_’ more noise. he walks her to BART her heart hurts like literally she has pain skkrong in her chest he feels it too says nothing pushes in words instead

jokes he calls them. silence.

there is a wombone through much of this through much of it she is not laughing


silence. silence. silence. end up turnin up at this place unexpected almost like/ like a stork/ in the road like is this even a choice? but the sustenance is plenty the fare is fine also it feels quite like that one spot of sun at the end of the day welcoming comfort to rely upon n all that the bed is warm, why not rollover and try that dream one’mo’gain? why not rollover into perpetuity? but there is light calling and a light not unattractive to say least to say most there is fanfare and glory at every turn but to what purpose? is that what quiets this stomach? what keeps everything and wont even share a belch chest aint felt full fruit in a long while and the eyes say it plainer than a chewing-gum-girl is lost is looking for help where find this sad puppy dog language chicken greased fingers like tight mittens face looking like what is wrong with the world ??? mor noise ... he meets a woman. again. she is silent.


Jelal Huyler

he cannot push words here. she teaches him to listen. he forgets. she helps him relearn. she is feet in the warm soil of a summer’s rain good and wakeful / richwet and deep there is thick salt to her skin bare chest to chest the world mixing bed as cauldron walls as sweat the room is full later room still a heavy liquid it takes their eyes awhile to adjust staring up into the reflections just beneath a midmorning ceiling sunlight speaking the things they don’t need to least not yet the alarm clock. more noise

bad dreams stealthing through the daylight nothing seems to make quite enough sense and things are good but somehow unsettling. a series of unfortunate events transpire Alarm. LOUDER. he wakes up inside her/ her inside the covers/ them inside the blue/ calm torrent/ subtle storm/ stealing each other’s eyes off each other’s eyes over and over/ smile/ for no reason/ smile/ because you/ smile/ smile/ eyes/ tongue and match work/ transparent smoke/ the sun too is waking/ loose spittle’d


light dribbling in through ragged knee windows/ a stretching of limbs/ they are at home in this morning/ what is the rush/// they are at home in the middle of this street/ him pulling her hand kite string/ her fingers a gripknot squeezing/ zealous/ not so overly/ they are staring each other down like a street fight/ like a street fight that is nothing like a street fight and much more like a weakly restrained fit of laughter about to break open all over everything/ so they get in the car/ and squeeze each other home/// he is crying/ snotfits and wretched/ she is also so/ they are holding and not holding each other alternatively but trying to/ he is going to get up soon/ this is not goodbye/ this is not goodbye/ this is not goodbye/ they stare each other into each other like keepsake/ the room door opens/ the front /the sun is brilliant.



Jelal Huyler

Bee Irene Dellett







Cosmo Spinosa

hive for the lack of rain,

there are no seasons

and the voice is through

now all that is left

is to look onto the uncovered ground

and forget the dead

and those entering back


with explaining drought

bees swept up in the dustpan

into the apiary, probably half full

Cosmo Spinosa

hive II with the increasing light,

the leaves are saturated in

drawn, transparent from the veins

a new tint of green

and furrows to the intersection the limbs sway

in the intermittent

breeze, one folding over bent back then arriving unable to come

as in a wave

in a posture, budding with ripe fruit

to term–

in the corner of the yard

of their capillaries

the bees have gone

not even their fragile bodies

dried out and limp

have been swept onto the dirt,

there is only a vague

dull hum

remembrance for the apiary’s


hive III waiting for what does not appear

behind this cloud,

intercepted star, the uncertainty of where the moon will set

keeps us up

all night

often i am described as someone

faltering to gain control of its randomness

string along its logic

some late nights, i hear

the raccoons call from the bushes, a shifting in the leaves becomes restless

and insomniac,

is mistaken for sun


Cosmo Spinosa

or at least

as each other creature

or every flash of light

excerpt from Nite Selfie Joel Gregory

• I feel safe in my environment • I have access to water • I maintain a functional sex life I engage with myself creatively • I sustain myself monetarily • I erect emotional levees • I live on contested land • My body provides an authority I’m radical and comfortable • I don’t have health problems Only pre-conditions • I’m never hungry • I never have to think about it



Joel Gregory

The filter is collapsing contaminating the season with ruptures of tear gas in the streets of our newsfeed through tides of violence the spectacle glimmers all hope for rain self-cannibalizing in the glint of a selfie I keep refreshing we all saw this coming and now it’s happening



Joel Gregory

Into the static heat of violence Into the witless truss of violence Into the steady traffic of violence Into the passive voice of violence Into the calm white weather of violence



Joel Gregory

Taking apart his bedroom packing his things in boxes smudging the rape from our house he texts it back to us I hear the sound of no weather the noticing the stillness of it the noticing the earth not reeling the noticing the glass not shattering One day the boxes are gone his violence dreams over us tasting the pulse of it acutely vividly the earthquake is within us



Joel gregory

I see no weather if I so desire I see no weather if I so desire do cops need selfies too? Expenditure shatters the earth tilts perfectly into me I don’t care if the rain comes back I’m never hungry I never have to think about it


an Interview with David Brazil

Garin Hay David Brazil was born in New York and lives in California. His first book, The Ordinary, was published by Compline in 2013. Previous chapbook publications include Spy Wednesday (TAXT) and Meet Me Under The War Angels (OMG!). He organizes with the Omni Oakland Commons and helps curate the HEARTS DESIRE READING SERIES.

To preface this interview, I have been thinking about paradigms of education that take place outside of academia in response to difficulties certain humanities programs at my institution have been facing at the hands of corporate-style hierarchal administration. Although not a degree-oriented educational project, I have been inspired by the work happening at the Bay Area Public School and wanted to take some time to think about the possibility of non-hierarchal community education more generally. I was also recently revisiting your beautiful book The Ordinary in conversation with a close friend, and although you wrote this book before the Bay Area Public School began, I am struck by how the book and the long section “Economy� might relate to radical community education. Garin Hay: First, can you briefly explain what the Bay Area Public School is: about the history of this project, how it is organized and funded, who is welcome to attend or teach classes, and concerning the variety of work being done at The Omni?

David Brazil 228 228

David Brazil: The Bay Area Public School (BAPS to its friends) is a free, horizontally-organized and volunteer-run school that has been in operation since 2012. It emerged directly out of Occupy Oakland and its aftermath. Many of us were wondering what kind of activism we could do in light of the police repression of the camp at Oscar Grant Plaza. At first we were nomadic; then we acquired a space at 2141 Broadway. At present we are one of the founding collectives of the Omni Commons social center at 4799 Shattuck Av-

enue in Oakland. The organizing of BAPS has evolved along with the project, and currently takes the form of an organizing committee which meets every week to discuss class proposals and work out logistics for running the School. We administer a scheduling website, promote classes via social media, coordinate with the folks who are teaching the classes, put on special events, and liaise with the larger Omni community in order to share space effectively. Anyone who’s interested in helping with this work is totally welcome to come -- we’d be glad to see you at one of our meetings! It was an early and fundamental decision of the School that all our classes would be free of charge and free of solicitation. No passing of the hat, no donation box. Since we started paying rent on a permanent space in 2013, we have depended on a community tithing model to pay our expenses. We ask community members who support the project to pay $20 a month to sustain it. At 2141 Broadway, our expenses were $1000, so we called this group the Fab Fifty -- if fifty people paid $20 a month we’d have our rent. Since we moved to the Omni we changed the name of this group because it seemed to mislead people into thinking that we already had the fifty people we needed, whereas actually we never have. The School has always been month-to-month on its rent. Although we’ve managed to keep the doors open for almost two years, it’s always been on a shoestring. We’ve always had a bit of difficulty in communicating to people that community financial support is essential to this project. We don’t want to keep rattling the cup for donations. It’s a balance we’re still working to strike.


Our mascot, by the way, is Publia Pigeon, so we changed the name of the Fab Fifty to the Flock -- Publia’s posse. Anyone reading this who supports free community education and organizing is hereby encouraged to join! Public School classes are always open to everybody. Anyone is welcome to propose a class at -- the organizing committee vets such proposals to make sure they’re in line with the general mission of the School and then figures out how to schedule it. It’s getting a little tricky, but we’ve managed so far. As for the larger Omni Commons project, there’s so much going on there, it’s hard to even keep it all in my head. There are ten collectives operating there at present, including a hacker space, a community print studio, a worker-owned collective bookstore & cafe, a dance troupe, a publishing company, and on and on. We hosted Critical Resistance’s yearly fundraiser & just put on Alette in Oakland, a three-day symposium celebrating the life and work of Alice Notley. And we’ve only been in the space since July! So there’s a lot more to come. GH: What has your role in the Bay Area Public School been? What drove you personally to become involved in community educational organizing? Have you had educational experiences in academia, and how do your educational goals compare or contrast with what you see operating in the academy?


David Brazil

DB: I’m a founding member of the Bay Area Public School and have put in a lot of organizing and administrative work. I’ve also helped run events and proposed different classes, especially language classes which I love. I want the Public School to be a great alternative educational institution like the ones we all admire -- Black Mountain, Naropa, New College, to name a few. Since so many poets have always been involved in BAPS organizing, it seems appropriate that there should be the study of languages. (Right now we have ancient Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic,

French, Italian, Arabic, and Latin.) My first experience working with a free school was when I was living in Ithaca, NY, in the deep dark heart of the Bush years. After the second election, I felt very despairing, and tried to figure out what I could practically do in my little spot on the globe. I thought, until we can change how we are together, until we can alter our social forms, we don’t really have a hope of changing political reality. I wrote a little manifesto about this in 2005 and when I reread it I realize I laid out a lot of the thinking that has been with me for the past decade. My own experience in academia only goes as far as my BA in English from SUNYBinghamton. That kind of school wasn’t the place for me. As for goals, I’ve written in the past about the subtraction of telos (or end) from our educational practice as somehow essential to its character. It doesn’t know where it’s going and is therefore permitted to find its way somewhere more interesting than intention could ever yield. I connect this with my experience as an artist, where intuitive openness and productive negativity have always been the most crucial guides.


GH: I would note that although I’ve heard of many community projects that have educational elements, this effort to bring so many different disciplines and subjects under one roof as an explicitly educational space is more extraordinary. What do you think are some of the benefits of so many types of subjects sharing a single collective educational roof?


David Brazil

DB: I’m glad to hear such kind words about the School -- thank you! I think those of us who are working on it really do see it as a university, or a potential university, in which every subject one could want to study would be offered, for free. Now that we share the Omni with Sudo Room hackerspace and CounterCulture Labs (biological sciences), the School functionally has both an engineering and biosciences department. If there’s one simple answer to your question, I think capitalism and capitalist education thrive on division of labor and specialization. This extends to knowledge as well, with the result that we become subjects who might go deep but are rarely broad. The real stakes of politics consist in changing the subjects we are, and therefore the kinds of subjects we can be together. I’ve said before that to some degree the School is a Trojan horse -whatever we might happen to study is less important than the practice of self-organization and mutual aid we bring to bear on that study.

GH: In The Ordinary you write poetry on found scraps of paper, using the serendipity of cultural refuse you encounter in everyday life as a dialogic creative practice. This seems counter to how we’re usually taught to write in the world: be original and write with “your own ideas;” draw from, cite, but don’t “plagiarize” the “experts;” Transmit your writing through the medium that will reach the most people. I’m wondering if this practice relates to the idea of a class that can be attended by anyone, not just someone of a certain age who paid a certain fee towards a certain degree so they can become an “expert”? The “messiness” of democratic education, but also the value to be found in that messiness?

DB: This is a big question, but I like messiness as a point of departure. The Public School is messy -- physically messy, organizationally messy. Our classes are often chaotic. That’s because money has been resolutely subtracted from the equation and doesn’t structure our time together. No one paid to take a class, no one is paid to teach a class -- we’re all just in it figuring out the best way to learn together. Our longest-running classes, like Reading Greek: Homer’s Iliad (now in Book Six!) & Reading the Bible Very Slowly, have evolved very functional cultures of study which are a true delight to be a part of. It takes time. Sometimes folks show up expecting the School to be tidy, orderly, plug & play. It’s not like that. But I think that messiness is the workshop of an actual creative & constructive life in common, and the practice of slow steady proletarian learning. I’m grateful for the dozens of people who have put their queer shoulders to the wheel over the past few years.


GH: Again from The Ordinary: “torpor’s what I’m up against these days, / the only cure for it is love, which is / a decision, to labor if necessary, to / “stir the porridge,” which is work, / the work first of continual / self-overcoming, first of all here, / on the rock of sloth which has me / stumbling every day I’ve ever woken / up so far & today is no different” (CIV). Perhaps reading into this too much, but I’m interested in how that “first of all here” can also mean the local “here”, that sloth and the local are tightly interconnected; how we so easily find space in local everyday life to tune out, give into torpor, and not engage with those who surround us. I imagine your educational work is also a labor of love. What do you see as the greatest obstacles to forming a vibrant culture of community education? How might love and its labors relate to possible answers this? Do you have any big dreams for the Bay Area Public School or for community education in general?

234 David Brazil

DB: Yeah man, the ‘here’ is definitely HERE, where we wake up, the place from which any possibility of action begins. All my work is ethical in this sense: what are we supposed to actually do? Not think about, not talk about, not complain about, but do. To your question about sloth and the local: there was a great efflorescence of social energy for organizing during Occupy Oakland, but a lot dissipated when the most obvious and excited outward signs of struggle were repressed. Projects like the Public School and the Omni are attempts to stoke the social into the activity of continuous struggle for justice, to “stir the porridge”. That’s an adaptation of Heraclitus, who wrote: Even the porridge separates if you do not stir it -- the stirring, our human work in the world, is crucial, even cosmically crucial if you’re following Heraclitus. The Public School had a long-running class reading Spinoza’s Ethics out loud, proposition by proposition, and one of the phrases we walked away from was: the movement from passivity to activity. Passivity is our biggest struggle -- a collective lack of awareness that, as I put it at this year’s East Bay Poetry Summit, communism takes work. The Public School, The Omni, all these projects require a great deal of support, and the more they get, the more they can do. The day we all realize that together we can do anything, and all act on that realization, is the day everything changes. That’s what happened at Oscar Grant Plaza. I hope that can happen again at the Omni, this time in a more sustainable form. And yes, definitely, love. Love is the name of the game.

GH: You write: “ECONOMY. / From stuff, to sense, among us. / Dialectics. That / we’re altered by this that which we have altered, so. / Undoing every ground by our potential but wishing all along / for a ground, always rebuilding in act the ground the heart / cant have but wishes for” (CVI); “Economy is what donates the form to event, to emergence, to / appearance” (CVII). how would you speculate the form of education affects the product of education? How have you and your poetic work been altered by your involvement in the BAPS? I’m also thinking about the non-exclusivity of the BAPS and how that methodology potentially alters human relations inside and outside the classroom?

DB: Man, another big one. The form of education alters what happens in that education. The subtraction of money removes the teacher-student hierarchy, and the lack of certification takes away the telos of a test, a grade, a degree, a job, and means you leave the class with nothing but what you have learned. There is no other reason to be there other than the desire to learn. This changes how learning feels. There’s the empowerment also of discovering how to learn something together, which goes back to the question of the movement from passivity to activity. One thing dialectics means is the alteration of an object which then turns out to alter you. I have certainly been deeply changed by the School, and by what I take to be its fundamental success -- in existing at all, in providing a social space for all kinds of events, in inspiring people all over the country, in creating a new kind of common sense, locally, whereby one can answer the question “What are you doing tonight?” with “Oh, I’m gonna go to that Public School class.” It changes the social picture, towards learning, towards collective sociability and problem-solving, towards changes even in our material lives and ability to share common resources. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.


Composite Impressions, 2015

Julie Chen

Composite Impressions examines the meaning of images and objects in relation to the activity of reading in today’s digital age. The book presents images of natural objects and replicas of paper objects, both originating in the 1880s, combined with text that is self-referential in nature. Composite Impressions poses questions about the meaning of the reading experience, and asks the reader to assess his or her own reading process as it is occurring, both through interaction with the text and through interaction with the physical format of the book itself.


Julie Chen

7.75” x 9.75” x 2.5” Digitally printed text and images, paper, book board, Book cloth, acrylic paint Edition of 50

Colophon: Composite Impressions was written and designed by Julie Chen. The fern images were photographed from an album of pressed ferns collected by Miss Mills, circa 1880, in the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, Auckland, New Zealand. Special Thanks to Georgia Prince, Manager and Printed Collections Librarian, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. The flowers were reproduced from Das Reich der Blumenkonigin, circa 1880, in the Special Collections at the University of Washington Libraries, Seattle Washington. Special thanks to Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts and Rare Books Curator, University of Washington Libraries. Special thanks also to Kendyll Dittman, Faith Hale and Keri Schroeder for their assistance in the studio.


Rachel Walther


Short Interviews

Introduction by Rebecca Woolston

The following interviews are a way for us to continue the tradition of interviews 580 has had for so many years. All the interviewees were asked the same five questions the editorial team came up. The idea was for them to be intriguing and prompt interesting answers. We simply wanted to see how people in the Bay Area live, move through their cities, and what they experience in every day life. We also wanted the questions to sit at a crossroads; they could open a conversation for something that could be thought provoking, serious, or playful. Or, hopefully, all these things. We have interviews from those working in the tech world, art, education, mental health, emergency medical services, and marketing.


Emily Lazo Oakland, CA User Experience Researcher

What would you change about the Bay Area? Hotter summer days for water activities; fewer bros. Envision your field in the next 20 years… Where do you see it going? And who is pushing your field forward at this moment? My field—User Experience—is blowing up. ~I~ am pushing it forward at this moment, to be honest. I’m only half kidding—I teach UX design and am graduating ~20 new UX designers every 10 weeks. What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? I hope you’re queer. What superpower would you choose and how would you use it? The ability to empathize with someone just by looking at them. I’d use it to be a more compassionate human. What are your pet peeves? Lack of self awareness. Lateness.


Short Interviews

Layton Han ADARA MEDIA, Mountain View, CA Chief Executive Officer What would you change about the Bay Area? We need to fix the transportation in the Bay. Given the population growth and housing cost, more people are living farther away from the key job centers like SF, Silicon Valley, etc. As a result, there are more people on the move and more cars on the road. We need to have great public transportation into the job centers and better roads to make sure economic growth is not constrained by lack of transportation infrastructure. Minimal barriers to work and goods are key to a healthy economy. Envision your field in the next 20 years... where do you see it going? And who is pushing your field forward at this moment? I see two big areas in my field. What we call the “Internet of Things,” where almost every electronic device is connected to the internet, for people to access anywhere. These could be simple things from household appliances to personal “wearables” like iPhone watches that monitor and keeps track of your health. In essence “big data” technology is driving this movement. Ultimately, the “Internet of Things” provides the ability for people to access information in real-time and then take action on it. All big technology companies are now working in a field of “big data.” Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon are all collecting information about their customers and then connecting additional services and product to their users. Think of Google… they started as a search company, and now they are a mobile phone company that connects consumers to every imaginable service from anywhere on realtime. What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? Great place if you are looking for diversity, openness, acceptance and 21st century thinking. What superpower would you choose and how would you use it? “Spidy” superpowers. Spiderman not only has physical strength but also has “spidy senses” that help him predict potential dangers. If “spidy senses” are true, I could be an early warning system to all of the dangers we experience in the Bay Area. I could warn people about earthquakes, wild fires, and other potential accidents or natural disasters.


Rachel Walther


Margaret Miller Chapter 510 Site Coordinator Oakland, CA What would you change about the Bay Area? How most of my students are treated/viewed by the police and other authoritative figures. There’s this rule that they can’t be roaming around Oakland during school hours without a pass; they can receive a citation. This is a struggle my students face all the time because they have internships twice a week and will most likely be stopped, even with passes. It’s a rule that’s supposed to keep kids in schools, but let’s face it, such a rule targets and criminalizes particular bodies, like the young men of color I work with who will most likely be stopped even more than young women of color. Envision your field in the next 20 years, where do you see it going? Who is pushing your field forward at this moment? In terms of academia, I’d say the whole English department at Mills, but in particular the professors I’ve worked with: Diane Cady, Kirsten Saxton and Kim Magowan. They’re doing nuanced work on gender, sexuality, and race. For example, taking Biopolitics with Diane radicalized the way I understand systematic sexual violence. Academia seems so thrilling, scary, challenging, wonderful and problematic all at once, which goes without saying. I’d like to think in twenty years academia will be filled with more diversity—we’ll have more POC scholars, more queer (LGBTQIA) scholars and basically more scholars that are not white and cis-male. That’s all I ask for, really. I’d also like adjunct labor to change; it shouldn’t even be a real thing in twenty years. The fact that the most advanced educators can live in such precarious economic situations pisses me off. The two teachers from MetWest High School I work with for Chapter 510: Shannon Carey and Sarah Glasband. They’re teachers who make house calls if their students are going through hardships. Teachers reminding students that the system we live in actively makes their lives harder as students of color and giving them tools to navigate and dismantle that system. There’s high school students addressing concerns in Oakland as a way to talk about larger issues of racial and gender oppression, class, and sexual violence. I’d like to think the in-class volunteering model of Chapter 510 where we stay with the students as they progress through high school will become a more visible and well-used model. My 10th graders this year were my 9th graders last year. Being a part of their growth is transformative. Chapter 510’s


project manager, Janet Heller is pushing the nonprofit field forward. What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? Make sure you can afford it. It’s hella expensive, even if it’s just you and your one-eyed cat. Gentrification and all its nasty implications is a huge problem here. I’ve only been here two years and when I first arrived at Mills I got it. But, the Bay is an awesome bubble of diversity like nothing else I’ve experienced. Don’t be surprised if you hear PGP (preferred gender pronoun) everywhere you go; so awesome. Oakland has tightknit community vibes in spite of it being way bigger than Denver, where I’m from. What superpower would you choose and how would you use it? Can Buffy be a superpower? By the end of season seven she basically gave every girl the power (of feminism) to be her own hero. I like that. Or can I be Gillian Anderson as Agent Gibson in The Fall? Women are definitely superpowers. This line from Agent Gibson just kills me in the best way: “That’s what really bothers you, isn’t it? The one-night stand. Man fucks woman. Subject: man. Verb: fucks. Object: woman. That’s okay. Woman fucks man. Subject: woman. Verb: fucks. Object: man. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it?” The ability to have a woman on screen and say that line to a man is revolutionary. Maybe what I’m getting at is writing and representation. These characters have all this power because someone wrote them into life. When you can see yourself in something—TV show, movie, book, or a character, you become fully-actualized. I can’t think of a stronger superpower. I want to make a person feel fucking real in ways they’ve never experienced before. What are your pet peeves? People who start sentences with, “I’m a feminist, but…” You either are or you aren’t; can’t go halfsies on equal rights. When a man uses the word “misandry” in a sentence and is serious. When people say, “You would look so beautiful in a dress. You have the perfect womanly body for it.” It’s annoying because it means people think androgyny and masculinity in the female form is from insecurity or low self-esteem. Far from it. Even though I’m a total grammarian, I get frustrated when people cannot conceptualize nonbinary gendered people at the level of language. Meaning, because “they” and “them” are plural, grammaticaly, neither can be used to identify a singular person. This is some structuralist bullshit. If our language is limiting then let’s add some words or change something rather than deny the identity of a person simply because it makes the grammar a little off.


Rachel Walther


Becki Couch-Alvarado CREATIVE GROWTH GALLERY, Oakland, CA Executive Director

What would you change about the Bay Area? Affordability. Housing here has gotten so expensive that people are being forced to move away because rent and housing prices have gotten out of control. Envision your field in the next 20 years... where do you see it going? And who is pushing your field forward at this moment? I see the arts flourishing in the next 20 years, with an increased focus on art and projects that support a cause. Art will become an even more important visual voice for educating, spreading messages, and opening minds. The field of arts and disability will be more commonplace, with a heavier focus on the art itself and more opportunities for people with disabilities. Right now I think Creative Growth is pushing the field of arts and disability forward. There are currently three Creative Growth artists in the permanent collection of MOMA NY, and many more with exhibitions around the world. By representing their work as valid contributions to the contemporary art world, we continue to blur the lines of what is considered mainstream, and provide a voice to a population that is often underrepresented and ignored. What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? I always recommend that people move here, specifically to Oakland. Oakland is a beautiful city full of energy and diversity with a strong, thriving community of makers, creators and amazing food. The Bay Area as a whole is gorgeous, with easy access to the most amazing nature. It doesn’t take long to leave the city and be in solitude with the trees or kayaking on the Bay. What superpower would you choose and how would you use it? If I could have any superpower it would be to fly. There is so much I want to see and do, but not enough time or money to get there. Flying would allow me to visit friends and family in other places, and to attend all


Short Interviews

the art exhibitions, concerts and events on my wish list. What are your pet peeves? People who need to post, share and tweet in real time, all the time.


B. Khairy Seneca Family of Agencies, Baypoint, CA Mental Health Counselor

What would you change about the Bay Area? All the people moving here for the tech industry and contributing to the gentrification that happened in San Francisco and is currently happening in Oakland. Envision your field in 20 years, where do you see it going? Who is pushing your field forward at this moment? Working in the mental health field opened my eyes to the disparity of people of color within the field. I’m hopeful that in the next 20 years there will be a surge of diversity among mental health professionals. My current supervisor is a prime example of what that might look like - he is an African American male that has been in the field for about 20 years and serves the clients and families we work with with such skill. I wish there were more people in this profession like him. What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? It’s expensive, but worth it. What superpower would you use and how would you use it? My superpower would be to be able to put people in a good mood instantly no matter what emotional state they’re in. What are your pet peeves? When people don’t clean up after themselves. Crumbs. Crumbs kill me. Cabinets or Drawers left open. Non direct communication


Short Interviews

Tom Wagner American Medical Response, Concord, CA CEO West Region

What would you change about the Bay Area? The traffic! I guess with great weather, unending outdoor activities, fabulous restaurants, and amazing culture, lots of people want to live here. Why wouldn’t you? All those great things lead to lots of people and lots of traffic. I guess it is a small price to pay.

Envision your field in the next 20 years‌where do you see it going? Who is pushing your field forward at this moment? It is hard to imagine healthcare 5 years from now let alone 20 years. Things are changing very rapidly. I believe 20 years from now we will have some form of single or limited payer system. Whether that is the government or a few large HMO/Insurance companies is yet to be determined but care will be better coordinated as part of the future system. Medical care, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be reimbursed based upon results, not simply providing service. We will have to prove what we do really matters in the health outcome of our patients as well as the community. Specific to EMS, I believe much of what we do today, may be delivered in the home without ambulance transportation. Technology will allow us to provide telemedicine, diagnostic tests and treatment in the home rather than the hospital.

What would you tell someone interested in moving to the Bay Area? It is the best part of the Country. It is also one of the most expensive. Once you get over the shock of housing, everything else is great. Someone


moving to the Bay Area should be prepared to explore. There is so much to do and experience. Life is never dull. What superpower would you choose and how would you use it? I would like to time travel. Imagine how one person might be able to change the world knowing what we know now. Think about what would have happened if someone had intervened in Rwanda and not Iraq, or on December 6, 1942. How much easier would managing climate change be if we started 30 years ago? Of course I might also buy a lottery ticket or two as well.

What are your pet peeves? Mean people. I have no tolerance for people who go out of their way to be mean. In my business, I have seen lots of tragedy and what I learned is life is too short. Being mean actually takes energy, more energy than being nice. We only get one chance at life, so try and bring as much kindness into it as you an. Smile a little more, give people the benefit of the doubt more often, and just say thank you.


Short Interviews



580 SPLIT was designed by rebecca woolston with assistance from garin hay. emji spero designed the template using Minion

Pro for body text and titling. This journal was offset printed by golden gate print and media services, on 100% recycled papers with soy-based, zero-VOC cmyk inks, and perfect bound PUR glue, 2015.

oakland, california

Profile for five80split

580 Split Issue 17 - Bay Area Artists (2015)  

The Bay Area Artists Issue: Interviews with Doug Rice, Cheena Marie Lo, Gerone Spruill, Emily Ritz, and David Brazil. New work by Rebekah...

580 Split Issue 17 - Bay Area Artists (2015)  

The Bay Area Artists Issue: Interviews with Doug Rice, Cheena Marie Lo, Gerone Spruill, Emily Ritz, and David Brazil. New work by Rebekah...