Volume 20 Spring 2009
art & Literary Magazine
poetry prose pants lewis hyde mad libs teenage mutant ninja turtles jeremy messersmith elephants hippos comics art
Undergraduate art & literary Magazine 1
The Dream Team Editors in Chief Dixon Bordiano Meghan Hanson Managing Editors Jamie Joslin Scott Moen Derek Swart Senior Copy Editor Kristi Behnke Graphic Design Editor Jessica Congdon Special Content Editor Jenna Holly Beyer Online Editor Ellalane Bearth Marketing and PR Directors Evy Bround McKenzie Martin Fiction Editors Kristi Behnke Holly Harrison Alyssa Lochner Nonfiction Editors Jenna Holly Beyer Kate Kunitz Regan Smith Poetry Editors Kate Carpenter Becky Palapala Katherine Ruzsa Art Editors Timma Engelstad Claire Paczkowski Faculty Advisor Terri Sutton
Ivory Tower is inspired by a belief in the necessity of artistic expression and its power to enlighten, challenge, and captivate. We strive to promote original work by undergraduate writers and artists across the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus. Submit to us! Ivory Tower welcomes rolling submissions from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities undergraduate students. To support undergraduate creative work and make Ivory Tower possible, and for more information, please visit our website at: http://ivorytower.umn.edu or send us mail: Ivory Tower 207 Lind Hall 207 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 Ivory Tower is a non-profit annual student production. The text of this book is set in Baskerville, Euphorogenic, iNked God, and Typewriter Elite. Printed by Color Vision Ltd. Edgar, WI
Table of Contents
56 Lewis Hyde 76 Jeremy Messersmith
12 18 34 54 72 79 80 84 86
TMNTs, affectionately Meghan Borgert Elephants Amy Nelson Kuebiko David Watson There Is Nothing a Drop of Rain Can Do to Avoid Hitting the Ground Deniz Rudin Craig’s World Jade Bove Lt. Miner Drinks Some Coffee Patrick Anderson Hungry, Hungry Marlene Moxness August 1985 Erin Poljanac Folksong Out of Time Kalen Keir
11 17 22 29 32 61 63 67 70 71 82 83 89 91
Impact Britta Bauer Kids Are Making Out in the Prop Room Again Tim DeYoung The Transatlantic Between Katelyn Dokken Intimacy Tim DeYoung Pre Portrait/ Post Portrait Scott Sundvall Poetry Lewis Hyde Double Wedding Ring Katelyn Dokken They Put Their Pants on One Leg at a Time Billy Mullaney Mr. President Kaylord Hill Eden’s Orchard Vadim Lavrusik There Was Never a Leprechaun in Peanuts! Zachary Binsfeld America Revisited Mark Brenden 5th St. First Congressional Michael Daniel Lee History of Battles Alexandra Riley
SPECIAL CONTENT 8 50 51 62 68 90 92
Reptiles Marlene Moxness Rage Joe Kane La Forêt PJ Maracle Daytime Television Max Mose In Medias Res: The Many Lifetimes of Jim Brady Nyhus Memoir Max Mose Quotes Junot Díaz
NONFICTION 7 24 30 36 64
A Long Way to the Processor David Peterka Absolutely Everything Is Leaning on Everything Else Kasandra Solverson Unicycle Daniel Weispfenning Grandma Jesus Ana Staska Bad Spin Scott Long
10 16 20 21
Tribute to Joseph Mallord William Turner Tat’Yana Kenigsberg Alcatraz Benjamin Etten Kobenhaven Destruction Sites 1 and 3 Benjamin Etten Sioux Falls Mill Benjamin Etten
33 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 46 47 48 49 52 53 55 96
Morning Bed Sheets Lucia Hawley Urgency Sam Robertson 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed Broc Blegen Yao Dian Christopher Ziolkowski Target Bag Emma Johnson Coloring Book Broc Blegen Lights, Camera, Action Sarah Stackley Drum Heads Kalen Keir Afternoon Tea Bethany Dick Katie Bethany Dick Giggle My Jelly! Katelyn Johnson Suction Cup Me Baby! Katelyn Johnson Utopia Broc Blegen Buddha Row Tissana Kijsanayotin Stop. Rewind. Record. Reject. Sara Paul Pathos Mending Ethos Ryan Rasmussen Saint Maximillion Kolbe Joann Dzon Nude Art Katelyn Johnson Robot Flower Joe Kane
Cover Art: Outlets, Beth Fosler Back Cover: Life Is a Game, Max Mose
A Long Way to the
arreling down the beach in a beat-up old brown Chevy Silverado, past an ever-changing landscape of obstruction and peril, Colorado Kurt shoots me one of his insane, coffee-fueled, crack-headed glances that penetrates the roaring, coughing unreliability of the dilapidated truck and the hazy Alaskan darkness that we both know won’t last for more than a few hours, and you know what he says to me? He says, “DAVE!” hoarse and hollering, “IF WE DON’T MAKE THIS…WE’RE FUCKED!” as we haul ass bouncing down into one of the many stream beds that haunt this endless stretch of beach, split the water wide open, slam into the opposing bank, lurch and crawl, and every last horse under the hood belching and blaring and begging for reprieve, pressured by two thousand pounds of dead and dying salmon. We emerge relieved, weary, but far from victorious because it’s been a long day and it’s a long way to the processor, and we’re riding in that same damn run-down disaster truck whose vital organs hit the dirt just the other night while Kurt navigated the same lonesome route, humbled locomotive
Processor David Peterka
innards rigged in place by an awkward combination of rope and duct tape— details lost in the tumult. An hour later, Colorado Kurt pounds the door and wakes the young guy from Washington who is stuck working the station, and he replies with grinding hydraulics, jarring forklift advance and retreat driven under the influence of that same burning “What the fuck am I doing out in Bristol Bay?” question that rots the mind at four in the morning, and a Sprite for the ride home. We make our return in silence, move down the beach with care, absentminded exchange of words just to keep our eyes open. Kurt tells me about his wife, beginning with “I ain’t gonna lie to ya, Dave,” and ending with some rambling story about how she’s not too pretty, but to him she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. I hang on his words in the flickering dawn, drift-boat spotlights dot the water by the millions, and we’re losing sleep by the second, when it spills over me warm and fleshy that this whole Alaska thing sure isn’t pretty, but right now it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. i
pizza. It can be pepperoni or cheese because terrapins are omnivores. Snakes are also reptiles. “Ophidiophobia” is the perfectly rational fear of snakes. Indiana Jones is scared of snakes. You should not make fun of people who are afraid of snakes. That means you, Alison Roth. The ability to talk to snakes is called “parseltongue.” A person who possesses this ability is called a “parselmouth.” Alice Cooper and Lord Voldemort both like snakes. So did Britney Spears, and we all know how well that turned out. Alison Roth likes snakes. She also likes Britney Spears. I do not like either one. All snakes are carnivorous. They like to eat rodents and sometimes other snakes. I think they would like to eat me if they ever got a taste. They can metabolize everything but hair, claws, and pure, unadulterated fear. They have only one functioning lung and no bladder. This means they cannot wet their pants when they see you. They also do not wear pants. Rattlesnakes live on land. Boas and pythons live in trees. Sea snakes live in the ocean. There are even some snakes that can fly, called “gliding” snakes. Because of this, there is almost no place on Earth that you are safe from snakes, just like I am never safe from Alison Roth. Snakes on planes are especially dangerous because you cannot escape, and pheromones are extremely potent.
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o m e d l o V d r o L d n a r e p o o C e c i l e s r p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t k l t o t y t i l i b a l s l a e h S . s e k a n s s k l h t o R n o s i l l A u o Y . e k a n s f d e r a c s s i s e n o J a n a i d n I . s s i k n s o k l a t o t y t i l i b e h T . h t o R s i s o l a t o t y t i l i b a . h t o R d i a r f as e rk a h w et l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n“ d l u o h s o o ha wo n o s r e p A ”n . e uep gh nT os tr le ep sae r a p d e l l a c s okd hai wna nos s r e p A e u g n o t l e sp r a “ d e l l a c u o Y . s e k a n s o d e r a c s i s e n o a nn-o atis. dee nkn Iior .ira so la ett ses rre a p “ a d l l a c y t i l i b a s io h.n tse s e s s e s lo ep sse red a p “ a d e l l c s” i. y t i l i b a sf i h t s e s s id ri Ba dehotSie.seekkialnsto en kio ldhtIob.sraepS yentirB l i sp ie hd tl s e s s e s s o p o h w o tb e r a h w e l o e oa n u f to d l u odf h s aa h w e l p o e f n up f e k a m t d l u ont so t m o d r o L r e p o C e c i ” . t u o 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d e l ae c y t i l i b a sfb ioa hh tT s e s s e s r e h t e k i l n o . s rd ae p S n t r B r eeo e k i l tR od o d . s r a e p Sl y e n t i r B t r o m e d l o V d r o LI d n a r eS p o os Cy ”y . t u o m e n o . e n oa et wnw ds ie dm S .i se ene kd s es k l o b t r od m e di l o V d di nl aA ,n s r a e p S y e n t i oet . a ni s e t o b rAl ttd oun sd ee mn ir tu et mot sahdtnalls eo dh or tae ot ekil l l a c i s e k a nd s k l a o t yr l bo at yr ea hps T“i .t sc ua o r o v i n r a c e r a st e k a n l l A ye eh ht Ti sll ue os rr vh it n r a r ae si k a n s l l i bi ao s e s s s se o p o h w nn sd ro er pst A ” . e ue . t u o d n r u t t hBA toe li ld w w o h wo oL ngc kn l l-kali eeh wh.h oh s e m i t m o s dh nt a sar to a e oet tki e k i l r e h t o .-te e m o s n a s t n d o r t a e o t e k i l s e k i l o s l a e h S . s e k a n s s e k i l h t o R n o s i l l A e m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w y e h t k n i h t I . s e k a n s e m t a e o t e k i l d u o w y e h t k n t I . s e k a n s e h S . s e k a n s s e k i l h t o R n o s i l l l e w w o h w o n k l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S y e n t i r B r e h t i e e i t o o d I r a e p S e n t i r B m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w y e h t k n i h t I .sekans l i b a s i h s e s s e s s p o h w n A ” o t o b a t e m n a c y h T . t a t a t o g r e v e e h t f i o b a t e m n a c y e h T . e t s a a t o g r e v e e h t f i r p o o C e. cs iel l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ ad d e l l a c s i y i . e n o k a n s f o de e rk a cl s s i s e n o a ie du ng In . s u Y . s e k s f o dt e r a c s s e n oo Jv a n ao is dr ne Ip . s . u o r i n r any c e r a sn ea. ky ad n s lh ls AI ye. uoY .sekans fo deracs si n a n I . ea ri ad o h w ee lh pTu osf ei ps f o n u f e k a m o n l u ot eo rs ae oo hJ we eu lo pY on p fs oy n k a m t n l u oJ h s sr a e p S yentirB sekil osla . s e k a n s i l t o R n o s i l l A . t u o d e r u t t a h t r e h t o s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e o t e k i l o b a t e m n a c y e h T . e t s a t a t o g r e v e yeht fi e r a o h w e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c s i y t i n o s i l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a n o s i l A , u o y n a m t a h T . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a d i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b t r o m e d l o V d r L d n a e m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w y e h t k n i h t I . s e k a n s n o s i l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a s i s e k a n s o t k l t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R o b a t e m n a c y e h T . e t s a t a t o g r e v e y e h t f i s i k a n s o t k l t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R s o p o h w n o s r e p A ” . e u g n o t l s r a p “ d e l l a c s o p o h w n o s r e p A ” u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c . e n d e k i l t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a e h S u o Y . e k a n s f o d e r a c s s e n o J a n a i d n I . s s o h w n o s r e p A u g n o t l e s r p “ d e l l a c d i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b t r m e d l o V d r o L d n l e s r a p “ a d e l a c i y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c s y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e l l e w o h wd ki. l ls a w d n a , s r a e p Si y e n t i r B rw f a r a oiV hd w l p o ee p f o n u f k a m t o n dh lh ut oo hb s-o u o Ya .f sa eokasrneeskhatfniose del ekrialcstosni os naidnI .s e r a o h w e l p o e p f oh n u f e k a m t o n d l u oe h s lo ep sse red a p “ a d e l l ada c s”i. y i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s t r o m e d l o d r o L n a r e p o o C e c i l A ” . t u o m t r o m e d l o V r o L d n a roe e p o o Cd e c i ln A ” . t u o m n o s i l A , ue o y s n a eo m t a h T . s e k a n s f d i r t r o m l o V rti oar LhB nliald roeeS pt o. os Ce e c i la ” . h t u o m ,k s r a e p S y e n i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l , s r a e p S yAe e ndt t i B S . s k a n s e k i l h t o b rh ad ce r a etnaohJT a n h i e s i s e k a s o t k l t ol tl y to iy lr ie b at e h“ T . h t o R ,t s r a e p S ya e ndet k a n s i l h t o b l l e w w o wk oi nl k l l a w d a , si r e p So . u o d e n r u ti ar hBh tk l l e w w o h wu o n k l l a e w d n a . t u o d e n r u t t arh et w w o w o n k l l a ek wl d n a . s e k n s s eo htp t o R nd o s i l lo A . d. ee n r u t t s ra a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a nd s o t a t o t t is li il bl a .s he ts oeRki nosilA ,uloAs y sr nav emn .sekans fo s o wn nk oa sn r e ps A ”o . e u g n oy te ln et si rrh aBt p l l a c . u o d e n r tn edn w o h w o k l l e w n a s e k i s a . s e e kt l h t R n o A o s a e h S . s e k n i l h t na o s i l e s r a p “ a a hy sT e s s e k i l s l hS sde koa swIs e k h t o R n o s i l l A tte o t hlo TC r i n e k l l A A t r o m e d l o V o L p m r e h t i eo e kuitl to. .i sl rn a. pe Sk y e n t i r B s e k ilu l heo thv oSs Re so ie lr lsa AR on eA no ro tc ae es k i la ts oo o. ds Io . s r a er pna Soc yd er ne tl ilsra.d Bctn eisr k iy l s d n a rn e p e c i l A ” . h t u m l e s a puas “s ade dt ei lluC litl aba ce sishh ilitS ta”ie. lh it bu ao sihtl seysesheTss. opuo oho w i nosrep A ”.eugnot , s r a e p S y e n t i r B d i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b . e n o . t u o d e n r u t t a h t l l e w w o h w o n k l l a e w d n a y e h T . s u o r o v i n r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A r e t s e d n a I . s e k a n s r e h t o s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e o t s e k i l o s a h S . s e k a n s s e k i l h t o R n s A r e h t o t s t n e d o r t a e o t e k i l e k i l t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a h S . e n o r e h t i e t a h t l l w w o h w o n k l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S y e n t i r Bho doiil dl omSit.esmeoksans ekisltnhetdoobr tromedloV droL e m t a e t k n i h t I . s e k n s o b a t e meso net amn cie yei eml hoTsd .du eno taw ss ay te a t o g v e y e h t f i ye eeh hkT tial fs it he tl u o Y . s k a sk f o dl e r a c sh i s e n orr J a n 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A r e e y e h t f i em t oa be ato et m e nk ai cl ydelhuTow.eyteshatt kanithotg i sekans ot klat ot ytiliba ehT .htoR obatem nac yehT .etsat a tog ss op ohw nosrep A ”.eugnotlesrap“ dellac -lesrap“ a dellac si ytiliba siht sesses tromedloV droL dna repooC ecilA ”.htuom ,sraepS yentirB did oS .sekans ekil htob .tuo denrut taht llew woh wonk lla ew dna sekil osla ehS .sekans sekil htoR nosillA .eno rehtie ekil ton od I .sraepS yentirB yehT .suorovinrac era sekans llA rehto semitemos dna stnedor tae ot ekil em tae ot ekil dluow yeht kniht I .sekans obatem nac yehT .etsat a tog reve yeht fi
s. Indiana Jones is scared of snakes. You should not make fun of people who are afraid of snakes. That means you, Alison Roth. The ability to talk to snakes is called “ p a r s e l tongue.” A person who possesses this ability is called a “parselmouth.” Alice Cooper and Lord Voldemort both like snakes.
si senoJ anaidnI .s s u Y . s e k a n s f o e r a c f o n u f e k a m t o n d u h d i r f a e r a o h w e l p o e p s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f o . h t o R n o s i l A , u o y k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ s s s e s s o p o h w n o r e p d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a d r o L d n a r e p o o C e c i e k l h t o b t r o m d l o V t i r B i d o S . s e k a n s l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S y e n t a h t l l e w w o h w o n k n o s i l l A . t u o d e n r u t f o d e r a c s s i s e n o J a n a i d n I . s . s e k a n s e k i l h t o R e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y . s e k a n s t i r B s e k i l o s l a e h S d i a r f a e r a o h w e l p o e p f o n u f t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n . e n o r e h t i e e k i l l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f o r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i o t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e s o p o h w n o s r e p A ” . e u g n o t . s e k a n s r e h t o s e m i t d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s d l u o w y e h t k n i h t I t f i e m t e t e k i l r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a y e h T . e t s a t a o g r e v e e k i l h t o b t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a i d n I . o b a t e m n a c , s r a e p S y e n t i r B d i d o S . s e k a n s f d e r a c s s i s e n o J a t a h t l l e w w o h w o n k l l a e w d n a t o n d u h s u o Y . s e k a n s s e k i l h t o R n o s i l l A . t u o d e n r u t o h w e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a e r a y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a e h S . s e k a n s i l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T r e h t i e e k i l t o n o d I . s r a e p S l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s . e n o s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t . s u o r o v i n r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i d n a s t n e d o r t a e o t e k i l y e h T o h w n o s r e p A ” . e u g n o t y t i l i b a s i h t s s s e s s p l e s r a p “ a e l l a c s i r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a
”t .u eo ugn o t l e s ra “ kw lad tna ot,y t l i b a yeehnTti.rhBtodRidnoosSil.Ase,kuaonys se nk ai el m t fVo ddr. ioe aLn ro fdanrae eh rrt aeip o h . da en na ri ud tn tp a. hs tde ll ll ea wc wsoin hasc weoky nae knhsTllo.atete sg ri ar ee pv Se ha tyh oeT bht.tsrkeonkmiaehndtsloI o e s e n o J I o b a t e m s a t a t o y e h t f i e m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w . s e k a n s r e h t o o h w n o s r e p A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f htoR nosillA .tuoobdaetnermutnatcahytehlTle.wetwsoaht waontkogllraeveew ydenhat ,fsiraeempStayee n r B d i d o S .b sya e a n s eiskhei l h t o b taornho m deol o , u o y sko nis ali ew mdy tui aol hwl T .ek she etw kh akd nnns ft, os da i.e asp reS fka esn rte ari ohB htrV wod d e l l aew c i s i t s s e s s o p w n s e p ot ti lt I l l e w h o n k l a a r y e r i .nyeend ol rok ehn hsi th iut eoYI ek.i l t o n ofd I . sars o t e k i l d l u o w h t . s e k a n s r e h t o f o n u f e k a m t o u s e k a n s o d e r ”.eugnotlesrap“ dellac si sekans ot klat ot
Turtles have different names depending on where they tuck their heads. Cryptodira tuck their head under their spines. Pleurodira tuck to the side. Snapping turtles, which are cryptodira, are the state reptiles of New York. Like many New Yorkers, they will bite your finger off if angered. Perhaps Alison Roth should get one as a pet. It would serve her right. Land turtles, or “tortoises”, which are also cryptodira, grow shells with
.sekans fo deracs si senoJ anaidnI .Y s o h w e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o , u o y s n a e m t a h T . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a e r a o t k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s s i y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s s o p o h w n o s r e p r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a w o n k l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S y e n t i r B d i d o S h t o R n o s i l l A . t u o d e n r u t t a h t l l e w w o h y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a e h S . s e k a n s s e k i l e k i l t o n o d I . a e p S ye eh ht To ..sesenumooirtroeevmhiotnsirea ls lrAe r dc na esrtanedsoerkatnase o t kil
oAsi”l.Aht,uuoomylessnraaepm“ taahdTel.lsaeckasnis y fo diarfa era ohw elpoep fo nuf ekam ton dluohs uoY .sekans fo deracs sit skelnaotJ o anait dnl Iib . il htoR nosillA .tuo denrut tahttillilbeaw swiohht wsoenskselslsaopewohdwnano,ssrreapepAS ”y.eenutginroBtldeisdraopS“ .dseelklaancs seikislekhatnosb o tromedloVt dy roi L d n n o r e h t i e e k i l t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a e h orta eokhiwl ed eo hY to.sseekmaintsemfoos ddenraacsstnseid.oe o t s e k a n s ll pu oo ew p fyoehntufkneikhatm Ito.nsedklaunoshsru srent oa Je an a idenkIil.syeohbTat.esmuonraocviynerhaTc .e er ta sat a t o g lrleA. vs eek ya en h t e s s e s A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A , u o y s n a o h sw o n k lsloap eowhwdnnaos,rserpa La de nhaS r. espe ok oa Cn sa re am p“t. ahT do eld le an cru s .e ep nS o y re en ht ti ir eB edkiidlehottSoon.ssoeedmkiaItnes.msoerskaiel pShtyoebnttirroBmesdela koiVl odotrsole secsielkAil”.hhttouRorma nloes orta eokhiwl ed si el kl aA no sgtlu ll pu oo ew p fyoehntufkneikhatm Ito.nsedklaunoshsru oY .sekans fo ddenraacsstnseidosrent oJe an aidnkIil.syeohbTat.esmuonraocviynerhaTc .e etsat a t rleAve yeh
r e p t i l e s he study of reptiles is called “herpetology.” This is also the word for the study of amphibians. Amphibians and reptiles are very different. One of the differences is that if you kiss a frog, you get a prince. If you kiss a snake, you get a face full of venom. If you kiss Alison Roth, you get herpes. I do not know what the study of Alison Roth is called. Some types of reptiles are turtles and snakes. There is only one type of Alison Roth, but that is plenty. Turtles have different names depending on where they tuck their heads. Cryptodira tuck their heads under their spines. Pleurodira tuck to the side. Snapping turtles, which are cryptodira, are the state reptiles of New York. Like many New Yorkers, they will bite your finger off if angered. Perhaps Alison Roth should get one as a pet. It would serve her right. Land turtles, or “tortoises,” which are also cryptodira, grow shells with rings like a tree. You can use these to date a turtle. No one would ever date Alison Roth because she is too mean and nobody likes her. I certainly don’t. Red-eared terrapin turtles live on land and in water. If released into Manhattan sewers, they will mutate into ninja teens, assuming a sensei rat can tutor them. These “heroes in a half shell” eat
9 fo o nd d ak e ca r sm act s i s e nso oeh J ao nY a d n I .s sf .m s f ue fre t o n do ln usoi d hl su uns ooYJu .ai sn. eas kie adk nna sIn o d e r a c s s i s e n o J a n a i d n I . s . s e k a n s e r f a o o d h i w r f e a l p e o r e a p o f h o w n e u l f p o e p k a t o n d l u o h s u o Y . s e k a n s f o e h T . h t s o n R a e n m s t i a l h A T , . u s o e y k a n s s n a e f m o t d a i h a T r f a o h w e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m d e l l a c s y i t i s l e i k b a a n s e h o T t . k h l t a o t R o n t o y s t i i l l A i b , a u o y . s e k a n s f o d i a r f a e r a s o p o h d w e l n l o a s c r e s p i A s e ” k . a e n u s g n o o t t l e k s l r a a t p “ o t i l A , u o y s n a e m t a h T a d e l l a o c h w s i n o s y r t e i p l i A b a ” . s e i u h g t n o s t e l s e s e r s a p “ o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s d n a r e p s o i o C y t e i c l i i l b A a ” s . i h h t t u o m l s e s r s a e p s “ s o p d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t k l a t . s e k a n s l e A k i l ” . h h t t u o o b m l t e r s o r m a e p d “ l o a V d r e o l L l a c n o s r e p A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ l l a e w t d r n o a m e , d s l r o a V e p d S r o y L e n d t n i a r B r e d p i o d o C o S e c i l i b a s i h t s e s e s s o p o h w l A . t u o t d i e r n B r d u i t d t o a S h t . s l e l k e a w n s w o e h k i w l o n h k t o b l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c s i y t i o s l a e h w S o n . k s e k l a l n a s e s w e k d i n l a h , t s o r R a e n p o S s i l y e n d n a r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m t o n o d l I A . . t s u r o a e d p e S n r u y t e n t a i h r t B l s l e k w i l w o h e k i l h t o b t r o m e d l o V d r o L e h S . s e k a n s . e s n e o k i r l e h h t t i o e R e k n i o l s i l y e n t i r B d i d o S . s e k a n s . v I i n r . a s c r a e e r p a S s y e e k n a t n i s r l B l A s e k i l o s l a w o n k l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S -s eu mo or sod n a s t n . e e d n o o r r t e a h e t i o e t e k i l y t e o h n T o d d e n r u t t a h t l l e w w o h y e h t k n i r h a t c I e . a s e k s a e n k s a n r s e h l t l o A s e m i t s e k i l h t o R n o s i l l A . t u o r e v e y e t h a t e f i o t e m e k t i a l e o y t e h e T k i l . s d u l o u r o w v i n s e k i l o s l a e h S . s e k a n s . s o b a t r e e m h t n o a c s e y m e i h t T e m o . s e t s d a n t a a s t t n o e g d o r t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B . s e k a n s d l f u o o d w e r y a e c h s t s i k n s i e h n t o J I a n a . i s d e n k I a n s . e n o r e h t i e e k i l o e p f o r e n v u e f y e h k t a m f i t o n e m d t l a u e o h s o t u o e Y k i l e r a s e k a n s l l A t a h T . s o e b k a t n e s m f o n a d c i a y r e f h a T e . r e a t s o a h t w a e l p t o g o t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n r a c l i b a e d h e T r a . c h s t o R s n o s e i n l o A J , u a o n y a i s d n n a I e m . s s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e d e l l a c t s o i n s d e l k u a o n h s s o t u o k Y l a . t s e o k t a n y s t i f o k n i h t I . s e k a n s r e h t o s o p o h e w r a n o s o r h e w p e A l p ” o . e e p u g f n o t l n e u s f r a p e “ k a m e m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w y e h t a d e l l a s c n a e s m i t y a t h i T l i . b s a e k s a i n h s t f o s e s d s i e a s r f a . e t s a t a t o g r e v e y e h t f i d n a r e p y o t o i C l i b e a c i e l h A T . ” h . t h o t R u o n m o l s e i s l r A a p , “ u o y a n a i d n I . s o b a t e m n a c y e h T . s e k a n s d e e l k l i a l c h s t i o b s e t k r a o n m s e d o l t o V k l d a r t o L o t . s e k a n s f o d e r a c s s i s e n o J l l a e w o d h n w a n , o s s r r a e p S A y e ” n . t e i u r g B n o d t i l d e s o r S a p “ f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y l A . t u s o i d e n y r t u i t l i t b a a h t s l i l h e t w w s o e h s w s o e n s k s o p f o d i a r f a e r a o h w e l p o e p o s l a e h S l A . s e ” k . a h n t s u o s m e l k e i s l r a h p t “ o R a n o d s e i l l a c , u o y s n a e m t h T . s e k a n s t o n o d t r I o m e . d s l r o a V e p d S r o L y e d n n a i r r B e p s o e o k C i l e c i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A t i r B d i d o S . e . n s o e k r a e n h s t i e e k i e l k i h l t o b s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i . s u o r o v w i o n n r k a c l e l r a a s e e w k a d n n s a l l , A s r a e p S y e n ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c e m o s d n l a A s . t t n u e o d o d r e t n a r e u t o t a e h k t i l l y e w h T w o h s e s s e s s o p o h w n s r e p A y e h t k n e i h h S t . I s e . k s a e n k s a n s s e k i r l e h t h o t o R e m n i o t s i l a d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t r e v e y e I h t . s f r i a e p m S t y a e n t o i t r B e k s i e l k i d l u o w s l a o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ . s o b a t e m n a . c e n y o e h r T e h t . i e e t s e a k t i l a t t o o n g o d t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a r e p . s e k a n s r f a o c d e e r r a a c s s s e i k a s n e s n J l l a A n a i d n I d i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b o e p f o t a n e u f o t e k e a k m i l t o n y e h d T l u o . h s s u o u r o Y v i n l l a e w d n a , s r a e p S y e n t i r B t a h T . s r e e k h a t n o s f s o e m d i i t a e r m f o a s e r d a n a o h s w t e n l e p d o r d e n r u t t a h t l l e w w o h w o n k l i b a e d h l T u o . w h t o y R e h n t o s k i n l i A h t , u o I y s . n s a e e k m a n s s e k i l h t o R n o s i l l A . t u o d e l l a c r s e i v e s e y k e a h n t s f o i t e k m l a t t a e o t o t y t e i k i l s e k i l o s l a e h S . s e k a n s s o p o h o w b a n t o e s m r e n p a c A y ” e . h e T u g . n e o t t s l a e t s r a p “ t o g t o n o d I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B a d e l l a d c e r a s c i s y t s i l i s b e a n o s J i h a t n a s i e d s n s I e s . s . e n o r e h t i e e k i l d n a r e p t o o n C d e l c u i o l h A s ” u . o h Y t u o . m s l e e k s a r n a s p “ f o e r a s e k a n s l l A . s e k a n s e r e a k i l o h w h t o e b l p o t e r p o m e f d o l o n V u f d r o e L k a m o t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n r a c l l a e w s d n n a a e m , s t r a a h e T p S . s y e k n a t n i s r B f o d i d i o a S r f a s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e l A . t u y o t d i e l n i r b u a t e t h a T h . t h l t l o e R w n w o o s h i l w A o n , k u o y k n i h t I . s e k a n s r e h t o o s l a e h d S e l . l s a e c k a n s s i s s e e k k i a l n s h t o o t R k n l o a s t i l o t e m t a e o t e k i l d l u o w y e h t t o n o d o h I w n . o s s r r a e p S A y ” e . n e t u i g r n B o t s l e k s i r l a p “ . e t s a t a t o g r e v e y e h t f i s i y t i l i b a . e n s i h r t e h t i s e s s k e i s l s o p a n a i d n I . s o b a t e m n a c y e h T . v i l n A r a c ” . e h r t a u s o e m k l a e n s s r a l p l “ A a d e l l a c . s e k a n s f o d e r a c s s i s e n o J -s eu mo or sod t n r a o s m t e n d e l d o o V r d t r a o e L o d t n a e k r i e l p o y o e C h T e c i f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y y e h t k n i t h i t r B I d i . d s e o k S a n . s s e k r a e n h s t o e k s i e l m i h t o b f o d i a r f a e r a o h w e l p o e p r e v e y e w h o t n k f i l e l m a t e a w e d o n t a e , k s i r l a e d p l S u o w y e n , u o y s n a e m T . s e k a n s o b a l t A e m . t n u a o c d y e e n h r T u t . e t t a s h a t t l a l e t w o g w o h l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A e h S . s e k a n s s e k i l h t o R n o s i l s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i I . s r a e p S y e n t i r B s e k i l o s l a ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c . e n o r e h t i e e k i l t o n o d s e s e s s o p o h w n o s r e p A r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A a d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t t a e os t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ r e h t o s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a r e p d l u o w y h t k n i h t I . s e k a n s d i d o S . s e k a s e k i h t o b r e v e y e h t f i e m t a e o t e k i l l l a w d a , s a p S y e n t i r B o b a t e m n a c y e h T . e t a t o g d e n r u t tn a h t lrnl e w otAl he w o n k s e k iel l R spS is lwaly . t u o s e k i l a h . s k a n s t o n od hoItso. .e snronaeoer e ne t i r B eShti e k i l
Julie Schumacher is the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota.
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They cannot make it to the center of a tootsie pop without biting, but they are sensible nonetheless.
s. Indiana Jones is scared of snakes. You should not make funThe of people who are afraid of snakes. That“parseltongue.” means you, Alison Roth. ability to talk to snakes is called A person who possesses this ability is called a “parselmouth.” Alice Cooper and Lord Voldemort both like snakes. So did Britney Spears, and we all know how well that turned out. Allison Roth likes snakes. She also likes Britney Spears. I do not like either one. All snakes are carnivorous. They like to to eat rodents and sometimes other snakes. I metabo think they would like eat me ifof they ever got a taste. They can s. Indiana Jones is scared snakes. You should not make fun of people who are afraid of snakes. That
hw eil p e p f”oo.dhntIuufo.mselrkeaasemrpaStpo“ynean dt ld ue ol hlsa u o Y .s e k a n s fSosi dh et rkas ce ss se is so ep noo Jh aR nn ao is dr ne Ip s Ck el cto it lo An c s i y t i l i b a s s w A e e i r B s e k i l o s l a e h . s e a n s s e k i l h t o n o s i l. l A oofo s e m i e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e o t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A o d i a r f a e r a o h w e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y . s e k a n s f o d e r a c s s i d r o L d n a r e p o o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s s o p e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y . s e k a n s f o d e r a c s s s e n o J a n a i d n I . s . e n o r e h t i e e k i l t o n o I . r a e p S y n t i r B s e k i l o l a e h S . s e k a n s s e k i l e p A ” . e u g n o t l e s r a p “ d e l l a c s i s e k a n s o t k l a t o t y t i l i b a e h T . h t o R n o s i l A o s e m i t e m o s d n a s t n e d o r t a e o t e k i l y e h T . s u o r o v i n r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A d i d o S . s e k a n s e k i l h t o b t r o m e d l o V d r o L d n a r e p o o C e i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a sarscaesempisStieymseoensntoidJrnBaanssaetikndienldIoor.ssltaaoebeahotStem.eskneiaklcanyy seehh sTT ek. i l h t o R n o s i l l A . t u o d e n r u t t a h t s u o r o v i n r a c e r a s e k a n s l l A . e t s a t a t o g r e v e y e h t f i e m t a e t ytiliba ehT .htoR nosilA ,uoy snaem tahT .sekans fo diarfa era ohw elpoe p If I did not know better, I would think Alison Roth likes me. Luckily, I do know better. Sea turtles are sensitive to the magnetic fields they use for navigation, and I am sensitive too. Maybe some people should think of that before they say mean things about other people. Maybe those second people are very nice once you get to know them, but the first people are too stupid to know that. Or maybe the first people just don’t want their friends to think they’re not cool. I could ask a turtle because they are wise. They cannot make it to the center of a tootsie pop without biting, but they are sensible nonetheless. In conclusion, there are many kinds of reptiles, but all of them are dangerous. They will bite you or eat you or make you cry. Much like Alison Roth, you should avoid them if at all possible. Sea turtle encounters are probably safe, but why risk it? You could get salmonella and die. It happens.i
Snakes are also reptiles. “Ophidiophobia” is the perfectly be pepperoni or cheese because in terrapins are omnivores. can tutor them. These “heroes a half shell” eat pizza. It can sewers, they will mutate into ninja teens, assuming a sensei rat rapin turtles live on land and in water. If released into Manhattan e l p o e p f o n u f e k a m t o n d l u o h s u o Y . s e k a n s f o d e r a c s s i s e n o J a n a i d n I o C e c i l A ” . h t u o m l e s r a p “ a d e l l a c s i y t i l i b a s i h t s e s s e s s o p o h w n o s r e A is eem ei kt ie lmo ts ondn oa d s Itn .e sd ro ar ept Sae yeo nt tie rk Bil sey ke ih lT o. ss lu aor eo hv Sin .r sa ec kae nr sass ee kk ia lns htl ol RAnop s. is l talk to snakes is means called you, “parseltongue.” A person The who ability possesses snakes. Thatmake Alison who Roth. to should not funIndiana of people are of rational fear of snakes. Jones is scared of afraid snakes. You
Tribute to Joseph Mallord William Turner â€˘ Tatâ€™Yana Kenigsberg
IMPACT Britta Bauer
My cousin Cale and I used to play on the beach. A lake beach. A clear lake. So clear that as I leaned over the bow of my grandfatherâ€™s fishing boat, I could see the pontoon plane that crashed through the water twenty feet below me. I saw the outline of the cockpit window and the propeller blades and thought that doesnâ€™t belong down there.
Cale and I ran along the shore, between my dock and his, throwing fistfuls of sand at the lake. A thousand tiny pieces of earth crashing into water, the inverse of rain. And rain called us in. Gray threads stitching sky to water on the opposite shore, lightning cutting through the fabric, sending us sprinting, kicking up sand behind us like comet tails, leaving tiny divots like craters.
TMNTs, affectionately Meghan Borgert-Spaniol
hen I went for my interview at InterCo. Loans I followed a gray-jumpsuited man down the long hallway that led to the door that led to Reception. He was carrying a rug. The three of us squeezed through the door (him, the rug, then me) in a confused and cumbersome dance. The receptionist said “Doreen?” and he said “Yes,” and she looked apologetic and I followed him because I was to have my interview with the woman named Doreen. — ’m not really sure what I’m doing here. I’ve been here almost two weeks now—so, about nine days, roughly 72 hours—and I can’t let myself get comfortable. I’m in the wrong ecosystem, this is such foreign territory, these people, I can’t relate, I can hardly breathe— “Hon, could you fax these for me?” I will not. Never. “Sure.” —it’s like they’re one species, I’m another. I’m not in my element. I have no room to flourish. I have no idea how to send a fax.
What I DO know about InterCo. Loans: 1. It consists of a bunch of scanners, a handful of photocopiers, hundreds of computers, and
too many fax machines. Of this, I personally use one scanner, one photocopier, one computer and, if I can help it (and I think I can), zero fax machines. 2. Over 400 people work here, in this one building. That’s 400 people who walk through one set of doors every morning, 400 who walk out every night. (When I walk down the street, I’m wondering how many coworkers I’m passing. When I lock my apartment door on my way out, I’m wondering if the man down the hall doing the same thing is headed for the same place as me. When I’m at a stop light, I figure everyone turning left with me could only be going where I’m going. Anyone. It could be anyone.) Of these people, I know two: myself, and Doreen. Which brings me to my next point. 3. It is home to Doreen, who, out of all 400 InterCo. employees, may very well be the most thrilled to be here. And so it would follow (naturally) that Doreen is my supervisor. Things Doreen loves: 1) Heart-shaped Post-it notes 2) Baking “treats” for the office (Brownies. Lemon bars. The like.) 3) Inter-Company Loan Requests 4) Sanitizing, things that are sanitized, people who offer to sanitize 5) Rugs. Oh god, the rugs. What I DO NOT know about InterCo. Loans: 1. What it does, i.e. what its purpose is, i.e. why we are all working here, Monday through Friday. Nine to five. And I don’t want to know. I refuse to know, actually. The more I know, the more I am connected to this place. I will close my eyes and cover my ears; I will kick; I will scream; I will refer to it only as InterCo. Loans and never as ICL because ICL is an acronym and acronyms are chummy. And the fax machine—I am dedicated, I’ll do whatever it takes, I’ll have to use the bathroom every time someone asks (“Tom, could you send this fax?” “Oh, you know, I was about to run to the bathroom, so…”)—I refuse to learn how to use the fax machine. “New rug!” Oh god. I’m much too busy right now, surely you can see that, look at my posture, I’m clearly immersed in scanning these documents, I’m in the zone, I mustn’t be bothered— “Tom, new rug!” I didn’t hear that—see, my brow is furrowed, I’m squinting, you can see that what I’m doing requires immense concentration and certainly no disruptions, maybe you should— “Tom? Would you mind giving me a hand, sweetie? I have a feeling this is the one!” Since I’ve started working here, five rugs (five!) have made their ways into this office; five rugs have been examined, scrutinized, felt up, and judged; five rugs have gone back to where they came from. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Apparently, Doreen has been in search of the perfect rug since long before I started here. So, I don’t just scan and photocopy and avoid the fax machine; I help Doreen haul in and unroll rugs. She tries to make me feel included, like I have a say in the decision (even though it’s clear that I am not and I do not). But I refuse to take part in the charade. I’ve made it my personal goal to get through this job without having ever stated any kind of opinion about any rug. That, and the fax machine thing. It’s actually a pretty fun challenge; by now I am beautifully primed by past Rug Exchanges, and I have gained the tools needed to handle all future Rug Exchanges with awe-inspiring ease. The latest:
Rug Exchange #6: New Rug that Doreen Feels May Be The One
[Doreen and I have just unrolled rug. She dissects rug with eyes, fingers tap cheek, hand rests on hip. I stand opposite her, hands on hips, weight shifting awkwardly from leg to leg. I look anywhere but at rug.] “Hmmm….” “ – ” “It’s a bit shaggy…” No. Never. “…don’t you think?” I will not. “A little shag is okay, but you hit a point where it’s unprofessional, you know? Do you think we’ve crossed that line?” We? No. But you… “It’s a fine line.” “Right, it really is….” “Fine line….” “And the color…” Bring it on. “…how do you feel about the color?” “You know that’s funny because I’ve been meaning to ask you how you feel about the color.” “You know, I don’t know! I like the contrast, but at the same time it’s not very mellow, and I’m very mellow, and I think mellow might work better for an office environment, you know?” “Mmmm….” “Hmmm….” “Alright, well I’m going to go eat lunch.” “Oh, of course, right. Thanks for your help, darling.” “Sure. You bet.” fin
At lunch I share the break room with two men. One eats Doritos from a Ziploc sandwich bag, the other warmed-up lasagna from a Tupperware container that probably isn’t microwaveable. I walk in on what sounds like a heated discussion: “I’m just saying, I’ve been here for three years, I’ve done this thousands of times... I think I would know which is better.” “And I’m just saying that faster isn’t necessarily better….” I’m curious. I start listening in unabashedly— “The stick model is much more efficient.” At this point, man with Doritos picks up a staple remover and frantically showcases the tool. “It’s the simplicity of the design. The staple comes out cleancut, no ripped paper, no….” —and then I stop. That’s it, I think. That’s it. That is it. Back to the temp agency. I’m done here. God take me now if I am ever to become the man who uses a staple remover on a daily basis. No. Not me. No one wants to be that guy. Doritos over here didn’t want to be that guy until he became that guy. I’m giving my two weeks notice. This isn’t happening. Not to me. I jump up from my chair, then stop. My eyes are wide and unblinking as I wrap my head around what I’m about to do. The two men flinch and stare from my panicked movement. I unlock my eyes and look, actually look, from Doritos to Lasagna. “Nothing,” I say. I fumble with the door handle because my hands won’t stop shaking. I’m not even thinking this through! I’m quitting without thinking because I don’t want to be either of the men I just walked away from. I reach Doreen’s office and my stomach burns because the door is open, telling me that I can do this, I can do this now. Doreen is at her desk eating a sandwich, and I take
in some air, and I raise my fist to tap the door, and— And I stop. Doreen is eating lunch in her office. She isn’t eating out, or in the break room where everyone else eats. She is sharing her meal with a small, silent room. I stay outside her door, unable to move at the sight that says everything to me and very little to anyone else. Doreen takes a bite from her sandwich and chews with her eyes glued to the meeting place of two walls. After swallowing, she takes a deep breath and lets out a long, quiet sigh. She looks back down at her sandwich before taking another bite. This is when I forget about my two weeks notice. This is when I realize that Doreen probably wants more than InterCo. Loans.
What did occupy all of I was eight years old, I harbored a desperate my precious When longing to be... a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. It’s because my main concern wasn’t that the TMNTs eight-year- funny, (this acronym I use affectionately) were fictional; I think I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got to it. No, that wasn’t old brain an issue. What did occupy all of my precious eight-year-old brain power was the simple question of how I would get power was discovered by the TMNTs. I imagined this happening in scenarios, dreamed a different one up every day. the simple countless Two of them: 1) I go to Italy on vacation with my family. We are question eating lunch at a pizzeria when all of a sudden, the suited Italian Stallion sitting alone in the corner booth rises, of how I revolver in hand. He moves it back and forth to cover the area of the dining room like an oscillating fan that relieves would get all inhabitants of a sticky, hot room. Panic and gasps rise the tables and take control of all air space, spreading discovered by from to corners and seeping through crevices. I rise immediately, The smirk on my lips and calm arrogance in my eyes the TMNTs. coolly. say, “Really, Black Tie? Are you really going to try and pull something? While I’m here? That’s funny! No, really, it’s funny! You make me laugh, Black Tie.” At that point things get blurry because I never actually took the time to figure out what exactly I would do to help the situation with Black Tie. I favored the idea of talking to him, calmly conversing with him, while the other patrons cower in their booths, pizza sauce left idle on their chins. I wanted very much to be that guy: the witty, suave smoothtalker. I would walk empty-handed, my weapons would be my words—chilling, mind-blowing words that I would string together to form even more chilling, mind-
blowing sentences, leaving the culprit of the day at a loss. Anyway, I do my thing, give my speech, and Black Tie is taken care of. (You’re welcome.) I sit back down at my table and the locals cheer, then resort to excited mutterings: “Chi è?” (Who is this?) “Ma è troppo giovane!” (But he is so young!) “Lui è un ragazzo savvy.” (That is one savvy boy.) Then, they emerge. Out of the kitchen, donning sauce-spackled aprons, the Turtles come forth. Donatello is tapping a flour-dusted rolling pin against his palm; Raphael has a thin circle of pizza dough draped over his closed fist. They file out, one by one, and take their places in front of my table. The rest is history: they tell me they saw everything unfold, witnessed my poise under pressure. Leonardo presents me with a yellow mask, and that’s it. I’m in. 2) The TMNTs take on a paper route that goes through my neighborhood. They are in the middle of hand-delivering my news when I open the door and strike up a conversation. I’m charming as hell. Leonardo presents me with a yellow mask, and that’s it. I’m in.
hen I get to work the next day, something has changed. The office is different; it feels different, and I feel different in it. Then I realize what it is: the New Rug is still here, unrolled on the floor; the plastic is gone; all tags have been clipped. My heart starts racing before I understand why it’s racing. I try to calm myself, to be rational about this. But then it happens: Doreen stands up from her chair, grabs a stack of papers, and walks across the rug. She walks across the rug. Doreen has never stepped on a Rug in Consideration. You do not step on Rugs in Consideration.
She sees me staring from the doorway. “Oh Tom, look! It’s official—we have our rug!” “Oh, well…wow, so you decided….” “Yeah, I was a bit iffy at first, with the shag, and the color, but when I walked in this morning I turned on the light and it just worked. Everything just worked and that was it! Just like that!” “Just like that?” “Just like that! Do you like it?” I blink. I’m baffled. She found The Rug? The new rug is The One? I look up at Doreen, who is taking in this new addition as if she can’t get enough of it, as if everything will be right with the world, so long as The Rug remains in view. “Yeah, it’s…good. It’s nice.” “Good, good. I’m glad.” After a pause, Doreen breaks her Rug trance and steps toward me. “Now, I have this fax that needs to be sent out before noon. Would you mind taking care of it?” Doreen holds the fax in front of me, at that unassuming distance that makes no demand. The Rug below laces the paper in a deep orange fringe. —
hen I left ICL a year later, I was carrying a rug. The receptionist smiled, and I waved, and The Rug burst through the door before me in all its faded orange glory. The new supervisor hated it, was turned off by the matted shag. Its final destination was still an uncertainty, but InterCo. Loans was no longer an option. You do not keep a rug in a place where no one will appreciate it. It’s unprofessional. i
Doreen has never stepped on a Rug in Consideration. You do not step on Rugs in Consideration. 15
Alcatraz â€˘ Benjamin Etten
Kids are making out in the prop room again There are bunches of them and they are busting with corruption. The one with the watermelon head has put on a fake mustache and the others are rolling on the floor, hands dug into their fat and sordid stomachs, laughing like dumb people. Cackling with a fistful of dry-erase markers, the tall one, a ginger, writes “slut” across the board in all caps before running the markers down the face of a boy she calls Gay Bobby. He’s a lamb and watches the green ink drip from a hair on his lip. The fraternal twins are in the back closet in their underwear chomping on capsules of fake blood. They can’t stand the starch so they spit the red on the floor. The oldest one, by two minutes, slips on the tile and his back smacks the floor like a wet basketball while the younger one makes a joke about parting the Red Sea. It is an unhealthy frenzy. All exhausted, they sleep on a pile of fluorescent boas and tweed pea coats, the dumbest one having a most brilliant dream; God is there, well manifested in a burning shrub, and tells him that the holy spirit is infused in everything and you only have to squint to see it. The boy’s exhale smells like pumpkin spice. And across the room a girl with grey hair has woken up and is getting too warm while sifting through wigs, she stands erect to let her heavy cotton sweatshirt fall slowly to the floor, almost not falling at all, more like capsizing.
Elephants Amy Nelson
randpa’s vintage black Cadillac pulled up on the parkway in front of our small yellow house, and I watched him from the front window as he rearranged stacks of papers, bowling balls, and trash to make room for me in the passenger’s seat. He already looked warm in the black polo that pulled to cover his paunch, and his silver comb-over was starting to melt. As he walked up to the house, he blew his Danish nose in a handkerchief, and I was so excited to spend a day with Gramps. We were going to the zoo because he wanted to visit its newest edition: the African elephant. The newspaper said it was sick, and Gramps figured we should check on the big guy. Gramps bought us hot dogs when we walked in the gate, and we ate them while sitting on the train that circles around the entire zoo. I never liked eating with him because his teeth were so old they didn’t seem to work. Dad always told him to seriously go see a dentist, but Gramps always thought he was doing okay. I must have had mustard and ketchup all over my face when we got off the train, ‘cuz Gramps threw his handkerchief my way as we walked to the elephant. Personally, I liked to look at the polar bears: dangerous and endangered. A polar bear’s skin is black, but in the same way that a white cloud is made up of clear water, the bear’s fiber optic fur is really only the color of ice. The sign under the thick Plexiglas also told me that all polar bears are left-handed. I looked over at my grandpa standing downwind from the elephant, but I was having more fun trying to make my Arctic friend wave back to me with his left hand. In sickness or in health, Gramps just wanted to hang with the elephant, and he even chatted with the cage attendant about the African beast. He looked so lovingly at the scary face, with its big ears and all of its tragic muddy majesty. I wondered hard at my grandpa’s fascination. On his coffee table in his house there was a picture of a few men in uniform in front of an elephant. Grandpa said that was when he was in Germany. He had been a military man, so he had traveled more places than I could name. Not that I could name many, because, as I realized, I didn’t know much of anything about his past. He didn’t notice as I wandered away to start my own zoo-venture. I skipped around saying “hi!” to all the rest of God’s creatures. I watched the tiger that was getting a part of his back shaved so
“They took her tusks
and made them into dice.” an animal doctor could treat a rash. The cool thing about tigers is that they have striped skin, not just striped fur. As I walked from the tiger’s den to the snake pit, I saw an ostrich following me on the other side of the fence. I stopped to measure him up, but I didn’t stay long because the giant feather duster had too much anger in his eyes. There was a mongoose in the zoo, too. I had a puzzling time with him, because a mongoose isn’t a goose, but more like a meercat, which isn’t really even a cat, but more like a prairie dog, which isn’t even a dog, but more like a ground squirrel. My head was swimming with useless animal trivia, so I decided to check on Gramps. He was a very old man, and I knew I shouldn’t trust him to be alone for too long. There he was, smiling a semi-toothless smile at his friend the big African elephant. The beast was standing right next to Gramps, who barely measured up to the tower of thick grey skin that was the elephant’s front leg. I stood beside my grandpa, with my fingers laced through the fence and my left foot up on the zoo street curb, a smaller mirror of his stance. At that moment I overcame my little lump of fear, turned to him, and asked, “Gramps. What’s with this elephant?” As he turned to smile at me I could see that it took him a great deal of effort to pull his watery old eyes away from the hypnotic pendulum of the elephant’s swinging tail. “Ahhh…” My grandpa has this way of taking forever to start a sentence, and there is nothing more annoying to an anxious little girl. “Well, um, elephants, you know.” But I didn’t. I thought again about the picture on his coffee table with an elephant in it and expected a story about Germany. “Did you know that I grew up in Tennessee?” Well, I did know that, and I told him so. He paused, picked me up, and set me on the railing so I could see the elephant better. I just wanted to hear the story. “The first time I ever saw a real elephant was in 1916. I was fifteen years old and my dad took me to the circus.” I tried to picture my grandpa as a kid, smaller with a full head of hair. I couldn’t imagine it at all. “Except that elephant—her name was Mary—she killed a man, and crushed the brains out of his head with her foot. So the circus and the state of Tennessee decided that the elephant needed to be executed. There was a big spectacle, because they didn’t know how. I mean, she was colossal. So they took a huge crane and marched Mary out to the train tracks. And in front of everyone they hanged her by the neck from a derrick car.” My chest got really tight, and I didn’t notice the animal smells anymore. “The first time, because she was just so big, she fell out. She sort of wiggled out, and I heard her hip crack. So she just sat there, upright and sad while they got a stronger chain.” By this point I think my grandpa noticed me pouting. He sighed as he jingled the change in his pockets. “So yeah, I saw an elephant hanged. They took her tusks and made them into dice.” i
The Date, Pt. 1
Dan “Dr. Dan” Mrozowski enjoys comic books, Marxisim, and comic books about Marxisim. He is easily distracted in class, will occasionally trip over his own feet, and never stops extolling the virtues of Huck Finn.
Kobenhaven Destruction Sites 1 & 3 â€˘ Benjamin Etten
Sioux Falls Mill â€˘ Benjamin Etten
Place names: Moldova, Kiev, St. Petersburg, Bemidji, Minneapolis.
Write so many things on your face with the Ukrainian ink.
continents to the sea.
Lick your closed eyelids, make them sticky with whatever glues the
I would open my teeth to it. Suck on it like a jawbreaker, dance with your Russian tongue.
I want to burst the tiny globe in your mouth. Roll it between your lips and mine.
Or one hundred lost love songs sent to an overseas stranger.
stick. Or miles of plastic?
anyway. Running down into heels of our shoesâ€”makes the socks
because whatâ€™s in there but blue liquid
I have a longing to burst open a globe, to see the insides
Transatlantic Katelyn Dokken
all the places you are not.
made in the U.S.A., in the transatlantic between, in
I doubt there would be much blood, just a little sticker
beneath boot soles like a little black beetle.
I’d place it in your hands and watch you crush it
proof of place. Existence of east and west. Our northern states.
You would come and I’d kiss you. I’d un-swallow cleanly our
Maybe I’d call for you like a bird calls goodbye.
then, a deep-seated star on the old maps. Old globes.
Wait for it to take root, vines planting me wherever I may be
I want to swallow the globe.
Keeping divided the territories between you and I.
blades of our feet.
sharing the orb, back and forth trading it between the silver
listen to our string instruments under wool caps while
We could take the globe outside to every town’s ice rink,
Everything isis Leaning on Everything Else
telephoned to play you a song. Lying in a bunk, surrounded by volunteers in New Orleans, you whispered hello from the breathing silence of the church on Dryads Street. I planned the call well ahead. The song I picked from the heart of songs. When you answered I thought you said, “I’m sleepy.” (You really said, “Sing to me.”) The lights went out in the church and everyone was asleep except you, suddenly alone on one end of a dropped line. I put my guitar back in its case and curled up in a cot in the cold, snowy North. You didn’t call me back. I suppose that’s because we were old inside, which is a thing to be understood straight away. The song I did not play was played more beautifully by the possibility of music, and became unparalleled inside all the other sounds. You insisted on this—when, as the months passed, you refused to answer my calls, missing me so much that you did not want to hear me. No, you didn’t call me back, to hear the song, or for any other reason. I imagine you laid back into your
pillow that night and dreamt a dream, which you remembered in the morning for a moment before anything else, before dressing, and then forgot as you drank your coffee. I imagine things continued in an ordinary way, except that now you were old inside, as I was, for putting the pulse of a night so deliberately away, wild beams of light in our ears. As the summer approached I made plans quickly. I acquired an acre of soil from the farm I grew up on in Wisconsin and planted a small-scale vegetable farm. Five feet from the basil bed, I built a hut out of scrap materials and sod to live in, so close that some nights I stepped out and walked the black ground to scare deer away. The first night after planting corn, I lay awake in bed with Carl Sandburg’s poetry spilled across my chest, my hands keeping the shape of the hoe, listening to the dirt scrape the blade, feeling the give of the loose stuff and the stop of the old tobacco roots. I wrote to you about my field of sky, where I planted the sunlight and threshed the moon. Your words came back to me warm in the envelopes, shucking their timid husks every mile from the Gulf Coast to my field. Our signatures convinced me of something powerful, and I trusted it. In September the frost came. In October, you finished your volunteer term and returned to Minneapolis for school. I boarded up the windows on my hut and moved to the frosting metropolis to live with you, to save no money and belong to our rent.
pinched my bus transfer between all of my fingers. Most everybody else did, too, out of cold desperation. It cost two dollars during rush hour to ride the bus, and it usually took more than one bus to get to the right place, so the transfer was for keeps and kept close, a person’s own sort of hallelujah ticket. I paid for mine every morning with twenty dimes from an old salsa jar I kept at home; that transfer got me to my job at the hardware store, and it took twenty more dimes at night to get home. It was an hour down Lake Street before my stop. Often, because it was winter, the things my mind woke up with—dreams, the objects of the morning—froze and became completely still. Sometimes I made my transfer in time, sometimes I didn’t. At 39th street I pulled the yellow cord and rose to the bright, alarming ding, watching my step as I pinned my name crookedly to my red shirt. I clocked in and took my place in the aisles of things, and a camera shutter closed around the hours. As per the company’s employment philosophy, everybody learned how to do everybody’s job. I ended up a jack-of-all-departments. I worked hard because it felt busy, and while I did that I thought of our apartment, number four at the end of the hallway. I wrote letters to you on the receipts customers didn’t want, and on leftover sales ads from the previous week: “$29.99 Yellow Water Can Gerbera Daisy,” which read on its back, “I want to be your hard-headed woman.” When I greeted customers with “What can I help you with today?” there were fives and tens of sales advertisements in my pockets covered with pieces of “my dear,” “there are words,” “If I could tell you.” I wrote when the store wasn’t busy, no pipes to thread, ladders to climb. No one knew, not the store cameras, nor the customers staring at my name tag, asking for the price of things, things I could care less to buy, things you and I have never needed. We got by without these things.
March brought an early thaw. You got a job at St. Stephen’s shelter on Clinton Street and went to classes. Across the street from the shelter we rented a small garden plot and learned how to plant onions the Mexican way from Regino, the man fixing his bike on the sidewalk. One evening we wound up in the alley behind our house, washed by the midnight. A kiss in the rain, a few of your New Orleans stories, and then back into the apartment where it was warm, back to your school work and to my writing. We hurried into our clothes and caught buses in the mornings; I adjusted my nametag. On an evening in May, I closed my e-mail and stared into the glow of your computer. Beans simmered on the stove, slowly becoming ready for you to arrive back home from the library. I thought of the books stacked around you there. I thought of the desperation of the city. Half listening for the sound of your key in the door, I typed “college in the woods” into Google, and clicked “search.”
ecause it was a town with a University; because the manager of a food co-op agreed to interview me for a job; because the Minneapolis hardware business made my bones ache for beds to lie down in; because buses charioted me into redundancy; because apartment four became our cell unto ourselves; because the fountains of another city might rinse a person better, on a June afternoon I flew to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and you came with me, carrying a big red bag on your back. We made appointments to meet professors at Swarthmore College, agreed to consider the change of geography in our own individual ways. You put off your registration at the University of Minnesota for the next semester and I took off a few days from the hardware store. We changed our footing and stepped into the wind. I knew no one who could pick us up in Pennsylvania at two in the morning, so we prepared to sleep in the airport until the trains started up again. I had never flown, never seen the lines of tired people. If it weren’t for Mrs. Payne, your friend’s mother, who agreed to pick us up, we would have slept in the terminal. We would have curled up on the floor behind some chairs; would have leaned vaguely against each other for a few hours, the plane engines in perpetual language, the baggage carts waxing us to sleep, the five a.m. train to Philadelphia pulling in like a piano crescendo, bells rung, seats filled. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have to, in the end, because on the way out of the airport we pointed out the spot we would have claimed until the sun rose on our faces. She drove us to her home in Media, a few miles outside Swarthmore. You talked to her about volunteering with her daughter in the Gulf Coast; I had never been so far away from home. Mrs. Payne’s street was quiet. We followed her up the stairs to a room we could sleep in, and she showed us the bathroom: “We’re going to take out these yellow tiles and put down new ones,” she said, and then left us alone to quietly undress and fall asleep. I listened to you drift off. I wanted to disappear before the sun came up. The room still dark, I woke up on my belly and stared at the clock on my phone, clicking the light back on, clicking it again. I didn’t have much time to learn about Swarthmore College, the co-op, the
east coast. As the room filled up with soft, blue light, your eyes opened on me, and I recognized, even in Pennsylvania, the bold emergence of your body, and then the straightening of your long back—bendable stone, the statue I slept with, the long red hair like a flame. You yawned and said, “We should go, huh?” I nodded and went to the bathroom. I sat on the edge of the tub as I brushed my teeth and spread my toes on the tiles of the family’s home, trying to push myself into the grain of it so that when I left and the tile was removed to make way for something new, I would feel the change in my bones. Sun washed my feet as I gripped, and you came in with a towel. We had an hour to catch the train to Swarthmore College to make our meetings on time. The first plant I saw on Swarthmore’s campus lawn was labeled with its common and scientific name. Every plant was labeled. Swarthmore was three hundred acres of catalogued, studied vegetative life. As we walked, I read; as I read, I became lost. The names were unfamiliar to me, or I forgot them in the heat. I tried to rehearse everything I knew about plants, but things around me being so labeled and clear, I lost intrigue. You left me to find the Sociology Department, and I wandered the grass, receiving silence all around me. When we separated, I stood in front of the big wooden doors of the Biology building and looked at the handles; I noted how heavily the door must rest on its hinges. A student pulled it open and sunk inside the academic fissure, and as the door came shut, I saw myself in the glass. Who wears bright green pants to meet a reputable professor, I thought, and then I thought, who sits there with her legs crossed in the office of a reputable professor pretending her pants are not bright green, but dark and serious brown? It was a mistake, coming here, assuming this role of risk-taker, wearing all the wrong clothes, not knowing the names of their plants.
I wrote to you about my Field of sky, where I planted the sunlight and threshed the moon.
Passing slowly by the doors of Biology professors, I read the cryptically meaningful sayings they’d posted for students to read. One of them, a handwritten excerpt from a J. D. Salinger book, roped my attention, and while I had expected it to be from Catcher in the Rye it was from Seymour, an Introduction: “Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next. Is he never wrong?” I shifted my feet and stood shapelessly in Dr. Vollmer’s doorway. I sat, she paced; her hands flailed as she talked about Microbiology. The back of my neck dewed. I forgot about my bright green pants. Goosebumps swallowed my body and my mouth opened, saying nothing initially, and then saying everything: Sustainable Agriculture, Dr. Vollmer. I described my farm, what I understood to be botany and the poetic intricacies. Tossing my bag on the floor, I leaned forward and tried to explain to her that absolutely everything was leaning on everything else. She leaned forward and said, “If you don’t wake up in the morning and yearn for a textbook, you’ll stick out here like a sore thumb, because our students love to learn more than anything.” I couldn’t imagine. “You don’t learn until you’re out of your comfort zone,” she said, and gave me her card. In the basement I found a small room with a window looking out at a Japanese garden. Water stood still in a pool where fish lived, silvered and orange. I looked into the room painfully. Were I a student, I would stack my textbooks there, like sacred things, and pray to my homework. Down the hall I heard a group of people. I took my bag from my shoulders and sat at the table, touching the grain in its surface; sunlight cracked open the room, and satisfaction ran down my face. After a few moments, I left and found you in the rose garden, circling the flowers in such a way that said, “The Sociology Department failed to impress me.” The manager of the Swarthmore Co-op stacked goat cheese with one hand, holding coffee in the other. His name was Gerry. He poured me a coffee, and we sat outside on the patio, trading stories. I talked about my farm, and he told me about the meat deli he used to run upstate. The merchandise surprised me for an organic co-op: blue rows of Oreo cookies; Chiquita bananas; tomatoes from cheap labor farms; oh
yes, and the tabloids. He asked me what I thought. I pointed out one of his employees scrubbing the produce bins with Windex, generously spraying the produce besides. I also pointed out the unusual placement of the produce, a small supply of vegetables and fruits shoved into the back of the store. “You’ll make an excellent lead for my produce department if you decide to move out here.” I walked to the train station where I found you reading, looking sadly into a book like someone who had forgotten something important, waiting to see who would come first, the woman or the train. We caught the 4:30 back to Media and bought dinner.
e had been two people always. The tea orders came in pairs of cups, saucers, and spoons. We had sipped separately, cordially yours, I love you too, etcetera, etcetera. We were in Pennsylvania with each other’s strange foreign minds. The summer precipitated through my shirt and dampened yours; we walked to the rhythm of train departures, train arrivals. After leaving Swarthmore, you phoned an old friend from New Orleans living outside Philly. He picked us up at a bookstore somewhere in Valley Forge, took us to his home, and fed us. You met him at the church on Dryads Street. Unlike most volunteers flocking to New Orleans, Scott went there alone. He was there for the first house you gutted for hurricane damage; he jogged along St. Charles Ave. and drove other volunteers around in his car so they could get out, see the city, walk the French Quarter. After dinner, he gave us a ride into the heart of Philadelphia, and the three of us went for a midnight walk. You and I slipped into a theatrical pairing, pretending not to be intimate in order to remain private in the company of your friends and these new cities, with their dangerous capability to separate us forever. We walked unattached through the historic district as I admired Scott’s autonomous life, wishing I had met you gutting a house, wondering what our letters had meant, what music meant. I stared into all the famous windows as if the Declaration would be signed again, and Betsy Ross would stare back from an old wooden chair, stitching her flag. We passed some music bars and clubs. I bumped into a famous country singer outside a bar, and she didn’t look too great. I looked up at the oldest buildings in the city. I couldn’t look hard enough at every brick because I had never known anything like this. What makes a person search for the antithesis of her own life? What I mean to say is, why do people long for the sea in the old ballads, and what makes us sing those ballads as if they were our own, as if those were our own boats bobbing on the oceans, like fools, like dying, unhappy poets and sailors and fry cooks and clowns? It was the possibility of a different life held tightly inside Philly’s grain. It was the fear of that possibility, and the nerve to consider it at the expense of a life that was already good. My mind fell asleep in the aesthetic of nightclubs and lamplight, and we started
to walk in circles. Even with the attention to detail; even though the humidity focused my eyes on everything in front of me; even with your body beside me; even in the calmness beside that black iron gate around Benjamin Franklin’s grave, his body wrapped and covered in stone, folded deep in the ground with his wife; even though the clean, white sheets at Scott’s house waited like an altar to host our blessed forms; even despite the hours until then, the hours after—I could not for your sake or mine find a way into our happiness. We went up the stairs to a bed. I asked you if I could sleep in it with you, and it was a question meant to tell you that I was disappearing into the locations, getting used to the changes in the skyline. I crawled into the sheets and wished I had lain down somewhere else so that I wouldn’t invade your dreams as I slowly slipped out of them. Neon lights flickered me to sleep as I recalled them in bed, the bright, glowing “Bank Street Hostel” burned in the muscles behind my dreams. Your arms made a circle around me, and I pulled away because my ribcage was a glowing crescent. The moon emptied itself into the room and illuminated the gesture of my pulling-out and your pulling-in. In the morning, I forgot where we were, and my hands found you under the sheets. When you reached for me, I remembered our discontent and faced the window. I thought to myself that we had been walking for three days in the pastures of Pennsylvania, boarding the sidewalks of our lives, and had grown too exhausted to function properly. For a moment before I turned a delicate sort of happiness picked me up and held me so close I could hear the hole in its heart. I pinched the edge of the bed, letting a bus transfer fall away. An exquisite fear filled me, and I thought I would ask you to leave your school and move; but then I turned and saw the throbbing moon inside your mouth, “Are we on your terms?” I dressed and couldn’t hear all of your words as you explained the pain I’d given you; they went through my ears, and I opened the window to let the world in. You rearranged your bag to make it fit your dirty clothes, took out the educational pamphlets you got from Swarthmore College, and flipped through them. You would not go to that school; you could not live in that town. I sat across the table from you on Samson Street, drawing you into my notebook. You thought the streets looked European there, in University City, Philly. Your
figure proved difficult to render as you sat quietly in the chair across from me with your tea, telling me about the cities in Germany, Scotland, and Ireland, about the time you pretended to be a student at the University in Galway. I drank some cold water and tried not to think. Your lips curled and your eyebrows bent in disgust as the group of professors next to us criticized all the Quakers at Swarthmore College, the people we had met the few days before. I wanted to fix my drawing, because now it was wrong, now that you had rearranged the graces in your face. We didn’t smell good anymore. The sun fell on the city and heated up the urine people could not seem to keep off the sidewalks, corners, streets, sculptures. As we walked through the city, I looked but could not find a holy ground to step on. The moonlight had dried away and left a hardness. You kept your eye on the clock so we wouldn’t miss our train to the airport, and we wandered more, hungry but stubbornly not spending money. We lay in the grass in Rittenhouse Square, lay with the hundred others, and imagined our lives to ourselves. I saw myself in an apartment by the Liberty Bell, propped up in bed, writing, engulfed by my books. In the context of those moments, while we waited for our train, words seemed so much more possible, my hands so much more capable, my heart peeled open. You looked at your clock. I closed my eyes. In the context of autonomy, my Philadelphia apartment was in the corner of an old building and got all the afternoon sun. I was in Philly with you, and the letters I wrote to you in my mind didn’t leave with us on the train. “I threw them into the river,” I want to say, but I didn’t. They are
“If you don’t wake up in the morning and yearn for a textbook, you’ll stick out here like a sore thumb, because our students love to learn more than anything.”
flung somewhere else, tucked into something different. My own discontent gave me the words to ruin us, and I put them quietly away. The east coast opened up its ground and groaned. Possibilities screamed in the air like birds and perched in the archways of universities. Strangers pissed on the city and did not explain, while the torrents of urine polished your face and polished mine. What belongs to me in Philadelphia lies there on the ground, in the grass, incomplete and abandoned. I did that for loveâ€”I chiseled the torso of our broken togetherness and left the stone in the University lawn to sink and be eaten by the wind. We waited two hours for our train and left Pennsylvania. i
The Date, Pt. 2
Jim Novak is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the Creative Writing Program. He says he didnâ€™t cheat.
1. The tender things that occur between individuals being close. *often used euphemistically 2. Each touch to the nape of the neck or thumb to the base of the ear that is applied with care, much the same as a personâ€™s mother in pressing a small black spider against a wall. *and feeling the spider press back through the white napkin 3. Alternative to kissing, just two mouths resting on one another; pressed together like two musty caves, a breeze inside slowly blowing back and then forth again. *whistling through the teeth 4. Each time a strand of hair happens across oneâ€™s mouth and the tongue reaches out to it, pulling it down like a dark well swallowing a loose kite. *followed by a shallow cough like a sleeping kitten 5. State of lying still like two creased pieces of art covered in a film of soft white from a street lamp, like from the flashlight held by a burglar peering through a museum window. *neither party is afraid to sleep **Because sleep is the water turning the powder to concrete.
hen I was sixteen, my mother decided to give me “the talk” as part of Sunday school curriculum instead of at a private, only partiallymortifying venue. My first assignment was to draw a car which would represent me as a sexual being traveling down the road of life until I parked in the driveway of a committed heterosexual relationship and gave my mother some damn grandchildren. I drew a unicycle. At the time, I thought I was just being goofy. Once I had become a gay, twenty-year-old virgin, I realized I was actually being clairvoyant. It was summer. A month beforehand, I had successfully masturbated for the first time. Since most people started in their early teens, I had to make up for lost time. My pace would have been blistering were
it not for Vaseline. Emboldened by my success at selfstimulation, I made a summer goal—get laid. I didn’t want to contract herpes until at least the third time I had sex, so I made a point to stop in the medical section of Rainbow Foods while grocery shopping. Rainbow had recently changed their logo to something that would make sense only if they also changed their name to Dark Green Foods. My theory on the logo change was that a rainbow logo was too gay for Middle America. By changing the color, they could pretend they were founded by and named for Thaddeus H. Rainbow. Looking at the packs of condoms, I faced a conundrum. They all touted their abilities to please “her.” The class Comparative Orifices was not a part of my Catholic sex education. I didn’t know if pleasure ridges or bumps were more suited to anal cavities. I briefly considered asking a passing employee which brand he’d recommend for butt sex until I saw that
he was seventy. He could have been the keeper of the greatest secret anal sex techniques, but due to his age, I wouldn’t have minded if they died with him. Eventually I bought a three pack of what seemed to be the most basic variety. There would be time for experimentation later. Two were lost the moment they touched the nest of papers and debris around my mattress. The survivor was put into my coin purse. The coin purse had a Japanese cartoon penguin on it, but it was an evil Japanese cartoon penguin which I believe butched it up. At that point, I didn’t have any specific plans as to with whom or where I would get laid. The condom was merely a good-faith gesture. It said, “Hey world, I’m ready for whatever sexual adventures you want to throw my way. Don’t hold back because you think I’m not ready.” In July, a sexual adventure was thrown squarely at
The condom was merely a good faith guesture.
“Hey world, I’m ready for whatever sexual adventures
me. I had begun my first semi-relationship. We were on our second faux-date. The first one involved us walking around campus realizing that without chemical inducements we had no interpersonal connection. For our second sort of date, he came to my apartment, watched the first half of a movie, lost interest, and started feeling me up. At first, it tickled, and I would laugh uncontrollably, forcing him to retreat. Once I was able to will myself out of being ticklish, he gave me a glorious boner. It pressed against my jeans so hard it hurt. This was when I was supposed to relieve the pressure by unzipping my pants. Then we would have segued into a light blowjob and then full on sex. But if that happened, I wouldn’t know exactly what to do. I had a general idea of the theory behind butt sex. I knew the prostate was something I should be looking for. However, I didn’t know any of its distinguishing characteristics. I feared that I would have to spend a
lot of time rummaging around in him playing “hot” or “cold.” I should have done my research. Instead I nervously laughed at the movie, hoping to divert his attention back to it. When that didn’t work, I tried to figure out what I should do with my hands. It didn’t seem right that I was experiencing the most spectacular hard-on I had ever had while giving nothing in return, but I was worried my attempts wouldn’t be as effective. The movie ended, and the sex had not happened after thirty minutes of aggressive hinting. There was still a small chance we could become the best of fuck buddies—unless I was bad in bed, which I probably was. I said goodbye. I walked him to the door with the crotch of my jeans still taut. We had no further pseudodates. For the rest of the summer, I came no closer to losing my virginity. The start of classes would mark my official failure. I planned to celebrate by inflating my
you want to throw
condom. The balloon would symbolize my hopes for the summer. It would be popped. My last chance to meet someone was an end-ofsummer party I attended with a friend and her boyfriend. The men at the party were overwhelmingly straight, as evidenced by the non-ironic beer pong table. On the walk back to my house my friend received a phone call. It was from a girl back at the party, a blonde from Iowa. Valiantly I offered up my condom. My friend whisked it back to the party. The blonde probably enjoyed it more than I would have. There were still a few more days for sexual adventure. I could have ridden over to Dark Green Foods and got a new pack of condoms. I didn’t, but if I did, I would’ve used a bike. I never learned how to ride a unicycle, but I’m not too upset. Bikes are probably more comfortable and less awkward. I’ll learn to ride a unicycle one day when I’m really ready. i
Pre Portrait She does not know the Promethean ache the midnight collapse
a scratch. Junk is the garbage you don’t throw away.
waiting under the pier, between the page: a scrape without
wouldn’t? With skin you can’t peel she eats an orange. And scrubs.
parasol she thinks this a broken melody (for) who
baskets of fever to cure it.” And holding a tattered
gods. Or for him who can whisper “i carry snake-oil
and sleeping in thornberry bushes next to temporary
thistle blues. She is no hyacinth plucked from Apollo’s bow
of Hyperion she calls at 3am calls it the milk
Chasing shadows in the darkness, takes for granted the movement of photons. She bleeds liqourice sticks. As a kid she danced with little ponies. Where was her dinner date now? Her pasta would get cold. She was the reason men loved torn dresses She hated herself for that. She won’t drink white wine but she’ll break your lips with her glass. She won’t break bread over prayer or forgiveness or any name of a mother’s death-bed gift. Her own omen is this: in the cage, under the bed sheets you will find the scared lioness A wall that wants to crumble but won’t let you pass. Even if you say please, feign to know the password. A dusty whisper screams when you turn around.
Morning Bed Sheets â€˘ Lucia Hawley
o you remember Abraham? Yes, that Abraham, the one God ordered to take his son up the mountain and make him a sacrifice. Do you remember Abraham? The thing I wonder and that I guess everyone wonders when they hear that story is this: what if God hadn’t intervened in the last moment to stop Abraham from cutting the boy’s throat? I guess this is a moot point when you are talking about someone who is all-powerful, but what if there had been a snag in the plan? What if the angel had been waylaid like the angel in Daniel who was kept at bay by the Prince of Persia for twenty-one days? I guess I don’t really know what would have happened to Abraham then. I suppose he would have tried to explain to his wife why he left on a camping trip with their son and came home alone. Maybe he wouldn’t have gone home at all. I mean, maybe it would have been better for him to hit the road after a stunt like that. Light out for Ur of the Chaldeans and never look back. Maybe there are some tests that you simply can’t pass. There was our man and he was standing in the rain outside of a bus depot. He wore a gray raincoat, executive cut, and he carried an attaché case and smoked a black cigarette with a little gold ring just above the filter. He had dark hair and pale skin and those deep craters under his eyes that looked like he had smudged eyeliner pencil into sunken little half-moons with his thumb. He was staring at the multicolored chart on the wall of the depot that tells all the places that the buses run and all the times that they arrive and depart. In three days this man, sitting on a California beach, would open the fingers of his right hand into a V and use those same fingers to mash out both of his eyes.
he depot was a building made of gray bricks so big that they looked like cinderblocks, all stained from people extinguishing their cigarettes and cigars on the side in ugly black smears that never quite seem to wash off in the rain. The roof was slightly inclined and there were tin rain gutters that were supposed to direct the water toward the down spouts into the big forty-gallon plastic barrels. But it had already been raining for two and a half years without ever even once showing the slightest sign of letting up. So the gutters were filled up and the barrels were filled up and the water was just pouring out like soldiers going over the top at Verdun or the Somme and splattering away on the ground in deep old puddles, flowing away in little rivulets carving their way across the parking lot. Doesn’t that just beat everything straight to hell? Two and a half years. That’s nine hundred and twelve whole days, plus one very soggy morning. He was wondering if there was a bus going somewhere that the sun was shining. A lady sidled up to him. He couldn’t hear her over the sound of the rain and the water pouring down out of the gutters and anyway he wasn’t really listening for any ladies sidling up beside him. This lady was very tiny. So tiny that when he finally did notice her he wondered to himself how it was that she hadn’t been sucked away in one of the parking-lot rivers. She was wearing a yellow slicker and had big
horn-rimmed spectacles and her hair was wrapped in plastic sheeting to keep it dry. It was a cold day. Autumn was turning into winter and the days were getting shorter and the wind was starting to take on a serrated edge. He coughed and the little lady turned to him. “You shouldn’t smoke,” she said. She smelled like damp baby powder and mildew. “I know,” he said. “It’s bad for you,” she said. He nodded. “That’s the idea.” “Huh?” “Gradual suicide.” She didn’t say anything after that for a moment and then she asked him where he was headed and he said that he didn’t know. “What do you mean?” she asked him. “How can you come to the station without knowing where you are going?” “I hadn’t really thought about it. Somewhere sunny.” “Is that supposed to be a joke?” she asked. “Because it isn’t funny.” “No. I guess not. Still though. Wouldn’t a little sun be nice?” “I am going to see my grandchildren in Topeka,” the tiny woman said. “It’s my grandson’s birthday and I’m going for a visit.” “That’s nice.”
o he got on the first bus bound for California and it took him all the way to San Francisco. Three thousand miles and he sat by the window the whole way. You know what he saw? Ruin. Everywhere they went there was nothing green or growing anywhere. Everything was dead. They drove through huge stretches of what had once been wheat fields (green grass, gold and amber stalks, rich soil, all beneath a blue sky, green tractors, and red irrigators) and all those fields had become enormous playa lakes
that reflected rain clouds and any headlights passing on the freeway. They drove through the mountains. There used to be trees in the Rockies, big fir trees and oak trees and ash trees and birch trees and all kinds of trees. But now the trees were all rotted away beneath tangled heaps of moss and lichen because moss and lichen are just about the only things that can grow in the constant damp. Every stop along the way he saw more people dressed in wet clothes, wearing wet shoes over wet socks. It isn’t right, he thought, that a man could get jungle rot in Nevada. But sure enough. “I guess I thought it might be different here,” he said to no one in particular as the bus turned south toward San Francisco. “But it really is just the same everywhere.”
e got off the bus somewhere between L.A. and Frisco. It doesn’t matter where precisely, just somewhere along the way. It was a rinky-dink town. You know the type: a gas station rusting out from under itself; a diner whose sign is missing letters; a no-tell motel with rooms for nineteen dollars a night; several bars that might be dive bars but aren’t because dive is a concept of relatives and here in Podunk, CA, everything is a dive, a warsh, the tried and true walking nightmare of a mad somnambulist. Everything was gravel and soot and the aching, backbreaking odor of despair. It was the kind of place where noir things happen on rainswept nights and even the rich banks of clouds can’t protect a body from the deep-down crazies brought on by the obscured light of a full moon. The kind of place where a car breaks down and its owner moans, “No…anywhere but here.” But there was a beach not far from the bus depot. The last twenty miles into town he could see it from the highway: the gray sky, water that moved like lead in a crucible, whitecaps churning up on the beach, driftwood and seaweed scattered like a net in whose grommets lay decaying fish, caked in sand, picked at by the birds.
e left the terminal behind, crossed the street, waded through the mud and muck of the em-
bankment down to the place where the soil turned to sand, and he kicked off his shoes and pulled off his socks and walked barefoot onto the beach. The rain had darkened the sand and left it cratered with minute pockmarks as if an ant army had loosed its miniature artillery and made no man’s land of the dune. Several yards ahead a fish, gray-scaled and white-bellied, flopped in one of the shallow pools that the rain had turned into small, isolated seas. He walked along the beach, looking out towards the horizon. In the distance the sky and ocean faded together into a single ashen thing, an elemental merger of water and air. A taut breeze was rolling off the waves and it carried with it the smell of brine, kelp, and ice. He rubbed his hand along his face and felt the three-day stubble beneath his fingers. About fifty yards down the beach he saw a man sitting and watching the waves. This stranger wore a brightly colored shirt with no sleeves, a pair of Bermuda shorts, and had his hair bound back behind his head with a handkerchief that was white and red. His hair was golden, as if it had been gobbling sunlight for the course of his entire life, storing it against the day when the sun would disappear. Now, in the neverending, rain-soaked gloaming his hair blazed out like the sun’s reflection in a polished mirror. His feet were buried in the sand. The stranger turned and saw our man coming down the beach towards him and he raised a well-muscled arm and waved. The golden haired stranger was sitting on a long tow board with a high fin and a blue stripe that ran the middle and ducked away around either end. “Out for a stroll?” the surfer asked. “You might say so.”
“What’s your name?” the surfer asked. Our man raised his shoulders and let them drop. The surfer looked him over top to bottom and then nodded. “Yeah. I dig. I know why you’re here. You thought you might find a sliver of sunlight. Isn’t that right, traveler?” “Yeah. That’s right.” “You should know by now,” the surfer said. “There isn’t going to be any sun ever again. Those days are over.” “You still come out here to surf ?” our man asked. The surfer looked at him for a moment as if he had not understood the question. “You’re sitting on a surfboard.” He pointed and the surfer turned and then his face broke into a wide smile. “Oh,” the surfer said, “I don’t surf. I found it right where it is now. Seemed like as good a bench as I was going to find down here.” “So why are you here?” “I’m here every day,” the surfer who was not a surfer said. “I like to watch the ocean.” “In the rain?” “It rains every day,” the surfer who was not a surfer said. “I don’t see how you can let it stop you forever.” “It’s depressing.” “So it is.” They sat in silence for a long time. Waves broke on the shore, seagulls glided through the rain and called out to one another in voices that seemed to come from a great distance, and from the road came the sound of cars and trucks shifting down to stop at the traffic light on the corner by the bus station. Our man looked at his watch. It was a quarter to noon. Behind the clouds the sun should have been almost in the center of the sky. How do you remember something like the sun? How do you pick out a single sunlit day to rest the mind upon when every day for a lifetime and for a thousand lifetimes the sun has been the world’s one constant? That was the trouble that plagued our man. He could remember the sun, but only as an abstraction. Now that it was gone it did not take a
definite shape in his memory, remaining, instead, a general theory of light and heat as divorced from the reality of the sun as Planck’s constant is divorced from the cooking of a marshmallow over a roaring fire.
hat might have been different for our man if at that moment the sun had appeared—if the clouds gave way, as the Prince of Persia gave way to Daniel’s angel, and there had been a moment of illumination? Would even a single ray of clear, unfiltered light have been the hand of God staying Abraham from the terrible sacrifice? But the clouds did not break and for a little while the two, our man and the strange Kuebiko, sat sideby-side staring out over the water. i
Grandma Jesus e
scaping the humidity at last, I collapse on the sofa, dead weight melting into the cool white leather. She brings me water and sits on the stone ledge of the fireplace, lighting a blue American Spirit, handing it to me, and lighting another. She waits for words. I tell her I hate life. I’ve gained weight. None of my clothes fit, and what I’m wearing is filthy. I quit my job, grandma. I have no money, no air conditioning in my bedroom, and I haven’t slept for three days. I tell her that he says it’s over, but he’s lingering. He slept on the couch the other night. On the couch. I can’t even take a shower. It’s been on my to-do list for a week. I actually have to write “shower” and “get dressed” on my to-do lists these days. She snuffs her cigarette, sips from my water glass, and asks if she can wash my feet. The way she did when I was a little girl with long snarled hair. She sits cross-legged on the carpet by my feet with a steaming bucket of soapy water, a rag hanging over the side. I close my eyes. Sigh. Legs dangling over the edge in her thin soft hands as she pulls away layers of negativity, slowly, out through the soles of my feet, the dirt wrung into murky water. She smoothes rose oil into my arches, my ankles, between my toes. She talks to me about Jesus, and this time I don’t mind. i
Urgency â€˘ Sam Robertson
100% Satisfaction Guaranteed â€˘ Broc Blegen
Yao Dian â€˘ Christopher Ziolkowski
Target Bag â€˘ Emma Johnson
Coloring Book â€˘ Broc Blegan
Lights, Camera, Action â€˘Sarah Stackley
Drum Heads â€˘ Kalen Keir 43
Afternoon Tea â€˘Bethany Dick
Katie â€˘ Bethany Dick
Suction Cup Me Baby! and Giggle My Jelly! â€˘ Katelyn Johnson
Utopia â€˘ Broc Blegen
Buddha Row â€˘ Tissana Kijsanayotin
Stop. Rewind. Record. Reject. â€˘ Sara Paul
Rage • Joe Kane
La Forêt • PJ Maracle
Pathos Mending Ethos â€˘ Ryan Rasmussen
Saint Maximillion Kolbe â€˘ Joann Dzon
here is nothing drop of rain can
avoid hitting the ground
f you cut open a cloud, the cross-section looks like a gigantic ant farm with an intricate network of tiny pathways. In this way each cloud in the sky is a city. In each unnamed cumulus metropolis, rainwater flows through these corridors like blood through veins. To us, the cloudlife of droplets of rain seems like it must be a gestational period, and in a way it is. The way that warm, dark cloudflesh surrounds and envelops rain in the sky is best described as womblike. However, what rain goes through in clouds is not the same as the mindless growth and development of a mammalian fetus. It is altogether more like school.
itizenship and community are important to rain; after all, raindrops can literally merge with each other to become larger entities, though the base unit of the drop always retains control over itself. It is in puddles that rain shares information, and in the cloud-cities there are myriad recesses of varying size in which raindrops gather and learn. In one such classroom, drops are told that the collective Rain should always be valued above the individual drop. In another, they learn of the cycle of rain: falling honorably and gracefully from clouds to replenish the Earth, then rising back to the clouds to fall again. In another, they hear tales of the soil and seas that await them at the end of their fall. After a drop has learned its lesson, it separates from the teaching puddle and is whisked away by the streaming hallway to the next classroom. Such is the cloudlife of a drop of rain. Naturally, some take to it more than others.
hen every drop has visited the majority of the countless classrooms in a cloud, the city becomes dark and heavy with their collective knowledge. New pathways are eroded: pathways that lead not to any classroom but to howling wind. The first to jump are the malcontents, the disbelievers and those that just want to get it over with; the thrill-seekers; the zealots all too eager to begin their transformation. They drizzle down towards what is below while those left in their clouds make snide little jokes in their puddles. But before long the time for mass exodus comes, and the cloud is evacuated in dozens of somber processions.
uite a lot about the nature of any raindrop can be learned if you simply watch the way it falls. Some show that they never completely believed in the cycle by the way they spread themselves flat, trying to fall as slowly as possible. On the other hand, you can tell a true believer by the way it shapes itself into a sleek bullet to get to its goal as quickly as possible. Others simply take pleasure in the fall, swooping rambunctiously around other drops, knowing that whatever happens will happen and so why worry; their exuberance annoys some but is contagious to others. Some drops find another drop to merge with, and lessen the fear of the soon-upcoming ground by sharing it. And some just fall, glistening globules, at peace with what they are and what they are to do. What none of them know, not the frightened nor the fanatical nor the playful nor the affectless, is that they are the last rainload of the last cloud, and what they fall towards has neither soil nor sea, but only concrete for miles and miles and hundreds of miles and hundreds of miles, a newly-paved parking lot for Earthâ€™s satellite, the fantastically glamorous casinomoon. i
Nude â€˘ Katelyn Johnson
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ory looks And the simple idea behind the book that is that really is of a disconnect betweenwho creative life and kind a market economy. about And you know, they work together, lotto ofhave it like. is disconnected. And understanding is athere to a of lot creative people feel otherwise of confused how or why to can move And I ot practical to just tell you get the two truth. I mean athelp the end the book I have a little listwriting, of the typical things that people do…umm, besides toahead. live simply ally give yourself to advice, your work. You can different jobs so famously you’re not putting pressure on your if you’re a writer, maybe you’re really lucky and sort you can living doing it, that’s nice. [Laughs] Yeah. Well, um, so we are an individualist nation, we love individual freedom and private property. But it does of the question of, when you create something, how much of it is really your creation, and how much of it is dependent upon your world and the community you were raised in forth. A simple example wouldwith be the Ivory tower. I mean, when I was a student in thewere 1960’s, the workto I whom did would not have happened if this grouphow of Ifriends had notmaybe been to always be in conversation me and have models of what could be done, and there older poets you could look to see, maybe that’s want to live, to live in a different way. So I was always in the community. And one of the things you might have found online is an essay called… Well, there’s a lot to say, and one have to say which other countries, but one thing to say is, when this country was founded, it was deeply anti-aristocratic, and the founders thought of art as belonging to tholic and in thethis aristocracy. Andthe so very they idea de-coupled public life from artart because they were opposed the get aristocracy and to a church that had that kind offor power. took1965 a church long time country for public engagement with to arrive, and you don’ttoeven something simple as the National the ntil so that’s almost 200 years until after the of founding. Europe what happened was a long tradition by theasaristocracy, and when theEndowment aristocracy gets ed by representative government, the sense that there should be In patronage is not lost, it’s not severed. And of so patronage European countries like Holland and England andhad France have supported the arts way more than we’ve ever done ininthis country. And I think the difference goes…is historical. Inthe this country we had a real break, and we to reinhat it meant to be patrons in a democracy, whereas Europe, there wasn’t such a break, and it was easier to make transition. So, umm, and then, luckily, sometimes, works, artistic which author, are purely exploratory, purely aesthetic, turnincome out tofrom havehis a market value, and that’s wonderful for the artist involved. Umm. Somebody like octorow, who is aworks wonderful wrote for many years without significant writing, is not goes…is historical. In this country we had adoesn’t real break, and we had reinvent what it and then he had a few books that began to sell well. My argumentm ena t dthink to that at all, that’s great. But it’s also fairly rare, and why most beginning artists should really be able about why, why you leave college with so much debt, and you have to be so focused on your ported the arts way more than we’ve ever done in this country. And Ito think the differe cnof e is Hyde: So where are you guys? do something you love. And that’s something that’s been lost, and it’s useful for students today na: We are in Lind Hall. Is that familiar to you? ut their futures. And, umm, you basically believed deeply that you would always be able towas find work nk about how they’re going to do their work if it happen to intersect with the current moment We used to be in Murphy Hall. sed. You know, in the 1960’s, I must tell you that the economy was such that people were not nervous not severed. And so European countries like Holland and England and France have always s u That’s Journalism now. an’t say I thought I would be a professional teacher, but I can’t say I also would have been surWe had offices in the basement of Murphy Hall, which is where the Daily too. When I was a student, I never thought at all about what I would have to do in life! [Laughs] So ’s interests.Well, when I first go to the U I worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process w ap s han: It’s been temporary housing for twenty years for the English department. [Laughs] Right, right. Did you ever think of teaching when you were a student, or did that come later? by representative government, the sense that there should be patronage is not lost, i t ’ s You worked on the Ivory Tower in the sixties, so we’re curious what the me that it’s an art, not a science. So you’re going to miss some people that actually would have been good. ff structure was like back then, and how many people you worked with? ld be a waste of the other student’s time, because they’re just not ready. But at the same time, it’s clear ny professional newspaper. You were to find articles, and you wrote them and then copy editors went over t h e m Basically, there was an editor and then two or three other people who were variously ester beforehand, and you read them and choose a class, so in a certain sense you can weed out people who profession. For me, at least, it wasn’t the case in the 1960’s that those things were on my mind. was a long tradition of patronage by the aristocracy, and when the aristocracy gets replaced ed as other kinds of editors and we were paid salaries. I don’t know if you guys get paid? ative writing program at Kenyon College, and we do it by submissions. Students show you their work the k about why, why you leave college with so much debt, and why you have to be so focused your fuNo. We get credit, but we’re not paid. [Laughs] Well, I think both systems work, and I think it’s rough….I teach a creative prose class in omething you love. And that’s something that’s been lost, and it’s useful for students today to We got paid actually fairly well, because there was a lot of advertising in the magIn the lower level classes at least. And then once you go higher, they start weeding people out. r futures. And, umm, you basically believed deeply that you would always be able to find work and until 1965 so that’s almost 200 years until after the founding. In Europe what happ e n e d ne, and in the Daily. I don’t remember how much, but you could go out to dinner. ces. So at the U it’s just first come, first serve? Anybody can get into a poetry class? know, in the 1960’s, I must tell you that the economy was such that people were not nervous about That sounds nice. [Laughs] s of your work, and then he chose a class, which is typically the way it’s done lots of t say I thought I would be a professional teacher, but I can’t say I also would have been surprised. I know that you were an editor, and you were also published in the Ivosome questions, and it must have been—I don’t exactly remember—that you submitted samWhen I was a student, I never thought at all about what I would have to do in life! [Laughs] So I arrive, and you don’t even get something as simple as the National Endowment for the A r t s Tower. Could you describe what the publishing process was like? ve writing class at the U. I’d written him before he showed up and just, you know, asked ight, right. Did you ever think of teaching when you were a student, or did that come later? Well, when I first go to the U I worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process was I don’t really remember, but…I think that was the first time somebody taught a poetry cree that it’s an art, not a science. So you’re going to miss some people that actually would have been good. e any professional newspaper, but at the Ivory Tower it was collaborative, so we would come up se here you just sign up for it. I’m curious how the structure of the creative writing program was back then. d be a waste of the other student’s time, because they’re just not ready. But at the same time, it’s clear And it took a long time in this country for the very idea of public engagement with art to h ideas and write the pieces, or write a piece on spec and then turn it in. Whoever was the ss that you were asking about. It’s interesting, the idea of “getting in” to a creative writing course bester beforehand, and you read them and choose a class, so in a certain sense you can weed out people who tor would decide whether publish it, and work with you, and refine it. When I started work…he said, “writers who want to write but have no talent won’t get in,” referring to the creative writing tive writing program at Kenyon College, and we do it by submissions. Students show you their work for the Ivory Tower, Garrison Keillor was the editor, and Garrison was a great editor. Par[Laughs] [Laughs] Well, I think both systems work, and I think it’s rough….I teach a creative prose class in the art because they were opposed to the aristocracy and to a church that had that kind of power. ularly, he was the first person I ever met who took line editing quite seriously, and would look In something else I read, there was an exchange between yourself and the writer Richard Foster, and… ns. the lower level classes at least. And then once you go higher, they start weeding people out. every phrase and sentence, and look at the structure the piece and try to make it work. And we used to go out to Madison, Minnesota where Robert lived, and visit him there. places. So at thework, U[laughs] it’s just first come, first serve? Anybody can get into a poetry class? As far as creative writing goes, did you guys get aof fair amount of submissions? Ito guess se were the three people in Minnesota who sort of caught your attention in the middle sixsamples of your and then he chose aremember class, which is typically the way done lots longing to the Catholic church and the aristocracy. And so they de-coupled public life f r beo m structure was quite different back then because you were a weekly or biweekly. . The poets around were Alan Tate and John Berryman, and then off campus, Robert Bly. d him some questions, and it must have been—I don’t exactly remember—that you submitWe were awho monthly. What are you now? re were awas group of students were involved with writing, and poetry, who got know creative writing class at the U. I’d written him before he showed up and just, you know, We’re yearly. bus!” I thought, and I met him on campus when he gave aHe reading soon thereafter. IThat’s don’t really remember, but…I think that was the first time somebody taught a pocountry was founded, it was deeply anti-aristocratic, and the founders thought of art as horrible. Frankly, I don’t fully this, but it was ait’s campus literknow he a poet, he’d been invited by the University to read. “Oh, that’s that guy on just sign up for it. I’m curious how the structure of creative writing program was back then. magazine and so anybody could submit work, and we must have read what came in and chosen things lence In The Snowy Fields, and people would invite him to read. The first time I met him, you were asking about. It’s interesting, idea of “getting in” to a creative writing course because publish. Another thing that Garrison did that I think is typical of good magazines is he began to n 1964 maybe, or maybe 1965, so that was the first time Iabout met him. had published one book, e said, “writers who want to write but have no talent won’t get in,” referring to the creative writing class say, and one would have to say which other countries, but one thing to say is, when t h ito s w who the good writers were around. So he, again, when I first started, probably as a sophomore I was. It was a[Laughs] group of people from Minneapolis and Minnesota who went. This would have [Laughs] 1964 or 65, started working with the magazine when he was an editor. He might have had five or hington DC for an anti-Vietnam War rally. And Ionline didn’t know who he was, and didn’t know n something else I read, there was an exchange between yourself and the writer Richard Foster, and… people whose work he could trust, and if he had an idea, maybe assign it to somebody. So there Umm, Robert and I met several times. The first time we met we were both on ahe bus going to . And we used to go out to Madison, Minnesota where Robert lived, and visit him there. And one of the things you might have found is an essay called… Well, there’s a lot both a slush pile and a kind of stable of people who wrote fairly regularly for the magazine. Okay. Makes sense. How did you meet [Minnesota Poet Laureate] Robert Bly? e were the three people in Minnesota who sort of caught your attention in the middle sixSure. Was it really time intensive? I mean, we, for us it’s like a class in the last year I was there. So sociology sort of was the middle years, and I had the most credits. him. The poets around were Alan Tate and John Berryman, and then off campus, Robert Bly. we have certain times we meet, but how did that work for you guys? h, more…there used to be a great humanities program at the U, and it was what was most important to e were a group of students who were involved with writing, and poetry, who got want to live, maybe I want to live in a different way. So I was always in the commun i t y. Um, well it must have been time-intensive but I mean, frankly, coming from the Daily where fted into sociology, and then drifted into humanities, and English. So by the time I left, I was pretty bus!” I thought, [laughs] and I met him on campus when he gave a reading soon thereafter. was published every day, to the Tower which was published every month, I’m sure there was t happens to a lot of people, is I came in a little heavy taking math and science courses, and then know he was aI poet, he’d been invited by the University read. “Oh, that’s that guy on deadline but think we always had enough material to fill the magazine. And with the magahad kind of political implications. But frankly what happened to me as an undergraduate, which is ence In The Snowy Fields, and people would invite him to read. The first time I met him, could be done, and there were older poets to whom you could look to see, maybe that’s how I e you didn’t have to report on the legislature the day something happened. Though in those When I came to the U, Iaprinted was involved in Science and Politics. And Ito thought Sociology was the profession 1964 maybe, or maybe 1965, so that was the first time I met him. He had published one book, s, the magazine at atimes. print shop in downtown Minneapolis and actually set in what attraction was to sociology, and if that has continued to be kind of the same interest or if it’s changed. I was. was awas group of people from Minneapolis and Minnesota who went. This would have called linotype machines. They set the pages in lead type, and if there was an illustraYou were aIt sociology major, and it seems like you also describe yourself as a poet, so Ihave am curious what ington DC for an anti-Vietnam War rally. And I didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know of friends had not been there to always be in conversation with me and models of w h a t n they had to make cut. We’d go down the night before when they were printing and there’d on and Patricia Hempl and Jim Moore, and a guy named Jonathon Sisson(sp) and maybe a few others. Umm, Robert and I met several The first time we met we were both on a bus going to final proofreading, they could change a line of type if we found something wrong, so once a of us wrote them but names are not on them. So the people I was most involved with were GarOkay. Makes sense. How did you meet [Minnesota Poet Laureate] Robert Bly? th there was a day that was quite busy and, you know, staying up late and that kind of thing. the front of magazine was kind of unsigned pieces. n the last year I was there. So sociology sort of was the middle years, and I had the most credits. when I was a student in the 1960’s, the work I did would not have happened if this g r o u p And if you’ve been looking at old copies, the front of magazine was kind of unsigned pieces. and, you know, staying up late and that kind of thing. ,on more…there used to be a great humanities program at the U,type, and it was what was most important to of us wrote them but names are not on them. So the people Ithought was most involved with were Garfinal proofreading, they could change ain line of type if we found something wrong, so once a ted into and then drifted into humanities, and English. So by the time I or left, I was pretty and Patricia Hempl and Jim Moore, and a named Jonathon Sisson(sp) and maybe ait’s few others. n they had to make aprinted cut. We’d go down the before when they were printing and there’d hat happens to a lot of people, is came aguy little heavy taking math and science courses, and then munity you were raised in and soforth. Anight simple example would be the Ivory tower. I m eoamn , You were asociology, sociology major, and it seems like you also describe yourself as a poet, so I am curious what called linotype machines. They set the pages in lead and if there was an illustrathat had kind of political implications. But frankly what happened to me as anactually undergraduate, which attraction was to sociology, and if that has continued to be kind of the same interest if changed. s, the magazine was at aIhad print shop in downtown Minneapolis and set in what When I came to the I was involved in Science and Politics. And I thought Sociology was the profesWhen I came to U, I was involved in Science and Politics. And I Sociology was the profession e you didn’t have to report on the legislature the day something happened. Though in those attraction was to sociology, and if that has continued to be kind of the same interest or if it’s changed. of it is really your creation, and how much of it is dependent upon your world and the c had kind of political implications. But frankly what happened to me as an undergraduate, which is deadline but I think we always enough material to fill magazine. And with the magaou were a sociology major, and it seems like you also describe yourself as a poet, so I am curious what t happens to a lot of people, is I came in a little heavy taking math and science courses, and then was published every day, to the Tower which was published every month, I’m sure there was n and Patricia Hempl and Jim Moore, and a guy named Jonathon Sisson(sp) and maybe a few others. fted into sociology, and then drifted into humanities, and English. So by the time I left, I was pretty Um, well it must have been time-intensive but I mean, frankly, coming from the Daily where of us wrote them but names are not on them. So the people I was most involved with were Garproperty. But it does sort of raise the question of, when you create something, how m u c h h, more…there used to be a great humanities program at the U, and it was what was most important to we have certain times we meet, but how did that work for you guys? nd if you’ve been looking at old copies, the front of magazine kind of unsigned pieces. in the last year I was there. So sociology sort of was the middle years, and I had the most credits. Sure. Was it really time intensive? I mean, we, for us it’s like a class nce a month there was a day that was quite busy and, you know, staying up late and that kind of thing. Okay. Makes sense. How did you meet [Minnesota Poet Laureate] Robert Bly? both a slush pile and a kind of stable of people who wrote fairly regularly for the magazine. ting and there’d be final proofreading, they could change a line of type if we found something wrong, um, so we are famously an individualist nation, we love individual freedom and priv a t e Umm, Robert and I met several times. The first time we met we were both on a bus going to people whose work he could trust, and if he had an idea, maybe assign it to somebody. So there , and if there was an illustration they had to make a cut. We’d go down the night before when they were hington DC for an anti-Vietnam War rally. And Ithink didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know 1964 or 65, started working with the magazine when he was an editor. He might have had five or owntown Minneapolis and actually set in what are called linotype machines. They set the pages in lead I was. It was a group of people from Minneapolis and Minnesota who went. This have know who the good writers were around. So he, again, when first started, probably as awould sophomore slature the day something happened. Though in those days, the magazine was printed at a print shop you’re really lucky and you can make aand living doing it, that’s nice. [Laughs] Yeah. W e l l , n 1964 maybe, or maybe 1965, so that was the first time Idid met him. He had published one book, publish. Another thing that Garrison did that I is typical of good magazines is he began lways had enough material to fill the magazine. And with the magazine you didn’t have to report on the lence In The Snowy Fields, and people would invite him to read. The first time I met him, magazine and so anybody could submit work, we must have read what came in and chosen things ed every day, to the Tower which was published every month, I’m sure there was a deadline but I think know he was a poet, he’d been invited by the University to read. “Oh, that’s that guy on That’s horrible. [Laughs] Frankly, I don’t remember fully about this, but it was a campus literUm, well it must have been time-intensive but I mean, frankly, coming from the Daily where it was pubtwo different jobs so you’re not putting pressure on your writing, if you’re a writer, m a y b e bus!” I thought, [laughs] and I met him on campus when he gave a reading soon thereafter. We’re yearly. we have certain times we meet, but how that work for you guys? re were a group of students who were involved with writing, and poetry, who got to know We were a monthly. What are you now? Sure. Was it really time intensive? I mean, we, for us it’s like a class . The poets around were Alan Tate and John Berryman, and then off campus, Robert Bly. structure was quite different back then because you were a weekly or biweekly. both a slush pile and a kind of stable of people who wrote fairly regularly for the magazine. people do…umm, besides to live simply and really give yourself to your work. You can g e t se were the three people in Minnesota who sort of caught your attention in the middle sixAs far as creative writing goes, did you guys get a fair amount of submissions? I guess people whose work he could trust, and if he had an idea, maybe assign it to somebody. So there s. And we used to go out to Madison, Minnesota where Robert lived, and visit him there. every phrase and sentence, and look at the structure of the piece and try to make it work. in 1964 or 65, started working with the magazine when he was an editor. He might have had five or In something else I read, there was an exchange between yourself and the writer Richard Foster, and… ularly, he was the first person I ever met who took line editing quite seriously, and would look now who the good writers were around. So he, again, when I first started, probably as a sophothe truth. I mean at the end of the book I have a little list of the typical things t h a [Laughs] for the Ivory Tower, Garrison Keillor was the editor, and Garrison was a great editor. Parublish. Another thing that Garrison did that I we think is typical of magazines is he began …he said, “writers who want to write but have no talent won’t get in,” referring to the creative writing tor would decide whether to publish it, and work with you, and refine it. When Iaawould started workmagazine and so anybody could submit work, and must have read what came in and chosen things ss that you were asking about. It’s interesting, the idea of “getting in” toturn agood creative writing course beh ideas and write the pieces, or write a piece on spec and then it in. Whoever was the That’s horrible. [Laughs] Frankly, I don’t remember fully about this, but it was campus literabout how or why move ahead. And I tend not to have practical advice, to tell y on t u se here you just sign up for it. I’m curious how the structure of the creative writing program was back then. e Well, any professional newspaper, but at the Ivory Tower it was collaborative, so we come up We’re yearly. Ifused don’t really remember, but…I think that was the first time somebody taught poetry crewhen Ithe first go to the U Ihave worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process was We were a monthly. What are you now? ve writing class at the U. I’d written him before he showed up and just, you know, asked Tower. Could you describe what the publishing process was like? s the structure was quite different back then because you were a weekly or biweekly. understanding that is ato help to a lot of creative people who feel otherwise kind of c o some questions, and it been—I don’t exactly remember—that you submitted samI know that you were an editor, and you were also published in the IvoAs far as creative writing goes, did you guys get a fair amount of submissions? I s of your work, and then he chose a class, which is typically the way it’s done lots of That sounds nice. [Laughs] at every phrase and sentence, and look at the structure of the piece and try to make it work. ces. So at U it’s just first come, first serve? Anybody can get into a poetry class? ne, and in the Daily. Imust don’t remember how much, but you could go out to dinner. larly, he was the first person I ever met who took line editing quite seriously, and would economy. And you know, they can work together, but a lot of it is disconnected. And j u s t In the lower level classes at least. And then once you go higher, they start weeding people out. We got paid actually fairly well, because there was a lot of advertising in the magfor the Ivory Tower, Garrison Keillor was the editor, and Garrison was a great editor. Par[Laughs] Well, I think both systems work, and I think it’s rough….I teach a creNo. We get credit, but we’re not paid. or would decide whether to publish it, and work with you, and refine it. When I started workve prose class in the creative writing program at Kenyon College, and we do it by submised as other kinds of editors and we were paid salaries. I don’t know if you guys get paid? ideas and write the pieces, or write a piece on spec and then turn it in. Whoever was the idea behind the book is that there really is a disconnect between creative life and a market ns. Students show you their work the semester beforehand, and you read them and choose a Basically, there was an editor and then two or three other people who were variously any professional newspaper, but at the Ivory Tower it was collaborative, so we would come up ss, so in a certain sense you can weed out people who would be a waste of the other stuff structure was like back then, and how many people you worked with? Well, when I first go to the U I worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process was t’s time, because they’re just not ready. But at the same time, it’s clear to me that it’s You worked on the Ivory Tower in the sixties, so we’re curious what the Tower. Could you describe what the publishing process was like? book that tries to increase our awareness about what the territory looks like. And the simple art, not a science. So you’re going to miss some people that actually would have been good. han: It’s been temporary housing for twenty years for the English department. [Laughs] I know that you were an editor, and you were also published in the IvoRight, right. Did you ever think of teaching when you were a student, or did that come later? We had offices in the basement of Murphy Hall, which is where the Daily was too. That sounds nice. [Laughs] When I was athe student, I fairly never thought at all about what I would have do in life! [Laughs] So That’s Journalism now. e, and in Daily. Ithat’s remember how much, could go out to dinner. not a book that tries to come up with practical suggestions on how to live your life, it’s an’t say I thought Iwas would be aand professional teacher, but I but can’t say Ito also would have been surWe used to beor inyou Murphy Hall. We got paid actually well, because there was lot of advertising in the magsed. You know, in the 1960’s, Idon’t must tell you that the economy such that people were not nervous na: We are in Lind Hall. Is that familiar to you? No. We get credit, but we’re not paid. ut their futures. And, umm, you basically believed deeply that you would always be able to find work is Hyde: So where are you guys? d as other kinds of editors we were paid salaries. Iawas don’t know if you guys get paid? late and that kind of thing. Well, your’e right to describe The Gift book as, you know, i t ’ a s do something you love. And something that’s been lost, and it’s useful for students today to Basically, there an editor and then two three other people who were variously nk about why, why you leave college with so much debt, and why you have to bethings so focused your fuf structure was like back then, and how many you worked with? e profession. For at least, it wasn’t the case in the 1960’s that those were on my mind. You worked on the Ivory Tower in the sixties, so we’re curious what the thing wrong, so once month there was athey day that was quite busy and, you know, staying Sure. Okay. I have one more question about the Ivory Tower specifically, and then I thing. think an: It’s been temporary housing for twenty years for the English department. [Laughs] ll switch gears ame, little bit. Richard Foster described the Ivory Tower as being argumentaWe had offices in the basement of Murphy Hall, which is where the Daily was too. e, and I’m wondering if you would agree with that description of things back then—if you That’s Journalism now. ing and there’d be final proofreading, change apeople line of type if we found s o m eup yourselves as kind of aaseriously, political counterforce, or if it was more of aMurphy lighthearted We used to be in Hall. Well, we took ourselves and actually Icould remember one…the students at the technology a: We are in Lind Hall. Is that familiar to you? g of the university published a humor magazine once, and it was kind of full of rude jokes about s Hyde: So where are you guys? illustration they had to make a cut, and we’d go down the night before when they were printbody, and sex and stuff. And I remember Garrison writing a review of it and basically saying what made good humor work, was that it actually was serious, that it had something at stake, t you were laughing, but there was depth, to the laughter as well. The sixties were a political set in what are called linotype machines, they set the pages in lead type, and if there was an e, and all of us on the magazine were involved in various ways in the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement. I went to Mississippi in 1964 as a civil rights worker. So, I don’t know if umentative would be the way I would describe it, but certainly we were willing to take positions. in those days, the magazine was printed at a print shop in downtown Minneapolis and actually leW
Ivory Tower interviews
poet, author of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, and former ivory tower editor.
on the day not something happened. like So I don’t frankly so remember time hassles. Though e w the legislature the things were time-dependent a newspaper, have and to report rh fi was a deadline think we always had enough material toheh fillyou thedidn’t magazine, w i t ogI magazine lished every day, to but the ITower which was published every month, heh, you know, I’m s u r h e hthere t it musta been time-intensive but I mean, frankly, coming from the Daily where it was p u U phrase and sentence, and look at the structure of the piece and try to make it work. Um, w eeb lr l kor o w the first person I ever met who took quite seriously line editing, and would look at e v y f Tower Garrison Keillor was the editor, and Garrison was a great editor. Particularly, he was taD publish it, andupwork with you and, on it, and kinda refine or it.write When a I piece started working forthen the turn it in, and whoever was the editor would decide whether I v o rto y lh i we would come with ideas, write the pices, on spec and n a and you wrote them and then copy editors went over them and corrected them and cut them. At the Ivory Tower, I mean, It was collaborative so, I guess h t Well, when I first go to the U I worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process was like any professional newspaper. You were to find articles, iy al D ’ bsuipl nip o sar ec kniw l o rap s nwe oef is eopYanp r On a Saturday in January, Lewis Hyde spoke fiterw oat e nl ac generously with Ivory Tower editors Jenna Beyo y rtw eo nh at er and Meghan Hanson about his time at the e h p oc i rd oe t U, the state of our creative world, and The Gift. n e w e env hao t r o c th ct er e nc a u e h t vtt A wo orTI , e a e m woc tI l oibtaal Lewis Hyde teaches at Kenyon College, where he is the ,u og s e euwow Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing. Premu oc p t i w viously, he taught creative writing at Harvard University a e d i dinraw h t for six years. Hyde edited and was published in the Ivory eo cip r i rw Tower in the 1960s, collaborating with Garrison Keillor, a eip n eno pas Patricia Hampl, and others. He graduated from the Unie rh ut ti Ivory Tower: Did you ever think of teaching when you i t versity of Minnesota with a degree in Sociology and also n a e whoth rw e were a student, or did that come later? studied Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. tuiodwe ie ch ew d Lewis Hyde: When I was a student, I never thought His most recent book, Trickster Makes This World, ext re b stu iip l plores the playful and disruptive side of human imagination at all about what I would have to do in life! [Laughs] IT: How do you feel the university landscape in a sort of global noaw r as embodied in ancient myth and modern creative works; a tu io wy So I can’t say I thought I would be a professional sense has changed since then, in regards to issues of protest, t i n a book of his poetry, This Error Is The Sign Of Love, ne ir k teacher, but I can’t say I also would have been sur- rebellion, and free thought? fi nta eit hs W was published by Milkweed Editions in 1988. r prised. You know, in the 1960s, I must tell you that LH: Well, as far as I can tell, it’s died! [all laugh] dreow Hyde’s 1985 book, The Gift: Creativity and the nf i o the economy was such that people were not nervous h ot vI Artist in the Modern World, explores the ideological rw ao GT about their futures. And you basically believed deep- IT: Yeah…that’s what we’re afraid of. s i r il eK gap between the creative spirit of the artist and the necessary o a w ly that you would always be able to find work and do LH: Well, I mean, the main shift that I suppose peohte commerce of society. David Foster Wallace wrote, “no one i rnd oat something you love. And that’s something that’s been ple my age think about is, in the 1960s, there was rsaiGr who is invested in any kind of art, in questions of what real sr ag w e lost, and it’s useful for students today to think about a military draft, so every young man had to make a i de art does...can read The Gift and remain unchanged,” a r rco ait Pt why. Why you leave college with so much debt, and pointed decision about his relationship to the war sentiment echoed by Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Robl whrta el h s r fi why you have to be so focused on your future profes- that was then being waged. And nothing sharpens ert Bly and countless others. Thanks to Lewis Hyde for s ver emep I h w permission to quote the book including the Allen Ginsberg sion. For me, at least, it wasn’t the case in the 1960s the mind like seeing a hangman’s noose, as somebody oioutq ru eo s once said. Also I think that the Pentagon has quotation. s that those things were on my mind. niidle gnnai uolw o teo a arvhep
Well, when I first go to the U I worked for the Daily, and the Daily’s publishing
“The simple idea behind the book is that there really is a disconnect between creative life and a market economy. They can work together, but a lot of it is disconnected.
Just understanding that is a help to a lot of creative people who feel otherwise kind of confused about how or why to move ahead.”
leave college with so much debt, and why you have to be so focused on your future profession.”
become much smarter about how to manage the public side of war, both the move to a paid army, and the management of the news. You know, the best kind of propaganda creates an entire environment where everything you see and read has the same message behind it, and one thing that happened in the 1960s is that there was a real disconnect between the government’s description of the war and the newspaper and television presentation of the war. Just the simplest things such as the Bush administration’s refusal to let anybody photograph a coffin coming out of Iraq is indicative of a move to make the government’s position completely harmonious with other venues of public perception. So I don’t think students are any dumber or less idealistic than they were in the 1960s, but the territory around how you get called to action has changed a great deal. IT: Do you have any advice for people, students or otherwise, who just want to stand up for what they believe in but feel limited? Everything has become so commercialized and technologydriven, and it just seems that things like protesting or things that maybe used to make a huge difference, not that they don’t make a difference, but they’re maybe just different? LH: Well, my first advice is to figure out what you care about. And then to have some cunning around figuring out where what you care about can be usefully engaged with. I just read Obama’s first book, Dreams Of My Father, and I thought that the section about being in Chicago as a community organizer was kind of instructive because what you see is someone who wants
can actually be organized around. The issues have changed, there are a lot of foreign policy issues that people should care about, but also we were not so much involved with environmental issues, or control and digital technology and information flow, which are things that are much more recent. So one thing that some students care about now that wasn’t on our map in those days is what is called free culture. Can you download music, and why or why not? Who’s making the rules about access to culture, and what should those rules be? There’s a good book by Lawrence Lessig called Free Culture that describes some of those issues. IT: Well, we’ve been reading your book…and we all really like it. LH: Which one? [all laugh]
IT: The Gift. We all agree that it has a lot to be gleaned for creative people. It seems to be an ideal to work towards as opposed to sort of a road map for the current time...Margaret Atwood describes it as “a private island you’ve created.” As Americans, our identity seems to be kind of wrapped in what we consume or what we buy, and I’m wondering if you have any ideas on how to separate the two without just creating an isolated place where we all could go. LH: Well, you’re right to describe The Gift as, you know, not a book that tries to come up with practical suggestions on how to live your life. It’s a book that tries to increase our awareness about what the territory looks like. And the simple idea behind the book is that there really is a disconnect between creative life and a market economy. They can work together, but a lot of it is disconnected. Just understanding that is a help to a lot of creative people who feel otherwise kind of confused about how or why to move ahead. I tend not to have practical advice, to tell you the truth. At the end of the book I have a little list of the typical things that people do, besides to live simply and really give yourself to your work. You can get two different jobs so you’re not putting pressure on your writing, if
IT IS NOT WHEN A PART OF THE SELF IS INHIBITED & RESTRAINED, BUT WHEN A PART OF THE SELF IS GIVEN AWAY THAT COMMUNITY APPEARS.
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“It’s useful for to engage around the African-American community students to think and poverty, but when he gets to Chicago it really takes him quite a while to figure out who the comabout why you munity is, and what the community problems are that
neori ol ta ym pue ooh cytnd d n a ysraowvm I I ,mt o p eau tiee rtwi neevhetoh r -hesdildblu no uoy you’re a writer. Maybe you’re really lucky and you .rte-iwkoreTon sr ar wa -ri can make a living doing it, that’s nice. e.t htomtsir ad ydlle suuoowi khe os oa lro te itt eukf a IT: Right, right… a s tub m ev LH: I do think that there should be philanthropic ,gtyniaidmeoryce saw h and public support for creativity. Again, one of the -,mh’dtIaneo,d -aliareetw l big things that’s happened since the 1960s is destruc- dsngani,het tnedne tion of public support for the arts. This isn’t quite unyooaydtoresoh Ire oS . so true in Minnesota, which has good systems, but enniibzhmagegu t-nniirMp nationally, in the early 1990s, the right wing and dyellllaau yeht , Congress managed to really undercut a lot of the dsadahaweylee d’ew d e funding to young artists, which is a hard period if lr-aotnfnfieibre dleupoyct niohmt you’re beginning life trying to be an artist. hgt tyn ah,td uo e ta lt .g oon toibh th k IT: You are clear that there are two kinds of economy in which toont ss itn c w o h art can be made: the realm of the gift and the realm of the s’otti s, s-siernree dn Ae market. Is the art made within each realm different? d en ri eh ht LH: Well, I suppose some of it is. People in advertis- te.cfyeimnlonn n a cay t o l ing are very creative, and it is an artistic profession in .gdneitdcn tol a a certain sense. But at the end of the day, the point ofrhoowdweno Iit dnA is to move the product. It’s like you’re writing a nar- euhotycatlral aip evah rative whose last act is to be the consumer going out eevlipyloteo ek vr igw . -f’o ido and buying something. So it’s motivated work, and ne or eu ru e r ’ there certainly is another kind of artistic practice nearc’uuuoooy ,] ts ihg gn which has absolutely no motivation except percep- -deiwviodus en va olm d t uB . tion and inquiry, and interrogation of beauty, and, e ns ei ha wr you know, making things that have no clear…pur- d-,ngeanri,hsn na epd el d de n re wo pose. [all laugh] So then, luckily, sometimes, those . dIh lt u.r orwe eu htt tosn,a s ihdta teos n bhtsi ywa o s l dsf nprint taethos o,pe days, the magazine wasin time hassles. Though rememb frankl So I do happene somethi the da islatu on the l to repo didn’t h per, so a newsp dent li time-dep werethi n zine the mag and wi magazin to fill materi had eno we alwa but I th athere deadl I’m kno suw you heh he ery mon lished was pu Tower wh to th every d publish -THE GIFT it whe wa ly, coming from the Daily time-intensive but I fra it work. Um, well itmean, musta be ture of the piece and try to m sentence, and look at the str would look at every phrase a quite seriously line editing, first person I ever methewho to editor. Particularly, was editor, and Garrison waswas a gr Tower Garrison Keillor t I for the Ivo onstarted it, andworking kinda refine it. Wh to publish it, and work with the editor would decide wheth
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Well, I first gothe to the U when I worked for Daily, and the Daily’s publishing process was like any professional newspaper. You were to find articles, and you wrote them and then copy editors went over them and corrected them and cut them. At the Ivory Tower, I mean, It was collaborative so, I guess we up would come with ideas, and, write the pices, or a write piece on spec and then turn it in, and whoever was the editor would decide whether to publish it, and work with you on it, and kinda refine it. I When started woring for the Ivory Tower Garrison Keillor was the editor, and Garrison was a great editor. Particularly, he was the first person Itook ever met who quite
Well, when I fo fir U I worked and the Daily ing process w professional You were to w fi and you wrote copy editors and corrected them. At the Iv mean, It was co so, I guess we with ideas, an pices, or write spec and then and whoever w tor would dec publish it, you on it, and k When I started the Ivory Tow Keillor was t Garrison was Particularly first person Ia took quite ser editing, and every phrase an and look at t of the piece and it work. Um, been time-inte mean, frankly, the Daily whe lished every day which was publi month, heh heh, I’m sure ther line but I thi had enough ma the magazine, magazine thin timedependent paper, so you di report on t the day somet So I don’t fra time hassles. Though inset those days, the magazine was prin shop inmachines, downtown Minneapolis and actually set in what a notype they thethere’d pages in type, and if illustration they had toif make a cut, andlead we’d go down th when they were printing and be final proofreadin change a line of type we found something wrong, so there was a day that quite busy and, you know, stayi that kind thing. Well, your’e right describe The youawareness know, it’s notlive awas book tries toto up with pr gestions onof how to your life, it’s acome book that trie our about what thethat territory like. And t behind the book is that there really islooks a disconnect bet life and a market economy. And you know, they can work t lot of it is disconnected. And just understanding that i lot of creative people who feel kind of aconfuse why move ahead. And I tend not to besides have practical advic theto truth. I mean atpeople the end ofotherwise the booktwo I to have littl typical things that live simp give yourself to your You can get different j not putting pressure onwork. yourdo…umm, writing, if you’re a writer
WHATEVER WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN IS TO BE GIVEN AWAY AGAIN, NOT KEPT.
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works, artistic works which are purely exploratory, purely aesthetic, turn out to have a market value, and that’s wonderful for the artist involved. Somebody like E.L. Doctorow, who is a wonderful author, wrote for many years without significant income from his writing, and then he had a few books that began to sell well. My argument is not opposed to that at all—that’s great. But it’s also fairly rare, and most beginning artists should really be able to think about how they’re going to do their work if it doesn’t happen to intersect with the current moment of people’s interests. IT: How vast is the distinction between the state of the American artist to those living elsewhere in other countries? LH: Well, there’s a lot to say. One thing to say is, when this country was founded, it was deeply anti-aristocratic, and the founders thought of art as belonging to the Catholic church and the aristocracy. And so they de-coupled public life from art because they were opposed to the aristocracy and to a church that had that kind of power. And it took a long time in this country for the very idea of public engagement with art to arrive, and you don’t even get something as simple as the National Endowment for the Arts until 1965, so that’s almost 200 years until after the founding. In Europe, what happened was a long tradition of patronage by the aristocracy, and when the aristocracy gets replaced by representative government, the sense that there should be
patronage is not lost, it’s not severed. So European countries like Holland and England and France have always supported the arts way more than we’ve ever done in this country. And I think the difference is historical. In this country we had a real break, and we had to reinvent what it meant to be patrons in a democracy, whereas in Europe, there wasn’t such a break, and it was easier to make the transition.
LH: Well, we are famously an individualist nation. We love individual freedom and private property. But it does sort of raise the question of, when you create something, how much of it is really your creation, and how much of it is dependent upon your world and the community you were raised in, and so forth. A simple example would be the Ivory Tower. I IT: This is interesting because we’ve been looking at differmean, when I was a student in the 1960s, the work ent things that you’ve said about your new book [described on I did would not have happened if this group of Hyde’s website as an exploration of our “cultural commons, friends had not been there to always be in converthat vast store of unowned ideas, inventions, and works of sation with me and have models of what could be art we have inherited from the past]. In respect to your study done, and there were older poets to whom you could of American individualism, will you describe a little bit more look to see, maybe that’s how I want to live, maybe I how you pose the distinction between selfhood and want to live in a different way. So I was always in the collectivity? community. s ’ y l i a D e h t d n a , y l i a D e h t r o f d e k r o w I U e h t o t o g t s r fi I n e h w , l l e W oe tht erreewvouotYne.wrespraoptsiwdeen ylpaoncoi rp yna ekiolrwsauwoyssdencaor,pseg i h i bn ufi p m ns es he tfo d ln cr ir ts rc ald sh at w tt Iir,wna,edmnaI ,,sraeewdoiT hytriowvIpu e h t tn Aa.mmeehhtt ettus csedunga Ime,hots d e tc do nc a e c e v te a r oo b a Another example is Henry David Thoreau. s a wue r e ve o h w dknraow,ndinati,tniruhtsinlee hm to dondtalurcoeewhptseewhnwo edcieciepd adl eu to iw ri wr rt oi ,e sl el ch it p n o o y h t i w b u p e o d e d inf e r a , i e adt nik In hs W . t i Thoreau is famously an American individual. He tkrnraeot -h w d n i e e t r o f g ro ewi or T n THE PARTS THAT EMBARRASSe--,y lrrrhiooaev tKtGI goes off to be alone at Walden Pond and he writes s awsr oe l d is nd r a n to areoi rt g . YOU THE MOST ARE USUALLYs---a- rrirasaadaawlPewG his books. But if you look at all closely at Thoreau’s - u c,iyl t e eh hr e p t n o s ohtwitueq m THE MOST INTERESTINGrtke-esionvrreoiie ftIls life you see that the community that he lived in was e y o -l ts iu de d a k ono l POETICALLY, ARE USUALLY THEydvd,elgrnunotwieaa e -s na reh p s , k eochnoe t l e t MOST NAKED OF ALL,dtee crneui aatp essential to his work. There were essentially discusctu r t s e dhk n fo a e . klra om w l e w THE RAWEST,,-ottntemnyertUibii sion groups and a thing called the Lyceum, which a m -t ens meu it t I t u b -n knm arf THE GOOFIEST,,e,ym nlvoyaiirea slmDf was a form of town self-education. The people in his g e rie h oc t e w s e hashi l w d , eywao T d THE STRANGEST AND MOST-e-tyhhrcbbteiuuvhotepwpi family were the philanthropists at the college, and he r s e has i l w d , hht neo h m , ECCENTRIC AND AT THE SAMEhmuye rr e’oee vh heIyt had a scholarship. It’s a long, long list of things that , w oun s k e a r saw e k nnaiwihl l t s y a TIME, MOST REPRESENTATIVE,dIeo-- de aatteaudwbmht enabled Thoreau to be the person he was. So at the h gau oin r e l l lgia m f a d h n a MOST UNIVERSAL…THAT WASeh,- eathngiia twzm end of the day my feeling is that all of us are e e gnn iih t z s t o t n erew
SOMETHING I LEARNED FROM KEROUAC, WHICH WAS THAT SPONTANEOUS WRITING COULD BE EMBARRASSING… THE CURE FOR THAT IS TO
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WRITE THINGS DOWN WHICH YOU WILL NOT PUBLISH AND WHICH YOU WON’T SHOW PEOPLE.
YOU CAN ACTUALLY BE FREE TO SAY ANYTHING YOU WANT…YOU REALLY HAVE TO
MAKE A RESOLUTION JUST TO
WRITE FOR YOURSELF…IN
THE SENSE OF
NOT WRITING TO IMPRESS YOURSELF,BUT JUST
WRITING WHAT YOUR SELF IS SAYING. -Allen Ginsberg
simultaneously individuals and social beings, and you really just need to look closely at anybody to see both of them, and what we do in America, typically, is to only see the individual side, and the social side falls into darkness. But if you turn on the light, you see it. IT: Certainly, certainly. I’m wondering how you find the relationship between gift-giving and art has changed since the book first came out 25 years ago. LH: I don’t really know, you’d have to ask readers of the book how they think it’s changed. One thing to say is that I am a founding director of a nonprofit organization called Creative Capital, which gives grants to individual artists to help them do their work. One of our features is a recycling of the wealth. If they have great success with their work, they come back to us, and we get a piece of their success. But that’s an experiment. It’s based on other experiments that have been done. For example, Joseph Papp always did that at the public theater in New York. He took a piece of ownership of anything he produced, and if it became very successful it helped produce the next generation of things he did. IT: You have said this book is more philosophical than it is practical, yet we see that this philosophy has entered the process and projects of many young and successful writers. Zadie
them. the would Ivory Tower, I publish and mean, ItAt was withdecide youit, onwhether it, work andtocut collaborative kinda refine it. When I so, I guess we started working for the would come up Ivory Garrison with ideas, and, Keillor was the ediwrite the tor, andTower Garrison was aon write apices, piece great Particuspec then larly, he was the turn it and in, and personeditor. I ever met first who or whoever was the took quite seriously editor would line editing, and would decide whether look at every phrase to it, and look andpublish work at sentence, the structure of you on it,with and the piece andand trywell to kinda it. make it work. When Irefine started it musta been working for Garthe intensive but Um, Itimemean, Tower frankly, coming from Ivory rison Keillor the Daily where it was was the edipublished every day, tor, and Garrito the Tower which was son was a great published every editor. Particuheh heh, you know, I’m he was sure there was amonth, deadthe firstmet person line but think we Ilarly, ever who always had I enough matetook quite seririal to fill the magaously line editzine, and with the ing, and would magazine things were look at every not time-dependent like phrase sena the newspaper, so you tence, and look didn’t have to report at structure on legislature theof the piece and day happened. try toUm, make it So Isomething don’t frankly rework. well member time hassles. it musta been Though in those days, time-intensive the magazine was printbut I mean, ed at a print shop in frankly, coming downtown Minneapolis from the Daily and actually set in where itto was what are in called linopublished evtype machines, they setTower ery day, the the pages lead type, which was and if therethey was an ilevery lustration had to published month, heh heh, make a cut, and we’d go you know, I’m down the night before sure there was when they were printa deadline but ing and there’d be fiI think alnal proofreading, they ways had we enough could change a line of fill type if we found somethe thing wrong, so once a material and magazine, withto the magazine things were not timedependent like a newspaper, so you didn’ton have to report the legislature day something happened. Sothe I don’t frankly remember time hassles. in those Though days, the magazine printed at awas print shop in downtown Minneapolis and actually in what are set called linotype machines, they set the pages in lead type, and if there was an illustration they had to ago cut, and we’d down themake night before when they were printing and there’d be final proofreading, they could change aif line of type we found something
COURAGE FOR LIVING.
Well, w go to worked Daily, Daily’s process any pro newspape to find and and you then tors wen and corr and cut the Ivor mean, I laborat guess we up with write tha write spec and it in, ever was would de er to p and wor on it, refine i starte for the er Garr lor was tor, was a an gr Particu was the son I ev took lin qu ously and woul every p sentence at the st the piec to make Um, well been but Itime me ly, comin Daily wh publish day, to which full credit for your creation it’s a form of disillusion. lished ev heh heh, I’m sure You really just need to look more deeply at how a deadl think wem things arrive. There is a vast interdependence to all enough fill with the and zine th created work. not time like a dn so you to repo legisla someS IT: I was intrigued by The Gift’s use of the folktale of the day pened. frankl ber time shoemaker’s elves to describe the maturation of the artist. As days, Though th was pri young writers, we are trying to do the labor required of us to print sho town Mi and act make the gift for writing tangible. What can you say about the in what linotype they set process of writing for the young writer? inthere lead if lustratio LH: Well, I say you need three things for sure. You towe’d make go nightwer be need time, and I frankly think that being an under- and they there proofrea graduate at any college or university doesn’t give could cha of type i something you enough time. If you’re taking more than two once a m was a da quite bus courses, it’s a disaster. And everybody has to take know, s late and of thin more than two courses, right? I just got back from your’e describe three weeks all alone in a little town in Texas, writ- book it’sas, no that tri up with ing. That’s the kind of time you need to get anything suggesti to live it’s ato serious done: to wake up at 7:30 in the morning and our tries aware what the begin working, and quit at 9 in the evening and go looks lik simple i the boo back to bed, and do that for three weeks. Then you disconne there re creative begin to get someplace. You need time and you need And a market you can work what I call enclosure, by which I mean you need to but a lo disconne just un be able to shut off all the distractions. It’s the nature ing that to a lo ative p of modern life to distract you. When I was in this feel othe of confu how or wA little town in Texas, I had the house that somebody not ahead. to ha cal advic loaned me and I had them take out the Internet and mean you the at the book the television because otherwise, even if you’re the typical little lt people d mildest of addicts, you will constantly be turning on ply sides to and r yoursel the television or checking your Internet. So work. Yo two diff so you’r ting pr your wr you’re maybe y ally luc can make doing i nice.
“I frankly think that being an undergraduate at any college or university doesn’t give you enough time. Smith’s Book of Other People comes to mind. Do you feel that your book has found a practical place in today’s writing world? LH: Yes, but it is individual. People read the book, and it helps people figure out their own relationship to their work and to the economy. It does not have a prescriptive set of suggestions. It, again, tries to illuminate the territory. So yes, I do think that people who have found it have been able to make practical use of it. But not because I tell them what to do. IT: [At Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society] you study the Internet and sociology. How do you feel about music downloading, free software and all these things that have come with the advent of the Internet, as pertains to generosity? LH: I mean, the Internet has been a wonderful surprise and has revealed that there are forms of cooperative production that would help certain mediums come into being. The free software and open software movements are good examples, and so is Wikipedia. What you often see is the simple idea that people are only motivated to work if you give them a property right and they can get direct income for their work, but that is a vast oversimplification. People have many, many reasons to do what they do, and the gift economy can flourish online and elsewhere once the technology is set up to enable them. IT: What about people who take full credit for their artistic inspirations? Those people who would prefer to say that they did it, that it is a result of their education? It almost seems like it resembles a religious argument, between people who believe in a higher power and those who don’t. LH: I think that’s right in a way. I think if you take
If you’re taking more than two courses, it’s a disaster.”
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you need enclosure, you need to be separated from distraction. And then you also need community, you need some set of people that will read your work in a private way, and talk to you about it and give you feedback. You need some community. Again, the Ivory Tower was that for me as an undergraduate. The University of Minnesota is a huge place and it turned out to be quite useful. A place that big does sometimes have half a dozen people that care about the same thing, and you can drink coffee together and talk about it. IT: Do you have any advice for students looking for ways to continue educating themselves after college? LH: I suppose the advice is that you have to declare your intentions. You have to know that is what you want to do, and sort of say it to yourself seriously. You need to adjust your ambitions to the situation that’s available. People say that Joseph Campbell, the famous writer about mythology, when he was done with his formal schooling, he spent 12 hours a day reading. Read for eight hours in the morning, take a break and then four hours at night. So that is a high intention. Most people can’t go that high. But you’ve got to know you want to do it and maybe be cautious about the impediments that are going to keep you from doing it. I went to graduate school partly because it was a simple way to organize my intentions. I didn’t really want a higher degree but I wanted a structure that, at that time, would pay me a tiny bit of money and give me a rhythm of reading and writing. IT: About graduate school. Do you think an MFA in creative writing is worth it? LH: [Laughs] Well it’s a puzzle, because it’s now become the case that a lot of jobs in the academy require the MFA, and it’s not because they need it, it’s because they have so many applicants they need some simple way to throw half of them out. So I would say the real use of the MFA in writing is to give you time to write and to give you a community of other people who care about the work. If you are able to spend two years, at a good school, working on an MFA, with a little money paid to you so you
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The more we allow such commodity art to define and control our GIFTS, the less gifted we will become, as individuals and
as a society. The true commerce of art is a gift exchange,
and where that commerce can proceed on its own terms we shall be heirs to the fruits of gift exchange… an awareness, that is, of our solidarity with whatever we take to be the source of our gifts, be it the community or the race, nature, or the gods.
are a teaching assistant so you are not going broke, that is worth doing for the time and the community, not so much for the degree. And then the degree turns out to be useful. I myself don’t have one, and I’d like to believe it’s still the case that if you write one or two very good books, you can still survive. J: How do you feel about modern public education, in general? Maybe where it is headed at this point? LH: [laughs] You guys ask the big questions. I think public education is the Great American Institution. It began with the founding generations and should be continued. I think that the right wing attack on paying your taxes is actually an attack on all such public institutions, and the degree to which the public institution suffers today…the right wing has succeeded in separating the idea of paying your taxes and the programs from which taxes have to go. They go to things like the University of Minnesota. You don’t have a great state unless you have a great university. And you don’t have a great University unless you pay your taxes. IT: If you were stranded on a desert island and you could choose one book, one film and one album to take with you, what would they be? LH: [laughs] Well, you’d want a very big book. I would take the collected works of Dogen Zengi, a Buddhist philosopher from the 12th century, just because it’s big and inscrutable. I would take The Gleaners and I, which is a film by Agnès Varda, though I am amused that there is a movie projector on my island. And what was the last thing I’d get to have? IT: An album. LH: An album. It would have to be something you wouldn’t get tired of… something very long by Bach. i
poetry by Lewis Hyde
New Mystic City Grows Up I
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LH: Well, we are famously analooking nation. We love individual freedom and private Butthe it does sort of raise the question of, when you create something, how much ofis M: This ispublic interesting because we’ve been different things that you’ve about your new InFrance respect toaristocracy your study ofproperty. American will you describe alittle bit more about how you pose the distinction between selfhood and collectivity? historical. In this country we had aindividualist real break, and we had tosaid reinvent what itbook. meant to be patrons in aNational democracy, whereas in Europe, there wasn’t such abelonging was easier to make the transition. not lost, it’s not severed. So European countries like Holland and England andstate have always supported arts way more than we’ve done inthe this country. And Ishould think the difference In Europe, what happened was long tradition patronage by the aristocracy, and when the aristocracy gets replaced by representative government, sense that there be patronage idea of engagement with art arrive, and you don’t even get something as simple as the Endowment for the Arts until 1965, so almost 200 years until after the founding. tocracy. And sofor they de-coupled public life from art because they opposed to the and toAmerican aindividualism, church that had that of power. And itbreak, took aand long time in this country for very LH: Well, there’s amany lot toyears say. One thing to say is,of when this country was founded, itmarket was anti-aristocratic, and the founders thought ofever art asthat’s toit the Catholic church and the arisM: How vast isperception theto distinction between the ofdeeply the artist tokind those living elsewhere insometimes, other countries? also fairly rare, and most beginning artists should really be able towere think about how they’re going to do their work ifwork, it doesn’t happen toend intersect with the current moment of people’s interests. author, wrote without significant income from his writing, and then he had a few books that began to sell well. My argument is not opposed to that at all, that’s great. But it’s artistic works which are purely exploratory, purely aesthetic, turn out to have a value, and that’s wonderful for the artist involved. Somebody like E.L. Doctorow, who is a wonderful lutely no motivation except and inquiry, and interrogation of beauty, and, you know, making things that have no clear…purpose. [all laugh] So then, luckily, those works, you’re writing a narrative whose last act is to be the consumer going out and buying something. So it’s motivated and there certainly is another kind of artistic practice which has absoLH: Well, I suppose some of it is. People in advertising are very creative, and it is an artistic profession in a certain sense. But at the of the day, the point is to move the product. It’s like M: You are clear that there are two kinds of economy in which art can be made: the realm of the gift and the realm of the market. Is the art made within each realm different? wing and congress managed to really undercut a lot of the funding to young artists, which is a hard period if you’re beginning life trying to be an artist. struction of public support for the arts. This isn’t quite so true in Minnesota, which has good systems, but nationally, in the early 1990’s, the rightLH: I do think that there should be philanthropic and public support for creativity. Again, one of the big things that’s happened since the 1960’s is deJ: Right, right… your work. You can get two different jobs so you’re not putting pressure on your writing, if you’re a writer. Maybe you’re really lucky and you can make a living doing it, that’s nice. Ican tend not to have practical advice, to tell you the truth. At the end of the book I have a little list of the typical things that people do, besides to live simply and really give yourself to work together, but atoyou lot ofweitterritory isThe disconnected. understanding isbehind athat help to atobook lot ofis creative people who otherwise kindtooflive confused about how orseparate why tries tothe move ahead. our awareness about the looks like.Just the simple idea the thatwith there really is feel a disconnect between creative life and a tomarket economy. They LH: Well, you’re right describe Gift book as,And you know, not athat book tries come up practical suggestions on how your life. It’s a book that to increase just creating an isolated place where could go. buy, and I’m wondering ifwhat any ideas on how two without Americans, our identity seems to behave kind ofas wrapped in what we consume orpeople. what we rent time...Margaret Atwood describes itall “a private island you’ve created.” As seems to be an ideal to work towards as opposed to sort of a road map for the curJ: “The Gift.” We all agree that it has a lot to be gleaned for creative It LH: Which one? [all laugh] J: Well, we’ve been reading your book… and we all really like it. rence Lessig called “Free Culture” that describes free some of those to culture, and what should those be? There’s acare good book byissues. Lawdownload music, and why or why not? Who’s making the rules about access wasn’t onactually our map in those days isrules what is called culture. you much more recent. So one thing that some students about now that and digital technology and information flow, which are things that are we not so much involved with environmental issues, orCan control are awere lot of foreign policy issues that people should care about, but also that can be organized around. The issues have changed, there to figure out who the community is, and what the community problems are and poverty, but when he gets to Chicago it really takes him quite a while someone who wants to engage around the African-American community aOf community organizer was kind instructive because what you see is My Father,” and I they thought that the section about being in Chicago as can be usefully engaged with. Iof read Obama’s first book, “Dreams tohuge have some cunning around figuring out where what you care about LH: Well, myany advice is to figure out what you care about. And then aogy-driven, difference, that don’t make ajust difference, but they’re maybe just different? and itfirst just seems that things protesting or things that maybe used to make what they believe innot but feel limited? Everything become sowho commercialized and technolJ: Docalled you have advice people, students orhas otherwise, just want to stand up for get to action hasafor changed alike great deal. less idealistic than they were in the 1960’s, but the territory around how you venues of public perception. So I don’t think students are any dumber or to make the government’s position completely harmonious with other anybody photograph coffin coming out of Iraq is indicative of a move war. Just the simplest things such as the Bush adminstration’s refusal to let Previously published in the Ivory Tower in 1967. description theand warhow and newspaper and television presentation ofmove the the 1960’s isofthat there was amanage real disconnect between the government’s and read the same message behind and one thing thatboth happened in of creates an entire environment, that everything you see to apropaganda paid army, the management ofthink the news. You know, best kind much smarter tothe the public side of war, the noose, ashas somebody once said. Also Iit, that the Pentagon has become then being And nothing sharpens the mind like seeing athe hangman’s had to make aabout pointed decision about his relationship to themy war that was Thanks to the Elmer L. Andersen Library Archives for their assistance. about is, in the 1960s, there was a[all military draft, so every young man LH: Well, Iwaged. mean, the main shift that Ilaugh] suppose people of age think J: Yeah…that’s what we’re afraid of. LH: Well, as far as I can tell, it’s died! changed since then, in regards to things of protest, rebellion, and free thought? J: How do you feel like the university landscape in a sort of global sense has Why you leave college with so much debt, and have towhat beand so focused onyou your future For me, least, itpeople wasn’t the in the 1960’s that those things onIabout my mind. cally that you would always bewhy able find do something you And that’s something lost, and it’sornervous useful students today towere think why. I alsobelieved would have surprised. You know, 1960’s, I Iteaching must tellhave the economy was such that werecase about their futures. And you basiLH: When I deeply was a been student, I never thought at inyou alltothe about would tothat do love. in profession. life! So I atcan’t say Ibeen thought I not would be a for professional teacher, but can’t say Jenna: Did you ever think of work when you [Laughs] were athat’s student, did that come later? leave college with so much debt, and why you have to be so focused on your future profession. For me, at least, it wasn’t the case in the 1960’s that those things were on my mind. deeply that you would alwaysIYou be able to in find work something love. that’s been and today to And thinkyou about why. say Why you would have know, the 1960’s, Idomust tell youyou that the economy was people were notit’s nervous about their did futures.teacher, believed LH: When Ibeen was asurprised. student, never at all and about what I would have to And do inthat’s life! something [Laughs] I can’t sayalost, I thought I useful would for beorstudents a professional I come can’t I later? also Jenna: Did youinteresting. everthought think teaching you suchSothat were that but basically LH: Good. Bestudent, well. J: Great answers! Practical and I thinkyou that will do it!getIoftired have to thank you again,very forwhen the opportunity. LH: An album. It would have to be something wouldn’t of… something long by Bach. J: An And what was the last thing I’d get to album. that there aBuddhist movie projector on my have? ble. IZengi, wouldisatake “The Gleaners I,” island. which is a Ifilm by Agnès Varda, though I aminscrutaamused gen philosopher from 12th century, just big and LH: [laughs] you’d aand very big book. would take because the works were stranded on aWell, desert island andwant you could choose onethe book, one film and one album to takecollected withitsyou, what wouldoftheyDoJ: If yabe? ou h a v e great University unless you pay your taxes. u versity. And youaa don’t snesota. tinakit eeunless you have great You don’t have great lhave the University of things Minto go. They go to the programs from which taxes idea of on all such public institutions, and the degree to which the public institution suffers paying your taxes wing and has succeeded separating the Her mind is lined with lightning rods; an attack today…the right the founding generations be continued. think education that the right wing attack on paying yourinat taxes is actually LH: [laughs] You guys askand theshould big questions. I thinkIpublic is the Great American Institution. It this began with we sleep with all the windows locked; where it education, is doheaded point? public in general? Maybe J: How you feel about modern good you can still survive. that if books you write one orone, two very I’d like to believe it’s still case Ithe myself don’t have and the sewers are leaking gas again; degree turns out to And bethe useful. much for the degree. then and the community, not so is there any hope and so forth? that is worth doing for the time sistant so you are not going broke, to you so you aworking teaching asMFA, with a are little money paid at a good school, on an If you are able to spend two years, people who care When Cortez raped an Indian, the sun about theand work. give you aofcommunity other is tothem give you time to write to Diddily thump, what’s to do? real use the MFA inofsay writing of out. So Icants would the some simple way to throw half so many applithey need fell, a broken eagle. In the fly-sweat need it, it’s because they have the MFA, and it’s not because theya If it weren’t for her sacred detail, lot of jobs in academy require it’s now the case that LH: Well it’sthea they’re moving nothing, barefoot to dying. puzzle, an MFA inbecome creative writing is because worth it? I’d rise up and bust it open, J: About graduate school. Do you think ing and writing. and give me a rhythm of readpay me a tiny bit of money structure that, at “As the bonfire burns, the word of the God that wouldaa clean the parts like pots and pans higher degree but Itime, wanted tensions. Iway didn’t really want afrom simple toI speaks, soaring. With fans they go in barges, singing, organize my inate school partly because it was doing it. went to graduthat to are going you tious about the itom ptoekeep dknow ibe m ecaun t s then lay it all back want do it and maybe tion, but you’ve got you high. ButSosome declared intention. Most people can’t go that in vegetable rows. at night. that is athe high intentake afor break and and sad. At the four corners of the earth then four hours read hours in morning, spent 128formal hours aschooling, day reading— with his he But to soothe her mind the Warrior makes the dawn burn....” Prayers mythology, when he was done bell, thesay famous writer about People that Joseph Campto the situation that’s available. need to adjust your ambitions say it you toYou yourself You what want to turned to gold like falling light refracts through pain. seriously. do, and sort ofis she’d have to move her soul. tions. have to know that you have tothemdeclare your intenLH: I suppose the advice is that educating selves after college? It spread like mercury. Today he’ll say, students looking for ways to continue J: Do you have any advice for If that ever happens and talk about it. “No, that ain’t no church, that’s my voting machine.” you can drink coffee together care about the same thing, and have halfthat a dozen people that there’ll be a tough period A place big does sometimes it turned out be quite useful. of Minnesota istoa huge place and undergraduate. The University Ivory Tower was that for me as an during which we may both leave town. some community. Again, the give you feedback. You need you need some set of people that willseparated readbe your work in the a private way, and talk toyour you Internet. about it and you need enclosure, you need toconstantly be from distraction. And then you also need community, the mildest addicts, youtake will turning on television or checking So loaned me encloandof had them the Internet and the television because otherwise, even if nature you’re of modern life toI distract you. When I was in this little town in Texas, had the house that somebody what I call sure, by which I out mean you need to bebegin able to shut offand allI the distractions. It’s the back to bed, and do that for three weeks. Then you begin to get someplace. You need time and you need serious done; to wake up at 7:30 in the morning and working, quit at 9 in the evening and go three weeks all alone from a little town in Texas writing, that’s the kind of time you need to get anything courses, it’s a disaster. And everybody has to take more than two courses, right? I just got back from dergraduate at any college or university doesn’t give need you enough time. If you’re taking more than two LH: Well. I say you need three things for sure. You time, and I frankly think that being an unfor the young writer? Her page-boy date had walked her to the door. writers, we are trying to do the labor required of us to make the gift for writing tangible. What can you say about the process of writing M: I was intrigued by The Gift’s use of the folktale of the shoemaker’s elves to describe the maturation of the artist. As young all created work. sion. You really just need toinlook more deeply arrive. There is a vastit’s interdependence to LH: Iofwho think that’s right a way. I think if at youhow takethings fullargument, credit for your people creation a form of disilluand those don’t. is aWhat result their ed- He’d kissed her and was in the car again ucation? like it resembles a religious between who believe a higher J: about people who take It fullalmost creditseems for their artistic inspirations? Those people who would prefer to say thatin they did it,power that it to enable them. do what they do, and the gift economy can flourish online and elsewhere once theand technology isget set diup rect income for when she ran back, gasping tears. She never could their work, but that to isexamples, a vast have many reasons to idea thatsoftware people are only motivated work ifoversimplification. you give a People property right they open movements are good andsurprise so is them Wikipedia. What youmany, often see software iscan the simple cooperative pro- be sure of what he’d seen. They circled; a mouse duction that would certain come into being. The free and LH: I Harvard’s mean, the Internet a and wonderful and has that there are forms of music downloading, free software andhas all been thesehelp things that havemediums come with the the advent ofrevealed the Internet, asHow pertains to generosity? J: [At Berkman Center for Internet Society] you study Iinternet and sociology. do you feel about found have been able to illuminate make practical use of it. But not because Ithat tell them what do. grLH: s it-. ran across the lights. She told him how the past It, again, tries to theeconomy. territory. So yes, I do think people who have eee ls oat tip oi lonYes, ship their work and to the does have a prescriptive set ofto sugbut itto individual. People read book, and helps people figure out their own P enYou ” comes toisand mind. Do isyou feel that yourthe bookthan hasitItfound aitnot practical place inthat today’s writing world? entered the process projects of many young and successful writers. Zadie Smith’s “Book of Other M: have said this book more philosophical is practical, yet we see this philosophy has of things he did. of anything he turns the future. Besides, there’re so many produced, and if it at became very successful it experiments helped produced the next example, Joseph Pap always didexperiment. that the public theater in New York. He took ahave piece of generation ownership their success. But that’s an Itstheir based on other that been done. For the wealth. If they have great success with work, they come back to us, and we get a piece of gives grants to individual artists to help them do their work. One of our features is a recycling of to say is thatago. am a founding of readers a nonprofit organization called Creative Capital, which LH: re-I worthy things. Later, when the scandals broke, ally know, you’d director have toyou ask of theof book how they think it’ssince changed. One thing out 25I don’t years J: Certainly, certainly. I’m wondering how findinto the concept giving inif art hasturn changed the book firstsee came the individual side, and the social side falls darkness. But you on the light, you it. he would sit in the bath, devising speeches. look closely at anybody tosimultaneously see bothThoreau of them, and what we dohein America, typically, isjust to only see feeling is that of us family are individuals and social beings, and you really need to long, long list all of things that enabled tothe beLyceum, the person was. So athad the of the dayIt’smy The people in his were the philanthropists at the college, and he aend scholarship. a sentially discussion groups and a thing called which was a form of town self-education. Some things he’d tell, others not, for reasons reau’s life you see that the community that he lived in was essential to his work. There were esgoes offAnother to be alone at Walden Pond and he writes his books. But if you at all individual. closely at Thoexample is Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is famously an look American He the community. look to see, maybe that’s how I want to live, maybe I want to live in a different way. So I was always in tion with me and committees cannot know. No one ever asked. have models of be what could be done, there were older to in whom you could work I did would not have happened if this group of world friends had not been there to always be conversaforth. A simple example the Tower. Iand mean, when Ihow was a poets student thein1960’s, the ation, and how much ofthe itwould isquestion dependent upon your and the community you were raised in andcreso But it Well, does sort of of,Ivory whennation. you create something, much ofand it isprivate really your LH: we areraise famously an individualist We love individual freedom property. and collectivity? study of American individualism, will you describe a little bit more about how you pose the distinction between selfhood M: This is interesting because we’ve been looking different things that you’ve said about your new book. In respect to your in a democracy, whereas in Europe, there wasn’t such a break, and it was easier to make the transition. torical. In this country hadthan a real break, and had to and reinvent what it meant tohave be patrons supported the arts way we more we’ve ever done in this Andthere I think the difference is hisnot lost, it’s gets not severed. So countries likewe Holland England and France always aristocracy replaced by European representative government, thecountry. sense that should beand patronage is ing. In National Europe, what happened was a long tradition ofand patronage by200 theyears aristocracy, when the as the Endowment forhad thethat Arts until 1965, so that’s almost until after the foundthe very idea of public engagement with art to arrive, you don’t even get something as simple tocracy and to a church that kind of power. And it took a long time in this country for aLH: rn itsi t-oa cr ri asWell, coy.And so they de-coupled public life from art because they were opposed to the arist cratic, and the founders thought of art as belonging to the Catholic church and the there’s a lot to say. One thing to is, when thisto country waselsewhere founded, it wascountries? deeply M: How vast is The winter began. Snow came in pellets. the distinction between the state ofintersect thesay American artist those moment living in other going to do work ifbooks it doesn’t happen to with the current oftoabout people’s interests. great. But it’stheir also fairly and most beginning artists should really ableopposed toincome think how they’re and then he hada awonderful few rare, that began tofor sell well. My argument isbenot that at all, that’s torow, who is author, wrote many years without significant from his writing, turn out to have a market value, and that’s wonderful for the artist involved. Somebody like E.L. DocThe dome turned slowly while red-eyed dustmen So then, luckily, sometimes, those works, artistic works no which are purely exploratory, purely aesthetic, and interrogation of going beauty, and, you know, making things that have no clear…purpose. [all laugh] another kind of artistic practice which has absolutely motivation except perception and inquiry, to be the consumer out and buying something. So it’s motivated work, and there certainly is end of the day, the point is to move the product. It’s like you’re writing a narrative whose last act is is. People in advertising are very creative, and it is an artistic profession in a certain sense. But at the swept out behind a dead but ancient chair. The pose some it LH: Well, I of suprealm different? made within each market. Is the art leather books were dumped in icy streams by the realm of the of the the gift and A note on “New Mystic City Grows Up”: The first quotation in be made: in which artrealm can little men who then went home to cough in bed. kinds of are economy that there are two M: You clear the first stanza was written by an Indian in the sixteenth to be an artist. ning life period trying Gilt paint is brought in. No one’s bored and steers you’re begincentury, shortly after the conquest of Mexico. This English i f aartists, hard which is ing young lot of tothe fundally undercut a translation by Irene Nicholson is from her book on Nahuatl managed to reare sacrificed to men who brush their teeth and congress the right-wing early 1990’s, poetry and thought, Firefly in the Night. tionally, in the because they’re so well bred. The center holds too systems, but nawhich has good in Minnesota, isn’t quite soThis true The last ruler of the Aztecs was Cuauhtemoc (Fallen for the arts. public support is destruction of well. The captain’s never seen the port but since the 1960’s Eagle). He was unceremoniously hanged in the jungle by the that’s happened of the big things ity. Again, one his gun still struts and frets with its eyeless lead. port for creativand public supSpanish in 1523. be philanthropic that there LH: I doshould think J: Right, right… your work. You canpractical getatwo different jobs so you’re notunderstanding putting pressure on your writing, if of you’re a the writer. Maybe you’re really and youtocan make a and livingreally doingto it,move that’sahead. nice. Ican tend not to have advice, to tell you the truth. At the end of the book I have a little list of typical things peoplelucky do, besides liveabout simply give yourself to work together, but lot of it is disconnected. Just that is a help to a lot creative people who feel otherwise kind of toconfused how why crease our awareness about what the territory looksin like. And the not simple idea behind the is thathave there really ishow athat disconnect between creative life and market economy. They LH: Well, you’re right to itdescribe The Gift book as, you know, a an book that tries tobook come up with practical suggestions on how live your life. It’sa aor book that tries to increated.” As Americans, our identity seems to be kind of wrapped what we consume or what we buy, and I’m wondering if you any ideas on to separate the two without just creating an isolated place where we all could go. J: “The Gift.” We all agree that has a lot to be gleaned for creative people. It seems to be ideal to work towards as opposed to sort of a road map for the current time...Margaret Atwood describes it as “a private island you’ve LH: Which one? book…and [all laugh] J: Well, we’ve been reading your we all really like it. making theone rules about access to culture, and whatnow should those rules be?issues, There’s acontrol good book by isLawrence Lessig called “Free Culture” that describes some of those issues. recent. So thing that some students care about that wasn’t onbeour map inorthose days is what called free culture. Can you download music, and why or why not? should Who’s care about, butwants also weengage were not soproblems much involved with environmental and digital technology and information flow, which are things that are much more munity is, and what the community are that can actually organized around. The issues have changed, there are a lot of foreign policy issues that people someone who to around the African-American community and poverty, but when he gets to Chicago it really takes him quite a while to figure out who the comread Obama’s firstitadvice book, “Dreams Ofthings Mywhat Father,” and that the about beinga inhuge Chicago as a community organizer was of can instructive because what you see is LH: first is to out care Iabout. And then tosection have some cunning around figuring where careakind about be engaged with. I techjust nology-driven, and seems that like you protesting orthought things that maybe to upmake not that don’tyoumake difference, butusefully they’re maybe just different? J: DoWell, you my have any just advice for figure people, or otherwise, who just to used stand for were what theydifference, believebut inout but feeltheywhat limited? Everything become so commercialized and other venues of public I don’tstudents think students dumber orwant less idealistic they the the around you gethas called to action has changed a great deal. the simplest things suchperception. as the Bush So adminstration’s refusal toare letany anybody photograph a coffinthan coming out of in Iraq is1960’s, indicative of aterritory move to make thehow government’s position completely harmonious with
My Friend Cries Sometimes
Daytime Television â€˘ Max Mose
Don’t kid yourself, Baby. Bonnie and I fired every shot.
My surrender song, plea bargain being: don’t you see I show my inclination, this fire in the belly, by attempting not to love you? Opposite of white flags instead I’ve got my Browning drawn and I can’t speak the last words: Oh, the things I would do to you.
listen to me. You listen to me.
how it is that I can tell you—I am followed by drowned men, dripping. A saw toothed morning glory stands at her grave and I stuff wildflowers in your mouth so that you will look at my face, take hostage the light, my taconite mouth. Reduce the fever. Please just
you go home and sit in your room and think, when and how will I ever get away from this? And now you know
Something switched inside. My flood within: to rip up riverbeds, to deliver warm dirt elsewhere, to grow things like magic. The red body of water of which we pull garbage trucks and catfish net full after net full. Split buildings downtown, this is what love feels like: spreading electric fires because the water enters in through windows, lets the sparks swim until
me—we could cut a path clean across Kansas and Missouri and Oklahoma and everybody’d know about it. You listen to me. You listen to me.
Don’t ask me nothing about nothing, I might just tell you the truth. Remember how they took her bloody clothes out of the car, ripped locks of hair. Outlaw souvenirs to sit on the pantry shelves. Well it’s like this, you and
Double Wedding Ring
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1100101202011 012020110100 011010011001 1101001100101202
01100101202 0 101202011010 201101001100 100110010120 011001012020110 0101202011010
I reach for a rubber band beckoning to me from my desk in the small booth. I bite the rubber band, and it becomes a rubber string. I bite small chunks off the string and spit them across the booth until the rubber string becomes small rubber rectangular cubes scattered across the floor. The clock ticks 14:23.
I haven’t been here for half an hour, and I want to leave. I want to go home. I want to listen to the voice of my love. I concentrate, and I hear her moan. She draws it out long, and I notice the car next to me has squeaky breaks. An old woman rolls down the window of her car. She’s tied a purple scarf over her head, like a bonnet. She’s wearing what looks like a wedding ring. I slide her ticket into the rectangular, money-grubbing machine. It screeches at me, and the clock reads “$6.00.” I punch in a code stamped on the back of the ticket, which informs me she was visiting the dentist today, and the clock reads “$5.00.” “Five dollars,” I say as if I too have been programmed. She hands me a ten. I realize the ring is on her right hand. She fumbles a little, but has a sweet demeanor about it. I imagine her life. She grew up during the Great Depression. She didn’t know that cheddar wasn’t supposed to crumble until after the war. Her sweetheart was a soldier. When he came home, he was cold, distant, and callous. She stuck with him. They had two kids, but he was a drunk, and would yell at them and even hit them. When their oldest was twelve, she divorced him. She got a job as a secretary at a law firm in Minneapolis and put her children through the University of Minnesota. Now she’s retired, lives in a small house in Fridley, and calls her kids often. Today she told them about her visit to the dentist. I hit the enter button. The machine screeches at me again. I give her a five-dollar bill and wish her a good night. The clock reads 14:25. The sign on my window says, “Attention Patrons. Validation stamps from Fairview Medical Center and The Radisson Hotel are not honored at University of Minnesota facilities.” The sunlight bleeds the image of the words and the letters backwards on my side of the window. I read it several times and find it difficult to retrain my brain to read forwards. I tap my fingers. I should be doing something constructive, but every time I try, another patron interrupts. A co-worker once said, “This job would be great if it weren’t for the customers.” In the often short periods I have between one patron to the next, I have just enough time to daydream about my bed. I meditate on the comfort of my down blanket. I imagine the body of my bride-to-be, warm and naked, pressed against me. The soothing red glow of the lamp casts a greenish silhouette of her face over me on the wall. She smiles. I smile. The room melts. The walls drip. The drips become ones and zeros. Lines of code interrupting my perfectly organic daydream. A car has blocked my escape route. I think it’s a Lexus. The man in the car probably isn’t thirty yet. He’s wearing a black suit, a white collared shirt, and a red tie. His dark hair is slicked back. He tries to identify with me by using some generic college student colloquialism: “Hey, dude,” or, “’Sup, man.” He was born into an upper class suburban family. He thought he was cool in high school, because he sold (and did his fair share of) all the great recreations known to suburbanites: weed, coke, and ex. He got a job at a bank and made some extra cash on the side by keeping up the old high school business—until he got caught with a gram of cocaine when he was high and speeding. He found himself a highpriced lawyer who got the charges dropped to a misdemeanor. This guy’s never seen a consequence in his life. How does he get off trying to identify with me? He asks for
She smiles. I smile.The room melts. The walls drip.The drips become ones and zeros. Lines of code interrupting my perfectly organic daydream. A car has blocked my escape route. I think it’s a Lexus. his receipt. His company will reimburse him. I hit enter. The machine screeches at me. I smile robotically, give him his credit card and his receipt, and wish him a good day. The clock ticks 14:27. Big brother is watching. Little brother is in the upper right corner of my booth. I look at the center screen, and I’m watching me too. Is that what I look like? I look so mechanical. I’m bolted to the chair. I move with the utmost efficiency. I wave to myself. Okay. I am still human. I count my fingers. Ten. Good. They’re all there. I test the stamp I use to endorse the checks on my forearm. It works. Good. I test it on the palm of my hand. There’s still ink on the pad. I test it on my neck. I test it on my forehead. I test it on my leg, my stomach, and my chest; anywhere that won’t offend the camera. I call her Noni. It’s a childhood nickname of hers. I look at my hand. She drew on it last night. It says “NONIOIOOIIOOIOIIO” starting from the back of my hand near my thumb, wrapping around my palm. I imagine the Ns turned on their sides and it says “20210100110010110.” She stands inside the binary code. She offsets the program and brings me my freedom. She melts the clock. The honk of a car horn to my left sets off a series of ones and zeros in my brain. A middle-aged man with a handlebar moustache laughs loud and warm and cracks a dim-witted remark about daydreaming. Everything is blurry as melted forms harden and regenerate. I smile. He seems like a nice guy. The plaid shirt and the truck tell me he works for maintenance of some sort. “How are ya?” I say with as much cheer as I can muster. He says something like, “Great! I get to go home,” and he laughs. The machine screeches at me as I feed it his ticket. He asks if he can have a receipt. He’ll be reimbursed.
He grew up on a farm. He learned the value of a dollar and a hard day’s work at a young age. He was ecstatic when he was old enough to get a job that paid minimum wage. In high school, he drove a Trans-Am he bought from a local junkyard, and fixed up himself. When he graduated, he sold it and got a truck. He then moved to the big city and joined a workers union as a machinist. He never scabbed off a strike. He married and had a son. When his son started going to school on a full scholarship, he got a new job at the University so they could meet up and have lunch sometimes. Movement is sometimes all one needs to be free. A one talks to a zero talks to a zero talks to a one somewhere behind the enter button as I poke it with my middle finger and the machine screeches at me. I give him his change, a receipt, a smile, and wish him a nice night. The clock ticks 14:29. A distressed woman leaves her mini-van to yell at me because the line is too long, and she needs to pick up her kids. Her car is behind only two others. She says she’ll just give me the money and her ticket if I can let her out in front of everyone else. I tell her it doesn’t work that way, but still she insists. I tell her there’s a weight sensor, and that it’s literally impossible for me to do that. She is not listening. She starts yelling louder. Then, finally, there’s the number two. I snap. I call her a bitch (among other things), and she stomps back to her mini-van. I do a ticket and money exchange with a University professor. He zips past. I collect toll for a young travel agent, and he’s on the go. I awkwardly take the money and the ticket in complete silence from the bitch who, less than a minute ago, was three cars back. She sneers. I roll my eyes. She zooms out of the garage. The clock ticks 14:32. I am the robotic arm. I am the almighty gatekeeper. I am the clock that is almost impossible to melt. I need the number two.
Her real name is Norah. When I am at work, she’s NONI; she’s 2021. She’s my freedom. A car pulls up to my window. It is decorated in stickers. There’s a fivepoint star in a circle on the windshield and an Obama sticker on the back passenger window. Inside is an older man covered in piercings and wearing a fishing hat. His name is Gary. Unlike every other patron, his book is open and full. Other patrons, I have to write the book when I meet them. But Gary’s book is already written. He’s one person out of hundreds, probably thousands of people who ever gave a damn about what I think. The first time he came through, he said, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” as if we had been introduced before. Astonished, I told him. We discuss the recent election. We talk about why I’m in school, and why I work at the parking garage. We talk about his job at the hospital. He looks at me square in the eyes and squints slightly. He pushes his head forward slightly, and he imagines my life. Scott was born in Minneapolis. He didn’t live there long enough to remember anything important about it, because his family moved to the suburbs before he was in school. He never got along with his classmates. His closest friend was his neighbor and was only his closest friend because they were neighbors. When the family moved to the country in fifth grade, he thought everyone there was a dumb, redneck yokel. He left high school early to go to college. He did well enough until he transferred to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. At that point he became reclusive and depressed: a combination of homesickness and finding his place in a new habitat. He failed once, but got back on his feet. He met a woman. Skepticism left over from past disaster relationships made him skittish, but he soon realized she was the woman he would marry. She became the most powerful motivation he’s ever experienced. She is his place in the world. I give Gary his change. There’s a long line of people behind him. They’re angry and honking. I don’t give two shits about them. He wishes me a good day and drives off. I don’t even glance at the clock. i
I am the robotic arm. I am the almighty gatekeeper. I am the clock that is almost impossible to melt.
I need the number two.
n o s t n a p r one i e h t Billy ut p y Mullaney leg e th
at a time
So they say to us. Yet the imagination Invents some machination contrary: Every day they just Simultaneously Thrust both legs within Their trousers. Who can count the hours lost in Flamingo posture Pondering this paradigm While the pants elite Floor their feet in half the time?
could learn a great deal from the phrase: “Learn from your past mistakes.”
is: Look at all this regress we’re making!
[wishes he were] zeros and ones...
is: none of the above.
Jim IS COMING HOME!!!
Jim is http://www.wakemag.org/author/bnyhus/ (enjoy). Jim is: Good morning! (Yeah, we both know it’s not morning.)
is: “...One of these days, I’ll chase my vinegar with a little baking soda, sit back, and then watch myself explode.”
Jim is like some temperamental cat today—I think you know which one I’m talking about. Jim is yesterday’s news, so what and who cares?
Jim should listen to more Cocorosie.
Jim is “live via hologram from Chicago.” WTF?
Jim is a change of heart, or, perhaps, just a change of rhetoric. Jim is: Teach your dog to eat, chew and otherwise enjoy his food.
Jim…a self-proclaimed isolationista™.
Jim is: “When your Tuesdays are in Jeopardy®: Remember to always answer in the form of a question.”
im is subversive, but fabulously well written. Jim is too vic’d (read: “viked”) to bike!
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*name has been changed
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is a me giving up. grammar world. See you tomorrow? teacher. cocktail:”is2 ibuprofen, one sore throat lozenge,street-preachin’ 2 Vicodin, amade shot of Nyquil, andEnglish 50mg of Trazodone. …Goodnight, it! poof, sizzle, gone.” (Today’s Biogeographical sermonette)
ntropy: m c m “loved m
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(Today’s over suddenly, news
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is a foregone conclusion.
Jim never could touch his toes...sad.
wait for it....Okay, NOW!
is “back” from a successful weekend of stay-cationing
—hello, Jennay Ivory. Jim is a paper-pushing self-preservationista. is the new kid on the Soviet Bloc.
Jim...Does this cardigan scream Fred Rogers to you? I’ll take your silence as a yes.
Jim is: this is news to me.
Jim “loved it and loved it and loved it and then...suddenly, he didn’t love it anymore.”
is imbibing on panacea—and by this he doesn’t mean the Washington D.C. area (circa 2003) music group.
Jim feels more like himself today. Perhaps it was the name change.
is: life after work—it’s sort of like: “life after death.”
Jim is a new Foshay Soiree. Jim is hip-hip fantastic, thanks for asking.
Jim is: “If you try to set yourself apart, the same way everyone else sets themselves apart, are you really setting yourself apart at all?”
is a productive powerhouse (in his wildest dreams). “...didn’t go through eight years of school just to be called ‘Mister,’ ‘Doctor’ should suffice.” ...Biogeographical nonsense. is: bring it.
...from sea to rising sea.
Jim is over it. Jim NEVER thought he’d live to see the day when CSOM and HMH would both run out of paper. (That day is today!)
(Today’s Biogeographical sermonette)
“Entropy: poof, sizzle, gone.”
is: this is me giving up. Jim is a street-preachin’ English grammar teacher. is a “cold cocktail”: 2 ibuprofen, one sore throat lozenge, 2 Vicodin, a shot of Nyquil, and 50mg of Trazodone....Goodnight, world. See you tomorrow? Jim made it!
Jim is a pack-a-day flosser.
…sometimes, I make my life the ‘patently ridiculous’.
Jim is: “I can never forget. No, I mean: ‘I can never remember…’”
a “cold ropy:
a street-preachin’ sore throat lozenge, 2 Vicodin, a shot made sizzle, gone.” is and loved it and this is
English grammar Nyquil, and 50mg of Trazodone. …Goodnight, world. (Today’s Biogeographical over suddenly, he didn’t love news to then...
loved and is:
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My son clasps his hands together each night as an admirer; he dons your Halloween mask. Your status has flirted my son away from my heroism. But you have given my fatherhood peace. My son didn’t step through the vineyards of struggle, but that has made his legacy all the more triumphant. His black and white playmates have destinies sewn together in a social fabric unknown to them. Your poster envelops my son’s room. He walks by and smiles as if he has obtained some secret friendship. Tears begin to sashay down the smooth slopes of my brown history— and woo me to sleep. I witnessed you define the goal of MLK so when I awoke. . .
My son was the President.
I was thinking about apples, how I always bring them to you and on occasion they are ripe, or sometimes rotten from being neglected in the cool of my fridge and I know you like them ripe but not too soft, juices oozing from the edge of your mouth with every bite, remembering how I first studied you in New Orleans, later discovering you under a small-town sky and how I learned to love you in the little apple, but how each morning after learning you loved apples, I delivered you one, sometimes blood red and maybe pale green, you accepted them, and now you save them and say they are crowding you, and they are too ripe and how I still bring you apples every day hoping to change your mind.
CRAIG’S WORLD c ’
raig woke up with his head on a rock in the middle of the woods. It was getting dark, and there was a small fire in front of him. His head was foggy—he couldn’t hold on to a memory for longer than a few moments before it blurred into obscurity. The name “Macy” kept echoing in his brain, along with an unknown symphonic that he could only half-hear, like the remnants of a dream. Each time the name reverberated against the walls of his skull, his chest tightened and his eyes moistened. There was a strange taste in his mouth and an afterimage of crimson. He looked down to check for injuries. He stretched his legs and flexed his arms and scratched his behind. His hands were dirty. A rusty brown substance stained the wrinkles of his hands and lined his nails. He hated dirty hands. Everything else seemed to be in order. He looked around for a water source so he might freshen up. He was wearing his favorite suit, the one with large shoulder pads and the sleeves permanently rolled up to his elbows. It was wrinkled. He hated wrinkly clothes. The ash grey of the suit and salmon pink of his shirt betrayed his sense of fashion. Despite this small flaw, he was attractive by anyone’s standards. He reached up to wipe the sweat from his forehead and found he was wearing a helmet. He took it off. It was a football helmet wrapped in aluminum foil. “Why the hell am I wearing this?” he thought. As he looked at it, something inside his chest started punching at his ribcage; something else was pushing the boundaries of his skull. Panicking, he shoved the helmet back on his head, and the stress subsided.
Craig gazed at the dancing flames and tried to remember. Several minutes passed. He decided to wait here—wherever “here” was—feeding the fire with his thoughts, and possibly some wood, until morning. He was so busy thinking about his situation that he didn’t notice the Administrator had shown up. The Administrator was a short man, gnome-short to be precise, and round like a plum with beanpole thin limbs. He emerged from the bushes dragging a small soapbox behind him. He swore mightily as his conical red hat became tangled in the shrubbery. The little gnome stopped across the fire from Craig, stood on his little soapbox, took out a little pipe, took a few little puffs, and cleared his little throat. “Ah-hem!” Craig’s shrill scream took all of the birds and squirrels in the trees above him so completely by surprise that they simultaneously loosened their bowels upon the quaint campfire and its immediate area. Craig didn’t want to think about the cost of dry cleaning. “Hmmmm, yes. Thank you, Craig. I have had better introductions, but that will have to do,” said the Administrator, wiping some berry- and nut-scented goo off his shoulder. “You don’t exactly have all the time in the world.” Craig’s nice suit now looked like a baby-sealskin dyed orange from the firelight. “Who are you? What am I doing here? Where am I? Who’s going to pay for my suit to get cleaned?” The gnome, irritated by all of the questions, exhaled a small cloud of smoke. “I am the Administrator. I greet new travelers in this land. My name is Seamus O’McMally. Everybody who comes to this land stops here at my campfire first. I help them figure out how they got here and which way they need to go to get home.” Craig wrinkled his brow, and tugged thoughtfully at his ear. “What are you? Some kind of elf or fairy or something?” “No!” the Administrator replied hastily and rather defensively. “The elves are a bunch of stuck-up pricks who think that just because there were a couple famous plays written about them that they are hot shit. We prefer to be called Supernaturally Endowed Vertically Impaired Mineral Workers. Jerk-offs, like you, would call us gnomes. To be precise I am a Rather Plump Rolling Hill Gnome, of the Hill Rolling clan.” “What does that mean?” asked Craig. “It means that me and my kin are rather plump,” he gestured to his midsection, “and in our spare time we take great pleasure in rolling down hills. Try it sometime, if your anus ever unclenches.” He paused. “The name really says it all; most things here are named literally by what they do and what they are. Honestly, why do you mortals insist on complicating everything with meanings? May I continue?” Craig nodded, taken aback by the gnome’s annoyance. “Good. Now according to protocol we need to find out what it was that led you here before we can send you back to whatever world it is that you came from.”
It was almost as if someone—some omniscient being of incredible power and authority—was putting the words directly into his head, and all he had to do was open his mouth. A sudden thought struck Craig: So far none of this had seemed too far out of the ordinary, which was odd because by any rational reckoning it should seem very strange indeed. Craig decided to just roll with it. “What do you mean whatever world I come from?” Seamus stuck the pipe back in his mouth sharply. Craig could almost see the numbers going backwards from ten inside the gnome’s little head. After what seemed like hours, Seamus exhaled a billowing cloud of smoke. “Anyone ever tell you that you ask too many questions?” “I am a lawyer,” Craig said sheepishly. “That explains it, then. Look, we don’t really have time to get into the whole Multi-Dimensional Entity Existence thing. Right now my job is to find out how you got here. Tell me everything that you remember.” Craig felt nervous. For the first time in his life, he was unsure of what to say. He decided it was best to start at the beginning and see where that led. “Well, uhh... My name’s Craig, as you know. Um, how did you know that, by the way?” “That’s not important right now. Get on with it,” snapped Seamus. “For being a cute, plump gnome you’re kind of nasty.” “Fucking get on with it!” Craig cleared his throat. “I’m 28, and I graduated from Princeton Law in ‘83. I recently made partner at a very prestigious law firm in New York City and work closely with the investment banking firm Pierce & Pierce. One of my primary clients at the firm is a man named Bateman. He’s an odd guy, but I’m paid well for my services. I’m on my way to becoming a wealthy man.” He paused to take a breath and scratch an itch under his helmet. Seamus puffed on his pipe and nodded for Craig to continue.
“I’ve been working for the firm for just over a year, and my girlfriend and I recently moved into a nice penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side. Her family is from the Garment District just off Fifth Ave. I was at the office late last night, trying to talk Mr. Bateman out of hysterics. He thought he was a serial killer or something. I told him to lay off the cocaine and get some sleep. I packed up my briefcase and went home. Macy was going to be leaving the studio around nine—she’s a fashion designer. I was going to propose to her that night. Everything was ready when she got home: the china, the candles, the redcheckered tablecloth. I even had time to slip into something more comfortable, if you know what I mean.” The gnome rolled his eyes. Craig could feel a veil lifting from his memory as he talked. It was almost as if someone—some omniscient being of incredible power and authority—was putting the words directly into his head, and all he had to do was open his mouth. “I love her more than anything.” He was speaking faster now. “She’s kind, funny, and smart.” He paused. “I was positive that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. There were still questions. You know, cold feet kind of questions. As I sat there waiting for her, I went over them again. What if she says no? What if she loves someone else? What if she is secretly psychotic? What if she has a hot sister? Would they be into that sort of thing? Am I doing the right thing? Does she torture small animals? Will she eat olive loaf ?” Craig loved olive loaf. “She walked through the door at 9:30 and was completely surprised by the romantic dinner I had prepared. She sat down, and her face—her face was absolutely radiant. I stared deep into her eyes.” Craig smiled and corrected himself. “Her one eye actually, she lost the other one playing lawn darts.” He sighed. “The candlelight shone off her freshly waxed scalp. God, she was so beautiful. I reached over and took her prosthetic hand.” Seamus looked a little pale. “‘Macy, I love you….’ I said. ‘Will you...’ and then I had to stop. There was a strange music coming from somewhere. Violins or something. I hadn’t turned the tape player on. I tried to ignore it. Said, ‘Macy, sweetheart…will you be my…’ then I had to stop again. I couldn’t concentrate; all I could hear was the music. It was building. Getting louder, straining to reach the crescendo. ‘Do you hear that?’ I asked her. She shook her head and smiled, and her dentures fell out onto the table. I carefully—lovingly—put the teeth back in her mouth. The music was getting louder. Something weird was happening. Something was moving inside me. It was pushing at my ribcage, trying desperately to get out. I thought it was my heart, so full of love.” He paused to wipe away a tear. “I said, ‘Macy, I love you….the music, I love the music!’ The beautiful song
“For being a cute, plump gnome, you’re kind of nasty.”
had changed me in a way I didn’t understand. When “Does I looked at her now, I didn’t see my beautiful angel.” Craig readied himself for the confession. “Instead she I saw a giant turkey leg with an eye patch. And it delicious. I started to feel kind of hot. Hot, torture looked and itchy. The music was still playing. I looked at my hands to regain my composure, and I saw small claws—savage claws—the claws of an animal. My were covered with thick orange hair. I felt my animals? arms mouth begin to lengthen into a muzzle. The music was changing me into some sort of beast. I looked Will up at my beloved and thought, ‘Damn, I want you, a side of chipotle ranch sauce.’ she eat Macy…with “Through the fangs I tried again to say what I wanted to say. Said, ‘Macy, I love…will you… olive I want…ah fuck it.’ I gave in to the music, the violins, cellos, violas. I lunged across the loaf?” beautiful table and—devoured the one woman I loved more than anything in the world.” Craig was crying now, Craig unashamed to let the tears flow for his beloved. “I came to several hours later in the dining loved room. Guts, blood, and bodily fluids decorated the room. I remembered what happened. I was still a olive beast of a man, or maybe a man of a beast. I howled at the moon. I cried a little. I knelt down and ate loaf. her leftovers.” Craig wiped the tears from his cheeks,
and Seamus tapped out his pipe. “After that I loped out of the house and off into the darkness. I passed out sometime after—I dunno—three in the morning. When I woke up, I was here.” It was silent around the campfire. The ruddy orange glow played with the two men’s features, making them into gargoyles or demons. Seamus refilled his pipe and lit it with a twig from the fire. “This fire is getting low. Grab a few of those logs behind you, Craig, and toss them on. We have to be on the lookout for the Vicious Black Tree Cows and their masters, the Rare and Timid Tree People. A nice campfire usually keeps them at bay until morning.” Seamus noticed Craig tense up. “Hey, relax, buddy. We’ll be fine. Now why don’t you tell me about your nifty little helmet there?” He didn’t try to mask his condescending tone. “Well,” began Craig, “when I woke here there was this strange man sitting on that log. His face was shadowed by a deep cowl, and his body engulfed in a long black cloak. He was wearing black nylon socks with flip-flop sandals, which was a little strange. My bestial instincts were still raging, and I wanted blood. I lunged at him. With one fluid movement the man produced a silver aerosol can. I was stopped in midair by a cloud of sticky, amber liquid, then I landed in a heap at the man’s feet. Whatever he sprayed me with was starting to sting.
“The man said he knew what had happened to me. He said he had temporarily immobilized me with a special potion. I was still a beast-man-thing, and my tiny brain could barely make out the meaning of the words. The man stood up, and his cloak fell open to reveal his complete and utter nakedness. It was disgusting. His man-boobs sagged, and the paunch of a belly hung low and pale like…like a gibbous moon kissing the horizon.” He paused. “Unfortunately it did not cover his manhood, which was shriveled and small. His white legs were scrawny and hairless. I threw up in my mouth a little; it leaked through my fangs and dribbled onto the ground. It was embarrassing. I tried to ask him what he knew, but it sounded like I was speaking through a blender. “The hooded nudist said, ‘You, my friend, have fallen victim to something +very foul and insidious. A force has been loosed upon the worlds that drives individuals completely mad.’” Craig’s voice had taken on an elevated tone. “‘I am talking, of course, about the theme music, the music that plays when the mood is just right. It makes scary moments truly terrifying, causes tension to become anxiety, turns happy moments into pure bliss. In your case, it made romance blossom into unconditional love. However, you are not supposed to hear it. To hear the theme music is to enjoy an opera performed by the sirens of myth. It drives one completely mad.’ “I looked at him, dumbfounded. That was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. But why, I asked, why had I turned into a beast? Was I some kind of werewolf now? My animal noises were silenced by a dismissive wave. “The man went on. ‘There is a man in this world who has found a way to control the theme music and bend it to his will. He wants to take over all the worlds. He has issues, deep psychological and emotional issues. In fact he is quite insane. I’m not sure how this man is able to control the theme music, but I assure you I will know soon. Until then, you must wear this special insulating helmet.’ “I have absolutely no idea where he was hiding it,” Craig explained, “but he placed the helmet on my head. He told me it would keep me from turning into the beast. I was starting to feel tired. The repellent combined with the helmet was sapping my energy. Through a haze I heard the man say, ‘I have to leave you now. When you wake up, you will see a campfire. Wait for the Administrator. He will make all of this clear.’ The naked man then gathered the cloak around him and melted back into the forest.” Seamus looked irritated, as if he were engulfed in a cloud of gnats buzzing the tune to “The Song That Never Ends.” “I thought that jackass had been kicked out of this place.” “Seamus, who was that guy? And what about the music he was talking about?” Seamus paced in front of the fire, jabbing at shadows with his pipe. “That guy is a menace. He’s part of the reason people end up here. He makes my job difficult. Nobody knows his name. Most of us just call him ‘Wee Willie.’ He has been roaming the worlds spouting this half-cocked notion that someone is controlling the theme music in order to conquer countries. It is true that there is theme music, and that you mortals do go a bit cuckoo when you hear it, but it is rarely as severe as what happened to you.”
“Well, is there a guy who controls the theme music?” Craig asked. “Of course there is, dummy. Everything has some sort of moderator or administrator or distributor; an avatar if you will. Juan is a dictator, but not a very good one, and he was feeling depressed about it, so we gave him the theme music. But we keep tabs on him. He shouldn’t be able to manipulate it, merely guide its flow like a small stream.” Seamus was visibly worried. “Juan…?” Craig struggled to keep up. “Juan Sanchez. He is the dictator of a land whose people won’t take him seriously. It’s south of this one.” Agitated, Seamus pulled his hat off. The firelight reflected off his balding head. He looked to the west and saw that the sun was coming up. “Okay, chief: Here’s what we’re gonna do. I have some things to check out. Don’t move from this campsite. Keep your helmet on and try to get some sleep. Once I come back, I’ll have a plan, and we can work on sending you home.” Seamus grabbed his soapbox and started dragging it back into the bushes, muttering about menaces and depressed dictators and how the whole lot of creations was going right down the drain. Craig listened until the voice trailed off into nothingness. He decided to heed the little guy’s advice. He added a log to the fire to coax the flames from their hiding places. Curling up next to the glowing coals, he was soon fast asleep, dreaming about Macy.
“Sorry, buddy. I’m not Seamus; I’m Officer Sanchez, and I need you to put that fire out.” “I can’t let the fire go out—it isn’t safe yet,” cried the confused man. “I have to wait for Seamus to get back, so we can stop Juan Sanchez from taking over the worlds with theme music!” Officer Sanchez wondered how the man knew his name. The poor guy couldn’t possibly know that he moonlighted as a composer. “Look, buddy, I just had an unpleasant conversation with your naked friend in the hoodie and sent him downtown. If you don’t want to join him, you’d better put that fire out. Now.” Sanchez felt bad. The bewildered look in the man’s eyes appeared genuine. Sanchez often pondered whether these people, the homeless and seemingly crazy, actually inhabited a world of their own design—one that just happened to intersect with his own from time to time. The two stared at each other for a few moments, Sanchez sizing up the man in case he got violent, the other clearly trying to decide if Sanchez was trustworthy. “Alright, pal,” conceded Sanchez, “why don’t you take off the helmet and tell me your story. Then put the fire out.” That seemed to placate him. The man removed the helmet. “I can’t be held responsible for any harm that comes from taking this off,” he said nervously, eyes darting around the clearing. The man talked, and Sanchez listened until the sun had risen above the eastern horizon. From a distance, Sanchez thought he could hear a string quartet playing a glorious ode to the rising sun. Suddenly the man doubled over and howled in agony. Sanchez rushed to his side. The man convulsed and kicked the helmet over by the gnome. The man was trying to say something, but what came out were grunts and growls. “You’d better get that helmet back on his melon, Chief.” The voice came from behind Office Sanchez. He whirled around…and nearly soiled himself when the ceramic gnome stepped off the crate, retrieved the helmet, and waddled over to him. “Go on, put it on him, and I’ll bring you up to speed.” i
“Everything has some sort of moderator or administrator or distributor.”
he park police were aware that the homeless and deranged regularly camped in Central Park. As long as they didn’t start any fires and kept to themselves, the police were content to leave them be. Officer Sanchez was on the Sheep Meadow to East Green circuit when he smelled the smoke. He followed it to its source: a thicket walled by large shrubs and sheltered by low-hanging elms. He wasn’t surprised to find a homeless man. He was a little curious about the battered lawn gnome perched on a wooden crate surrounded by candles, and the broken mannequin wearing an eye patch. The man was wearing a badly chipped Raiders helmet and using a large stone as a pillow. The area was littered with empty Coors Light cans. A dog-eared copy of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho lay next to the sleeping hobo. Officer Sanchez didn’t want to, but he had to give the guy a citation for an open fire. It was unfortunate—these guys never paid their tickets and sometimes got violent. He sighed as he bent over to shake the sleeping man awake. “Seamus? Is that you? Have you figured out what Sanchez is up to?” said the homeless man, who was covered in pigeon shit and dirt and fleas.
Ivory Tower chats with
I I’ve played at all the places Iwhy mentioned, I think…The only ah, it’s weird Saint Paul, it’s this whole…like it’s a city that had itthink um, the structure of an industrial with none of the ouse, and you know now it’s just like condos, sobut it just kinda feels es Ihad mentioned, I stuff think…The only reason I even know they exist … e…like it’s awith city that had all this infrastructure…so feels like ial city but none of the people…like Icity lived in a it converted fur condos, so it just kinda feels that way. It kinda feels like another that used to be there. h, it’s weird because it’s so like residential but there’s something lot of people talk about it as being the Twin City that has all the t some point you need to not just rely on the history and make somepeople and the younger people. cause like it has history but like I still don’t go there…maybe I’m ng in Minneapolis to Saint Paul or is it just like apples and orangthink ’s just . I putI probably prefer Minneapolis but I think it’s just because of I lived practio which Blackllet. h, I’ve one inugh. I’ll be and I’m Ithat’s don’t d someday afwhat’s out? h well, t I replain, really ich evs basias like nobody around. laptop s pret, yeah, e a job for it, resting now I’m much. always ere you t’s the , I was le. I’m but it houseo I can n was h yeah, e would night. Grandpa s weird rs, bealways pets. eah, it ver his two of st load up the nk it’s se munnly get ly like because o think ink the n’t beng this who snow Itrue. mean o ridiw, like esh Air him and
Jeremy Messersmith, “But wouldn’t that be weird,” asks Ivory Tower staffer Regan Smith as we walk into Urban Bean, “to eat a cookie during the interview?”
“I’m pretty sure Jeremy Messersmith wants you to eat a cookie,” I reassure her. “I’m pretty sure he’s a really nice guy.” And he must be, if he agreed to chat with us, two undergraduates on the staff of a literary magazine he’s probably never read. I order a latté, Regan gets her cookie, and when we approach him, Jeremy Messersmith shakes our hands warmly and offers us a gingerbread-molasses cookie he had to buy to reach the limit for debit cards. Jenna: So what’s the day job that you always sing about? Jeremy Messersmith: Well, I’ve had a bunch but I think the one that I really sing about the most was just your plain, standard office job. I was employed by this company which laid everybody off recently. I was basically the tech support dude, which was second shift, 3-11 every night, but nobody ever called, so I would just kind of sit around. I’d bring a book or my laptop and watch television shows. I have a job now where I actually have to work for it, so it’s sort of really strange. And now I’m like, “I don’t really like this all that much.” J: What’s the weirdest job you’ve had? JM: I was a janitor at a grocery store for a while. I’m not really sure how interesting it was, but it was pretty gross. And I cleaned carpets. He [my boss] would like truck over his whole family, we would all just load into this van and then load up the gear, and go clean carpets in the middle of the night. J: I think it’s really comforting to hear music about these mundane things, boring jobs, cars that only work halfway, suburbia…and I really like it, but I don’t really know why, because I don’t like suburbia? JM: I think it’s kind of a joke. I don’t think the world’s mundane…I just don’t believe it. Maybe somebody’s out there living this incredibly exciting life, but I don’t
local musician, all-around nice guy, and the worker of a normal day job.
reason I know they exist …fur all this infrastructure…so it feels people…like Ieven lived inyou a converted Iwhy think I’ve played at all the Yeah, it’s weird Saint Paul, it’s this it had um, the structure of an induswarehouse, and you know now it’s just suburb basically…but, know with about it that is really suburban. history, it’s like the family city, thing to new to bring in the new just lazy…So do you think you prefer es? the activities that I do in my life, closer here so it just made more like twice as many miles on my car in Saint Paul…so it was just aand little cal. store does your wife own? list Vintage over on like 7th seen the sign for it but I’ve never side, I don’t go around Nicollet much working there Saturday. where you work, I always see on facelike retail? Where? really work there butlike likeI’m if she one to help her out, working ternoon I guess. the day job that you always sing I’ve had a bunch but I think the one ally sing about the most was just standard office job. I don’t know it weird. I was employed by this company erybody got laid recently, but I cally the tech support dude, which second shift, 3-11 every night, but ever called, so Ioff would just kind of Bring a book, I’d just sort of bring and watch television shows. ty cool. it was pretty fun. It’s weird, like I now where I actually have to like, so it’s sort of like, really strange. concept. like, I have don’t really like all nice to jobs with fringe benefits, can like get stuff done orthis whatever. weirdest job you’ve had? a janitor at a grocery store for a not really sure how interesting it was gross. keeping (cleaning?) for my first always relate toIthe gross…I didjob it of likepretty fifteen, you know? I’m pretty sure was fifteen…(???) just go clean carpets in the middle did that! He owned the business. It to me how it always happened at odd cause my dad worked for them and he leave at like 8 at night to go clean was weird because he would like truck whole family. He had three daughters them around my age so we would all into this van or whatever and then gear, and go clean carpets. really comforting to hear music about dane things, boring jobs, cars that halfway, suburbia…and it’s like I reit but I don’t really know why I like I don’t really like suburbia, y know? it’s kind of a joke…(???) Iout world’s mundane and life, stuff,but Idon’t just lieve it. Maybe somebody’s there incredibly exciting I don’t that person is. unless there’s like something there cule, something I can like…I don’t Tom Waits was talking about, maybe on or something, they were interviewthey were talking about he always had
know who that person is. They were interviewing Tom Waits on Fresh Air or something, and he was saying he always had locations in his songs that he would sing about. But for me I’m boring I guess; I’m mundane. J: I think it’s nice that it’s realistic. I think a lot of your music is very local. One of the reasons I really like The Silver City is because it’s Yay! Minneapolis! Here we are. And a lot of people try too hard to make it universal. JM: Yeah, if I make it universal then I sometimes have a hard time relating to it. But some people are really good at that, like they sing something and because it’s universal you relate to it. R: Yeah, like it seems like recently there have been a lot of local musicians who have really been singing a lot about Minneapolis. Like Atmosphere, obviously, and then we’ve got the Replacements and all that kind of stuff…I think that for a long time people have felt like Minneapolis hasn’t really gotten the credit, nationally, that it deserves. JM: We don’t get shit for anything! I still don’t get that. R: I have a lot of friends who go to college out of state and they’re always telling me about how their friends hear Minneapolis and they think it’s hickville! And it’s one of the biggest cities in the U.S. J: Yeah, we don’t get any credit. But do we really want that? JM: Well yeah, it’s like the second we do it would spoil everything. J: Yeah, maybe that’s how we like it here. We’re like the basement of the world. There could be a lot of crude analogies for that, especially today. Have you ever read a book called The Gift? JM: You know what’s really funny? It’s actually the next book on my library queue. J: That’s amazing! JM: Dan Wilson, my producer and I, were emailing, and I sent him over this thing by Elizabeth Gilbert, she’s the author of the book Eat, Pray, Love, and she was talking about the world of creativity and how we’ve looked at the creative process for the past 4000 years, how the Romans approached it, and I showed it to Dan and he was like “you should read The Gift” so I added it to my list.
Yeah, I think I’ve played at allmenthe places tioned, I I think… The reason why Ionly even know they exist … Yeah, it’s weird Saint Paul, it’s this it’s a whole…like city that had all this infrastructure…so it feels like it had um, the structure of an industrial city but with none of the people…like Ihouse, lived in awareconverted fur and you know now it’s just like so itkinda just kinda feels thatcondos, way. It feels like another suburb basically… but, you know with stuff that used to be there. Yeah, it’s weird because it’s so like residential but there’s something about it that is really suburban. A lot of people talk about it as being thehas Twin City that all the history, it’s like the city, but atfamily some point you need to not just rely on the history and make something to and new to bring the new peoplein the younger people. Yeah, cause like it has history but like I still don’t go there…maybe I’m just So do youlazy… think you prefer living in Minneapolis to Saint Paul or is it just like apples and oranges? Ilisthink I think probably prefer Minneapobut I it’s just because of activities that Ithe do in made my life, it’s just closer here so it just more sense. I put like twice as many miles on my car when I lived in Saint Paul…so it was just a little more practical. So which store does your wife own? Um, Blacklist Vintage over on like 7th and Nicollet. Yeah, I’ve seen the sign for it but I’ve never gone inside, I don’t go around Nicollet much though. I’ll be working there Saturday. Oh sowork, that’s where you Ifacealways see on book and I’m like retail? Where? Yeah I don’t really work there but like if she someone to need help her out, like I’m working Saturday afternoon Ithe guess. So what’s day job that you always sing about? Oh well, I’ve had a the bunch but I one that Ithink really sing about the most wasstanjust your plain, office job. Idard don’t know it really weird. Iwas was employed by this company which everybody got laid off recently, butthe I tech was basically support which was dude, like second shift, 3-11 every night, but like, nobody ever called, so I would just kind sit Bring aaround. book, I’dof just sort of and bring my laptop watch television shows. That’s prettyitcool. Yeah, yeah, was pretty fun.Iwhere It’s like have aweird, job work now Isoactually have to like, it, it’s sortstrange. offor like, really Iingn t e rconcept. e s t now I’m like, IAnd don’t really like this all that much. It’s always nice to have jobs with fringe benefits, where you can like get stuff done or whatever. What’s the weirdest job you’ve had? Uh, I was awhile. janitor at a grocery store for a I’m not really sure interesting ithow was, but it was pretty gross. Ifor did housekeeping (cleaning?) my first job so II can always relate to the gross… didyouitlike when Iteen, was fifknow? Yeah yeah, pretty sure fjust i f t egoewe nclean … would (I? was ?I’m ?) and carpets inthe the middle of night. My Grandpa did that! He owned the business. It was weird me how it always happened atto odd hours, my dad because worked for them and he would always leave at carpets. like at night to go8 clean Yeah, it was weird because heover would like truck his whole family. He had daughters ,three two of them around my age so we would all just load into this van or whatever and then load up the gear, and go clean carpets. Ihear think it’s really comforting to music about these mundane things, boring jobs, cars that get halfway, sonly u b u r b i a … a n d it’s like like butIbecause I really don’t know why Ireally likeit it, I don’t really like suburbia, y know? I(???) alsoof think it’s kind joke… Ia world’s don’t think the mundane and stuff, I just don’t believe it. Maybe somebody’s out there living this incredibly ex-I citing life, but don’t person know who that is. That’s true. Yeah, I mean unless there’s like something there to ridicule, something IWaits can like… Italking don’t know, like Tom was maybe on about, Fresh Air or something, they were interviewing him and they were talking about he always locations inhehad his songs that would sing about….. (?? something do with rto e s t a u r a n t ? ? a) but I’m boring Imeguess, I’m for mundane. Yeah, I think it’s nice that likea realistic. Iit’s think lot of your is very vocational or local I music guess and Ilot think maybe a of music tries to be like that…But I think one of the reasons I really like the Silver City is because it’s like yay, Minneapolis, weofare. And ahere lottoo people try hard to make it universal or whatever.
J: The author of that book, Lewis Hyde, used to edit the Ivory Tower because he went to the U of M. JM: Well I’m really looking forward to reading his book. J: Before I heard any of your other music I heard “Light Rail” on the Current a year and half ago or something. I really liked the song and I could tell it wasn’t just an ad for the light rail, so I guess I’m just curious how you bridge that gap between being creative versus having to live, like you have a normal job… JM: You mean like how do I manage those? J: What your philosophy is. For instance, did you get paid for “Light Rail” ? JM: No, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten paid to write a song. I’ll let you know if that happens. But as far as my philosophy goes, I think I’m still trying to figure that out. Part of me wants to be really logical about the creative process, and another part of me kind of doesn’t. I think it’s like Mark Twain—I always thought of him as being really gifted but at the same time sort of purposely not all that self-aware, or not as self-aware as he could have been. I think he maybe knew that and that it might sort of jack up his writing process. And then you’ve got other people like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, where they totally understand their philosophy of creative process and they can totally break it down and play with it, and I think that part of the process, too, is deconstructing it. But I don’t think I really have that yet. We’ll see. Talk to me in a couple years and maybe I’ll have all the answers. What’s the premise of The Gift?
Part of me wants to be really logical about the creative process, and another part of me kind of doesn’t.
J: It starts with the history of gift-giving and Walt Whitman, how he lived, like he tended soldiers in hospitals and just lived on the streets and he didn’t have any money. and Lewis Hyde holds that up as an ideal—to be an artist is to have the responsibility to give. It can be hard to take that big idea and make it practical for your life. JM: Well the cool thing about that is, I sit in a cubicle next to this guy who everybody really likes to bitch to about their lives. Like, “MN Wild sucked this week,” or “just lost some money in the stocks again” or “President Obama,” or whatever. And I guess you have to have something to lose. I don’t really have much. This whole economic crisis, I guess it’s not really affecting me that much. I guess I’m not really attached to whatever it is anyway. J: Who would you say are your major influences, or your favorites as far as music or literature? JM: As far as literature I probably only have one big one. I mean there’s a few that I like. But anything Haruki Yurasami has written I absolutely love. He’s this Japanese writer guy and he writes these sort of metaphysical journeys sort of, I don’t know, it feels like they’re sort of dreamlike the way he writes them; it’s sort of the Japanese Gabriel Garcia Marquez. R: Like magical realism? JM: Yeah, yeah, kind of, but without all the South American mythology; instead it’s Japanese. A lot of his characters are kind of like characters that I write about in songs. It’s really weird because I can’t help, when I’m reading one of his books, to think “oh, I wonder what I’m going to be doing in this one” because I identify so strongly with the protagonist. It’s essentially the same character in every single book. Anyway, he’s really good. J: I’m always really amazed when authors can do that, have similar characters, because like every time I write something I’m thinking, “ok this needs to be totally different than the last thing I wrote.” And then I realize, oh wait, all of Miranda July’s [movie producer, fiction writer] characters are weird people with weird jobs that don’t really talk to anybody, but all of her stories are totally different. JM: It feels like all of his are kind of the same, or at least the characters are the same, and the stuff going on around is just completely wacky each time and totally different. But the main characters tends to be sort of hardcore, I guess a little out of time, maybe, with the rest of everything else that’s going on. The Wind Up Group Chronicles is maybe his tour-de-force. J: What about musical influences? JM: I tend to be more influenced by old stuff than new stuff. Although every once in a while you’ll find this new thing to you that’s totally great. But inevitably I end up going back go back to things I listened to as a kid. Mom’s home cookin or something like that. It’s such a matter of taste and
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whole…like city that had his …so it feels it infrastruchad um, structure of ndustrial city with none of people…like ed in awarecond fur e, and you wtlike now it’s condos, just that kinda way. kinda feels another subbasically… you know stuff that to be there. h,useresidential it’sit’sweird so someghere’s about it that llyof suburban. ot people about it as ghistory, thehas Twin that all it’s the family but at some tot you need just rely the history make someggle to and new to in the new the ger people. h,sI history cause like but stilllazy… don’t here…maybe just do you living think prefer aint Paul or is stMinneapolis like apples oranges? nk I think probably er Minneapout I it’s because of activities that n made my life, it’s closer here so st more e. I put like e as many on my car nsjust I lived in Paul…so it a little etwhich practical. store your own? Blacklist agelike over 7th Nicollet. h,ign I’ve seen for it but never gone e, I don’t roundthough. Nicolmuch be Saturday. working o that’s where work, Ifaceals and see on I’m like Where? hl? I don’t realork there but if she eone to need help out, like I’m king noonSaturday Ithe guess. what’s day that you als well, sing about? I’ve allythe bunch but I k one that sing about most wasstanjust plain, office job. n’t know it really weird. as employed his company hy, everybody laid off rebutthe I tech was cally ort h night, was dude, like shift, 3-11 ynd but nobody ever d,kind so I would sit nd. Bring ook, I’dof just of bring my p and watch ision shows. ’syeah, prettyitcool. h,d, was y now fun.Iwhere It’s like have bually have to work it, s sortstrange. offor like, y t e rconcept. e s t now I’m like, n’t really like all that much. always nice have jobs fringe benwhere you like get stuff or whatever. t’s the dest job ve had? I for was awhile. janiat a grocery a really how interestt not was, but it gross. dpretty housekeep(cleaning?) my first job so nid always reo the gross… when asyouitlike fifknow? heyesure yeah, nclean … would (I? was ?I’m ?) we go carinthe the middle night. Grandpa did He owned business. It weird me it because always ened atto odd s, dad worked hem and he d always like night to go8 ne itatwas carpets. h, weird use heover would ruck his e family. He three daughtwo of them nd my age we would all load into this or whatever then load up and go ngear, carpets. nk it’s really to music about eforting mundane gs, boring cars that get halfway, ulike r b i a … a n d butIbecause I really don’t yeit it, know why n’t really like rbia, y know? soof think it’s joke… Ia world’s don’t kdane the and ,ebody’s just don’t veIliving it. Maybe out this ex-I gtdibly life, but know who person is. ’s true. h, I mean unthere’s like ething there dicule, somegn’t I know, can like… like was ngWaits be on about, Fresh or someg, they were viewing him they were ng about he ys locainhehad his songs would about….. something do with a u r a n t ? ? a) for mundane. I’m ng Imeguess, h,stic. I think it’s likea Iit’s think fthat your vocational ocal I music guess Iry think maylot of music to be like …But I think of the reaI really like Silver City is use it’s like Minneapolis, are. And tweof people too hard to eor itwhatever. univerh,gh, I if think it’s very deep Ihave make iversal then etimes aI relating .time But some le are really at that, like sing someg relate anduniversal because toa lot it. I think our music is ersal as well.
what you’re used to, what your ears are used to. I think I end up going back a lot to the Beatles, the Beach Boys…I just discovered the Easy Beats, this old band from the same era, but they’re basically like the Australian Beatles. They sound like Beatles crossed with AC/DC. One of the AC/DC guys’ older brother’s is in the band, then later he produced AC/DC. And lots of bands with the names like The Turtles, The Kinks...I kind of want to be in “The” band. J: They’re kind of running out of nouns though. JM: Yeah, there’s not really a lot you can do. Unless you just make up something. Or just like put a number in it or something. J: Yeah, you could be the Jeremy Messersmiths. R: That has a nice ring to it. JM: Yeah, it just rolls off the tongue, it’s really great. J: Are there any genres that you wanted to get into but never did? Like, I’ve always wanted to get into funk, but I still haven’t done it. JM: I did that. J:You did? JM: Yeah, well, I guess I wasn’t all that good at it. I did funk, I did R&B for a while, this was all in college when I was studying music. I think I’d like to do the Rap and hip-hop stuff at some point. R: You heard it here first! JM: I think I have a couple tracks that I think I could pitch to, I don’t know, the Doomtree people. Be like, “Do you guys want these? I don’t know what you guys do with them.You can have ‘em if you want ‘em.” J: Just like drop them on Slug’s front step, whatever you think…[laughs] JM: Yeah, you know, “it’s okay, no pressure.” [laughs] J: So I read that you call your basement studio a fortress of solitude. Is that official, like I doubt that you have a sign or anything… JM: I did have a sign actually. That sort of goes way back to when I was a teenager, like the sign I had on my bedroom door as soon as you come in. Fortress of Solitude. It kinda feels that way, like when you have your separate place where you go to do something creative, like a coffee shop, wherever. It’s just the kind of place that separates you, like you kind of leave behind your baggage. That sounds sort of weird because my basement’s more like a prison, it’s like an Abu Ghraib cell. R: Like solitary confinement? MR: Yeah, but seriously, it’s horrible. I have my little space heater, and it’s all smelly.
J: So what kinds of things do you like to keep around you when you’re tyring to focus your creative energy? Something you need to drink, or a poster that you like to look at…? JM: Other than a rhyming dictionary, I don’t know, I don’t really have anything in particular around me, it’s more just like a mindset that you have. Just being open, waiting for something to happen. When Paul Simon would write songs, I guess lyrics were the harder part for him so he would sit at the edge of the bed and he would hold this rubber ball, sort of uncomfortably perched, and then he would just throw the ball at the wall for hours and hours and hours and it was just something physically he could do, it would sort of free up his mind and he could wander. J: That’s interesting. One time in an interview, I heard Miranda July [producer of Me And You And Everyone We Know, author, and performance artist] explaining how procrastination is a part of her creative process. She wrote her movie, but then she had her book going on in the background, and then there was something else she was thinking about doing next. Basically it’s really hard for her to focus on doing one thing at a time and then move on to the next thing. What’s it like for you? JM: Yeah, I’m kind of like that. I had a friend over and we were doing some recording together, and it was the first time I’d ever recorded with another person and I was producing their tracks, and I just realized I kind of have ADD when it comes to that stuff. We’d be working on a song, and we’d do a couple takes and I would add something and then I’d just be overwhelmingly bored and wish I could do something else. It’s sort of hard to just stick with one thing at a time. J: Yeah, but I guess I feel it’s just hard to find those times when you have like an unlimited amount of hours and everything. JM: Where you have an unlimited amount of hours, and the absolute perfect setting, and the creativity is just coursing through your body and shooting out your fingertips…Yeah. I don’t think that’s ever happened, at least not to me. It’s just like, show up and do the work, and sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not and you know, whatever, you can’t really control a lot of that stuff. I try not to worry about it. As long as I’m just creating something or writing a little of something every day or even just keeping my mind open to ideas, that’s the sort of framework for the process. J: I think I need to take some hints from you. JM: Um, yeah, cause I’m so prolific. [laughs] The coffee shop is closing. We tell Jeremy to hang onto his gingerbread cookie and we all leave. As soon as we step onto the snowy South Minneapolis sidewalks, Jeremy announces, “I only live about three blocks from here. I’m going to run away now! Bye!” And he takes off. When I look again he is still running. i
Yeah, I thi played at places I men think…The o son why I ev they exist …Y weird Saint P this whole… a city that ha infrastructure feels like it the structure dustrial city none of the p like I lived i verted fur wa and you kno it’s just like so it just kin that way. I feels like ano urb basical you know w that used to b Yeah, it’s w cause it’s residential bu something a that is really su A lot of peo about it as b Twin City t all the histo like the fam but at som you need to rely on the and make so to new to b the new peo the younger Yeah, cause li history but li don’t go ther be I’m just So do you th prefer living neapolis to Paul or is it apples and o I think I proba fer Minneapo think it’s just of the activiti do in my life closer here s made more I put like t many miles o when I lived Paul…so it w little more p So which sto your wife Um, Blackli tage over 7th and Yeah, I’ve s sign for it never gone don’t go aro collet much I’ll be there S Oh so that’s w work, I alway facebook an like retail? Yeah I don’ work there if she need s to help her I’m working S afternoon I So what’s job that y ways sing Oh well, I’ a bunch but the one that sing about t was just you standard offic don’t know it ally weird. I ployed by this ny which ev got laid off but I was b the tech suppo which was l ond shift, 3-1 night, but l body ever cal would just ki around. Bring I’d just sort my laptop an television That’s prett Yeah, yeah, pretty fun. It’ like I have now where I have to lik for it, so it’s like, really Interesting And now I’ I don’t rea this all that It’s always have jobs wi benefits, wh can like g done or w What’s the est job you’ Uh, I was a at a grocer for a while. really sure teresting it w it was prett I did hou ing (cleanin my first jo can always to the gross it when I w fifteen, you Yeah yeah pretty sure fifteen…(???) we would clean carpets middle of th My Grandpa He owned t ness. It wa to me how i happened a hours, becau dad worked f and he would leave at like 8 to go clean Yeah, it wa because he like truck o whole fami had three d , two of them my age so w all just load van or whate then load up and go clean I think it’s rea forting to hea about these m things, borin cars that o halfway, sub
Lt. Miner Drinks Some Coffee Patrick Anderson
Miner sat alone under the awning of a small coffee shop. The angle of the sun didn’t permit any shade, so he sat exposed to it. It hung low on the southern horizon, just above the graveyard on the top of the hill. That was the direction Lt. Miner faced: toward the sun, toward the graveyard, toward the hill. Lt. Miner drank his coffee and drifted. The sun was damn hot. It moved in a slow whirl to the west. Lt. Miner started to daydream. “There was one point, when we were young, that I hated you,” he said to his wife. “The summer of 2004. I hated you, then.” A rivulet of sweat formed at Lt. Miner’s right temple. The sweat was damn annoying. It bubbled across his forehead. It dampened the small of his back and the armpits of his dress shirt. What a bastard, that sun. Lt. Miner, under the heat of the sun and the heat of his coffee, could see the red armchair he
was sitting on, his wife on the couch to his right. “There was one day, one morning. I woke up and went to the bathroom. On my way to the bathroom I saw you naked on the floor. I walked down to that coffee shop on the corner and sat there, drinking coffee. That was in fucking August, and for some reason, probably because I was stupid from shock, I ordered a coffee. I sat there, sweating like a maniac. Couldn’t even cry. Drinking a near-boiling cup of coffee and just sweating the shit right out through my pores. And in my head there was a three ring circus: God, Christ, You. I called you a million names. Whore. And then I imagined marrying you and being married to you, and I felt like a fucking schizophrenic.” “And then you did marry me,” his wife said. He broke from the dream, stood up, and walked away with his coffee in hand. The lake was three blocks away. He headed in that direction, thinking he might go for a small walk. i
nce she was outside of it, Happy didn’t really pay much attention to her box. When she and the other hippos were arranged around the playing field, she was all business. Happy knew that there was no real skill involved in her work, but she liked it just the same. Then one day she found herself positioned next to the box, staring at an artist’s two-dimensional rendering of a fat pink hippopotamus. “My God,” she thought. “Do I really look like that?” It started out small. At the next game, Happy munched slower than the other hippos, more methodically. She chewed each marble 27 times. Her competitive side ached to play with the same zeal as the other three hippos. She had always been one of the guys, in the thick of things, chomping furiously. Happy began counting the number of marbles she ate. Appalled at the huge quantity she was consuming, Happy decided to eat only every third marble that came her way. This worked out perfectly because three cubed was 27. Three was the perfect number.
appy was wallowing. In a moment of clarity brought on by her newly ascetic lifestyle, the full burden of her absurd situation weighed down upon her. Her life was meaningless. She spent her days eating as many small white marbles as she possibly could, and for what? For sport? Was there any logic behind this game in which she found herself ? All her self worth was wrapped up in the futile effort to gorge herself more
quickly than the other three hippos. Three males, against her. She was constantly surrounded by males, one on each side and one across the field. Her whole world was this stupid game with three males, and she’d never even had a boyfriend. Happy was going to die fat, sad, and alone. She had to make a change. After she saw that picture, she knew what she had to do. Everything else in her life was beyond her control, but within the sphere of the game, Happy had a choice. She could say no to marbles. She could clamp her teeth down every time one came her way, ricocheting it back across the field. If she could handle this, then maybe, just maybe, she could finally live up to her name.
appy turned her head to the left, but she still could not see her backside. She couldn’t decide if this was a good omen or a bad one. The contortions made her dizzy. She lowered herself to the ground. With her eyes closed, she took three deep breaths. “Hap, are you okay? You look sort of ill.” She leapt to her feet with all the grace one would expect from a hungry hippo. “Homer! What? No! I’m fine. What’s your problem, anyway?” “Are you feeling okay? You didn’t seem to be playing at your peak today.” “What? No! I’m fine. I’m great! I’m just trying to be more ladylike, that’s all.” Homer raised one green eyebrow suspiciously. “Ladylike? You’re, like, the only lady in the game!” “I know!” Happy snapped, her pink cheeks darkening. She didn’t want to be having this conversation. “I’m just trying to get healthy.” “I suppose we are starting to get to that age. Thirty already. It sounds so old when you say it out loud.” “Come on now,” she said, nudging him with her
shoulder. They had been friends since ages four and up. “You’re still nimble! Your neck is as fast ever! Now, I’m going to go lie down. I’ll see you later though, right?” Homer gave her a half-smile and went to find the others. It was time for a little chat. n the middle of the next game, Homer signaled to Harry and Henry. They stopped what they were doing, and all heads swiveled in Happy’s direction. Homer spoke for the group. “Happy, who do you think you’re trying to fool?” “Whhff ?” Her words were muffled by the marble she held in her cheek. “I said, who the hell do you think you’re trying to fool? You haven’t won a game in weeks and you haven’t eaten a single marble all day!” She felt all three pairs of eyes. Without meeting them, she spat her marble towards Homer’s feet. “What on earth are you talking about?” “There! You didn’t even eat that one! What’s going on, Happy? Are you sick—” “How many times do I have to tell you? I’m fine! It’s none of your damn business what I eat!” “But Happy, you’re not eating. It’s not right. Hippos like us are supposed to eat marbles. It’s our, I don’t know, our destiny.” “It’s ridiculous, Homer! We’re hippos, for god’s sake.” “What are you talking about?” “Forget it, Homer. Don’t even talk to me about destiny. Get over yourself !” “I don’t know what you’re talking about! Look, Happy, I’m worried about you.” He gestured towards the others, and they nodded in orange and yellow unison. “Happy—” He stepped forward as she started to cry. “Happy….” “I’m…I’m just so…hungry! Hungry!” “You’re going to be okay,” he said, nuzzling her
with his long neck. “It’s going to be all right. We’re going to get you the help you need. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.” She wiped her eyes, long lashes matted together with tears. “I just wanted to be pretty, pretty…” she whispered. “Happy, you’ve always been pretty. No, no, hey now, I’m not just saying that. Look at you! You’re pink and shiny. You’re a gorgeous hippopotamus.” “Really? But—” He shook his head. She sniffled again. After a long minute, he spoke, his voice low and firm. “You are beautiful.” Another long minute. “Would you like to play with us?” Happy shot him a damp look, her pink brow furrowed. Henry and Harry had already taken their positions on the field. “Come on,” Homer coaxed. “The only way for you to get over this is to be plunged right back into the competition. It’s for the best.” Happy sniffled one last time and slogged over to where the others were waiting for her. She could do this. She was perfect the way she was. She was going to get over this. She just needed to get back in the game, and everything would be back to normal. This was the best way. Homer knew what he was doing. As the marbles ricocheted around the field, Happy felt the thrill of the game run down her neck. She could do this. Homer lunged for a marble, but it caught on his front tooth and shot her way. Happy readied herself, blinking to focus her eyes on the marble coming straight towards her. The blood pounded in her ears as she quickly analyzed the velocity of the marble with her known jaw speed and the slope of the field today. She could do this. She had done this a thousand times. With a loud crack, she chomped down on the marble. She felt its cold plastic and moved it along her mouth. As it reached her throat, Happy made a conspicuous effort to swallow. She could feel Homer’s eyes on her as the marble worked its way down her long neck. With a hollow plunk, the marble came to rest. Happy met Homer’s eyes. He smiled. She smiled back at him. The other two hippos returned to their frantic marble munching as soon as the tender moment came to a close, and Homer shifted his attention back to the game. Happy continued to smile, wondering how long it would be until she could sneak away and throw up the marble. No one would ever know. They say the most fun is playing together, but Happy knew this was one game she would need to keep to herself. i
There never leprechaun peanuts! in was Zachary Binsfeld
I finally said what I hadnâ€™t wanted to say, but a hairy green man in stockings ran between us waving an insect net meshed small enough to catch words. He got all the good ones so I sounded like Mrs. Donovan during that time of the month. It would not have been better had the wordflies landed on your ears, anyway.
America? Is that you? I’m surprised by you, baby. Fifty-three years since Ginsberg addressed you and now look at you. You’ve put on some weight, which is curious considering you have us all constantly chasing that orgastic green-light at the end of that high-speed treadmill you call the American Dream. America take off your make-up; I believe in natural beauty. America show yourself naked. I swear I don’t care about the size of your cock. America enough small talk. America one time I put a Qur’an in the Bible section of the bookstore, don’t get sore. I read the Qur’an, don’t scold me. I know what I’m doing. This isn’t A Doll’s House, don’t treat me like Nora. America the city upon the hill is being bombarded by bursting bombs and sky-bumming buildings surrounded by smothering hazes of simmering smoke. America you say freedom isn’t free. Do you take credit cards? I’m afraid my life is beyond my budget. America my sacred duties aren’t to you, they’re to myself. America if you could see what I think in my head I would be in the electric chair faster than you can say Habeas Corpus. America my sacred mind thinks through things My sacred mind sings softly but smugly under a smothering surface. My sacred mind cracks cool whip for kicks. My sacred mind through things thinks My sacred mind burns with indignation while slipping on ice on the pavement, twice, twice. My sacred mind thinks things through. My sacred mind plays “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” on repeat with boundless sentimentality. My sacred mind has page 67 of Catch-22 embedded in the back realm for whenever I need it. My sacred mind thinks not of nothing never. My sacred mind is mine, mine, mine. America I left you for awhile, did you miss me? I missed you. I still miss you. America let’s hug again; become one again. America don’t you see? America beneath the roar of your hallowed engine, I sing for thee!
e didn’t know, he would never know. The cake twisted and curved, the icing like caterpillars squirming around the edges. Charles’ wife would never know either. She preferred the heroics, the stories of the march down the Champs Elysées as the whole army followed a glimpse of De Gaulle’s head, and best of all, the sight of Charles in uniform on his way to her house. Charles had left De Gaulle’s near assassination out of stories for her sake since she loved that man in all his exoticism. Yet she loved Charles, more than heroics, and so she stuck her square hand behind his back, pulling him towards her. They agreed with the first stiff swing of the hammock that they would get married. Many years later, yards from that hammock, their house sheltered four boys, named after his brothers and himself (Mike, Matt, Frank, and Charlie).
ll four sat across from him now, tossing their fingers across the wood table, watching the cake and their father’s eyes glittering. He smiled at the mark of life in each candle. “Make a wish. Need help blowing out the candles?”
Matt had always been the sensitive one. “He’ll be fine.” Mike denied things (he still refused to accept that his first girlfriend dumped him and not the other way around). “I’m going to count to three and then I’ll take a picture.” Frank wanted memories in all forms except those that were permanent inside his head.
t was Charlie’s turn to offer a word of gratitude or forecast the impending happiness for the next year of his father’s life. Instead Charlie sank in his chair, silent, his brown eyes forced further back. He remembered the vestiges of love. The memory appeared to him, initially, unfocused, like the clutter of Uncle Mike’s house. None of the uncles had children to share except Uncle Mike, who had only one child of his own, a woman in her early thirties who worked as an accountant in Colorado. The only time Charlie saw her was at Uncle Mike’s house on the day of Grandpa Heller’s funeral. Her mahogany hair, trimmed into a combed pixie cut, reminded Charlie of old black and white movies. This sole cousin skated out of the house before any deeper knowledge could come of the experience. The rest of the kids were left to scavenge for themselves. His brothers’ whereabouts could not be determined (it was probably the night of their first real drink, a stolen trip to a curb a block away with other equally rebellious mourners and a cup of vodka to share). During the funeral reception, Mom and Dad separated at first to deal out sympathies to relatives who could barely remember their faces, but they drifted back to each other within half an hour. Standing on her toes, Mom raised her long makeup-less face to Dad’s black collar. He allowed her to whisper a comment directly into his ear, words that required a close proximity due to their inappropriate nature. As Mom crushed her block of yellow hair, biting her natural lips into color, Dad laughed privately with his hands in his pockets, diving his head down in shame to smother the noise. Charlie’s imagination tossed possible conversations: “Aunt Virginia’s skirt is see-through. She’s on your left. Don’t be obvious. I’ll look right and you get a quick look.” “Why do I need to see this?” Then the laughter. Or: “I need a fucking drink. I mentioned us living together before we were married to Great-Aunt Emma.” “You didn’t see her giant cross? She’s 90 pounds. It takes up her entire body.” “I was too distracted by her death stare. I didn’t see it until after the fact.” Then the laughter.
which scratched his back. There was a tide of comfort, like the tucking in of sheets, that set in with the apparent happiness of his parents. Actually, they never tucked him in except when he ordered them one night to do so, and even then he received blank eyes and scrunched noses. Dad trod solemnly to Charlie’s bed as if he was performing a coronation under order of death. Mom hung on the other side, angular hands intertwined, her almond eyes half shut to strategize the next movement. No one needed to talk; they would build on each other’s silence like the creation of a story passed along the campfire. Charlie’s covers mummified him; Dad ensured any mobility impossible, including the ability to unravel in the shiftless morning. Charlie exempted them from further ceremonies, insisting it was the best for all of them—including the covers. he family gathered, tucking themselves nearer around the table. He didn’t know, he would never know, Charlie thought as he eyed his father, a laughing mop of wrinkles. Vietnam. Saigon. The search for his hometown friend, ending, as always, in vain—he’d searched every shrub, every place a friend could be hidden except under the ground. His father blew out the candles, sputtering a cold breath across the table towards his sons. He enjoyed this moment between the wish and the cutting of the cake; Charles would always belong to the era of birthday parties, Truman and Normandy (a won battle, all of them). His was the generation that built tanks from melted spoons—or so Charlie dreamed when he was a boy overhearing war stories from everybody but his father. Outside, a bird chirred, gravely alone. The veterans had warned him: “Every time you hear a bird chirp and leaves rustle…” But Charlie had told them, “I’m a different breed.” What did he think he was, a golden retriever? Ten years later, he still sunk lower in his chair whenever he heard a damn bird. ho wants a piece?” the wife and mother asked, holding the knife above the cake in the art of surgery. It was a beautiful cake. It danced. They would all eat it, fall under its spell, and talk again like before wars and attrition. She had packed away the hammock (its skeleton was weaker than hers), but she would put it up tomorrow. Perhaps all by herself, she might make it a surprise for all of them, waking in their old beds, restored, a hammock waiting outside for them to sleep or read on. He didn’t know, he would never know; the father complied, recalling the Champs Elysées and the German snipers nesting above in the grooved, ancient rooftops. The Vichy collaborators shot, as many as the candles, hurling upwards in smoke. Charles and Charlie stared across the table, silent against the chatter that sounded around them. But, as Charles accepted a piece of cake with a nod, that would be all right. i
he vestiges of love—not marked by the quasi-religious symbolism of a ring on a finger or children resembling both of them. Charlie had basked in the attention as he nibbled on a ham sandwich and leaned against the couch,
OUT oF TIME: Return From the Black Sea
part from the echoes of white noise sifting through the tall wooden doors, there was not a quiver of motion outside the pillars of the great hall; not even the flag swayed from its place halfway up the pole. The day’s drizzle had retracted into a brittle glaze of ice at the corners of the pavement. The air was just as thin and somewhat electric, a burning cold stillness in its breath. A mile or so away in any given direction, there were people—deep within the insulation of their dwellings, wrapped in sleeping bags, in front of the television, alive—but there, in the blackness of the old downtown, the only sign of light or life radiated from within the auditorium. Anxiety roiled in each and every stomach inside the hall, though few paid the feeling any mind; acknowledging one’s dreams had long held consequences, and despair threatened to spill from behind the blinds one might draw in search of brightness. Nevertheless, it was the anticipation of the music which had compelled them to brave the streets on that frigid November evening, and which now fueled the hushed excitement that grew as the people shuffled toward their musty velvet seats. William Clark, a forty-year-old critic, sat crossing and uncrossing his legs near the aisle of the second row. He was becoming impatient. From this close to the stage, he would be able to see and hear everything: each pious strum and every unpredictable lyric, uttered against the grain, a challenge to the forces of oppression, a rebirth of the passion—he stopped himself
there. It was going to make for a rich write-up. For the first time in over thirty years, the man known as Peter Frye was to emerge from the abyss of anonymity, to play a single show. No one quite knew what to expect. This was the city in which the troubadour had found a voice, first by singing the songs of the poets who had come before him, and later by molding them into his own. His raw voice pierced any pretense; his lyrics captured the subtleties of the common citizen’s life while it growled at the privileged; his bright and heavy guitar sound was unforgiving; and always, his harmonica rang with a youthful cry. That was one winter before the first trenches were dug. In a violent blur of time that hardly resembled a year, Frye was immortalized on the screens of the media, swept into the centrifugal whirlwind of the growing counterculture. That autumn, when the momentum reached a head, there was a march on the capitol city, concentrating around the government building, which was dubbed the “White Mountain” amongst the crowd. Millions chanted “Brave the tide, shake the Mountain”—it was half defiance and half reverence, an obvious allusion to Frye’s song, “Are the Tides on Your Side?” The country had adopted Peter Frye’s voice as its own. His face became the ever-changing face of the people, his song the symbol of a nation. He was called by several names—Troubadour of the Tracks, the Thracian Challenger; he would be the one, above all others, to demolish the mountain, and with it the threat of war. But while his reputation preceded him wherever he went, while his image was omnipresent, the mortal being became reclusive, and before anyone noticed, the world lost track of Peter Frye. Stories spread of how he’d been killed—stabbed and drowned by fanatics or swallowed by the Mountain, as good as dead—they might as well have been true. His disappearance was baffling to most, although ceaseless speculation attempted to demystify it. In the depths of February, the first launches were ordered, to the nation’s horror. Its voice was silenced, the wind swindled from its sails, and the face of its savior all but forgotten. The man was gone, and the people, abandoned, interrogated his ghost. William Clark had not made a reputation out of writing about ghosts or gods. Sure, to most people Frye was either a runaway or an exile, but tonight he was a man with a responsibility, a destiny which he had returned to fulfill—but he was late, and the audience leaned ever closer to the front of the hall. Clark’s pen found a beat on his notepad sixty times, his heart forty, before at last the curtain jerked, swayed, and parted. The house lights cut out as if they had been swiped by a wave, and a dim glow followed like smoke from the stage. People heard the music’s first gesture before they could see anything. But it was neither a chord nor a note—it was the dull crash of a symbol. It rang twice, and then a third time. Clark was beside himself. A band? This was Peter Frye, playing with a—a fourth crash interrupted. Then all at once, a clamor of strings rang out; bass, guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, banjo. The progression began, a folksy one, two, three chord strum, then falling back to the tonic, each time lingering there a few beats longer. The writer could now make out six figures on stage, each draped over their instrument. As best he could tell, Peter Frye was in the middle of them, his head toward the floor; with a tilt of his neck, the shadowy musician sang into a black microphone. The voice
The man was gone,
and the people, abandoned, interrogated his ghost. resonated from a distant place within the man’s twisted, aging body; by the time it stretched over cables, squeezed through the huge speakers, and trickled into William’s ears, the words were nearly unintelligible. Pondering what he could put together of the verse, he realized it was a song he knew—not Frye’s at all, but a plain, authorless traditional! Not a masterpiece charged with inspiration, but “A Wind in the Clouds”:
Would I could, I’d be a wind in the clouds, Would I could, I’d be a wind in the clouds, Yes, a wind in the clouds, ain’t no more mountain now… Fly high away from those mountain towns
Absorbing what he heard, Clark was as dazed as he was angry. Belligerently he scribbled to himself. What meaning could he derive from this? “A flop, a fraud! Spineless performance, inscrutable, washed up—and this trivial song, why? Where is the voice, the command? Where is Peter Frye?” He pieced together another verse: Would I could I’d stand on my hands, Would I could I’d stand on my hands, I would rest my calloused bones, I could stand on my own, Join me a steel-pickin’ band… Not a word had been rewritten, not a syllable reimagined. This was nowhere near the performance Clark had envisioned: it was supposed to lift people’s heads from the slump of hardship. His leadership was supposed to return expression to a faceless nation, one person at a time. Instead he was mocking himself, mocking a need. Nothing would come of this, any way William looked at it. Not a spark. Forever, the verses seemed to drone on, until he realized that nearly twenty minutes had passed. Oh I ain’t no hammerin’ man No I ain’t no hammerin’ man He’ll hammer what he can, there’s nowhere left to stand He’ll die with just a hammer in his hand He lifted himself from the seat, and resolutely made his way toward the exit, so dismayed by his inner void that the idea of the frozen air outside could not deter him. He would go on to write a review which would be noticed scarcely more than a fire in the sun. Clark did not see the face of the man sitting above him as he passed beneath the lip of the balcony. Nor could he have seen it, had he tried: the face belonged to a hardened, older man by the name of John Lunsford, who did not occupy the same room the young man had just left. As far back as he sat, John couldn’t make out any words, and his eyesight didn’t help either; but none of that mattered to him.
No I ain’t no hammerin’ man
ohn Lunsford had lived in a small town most of his life, where Peter Frye was the name of something which existed in a mythical place, along with the great poets and the people of folklore. When he came to the city for work, along with countless others, Frye’s music was everywhere, as the troubadour had only just vanished. John had no personal acquaintance with the man behind the music, but had felt that they were, somewhere along the line, related. Now, as the memory of those first years in the city began to take on a faded amber hue, his own hands cracked from years of labor, John had finally reached that place of myth, where men breathed the same air as legends. Tonight, the auditorium was the only place he could be. The band strummed away at the same song, verse after verse, tireless. The singer’s voice was twisted and inscrutable. His face, sunken with age, was not the same as the one which had been stolen for the posters of revolution. His guitar sounded distant, the wood dry. Everything about him seemed to be covered by a thick film, as if he’d walked for thirty years through a desert to come here and sing this song. Then he raised a harmonica to his lips, drew a long breath, and blew a shining, dissonant chord that illuminated the room. Instantly, all the dust and obscurity fell aside as the hall began to change; the high ceiling and walls swelled and fell away, and the icy sidewalks and skyscrapers beyond evaporated. John felt long grass underneath, even longer than it grew at his childhood home. Still one could hear the harmonica’s wail, rising and falling, but where Frye had stood was no longer a dilapidated old man: to see him was impossible, for one could not capture a clear image. John looked and saw a dark man in ragged coveralls. He had never seen the man before, but all the same he understood that this was the author of “A Wind in the Clouds.” Straining for a better look, he discovered not a man, but a woman, wearing heavy coats and a black veil over her face. Even through her moth-bitten layers, John knew she was the Russian painter and revolutionary Adriana Amatova, who had been imprisoned and executed. Then, his eyes burning with curiosity, he thought he glimpsed someone he knew better than all the rest: he saw himself, dressed in a long, white robe. But while the man onstage seemed to be the mirror image of John Lunsford, the figure was Orpheus, the ancient poet, lyre in hand, his body whole. Just then the harmonica reached the end of its breath and subsided, catapulting John Lunsford back into his seat with the rest of the crowd. All at once the song ended on the same chord with which it had begun. The symbol hissed, and the room stood firm around once again. Everyone sat in silence for a moment, before surging to their feet with applause. It was for John as it was for everyone else in the room. The Thracian Poet had never fully existed until that moment; he had truly become the wind, and for a short time lifted the people with him, above the oppressive steel city and the world around it—away from fear, away from the White Mountain. An old man stood motionless on stage, in the middle of the band, and what appeared to be a smile passed over what once again resembled a face. Apart from the echoes of applause sifting through the tall wooden doors, there was
not a quiver of motion outside the pillars of the great hall. Suddenly, a lone figure broke the stillness. His strides, steady and swift, resounded on the concrete, heading straight for the great hall. Behind him followed a strong wind, born from the loins of an autumn long past. The figure was William Clark, and he brought with him the knowledge of the momentous events which had come to pass since he had exited the same doors not thirty minutes before. As he passed the flagpole before the steps, he thought of how he would break the news. He imagined how the relief of the warâ€™s end would sweep over the people like a rushing tide. But they already knew.
-After Ovid, Akhmatova, Yevtushenko, Lunsford, Dylan, and those voices which are never heard.
Michael Daniel Lee
5th St. First Congressional Church steps sit 4 steps from the god step as wind steps gently through my bones carrying my skin to the heart center of a breath breeze flak jacket lung smoke and rib meat are meeting each other for the first time as gusts of god cover us gently me and my smoke cloaked brother. Nothing embraces us and his children smile gently as god whispers through their hair respiration is beautiful when you know it exists and you sit inside of it letting it swallow you whole.
Memior â€˘ Max Mose
The History of Battles
the meager warrior stands atop the crest of the hill i think there were buttercups he then suckles at the boo boo on his index, and shouts plainly "thou concurrently forthwith vanquished foe!! something something...what do i say here??" nevermind this meager warrior. i liked the buttercups.
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Junot Diaz visited the U in the fall of 2008. Here are some things he said.
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d u mtbaan seto s trying m u s ml a rTrying t eone st . onto the laywas trying doing with . Part of who you fied veryou are is given moing readour practo our any moral t h i n k ton. by G. Was K. Who Morrison; King; Sula The Stand Heart of . . Joseph list of tape off a a bit of It’s like f a v o r i t e zone. and let me going to of these doors . . o v e r . s ciou sthat your so deep zone. When got to be get you, read after people are ally get a Writing! ing about find most read too fact that . . or if have stuck thing I ly stuck because I I wonder incredibly something zarre to be for taking strong caname, and I with like, t i t this? lWhat e , this book myself. I c o m p a s was a huge per. But more than el with ed out erance cess. t e r m mateiIt’s nfor es your head the shit is. to how bad. And that this someone what helps crap. . to . the rest was a . . iget All w r t e I s the way write fereading. is an outis Itop read. ber the w oul dcard none ’5. t ty, being dance
“It’s not the material in your head that determines your success. It’s your tolerance for failure.” “School is safe. Why is it so safe? It means you don’t have to come up with a narrative about yourself. . . . Don’t apply to graduate school unless you’ve been working four years. A professor of mine told me, go get your heart broke in three continents. I went, ‘Hmm. . . wish I could afford that.’ Some people have to go break their hearts in three neighborhoods.”
“The Internet hasn’t really helped people be friends.”
“Each of us lucky enough to be in the University stands in for 1,000 people better than us. So what do we do with our privelige? We do WORK.” “If you’re not lost in your creation, you’re probably in trouble. If you’re not lost, somebody would have already found it.
You don’t discover that you’re an artist when you do something well. You discover you’re an artist when you’re utterly disappointed & dispaired & a failure & screwing up. Don’t give up.” “Guys, creative writing classes are kind of neat and shit, but... writers who stand out are not spending their whole entire lives in institutions. I’m not saying that you have to go out and be a Jack London. . . . But there is something deeply damaging about spending your entire life in school.”
“Human beings are hierarchical, even artists and alternative people.” “The part of the arts that is so wonderful is that every time someone thinks I’m going to put the saddle of activism on, the horse is going to buck it off. Art is too complicated for that one-to-one correspondence. It doesn’t respond to your desires. It seems to do stuff based on access to the deepest parts of our brain.”
“Art is an incredibly tricky little mongoose.”
Patrick B. Anderson was born and raised in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis. He aspires to write for newspapers. His interest in writing comes from a curiosity about life and a penchant for telling stories. He likes simply-written prose that combines humor and tragedy—much like life. Patrick is inspired by Frederick Exley, John Fante, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemmingway. Britta Bauer grew up in a Minneapolis suburb and now spends her time away from the cities on a farm in southern Minnesota. She knits one scarf each winter.
Zach Binsfeld hails from the small suburb of Rockford, Minnesota, but has retired from being a hick. Poetry for him is a creative release, allowing him to breathe between the waves of cynicism that crush him in his sociological and philosophical studies. Broc Blegan’s role as an artist is to expose society’s inherent contradictions, creating space for reflection and dialogue. Instead of pursuing absolute truths, his art offers complexity, ambivalence, and at times, aggressive confrontations with the status quo. The emphasis on critique is rooted in Broc’s belief that the world can change, that there is always hope for positive progress. Megan Borgert-Spaniol knows very little about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She is pretty sure they really like pizza. Jade Bové is a stand-up dude, except for when he’s laying down. Then he is a lying dude, as are most fiction writers. Jade enjoys the occasional Segway ride around town and standing behind the handsome cab horses with a lighted match. He is also quite handsome and has a house plant named Gordon. Mark Brenden was born in the rolling prairie of eastern South Dakota where you could see for two miles any direction you looked, which has quite a developmental impact on your psyche. Tim DeYoung says hi. Bethany Dick’s photographs are a peephole into her daydream world. She creates her visions by setting up elaborate scenes (with help from her sister and boyfriend). Bethany creates photographs because she likes looking at them, and she hopes you enjoy them too.
Joann Dzon is a second-year student studying Graphic Design and Art. She is currently the Advertising Chair for Bailey Hall Council and a UROP Grant recipient. Some of the things she loves most are tiny dogs, feathers, typography, cooking, and her Mama and Tata. Ben Etten began drawing four years ago and was always terrified of making a mistake. He labored over simple pencil sketches for days, erasing until the paper began to fall apart. It wasn’t until he began using pen that Ben ever felt like he was truly drawing. The moment the ink hits the paper it becomes a part of the image, and you just have to be okay with it. It sounds so strange, but that permanence is incredibly freeing. Beth Fosler thinks that on a daily basis, many things will go well and some things may go wrong, but we can never seem to remember them if we leave our camera sitting on the charger. Lucia Hawley is a senior with a major in Psychology and minor in Spanish Studies. She plans to graduate Fall of 2009 and has a few ideas about her future. Lucia would like to congratulate the Ivory Tower on its pristine choosing abilities and hopes that the world is a better place now that “Morning Bed Sheets” has been published. It is a grave and conquering look at the carnage of unmade beds everywhere. Kaylord Hill’s journey to the University of Minnesota has been an unconventional one. He transferred from a school down south, Millsaps College. Spring semester of 2008, he traveled to the Twin Cities to participate in Metro Urban Studies Term, which is a poverty, inequality, and social justice-oriented program hosted by HECUA. It was that drastic transformation in his life that prompted Kaylord to make his stay in Minnesota a permanent one. Poetry is actively entwined in his journey, because he has developed and cultivated himself through its jargon. To all lovers of poetry: Poetry’s language forces itself upon you like a third parent that persistently molds and shapes you. Emma Johnson grew up in Houghton, Michigan. She holds a BFA in Painting and Photography from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and a BA in English from the University of Minnesota. When she is not reading academic articles she enjoys watching trash TV and going ice skating. She also really likes tacos and has an obsession with fluorescent pink Hi-Liters. Currently, she is pursuing a career in graphic design.
Katelyn Dokken has lived in seven different towns in the Midwest and is obsessed with writing about all of them. She graduates Spring 2009 and is ready for the next adventure.
Kate Johnson transferred to the University of Minnesota last spring and has since begun to focus on figure drawing and creating large acrylic paintings on foam core. See more of her work at http://www.wix.com/katelynjohnson/Katelyn-Johnson. Joe Kane was born and raised in a suburb of St. Paul. He enjoys taking a serendipitous approach to art, which can be found all over the great state of Minnesota. He is currently concentrating more on interactive pieces involving electronics and computer programming. Kalen Keir was born and raised in and the first to be launched over the Atlantic by the U.S. Navy’s “Man in Flight” program. He was sorely missed, but soon became a favorite in high circles of English society, known best for his portrayal of the American customs most in vogue through shadow puppetry and lively song. However, Kalen was soon cast out, once more by way of the cannon, as he was prone to a sweet tooth and had eaten the king’s pantry clean of Turkish Delights and candied fruits. One can find him if he or she looks far West on a clear day; look for a shining white beard, reaching out as far as the Rocky Mountains and gently stroking the southern Mexican Coast. Tat’Yana Kenigsberg was born in Belarus and is an Art major, interested in pursuing a Masters in Architecture. She loves to dance and is a snob when it comes to her coffee. Tissana Kijsanayotin’s friends call him TK because of his long name. He is a senior in Electrical Engineering and is an international student from Bangkok, Thailand. He enjoys traveling and photographing places that he has never been to. Vadim Lavrusik hurt no apples during the authorship of this poem. He was careful to make sure no serious injuries were caused. He is a fruit activist who someday hopes to change the Constitution and become the first non-U.S. born President. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Minnesota Daily. Michael Daniel Lee is a writer of fiction. He has thoughts. Also, short sentences. He doesn’t think that god should be capitalized as doing so confines this concept to the weakness of anthropomorphism; moreover, to write about god factually at any point is to confine this power, and to even engage in so much as writing about writing confining it, is to confine, although to a lesser extent. So hypocritical this scolding must seem, however Michael must assure you that god has more power when there is no capital letter at the beginning. It is important that one remembers to capitalize Nothing. Michael is less important when capitalized. Michael is easily tied down. He always capitalizes his name, because he is not that important. Michael can be tied down. He capitalizes Nothing.
Scott Long was born in Minneapolis on January 10, 1989. He went to Ridgewater College as a PSEO student in his eleventh grade year and the University of Minnesota in his twelfth grade year. He has been in a couple of bands since seventh grade. Scott’s first pseudo-success was a band called Sliver, in which he sang lead and played guitar. He sings and plays guitar and harmonica in a band called Sasquatch Mountain. Scott writes music and lyrics. He enjoys spending time in a natural environment, and he hopes to one day move to Washington. Scott plans to graduate in Spring 2010, after which he will marry his fiancée. P J Maracle is an Art History major who hopes to someday be able to work in a curatorial capacity while continuing to create art on his own. Max Mose was born in 1985 in Chicago. He is self-taught in the ways of cartooning. In addition to majoring in English, Marlene Moxness, is working on minors in French and Biology, while working as a teaching assistant in the School of Public Health. Her work has previously appeared in Ivory Tower. She believes all great work can be kept under 2,000 words. Though she appears hip, Marlene actually harbors an encyclopedic knowledge of 1990s cartoon theme songs. If you are not funny, you are dead to her. Billy Mullaney is by far the most attractive contributor to the Ivory Tower. Brady Nyhus was born in an age before the Internet mattered, but has lived long enough to see his entire world affected by it. He is a Marketing/Advertising double major, whose interests include running, writing, polar bears, and people-watching. While his current choice of majors does not suggest it, Brady Nyhus still has dreams of one day living on your television set—perhaps giving the evening news. (He thanks you for taking the time to read this autobiographical statement.) Sara Paul is a female senior Art student at the University of Minnesota. She is currently striving to create art regarding sensitive subjects about women and identity. She hopes to one day float around in a hot air balloon and plans to continue to paint with unused Super Kotex Tampons. David Peterka is from a small town in South Dakota (population 1,500 and declining). He spends a lot of time helping with and playing music with the local musicians collective, Anti-Civ Records. He loves hitchhiking adventures, black labs, eating for free, and avoiding paying rent. He needs to live in the desert sometime soon. His mother inspires him more than anything else. Erin Poljanac is an aspiring writer, because she cannot understand science, hates math, and wants Ernest Hemingway to bow down to her in Heaven (or where-ever he may be).
Ryan Rasmussen has spent all of his time and all of his treasures, even to the dislike of others, doing the things that he loves. Alexandra Riley began writing at the age of four. She mastered her name by fire and has since blossomed in many ways. Writing is practical, functional—much like the grid plan. She graduates into vagabondery in May of 2009, and plans to continue honing her orthography skills. Sam Robertson likes to hang out and make things. That’s about it. Deniz Rudin is a half-Turkish child of college professors and a grandchild of some too, born in the fields of Nebraska in 1989 on the day that Abraham Lincoln was shot and the Titanic hit its iceberg, which means that he is 19 years old and that he is troublesome; though he will not be the guy who finishes you off (Lincoln died and the Titanic sank the day after he was born), you should nonetheless be wary of Deniz, because he set the thing in motion (Note: to fully comprehend the sinister quality of that last statement you should think of the verb “set” in the present tense instead of the past). Sarah Stackley is a third-year student studying Social Justice, Chicano Studies, and English. Coming from De Pere, Wisconsin, her passions include dumpster diving, debating, and watching the worst zombie movies she can find. Sarah is currently one day away from losing her job but would love to bake cakes for money if anyone is interested. Scott Sundvall is a senior of excess in English and Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. His novel, Outlet or a Heaven Full of Televisions (Word Warriors Press), is lonely and wishes you would buy it, and if you must, read it. David Watson reads and writes stories. Daniel Weispfenning grew up in Winona, Minnesota, where he worked at a dollar store. Then Daniel went to college, where he aimlessly flopped around for a few years until he was an undecided junior and people started to look down on him. He is currently immunized against influenza, diphtheria, and rabies. Christopher Ziokowski is currently a sophomore enrolled in the CLA Honors program. Although he is studying Computer Science and Chinese with hopes of becoming an international intellectual property lawyer, he has always been interested in photography. Christopher had the opportunity to have his photograph “Garvin Heights” chosen for the Walker Art Center’s exhibition “Soap Box Factory” in 2006.
Acknowledgements This issue would not have been possible without the generous support of the Coca-Cola Activity Initiative, and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota. In addition to institutional support, the generosity of our advisors, partners, friends, and family help to keep the heart of the Ivory Tower beating.
thank you to our donors: Susu J. Bordiano • Genu Bordiano • Robert A. Gaertner • Prof. Shirley Garner • Sam Heins • Garrison Keillor • Jim Kunitz • Vincent J. Liesenfeld • Prof. Joyce S. Lyon • Laura B. Martin • Noah & Dania Miwa • Prof. Clarence E. Morgan • Lynda Olson • Michele D. Vaillancourt
a special thanks to:
Beverly Atkinson • Bohemian Press • Todd Boss • Julie Caniglia • Junot Díaz • Dislocate • Lin Enger • Linda Greve • Diana Heim • Lewis Hyde • Elizabeth Larson • Jim Lenfestey • Ann Linde • Laurie Lindeen • Brad Listi • Eric Lorberer • Lisa Marshall • Steven McCarthy • Jeremy Messersmith • Dan Mrozowski • Ann Mulfort and the University Archives • Jim Novak • Emily Paulson • Paula Rabinowitz • Radio K • Julie Schumacher • Krzysiu Suszynski • Paul Taylor • William Waltz Robot Flower • Joe Kane
Published on Apr 30, 2009