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the c o r duroy m tn. vol 2.


From November of 2008 until December 2009 Greying Ghost Press published 45 works of poetry and prose through The Corduroy Mtn ., an online literary venture. In an effort to make the material easier to access, Greying Ghost has decided to publish all 45 pieces in three ebook volumes. This second volume collects the contributions of Charles Lennox, Jason Fraley, Troy Urquhart, Patrick Lucy, Howard Good, Jennifer Pieroni, Patrick Lamothe, Brian Alan Ellis, Drew Kalbach, D.C. Porder, Evelyn Hampton, Donald Dunbar, Adam Moorad, Tomas Weber, Adam Robinson, & J.A. Tyler

The Corduroy Mtn. Archive Vol. Two October 2011 Published in conjunction with Greying Ghost Press www.greyingghost.com


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13


Maui Eyes Charles Lennox

I reached out and touched the spot slightly below the girl’s elbow and at once she dropped her textbooks and went tiptoeing down the hallway like a ballerina, her arms flowing from third position to fourth. They stopped and watched her, teenagers wearing backpacks crammed with notepaper and thick books. Together we stared as she went into a short run and leapt forward, legs split front to back, her feet and the weight of her all landing on the floor with a gentle thud. She stopped at an orange locker and spun the combination wheel clockwise, counterclockwise, then clockwise again. She lifted the metal handle and swung the door open, her skinny fingers and skinny arms reaching in and pulling out a chocolate cupcake with an unlit candle claimed in its fudge center. A Korean boy came out of the chemistry lab and she offered him the dessert. “Make a wish,” she said. “Close your eyes and wish the continent.” I came up behind her in careful steps. I pinched her left earlobe with my thumb and forefinger. She released and the cupcake fell to the ground, rolled on its side. Then I saw that the girl was looking at me. For the first time, she was looking at me. I could see the whites of her eyes darkening to the color of ocean, that shallow heart of the Pacific. Like the surrounding waters of Maui. The kind of blue where tropical fish swim, streaked in yellow and black, their noses like little trumpets. “I know you,” she said. I stepped back. “What?” “From middle school. You’re Kenneth. Tell me your name is Kenneth.” I looked away, through the window, somewhere else. “No,” I said. “That’s not me.”


“Thomas, then. Jules. Yes, your name has to be Jules.” I took hold of her narrow wrists and squeezed. At first, nothing. Then a sound out of the sky, something like trees buckling under the wind and splintering in half, something like the cry of a wounded animal lost in the gross blackness of a cave. There was a shout of light, a pause in time, and the world seemed to breathe in deep and exhale slow. It was quieter now, the world. I blinked and saw that the girl’s head was on fire. She was burning and a ladder of smoke rose from the top of her head up to the ceiling, quickly casting itself out wide until no ceiling was left to be seen. Someone’s voice was yelling for water. Another for the glass to be broken and the fire alarm pulled. Students and teachers were heading down the stairs, some with shirts pulled over their noses and mouths, others coughing into a hand. The floor emptied and only the girl and I remained. She lowered her burning head as if to bow. “Make a wish Nicholas,” she said. “Close your eyes Kale and wish the stars. Wish the great wall of China.” I closed my eyes. I thought about my name, its letters and the way it appeared on the signature line. How the tongue touched the roof of the mouth whenever it was spoken. My name was the fire in that girl’s hair and the liquid melting down the sides of her face. It was in the gray of the smoke and caught in the people’s lungs. My name, my name. I took a long breath and in one blow snuffed the girl out.


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14


Self-Portrait With The Contagion Jason Fraley

The contagion guts winter. From frozen wings or frozen lungs or both, geese slap the roadways, dead. Authorities think snow could be gathered into a flash that precedes a great magic trick, when the contagion makes every American disappear, misplacing them in the process. Snow stashed inside whisky barrels and abandoned salt mines. Hey, I’m okay--without electricity, that’s one less bill to pay. Power plants idle, Chernobyl replicas, adding another layer of steely gray. I felt rustic, attuned to nature, until the contagion opened me up one night, strung Christmas lights around my skeleton. Now, how much do you love my green eyes? My festive hue, which changes in ten-second intervals, might disrupt your sleep schedule, but hasn’t my story taught you anything about sleep? You won’t hear the contagion’s footsteps, the contagion’s car door shut. I’ve watched tv shows on burn victims, and there’s no need to dream about them any longer. Try to lie prone, unwilling or unable to speak. Try that. Try that until the third or fourth night when you can’t stay awake any longer. Then hope the contagion’s voice sounds like a goose crashing into the metal roof.


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15


Dear Tourniquet, Matthew Olzmann

Theory says, apply enough pressure and nothing will bleed. The mouth of the cave will collapse. Flood waters will build and build but not gurgle forward into the sleeping village. Have you looked around lately? Nothing seems to stop the waters of an angry twenty-first century from pouring into the lives of everyone I know. We could start with the three kids turned into chalk outlines at the high school down the road. Then widen the lens to look at the factories transformed into silent museums throughout the Midwest. A flu virus that outsmarts every vaccine while insurance executives smile from their yachts made from failed kidneys. It’s hard not to pray as if god is a rope to lash around a wound. Even so, tomorrow seems to be made from stitches that keep busting open and you keep letting me down.


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16


Poem For Fish I Didn’t Catch Troy Urquhart

Three men under the grey of light rain cast nets from the high bank where creek empties into bay. One gathering in his hands, one in the water, watching it settle, one pulling up, hand over dripping hand. As he lifts over the bank’s edge, nine silver fish writhe to break free, squirm for lives now lost.


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17


The Land of Mouth Breathers Patrick Lucy

In the evening my share is a small bird in the window. A modest sunset fills my belly. I believed if it hadn’t been for the walking, I never would’ve arrived. That was last week- I know better now. My head rolls downhill trying to measure the distance from my bedpost to the jump-rope in light years. I’ve yet to grow a bedpost I can return to. I gave up and released my grip on Tuesday. It was Wednesday then. In between, the flocks I was imagining were being erased from the film by an artist. I take the sunrise whole in my mouth each morning, asking What’s your name?, looking for my own name. A woman came back to me, she said I am not speaking from the patterns on this faded dress, these pulled hairs, that steel blue watering can recliner, the five tonsils of regret or the larynx of forgiveness. It wasn’t forgiveness, I argued like a tree (from the ground up). Clients arrive with their stomachs inside out and pulled over their heads. They are not interested. They are like creatures from the bottom of the sea, independent, finally, of weather and light.


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18


Investigations Into The Tectonics Of The Tibetan Plateau Howard Good

The chief inspector leans back in his chair and picks his teeth with a matchstick. The dead aren’t missing much, he muses. My right arm hangs dead at my side. Perhaps I’m bleeding from somewhere as well. His men, spread out across the plateau, rap smartly on the doors of empty apartments. I only escape because they let me. But the moon is chipped, and even the starstrung ladder on which I might once have climbed wobbly toward it is gone.


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19


Prizes For Losers Jennifer Pieroni

One resignation after another brought my brother and me to this place, the specific crumble in a stone wall leading to the field. With cigarettes, he had lured me down from the eaves and into the afternoon. He carried a rusty knife to bushwhack the grass. His growth was stunted; neither of us played in leagues because what was the use? We smoked in the valley, the Monarchs dead on goldenrod like oversized ornaments, all of the grasshoppers still itching. He flicked his lighter over the grass and lit multiple fires. When they joined, we moved back. I said, “Put that out,” nodding at the house on the top of the hill. We stomped it out black. “If they see you, say you are in terrible danger,” he said, racing me, my thighs fatty and tight, loose and flexed, like this was what it felt like to run for sport. My breathing so uneven, my mouth must have opened to the grasshopper, cheeping, that flew up to my roof and hit the very bony top.


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20


A Poem for Two Patrick Lamothe

It is two p.m. There is me and you. This is two. There are two people riding in this car, still one never knows when it is part of something more. You say my name twice before I look up. You are driving and so you cannot return my glance for long. There are two hours left. Two arms and hands try to hold you in place. This is difficult since you are liquid so I pour you into two cups. I pass you around in opposite directions and sing. I do this because I have nothing else to do. It is two p.m. We have two hours left. When I say two days I mean two days and two nights. We never mean what we say. You are two people and those two people are two other people. No one knows the one that sleeps. Two synonyms and two antonyms are eating lunch at a stagecoach diner roadside of state route 2. Every conversation begins and ends in two words. Short-long long-long short-short. What is another word for the moon? The universe in two. Both sides scream yes-yes. A dark mirror glares but its light won’t reach us. Constellations of questions marks, question marks between those constellations. You ask me what I am writing. “What I always write” I reply, “something I just remembered.”


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21


Luck

Brian Alan Ellis

“Love is pain, such sharp and ridiculous pain.” I say this as she feeds me what my uncle would call a “knuckle sandwich.” “Love is a jealous hell hound digging its claws into your throat.” My blood feels warm as it swims beneath the swelling of my flesh. “Love is the softener of man, the immortal undoing of one’s strength and character.” She has started kicking and stomping me-first in the groin, then everywhere else. “In Love, Loss trails closely behind; it sits perched in Love’s shadow, waiting to strike at any given moment.” I nearly choke from swallowing my front teeth, which were broken from all that kicking and stomping. “O the shame of-” I am interrupted by the sound of my ribs snapping. “O the shame of sentiment,” I try again, “O the possibility of Love left grieving beneath a hopeless moon.” It is now very difficult to speak, to breathe, when half the wind has been pummeled out of me. But I must continue. Yes, I must. “Broken, I bury myself within the terror of an empty night as-” I pause to scream as her thumb gouges out my left eye “-one thousand phantom birds cry out.” I know now that she has left me to die alone. I know this because I had watched her go with my one good eye. And it is getting very dark. And all I can do now is wonder, though it is nearly impossible to pinpoint, where all the good luck has gone.


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22


Pattern Of Latent Insomnia Drew Kalbach

We keep house just to have it. We keep the bottles just to fill with bile and missing bibles. The brittle mother’s face stayed inches from the hard frozen ground ready to lick the frost from between the blades of grass. Her chin pestered ant hills and garbage men. We wanted to touch her with our mouths. The china snowmen and the porcelain cats roll down hills in shards and shatter against playground swing sets and safety vests. We were sentenced to resuscitation in public pools. The stickballs and cockthrobs were enough. Her stranger’s hand formed a claw and groped at the cloth on an old woman’s crotch. She wanted patterns of flowers and patterns of people in heat. The fencing was an excuse to thrust publicly through vending machines and condom wrappers and cheap little boy underwear. She wanted patterns of friendship but not real radiators burning off her feet.


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23


Last Saturday D.C. Porder

My best friend vanished into a taxi which was a portal to a different dimension. A python Z-ed across the pavement. I called Christina on a floating intercom and we agreed to wait for the subway for 77 years. My skin wrinkled into the surface of the moon. I puked onto the hood of a flying car at age 96. Christina said, “You should clean that up.� Then I died.


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24


Your Place Has Arrived Evelyn Hampton

Blips and blaps of days unordered Everyone’s childhood a vacant moon Distilled into a liquid Gives an even tone to the facial skin Muscles nuanced by boredom Fill with fluid laughter Points on maps skitter toward A line drawn by a distant surveyor I knew him or we chatted in a corner


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25


You Are The Boss of Me Donald Dunbar

Maybe you’d like to be a bank teller, and count out money for old folk hobbled by their memories. Maybe you’d rather be an old man or woman, and have to explain yourself three times to the gardener. Maybe you enjoy moving your body and would like to get sweaty. You’d like being a gardener, eating a picnic lunch in the valuable garden. Maybe the provider role appeals to you; if so, perhaps be an organic vegetable, and provide for grocery shoppers your moist nutrition. You could be a shopper, and have a heart-attack embarrassingly in the check-out line. Be the paramedic shouting cusses as you pump your braided fingers on a chest, your ambulance careening through the dark streets like a monster. And on those particularly fateful nights when you Just Couldn’t Save Her you sulk to the bar, tell the bartender “whisky, straight”, or you pour the shot for the paramedic, if you are the bartender, and watch the paramedic’s friend, who looks just like you, walk in, place your arm on the paramedic’s shoulder, and sit down on the stool next to him.


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26


Loisaida

Adam Moorad

Maybe someone should call an ambulance. He or she has been laying there for a while and the dogs are beginning to pick. Their shadows dance in the gloam. He or she could always be sleeping but, over there, it’s probably too chilly. The wind is pouring off the river and the gold hairs on his or her wig are bouncing and blowing. I wonder what he or she looks like underneath. Bet he or she is from Bruuklyn, I think, or Chersy. A plastic bag tumbles down the road. The look of it makes me shiver. He or she must be cold. I think about going over there, but I don’t like dogs. Plus, I finally have the pavement warm like I like. His or her gold shoes look pretty beneath the streetlights. The sign above him or her reads: HONEYCUTT. It makes me hungry. The sequins on his or her shoes twinkle. I look at my dirty sneakers and feel inferior. He or she is face down on a section of brick. The brick looks like the color of blood. I think that because maybe there is some over there. He or she hasn’t moved for a while. And it’s too cold to sleep. I pretend to feel warm.


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27


The Hole Tomas Weber

3/11/19N., dear, I want to change shape and go inside the hole. I do not know for sure what the hole is about. It was made after the wall was made. That is all I know for sure about the hole. 4/11/19N., dear, there’s something really dangerous about this hole that is a certain measurable distance around the rim. The hole looks like it has started growing, and maybe changing shape. The hole will remain a hole, unless it gets filled in with chemicals that don’t yet happen here. I need a flask of something chemical. I will ask O to bring over the chemicals when O comes over tomorrow. 5/11/19N., dear, I do not currently enjoy being surrounded by things that will become corpses. My skin could burn away in the same way that anything else could burn away. I thought I knew that. It’s like, everything is about either love or murder and I am about neither. I am a figure of heavy industry and chemical experiment. I work hard and blow-up. I can hear chord sequences coming from inside the hole. Somebody is playing chord sequences inside the hole. 6/11/19N., dear, in this place, potential industrial landscapes are everywhere. It’s so beautiful to look out on them at night from a place that’s high up. Sweeping vistas onto potential industrial landscapes are what I want. I want you as well and not just because you make the whole thing so dark you get up in front of me. Climb up high to see lots of dark happening all at once. Use binoculars to see it better. I blew the candle out because it was a thing and itching me. The chords are possibly in D minor. The chords are possibly killing me. Killing me like I am going to die or turn


into machinery. I know I am a potential industrial landscape. I’ve been thinking about this. 7/11/19N., dear, it feels like there’s something really dangerous that’s near me. A hole in the wall is near me. The hole is small. I can reach up and touch the hole. I can stroke it around the rim with my little finger and I don’t have to look because I know it. Stroking the edge of the hole causes little bits of the wall to fall off. The hole doesn’t lead to anywhere except to a place that is a potential industrial landscape. 8/11/19N., dear, as of today, there are no things in my room that are the right size to fit inside the hole. The hole may be growing, and changing shape. I have been thinking about the hole. I know now that the hole is the safest place in the room. The room that is a potential industrial landscape. Still, chemicals are not the things that happen here. Right now, chemicals are the things that happen elsewhere. Still, I am somewhere between a potential industrial landscape and a potentially brutal fucking murder. 9/11/19N., dear, I am freaked out when people live in their cars. If you told me you lived in your car it would change everything. I want you to tell me if you live in your car. Nothing will change. I’m sorry. I wish you were still happening here like you were an hour ago. Why do you happen sometimes and then turn off and disappear and leave me here alone with the hole. I want you to lie here forever and be still and breathing a little so that I can put a large calendar over your face like a veil and punch the calendar. You are an event that I can’t predict. An occasion. I want to cover the hole in the wall with the calendar, hang it up. The calendar is broken. 10/11/19N., dear, right now I am feeling what I usually feel when I think about you. I am thinking about you. I can see that now. I am looking into the hole in the wall and thinking of you. It sounds like chords are coming out of the hole. There’s something really dangerous and unknown about


thinking of you with this strange chord sequence running underneath. These strange chords that could be just single notes. These chords that are like all the beautiful murderers that I grew up with. Why did the fact that I’ve seen one broken body seem to interest you. If I get too warm my blood will burn through my skin and spill out over the floor, fizzy and boiling. Is it true what you said, that blood is blue when it’s inside you and red when it spills out of you. I feel if this were true that it would change just about everything. Nothing will change. I am an unopened can of blue blood. A flask. Nothing will change.


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28


Zach Mayhem Chronicles (Ch. 2) Adam Robinson

We had spent years looking at the moon so naturally we were excited at the prospect of going there. But our pilots were concerned about escaping the atmosphere in the right angle, so they took to their calculations. I did not want an egghead pilot so I said I would do it. I would do it, just put me in the right chair and buckle up. Budgetary restaints made this feasible. I burned a lot of gas but they don’t call me Zach Mayhem for nothing and before long we arrived at the moon. Next thing you know the advance patrol was pulling out compasses and maps and wearing lab coats, and I didn’t want no eggheads for advance patrol so I said I would do it. But the aliens of fear! they said. I do not care, I said, just put a bazooka in my hands and point me in the General’s direction. It was me who rigged up the bio dome and when the plumbing goes kaput I’m the one who breaches the outer hatch to fix it. Lord knows I don’t want no brainy plumbers but we’ve got to stay comfortable, and when it comes time for a little R and R I work hard so I play hard because I’m the doctor and the chef of this loony outpost, too.


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29


giraffes J.A. Tyler

SEE IT GOES UP she says and I say, like I’m supposed to say, YEP. There are things we are supposed to say. I say YEP and OKAY and ALRIGHT. Sometimes I say SURE. I know in a place like this, this time, standing watching the tall necks of these giraffes and the chew of their food sinking down in stomachs and carrying back up, like an elevator, that I am supposed to say YEP. She says SEE IT GOES UP, my mom, and I am supposed to say YEP. I do, I say it. I say what I am supposed to say. At night when she kisses me my mom she says DON’T LET THE MOON KEEP YOU AWAKE, AND DON’T LET IT GET YOU. and I smile and laugh and she smiles too and I say I LOVE YOU and she says I LOVE YOU BACK. She is always worried, my mom, that the moon will keep me awake, that the moon will come in the night and carry me away, in a sack or on its back, like a giant with world long legs and messy black hair. The moon is not a monster and I know it is not a giant but my mom she says it anyway, about the moon, and sometimes I believe her. Sometimes I think she thinks the moon might keep me awake or carry me away. She believes, my mom. She believes enough that it goes to me too, sometimes, into me, so that I get up when she is out of the room and the light from under the door is not coming from under the door anymore and I climb into the rocking chair and put my head under the curtains and look. Those are nights I believe, when I have to eyeball the moon to keep it away, to keep it from coming into my room, just so I know it is there. GROSS she says when it goes up, this chew in those giraffes’ mouths. YEAH I say, GROSS. She smiles and I smile and the eyes of the giraffes are moons today, the things we watch. She believes in giraffes, my mom, she believes in everything. Sometimes it makes me believe too, her belief in everything, so I keep watching the giraffes, making sure they don’t put her in a sack, my mom, or on their backs to carry her somewhere else. DON’T LET THE GIRAFFES GET YOU I say to her and she says back, my mom, I WON’T.


Copies of our print issue can be purchased through the Greying Ghost website: http://www.greyingghost.com


The Corduroy Mtn. Archives. Vol. 2