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ISSUE TWO

FA L L 2014


ISSUE TWO

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FA L L 2014


FOUNDING EDITORS: Joseph Storey Kevin Foster Greg Frank EDITORS: Brittney McKenna Theron Spiegl Front and back cover art by Ben Rubin First Printing, August 2014. Send comments, questions, and submissions to editors@julepjournal. Copyright Š 2014 Julep, Nashville TN. All rights reserved. Julep is a nonprofit corporation of Tennessee. julepjournal.com

We are grateful for the ongoing support of the following individuals who have made Julep possible: Mark Anderson Eric Deems Larry & Lisa Foster Kristine LaLonde & Claudio Mosse Jim Schmidt & Joe Woolley Tom & Jane Smith Tyler Thomason Deavor


CONTENTS

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F ROM THE EDITORS THE L AST WORDS WRIT TEN

UNTITL ED BEN RUBIN

THE PUNISHM ENT IN PASCAGOULA SAM WEST

CRAIGSLIST MISSED CONN ECTIONS

J O S H U A G I L L I S

M U S C L E S AT K RO G E R - ( M 4 M ) W H Y A M I N O T N O T I C E D? - ( W4 M )

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THE MUL E

GRIFFIN WENZLER

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CRAIGSLIST MISSED CONN ECTIONS

JOSHUA GILLIS

S O R RY I WA S S P E E C H L E S S – ( M 4 M )

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UNTITL ED

BEN RUBIN

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SEL ECTED POEMS

HANNAH BAGGOT T

B R I L E Y PA R K WAY E X I T 14 A OU T- O F - S TAT E I DIO M S R E C O N C I L I NG B O R N ‘ N R A I S E D D E S IG N I NG TAT T O O S

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UNTITL ED

BEN RUBIN

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CRAIGSLIST MISSED CONN ECTIONS

JOSHUA GILLIS

FA N TA S Y K I S S O N H A L L OW E E N - ( W4 M ) M A RC H O F DI M E S - ( M 4 W )

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NOTES ON PHOTOGRA PHY

DAVID KUML ER

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CRAIGSLIST MISSED CONN ECTIONS

JOSHUA GILLIS

A P R I L , A P R I L , A P R I L - ( W4 M ) S H I T T Y B L U E C A R . . . . S U N O C O - ( W4 M )

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THE PERCH

A ARON L AIN

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UNTITL ED

BEN RUBIN

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NIGHTCA P

FINAL WORDS FROM THE EDITORS

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U. S . A I R G U I TA R C H A M P IO N S H I P QUA L I F Y I NG E V E N T B A D F E M I N I S T BY ROX A N E G AY I N T E R N E T N O S TA L GI A , 2 0 14

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS


FROM THE EDITORS THE VIEW IN

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Y

ou don’t have to be an Existentialist to know that the human experience at its worst can be overwhelming, heart-wrenching, and lonely. The growth of a person is fraught with danger; we are blown by esoteric wind among wild forces and institutions inscrutable but for their more or less treacherous nature, and our becoming occurs within their shadows. Knowingly or not, we carry the burden of our collective pasts, intertwining mythologies obscured and bizarrely intensified by the passage of time. The conflict between the formation of authentic selfhood a n d t h e s e a r c h fo r c o n n e c t i o n i s p e r h a p s b y n a t u r e imbalanced. We may never know ourselves; we may never know another; and we almost certainly will never know the both of them at once. Rilke said the greatest possible intimacy is the protection of another’s solitude, and Rilke was a Christian. A nd wh i le our i n ner str uggles a re universa l, our world provides a greatly diverse selection of absurd tribulations to make one afraid even to ask questions of meaning, of the soul. Even Faulk ner, one of the greatest scribes of the eternal drama of the human heart, was distracted by the contemporaneous tragedy of the threat of nuclear destruction – which, by the way, remains, and I think Faulkner would be shocked at our disregard. And if speculation doesn’t lead you to cynicism, what you hear about in a fraction of a 24-hour news cycle will. To which genocide will I be desensitized today? Which of man’s fundamental iniquities is shaping my local politics? We turn to our institutions and, being of man, they betray u s l i ke me n . S t ate s emerge a nd pr o sp er a nd c r u mble . P o l i t i c i a n s a r e i n d i c t e d fo r i m p r o p e r b u t i n e v i t a bl e consolidation and abuse of power. Prophets are found autoerotically asphyxiated inside of scuba gear put to improper but inevitable sexual use. Celebrities swell with fame until their violent explosion or inward collapse on the sterile linoleum of a hotel bathroom, all of which is meticulously accounted and judged by a yawning public. //

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FROM THE EDITORS


The South is a mainstay on the United States’ Cultural Shit List because our particular blend of historically entrenched bi got r y a nd p over t y a mou nts to more obv iou s squ a lor and noticeable inequality than one imagines they see in other regions of the nation. And the late night comedians always need a back-up punching bag. The racism and tendency to religious extremism for which we are famous does not, of course, end at the Mason-Dixon line, yet enough of our brethren reveal their badges boldly on their trucks to draw special judgment.. The greatest Southern writers struggled with it, even while exposing the beauty of human drama woven into the Southern way of life. Quentin Compson was neither the first nor the last fictional Southerner to vocalize complex feelings about this place. I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it! Faulkner’s response is in part our response. As the world seems to relentlessly deny us opportunity to develop true ident it ies a nd c om mu n it ies, we may ach ieve sma l l but vital triumphs through art and discourse. Such expression has the power to make meaning in the face of the abyss, of validating our experience and those of others, to give birth to community around itself, to give at least enough strength to carry us onward. The works featured in this issue, bound together by the evolving South of the 21st century, form an orphic prism through which we can engage in this process of expression, reflection, and perseverance. As a last note, it is wor th rememberi ng that even Faulk ner decli ned to accept the end of man. - The Editors

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BEN RUBIN 9


THE PUNISHMENT IN PASCAGOULA SAM WEST

A REINTRODUCTION TO THE SOUTH

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t’s just after work on a Friday, and I’m leaving for my trip to Pascagoula. A late afternoon shower has left Birmingham damp and steaming as I merge onto southbound I-­6 5. Low grey clouds drift east over the interstate. Fields of yellow grass in the afterglow of warm rain smell deeply, almost biologically, familiar. The mid-­state drivers are aggressive and careless leaving the city. Eventually, around Pelham, the traffic thins, a nd t h e i nte r s t ate d r iv i n g b e c o me s a n a lmost meditative pleasure.

At 6:15 PM the sun is a candent blur behind a high screen of clouds. Between Birmingha m a nd Montgomer y a re bi l lboa rds for Adult X Marts, pull­- apart auto salvage, RV parking, pressure-­t reated lumber, country music radio stations, a nd $19 9 divorces. T he P rat t v i l le ex it where I stop for gas smells of spent fry oil. I­- 65 through Montgomery is a quilt of grey asphalt patched with clay-­c olored concrete. Things improve south of the capital. The distance between exits lengthens, and stately trees covered in silver lichen appear in the wide median. T he g rass at t he edge of t he emergency lane is leafy and verdant in a way I’ve only s e e n o n hy p er ­- fer t i l i z e d at h let ic field s

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and putting greens. The air becomes salty, a nd t he sk y is scr ubbed cle a n of clouds. I pass exits for Bayou la Batre, Saraland, C re ol a , S atsu ma , a nd Cit ronel le, n a mes I mouth while driving over the long estuary bridge west of Mobile. By the time I cross into Mississippi the sun is below the horizon, a nd t he p er iw i n k le sk y i s pr icke d w it h evening stars. At 9:40 A.M. the next morning I am sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Pascagoula Civic Center on Short Cut Road. There’s a meet­- up farmers’ market happening under a metal awning on the other side of the lot. It ’s a l re ady over 8 0 deg rees a nd hu m id enough that my hair is still wet from the shower I took when I woke up.

THE WEIGH­- IN

The civic center’s front doors are unlocked, and I can hear the sound of metal chairs being put in place from the square linoleum lobby before the main hall. A policeman with a tribal tattoo on one arm is standing by a trashcan in the doorway. The ring is half-­ c o n st r uc te d i n t he m idd le of t he r o om . A pa nel tr uck with T KO P RODUCT IONS O F N E W OR L E A N S de c a le d o n its side is pa rked nex t to the ri ng. T wo men a re unloading 2x8s and laying them across the iron girder in the center of the ring. A man on a red ladder is installing a row of lights above center ring. Closest to the ring are round tables, each with 8 chairs. V I P / 8 seat tickets are $ 4 0 0, V I P table / 8 seats t ickets (non -­r i ngside) a re $ 2 5 0, genera l admission are $25, and children are $10. I come to realize that a stocky man standing on the built-­i n stage at the east side of the room in a synthetic golf shirt is William Hu nter, t he fi ght ’s pr omoter. A p a i r of sunglasses is perched on the brim of his

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hat. He is gesturing towards the back row of chairs with an unlit cigarette he holds in his right hand.

A term I learned from a graduate of Ole Miss to describe the inhabitants of coastal Mississippi. The term may include a pejorative connotation. This gulf-coastie is not to be confused with coasties at Mid-Western universities — students from the high-income suburbs of the East and West coasts who tend to live in private residence halls and join Greek-letter societies. 1

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I had spoken to Mr. Hunter on the phone earlier in the week. I told him I was coming dow n to w rite about the fight a nd asked if he could email me a list of the fighters on the underc a rds. I never received the list, but he told me about the fights he had previously organized in Biloxi. “Biloxi is the third largest gambling city in America,” he said. “They’ve got an exact replica of the Bellagio.” Neither claim is easily substa ntiated, but he is a friend ly g uy, a nd I don’t bring it up when I see him on the mor ni ng of the fight. I ask what k i nd of turn out he’s expecting. “I’ve had 1,000 in the crowd at some of my Biloxi fights. And that’s when there was a CCR concert going at one of the casinos, and we pulled them away from t h at.” I was du ly i mpressed , imagining coasties’ 1 reluctance to pass up a Creedence reunion. (However, according to their Wikipedia page, CCR hasn’t reunited since 1980 when they played at Tom Fogerty’s we dd i ng. P erh aps it wa s a t r ibute ba nd that had played in Biloxi? I imagine CCR tribute bands probably do pretty well along the MS gulf coast). “Pascagoula’s smaller, but it’ll be a good turnout. Terry Scott’s a big member of the community, and there’s people who’ll tur n out for h i m.” I tha nk him for organizing the fight and watch as he goes out with one of the guys setting up the ring to smoke. I hung around reading Mosquitoes, Faulkner’s second and least beloved novel, which he supposedly wrote while living in Pascagoula. No fighters came in. There was not a scale i n sight. By noon the ri ng was bui lt a nd

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covered in layers of open­- celled EVA foam and black canvas. The turnbuckles at each c or ner were t ightened . T he l ight from a pol ic e c a r was w i red up a nd suspended above the ring. When the builders left for lu nch I followed them to the pa rk i ng lot a nd d rove back to t he motel . M aybe t he fighters weighed in later in the dressing rooms. Maybe they never weighed in at all. My friend Jimmy in high school was the first person I knew to attend a boxing match. He saw Pacquiao v. Morales II with his dad in Las Vegas. I pictured ringside at the MGM Grand the way it is in overhead tracking s h o t s b e t we e n r o u nd s o n p ay- ­p e r ­- v i ew broadcasts — fighters perched on stools in their corners while trainers and coaches move busily around them with ice packs, the cutman holding styptic swabs between his gloved fingers as the panoramic camera rises on its thin wire, displaying the well-­lit faces of ringside celebrities and socialites before tilting to reveal unending rows of stadium seats receding into the darkness of the cavernous hall. I imagined a crowd swollen with col lective fer vor like those i n g l a d i ato r m ov i e s . “ It w a s pr e t t y d e pressing, really,” Jimmy said. He told me they squeezed everyone down into the lower seats to make the house look full, and that most of the people who were really cheering the fight — you kind of just felt bad for them. He said the whole spectacle felt cheap.

ECONOMICS

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Ji mmy’s assessment. Having seen the tape, I k new t h at t he fight itsel f was a n exc ep tionally good demonstration of the “sweet science.” No fault was to be found in Pacquiao’s fluid and artful combinations, nor in Morales’s lionhearted ability to surge

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off t h e r o p e s at t h e ex a c t m o me nt yo u thought he was done for sure. Maybe Jimmy had unrealistic expectations. What I think a lot of sports fans don’t realize (and what Jimmy sensed) about boxing is that every fight is organized as a singular, one - ­o ff event. It is not a franchise sport where a ga me or s e a s o n fu nc t io n s a s a continuation of a pre­- established narrative. The only history a fighter brings into the ring with him is his own personal history, his preparation for the fight, the cuts and blows he’s suffered along the way. The economics a re different as well. W here spor ts with regular seasons that lead up to finals and championships reward lasting investment, the entire revenue for a fight is realized in one night and ends with the closing bell. This is why there are no permanent boxing ve nue s t he way t here a re st ad iu m s a nd arenas for football and basketball. Boxing is held wherever a promoter believes she can cheaply construct a ring and sell tickets. Barns, public halls, warehouses, and parks are all serviceable (and historically used) loc ations for a box i ng match. P romotion companies, untied to any individual fighter, t a ke t he pl ac e of te a m fr a nch i s e s . A nd t h i s gets to t he he a r t of how b ox i ng i s d i f fe r e n t f r o m o t h e r s p o r t s : t h e f i g h ters, tra i ners, promoters, broadc ast compa nies a nd a nci lla r y i nvestors a ll sha re the risk associated with a fight and see ever y fight as a unique a nd disti nct money­m aking opportunity. This inevitably leads to a ll k i nds of complex cor r uption, but it a lso leads to some rea l ly a ma zi ng matches being made. For sports fans more a c c u s to me d to at te nd i n g m i n o r le a g u e baseba l l a nd c ol lege fo otba l l ga mes, as I ex p e c t w a s t h e c a s e w it h J i m my, t h e

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si ng u l a r it y of a box i ng match m ight be, u ndersta ndably, disconcer ti ng. This free­-market explanation of boxing is intriguing and may help explain some of the sport’s stranger practices, but it is also a necdota l a nd of little use i n describi ng why b ox i ng fa n s c o nt i nue to watch t he sport. Commentators have been predicting boxing’s impending and complete demise for some time now (not unlike the cynicism sur roundi ng publish i ng), yet the h ighest paid athlete in the world, Floyd Mayweather Jr., is a welterweight from Flint, MI. There a re ma ny possible ex pl a n at ions for why pe ople c ont i nue to fi nd box i ng releva nt. Perhaps it is the sport’s international cachet that fans find so compelling. The greatest living heavyweights are Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, two brothers from Ukraine. Both a re multi li ng ua l Ph D holders, a nd Vita li is the cur rent mayor of K iev. Gui llermo Rigondeaux is a Cuban bantamweight whose botched defection during the 2007 PanAm g a me s i n Br a z i l (c o mple te w it h fo r ge d travel documents provided by a T urk ish fight promoter) is perhaps a more tangible illustration of contemporary Cuban politics than those offered by news organizations a nd ac adem ic jou r n a l s . Na r r at ive s l i ke t h e s e a r e t h e s t a n d a r d i n b ox i n g , a n d t hey c er t a i n ly c ont r ibute to t he spor t ’s continuing popularity. As long as first­- class athletes from around the world continue to engage each other in the ring, the future of the spor t wi l l be secure. RASHAD JONES:

THE FIGHTERS

T he hardest part for prepar ing for a f ight w i l l d e f i n i tely b e f i n d i n g t i m e t o t ra i n properly. With the work schedule I h ave, along with my ki d s, f in ding time to t rain

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t h e w a y I n e e d t o i s a d i s a s t e r! O n c e time is made, the easiest part is training. It’s something I enjoy doing dearly. It’s a stress reliever and allows me to think at the same time. Box ing i s like a game of ch e s s , a n d th a t ’s s om e th i n g I c a n pl a y ver y well .... Dur ing t raining I li sten to a var i et y of m u si c, but my favor ite wou l d be something laid back or make you listen to the lyr ics. J.Cole is one of my favor ite ra p pers to li sten to, n ex t wou l d be Na s. My entire family boxed , so it was a skill I developed from them at a very young age. Roy Jones Sr. and Jr are family members of mine. Boxing in the South is very different than the rest of the country. In the South we have more athleticism compared to the East Coast where they have conditioning and the West Coast where they have strength. I always expect to win my matches, ALWAYS. I train hard for what I love to do. I plan on taking care of my family using my gift so losing isn’t an option! REGIS PROGRAIS:

The most enjoyable part of training for me is waking up everyday. Every morning I wake up I just feel blessed to be doing something that I love to do. Most of the world have to go to a job and I get to wake up every day and go train. I love every part of training but the most enjoyable has to be the sparring part. Every time I get in the ring I want to establish my dominance. Some people take it easy on certain sparring days but I try to go hard every time I step in the ring. I just feel that if you do that then in a real fight you will always have it on your mind and always be ready. I think the worst part about my training has to be strength and conditioning training. I’m not a big believer i n s t re n g t h t ra i n i n g b u t I d o i t 6 d a y s

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a week just to be more super ior than my competition. I always want to work harder than ever ybody that ’s competing against me. I listen to whatever music that comes on in the gym. I don’t have a certain type of music that I need to train. My favorite type of music is hip -­h op but I don’t need any music at all to get motivated. Some people need to listen to music before a f ight but every thing is all mental for me. [On how he became interested in boxing] I actually have 2 stories for that question. One is how I star te d f ight i ng on th e st re ets i n New Orleans and just being really good that I eventually went to a boxing gym. I played football in high school and everybody used to get in the gloves ever y F r i d ay on the football team. I was beating everybody up u n t i l o n e d a y th e o f fe n sive c o o rd i n a t o r came in to have a watch and he saw me fight and he told me that I didn’t have future in football and that I needed to really start boxing. I quit the next day and went to the boxing gym the month after. The other story is that I remember when I was younger how I used to watch ESPN Classic and one night I saw Mike Tyson’s fights. Ever since then I fell in love with his style, his presence in the ring, his demeanor, just everything about him was awesome to me. And I remember that I wanted to be like this man one day. The most amazing thing to me about Tyson was how feared and respected he was by th e wh ol e worl d . I’m n ot sure a bout th e b ox i n g c om p a re d t o th e S o u th w i th th e rest of the country. As far as I’m concerned it’s good but they can probably have more shows so we can build up good fighters from the South and put them on the map. Yes I expected to win the f ight. I expect to win every fight. I never think about if I’m going to win the fight I always think how I’ll win

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the f ight. I actu ally fought Aaron before and he was one of the toughest people I ever fought in my life. The first time I fought him I hit him with everything I had and he still was in the ring clowning around and talking to me. I remember thinking that this dude really has an iron chin. I knocked him out in the last round but it was actually lucky. All I remember was that I threw a left hand and he went down and couldn’t get back up from the shot. It hit him somewhere in the stomach but I don’t even think I aimed it there. It just miraculously hit him there. This time around I had a plan and that was to attack him from the opening bell to the body and break him down . And this time he fought me a little different. He fought as a southpaw and smothered all of my shots so I couldn’t land anything with power. I started connecting with hard shots around the 3rd round and then I just took off from there. I remember going back to my corner a n d tel li n g my t ra i n e r Bo bb y a f te r th a t round that I had 3 rounds left. He looked at me kind of funny. I think he thought I was tired and was saying I have 3 rounds until the fight is over but I was saying that I have 3 more rounds to try to knock him out. But overall it was a good fight and Aaron really came to f ight an d he wa s in m ore sh ape th a n I’ve se en i n a l ong t im e. He re a lly came to fight. THE UNDERCAR DS

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By 6:30 PM there are already 50 0 people i n t he C iv ic C e nter aud itor iu m . Wome n with coastal tans and fluorescent blouses greet each other while their husbands and boyfriends follow wordlessly behind. The V I P tables have been labeled with i ndex c a rd s a nd d r ap e d w it h she ets of gau z y bl a c k p l a s t i c . T h e p o l i c e m a n w i t h t h e tribal tattoo is eating fried shrimp from

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a little paper boat. Soft hip­- hop emanates from speakers near the stage. On the other side of the room is a concession stand and f ive m o n s t r o u s blu e c o ole r s o n wh e el s where beer is being sold for $3 a can. I sit at a table and wait for the action. Will Hu nter s e e s me a nd c a l l s me “do o,” a s in, “Glad you made it, doo.” He moves on and begins directing one of the crew; his u n l it ciga ret te h as been repl ac ed by a n unopened Bud Light he uses for the same gesticulative purposes. A round 7:0 0 PM the announcer takes the stage and thanks the crowd for attending before announcing the sponsors, most of which are local. He wears a broad, square cut suit made with some ref lective fiber and a wide­- knotted tie. He welcomes Terry Scott’s daughter on stage to sing the national anthem. I get the sense that almost everyone here knows Terry in some real way. The first fight of the evening is between Rashad Jones of Montgomery, AL, and Keyan T h om a s of Hou sto n , T X . T hey d i sp atch quickly with the feeling­- out that typically defines the first round, and by the second minute of the fight Jones has landed two good hooks to Thomas’s body. Jones bobs and weaves to avoid Thomas’s right hand. A lot of the crowd is still milling about between the tables. The round ends in a f lurry of ineffectual punches by Thomas before the fighters retur n to thei r cor ners. I score it 10­- 9 for Jones. A woman with long brown hair and a red bikini climbs into the ring to parade the card for the second round. Thomas’s corner must have given him some stra nge advice duri ng the rest, bec ause

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when he comes out for the second round his footwork is all over the place. Jones nails h i m w it h a st ra i ght r i ght h a nd a nd h a s plenty of time to cover up before Thomas’s counter. They jab and parry in the center of the ring. Jones knows he’s ahead on points and waits until Jones over­- commits in the last seconds of the round to nail him with an accurate right cross. 10-­9 Jones. B o t h f i g hte r s ’ te ch n iq u e s u ffe r s i n t h e t h i rd r ou nd — t hei r h a nd s fa l l to t hei r waists and they keep their heads still. It’s disappointing but not unexpected for the first fight of the night. Thomas is so tired by the end of the round that he confuses t he 10 ­- sec ond cl apper w it h t he bel l a nd heads back to his corner early. The fourth and final round is surprisingly good with lots of work on the ropes. Jones scores a knockdown with a quick left hook, but Thomas is up early in the mandatory 8 count. It’s the closest round of the fight, but I score it 10-­9 Jones. The judges agree with a unanimous decision for Jones. Between fights I take in more of the scenery. The atmosphere is i n no way depressi ng. There is a definite communal feel in the room. The two tables next to me are exchanging family news. Women return to their tables carrying armfuls of cold beer and boats of fried sh ri mp. Someth i ng about the night is grippingly human, and it endears me to Pascagoula and everyone who lives here. The nex t underc a rd of note, a nd the last I will relay here, is between Regis “ Rougarou” P rograis of New Orleans, L A, and “Showtime” Aaron Anderson of Knoxville, TN. Hunter had mentioned Prograis on the

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phone when we spoke earlier in the week, and I had reviewed his career on Box Rec: D.O.B. 198 9 ­- 01-­2 4, lightwelter, southp aw, 5 ’ 8 ’, u ndefe ated : 8 (6 KO) - 0 - 0 for a tot a l of 28 rou nds. I n h is last fight he’d been awarded a technical knockout in the final round of a 6 round fight against a tested fighter na med Felipe Reyes. Before that he’d fought mostly tomato cans. Not knowing Prograis’s opponent in advance, I was unable to do any preparatory research on h i m, a nd my fi rst i mpression is of a somewhat doughy welterweight sk ippi ng around the ring wearing a backpack. The referee brings the fighters together in the center of the ring before sending them back to the corners. Prograis’s face as he waits for the bell is calm and happy, hauntingly peaceful in this violent context. A nderson serves no more purpose in the fight than as a means for Prograis to display h is dex terous sk i l l . P rog ra is dom i n ates t he fi rst rou nd by del iver i ng packets of sharp, accurate jabs that pave the way for wa l lopi ng r ight h a nds. C on fident i n h is abi l it ies, P rog ra is’s movements bec ome more f lu id i n t he sec ond rou nd , a nd he snaps Anderson’s head back with a sharp up p e r c ut . T h e c r owd d o e s n’ t b o o wh e n A nderson forces a break in the action by spitting out his gum shield. After a brief respite, the beating continues. Prograis’s combinations are truly mesmerizing. Anderson looks plaintively to his corner during a clench. It’s a paradox of sorts that one’s heart can simultaneously swell and break wh i le watch i ng a fight like th is. A fter a fifth-­r ound knockdown, Anderson’s corner stops the fight, a nd a pa lpable sense of r el i ef d i ff u s e s t h r o u g h t h e c r owd . I

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escape the room through the double doors for a gulp of night air and a quiet cigarette. THE MAIN EVENT

2 The oldest being Bernard Hopkins, 49, the current IBF, WBA, and IBA lightheavyweight world champion.

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It ’s n ow 10 : 3 5 a nd t h e c r owd h a s b e e n d r i n k i ng ste ad i ly for over t h r e e h ou r s . T he a n nou nc er enters t he r i ng w it h h is microphone and says, “ For his first time coming into the ring in 20 years, and he s a y s h e ’s c o m i n g t o d o s o m e d a m a g e! , l a d i e s a nd ge nt le me n , o n yo u r fe e t fo r S a muel ‘ T he Ter r or ’ Ter r y S c ot t!” T he room erupts in cheers and whistles. People are holding their smartphones above the crowd to record Scott’s walk to the ring. T he police lights f lash as the electric reggae b e at to “ B ad B oys ” bl a r e s fr om the stage speakers. Scott’s last fight was i n 19 9 4 , a nd at 4 8 ye a rs old he is t he second­- oldest professiona l boxer to take a fight i n 2014 2 . The room is electric as he ducks under the ropes a nd enters the red c or ner. He we a rs bl ack t r u n ks w it h TER RY stitched in red letters around the waist. The skin on his back sags with age i n t he sa me way A nt hony K ied is’s do es now when he per for ms on st age. S c ot t ’s face is deeply wrinkled. There is something inherently incongruous about a man of his age dressed as a boxer, and I’m sure he is as aware of it as anyone. S c ot t ’s opp o ne nt i s a 3 8 -­y e a r - ­o ld sup er middleweight from Memphis named Tyrone Dowdy with a record of 4 wi ns, 3 5 losses (2 2 b y k n o c k o u t) . H i s l a s t w i n w a s i n October 2 0 0 8 at t he T rot ter C onvent ion Center i n Columbus, M S. He we a rs a county cor rectiona l faci lity t­- sh i r t with “ C o p K i l le r ” s c r awle d a c r o s s t h e b a ck . T h is t y pe of “ pl ay i ng t he heel” is more su ite d to pr o w re st l i ng t h a n b ox i ng, i n my opinion.

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T he aud ie nc e i s o n its fe et (o ne wom a n actually stands on her chair) at the sounding of t he op e n i ng b el l . T he fi ghter s c ome out cautiously, circling to Scott’s right in t he m idd le of t he r i ng. S c ot t ’s fo ot work is sharp and well practiced. Neither fighter bounces — they stay balanced and measure t h e d i s t a nc e b e t we e n t h e m w it h q u ick jabs. Dowdy changes to a southpaw stance i n hopes of confusi ng Scott. Scott la nds t he fi r st me a n i ng fu l pu nch of t he fi ght w it h a r ight h a nd to t he top of D owdy ’s sternum. Dowdy answers with a stiff left but fails to follow it with a combination. In t he l ast m i nute of t he rou nd S c ot t backs i nto a c or ner, d raw i ng D owdy i n before pivot i ng away from t he t u r nbuck les a nd k n o ck i n g D owdy i nto t h e r o p e s w it h a f lur r y of pu nches. Dowdy clenches Scott o v e r t h e s h o u l d e r, a n d t h e r e fe r e e i s forc ed to sepa rate t he fighters. For t he rema i nder of t he rou nd S c ot t a lter n ates effectively between cou nteri ng Dowdy’s ner vous jabs a nd le ad i ng w it h h is r ight h a nd . 10 ­- 9 (maybe even 8) S c ot t. Round 2 is more of the same. Dowdy jabs at Scott’s gloves. Scott answers back with h is right, rak i ng the a i r i n front of h i m. D owdy never re a l ly st ays i n ra nge long e nough for S c ot t to get a ny work do ne . The crowd is largely un-fazed by the stop-­ and-­g o rhythm of the fight and breaks into hysterics every time Scott’s glove comes within the same airspace as Dowdy’s head. “ B ob a nd we ave!” s ome o ne c a l l s out a s Dowdy chases Scott across the canvas. By the beginning of the third round Scott h a s d i sp e n s e d e nt i rely w it h h i s jab, allowing his left hand to float in the proximity of his navel, while sweeping with the right.

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SAM WEST


His right cross, wh ich la nds with sig nific a nt forc e, resembles not h i ng so much as the punches thrown by leading men in movies, like Paul Newman’s in Cool Hand Luke, or Marlon Brando’s in On the Waterfront. It ’s enter t a i n i ng i n a n ex aggerated way. A nother fighter might ta ke adva ntage of the way it exposes Scott’s ribcage, but Dowdy doesn’t seem to notice. T he p ac e qu icke n s i n t he fou r t h r ou nd . A fter tradi ng blows i n the midd le of the r i ng, S c ot t back s D owdy i nto t he r op e s a nd bat ter s h i m ab out t he fac e . D owdy e ats t wo h a rd r i ght h a nd s , a nd t he r efer e e steps i n to ad m i n i ster a n 8 ­- c ou nt . The crowd chants “Ter­-ry!” in thundering u n i s o n . Te r r y s w i n g s w i l d l y w h e n t h e action resumes, believing he can end the fight with one punch. Dowdy staggers and clenches aga i nst the ropes. Ter r y seems determined to get a knock out even though Dowdy hasn’t landed a meaningful punch si nc e t he s e c o nd r ou nd . T he fi ght e nd s with an exhausted Dowdy desperately tryi ng to smot her S c ot t ’s ba r rage of ho oks and crosses. Scott raises his gloves after the final bell. The crowd roars its support. S c ot t w i n s by u n a n i mou s de c i sio n . H i s fa m i ly e nte r s t h e r i n g to p o s e fo r pic tures as the audience disperses cordially, rec appi ng thei r favorite moments of the fight. A man with an impressive sunglasses tan kisses his wife and says, “You’re driving.” The parking lot is invitingly sultry a f ter 6 hou rs i n t he a i r - ­c o nd it io ne d a u d itor iu m. Clouds of mayf l ies swa r m t he sod iu m l a mps on Shor t C ut Ro ad . It ’s a very mild realization, but driving back to t he hotel , I feel as t hough P asc agou l a is in s o me s m a l l w ay a s t r o n ge r a nd m o r e

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c ohesive c om mu n it y t h a n ks to ton ight ’s boxing. I’m sure it will pass, but it’s a very localized, pleasant kind of reverence. I’m glad I came here. I’m glad I got to see it. I’m back in my room on the second floor of the Super 8 motel with its dingy curtains and kitchenette. I’ve stripped the covers off of the bed a nd unrolled my sleepi ng bag down the waterproof mattress. I’m tired a nd I give my thoughts free rei n over a huge c a n of D os E qu is from t he Tex ac o near the convention center. Perhaps it’s the anhedonic setting, or the long drive awaiting me i n the mor ni ng, or the prospect of mak i ng a n a r ticle out of these notes, but I b e g i n t o a s k my s e l f w h a t i t i s a b o u t box i ng that makes it wor th my ti me a nd e n e r g y. T h e b e s t a n s w e r I c a n m u s t e r i s t h a t b ox i n g i s a s o r t o f r e b u t t a l t o sol ipsism. Bei ng outcl assed i n a box i ng ri ng is compel li ng evidence that your world is not i n fact of your ow n mak i ng. No m at te r h ow c o o r d i n ate d o r a g i le o r strong we believe ourselves to be, there i s a n u nde n i able c ou nterba l a nc e i n ou r opponent. We realize more fully the world each of us inhabits. Boxing is perhaps the most elega nt way huma ns have found to combat each other, and when localized — when the fighters, promoters, and audience a re of some ge og raph ic a l fa m i l i a r it y with one another — each punch and feint b e c ome s a n ex pr e ssio n of a pl ac e , of a very specific culture. It is spectacular in the literal sense of the word. It speaks to ou r oldest ple asu res a nd a mbit ions. We lift up a chant and dissolve into the action of the ri ng. The room becomes suffused with spirits. And at the end we want to say Thank You.

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WHY IT MATTERS

SAM WEST


MUSCLES AT KROGER - (M4M)

Guess what I can’t stop laughing. after 1030 pm ive noticed u for years I saw you walking down trinity lane eating what may have looked like a pretzel you catched me with my eyes on you I was in the middle of dumping coins into the parking meter I’m an ebony metal boy in a white shirt I waved as you went by a father holding his son stood between a green suv, a gold camry friends nearby loved the bumper sticker. You were struggling with drugs and your car was impounded. HOw old are you? I know you noticed me you had a fire dept sweatshirt on smiling at the dogs gathered around you We discussed Jenga and aspartame. We had nothing in common but mind blowing groceries some bottle slips Please just cover me up, figure out who I am somehow plant a kiss on my cheeseburger happy meal come home to me my leopard print lips in the electronics section near the ocean morning coffee is not the same without you to match my pj bottoms

JOSHUA GILLIS 26


WHY AM I NOT NOTICED? - (W4M)

butch..its trish from florida bolted out to the car

balls deep in one of the greatest acid trips of my life

in the busy airport

departures

lane

so worn out

got me a burger and some water living with the aftermath of the way your brilliant eyes sparkled beneath

every single

All mint and in their box.

universe

It was so great seeing you at the Christmas Ball we finaly listened to fusion jazz in that cool bistro puking in the bushes (sexy I know) I gave you a cigarette

i was lonely at dinner that night

not quite

awake

Think we could talk and repair things? You still look hot on your Harley even in 30degree weather but as fate would have it that was the exact moment my cousin called ha they were having their baby. openminded widower I miss you kiss me. My lighter was yellow and my eyes are blue.

JOSHUA GILLIS 27


THE MULE GRIFFIN WENZLER

H

er left ha nd vibrated on the popla r c a ne as she looked through the window and onto the front field covered with clover and stunted wildflowers. The air smelled like semen and hot mud. She was eighty-­s ix. Momma? Goddamnit! We got to go! Through the paned glass window she watched her grandch i ldren lock ha nds a nd contor t thei r bodies u nti l both turned red in the face and one yelled, “Mercy!” and they released. Then they did it again. Hey! Mom!? Where are you!? Her daughter’s voice might have been her own before the creeping, inexorable march of the disease. It lived in her blood and her daughter’s blood and her grandchildren’s. As long as there was any fun to be had it would continue to sap the bodies of man. Many an ice cream social, cornpone brunch, and scuppernong cocktail party would be missed for the disease and its contingents. Come on Momma, the car’s runnin’ and everyone’s packed in. Garrett wants to leave before this storm. I don’t need no hospital visit. Her daughter sighed, We’re takin’ a visit to Kalie and her family. I told you.

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I know what you told me, Elise. She did not turn to see her child. Momma, it couldn’t hurt to have someone look at you while we’re up in Nashville anyway. They got Vanderbilt. It’s a nice hospital. I know what’s a nice hospital and I told you I don’t need one. You gotta get outta this house just once. Before I die? Before it’s too hot. I don’t k now why you a ll gotta come dow n to my house and drag me outta it to visit your si lly cousi n. She don’t c a re ‘bout me. What? Of course she does. Her momma tried to get Mamaw to switch her will. Right there on her death bed. You know that? No she didn’t. As I live and breathe she did. Wel l I don’t k now about that. W hatever you had aga i nst Aunt Susan you don’t got with Kalie. Sure I do. She trained her. I ain’t talkin’ to you about Aunt Susan.  If we hadn’t’ve caught her she woulda sold everything and run off with... that man. A l r ight, Mom ma . C a n we go v isit K a l ie who a i n’t done nothin’ wrong to you? The mother’s lips pursed and grew slack in short uncontrolled bu r s t s a nd wh e n s h e s p oke a g a i n it w a s w it h a voic e

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Elise had not hea rd si nce she was a gi rl. Y’all think I’m sick. I ain’t but you think it. You think ‘cause my sister died you c a n have th is place from under me. This house is what was built after my Goodpaw Jesse came home and it’s where he died and it’s where my Granddaddy Terry and Grandmaw Dorrie and Momma and my Daddy died. I’m to die here as well. She turned, her jaw trembling, and faced her daughter in the entryway of the ancient plantation home. A nd a f ter t h at it ’s goi n’ to t he st ate a nd a i n’t nob o dy ever gonna live here ‘cept all the poor little black babies i n M i ssi ssippi who a i n’t got no mom m a or d addy or a cha nce for sh it. Elise wiped the flecked spittle from her cheeks, sighed and closed her eyes. She pinched the bridge of her nose as if it might change the circumstances of her life for the better. Her mother’s breath smelled of age and catfish. Don’t think I don’t know what, the mother continued. Y’all are tryin’ to get me declared and off to a home to keep this place from goin’ where it’s gonna go. Well I got enough money to buy any goddamned home you want to put me in and I’m present of mind enough to do it. Momma, we ain’t. It’d just be nice to visit Nashville and see Kalie. And what’s the harm in gettin’ to a doctor? The mother breathed deep. Bloated storm clouds sagged in the sky. Top forty country radio blared from the van in the driveway. She tapped her index finger against her top right cuspid. You tell him to turn that off? Yes, Momma. Let me gather my things. I’ve packed you a bag.

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Is your Sissy comin’? ‘Course. Alright.

Her son-­i n-­l aw’s nineteen-­e ighty Chevrolet G -­t wenty was packed to the brim. He was a proud young man recently employed and he purchased many things. Strewn about the floor of the van were: a police scanner, a Colt revolver with no cartridges, seven issues of Playboy, eleven country and western compilation tapes, fifteen feet of chain with a tow hook, a folding walker, a small dog bed, a small mutt dog, a citizen’s band radio, and a half-­p allet of Gatorade. The sonin-­l aw was the sort of man who entered and won a drawing for a lifetime’s supply of Gatorade. Ever y th ree months a gli mmeri ng pa llet of the bot t les was delivered to his doorstep. The ora nge, fruit punch, o c e a n b er r y, k iw i m a ngo, water melo n , a nd lemo n b ott les were i m med i ately g u zz led dow n by h i m a nd h is ch i ldren within a month. After three deliveries Elise put a moratorium on Gatorade consumption except on special occasions such as sporting events, birthdays, good report cards, company, or one of the children falling ill. A half-­ pa l let was snuggled under the fa mi ly’s luggage for the trip to Nashville. The son­- in-­l aw tested the rear door to see that his precious bottles had enough clearance and were not in danger of perforation. Satisfied, he pressed the door shut and walked to the driver’s side door and took his rightful place behind the wheel. The van gnashed and wailed and coughed as it rolled backwards out of the gravel drive. The storm clouds hovered grumbling above like an invading force over an alien world. You alright, Memaw?, asked Grady. He was a thin boy with freckles and a buzzcut. ‘Course I am, baby. Memaw’s just thinkin’.

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‘Bout what? How much you look like your Papaw. The younger brother cut in, I remember Papaw! Nuh uh no you don’t, Cole! Yes I do! You shut up, Grady! I seen him plenty. Their grandmother’s voice calm yet demonstrative, Don’t talk to your brother that way. What you remember about your Papaw? See? What do you remember, Cole? He was big and strong and he flew planes in the war against our enemies. And I saw a bunch of pictures of you and other ladies he took when you were real young but I knew it was you cause you were the prettiest one. Yes, baby. That’s right. He was strong and he flew planes. And he loved his camera. And he loved you? Cole, son, quit botherin’ your Memaw. And he loved me. He was a strong man. And he wanted to help those that couldn’t help themselves. How come? ‘Cause that’s how you do. ‘Momma said we was gonna live in your house with you. Grady!, Elise gasped. No, baby you got you a house. So long as your daddy works you got a house. I’m givin’ that one and all these woods and

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fields over so they can turn it into a boarding school for little nigra boys and girls. Why, Memaw? ‘Cause there ain’t ever been none of us helped the poor colored folks. Why they need help? ‘Cause we’ve put ‘em in a place where they need. The nigras of this country had trouble because of us white folks. I ain’t never made trouble for a black boy. A nd I hope you don’t ever. But you k now, Cole, that a l l these lands around here, there used to be slaves on? They made the nigras slaves and none of our family did a thing to stop it. Her son­- in­- law butted in, You think they need the whole place, Sueanne? Elise hissed, Hush up, Garrett. Just seems like a lot of space for some black folks to live on is all. I told you to hush.

At Sissy’s house the sister climbed into the middle seat and the children moved to join their grandmother in the back. Good lord, Sissy, where’d you get that necklace? Oh . Um, She clutched t he n ickel si lver T u rk ish choker and her eyes darted around the roof of the van, I got it at Dillards I think. In the mall. It’s wonderful.

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Thank you. P ut your seatbelt on and close the door, Garrett ordered. Sissy diverted her eyes, blushing faintly and she pulled the van door closed. I love it. Honey, I love that necklace Sissy’s got, Elise announced. Mh­h m. Dillards? I think so. I’ve had it for awhile. Well it is, as they say, “fabulous.” They’re tryin’ to take me to a hospital, the mother yelped from the back of the van. They rode on.

The bellies of the clouds burst and drenched the landscape with their slick payload. The children listened to stories of their grandmother’s life and they pressed her for details a nd q u e s t i o n e d h e r d e c i s i o n s . S h e ex pl a i n e d t h at s h e r e g ret te d no ne of t hem . T he t i ny mut t wh i mp er e d for attention and the old woman absently fondled its ear. The du l l d r u m of water on a lu m i nu m ma rched her a nd t he children towards sleep. The radio buzzed and the son-­i n­ law mumbled along to the music. “If drinking don’t kill me / her memory will.” Outside on the Trace a hawk alighted from the gutter of a rest stop and flew alongside the van for a moment. Soaked in rain water, it looked like some prehistoric lacustrine fr e a k lept i nto t he a i r fr om a n u n s e e n re s er voi r, or a drenched rat with a toenail for a nose. Elise watched until it dissolved back i nto the trees. She tur ned to face her sister behind her. I heard Momma and Aunt Susan weren’t talkin’ when she died.

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Who told you that? Kalie. Sissy scooched forward, Well they weren’t, and then John­ Michael gives Momma a call and says Aunt Susan isn’t well and Momma drops everything and came rushin’ over and played nurse for her. Says who? Momma told me after it happened. She didn’t say anything to me. Well that ain’t the end of it. Four days later John­- Michael calls Momma up and tells her Aunt Susan’s dead so she can stop comin’. What a thing. What a goddamned thing. Garrett frowned, Will y’all quit it? Ain’t good to talk about folks like that. Too much coke. At her age? Yep. And Momma thinks she did it on purpose to be with... him. Elise’s jaw hu ng open a nd pulled to the left as the va n turned. She turned her legs and torso so that she was almost square with her sister. She gazed over Sissy’s shoulder, at their mother nestled between her boys in the backseat. Her voice was no louder than a mouse fart. With Harrison? Hell yes with Harrison. You know Susan knew all about Momma and him.

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Elise stared into her sister’s eyes, the image of their face reflected infinitely between the pair of identical orbs. That man fucked Susan up good, She breathed. Real good. Fourteen and he was fifteen. And had Kalie when she wasn’t but sixteen years old. Yuck. And Momma and him... . Oh God. Carrying on even when she married. That man’s fucked up this whole family. Not me. Well, not me either. Just Momma and Aunt Susan. That night at the Piggly Wiggly. I remember it. And Susan gettin’ married again... . Hell, six more times she did. Yuck. What sorta Lord you think’s blessin’ all them unions? Ain’t none. John­- Michael knows about it all. No!

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Yes, ma’am. He reckons Aunt Susan’s let herself get killed off to get back at Momma. For fuckin’ Harrison all those years. For meetin’ him first. And I’d bet John­- Michael’s right. Garrett frowned again and mumbled to himself, Goddamnit, it ain’t good to talk about people. “Amarillo by mornin’ / Amarillo I’ll be there.” That man was a prevert. A prevert? A prevert. I wish he’d a left Aunt Susan alone. And Momma. Killin’ himself was one way to keep away. In the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly. I can’t eat strawberry ice cream anymore. Jesus we were so little. That’s what I’m sayin’ Elise. What kinda folks keep their children around that sorta environment? Ain’t none. Poor Daddy. Poor Momma. Poor Susan. And John-­M ichael marryin’ all of it. How could he have known? He couldn’t’ve.

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The shit y’all talk about wouldn’t be welcome in a pool hall. The sisters both huffed and spun their eyes around in their skul ls. Elise pressed on, You k now Susa n did n’t ta lk to me when I got pregnant with Cole? Ignored my calls and missed my baby shower. She refused to talk to me and when she finally did it was as if nothin’ had happened. Susan didn’t wanna be around Momma. Si ssy le a ne d towa rd s E l i s e . W he n she wh i sp er e d , her breath knocked against her twin’s sideburns. You know she’s got Lou Gehrig’s? Elise felt a tenderness in her elbow and realized she had been squeezi ng the hem of her th i n summer dress. She released the sweaty ball of fabric and sighed, I figured. She’s been bumpin’ around the house. Y’all shoulda seen her last week. She doesn’t want to get tested. I know. Garrett yawned, I wouldn’t wanna get tested by you two neither. Sea rch i ng for self control, Elise f luttered her eyes a nd ignored the man she loved. And Sissy, she’s half senile. She needs to go to a home. Someone to take care of her. We gotta get her to understand she needs help. Oh yes. Of course she needs help. Poor thing’s all alone in that house. Unless I visit. Or I visit.

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Or I bring Garrett and the boys down. Or the lawn boys come over. Her little army of Mexicans. What a waste of money. What’s she want with a landscape? Just burnin’ to spend money. What’s she want to leave off our home to some black school? Just burnin’ to get rid of our estate. It is an estate. Isn’t it? It oughta go to us. That’s what I’m sayin’. Where’d you get that necklace did you say? Oh. Some place in the mall. Macy’s? Or Dillards? I don’t remember. Sissy’s eyes rolled in their orbits and brief ly focused on Garrett’s in the rearview mirror. Y’all be careful talkin’ so loud. Sissy leaned back in her seat and fondled the choker around her neck as she slid into sleep. It had been purchased from a Stuckey’s off Interstate Sixty­- Five.

Wah-­o h, Garrett mumbled as he stepped on the brake. Ow! Where are we?

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Daddy, I hit my head. That’s why you wear a seatbelt, Cole. Baby come here. You’ll be alright. Let me put some sugar on it. Grady’s laughin’! Where are we? Along the right side of the road sat a field overlooked by a yellow farmhouse on a hill. At the edge of the field near the house a puddle sat in the muddy bowl of what used to be a lake. It looked like an eye­ socket on the face of the earth. The scummy bags of the eye extended to the incline of the embankment leading up to the Natchez Trace. There was a small group of people standing between the lake and the road. They were staring at a small mule sunken into the mud. A small boy tugged at a rope tied around the mule’s neck. He had filthy blonde hair that resolved into a rat­t ail at the base of his skull. He looked eleven or twelve. A woman stood nearby watching and holding the hand of a tiny girl in a pink camisole tutu. As the van neared, a four­-wheeler driven by another blonde­- haired rat-­t ailed boy rounded the yard of the farmhouse and raced down the hill into the field and rolled up alongside the bank of the muck lake. He stopped next to where the other boy was tugging at the mule just as Garrett parked the van on the side of the Trace. The rain had stopped. Y’all stay here for a sec. Oh come on Garrett. We don’t have time for all this, Elise pleaded. That mule’s sunk in there pretty good, he called out as he shut the van door on his wife’s voice. Oh hi! Yea, she is.

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She was a beautiful woman with large blue eyes, brown hair, and tanned skin. She looked possibly of Middle­- Eastern or Greek stock and she reminded him of a woman who taught him in grade school. Garrett grinned like a puppy as he scampered down the embankment towards her. Mind if I give her a tug? Go right ahead mister. Garrett bounded across the field to the rat-­t ailed boy holding the mule’s lead. Here we go son. She’s stuck! He took the lead from the ch i ld a nd c autiously stepped over to the animal through the slick decay of the receding shorel i ne. C a refu l not to get to o close to t he soft spot the a ni ma l had sunk i nto, he lea ned out a nd stroked its muscular jaw and whispered to it. That’s a girl. Come on now. He asked the boy if they had any barley and the boy replied that they did but the animal didn’t eat barley. Don’t talk back, he replied. The boy hustled off behind the farmhouse. Garrett patted the mule and ran his hand down its forelegs. He asked the other boy watching from the four­-wheeler if he wouldn’t mind bringing some sticks and hay down to the lake. Yessir!, and he zoomed off towards the woods at the far end of the field. Garrett turned and looked at the woman. He glanced at her chest. The thin cloth of her blouse allowed the wind to blow through it and a small window between two buttons had opened over her breasts. He could see a considerable portion of her right breast.

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Y’all out here alone?, he hollered. How do you mean? As she spoke he watched her lips. They opened and closed a nd fo r me d h e r wo r d s i n g r a nd ex a g ge r ate d m o t i o n s that showed off their dexterity. Her teeth flashed behind her l ips a nd he saw t h at she h ad a sl ight gap bet ween her incisors. Well I mean don’t you got a man out here with y’all? No sir we don’t. Their daddy died fallin’ off a scaffolding a few years back. I’m sorry to hear it. Thank you. The boy he had sent for barley came sprinting from behind the house with his hand outstretched. Here you are, mister. Garrett stood in the knee­- deep muck surrounding the mule and waited for the boy. He took the barley and held it to the mule’s mouth and patted it along the cheek. The animal sniffed the stuff and snorted but it didn’t eat. Told you. She don’t like that barley. The four-­w heeler whined behind the trees and suddenly shot out onto the field. He let the barley fall from his hand and watched the boy’s rat-­t ail whip around in the wind as he rode the machine. Y’all twins? You and your brother? No si r. That a i n’t my brother. That’s Grayson. He’s my best fr iend but ever yone says we lo ok t he sa me but we a i n’t blo o d rel ate d but I love h i m a l l t he s a me . H i s d addy de ad to o.

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I’m sorry to hear about that. It’s awful good to have a friend like that though. Yessir. Here you go mister! The boy, Grayson, pa rked the four-­w heeler a nd sta r ted br i ng i ng t he pi le d st ick s a nd t a l l g r a ss to t he muddy shor e of the muck lake. That’s it. Perfect. Come help me set those out here in front of her so she can have somethin’ to hop up on when we start pullin’. Careful you don’t get yourselves stuck. Yessir! Both boys unloaded the vehicle and waded into the muck careful not to get stuck themselves. In a few minutes they had arranged a path in front of the mule, and Garrett waded out of the sucking filth and took up the lead against his shoulder. Here we go now. He leaned into the rope until he began slipping in the wet grass and the mule whinnied and tossed its head. It did not shift. Dang. She’s stuck as hell alright. Here. I got a idea. He trotted back up the embankment to the van and opened the rear door. Garrett what in God’s name are you doin’ down there? Daddy? Where are we? Hush up, I’m helpin’ that lady. She’s stuck out here with no one but them kids and that damn mule’s gonna die if it don’t get outta that mud. Don’t you tell me to hush up. I am your wife, damn it. From b e ne at h h i s fa m i ly ’s lugga ge he ya n ke d a fi f te e n ­- fo ot length of chain that ended in a large metal tow hook. He had used it to drag his lawnmower of out the neighbor’s ditch

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last summer and left it in the back of the van. Bunching it together as best he could he slammed the door. He grinned as he turned back to the woman by the muck lake. Now we’re talkin’!, he hollered. Thank you so much for your help. You didn’t need to stop!, the beautiful woman called back. Ain’t no thing! He hustled back dow n the emba nk ment a nd over to the mule. Its eyes rolled as it bucked a nd wormed its body around in the muck. It sank a few inches deeper. She’s gettin’ tired. We better hurry on up boys. Yessir, they both exclaimed. Take this here end and go hook it onto a good spot on that four­- wheeler of yours. Grayson, he asked me to do it! No he was talkin’ to me. Here. You let your brother take that over there. We ain’t brothers. Right. OK. Grayson? You go hook that over there. And you, what’s your name? Trip. Okay, Trip why don’t you hop up on this ol’ mule? She’ll need someone to ride her once she’s loose. Okay, they exclaimed in unison. He waded back i nto the muck a nd, sta ndi ng on the pad of straw and sticks, patted the animal’s cheek and again

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whispered to it sweetly. Once it had calmed he picked up the boy, Trip, and slung him over the heaving back of the mule. Its sides glistened with sweat and rain in the midday sun that had just begun to peek out from behind the invading clouds. You all set? Yessir. Now make sure she stays calm. You pat her good. Yessir. He then formed a loop with the clasp at the free end of the chain and tossed it over the mule’s head. He turned to Grayson. A lright now. We’ll see about this. L emme get up on that machine of yours son. Yessir, you know how to drive it? I do. Grayson come back here with me, okay? Garrett trudged out of the mud and slung his leg over the four­- wheeler and slipped it into drive. You sure it ain’t gonna hurt her? Yes ma’am. A mule’s neck’s as strong as anything. Ain’t like yours or mine. Don’t you worry your pretty self. Wit h t h at he cra n ked t he t h rot t le a nd t he wheels spu n a nd spat di r t a nd grass a nd sma ll stones. The mach i ne shot out five feet drawi ng the cha i n taut. It raked a long t h e a n i m a l ’s n e c k a n d b r a c e d a g a i n s t t h e j aw b o n e , forc i ng its mout h i nto a n ex a gger ate d u nderbite . T he woma n a nd her ch i ldren a ll yelped but thei r voices were l o s t o v e r t h e w h i n e o f t h e fo u r - ­w h e e l e r. T h e w h e e l s fi na l ly c aught solid rock a nd the bike lurched forwa rd. The mule’s neck snapped.

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No longer tethered by ligament and muscle to the body, the mule’s head was pulled loose. It rocketed into the air and was dragged across the earth for several yards before Garrett could stop the four-­w heeler. Except for the hum of the thousand-­c c engine, all was silent. T he be aut i fu l woma n a nd t he ch i ld ren st a red , mout hs agape, at the open neck of the mule. Suddenly the esophagus writhed forward from the empty sheath of the neck like a snake from a blood­- filled hole. The boy atop the mule bega n screa mi ng. The little gi rl in the pink camisole tutu fell limp at her mother’s side, her mot her st i l l clutch i ng her h a nd . S t a nd i ng nex t to them, Grayson puked directly onto the girl and her mother before passing out and falling face first into the muck. The beautiful gap-­t oothed woman dropped the hand of her own child and flipped the boy over. His face was caked in mud, insects, and puke. She began clawing the debris away from his mouth and nose. Her own son, not knowing what to do, wept violently atop the mule’s corpse as it grew slack and began sinking sideways into the mud. I nside t he va n , t he fa m i ly was yel l i ng a nd w i nci ng as they watched. Garrett’s children wrestled free from their grandmother’s arms to get a better view. She stared out the window alongside them and spoke, but her words were garbled and unheard. I n the chaos on the field, Ga r rett quietly slipped off of the four-­w heeler and scurried back up the embankment towards his van, looking over his shoulder the whole way. The boy, Trip, now free of the mule’s corpse, was trudging th rough the cr ud of the lake, h is rat­- ta i l swi ngi ng with his gait. The boy stopped and turned around and watched mule’s headless corpse disappear below the surface of the muck with a dull glottal sucking. His gap-­t oothed mother scanned the field for the man responsible, her breast caked in mud and vomit. She looked gorgeous, Garrett thought. Like a pornographic dream too lascivious and personal to describe, even to the boys down at the pool hall. Her eyes found his and her mouth fell open in an apelike scream.

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What did you do? What did you do? Garrett shot up the embankment and scrambled to the van door as she sprinted across the field screaming nonsense. She reached the slick incline towards the road just as he slammed the van door. The engine had stopped. His family was silent. Ga r rett watched the woma n’s beautiful form cli mb the embankment, her perfect breasts and backside and hair all smeared with mud. She slipped and fell and slid down the muddy grade, stopping wriggling and crazed at the bottom. Ga r ret t swa l lowed a nd t u r ned t he key, but t he eng i ne refused to turn over. You son-­o f­- a­- bitch! Get down here! A rock h it the passenger side wi ndow a nd left a brow n smear. Elise yelped. Garrett! He turned the key again as another rock whipped across t he ho od of t he va n. Not h i ng. T he gap - ­t o ot hed woma n suddenly found her footing and began rushing towards the van. She launched another rock and it crashed against the side as Garrett tried the key again. The engine hacked and turned over. The van spun off just as the woman reached the crumbling pavement of the Trace. In the rearview mirror Garrett glimpsed her thrashing about in the road. Elise spoke in a thin voice, What did you say Momma? Emmylou Ha r ris’s “ Beneath Sti ll Waters” crack led over the radio. I didn’t say anything. A little bit ago. You said something. Them two boys looked just like your Goodpaw Jesse when he got back from t h at u nple asa nt ness up nor t h . Yep. I mighta thought they were our kin.

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SORRY I WAS SPEECHLESS – (M4M)

I found myself stunned just after having a seizure you swept past me my overheating car i could hardly keep my mind on my banking business Tried to catchup to you a beautiful running alone

muscular male

a shy smile Hot shaved head mirror wayfarers

you were inside little ceasars because of the rain

18 and right outta high school

Lived with parents in a manufactured home park

and also had a bag of ice we were chatting about your tat

an active OKcupid account

endless word searches

a giant coincidence

impossible obstacle a type of tree in the park I told you of my Mustang convertible

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I enjoy chatting with you

you love collecting coins

our liquor-fueled convo our pleasant rapport we were in a emotional spiral You were either texting or calling everyone It’s a constant struggle I am stuck I get stared at everyday, I get whistled at everyday. If that mouth is just mouth or if body language is a private beach or some sweet hotel Tell me something else about you (or me) to confirm that you are, in fact, you. give me a shout I am 21 years old my ignorance is a choice. You rocked those heels.

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BEN RUBIN 50


SELECTED POEMS HANNAH BAGGOT T

BRILEY PARKWAY EXIT 14A I am naked for one boy again, but now, thousands of eyes-that-look-twice-because-I-must-be-seeing-things brush over me. He lies to my flushed flesh, saying, No one can see us but the river. Cars stutter above our bodies, vibrating the open-faced bridge beams I cling to, as I try not to think about how cold it is or how I will hide the bruises later or how he got those cigarette burns on his biceps.

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OUT-OF-STATE IDIOMS While brushing the ma’am out of my mouth, I doodle cowboys in every direction. Slow travel: thick syrup and watching her watch her reflection in the napkin holder at the Waffle House. No bra. No bra and a curve in her lip because she knows she isn’t wearing a bra and she knows I notice. Breasts are not as round as we make them out to be; there is a slope — waves of water, of sound, heavy with hints of purpose. I’m leaving her here; rooted in bleach and hair dye, she’ll write to me, My ears are burning. I’ll be moving along soon. No one’s home.

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RECONCILING BORN ‘N RAISED I. It is impossible to argue with the dentist for two reasons: 1) P o i n t y m e t a l o bj e c t s s c r a p i n g c l o s e t o m y sensitive gums ensure limited response. 2) The dentist is the small-town family dentist. S o, whe n I tel l her, t h r ough g u rg l i ng, spit , a nd blood, that I’m movi ng to the West coast, a l l she says is: Please, whatever you do, don’t become one o f th o se li b e ra l s, a nd sw i f t ly u n h i nge s my jaw to re ach t he h idden beds of my w isdom teet h . I cannot walk out even if I wanted to, because this woman has a handful of my mouth and my parents’ hearts. I cannot ask her questions. All I do is hope she can feel the dormant volcano of my throat — stomach acid begging to burn off her fingertips, to swallow her whole.

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II. I do not go to therapy because I already know why it was too hard to tell him no — my muscle memory set to the rhythm of Galatians. Each man must love his wife as he loves himself. He punches the wall. A nd when I say nothing, he hits himself fully in the mouth. His fist fuses to his jaw, and with his other hand, he loves me the same and I am crying and he doesn’t stop. I stare out onto the skyline from his Brentwood townhouse that is promised to me: When we get married, everything will be better. I do not go to therapy because this is how it works: my grandfather buried in a Crown Royal bag clutching a bottle of handguns, my grandmother soaking in bacon grease and bourbon. Just keep your smart mouth shut and things will settle. But when he says I ’d lo ok be aut i fu l preg n a nt, t he v i nes of fa m i ly wrap around me, belly swelled with no-take-backs. So, I took back. Three thousand miles away, I do not go to therapy because I already know why men like him, from a family just like mine, hang ropes around their own necks, waiting for summer to melt the ice under their feet, unless women like me are ready to be on their hands and knees, spine a step stool for their dead weight. For all I know, his body is still hanging from my grandparents’ magnolia tree, loving me to death.

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III. I need a figure — good money, he says. I am on the couch naked, and he is sweating, leaned over his sketchbook — fat, covered in eyeliner and cat piss. He keeps telling me his fiancé is out of town, how Taylor Swift used to live in the condo down the hall, but I can’t think because this cheap leather is cold. He doesn’t get too close. I feel necessary — my body still not grown out of McDonalds and sweet tea — c a n’t see my bones. My soft layers — symmetric plush. When I put clothes back on, I hear: Next time, we could hook up, too — I heard you’re down for that the sort of thing. I want to say: Fuck you. Who told you that? Instead, I light a cigarette and walk out. A guy I knew planned to sell all of his stuff and drive from Nashville to Portland in an old van. Everyone knew he wouldn’t do it. As I was packing, he was drunk at a bar across town talking shit the way everyone talks shit when they’re drunk at a bar across town: She’s just running away from her mess — fucking whore. He wrote me many times after I left, asking how I was, if I was happy — said he missed me. I never wrote back.

IV. We are born and raised with secrets — taught to hide them like the hickeys on our ribs.

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V. I go church shoppi ng a nd do not prepa re for the question: Is your work of the kingdom? I stare at this tight-mouthed boy, his rigid posture. He puts his fork dow n, wa iti ng for my a nswer. I stumble between well and you see. He raises his eyebrows and huffs dismissal. He does not pass the bread. This county is cited as the least religious area in the country, but I am listening to a group of 20-somethings argue violently about free will over brisket and pie. I excuse myself to answer a fake phone call and never come back. In the car, I think of home — how at least there, I only had to listen to catalogues of family — who’s sick, who died, who’s gotten fat. Months later, I meet you at a coffee shop for the first time. We talk for hours, praising the good things here: no mosquitos, no humidity, sidewalks, and raw vegetables. Dear God, bless this coffee—rich, dark, and locally roasted. You don’t ask if I want to go back, because our answers are the same.

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VI. Turn the other cheek. Growing up, my little sister would punch and pinch me. My parents said: Stand up for yourself — hit her back. The one time I did, she just hit me harder. So, give your enemies food and water. In doing so you heap burning coals on their heads, and the Lord will reward you. But I didn’t know what enemies were then. I felt bad for dreaming of gifts on my pillow, wrapped in clouds with gold bows, while someone’s scalp melted off in front of me. There’s one translation that replaces coals with shame and guilt — who’s still cooking for me? The rain here softens the heat. You and I read Christian Wiman out loud on our trips to the coast. In the wet sand, we are quiet, and I am repeating the prose in my head like a verse: there is no way to return to the faith of your childhood.

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VII. The longest my hair has ever been: I felt it rocking against my collar bones last night on top of you — your fingertips digging into the veins in my thighs. Breathing the right way again — full, unstoppable breaths carbonizing the sweat on your neck. After, resting my head on your chest, I listened to the hidden Hebrew in your skin — deep sounds across my hyoid; God slipped off my lips. And then, I remembered how once, the Sunday school teacher told me I should be a missionary. Because I was good at memorizing. And I was good at talking. And I was good then. Plump body — clothes too tight, hair too short for my round jawless face — reciting verses with a proud mouth. My father still talked to me then. But when I found the old pictures in the attic of his long hair, eyeliner, drumsticks in hands on arms that begged for tattoos if he’d had the money for tattoos, he tore through my notebooks to keep me honest, setting fire to the cherry-picked parts of the sermons I kept: Let each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor: I know body — what muscles to move, the angles — geometry of the hips,

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the pressure of fingernails just hard enough to raise skin, not enough to bleed, how to move the tongue and where to move the tongue, the small places of the body with the most virgin of nerve clusters. Oh God, how holy is my body; what an honor are these little deaths — closer to heaven. My father’s church never taught verses in context. And if I cannot control myself, I should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn, the preacher says — he cuts Paul off, closing the book, damning my scarred skin, my twitching legs, my busy fingers on the thin pages in my lap: I stare at the Greek — as close as we get to the new covenant — and read what he cut: to burn with passion. Not hell, but nerve fire — sanctify this marriage of bodies, hot and salty, for chastity’s second definition is plainness, and I am electric. Now, sitting on my bed next to you, I rub my feet hard across the carpet, tap your vertebrae with my fingertips. Your whole body jolts; my hand burns with current. Wide-eyed, you turn to me: Your hair hides your face, you whisper, picking up the scissors off the floor. You start to cut, the Mourner’s Kaddish in your mouth, and the dead ends slide off my shoulders.

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DESIGNING TATTOOS For Mackenzie

I transcribe Greek to Greek, trying to follow the curves that do not come like water to my hands, but on the printed page — no hesitation. I kill meaning with my slantless strokes, too far apart. I long and seek after reads I am a bathtub — everyone looks at the clock. Within the context of letters, there is a she that indulges herself in the length of my finger bones — the way she writes feminine: my lack of lipstick and fresh skin. Still she undresses in the bathroom, and I do not watch and her body is in the mirror and I see her naked and I bite down on my toothbrush and I think of her low hips. Sliding off my dress, I do not love her — I love wondering why everyone else does.

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BEN RUBIN 61


FANTASY KISS ON HALLOWEEN - (W4M)

We traded glances from across the court room Tuesday morning. Me vanilla...you chocolate.

always smiling weren’t we?

My kids asked to pet your K9 and we wen on our way after they threw you a few questions about the K9 It was pure exhaustion, 6in heels and a torn tendon. We joked about organic meetings and how wrong they can go.

and the slight kiss of gray to your hair made me think

to buy a lotto ticket. Get back to me you had shorts on and nice flip flops ready for the day...

wait until the dust settles

reply with your favorite NFL team

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MARCH OF DIMES - (M4W)

west toledo morning at secretary of state, You were putting your kayak away I couldn’t stop looking at you but it’s hard to tell where you are looking with your shades on. I KNEW YOUR FACE,FROM THE SKATING RINK DAYS We made out in an empty theater once after our movie ended. You always made fun of me for liking The Beatles. I look at your yearbook picture often. we talked for a min Where am I from? I was slow to reply nothing censors possible romantic interest quite as fast as a parent or an officer in uniform with secure income and a faint goatee. Anyway this was Saturday eve to answer you question yes, my cigs are more expensive at 7-11 then the grocery store I’m a successful accountant yet nothing is actually well in my world thanks again for moving that box out of my way My mom commented on your pink lip ring. I’ve tried to call u, but u never answer. i wouldve loved ur kids like my own It was bonkers and clearly not meant to be I miss the silliness of your promises to me. signed, with a sigh that begins beyond the bottom of all that I know

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NOTES ON PHOTOGRAPHY AN ESSAY IN COLLAGE & NARRATIVE

DAVID KUML ER

PART I: ON MEDIATION AND ENCOUNTER

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I have a proposition:

2

Perhaps Chase Carroll — our protagonist, let us say — twisted the f-stop, focused, and clicked. He cranked the film forward and shifted, his surroundings swallowed in a pin-sized hole. And Renee Bellamont — the actress, so lovely — slipped her gaze, her feet, her lips. She turned face forward and smiled. And so: Light bent through a glass and, perhaps, Renee’s soul bent along with it.

3

For t he photog raph is qu ite l itera l ly a n emanation of the referent.

4

Renee threw her head back, letting her hair fall around her shoulders, to look natural. A nd of course she did. She a lways looks natural. That’s why she is here: in this room, in this story, in this life, in these thoughts — in this proposition.

5

Chase asked her to sit on the edge of the stage and walked back a few yards. He attached a f i s h eye le n s , a nd , pl a c i n g h i s eye to

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the viewfinder, he watched the auditorium expand and stretch. Twist, focus, click. He brought t he c a mera dow n a nd t he ro om contracted. Chase moved about, opening and closing the camera’s diaphragm, firing off rounds, the room breathing. Twist, focus, click. P le a s e n o te : T h e p o s e i s d i s c ove r e d i n this precise moment when, in the flick of a shutter or the flutter of an eyelash, the body before the lens has remained there forever. The pose is the ephemeral made eternal. The pose is being without time.

6

Ch ase stopped a nd pondered , scratched h is ch i n, young sprouts of ch i n-ha i r. He adjusted himself and reangled his camera. Just lean back a bit, Renee, yes, that’s it. “There,” he said. “Perfect. Just look natural.”

7

“Every time we are being photographed, we sponta neously take a menta l position on the photographer’s lens as his lens takes a position on us” (Jean Baudrillard).

8

Renee: as pose. Renee: arranged.

9

The dialectic of the camera and its object. Masters and slaves. Lordship and bondage.

10

Bodies don’t matter, but Renee’s went something like this: Her skin is caramelly rich and smooth. She is tall, slender, and sleek. One with a body that does not care, or should not care, or does not appear to care. Perhaps her body is acting, but it plays the carelessly beautiful girl well. It plays the natural kind of beauty, the kind that is beautiful when asleep and most beautiful when waking. Her eyes are dark, deep brown. Looking close, Chase could see that they must have swallowed galaxies. They do not reflect. They emanate.

11

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12

“Man travels over the surface of things and experiences them. He extracts knowledge about their constitution from them: he wins an experience from them” (Martin Buber).

13

But in addition to experience, there is relation.

14

Dissolution of perceived barriers. Direct and immediate encounter.

15

The science of the photograph is such that the luminous rays emitted by a lighted object can, by means of silver halogens, be recovered and reproduced infinitely. And when one looks at the photograph, much later, it is these same radiations that ultimately touch the viewer. Preserved and replicated, the same light that bounced off the real body, the body of the past, enters into the viewer’s eyes. The photograph is thus a conduit, merely transmitting waves of light from one body to the next, skipping over time and space in the process.

16

Renee needed a moment. As she shuff led t h rough her pu rse for a ma keup m i r ror, Chase took the oppor tu nity to switch cameras. “So how long have you been acting?” He removed the lens cap. “As long as I can remember. My mom was an actress when she was younger and got me started early.” She snapped her compact shut. “Do you plan on continuing for a while?” Chase pressed a few buttons, listening to the mechanical zips and growls of the camera. “Well, you don’t really spend your whole life acting in order to just quit when you graduate from college. So, I’ll move to New York in a few months.” The back door of the auditorium creaked open.

17

W hen the subject feels that he or she is being observed, everything changes. One reconstr ucts oneself. One drea ms a new

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body. The subject tra nsforms i nto some th i ng else, i nto a pose — the moment of subject becomi ng object, the moment of the subject’s rea lization of th is, of T h ou becoming It. We see ourselves passing from one state to the next: a moment of death and burial, so brief, so small, in a pinhole. We wa nt it to appea r natura l. A nd so we pose carefully.

18

We know that anyone could be watching.

19

Bub er hold s t h at t here a re t wo t y p e s of rel at ion i n t he world , t wo, as he puts it, “primary words.” When we utter the primary word I-It, we speak to an object. My coffee mug is a n It. A nd so is the ma n I watch walking down the street. I experience them; I do not relate to them. But to utter I-Thou, is to stand in relation. I stand as one subject over against another subject. I do not experience, do not use, do not observe the other: I relate, purely. And as Buber explains, “the I of the primary word I-Thou is a different I from that of the word I-It.” In relation, I define not only the other but also myself.

20

As photographer, to take our present example. But also: as reader, as listener, as viewer, as interlocutor, as intersection...

21

Nietzsche: In the end one experiences only one’s self. Markson: Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage like. An assemblage.

22

We think that by looking closer at the photograph, we might find the essence of it, of her, of Renee in that moment. We see her face there, black and white, soft curves, and that expression — what is that expression? — and we strain our eyes

23

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because it is, well. Perhaps the sparkle in her left eye explains it. Or the slight upward curve on the right side of her smile. 24

If we compared images, we could see that the smile was her mother’s, is her mother’s, h a nde d dow n to her, but now mor e of a mask. She is hidden in her mother’s smile.

25

Nor has Chase ever seen her without makeup.

26

“ H i , S a m ,” R e n e e pr oj e c te d a c r o s s t h e auditorium. “Sam is the director,” she told Chase. “ He teaches dra ma.” Sa m strode down the aisle, up to Renee, and sat down beside her. He asked about the shoot, and Renee shrugged. She can’t get her hair to fall right. There is an unnatural tangle, she says. They may have to do it again. Sam combed through her hair with his fingers. “I think you look beautiful,” he told her softly. “Sure,” she laughed. Chase stood silently, biting his lower lip and glancing about the auditorium. He decided it best to clean his camera lens.

27

Is it right for Chase to despise Sam as he does in this moment?

28

One thing Chase loved about photography was holding the camera. It was a kind of mask that, if he wished, he could hide behind — but a lso, it was a mask that made h i m belong. When raising the camera, he did not feel out of place. Whether he knew anyone or spoke to anyone, he belonged. Even silence was not awkward with a camera. He was the photographer. This was (and is) his role.

29

The interesting thing to notice, though, is that the camera-as-mask only makes the photographer belong in a removed sense. He does not belong as one who relates. He

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belongs as one who obser ves, si lently. A particular kind of I. And, perhaps, if Chase were really to think about it, he would see that the camera did not only grant him a sense of belonging, but also a very distinct sense of control — he could raise the lens, and his objects would, with such unaware automaticity, pause, smile, and pose.

30

“Maxime du Camp, F laubert’s friend and traveling companion, allegedly called out to some natives he was photographing in Egypt that if they did not obey him and pose, the machine he was wielding was a cannon which could kill them” (Marina Warner).

31

We regularly use the word capture to denote the act of taking a photograph. We capture moments; we capture emotions; we capture all manner of things.

32

Chase asked to get a few shots of Sam and Re ne e toget her. “ C ou ld b e go o d for t he paper,” he said. Sam was pleased with this suggestion. Renee made no response, but a l lowed Sa m to i nch closer, to sha re her spotlight, so to speak. “Try standing back to back. Arms folded. Yes, good. Just like that. Star actress and director running the show. Great.” Renee moved like a puppet. Sa m moved a bit more slowly, not i n the same way accustomed to this position vis-àvis the lens. Aim, focus, shoot.

33

Susan Sontag: “There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera.”

34

A diaphragm swallowing. Voracious.

35

The pose of the theater is different than that of the photograph. It uses alternate means

36

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to mimic naturality. The theater involves embodiment; the photograph is about skin. To examine this difference, it may be helpful to photograph a staged play and to notice how simultaneously more false and more real these photographs are in comparison to those of the photo booth. 37

The idea behind the image, we should note, was to capture Sam and Renee as those in charge, those without whom there would be no play, no art. In the photo, they look i ntent ly i nto t he lens, back to back a nd a rms crossed. A no -nonsense photo. But when Chase later developed the photo in the darkroom and stared into the red-lighted, drip-drying paper, the overall tone seemed uncomfortable and postured.

38

Perhaps the flash in Sam’s left eye explains it. Or the slightly skewed curve on the right side of his smile.

39

Barthes: “The photograph is only laborious when it fakes.”

40

W hen Sam left, Renee asked to see some of the digital shots from earlier, so Chase took a seat beside her and scrolled through t he i mages. A s she le a ned i n to see t he ti ny screen, Chase could smel l her ha i r. Her presence swirled around his face and nostrils. He felt dizzied and sedated. And as he scrolled through the pictures, holding h i s c a m e r a b e fo r e h e r, h e l o o k e d p a s t the camera, past the pictures, to her: Her skirt caught on the edge of the stage, lifted slightly. Her legs were smooth.

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H istor i a n A l a n T rachtenberg c a l led t he portrait studio the “theatre of desire.”

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Aim, focus, shoot.

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“ I look awful,” she sa id. “C a n we retake these another day?” He told her she looked beautiful and her eyes rolled backwards, as moments later, when their eyes met, his stomach also rolled. She said, thanks, that’s awfully sweet, but no, she does not look beautiful today. Just look at the way her hair falls. And her makeup is not right. Can they be retaken? “How is tomorrow?” he asked.

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Nabokov: “There are two kinds of visual memory: one when you skillfully recreate an image in the laboratory of your mind, with your eyes open (and then I see Annabel i n such genera l terms as “honey- colored sk i n,” “ th i n a rms,” “ brow n bobbed ha i r,” “long lashes,” “big bright mouth”); and the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective, absolute optical replica of a beloved fact, a little ghost in natural colors (and this is how I see Lolita).”

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Don Slater uses the term t r ivial reali sm to denote “ the meticulous, objective, and impersonal representation of the surface attributes of a matter.”

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Sparkle in the left eye. Upward curve of the smile. Dash of hair across the right cheek. Soft gloss of the lower lip. Sheen. Radiance on both cheeks. Honey-colored skin. Right eye slightly more closed. Thin eyebrows, d a she d ac r o ss smo ot h sk i n , ex pre ssive . Dilated pupils: deep, very deep. Dark. Mouth slightly open, just cracked, mi lli meters. Eyel ashes: long, t h ick , upwa rd cu r v i ng, upward and outward. Sparkle in the left eye. Upward curve of the smile.

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Warner: “From the end of the eighteenth century through the nineteenth, the details of a person’s outer physical presence became more and more invoked in characterization, verbal and visual, as numerous writers on realism have pointed out. It is as if uniqueness, unable to find a habituation elsewhere in the secularized body, fled to the surface: to the face, seat of individual expression. Scientists continued to look for the soul inside the body, even sometimes weighing the corpse just after death to see if it had become lighter. But the distinctiveness of the countenance became established as the seat of the individual; the person’s image, and especially their portrait, summoned their particular memory in the minds of the living.”

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Some people do become immortal and die.

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Luminous rays skipping over time and space.

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Reproduction reproduction reproduction.

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To ph o to g r a ph h e r i s to s e e h e r a s s h e never sees herself. To photograph her is to have knowledge of her that she can never have. But to photograph her is also to make her immortal.

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And yet.

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Baudrillard: “The photographic image is not a representation; it is a fiction.”

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Renee tossed her mirror in her purse and stood to leave. “C a n I wa lk you?” Chase offered. But she said she had to run, she was late already, and she took off through the door. Chase followed and watched her float across campus. He removed the lens cap and snapped a few shots. Her hair trailed

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behind her in the breeze, and as the sun through the leaves dappled the side of her face, she shimmered like coins. “Charles Bitsch, Godard’s assistant director, sensed that [Bridgette Bardot] was playing a temperamental game with the paparazzi, which interfered with the film [Contempt]: ‘There was a crazy pack of photographers hunting her, and she did not want anyone to photograph her; but she was contradictory: on the one hand, we had to call the police to protect her, on the other, she was angry whe n nob o dy a ske d to photog raph her ’ ” (Richard Brody).

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But as Renee ran, she posed. As if she knew. Perhaps this was because she lived under t he assu mpt ion t h at t here was a lways a camera pointed at her. Or perhaps she just didn’t know any other way of being.

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PART II: ON THE GAZE AND THE FRAME

Life, unlike the photograph, is ephemeral. C om i ngs a nd goi ngs . E nc ou nter s , br ief collisions. Everything is in motion, slipping into and out of the present tense. Appearances and disappearances in constant flux.

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And so Chase watches Renee’s ghost vanish.  Re c a l l t h at whe n S tephe n D ae d a lu s e n counters the girl on the beach, he has an a r t i st ic epiph a ny. W he n L e op old Blo om fi nd s h i m s el f i n a si m i l a r sit u at io n , he masturbates. The two events feel diametr ic a l ly opp o s e d to o ne a not her, but t he cynic in me asks if these are not, in fact, one and the same event.

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I would like you to observe.

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Let us picture Chase turning in the other direction, away from Renee’s lingering scent, and walking towards the dormitories. Looking up at the walls of the massive old buildings, he should see a few students through the windows, one or two at computers, another pouring herself into a book. Bodies flashing past the panes. He notices a girl standing in one window and pauses, transfixed.

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“ S h e s e e me d l i ke o n e wh o m m a g ic h a d changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird.” – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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She wore only a bra and stood gazing across c a mpus, her ha i r disheveled. She looked somehow free and lifeless at the same time. A ma n nequi n. The gi rl seemed to notice Chase, but he looked away, glancing back only after a few seconds had passed. The gi rl rema i ned, sti ll, her face bla nk. Her unaffected gaze seemed to burn straight through him. As he looked up at her, their eyes may have briefly met. Did she smile at him?

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“The eyes that were fastened upon her set her pulses tingling. She looked at [Bloom] a moment, meeting his glance, and a light broke in upon her. Whitehot passion in that face, passion silent as the grave, and it had made her his. At last they were left alone without the others to pry and pass remarks and she knew he could be trusted to death, steadfast, a sterling man, a man of inflexible honour to his fingertips. His hands and face were working and a tremour went over her.” – Ulysses

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S o o n a n a r m re ache d a r ou nd t he g i rl’s ex posed stomach , a ma n’s a r m. Her bra slowly fell to the floor, and she stood there for a moment, at the window, bare. Then another

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arm reached around her, across her breasts, and pulled her back from the window. Chase remained for a moment, staring up. His cheeks bur ned a nd h is eyes felt wet, blurred over. He pushed damp locks from his sweaty forehead and breathed deep as he sta red at the bla nk wi ndow. He could st i l l pict u re her t here, i n t he squ a re of glass, a little ghost in natural colors, perfectly framed, alone.

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“In a world ruled by photographic images, all borders seem arbitrary. Anything can be separated, can be made discontinuous, from anything else: all that is necessary is to frame the subject differently. Through photographs, the world becomes a series of unrelated, freestanding particles; and history, past and present, a set of anecdotes and faits divers� (Susan Sontag).

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T he g i rl h ad , for a mome nt , s e eme d s o strong, her dista nt sta re a nd unaffected pose almost regal. Staring at the window, Ch ase c onti nued to i magi ne her ghost, si lent a nd secu re, ref lecti ng h is ga ze. There was something honest in that snapshot, but it wa r ped a nd blur red i n C h a s e ’s m i n d . T h e s u n w a s h o t a n d t he i mage washed out l i ke a m i rage. He continued on, then, leaving the window to sit as it did: vacant, quiet, still.

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still n. (1) quiet, silence; (2) a static photograph; specifically: a photograph of actors or scenes of a motion picture for publicity or documentary purposes

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What is the difference between recording a nd constr ucti ng, between rememberi ng and imagining?

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15

Chase returned to his own room and locked the door behind him. He tightened the blinds, sealing himself in. It was dark. Stripping to his underwear, he stood before the mirror and looked upon his own shadow, framed. He thought of the girl still. Falling back on his bed, he closed his eyes and listened to his own breaths, heavy and heavier.

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Sophie Calle: “I like being in control and I like losing control.”

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But what, really, is control? (Q)

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Aim, focus, shoot. (A)

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After a shower, Chase left the dorm. The wind had picked up, but it was a hot breeze. He shouldered h is backpack, heav y, a nd climbed onto his bike. Riding across campus, he felt that he was wrong. A dreadful and misaligned human. How he looked at people and things, at things and people. The girl in the window frame. Who was she? What was she? He thought, too, about Renee. He had touched her hand at one point, mostly by mistake. Partly. Possibly. But there was real blood coursing through her veins, to a real heart, a heart that beat, that beat for something — what did it beat for? He had pho tographed her and she would appear in the school newspaper. She would be reproduced on paper and passed around. She would be available to anyone. Public domain.

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But for now, the photographs were his.

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In a solipsistic world, what is the difference between a photograph and a memory?

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W hen Dia ne A rbus went to visit a nudist c a mp, the di rector told her, “ You’l l fi nd

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the moral tone here higher than that of t he outside world .” H is rat ion a le for t h is h ad to do w it h t he fact t h at t he hu ma n body is re a l ly not as be aut i fu l as it ’s cracked up to be a nd how, when you lo ok at it st r ipped of its or n a ments, t he mystery is taken away. I mpl ie d b o d ie s ver su s re a l b o d ie s . T he clothed and the unclothed. The framed and the unframed. Imagination and perception.

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Chase turned onto University Boulevard. He coasted past Witch’s Brew and the corner gas station, and, after leaning into the curve, he righted and pedaled down the straightaway with a l l h is might. He wa nted to see how much his lungs and his legs could stand.

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Nabokov: “I had done nothing to her. And not h i ng prevented me from repe at i ng a performance that affected her as little as if she were a photographic image rippling upon a screen and I a humble hunchback abusing myself in the dark.”

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So goes the excuse. But make no mistake, to photograph is to act upon.

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Contemplating beauty, heavy. Chase pedals and he wonders. The shutter is a trigger.

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The eye has its own lenses. The mind has its own eyes.

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You — take a moment and imagine Renee. Have you constructed her yet? Do you see the photograph? She c a n’t hur t you; she c a n’t protest. Ta ke t he photog raph (t he image is yours) and do with it as you please.

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Then again.

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L o ok c lo s e r ; lo ok d e e p e r. He r eye s a r e sta r tli ngly re a l. Beh i nd the paper is something alive. Space and time be damned — she is with us again, is she not? Does her gaze not confront us as a challenge? A nd in this staring contest, who is it that will inevitably look away?

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“The photographic act is a duel. It is a dare launched at the object a nd a da re of the object in return. Everything that ignores this confrontation is left to find refuge in the creation of new photographic techniques or in photography’s aesthetics” (Baudrillard).

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The photo shop was located on 21st Street, a block up from Otto’s Tavern. Chase pushed through the chiming glass doors. The man inside asked could he help and Chase told h i m t h at he was lo ok i ng for some fi lters, a lso wa nted to price getti ng some pri nts made. T he t wo t a l ked for a wh i le, photo nerds, about cameras and accessories. The man talked about the weather and his wife and his job’s endless prints.

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He who controls the means of (re)production.

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Wa lter Benja mi n: “One might genera lize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from t h e doma i n of t rad ition. By ma k i ng ma ny repr o duc t io n s it subst it ute s a plu r a l it y of copies for a unique existence.”

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A r e n ’ t my t h s — t a k e Je s u s o r G e o r g e Wa sh i ng to n — a si m i l a r subst it ut io n of plurality for uniqueness?

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Stories told over and over.

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Reproduction reproduction reproduction.

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Endless prints.

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PART III: ON AESTHETICS AND PORNOGRAPHICS

Chase listened to the doors chime on his way out of the shop. The concrete was a white glare and he pushed his bike along the sidewalk. Up the street, Chase saw someone he recognized, or thought he recognized, on the sidewalk walking towards Otto’s. He fumbled through his memory for a name. Sam? Evan? Kevin?

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Baudrillard: “Through its unrealistic play of visual techniques, its slicing of reality, its immobility, its silence, and its phenomenological reduction of movements, photography affirms itself as both the purest and the most artificial exposition of the image.”

2

Writi ng does not normally reach such extremes of purity or artificiality. Neither hot nor cold, it is tepid. For this, God will spit these words from h is mouth ( Revelation 3:16). But that is not the point here.

3

“ Steven!” Steven , r ight? Ch ase h ad on ly met him once. His lanky body paused, and he looked back over his shoulder as Chase approached. “Hi,” Chase said, “ We met a few weeks back. With Cecilia and Amanda.” Steven squinted and scratched at his jaw. “Right, Cecilia and Amanda,” Steven said, “I remember. How’s it going?” “It’s going well. Look, I was wondering,” Chase lowered his voice, “if I could buy some, you know, some weed?”

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Chase has never seen the world th rough Steven’s eyes.

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“I’m not really a drug dealer, you know.” “Oh, of course, definitely. I just thought,” Chase

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stumbled through his words, “you know, since you smoked us out before. I just don’t know where to find it.” Steven looked at Chase, the poor kid, like a little brother. He couldn’t be blamed. He didn’t know how these things worked. “Okay, look,” Steven finally said, “I’ve got a little bit. I guess I could sell you some. But you can’t keep coming to me. Find out who your friends buy from,” and Chase thanked him profusely. 7

“ I ’ l l s e l l y o u a n e i g h t h f o r s e v e n t y. ” “Seventy?” “It’s potent shit.” “Okay.”

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Buber: “Let no attempt be made to sap the strength from the meaning of the relation: relation is mutual.”

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They walked back along 21st Street towards Steven’s apartment, and Chase attempted to make small talk. He learned that Steven was from Texas originally but moved around a lot, spent most of his growing up years in Portland. “And you?” Steven asked. Chase h ad never been to P or t l a nd or to Tex as. Chase had never been more than a hundred or so m i les from t he pl ac e he cu r rent ly stood. “Oh, I’ve been here my whole life. Just started college.” Chase was at Hayes on a photography scholarship, or rather, a number of photography scholarships. He had won a few contests in high school, and H ayes h ad g iven h i m money as wel l . S o with tuition fully covered, his parents were more than happy to cover housing. He was i n t he dor ms for now — it was requ i red fo r f r e s h me n — but h e ’d h ave h i s ow n apartment by next year, or by next semester if he could pull some strings.

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Sidewalk. Curb. Intersection. Stop sign. Crosswalk. Cement. Steps. Path. Walkway. Overhang. Windows. Door. Doorknob. Threshold.

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Twist, focus, click.

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Is it possible to view the photograph and resist the impulse towards signification?

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W h at do e s it m e a n for t he i m a ge to b e meaningless?

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Baudrillard: “‘Pure reality’ — if there can be such a thing — is a question without an answer.”

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Vinyl records littered Steven’s apartment. “So you’re into music?” Chase asked. Steven packed a bowl and told Chase that he used to play a lot. He showed Chase a couple of records: Steven Wyatt. No shit. Right there on the cover. “So what happened?” Chase asked as Steven passed h i m the piece. “ Th i ngs were going well, but eventually people just stopped caring. I guess I could blame it on the rise of all this electronic music lately, but who knows.” Chase coughed, sputtered, and hacked up a huge cloud of smoke. “You don’t smoke much, do you?” Steven asked, filling a cup with water. Chase shook his head. His older brother Joe did, so he got high for the first time when he was fifteen or so, but it’s never been a regular thing. “Joe’s twenty-two now,” Chase told Steven. “We used to be really close. He did a year of college at Hayes. Then he dropped out to join the army.”

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Chase scrolled through some pictures on his camera. “Look,” he held it up to Steven, “this girl.” Her name was Renee Bellamont, he said; a senior, an actress, he said.

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B e nj a m i n : “ To h ave pi np oi nte d t h i s new st age c onst it utes t he i nc ompa rable sig nific a nce of Atget, who, a round 19 0 0, took photographs of deserted Paris streets. It has been quite justly said of him that he

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photographed them like scenes of cri me. T he sc e ne of a c r i me , to o, i s de s er te d ; i t i s p h o t o g r a p h e d fo r t h e p u r p o s e o f establishing evidence. 18

Snap. “No, seriously, guys. Look at this pic. I was there.”

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Jealous. Curious. Like.

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Snap. “She was so drunk! Just look at her!”

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Baudrillard: “Similarly, one can no longer find a homeless individual surrounded by garbage without the necessary presence of some photographer who will ‘immortalize’ this scene on film.”

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Certain dead bodies attract photographers, too.

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Photograph #1: Renee’s hand runs through her hair. Her head is cocked slightly to the side. The beginnings of a smile are forming on her lips, in her cheeks, her eyes.

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Photograph #2: Close up of Renee’s eyes. Dark brown and glassy with long lashes. Reflecting and refracting. Like a mirror, darkly.

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Steven had seen the girl before. She looked familiar. Lived in the area. Which is to say that he recognized her differentially, not essentially. He could distinguish her from others, but he did not know her. Perhaps he had seen a photograph.

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T h i s i s to s ay t h at S teve n , to wh atever degree he is aware of Renee, does not know her like Chase k nows her, or like Chase believes himself to know her, does not have Chase’s special access and privilege.

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Ba r thes: “ U lti mately a photograph looks like anyone except the person it represents.”

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Does the photograph ever make empathy possible? A way of i magi ni ng oneself i n another’s skin?

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Steven handed Chase a large book with twin girls on the cover. “You might like this.” Chase opened the book. It was full of photographs — wonderful photographs, he thought — of horrifying people. They were captivating, fascinating. So many simply bizarre that others seemed freakish in their normality.

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Arbus: “You see someone on the street and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw.”

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Circus freaks, families, the mentally insane, strippers, transvestites, teenagers, nudists, cross - d ressers, sen ior cit i zens, c ouples, the physically deformed, hermaphrodites, dwarfs, giants, patriots, homosexuals, twins, triplets, a woman with a baby monkey, the tattooed, the masked, crying babies, a widow.

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Sontag: “Photographs shock insofar as they show something novel. Unfortunately, the ante keeps getting raised.”

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Viol du reel: “Rape the real.”

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The dead bodies. The homeless. The tornadoes. The deformed. The crying babies. The disasters.

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photography n. the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface

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Evidence: These things are real.

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The proclivity towards: Look, I was there!

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An image: It is untitled. Chase doesn’t know what to think of it. It is a group of mentally ill patients. They are walking down a road in the middle of what seems to be a large field, wearing nightclothes. The man in the center of the photograph appears to have down’s syndrome. His face, adorned with a handlebar moustache, is directed towards the c a mera, but h is eyes drift off to the left in tired distraction. An elderly woman clasps his hand and leads him toward the e d ge of t he photog r aph , fol low i ng wh at s e em s to b e a pr o c e ssio n of s or ts . T he woman wears a white patterned nightshirt and a black mask. Her mouth is open. Behind them others follow, also in bedclothes. Some look off into the field with wonder, another one wears a black mask over her face, one we a r s a b o n net . A nd a l l of t hem m a rch along. Whether a Sunday stroll or a death m a r ch , C h a s e i s u n s u r e . He k n ow s n o t what to make of it, this photograph. It is entirely other.

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And why the masks? A defense?

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Against what?

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The book lay open to a picture of an intersex person. A dog rested its head on a naked thigh.

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Baudrillard: “So-called ‘realist’ photography does not c apture ‘what is.’ I nstead, it is preoccupied with what should not be, like the reality of human suffering. It prefers to take pictures not of what is but of what should not be from a moral or humanitarian perspective. Meanwhile, it still makes good aesthetic, commercial and clearly immoral use of everyday misery.”

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W here does the aesthetic end a nd the pornographic begin? Is it all, as they say, in the eye of the beholder?

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Let us not limit what we call the pornographic to the sexual or the erotic. There are other forms of excessive stimulation and explicit sensationalism.

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The dead bodies. The starving. The earthquakes.

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With revulsion comes fascination.

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Chase fell back into Steven’s couch and felt it eng u l f h i m. Steven mot ioned towa rds the pipe, i f Ch ase wa nted a nother h it. For himself, he crushed a pill on the table. Chase didn’t ask. Steven turned up the music and fell back on the bed. The walls grew soft. Chase tasted the air, and it sucked the moisture from his tongue. Opening his eyes, he watched the room throb.

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Expand and contract; twist, focus, click; inhale and exhale.

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He closed his eyes again and let the music pour through them. It rushed like a tidal wave, with heavy force. The images from moments before projected themselves on his eyelids. Do they see themselves like that? So re volt i ng? he wondered . He ment a l ly f l ickered t h rough t he fra mes, fra me by framed frame. And he thought of the girl in the window. And he thought, too, of Renee. Her face, her eyes, her body, her frame.

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The music crashed and throbbed, cymbals a nd bass a nd coo coo, a h h, pu lsi ng i n e a rd r u ms, blue, now red now ora nge. It cycloned and swirled, tossed rustling leaves, dried out and browned, made like crumpling

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paper, crumbling stones. A crack, a caw! A ci rcus of freaks i n masks si ng i n chor us. A nd gho sts sl it her i n , swe et a nd m i l k y, cha rmi ng a nd crooni ng a long with thei r d i r ge . F ol low i n g t h e m , a pr o c e s s i o n of birds, wings beating wind, compressions a nd ra refact ions, a pu lse a nd pu lse a nd pulse a nd pulse, vei ns surgi ng. T i ngli ng fingertips, or hair twirling in fingertips, or her hair twirling singing. Sweeping across h i s fac e , br u sh i ng sk i n , br u sh i ng b o ne , his skull stretched. Sound filling it like a balloon, stretching stretching stretching. 51

The record was clipping when Chase opened his eyes. He had no idea how long he had been sitting there. Gla ncing through slits, he could see that Steven was asleep sideways on the bed. Should leave. He did. The sun was still up, but low and dying.

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The world is hazy and soft. PART IV: ON RELATION AND LIMITLESSNESS

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Buber: “All real living is meeting.”

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Chase walked his bike to campus and sat dow n u nder a t ree. He pu l led h is phone from his pocket.

3

“A l e x? ” “ W h a t ’s u p , C h a s e? ” “ N o t h i n g , nothing.” “Okay...” “Do you want to meet up?” “Sure, are you okay?” “Yeah, a little lonely, maybe a l it t le fucked up.” “ Ok ay, want me to pick you up?” “Yeah.”

4

As he wa ited for h is sister, Chase sat on a ledge enclosing a flowerbed and watched the traffic pass. It was getting dark and the lights of the cars streaked by like lines of thick highlighter on paper. When Alex’s

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SUV stopped at the curb, Chase opened the door and climbed in. G r e g R a nd a l l at te mpte d to s t r e tch t h e fra me. T h rough pa nora m ic photog raphs a n d i m a g e s t a p e d t o g e t h e r, h e s o u g h t to ex p a nd t he l i m it at io n s of hei ght a nd width. Sooner or later, the photographer found his panoramas reaching all the way around, meeting behind him, encompassing him full circle. He turned these full-circle panoramics inside-out, displaying them on cubes, so that what was located in front of the photographer took up one side facing outward, what was behind him covered the opposite. The sky or ceiling lay on top of the cube, and the floor underneath. The result was an image with no frame or border. And as the frame disappears, so does the aspect of c ont rol t h at t he photog rapher feels behind the lens.  Buber: “When Thou is spoken, the speaker has no thing for his object. For where there is a thing there is another thing. Every It is bounded by others; It exists only through being bounded by others. But when Thou is spoken, there is no thing. Thou has no bounds.”

6

“So, Dad’s th i nk i ng about buyi ng a boat,” Alex said. She thought he must be having some sort of mid-life crisis, which didn’t surprise Chase. When Joe went off to the army, their father changed. Somehow. All of a sudden, he wanted to become involved in Chase’s life, go to baseball games, whatever it m ay h ave b e e n . T he whole sh i f t wa s disconcerting. Chase had always had a very dista nt relationsh ip with h is father. Not that there was any animosity, nothing like that, but they simply let each other be. Like

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shadows crossing one another’s periphery. Surface events. Chase assumed that Joe’s leaving had triggered something, and now his father was about to lose both boys. And after all these years, he hardly knew them. 9

10

W he n we lo ok at a photog raph — s ay, a portrait — we are not looking at a person here replicated but at a moment, though we often confuse the two. A moment in time is perfectly preserved, a fraction of a second, a pose. Nevertheless, when we share old photographs with our close friends, we say, “Look, here is my father.” And our friends, perhaps, say, “You look so much like him.” This is what we want to hear because, if anything, we might believe that our fathers live on in us, in our faces, in our names, in our legacy. I look at a picture of my father. I am in the photo with him. I notice how young I looked back then, how childish. And it seems from my father’s face, his smirk, that we were laughing at something. There is a gleam in his eyes; perhaps he is proud of me. That is what I see i n the picture. But that’s not what I see when I am with my father now. Today I see a sadness in his eyes, a wea ri ness. That brightness, that flash was my father at a moment. And that moment has now passed. This is where, I think, the pain of the photograph lies: in the once-was, the that-has-been. Photography’s remainder is sound and momentum

Which we were looking to pare off the edges Of the past anyway David Berman 11

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Alex turned down Eighth Street. “You want to go by the house? Mom and Dad are out.” Chase said he’d rather not, said just to drive.

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When Chase was still in high school, he and Alex would sneak out at night, hop in the car, and drive out to the middle of nowhere. It was a chance to get away, feel free for a little while. Sometimes on these trips, they wouldn’t say a word. They would just go, find some field, park the car, and sit on the roof in silence. Alex had her first cigarette on one such trip. Joe had given a pack to Chase, who didn’t really smoke but would have a cigarette with his brother every now and then. It was nice, sitting on top of the car with his sister, smoking. She couldn’t figure out how to inhale the smoke, so Chase tried to teach her. When she finally got it, she coughed a little, then decided she liked it. “It makes your whole body relax.” She laid back on the car and smoked the whole thing. When she sat up, the world started spinning around her and she nearly fell off the car. She leaned over and threw up into the gravel.

12

O ne i nterest i ng aspect of t he R a nd a l l’s borderless photographs that is that reality is — i n a sense — i nverted. Rather tha n being surrounded by the enormity of the world, by the fra meless photograph, the viewer can actually hold the world in his or her hands. The panoramic cube removes t he fr a me a nd u n l i m its t he photog r aph . And yet, in that same instant, it ultimately limits the unframed work, for the inverted vastness of the world is now held and possessed by the viewer. Randall’s taming and shrinking of nature is not unlike what happens when Buber’s Thou becomes It.

13

Vanishing inwardly, infinitely.

14

Ch ase needs t h is nost a lg i a . T he outside perspective on back then is comforting.

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16

Is the pain that occurs when looking at a photograph the result of permanency, the fact that the frozen moment in time will never cha nge? Or does it hur t to look at photographs because (as Roland Barthes claims) we know those pictured will die or are already dead?

17

Do we perhaps hope that, by holding on to photog raphs, we c a n g rasp eter n it y a nd escape time and death?

18

The car barreled down the dark road under a pi n-light freck led sky. Chase adjusted himself in his seat so the window framed the la ndscape. He bli nked his eyes quickly. A series of images fluttered in the zoopraxiscope of the window.

19

frame n. (1) the underlying constructional system or st r uct u re t h at g ives sh ape or strength; (2) a part of a pair of glasses that holds the lenses; (3) an enclosing border; (4) an event that forms the background for the action of a novel or play

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M aybe we need fra mes to make sense of the world.

21

B a r t he s: “ [ T he photog r aph’s] te st i mo ny bears not on the object but on time. From a phenomenological viewpoint, in the photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation” (emphasis added).

22

“ S o wh at h appened to you?” A lex asked . Chase rolled his tongue around in his mouth, t h e n a n s we r e d : “ M e t up w it h t h i s g uy, Steven, a friend of Cecilia and Amanda’s. Bought some weed from him and smoked at his apartment. I think I fell asleep on his couch.” Alex glanced at him sideways and smiled.

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Chase felt strange, sort of, riding with his sister like this. He had always felt like the big brother, sneaking her out of the house, introducing her to evils like cigarettes and alcohol. Sometimes now it felt like she was the older one, the mature one, the experienced one. And who knows, she probably was. She always had a way of acting above her age. Even so, she’d always be his little sister.

23

T o p h o t o g r a p h s o m e t h i n g i s t o c o n fe r i mp or t a nc e o n it . W h at , t he n , do e s t he borderless photograph — the photograph with noth i ng at its center, with no foc a l point at all — confer?

24

Chase worried about Alex as she grew older. It wasn’t too long ago, a few years, maybe, t h at Jo e h a d t a ke n t h e m to t h at p a r t y. F ucke d up c ol le ge k id s spi l l i ng a r ou nd all over the place. Chase had walked into a room to find some older guy moving in on his sister. It was surprising, shocking, infuriating — he didn’t know what it was. He yelled at the guy, dropping every obscenity he k new, let t i ng rage f ly. It felt l i ke he had summoned some k i nd of great i n ner strength and badassness that he never knew was dow n t here. But t h i n k i ng back now, he must h ave lo oked pret t y st upid . A nd Alex wasn’t happy with him. It made sense. She didn’t want to be treated like a little kid. But she was his sister, damnit, and if someone so much as laid a finger on her or even looked at her wrong, he would beat the living shit out of them. Or something. Well, he didn’t know what he’d actually do. He didn’t want to think about it.

25

W hat is significant in the frameless pho tograph is not the object photographed but where the photographer stands.

26

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27

“You remember this place?” Alex asked, pulling off the road. Chase looked around, it was a regular old field, then recognition hit him. He laughed. “God, that was a night.” They had driven out here sometime shortly after Joe left for college. Chase had forgotten the lights on in the car and killed the battery. After a good long panic, he managed to get Joe to come out and help them. Joe arrived on the scene shitfaced, riding shotgun in some busted up and rusted out car. The driver — one of Joe’s roommates — was a little better off, and after a few near-electrocution experiences they managed to get the car jump-started. It was almost four in the morning when Alex and Chase finally made it home.

28

Tonight the field felt endless, but maybe it was just the weed.

29

It is a n i nteresti ng feeli ng to hold a borderless photograph in your hands. For it is one thing to hold what is limited. It is an enti rely other, a n enti rely stra nge ex pe rience to hold and grasp the limitless. We might describe sex in similar terms.

30

Barthes: “Impotent with regard to general ideas (to fiction), the photograph’s force is nonetheless superior to everything the human mind can or can have conceived to assure us of reality — but also this reality is never anything but a contingency.”

31

So then?

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“Do you think Mom and Dad knew we were sneaking out all the time?” he asked as he climbed on top of the car. Alex shrugged. “Well,” she said, “I’m still living with them and they haven’t said anything to me. And I still get away with it. Which is weird because

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with both you and Joe gone I pretty much live under a microscope.” Chase gave her a hand up and they sat next to each other under the stars. She continued, “You know, I haven’t gone on a date since you left. I mean, like the kind where a boy picks you up from the house. I figured now that I have my driver’s license and everything, stuff would ease up.” “It hasn’t?” “Well, Mom and Dad let me drive around and leave or whatever. But I’m still terrified for them to meet a boy I like. Especially Dad. You remember when I went to homecoming last year? He’s the worst.” Chase smiled. “Only one year left,” he reassured her. Diane Arbus sought to leave the reality she photographed unchanged, unposed: “I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.”

33

Alex leaned back, holding the screen of her phone before her face, gazing through it in an attempt to capture the sky. She clicked a few shots. “Huh,” she said, looking at the images. “Doesn’t really work.” Chase smiled and sighed. “Yeah,” he said. “I’ve tried.”

34

Buber: “I do not experience the man to whom I say Thou. But I take my stand in relation to him, in the sanctity of the primary word. Only when I step out of it do I experience him once more. In the act of experience Thou is far away.”

35

Randall stated that he wished to create a cube that was not inverted, but instead to construct a cube that a viewer could stand inside. The photograph might then surround t he v iewer from ever y a ngle. No longer could an observer possess the subject of a photograph, the subject made object. Instead, the photograph would possess the viewer.

36

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37

Alex turned her phone, then, to Chase and, at first, he smiled awkwardly. He fumbled through a series of half-expressions before turning instead to look over the grassy field, to pose unaware of the photographer. The digital click sound fired off from the phone’s speaker.

38

“Let me see,” Chase said, and Alex handed him the phone. He looked at the picture and shrugged. It was too dark to see much.

39

Randall titled his work with cube photographs Forced Perspective. Perhaps this was meant i n jest. In comparison to the normal photograph, there is nothing forced about this. The viewer sees everything that the photographer sees and also what the he does not see, what stands behind the photographer. But instead of being in the midst of it — as the photographer is — the viewer stands outside of everything, outside of the photographer’s entire world, holding this world in his hands.

40

“Here,” Chase said, jumping down from the roof of the SU V. He reached through the open window and pulled his camera from t he c a r. A fter wa l k i ng a few ya rds i nto the field, he turned and pointed the lens at the car and his sister on top of it. She was surrounded by pin flecks of light and the moon hung bright behind her. Chase framed and focused the picture. Click.

41

“I’ve missed these nights,” Alex called out to him. “I mean, I know you haven’t been gone long, but it’s wei rd not havi ng you around. Yeah, it sounds sappy as shit, but sti ll.” Chase smi led. He k new. “ Don’t go away like Joe did,” she commanded.

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Buber: “The relation to Thou is direct. No system of ideas, no foreknowledge, and no

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fancy intervene between I and T hou. The memory itself is transformed, as it plunges out of its isol at ion i nto t he u n it y of t he whole. No aim, no lust, and no anticipation i nter vene bet ween I a nd T h ou . D esi re itself is transformed as it plunges out of its dream into the appearance. Every means is an obstacle. Only when every means has collapsed does the meeting come about.�

43

C h a s e c l icke d t h r o u g h t h e i m a ge s n ow saved to his camera before shutting it off. He thought about Renee, a nd the gi rl i n the window, and his sister. Thinking about them together made him feel uncomfortable. These were not words meant for the same sentence. He did n’t like consideri ng the associations or his role in these exchanges. He walked back to the car and looked up at his sister, now silhouetted in front of the moon. She stared past him into the empty field.

44

Chase climbed back onto the roof of the car and looked at the sky, letting it swallow him. He felt the enormity of the world weighing heavy against him. The thick blackness of endless sky pressed against his skin and he was so small. He glanced at his sister. She sat beside him, staring out into the field. He followed the line of her gaze.

45

A few trees out in the distance.

46

Twenty billion stars in the galaxy.

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Millions of blades of tall grass, barely moving in the windless night.

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The sound of a car on a distant highway.

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95

DAVID KUMLER


APRIL, APRIL, APRIL - (W4M)

U did my tattoo this evening on New Year’s Eve at Jerry Lee’s I got stuck int he ditch and you came out of the shadows and pushed me out. started fiddling with my radio had tons of anger in me just because my family wouldn’t help out you said you were getting a degree in psychology, we also talked about our hometowns word after word just to meet the quota You smell like hard work and salt water. We used to play naked chess. Maize Community High School 1991 wine in plastic cups and crackers in your front seat

we talked about DMT and chased fireflies in your backyard

im not looking to restart a fling happy to spend most days doing cardio and watching you lift weights maybe breathe the same air as you strange beautiful

man

someone who can make chocolate from scratch

or quietly

works part-time at Radio Shack

JOSHUA GILLIS 96


SHITTY BLUE CAR.... SUNOCO - (W4M)

a slurpee machine a mop bucket half filled with water behind the counter,

two computers just collecting dust

rubber bands, supper

A real book.

Nightlife at the Academy of

spacious daylight

taking notes

waiting for permits

a chance to say

I might not ever see you after

hi this semester.

talk to me about crows

the holidays

shell casings from a little target shooting in whichever language you want

in basic electricity

this particular novelty blatant with my stares your made up doe eyes you have a Beethoven tattoo You dont know how to whistle I search for you in every male face instead of being nervous

in my car downloading directions.

There has to be a place for us.

love at arm’s length

some kind of trophy

Sunday night after the niner game

JOSHUA GILLIS 97


THE PERCH A ARON L AIN

The mind is a sort of angel’s egg of the universe and hatches stuff. BRODK EY

K

id 1 and Kid 3 are on the far shore talking about Kid 2’s sister, who’s in high school and has a body that is an unfair and crushing work of erotic art. They go on about her breasts and her lips. They take turns describing what they’d do if they got five minutes alone with her. What they don’t say is that they’d likely spend those five minutes staring at their feet, breathing loudly, utterly terrified at the prospect of approaching the embodiment of god-in-flesh, curves and all. Kid 2 is alone because he thought the fishing would be better i n the c at-ta i ls a nd reeds. F ish like shade too, that was his reasoning. The sun is a white eye dissolving the world around him, slowly turning it all back to mush. The light moves over him and makes his skin and hair hot. He hasn’t caught anything all day. He’s quiet and patient, or at least he thinks he is. Maybe this fat, gushy worm will fix it all. K id 2 sits down after he casts his line. Behind him is a racket of cicada chirps. A springy sound (like the flicking of a thousand door-stoppers). A rusty, off-kilter buzz-saw. One in particular is very close and very insistent in his calls. Maybe that is what’s driving all the fish away: this ridiculous bug who has to let everyone know just how long

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he’s been asleep. Once he caught a cicada to see how they made that sound. Turns out there’s a little flap, like a piece of plastic, that vibrates really fast behind the bug’s head. Are you going to eat me? it clicked. Its eyes were like green plastic bubbles. Dull imperfections that, even then, in that fleeting, sun-blanched moment, had something to say. Something tugs on his line. Kid 2 jerks his rod back and reels as fast as he can. Kid 1 and Kid 3 come over, seeing that he has something. They hadn’t had any luck. After they ran out of bait they sat in the shade and twisted blades of grass. He reels for a while. Don’t do it so fast, you’ll lose it, says Kid 3. Kid 2 reels until a small fish flips out of the reeds. They watch it twist and arch and smear scales on the gravel. Just a puny perch, Kid 1 says. The fish flops for some time. It gets tired and lays there, sucking at the air with it’s weird lips. You gonna take the hook out? Kid 3 asks. Kid 2 doesn’t say anything. He picks up the fish but drops it when he feels one of the fins cut into his hand. The perch flops back onto gravel with its open mouth and its stupid, glazing eyes. Such a pussy, Kid 1 says as he steps on the fish and rips out the hook. After the hook is out he looks at the fish. It has his shoe print in its side; a constellation of scales glints around it. He steps on it again, twisting his foot in an effort to tear the fish apart. But it stays intact, gulping and spread-finned amid the swirled gravel. I th i nk there’s someth i ng i nside it, K id 1 says. I felt it with my foot. T he t h re e of t hem squ at dow n to lo ok clo s er. I nde e d , something is there, hard and pointed and sticking out from under the flesh of the fish’s side. A sharp pyramid or a gem. Then the fish starts flapping again. This time with vigor. It

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flaps so hard that it begins to levitate off the ground. The three boys step back and watch the fish slowly rise like it’s being called back to heaven. What the hell, Kid 3 says. The fish stops suddenly, at a height of about six inches. Then it slowly floats back down, as if a tiny invisible crane was placing it, ever so gently, back onto the gypsum rocks. //

//

//

That night, Kid 2 can’t sleep. Something itches in his mind. What was in that fish? His mother taped up his hand so tight that he can feel his own pulse. He lies on his back, feeling his hand gently throb. Maybe there’s a diamond or a jewel inside the perch. Could it really have swallowed something like that way out there? Maybe an old woman went crazy and dumped her jewels in the bayou. Maybe they washed and tumbled along the silted bottom until they reached the reservoir. Maybe the perch saw the shiny jewel and thought it was food (or maybe it knew the secret within: the value of age, the artistry in the cut, the economy of value). That settles it, he thinks, I’m going back. I have to see what’s i n there. The thought is a c a ncer now; it has spread to his bones, into the marrow itself. Into the marrow of the marrow. He puts on his shoes and is careful not to wake anyone up. When he shuts the door behind him, he’s sure someone will wake up and look, so he runs until his chest hurts. Don’t look back. Stay out of the streetlights. T he d a rk ness is t h ick a nd swel ls a rou nd h i m. He cuts behind the neighborhood through the bayou. His flashlight dances when he runs and as it sweeps across the bayou’s edge it ignites a set of red-amber eyes from the darkness of the bank. They hiss as he runs by. It’s always gator season. The perch is right where they left it. It has stopped sucking the air. Its body is shiny and limp in the haze of the flashlight. Kid 2 kneels over it and picks it up. He sticks his finger in the fish’s mouth, trying to feel for the diamond. He gets all the way up to the knuckle, then feels the fish clamp down on his finger.

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He yells and shakes his hand trying to get the thing off. He can feel the fish’s mouth get tighter and tighter. He can feel the slick stomach of the fish and something square, like a circuit board or computer chip. He pulls on the fish but can’t get a good grip on it with his hurt, taped up hand. So he puts the fish on the ground and steps on it and tries to pull it off that way. Instead he slips and awkwardly falls onto h is back. The second h is back h its the ground, it’s day time. Like he’s fallen on a switch. He hears footsteps in the gravel. He’s not tired at all. Come on, Cameron, Kid 3 says. Cameron stands up, checking his hand for the fish. Teethmarks form a jagged ring around his finger, but there’s no fish. Maybe he fell asleep. Maybe not. Everything before now is different but the same. Okay, he says as he wipes off his pants. Cameron follows Kid 1 and Kid 3 into the woods. Kid 3 has a big stick he swings into passing tree trunks like an axe. W hat happened to your hand, K id 3 asks when Cameron catches up. I was in the shop with my dad. We were working on his bike and I didn’t know the carburetor was hot so I touched it. That was dumb, Kid 1 says. They walk for a long time. Mosquitoes sing in their ears; the trees give off something hot like breath, something that moves around Cameron, along his skin and into his pores. The boys are headed to an abandoned cabin that Kid 1 found a few weeks ago: an old house with boarded windows and doors. There’s got to be something inside. Something valuable, something no one’s seen or used in a long time. I don’t think this is the way, Kid 3 says.

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Sure it is, Kid 1 replies. The woods start getting thicker. Cameron snags his pants on thorns. Kid 3 is using his stick to clear away webs filled with banana spiders. There are more and more of them the closer they get to the cabin. See, I told you we were close. I remember the spiders, Kid 1 says. Soon enough, they find it. A dumpy looking place. It’s a lot like the old, seventies-style brick houses that fill their own neighborhood. It’s strange in the setting of the deep, spiderinfested woods. The windows are boarded tight, as if the house were sleeping. Let’s look around for a place to get in, Kid 1 says. They sea rch the house, pr yi ng at the plywood over the wi ndows, pul li ng at doors, check i ng crawlspaces (after a dark slithering thing rustles past Cameron he decides to find another way in). Then Kid 3 opens the front door from the inside. It stinks in here, he says. They walk as best as they can over debris. The house is full of old electronics. Grimy, beige cases are stacked to the ceiling, their lights dark, their fans silent. On the floor are circuitboards, motherboards, videoboards. Cracked, silicon guts of long quiet machines. Everywhere is the astringent, chemical smell of mold. It’s very hot in the house. Cameron walks by the stack of old computers and into the kitchen. There’s a table set for three. There are three (somehow dustless) plates on the counter by the stove, as if they’d just been set there, waiting to be served. But the stove itself is gone. The refrigerator is very old but running. Cameron tries to open it but the door doesn’t budge. Oh man, check this out, Kid 1 says from another room.

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Cameron leaves the kitchen and heads to the sound of the voice. He finds Kid 1 in a room with a very large, very old computer. It has a small, dim-lit amber screen and spools of tape behind a glass lid. It takes up half the room. It must weigh as much as a car. On the screen is a command with a twirling cursor after it: Run Live_ 3.perca.bin . . . and that’s it. The rest of the screen is blank. It sounds like the computer is working very hard. The screen and keyboard are covered with dust, as if it has been running that command for years. I didn’t know they made computers this big, Kid 1 says. I think it’s really old, Cameron says. Well, duh, Kid 1 says back. They take turns punching in keys but nothing responds. Kid 1 looks around the room for a plug. He finds it next to the whirring machine. I’m gonna reset it, he says. Cameron screams and startles Kid 1. His finger feels like it’s being sawed off. He looks at it. Teeth marks redden in a ring around the base; blood seeps through pores (a smattering of red stars in a pale sky). He almost remembers the fish, but the thought is interrupted by the intense fear of Jason unplugging the machine. As if the world itself will dissolve away like water on a summer sidewalk. Don’t do it, Cameron says. Don’t unplug it. Why? Because, why unplug it? It’s not yours? Yea, but no one’s here. Just don’t do it.

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Jason reaches slowly for the plug, the whole time smirking at Cameron. Don’t do it, Cameron says. But Jason doesn’t stop. Cameron lunges and yells, knocking Jason’s head against the wall. Cameron puts his knees on Jason’s arms and wraps his hands around his neck. Don’t make me, he says. Jason grins and rocks back and forth. Then he stands up on his legs and arches his back, sending Cameron forward into the wall. Jason hits Cameron hard. They have fought a few times before, but this time is different. Jason seems genuinely upset, feral even. And Cameron feels something burning and savage in himself. Like nothing he’s felt before, something deep, something base, something even more guttural and spine-born than sex. He doesn’t care if he kills him. Jason isn’t unplugging the machine. Cameron squeezes out from under Jason and stands up with his fists balled in front of his face. He looks like a bareknuckle boxer in an old black-and-white photo. You look stupid, Jason says. Cameron’s first punch hits Jason’s nose, the second, his chin. Jason doesn’t feel the second. He just crumples to the dirty floor like a deflated balloon. Cameron drags Jason out of the computer room and into the kitchen. Cameron looks around for Kid 3. Maybe he’s out by the garage. So Cameron walks outside to look around, but the garage door is still shut. Cameron stands listening to the woods around him. In the distance is the evening sun: blaring a light (yellow, like old paper) into the tangled spaces between the trees. Birds chase each other in the light, swirling the motes and pollen in their path. The dust of the dust. Jason appears next to Cameron, wiping away blood from under his nose. In the distance, K id 3 is running. He yells but the other boys don’t u nderst a nd h i m. He says he’s bei ng ch ased by something as he runs into a clearing behind the house.

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Cameron stands watching, unsure of what to do. Jason runs back into the house. Cameron jumps. He knows what’s about to happen. Like he’s known since he was born. He runs into the computer room after Jason who’s on his knees by the plug, his nose crooked, his faced smeared with blood. As he smiles, Cameron can see the orange-brown blood between Jason’s teeth. He laughs softly as he pulls the plug from the wall . . . //

//

//

The willingness of the body to fall – the sound of the bayou – Night walks around our houses, presses its face into our windows and eyes, breathes and reads its own lips – Boat on mud. Light on mud. Water on mud. The sound of the sun. Kid 3 looks into the water, sees his face but not yours. Is that dad on the motor? The trees move with the water: the boat is fixed – it’s the world that moves. Space, time, water, bark: all of it is a trick played by the eyes: by the light: by the churning brain beneath. You are noting the position of the trees. Dad is looking at his phone and somehow driving. Cameron, he says, but then doesn’t say anything else to you. He forgot what it was, or it wasn’t important. The boat seems to grow longer; dad is getting farther away from you. Where’s your friend, dad yells from a distance. He had to go home, you say. This was as true as anything could be. //

//

//

. . . It’s hot out. The movement of the crowds, the humidity, the unrelenting sun all add to it. It’s approaching unbearable. Cameron walks beside his dad who’s in khaki shorts and a white polo and a navy blue visor. They’re meeting up with

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Cameron’s mom and sister, who had elected not to go on the river-rafting ride, who said they would be at the German-style restaurant where there was lemonade and air-conditioning. The sun cuts through the tepid air like a ceramic knife. Where are they? dad asks. They’ve come to the right place, but they’re the only ones here. They said they would be here, Cameron says. Hm, says dad again, consulting his colorful map. I want a lemonade. Cameron’s dad continues staring at the map, squinting the information out of it. Maybe they meant another place with the same name? No, no, Charles, this is the only one, he thinks to himself. Dad, can I get a lemonade? Cameron asks. Sure, Charles says. He pulls out his wallet and hands his son a twenty. Get me one, too. They sit at a short table and sip their expensive drinks. Cameron puts his arms on the table and rests his head on them. He rocks his head to the side, feeling his clammy sk i n stick a nd re -stick to itself. They sit like that for a while: sipping and sighing, burning in the light. Charles h as a go od rel at ionsh ip w it h h is son. He t h i n ks so. He k nows t h at w i l l st a r t ch a ng i ng so on , t h at h is son w i l l never again see his father as a superhero: the way he did when he was little. Charles really got a kick out of that. He never imagined that would be the thing he took away from fatherhood. He never saw his own father with such immensity, or, at least, he doesn’t remember feeling that way. Granted the past is something fuzzy and flowing: it shapes itself in the mind, rearranges itself (moments and faces, smears of light, perfumes and hands and nakedness) at will. Memory, which exists inside the mind, seems to have a mind of its own. Where does it end, exactly? Where does it begin? Where do I begin? Do I begin as a man and

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end as a father? Or do I begin as a son, become a father and die as a man? I’m going to go find your mother and sister, Charles says, I think they went to the souvenir shop across the plaza. Stay here and drink your lemonade. Here. Take the rest of mine. Okay, Cameron says. He pulls the drink to him and tries to drink from both straws at once. Charles leaves the gaudy, polka-filled restaurant and moves quickly and squinting through the blinding heat to a little shop filled with glass shelves and orange lights and tiny crystal animals. He doesn’t see his wife or daughter in the shop, but he lingers to admire the little creatures anyway. Mostly, he enjoys the air-conditioning and the quiet. The bored teenager behind the counter chews her gum steadily; the air-conditioner hums; the animals bear their spectrum, their rainbow-and-needle skeletons. Charles sees a large giraffe with its own shelf. He stares into the crystal, into the wild colorscape: the forest of light and spears of color that burst from within. Cameron sits where his dad left him, finishing the second lemonade. He fiddles with the plastic lining on the side of the table. There are names scratched into it (Mathe[sic] loves someone called Alexa). The man behind the counter sees Cameron and says to his coworker something about people leaving their kids alone in these places. He looks mad. He wasn’t even supposed to work today. He is about to head over when Charles comes back into the restaurant. They aren’t there, he says, I guess they went back to the hotel to take a nap. He looks at his watch and asks his son if he wants to go on one more ride. Your choice, Charles says, handing him the map. Cameron reads the map as if it will lead him to treasure. He is tired and not looking for anything too intense. Something quiet, but not too childish. Something fun but relaxing, with just a tinge of adventure. He decides on the pirate ride.

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They are the only ones in line when they reach the opening of the fiberglass cave. There are fake torches with paper fires flickering upward. Looks like a short line, dad says as they move quickly through the winding velvet rope. Lucky us. The bored attendant gives them the safety rules. He is in a yellow vest and has plugs in his ears. Don’t get off the ride for any reason, he murmurs. Then the ride groans forward across black water. They a re the only ones on the ride, so of course they sit up front. Then there are lights and plaster building-fronts and hairy robots dressed as pirates. Scenes of debauchery and heroism. The romance of the sea, its call like a woman. Cameron has heard that idea before: the call of the sea like a lover. He understands as well as he can. But the romance of it is somewhat lost on him, the allure, the freedom, the wetness, the undulation (this kind of thing is only a murmur now as he approaches sexuality; it is something darkly humming, something without edges, a formless pulse and urge, a dull ache). Only the sound of gunpowder and seagulls speak to him. The pure truth of violence, the absolute beauty in necessary evil. The ride is slow and cool. Charles welcomes the break from the heat. Cameron allows himself to be enraptured by the hokey effects. As the ride progresses Cameron dips his hand into the water. It’s cold and metallic. It’s so dark that Cameron suspects it may not be water at all. Soon they move i nto a la rge, ex pa ndi ng room with two quarter-scale replicas of old galleons set on either side of the track. The ceiling is black, but fades into an indigo near the horizon. Stars in the walls twinkle (fiber-optics, Charles thinks, beautifully timed, twinkling like shards of moonlight on the ocean). Cameron studies the ships. At the helm of one is someone in a red coat and a f lowing black beard. That looks like an actor, Charles says. Cameron studies the figure closely, watching its movements. Then the captain takes off his hat and beard. It’s Kid 3, in a too-big red coat with gold buttons and a rapier at his side. Kid 3 yells FIRE and as he does several explosions rock the room and ripple the water. The ship on the other side is shredded instantly,

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bursting as if it were made of tongue depressors. A fire begins moving across the ship and the water, unfolding its heat and light onto the styrofoam and fiberglass and wood. Robots begin jumping off the burning ship into the inchesdeep water below. They cry and scream as they burn; their rubber faces melt off their skeletons; their hair shrivels and smokes. They cry for their mothers; they curse and pray to God; they cry out to Cameron and Charles to save them. Cameron’s stomach tightens; something like ash is on his tongue. He jumps out of the boat to help the burning animatrons – there’s plenty of room on the boat, after all. The screen of Charles’ phone lights his indifferent face. How can he just ignore all of this? How can he sit there and do nothing? Cameron thinks that maybe his father has gone suddenly deaf from the explosions. Cameron wades through the track and tries to climb up onto the platform where the screams come from (their cries have become fewer – he’s running out of time!) but as he reaches for the lip his taped hand slips off the slick surface, causing him to fall backward into the more-than-black water. The farther he sinks, the more his hand aches. He doesn’t think about breathing. Small shapes begin to suffuse from the black around him; a dull, greenish light pierces the water from above. The shapes f licker closer and closer. They are little fish. Perch, maybe. It’s hard to tell because they move so quickly. Kid 3 is there too, somewhere farther below. Cameron sees Kid 3’s face, his round features, his small nose and big ears. But those things start fading, too. This image of his friend – something happened to him a long time ago. Or maybe it wasn’t that long ago. Something with water, something black and cold, something metallicsmelling. Cameron reaches for a fish to comfort him, some kind of life in his hands to reaffirm him as he sinks until the light is completely gone. A fter the ride, Cha rles lifts h is son out of the boat a nd walks to a nearby bench. A crowd gathers around the wet, unconscious boy who appears to be seizing. Charles has his hand in the boy’s mouth to keep him from biting off his own tongue. There’s blood around his mouth and sliding down his hand (it mixes with the water, it’s swirling and diluted:

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a wet, vaguely orange hue glossing the top of his hand). When Charles pulled his son out of the water, he thought about a boy who drowned, a boy Cameron knew from school. He thought about the parents at the funeral (how they sat far apart, how ineffable pain like dark matter ripped them away from each other, faster and beyond what any could understand, beyond what Charles could only imagine, how loss can shred like tissue something as potent and virulent as love). Charles wished so hard that his son would grow out of these spells. But for now, he’ll sit with his hand in the boy’s mouth until the boy goes limp, until he breathes and wakes up, saying that he’s hungry as he wipes his mouth and blinks his eyes, as the indifferent breezes make him shiver, as the witnesses hold their hands over their mouths, as each person is brought out from her own separate moments to this place – where the water is dark and the current is true, and gratitude hangs like Spanish moss from the trees along the bayou.

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NIGHTCAP REPORTS AND OPINIONS FROM THE FIELD

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U.S. AIR GUITAR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING EVENT KEVIN FOSTER

On an evening this past June, I found myself among a sparse, cautiously expectant crowd in a small Nashville club at the foot of a stage watching a man who I would come to find out was the reigning Air Guitar World Championship Runner-Up, Doug “The Thunder” Stroock, ripping wildly into the first imaginary chord of a Van Halen deep-cut. This was my first experience with the U.S. Air Guitar Championships Nashville Qualifying Event. The virtues of the competition are many, but at its heart is the intersection of its almost perfect satire of the panelscored performance art (e.g. figure skating, dog showing, or televised singing competitions) and the actual, honestto -God artistry of a Truly Great Air Guitar Solo. After a fevered and confusing group seeding process, contestants perform prepared one-minute flashes of flailing, thrusting, and bounding about the stage, which are scored by a panel of sardonic disc jockeys and Viking-maned hard rockers for thei r tech nic a l merit, stage presence, a nd a qua lity appropriately coined “airness” on a scale of 4.0-6.0. These criteria, like the competition itself, make a great amount of intuitive sense. Virtuosic accuracy in mimicking a guitar solo is difficult enough even for a master guitarist – perhaps even more so without a material guitar in hand – that it’s boring to watch. And no sensual gyration can distract the audience from a performance in which the illusion of the guitar solo is not sustained. This is especially and most troublingly true for contestants when the rhythm of their strokes doesn’t match those of the song, which gives the impression of an early unsuccessful attempt at masturbation. “Airness,” the most important criterion of judgment, is a measure of the ascension of the performance, beyond its technical accuracy and stage presence, to the status of art. A cursory look at the contestants as they milled on the side of the stage revealed that there are no qualifications for

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entry. It was, in short, a mötley crüe. For every contestant clad in tight pants and an outlandish wig, there was one who appeared he had stumbled in on accident. A short man in a flashy suit supplemented his prepared routine with party poppers and glow sticks, yet was somehow outdone by a man dressed plainly aside from a handkerchief tied on his wrist. One of the event’s two female competitors wore a worn floral nightgown and lipstick that ventured far beyond the contours of her lips. She drank beers loudly throughout the evening and drew the adoration of the crowd despite a relatively hohum solo. The entertainment quality of the performances seemed directly related in a flexible combination to prepla n ned choreography a nd heav y pre -ga mi ng. The tr ue competitors quickly separated themselves from the bedroom noodlers and losers of drunken bets. Even so, not even the qualifier’s eventual champion came near either the perfection of interpretation or technical mastery of The Thunder. His performance was transcendent, a thing entirely greater than the sum of its parts, the almostpinnacle of air guitar’s purest form.

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BAD FEMINIST BY ROXANE GAY BRIT TNEY MCKENNA

When I bought Bad Feminist, the guy ringing me up offered a disapproving look. “What’s this supposed to be about?” I explained that it’s an essay collection, written by one of my favorite thinkers, about trying to be a feminist while enjoying the Bachelorette or “Blurred Lines,” and how difficult it can be to toe the line when sometimes you just want to dance to Jay Z. “Oh okay, so it’s feminism for people who want the easy way out. Got it.” Needless to say it was a fruitless conversation, but it does sum up why Bad Feminist is so necessary right now: it’s emblematic of a culture that only allows a woman to adopt the label “feminist” if she is always on her best behavior, if she reads theory and follows all the rules and shames anyone who doesn’t. New York Times bestselling novelist Roxane Gay is all too familiar with being a “bad feminist,” and has turned the moniker into a rallying cry for women who, in attempting to escape the oppression of the patriarchy, find themselves knocked off what she calls the “Feminist Pedestal,” cut down by the same system that’s supposed to uplift them. It might sound like pop theory to the uninitiated (Gay notes her lack of familiarity with feminist theory early on), but Bad Feminist functions more as memoir than manifesto, an account of one woman trying to navigate the ever-changing role of feminist in an effort to help others do the same.  Gay’s topics run the gamut, from 50 Shades of Grey and “Sweet Valley High” to the exclusion of transgender women, queer women, and women of color from mainstream discussions of feminism. Most of her essays are inconclusive, ruminating on larger problems without offering much in the way of solutions. It’s a refreshing change of pace, though, her reluctance to tie tangled things up with a neat little bow. Her criticism of the inherent racism of films like Django Unchained and The Help stems from a place of deeply held unease instead

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of scholarly citation, and serves as a reminder that you don’t need theory to understand you’re being degraded. At ti mes, Gay’s con nections c a n stretch her a rg uments thin, mistaking contiguousness for relevance, like when she discusses A my Winehouse’s death in the same breath as A nders Behring Breivik’s 2011 massacre in Norway (the two events occurred a day apart). The collection can feel a bit haphazard, too, in its effort to cover so much ground in so few pages. W hat Ba d Femini st lacks i n cohesion, though, it makes up for in vulnerability. In one of the most poignant essays (“What We Hunger For”), Gay transitions from her love of T he Hunger Games to her experience being raped by her boyfriend and his friends when she was in middle school, how reading about the strength of a young woman facing the unendurable soothes some old, deep wounds. “All too often, representations of a woman’s strength overlook the cost of that strength, where it rises from, and how it is called upon when needed most,” Gay writes. She’s writing about Katniss, sure, but more than that she’s writing about herself, how her past experiences helped shape her own personal feminism, flaws and all. “It’s a nice idea that we could simply follow a prescribed set of rules and make the world a better place for all,” Gay writes. But Bad Feminist reminds us that feminism, at its core, isn’t about rules; it’s about humanity and it’s about people. And if there’s one thing we know about people, it’s that not one of them is perfect. And that’s okay. 

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INTERNET NOSTALGIA, 2014 JOSEPH STOREY

Minus Nipplegate, the ongoing Open Internet proceeding is the most controversial issue in telecommunications history and has raised what is perhaps the first solidarity movement a mong t he my r i ad cit i zens of t he I nter net Ter r itor ies (c ata lyzed, of a l l people, by a T V comedia n). W h i le the specific legal and policy questions around Net Neutrality are quite complex and technical, the FCC’s proceeding has prompted broad reflections about the internet: What is it? Should it change? What ever happened to Rickrolls? Strangely, the prevailing narrative in the media (social and real) this year has been one of preservation. An explosively transformative technology that has only been prominent for a couple decades is now spoken of as if it was a natural entity to be protected - instead of “Save the Whales,” we now proclaim “Save the Internet!” Corresponding with this protective tendency is a romanticization of the internet, especially regarding what it used to be. Simply put, most advocates and their retweeting crews view the internet as either a) currently in its ideal form but deeply threatened, or b) deteriorating. To be sure, we’ve had some great times. Myspace, AskJeeves, AIM (ttyl). Remember when Facebook was just a facebook? We all have a different Golden Age of the Internet. However, when we reflect on our own Golden Age, it becomes clear that what we really mean is the time when our favorite stuff wasn’t commercialized - a slightly more pixelated world of blank sidebars, free news, and no goddamned VEVO ads. But unfortunately this sentiment is total nonsense. Facebook, YouTube, and the rest always knew they would commercialize. We just got suckered in on the free trial run. The web has been commercialized since its earliest years. (AOL, anyone?) Our surprise or disgust is a result of our confusion about the nature of the internet; we implicitly became used to the

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idea that the internet (my internet) couldn’t, intrinsically, be monetized in a systemic way. This is not all our fault; the rhetoric of our favorite platforms vaguely told us that the internet would be something different - a place of freedom. Now we k now it i s mo st ly ad sp ac e . We wer e l i ke gold prospectors, who upon reaching the Klondike realized that we had been encouraged to journey merely to fill the saloons. Accelerati ng tech nologic a l development mea ns that we can observe a particular technology move through many forms within a few decades, years, even weeks. Instead of acclimating us to rapid change, this tends to actually make us more reactionary, as we watch our world spin at an increasingly nauseating pace. How long we can stomach the vertigo before walking away is an open question. Regardless of how the Net Neutrality issue turns out, we need to rework our general attitude toward the internet if we are to take charge of its growth. The internet is almost certainly still in its infancy. If we want it to be something different than what it has been or is, that’s on us, and entails a task of hard future work. But what we shouldn’t do is entertain false nostalgia - that’s how you turn grumpy and fatalistic, which doesn’t help anyone.

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS HANNAH BAGGOTT

Hannah Baggott is a Nashville native currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University. She spends most of her time in coffee shops. hannahbaggott.com

JOSHUA GILLIS

Joshua Gillis was born in Wayne County, MI. He currently lives in Davidson County, TN. He operates Glad Fact Records out of his bedroom. * All poems herein were assembled using fragments of actual posts on the Craigslist Missed Connections forum, spanning numerous cities, internationally. Each line is taken from a unique post, rescued from deletion and repurposed.

DAVID KUMLER

David Kumler is a g raduate i nstr uctor a nd student at the University of Washington, currently pursuing a PhD in Literature. He holds a BA in in Religious Studies from Belmont University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of A l aba m a . H is w r it i ng often ex plores t he d i fficu lt y of articulating and affirming one’s own subjectivity within the confi nes of sha red la ng uage a nd the va rious appa ratuses of subjugation.

AARON LAIN

Aaron is a flare of residual light from a distant white dwarf star working various kitchen jobs in Nashville TN. It slides along the bituminous black accumulating grease burns. It’s dying to tell you something, but you’ll have to put away your phone for like two minutes. Three tops.

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Currently looking for a gallery to show his work. benjaminrubin.carbonmade.com

GRIFFIN WENZLER

Griffi n Wenzler is a new god. You may not have hea rd of him yet, but you will. Your friends and neighbors will begin attending rites and ceremonies performed in his honor. He is a n i mpulsive a nd wicked god, sent to destroy a l l other gods before h i m. He si ncerely wishes the editors of th is publication would have allowed him to use the term “mouse qu- -f” instead of “mouse fart” on page 33.

SAM WEST

Sa m West is a n E SL teacher a nd w riter. He has accepted a position in Cantaria, Spain for the 2014 /15 academic year.

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IN THIS ISSUE: HANNAH BAGGOTT

A ARON L AIN

SEL ECT ED POEMS

T H E P E RC H

JOSHUA GILLIS

GRIFFIN WENZLER

C R I AG S L I S T M I S S E D C O N N E C T IO N S

THE MULE

DAVID KUMLER

SAM WEST

NOT E S ON PHOTOGR A PH Y

T H E P U N I S H M E N T I N PA S C AG O U L A

Julep Journal - Issue 2  

The second issue of Julep features work bound together by the search for identity in the evolving South of the 21st century. Join our writer...

Julep Journal - Issue 2  

The second issue of Julep features work bound together by the search for identity in the evolving South of the 21st century. Join our writer...

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