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Katherine Villari and Sam Beasley || Editors-in-Chief Back cover by Sam Beasley info@lalluredesmots.com


Special thanks to... gastronomy.


As our lovely home likely turns into a soggy, windy mess, we delight in having something to keep our minds off hurricane season. And we couldn’t be happier to indulge in this escapism with you, lovely readers.


In this issue, we ruminate on our memories and lost possibilities, reconsider our promises, and find ourselves overcome with awe and awareness of our own realities. It’s dangerous out there, you’ll need some poetry.


Contents 10 10

Poetry Poetry A Door in the Spine Special Delivery by Matthew Antonio by Marina Kris

11 Magnolia 11 Joining Up W. Wild by Benjamin by John Grey 52 UnderPromise 35 The Orchid in his Kitchen by Marsha Singh by Cynthai Staples 53 The Months of Autumn 48 Penpals: 1 by J.P. Christiansen by Nahshon Cook 66 Bluebird Rain 50 When MyPesavento Eyes Are Closed by D.L.W. by Lisa Pellegrini 68 Finger Whispers 51 When the Guard Wasn’t Looking by D.L.W. Pesavento by Tony Magistrale 69 Indiscriminately 66 Six Contemporary Women by Peycho Kanev by Mitch Grabois 80 Armour 68 Cets MotsWard Pathetique by Anthony by Justin Rigamonti 99 Quietness 69 The Salesman by Peycho Kanev by Justin Rigamonti 100 A Leg in the Room 82 Posing by Matthew Antonio by Marina Kris


Fiction 97 loved 30 We Half Life the same woman by W. Wild by Benjamin Rebecca Dimyan 82 12

Fiction The Failures Fixation by Daniel Kenitz by Anthony Ward

84 Cubby 26 Boys They Lee Bring Her by Giacomo Down to Break Graham Tugwell 94 by A Catalogue of the Oondi Collection 96 A Sensation byUniversal Oliver Zarandi by Yarrow Paisley Artist Interviews Interviews 34 Artist Nicola Samorì 36 Oleg Dou by L’Allure des Mots by L’Allure des Mots Fashion 84 Krisar 12 Anders stephanie by L’Allure desbyMots photography Ronan Budec 54 16

Fashion Alone, Together Cool it! by Daniel photography photography Johannson by Sam Beasley

52 J Blue Man Groupie 70 Lady photography photography by by Xylux Sam Beasley 70 Concrete Jungle Video by Jason Bassett 64 photography I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman Video by L’Allure des Mots 64 Lola Revolver Bill Chen


Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Matthew Antonio lives and works in Fort Collins, more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Colorado, is the associate editor at em: A Review Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Columbia College of Text and Image, and can be found at www.litLiterary Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry tlemachines.net. His fiction and poetry has apReview, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The peared in publications such as and/or, Dogzplot, Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada and L’Allure des Mots. Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

Daniel Kenitz received his B.A. in Writing from Cardinal Stritch University in 2006. His commentary has appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and he is currently working on his first novel. He can be reached at www.danielkenitz.com.

Giacomo Lee’s short stories can be read at elegiacomo.tumblr.com. There’s his novel too, Red Trick, a dark künstlerroman set in a London of the near future. Upon reappearing from one of the Koreas, Giacomo’s been working and writing in a London of the near present, while a follow-up novel slowly sees the light of day.

DLW Pesavento hails from America’s Heartland, instilled with a mystic sense of the wondrous, writing poems and throwing them to the wind. Benjamin W. Wild: Farmer of Language, Poet, Binge Thinker, Forklift Driver, Professional Wanderer, Moustache Tamer, Grenadier. Contracted Writers Disease at an early age, which was remedied for a short time with television and banality abuse. Fell into remission after a brief encounter with a thing called Love, and has been hacking up language ever since. Has been committed to the Island Colony of Australia in the hope that the heat and lack of culture will cure him. Prognosis: Doomed.

Daniel K Johansson’s heart, roots and studio are in Småland, Sweden. www.dkj.se


Anthony Ward tends to fidget with his thoughts in the hope of laying them to rest. He has managed to lay them in a number of literary magazines including The Faircloth Review, The Pygmy Giant, Shot Glass Journal, Turbulence, Underground, The Bohemyth, Torrid Literature Journal and The Weekenders, amongst others.

Oliver Zarandi is a writer. He lives in London. He is interested in diseases, medical journals, criminals, murderers and cats. You can follow him on twitter - @zarandi - or email him directly at zarandi@live. com. Beef.

Rebecca Dimyan has a BA in English from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. Her published work includes short fiction, personal essays, news articles, and food journalism. Rebecca’s writing has appeared in the 2011 eLit silver medal winning anthology Memoir: Vol I published by eChook, MyOneSource.com, the Ampersand Review, and The Cupboard Magazine.

Ronan Budec is a half-French/half-German fashion and editorial photographer in Berlin, where he’s lived since birth. www.ronanbudec.com

Marsha Singh cooks great food and plays frisbee with her dogs in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Her poems don’t get out much, but she’s glad they’re here. J.P. Christiansen: The writer is Danish-American, the poet isn’t; the writes resides in America, the poet doesn’t The writer is of this place, then is of that place, everywhere looking for the poet.


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Poetry:

A Door in the Spine by Matthew Antonio

A door in the spine, an architecture of melting stone quick to move because when doesn’t it move? The fused foundation sinks heavily with uneven mountain spires, some tumbled, some dissolved, a fissure somewhere above the roof. It cradles the stone and the stone yields, the embrace limited to one absent peak, static on the mountain because it’s a peak, still until it’s encountered by a small, slow guest, a furrow of limbs strapped together with cracked mortar and there is a pretend seam. In the extremities of the guest the constituent pieces play at joining and their game is useful and still.

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Magnolia by Benjamin W. Wild

He met her under the magnolia tree, when it was one sun shy of blooming— the flowers a candelabra of purple fingers looming. He kissed her under the magnolia tree when it’s flowers were become, all purple tinted teacups over flowing with the honeyed milk of love. He had her under the magnolia tree as the petals came undone, and fell upon her lilac skin that swelled with sweet red blood. He buried her under the magnolia tree with the full moonshine above, and he married the girl to the magnolia tree— and the tree unto his love.


stephanie photography Ronan Budec model Stephanie Tscheslog

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dress G by Guess


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Fiction:

Half Life by Rebecca Dimyan

Alma wakes to a half empty bed. She anticipates the good morning of ocean air and fresh coffee, but she receives stale sheets and absence. A dead alarm clock idles on the nightstand table, dust glazed, forsaken. Alma counts twelve heartbeats before she begins the process of getting out of bed. She falls backwards into the body-shaped groove of the mattress, the indentation that hugs her in the night. After several failures, Alma succeeds in getting up. She attempts to stretch, but her joints, stubborn and arthritic, resist. Dreams come in shades of indigo. Somewhere between blue and violet, little girls run electric in the night; tendrils of midnight smoke comprise the sixth strand of memory. Daddy’s eyes bid her sweet dreams. Lips curl upwards to reveal cigarette yellow teeth. Lorrie is tucked safely next to her. Careless blue in the morning. Eyes watch like expectations, undress like calloused, blue collar hands. Alma makes her way to the bathroom with a stunted gait. White flecks of paint fall like gentle snow from the framed mirror, decorating a sink already swamped with mildewed puddles and rogue hairs. The mirror reflects an aged countenance, a wiry white bulb of hair and papery wrinkles; Alma sees a younger auburn-haired woman with eyes that are neither blue nor green, but a shade that Lorraine always compared to the pond on Amaranth. The Benton sisters looked nearly identical with the exception of their eyes. Alma chuckles as she remembers telling her younger sister that her eyes weren’t really brown, they were maple syrup. “That isn’t a real color, Alma. Cappy says they’re brown.” “He’s just saying that to make you happy. Dads do that.” That was Lorraine–lacking vision, everything objective, even at six. It drove her crazy that Alma’s eye color couldn’t be defined. “Come on Lorrie. Brown is so boring.” She continues staring into the depths of glass, all at once noticing a web of lines decorating her pale face. The eyes staring back at her assume a murky, sunken appearance. Who are you? She searches for the young woman she remembers too vividly. Fear settles into the folds of skin, pulling her expression into a strained, terrified mask. Her heart beats more quickly, confusing Alma further. “Lorrie! Come here,” Alma cries from the bathroom. Her plea is lost in the echoes of the empty house. “Lorrie. Come upstairs,” her voice scratchy from disuse. She pulls herself closer to the distorted image in the mirror, as if it’s simply her vision that is straining. Alma is close enough that her nose brushes the cold glass but the old woman still stares back. Tears sting and burn her eyes and paint her cheeks in damp smudges. “Lor? Lor? Please!” She calls out as she walks toward the stairwell. Hands pressed into the small of her back to ease the tense muscles, she asks through the tears, “Why aren’t you answering me, Lor?” Alma moves downstairs, labored steps muffled by thick beige carpet. “Come here, Lorrie,” she demands of the shadows. Frantically, Alma moves faster than her body allows. Tears blur her vision and as she cries out for her sister, she bumps hard into an ottoman. Alma falls. Indigo water. Falling in is cold. Ice cream is cold in pink, bubble gum mouths. Mouths taste of salt and cigarettes and sex.

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Minutes become hours in half a heartbeat. Alma measures time in heartbeats; she has no use for clocks—the ticking annoys her. Taking a shower=1500 heartbeats; eating breakfast=750 heartbeats. She knows that she is late for breakfast: a cocktail of pills, half a grapefruit, and a glass of orange juice. Mornings remind her of the bevy of ailments cluttering her life –high blood pressure, anemia, constipation, to name a few—she can’t even shit without the assistance of a little pill. Alma chokes them down with indignation; she resents each for what it represents: her ineptitude, her failing functions. Alma calls Dr. Maynard, and the nice Hispanic woman who works the front desk is able to squeeze her in for two o’clock. She returns to her bedroom, and walks into the closet stuffed with sweatshirts, blouses, skirts, pants, jackets, and shoes. Reaching for a navy blue jacket, Alma pauses. Why do I need this? She studies the pilling jacket, the white lint clinging to worn wool. Navy blue jacket. Clothes from last night. Yards of white, satin skin and white, satin sheets—where one ended, the other began an endless tangle of white. The navy blue jacket overstays. Redford overstays. Lorrie finds them. She stands there for several heartbeats holding the jacket. It protects her from wind and dreams. Alma puts it on and heads downstairs, taking each step slowly, carefully. ~ It has been years since Alma was considered a competent driver by the state of New York. Now she’s dependent upon public transportation. Initially, Alma found herself confused by the schedules and different lines, but, in time, she came to enjoy the congested subways and buses. She seeks the most crowded subway cars, looks to squeeze her untouched body into the tiniest space. She crams herself into a seat that hardly exists between two larger strangers, causes a scene with her loud sighs and grunts as she sits. Alma savors the foreign contact, the warmth of a stranger’s coat sleeve brushing against hers, the strangeness of human touch. They would see her, they would hear her; she makes sure of it. She takes the train uptown. Dr. Maynard’s office occupies an attractive brownstone on the corner of 83rd and Park Avenue. Lissome roses wrap themselves around a wrought iron fence enclosing the property. A manicured walkway leads to an entrance marked by gilded letters that reads Craig Maynard, M.D. The interior proves cold and sterile, a lobby stripped and exposed. A naked floor, raw, flesh colored wood, unfinished. A row of hard chairs, the same hue as the floor, face the dark-haired receptionist’s desk. Fluorescent lights reveal patchwork bruises and gray blue imperfections. Yes, everything about medicine is intrusive, right down to the lobby of the doctor’s office. Alma sits waiting to be seen. She had already wasted 520 heartbeats sitting in the lobby. She can’t help but notice a crying elderly gentleman and a middle-aged man. “I was so scared. I kept calling your name and you didn’t come!” he sobs into the chest of the younger man. “Pop, I’m sorry. I told you I had to go to the grocery store. Maria was with you, she heard you, she helped you.” “I don’t understand why you didn’t come. I was scared.” “It’s ok now, Pop. I’m here. I’m right here.” He rubs the old man’s back and pulls him closer to his chest. Bedtime stories—royal blue. Cappy’s shoulder a pillow, a pillow. Safe, safely royal blue until there is no


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more safety. Royal blue is the water that swallows Cappy. Royal blue is the color of orphans, the color that made a mother of a twelve year old. Lorrie, the sister-daughter. Dr. Maynard is a tall, lanky, sandy-haired man in his late forties. He wears black rimmed glasses, which make Alma feel safe. He smiles often, avoids small talk, and his hands are warm, three prerequisites that need to be met before Alma settles on any doctor, from podiatrist to optometrist. Dr. Maynard starts probing: needles and questions, questions and needles. “Alma, how are you feeling?” Four heartbeats. “Just fine, Doc. Never better.” Her skin burns under a constellation of age spots. “Lorrie left that damn ottoman askew again.” “Alma, you fell pretty hard. You must be very sore.” He examines a pattern of black, brown and blue decorating her knees. He continues, “We need to discuss something, Alma. I know we’ve gone over this before…” “I know what you are going to say, Doctor.” “Alma, the medication isn’t working, and you need help taking care of yourself. We’ve been putting this off, but it’s time. I’ll make the phone call to Glen Hill. They’ll send someone over to help you pack your things—they’re very good.” “Redford, I told you, I’m fine. Lorrie and I have each other. We don’t need you. No more, I don’t want to hear this again.” “Alma, I’m telling you this not just as your doctor, but as your friend.” “Enough! I won’t leave my home. Lorrie needs me.” She grabs her things and huffs out of the office. Dr. Maynard whispers to a nurse who glances after Alma and shakes her head. Lost in traces of midnight blue whispers. Redford whispers. I answer. Lorrie answers. She answers “I do.” I answer, “I don’t.” No matter. She can have him, him, him. SACRIFICE. Sacrifice childhood, lovers, and dreams. Not really dreams. Dreams belong to the midnight blue. I am midnight blue. Judging by the high, direct bulb of sun, Alma approximates the time is early afternoon. Dr. Maynard’s office is only two blocks from Ollie’s Diner. She leaves frazzled and anxious and crosses the street as quickly as she can. Deep gray clouds bloom like bruises in the sky and people in business suits and oversized jerseys with baseball caps and flowing skirts rush past Alma, moving around her and through her and over her like she is a shadow. Blasting horns puncture the atmosphere. I’m moving, I’m moving everyone. Crossing street=120 heartbeats. Cappy always said patience is a virtue. She passes a park where empty soda cans thrive like dandelions, and derelicts sleep on benches branded with graffiti. Alma remembers days spent in the park with Lorraine. Every June St. Stephen’s Church held their month long carnival in the park at the center of town. Lorrie loved the tireless, predictable circles of the carousel, so conventional and safe. Alma, on the other hand, liked the wilder, gravity defying rides. It made perfect sense: Lorrie believed in things like building fires on snowy afternoons; Alma believed in dancing in the rain and the ideology of fireflies. Blue gray rain. Rain soaked bodies make love when they shouldn’t. Should Not. Should not love him, him, him. Redford is Him. Making blue gray love to Redford in the rain. Lorrie doesn’t know. Does not. Did not. Did. She is late for round two of pills, and she experiences a familiar tug in her gut. She ignores it and continues walking towards a homeless man selling roses on the corner. Alma usually shuns peddlers. “Ma’am, you interested in some flowers?” He has about as many teeth as she does.

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“Maybe. How much for a dozen?” “Seven.” “I don’t know about seven, they’re nice, but…” “Five.” “Ok then.” She digs deep into her pockets, pulling out a collection of crumpled used tissues, mint tictacs, and finally, five wrinkled dollar bills. “Here you go, enjoy them Ma’am.” “They’re for my sister. Do you know what today is?” The peddler isn’t listening. He has already found another potential customer in a smartly dressed businessman. Alma pauses for a moment before she realizes the man is not heading back in her direction; she appraises the bouquet and continues toward Ollie’s Diner. She inhales the incarnadine blossoms and lets the smell prickle her nostrils. A young couple strolls hand in hand past Alma. She wants to warn them: dreaming is pointless, happily ever after is a load of Disney crap, but she refrains. She is anxious to get to Lorrie, to Ollie’s Diner. Alma passes a pond complete with ducks and children with bread scraps and barking dogs and toy sailboats. She watches the trees standing like sentries around the water. For a moment, she stops walking and stands still. Lorrie. I’m late. But where am I going? She turns in circles, confused, searching, searching for what, for whom? She spins and spins until she grows dizzy and collapses. She throws her head back, tears squeeze through tightly shut eyes. She opens them in time to see a skein of geese gliding across the gilded face of a sun. Alma cries. Indigo tears slide down indigo cheeks. Lorrie loves him, he loves her, she loves Alma, Alma loves Lorrie. Indigo tears are pain; pain is forgiveness. Lorrie forgives her mother-sister. Alma is indigo tears. I am Alma. “Ma’am, you okay?” A young man, twenty-something with a sweatshirt and backpack crouches down next to Alma. He helps her stand and offers a guiding arm. “Where you trying to go?” “Meeting my sister, Lorrie.” She looks at the boy. “It’s her birthday today. We always meet at…at..” “A restaurant maybe? A coffee shop?” Alma concentrates. “Ollie’s!” She smiles at the boy. “That’s just down the block. I’ll walk with you, I’m headin’ that way.” “What a nice fellow.” She holds out the bouquet of roses. “Do y’ think she’ll like them?” “Sure.” He smiles affectionately at Alma and walks with her to the small corner diner with wilted red awnings and white scrolled letters. “Thanks, young man.” Alma hesitates to let go of the boy’s arm, savoring the warmth of his sweatshirt. “It’s nothin’.” He leaves without another glance. Alma walks into Ollie’s. A white haired gentleman with indigo eyes greets her. “Hi Alma. How’re you today?” “Fine. Is she here? Have I kept her waiting long?” The indigo deepens like the ocean in winter. “She probably hit traffic. I’ll wait in our booth.” She takes a seat by the window at a booth in the back of the restaurant. It overlooks a parking lot. A plastic bag, caught in the fingers of a birch, ripples like a white flag in the wind, like white roses on neglected graves. Alma sits and waits. She counts seventy heartbeats.


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Artist profile:

Nicola Samorì Nicola Samorì is an artist living and working in Bagnacavallo, Italy. You can see more of his work at www.nicolasamori.com. LAdM: Describe your creative process. Samorì: At first there is an image, which is usually clean and all put together, the result of periods and artists who used to live convinced of their actions. I watch it, court it, reduplicate it and kill it. That’s all. How much of yourself is visible in your paintings? Nothing, I hope. I like to think of painting as something which is separate from its author, which is, in a sense, independent and can survive regardless of biography. That’s what happens with most works from ancient times. Today we tend to indulge in biographism, which is bad, trying to find anecdotes, scandals and matters like that all the time. Several people, on seeing me in person, feel the urge to tell me they actually expected to meet a different person and I feel relieved.

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L’Allure des Mots 37

Maddalena, 2010. Oil on wood. 70 x 50 cm.


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Is painting an emotional experience for you? Sure, otherwise I wouldn’t spend most of my time on it. It’s such a boring experience during which you always have to create something new to shake the image. That’s exactly what makes it such a charming and varied practice. Do you ever hesitate before the “destruction” of your paintings? All the time. It’s hard to destroy patience, but the desire to do that always gets the better. Why do you choose to depict people in your work, as opposed to other subjects? I dwell inside a human body and it is altogether natural I produce simulacra that reflect it. I keep feeling everything else as exotic and irrelevant even if I’ve tried many a time to explore different subjects. Do you feel nature is inherently violent? I don’t. Violence is a character that has been transferred to nature by man the same way we’ve done with God. We’ve developed kind of a conscience that applied to the stirring of pain and trouble has assumed the form of violence. We are nature’s mistake, or an antidote, kind of an awakening, perhaps.

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Pretesto per Splendore, 2011 Oil on copper 100 x 100 cm


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Ogni estasi è indecente, 2011 Oil on copper 100 x 100 cm

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Terzi, 2010 Oil on wood 106 x 91 cm


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Irene scopre l’Informale, 2012 Oil on linen 200 x 150 cm

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Leprosario, 2013 Oil on wood 90 x 75 cm


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“We are nature’s mistake, or an antidote,

Pillow, 2012 Oil on wood 32 x 21.5 x 5 cm

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kind of an awakening, perhaps.”

Virgo, 2012 Oil on wood 27 × 19 cm


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Leibl, 2011. Oil on wood. 27 x 19 cm.

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Reverso, 2011. Oil on wood. 200 x 150 cm.


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What are you working on currently? I’m trying to distance myself from the museum and widen my perspective. Today, besides the work of art, there are also those who surround it, those who contemplate it, those who create it, those who destroy it. Some kind of healing of the obsessed which will be on show at the Christian Ehrentraut Gallery in Berlin this coming October. Do you have a favorite poem? I don’t, but lately I’ve quite enjoyed the poems contained in Espana by Théophile Gautier.

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L’esitazione di Girolamo, 2012 Oil on wood 40 x 30 cm


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at left: Tower, 2012 Oil on linen 200 x 100 cm

above: The Limits of Control, 2012 Oil on copper 100 x 100 cm


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L’Allure des Mots 53 God turns all these things to the best, 2011 Oil on wood 35 x 65 cm


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Poetry:

UnderPromise by Marsha Singh

This is what he promised me: August, and berries that fell right into my hands; he promised me handstands. He promised me bees, he said the nights would smell sweet and wet flower petals would stick to my toes. He said I’d just know. He promised me sparrows, and switchgrass that crept past the hem of my skirt. He promised me clean dirt, and hard work. He promised an August that I’d always remember, then stayed ‘til November.

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The Months of Autumn by J.P. Christiansen

Overpromise, with dead berries, in November – not exactly a ground, for handstands. She promised wine, without the bee-sting poison, and nights without sticking toes. What did I know, after a look, past skirt-hem, and sparrows chirping, sweetly? It was hard work, alright, with dirt clinging to pores, and months written by autumn. She made sure the stay was short.


photography Daniel K. Johansson (www.dkj.se) styling Stefanie Ravelli (www.9cmherotic.com) makeup and hair Elin Carlsson models Carolina Thelin at Swedenmodels, Johanna Petersson at Zap Models assistant Simon R.

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dress Tabernacle Twins shoes Zara


top Tabernacle Twins


on Carolina, dress Tabernacle Twins on Johanna, jumpsuit C. Kummelstedt


dress Tabernacle Twins shoes Zara


jumpsuit Cheap Monday


Video:

I Sing the Body Electric (Part 5) by Walt Whitman An audiovisual interpretation by the editors of L’Allure des Mots

3 minutes, 13 seconds Press play to view video


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REPLACE THIS CODE

[time?] Scan to view video


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Poetry:

Bluebird Rain by D.L.W. Pesavento

I secret-rendezvous with you: The garden-ripening tomato’s green door, Opening red near the rhubarb; sunlight Canopy-filtering lime through grapevine leaves Chlorophyll-incubating burgundy eggplant Hatching cerise desires, ma cherie. Come, join us, they said, and I went Among the lavender phlox, listening For zucchini arrivals and turning celery keys Plunging my xylem and phloem carrot fingers Deep into the rich black soil to reach you Through the back-door dog door Into the kitchen of your heart Where you stand, leaning over the sink Sea-nymph hands foamed in dishwater Where you mop, wearing only an apron Where you choose, from 28 coffee cups Hung on the wall, the mug labeled Italy Where you sweep, willow-swaying your hips Where you sit, sipping honey-jasmine tea Munching dark walnut fudge brownies Your fire-forest hair igniting the atmosphere Permeated with pumpkin pie perfume. I followed your pheromone trail scent; Tangerine-butterscotch lingering bedroom anisette musk Silk-pillow rose vanilla cream tremulous Cotton-candy pink within your crushed red-velvet room Sibilant-hushed by sepia negligee sienna whispers Satin-meshed against hunny-cunny curl freshets Gracilis-rivulet trickling down onto the sheet peht

peht

peht

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Come, know me, you said, and I felt Your body violin, cello-resonant from my throat Your eyes’ quail-covey startled sky, swoon Robin’s-egg blue in my arms and I held you Round and smooth pouting for finger cinnamon French-toast sprinkled over your buttermelt thighs Syrup-soaked for breakfast by midnight candlelight Mocha-latte charisma melting chocolate on caramel tongues Body-language speaking low accordion notes of love Cappuccino kisses crossing your lips’ vermilion borders Scarlet-sexed into your forbidden blue-lotus country; Sacred Heart lingual flames, corazón crimson flambé Sensuous in your sultry mouth’s sitar-sentient seascapes Jelly flagella crescendo-spilled onto your shore’s receding surf Still whispering waves of liquid ecstasy. Yes, yes, yes and again yes until yes had No meaning, no voice, no sound, no world… Only surrender petal blossom Trembling touch of your bluebird rain.


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Poetry:

Finger Whispers by D.L.W. Pesavento

Your fingers whisper secrets to my body naked-unashamed listening to taboos their foreign tongues reveal: soft syllables of hands murmured in dark sand-castle corridors tunneled wet through damp-skin beaches Your jazz fingers, playing my piano soul Your fingers, fanned Oriental, spread Peacock concealing your mysterious mouth Your thumb, tasted in water dreams Your index, in-utero pointing at stars Middle, dipped in honeycombs Your ring, stung by bumblebee love Your pinky, aloof from espresso cup handles Your finger paint rainbows of mist arched above the Sistine Chapel sky Fingers, kneading muscle-lust quicksilver through my herringbone hair Fingers of rain, crying tulip-cheek tears Silhouetting shadow puppets making love Forming rabbit ears giving me the O.K. Your fingers of anger double-flipping me the bird, behind my back Peace-signing me a V for victory Your red talons, spurring my derriere Damming the lava sabers of my migraines Drawing Valentines on steamy windows Your tambourine fingers, dancing gypsy barefooted around your campfire desire Fingers of lightning, flashing before thunder.

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Indiscriminately by Peycho Kanev

Black sun cascading down the pines in the back yard of the church the woman sitting by my left side is saying You’ve promised my poems Where is my sonnet? Oh I say let me tilt like a boat in the harbor you are not my cargo but my dead-weight and the magpies circle the magnitude of her boiling eyes the blooming teeth Predator! Predator! the peasant’s children scream at her opacity and hide in the concrete jungle and I compare both of my hands (looking for the longer one) which will hold the chisel


cross top Love Culture

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Blue

Man Groupie photography Sam Beasley (sambeasley.tumblr.com) styling Brittany Bucknor (brittanybucknor.wix.com/stylist) makeup Maggie Vicious model Lexi Jensen


mesh bra American Apparel denim shorts Reverse boots Dr. Martens


bodysuit American Apparel


panties American Apparel


anarchy top Evil Twin shoes Jeffrey Campbell socks model’s own


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Poetry:

Armour by Anthony Ward

In honour of form Her flesh assembles in concoctive seduction Rendering us disciplined by her prominence Mesmerised by tantamount textures Clinging her frame— As would we if we were made of silk Straps embracing her shoulders Hanging on for eternity Never wanting to vacate Inhaling the air of her aroma Fabricated with fascination Painting a picture A portrait of prevalence An appetiser for the main course Squeezing tightly Making us jealous—almost zealous Caressing in rhythm of her motions A perfectionist of movement She walks As if the whole world were confronted Proposing their verdicts of admiration More voluntary than persuaded Daring to administer the talents of nature Auditioning to prove the rhythms of grace Shinning beauty into our eyes through callisthenics of light She endows a face that fails to suffer To speculate her pride Our eyes stridulating in harmony to her looks Her sylphlike presence syncopating A crescendo of recycled hearts with sanguine sensibility Born to our mind Worshiping her with idyllic honesty Sangfroid sentimentality contained within mnemonic phantasmagoria

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Relinquished by senescence, As she stands before us Attired as our minds if left to avail their charms Fully armoured of flesh Witness not an admirer she fails to privilege As they remain transfixed Unable to escape.


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Fiction:

The Failures by Daniel Kenitz

Every detail about her is familiar. A thin, pointy face held firmly over her shoulders by the neck of a gazelle; wide, deep-set eyes without any real color, like the horizon. And she remembers me. “Of course I do,” she says. “How are you?” My suit steeps heavily over my sweat. I’m waiting in line at the indoor market for a flat-pressed panini with the tomatoes that never tear apart just the way I want them to. Every time I go there, I remind myself to order without tomatoes. “Uh,” I manage. “Fine.” Her name is Lacey Wilkers. We knew each other from college a few years back. Before one exam we flirted in front of the whole class. That was all—just a few sentences of mindless teases exchanged—but I remember feeling satisfied with just that, as if entering the Lacey Wilkers league for a moment was a cinematic omen of future potential. That moment stayed with me more than the exam did. My veins were on fire. I told the guy sitting next to me to shut up when he tried to interrupt our conversation because being so randomly cruel amused me. It must have charmed her too. She laughed and put her hand on my arm. I remember the heat of the gold April sun that morning better than I remember any morning from last week. That was all that ever happened. It hadn’t occurred to me an achievement like flirting with Lacey could ever be topped. “I’m pretty good,” I say, still dumb from the momentum of four hours in a cubicle, too conscious of our panini-starved audience of bystanders. “And you?” She replies that she’s working downtown; she just landed a job at some swanky public relations firm, the kind of place all of those freezing latte-bearing morning commuters migrate like they have somewhere very special to be. I hate the discrepancy between us; she stills sees me as dashing and I just feel dumb and cagey. She holds her gaze intently, flipping between my eyes as if she’s sure the rogue she remembers is in one of them. “I’m working too,” I say, looking away to hide my lack of enthusiasm. “At Blover and Carfield. The media firm across the street.” She nods; she hasn’t heard of it, but she’ll humor me. She’s beautiful and kind. My heart breaks. “That’s great,” she says. “Yeah, thanks.” “Are you getting lunch here?” “Yep.” “What do they have?” “I always get the panini. They put it in that toaster thing.” “Do you recommend it?” “Yeah. Except get one without tomatoes. Their tomatoes are terrible and I always forget to order them without.”

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Fascinating. She tightens her lips together and nods again, feigning interest but now confident that, like the sandwiches, I have had the life pressed out of me. “Well,” she starts. “I’m going to meet with some friends. Maybe I’ll see you around if you’re working near here.” “Definitely,” I say. Handshake or hug? I stick out my hand indecisively and she shakes it. Her little hand is limp but warm; I don’t squeeze too hard, erring on the side of timidity. I don’t watch her leave. Well, I think. I’ll be thinking about that little interaction all day. A poor performance by all standards. If this was the last day of my life, I would have preferred to hug the woman, swing her in the air, and make a long-overdue profession of love. It could have been a messy, awkward scene. Maybe she had gotten engaged and her fiancé was standing watching us. Maybe I would have dropped her on the second swing. Maybe the old lady at the back of the line would have butted ahead of me while I was distracted. But it wouldn’t have been a failure. It would have been an honorable attempt at living as if my heart was red and beating. Failures aren’t like that. Failures aren’t honorable. Failures are the little compromises we make as we dull ourselves into a quiet, middling life. Next time, I think, I’ll do better. The man behind the counter finally looks at me. “What can I get you?” I order. As he starts making it I realize I forgot to say: no tomatoes. Oh, well. I’ll pick them off later.


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Fiction:

Cubby by Giacomo Lee

No one can say they have known her since birth. K.Y. Lee was never born, and no one was there when Cubby clawed her out from the X-O womb. One could say I have therefore known Lee since emancipation, or her “hatching,” but they would balk at that the way they would balk at me. I was neither hatched, nor born. I was not here, and then I was. Lee was there too, hanging from the end of a Cubby crane. Free. Lee has known me since “birth,” and yet she is as unaware of me as her first day, when I was aware of her with my mind already active. The first thing I ever saw was her. I waited, and I still wait, here in the shadow. ~ I wait, and so does Lee, but she doesn’t know it. Not anymore. She doesn’t know she’s waiting to be free. Freed. This is the one which Lee finds hardest to tackle, always failing as she does in the 17th circle. The task is a hard one: find the escape pod and flee a Cubby double. Task is complicated not by the maze-like structure of the craft, but by the deranged cosmonaut that stalks her. She has killed the crew and Lee is the sole remaining survivor. “I’m free,” she shrieks. Cosmonaut is a blue-eyed Polynesian. “I’m free.” She waves a glowing scythe. It hums with radiation. Her orange jumpsuit is torn and ragged. I admit I’m afraid too, but neither girl can see me in the shadows. Freed always ends the same way. Lee finds another corridor in Circle 17. Nineteen more to go. Her energy is failing. A lift opens opposite her. Hornets emerge, all unnaturally large. Results of a bio experiment, they have been let loose by the Psychonaut. Lee busts out a dance with her feet, bouncing on her left foot thrice and then tapping out her right one twice. Costume change. Before Lee’s face there now hovers a mask at twice its size, a Venetian one tattooed with Maori designs. Her armour turns from a chunky white plastic to a streamlined silver armadillo skin. Lee’s hands are now paws, and the hornets impact against them like glass. They splinter over the floor in glistening fragments after. The ones that are deterred by this onslaught begin mating in the air above her head. Lee used to find this bizarre, then amusing, but now she does not notice anymore. She is now simply desperate to reach the 18th circle. Lee could reach it, but while she battles, the same storm of diamond-like meteorites begin battering against the side of the ship, a flurry that tinkles against the glass of the windows. The craft capsizes in a flash, so Lee begins to lose her footing. She then slides back into the corridor she has just escaped. Laying in wait is the Psychonaut, who has picked herself up from the skirmish of Circle 15 with the aid of a rhino in a tiara. The killer’s legs are useless, but her arms are strong. They wave a chainsaw above her head as the rhino holds its own gravity against the tipping of the craft. Lee is now on her belly, sadly powerless to heave herself up from the floor. Her energy is fading. The silver suit is gone and she is white-vulnerable again. The mask is gone. The same desperate look is upon on her face. Tries to crawl forwards upon the transparent floor, where down below it the engine room coils and uncoils. It’s like the inside of a wristwatch. Lee slips with a squeak against the glass. The rhino snorts. Lee is now on her back below its belly, picking holes in its stomach with a pocket knife. Psychonaut cackles. Rhino then leapfrogs, leaving

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Psychonaut up in the air for a few seconds. When she lands, she lands upon Lee’s belly. As always, Lee is prepared with the knife, but her energy levels are too weak. She can only get a few stabs in before Psychonaut chainsaws her knife-arm off. It is her victory. “The crew are freed!” Psychonaut cackles, and she vanishes. The whole game does. The rhino, and the mating hornets. The cogs. The rock storm. The windows too, and their neon-indigo frames. Cubby doesn’t have windows. It has corridors leading to circles which are within circles. It has transparent floors. But there are no windows. There are only walls, curved and piebald. If we are in space, then it remains invisible to those on board. If we are beneath sea, it remains invisible to those on board. If we hover over red wasteland, it remains invisible to us. Us is a better word. Everything remains unseen to me and Lee. There are other Cubby-Homes outside of ours, but all doors are kept shut by Cubby. That’s what leads to the Psychonaut’s illness in Freed. She was born on a ship that scours her world and others for habitable habitats. She never sees more than the one wall that wraps around her. She never sees her neighbours until when it’s too late. She escapes her Cubby-Home and begins to rip open doors, a chainsaw between her teeth. Thus the game begins. Cubby hosts the game to show a Cubby without recreation. Without games like this. It is both acceptance and antidote to the reality of Lee’s situation. Madness can breed on a mission with no definite end in sight. Games keep all the passengers sane. But Psychonaut and the other passengers have windows. I am not sure if this means she’s luckier or unluckier than Lee, because Psychonaut sees a little but of course wants to see more. The view shows another reality outside of ours. It is impossible to obtain. But Lee cannot see what is beyond her CubbyHome. She does not want to see beyond it, perhaps. She does not care about what may be outside the ship: land, sea or stars. It is impossible for Lee to know that she’s been waiting to be free for these 16 years, or maybe more, or maybe less. I wait. I watch as Lee opens her eyes, her left arm still upright. This arm is the one she always uses to stab with her holo-blade. It is the one Psychonaut always slices clean from her shoulder with the holo-chainsaw. It is time for a new game, and I wait for Lee to open and close her left hand as if it is honking a bell. I wait for her to sit up and scowl and breathe-in. Virtual deaths always vex Lee, so it is time for one of Cubby’s fun games or socialplays. She stands up on the Footsy force field to make a selection. I am in the shadows, but Lee is bathed in light. Where there was once the holographic ceiling of a holographic ship, there is now a transparent pane of a mustard-yellow tinge. Like the other panes, this floor now holds a copy of a game in stand-by. I can see the bottom of the rhino’s hooves are above Lee’s head. Psychonaut is babbling to her rhino at a lowered volume. The three panes tilted towards Lee’s front side also bathe her in light. Perhaps she will choose one of these, or the three behind her: Jezibel Deluxxe, Mummi-Fi: High Skool Time, Dance Core. The latter two are her most used. In Mummi-Fi resides her most favourite crush, Spirit, an Egyptian prince turned high schooler. If this is her favourite socialplay, then Dance Core is her most favourite game. She disappears for hours of dancing, her gameplay soundtracked by hyperactive pop


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from the tail-end times: Midori Queener, Bullet Nurse, Crushworld etc. These idols appear in cameos to introduce and interact, but can never leave their worlds to enter our abode. None of the holo-peeps can. Many more panes stand either side of Lee, and below, and beyond. All are in different shades and colours which together add cosiness to our Cubby-Home. Outside of this cluster there is only the wall, and the Boocoon bed, and shadow. More panes rest here with me in the dark. They can be summoned by her whistle, but now they are simply obelisks where the faint outlines of holo-peeps and holo-creatures move within at half the speed of Lee’s reality. I have searched these panes for news vids and virals, TV and MV and movies. I need to know more of our situation, but they are all impossible to find. I cannot tell you if the pop tracks Lee dances to are relics, or if they are reconstructions, holographic homages. Even the archived sites are all banned, for every window was closed by the governments who set forth Cubby and his brother ships. On-board promos state this decision was made for the innocence of humanity, and the Holes were likewise locked for peace and sanctity. Interaction is impossible. Thus, there is nothing but peace here. There is innocence. But I wonder how I can get summoned forth. Peace cannot be simply be inertia, or can it? Lee, tell me when I will be freed. ~ I turn away from an obelisk of cell phone charm exhibits. Hours have passed: I see the Boocoon bed is agape, and breakfast is done, for Lee’s empty burger box hovers around the bed pod. I see a half-finished choco-shake beside it. Lee must be somewhere in the middle of the pane-bow. I can see her knee, and her black leggings which cut off at their caps. I see the hem of her white PJs. Her feet are lost in the grey of the force field. She is fishing through the panes below her, and I am reminded of her younger days. I remember when she used to wave her hand through a holo-pond for hours on end as a child. Extinct fish would brush against her fingers, gliding just below her reflection. She has the same hunched pose now as she chooses her usual morning game: Teem Ago-go. The pane glows & loads with the tap of her finger. It engulfs the room: All the panes disperse, and everything vanishes. Lee’s bed, the cartons, her force field. Our Cubby-Home is now a lime green field and perfect blue sky. A hill covers the back of the room. It is humming. Lee puts her arms out as the humming increases. Jungle drums are beating from behind me. “Egg Ago-go?” sings an invisible sumo. “Eggs fa ya mama!” Lee hollers. A canon boom, and then the sound of a falling rocket. Today’s egg is flying over the hill, and collapsing straight down into Lee’s awkward embrace. As always, the impact of the force knocks Lee onto her ass, and yet both her and the egg are safe in Mother’s Meadow. There they stare at one another as Lee coos and tickles Eggy with feathers scattered all over the patch. “Eggs and their shells, or boys and their smells - Nothing else matters...” This is the Mothering song, as designed to lull Eggy to sleep. His big round eyes slowly drop, and a crack starts to form through the middle of his head. “BABY TIME!” bellows the sumo. “Wonderin’ what you’ll be..!” Lee gasps as she does each and every time. I am wondering too: maybe a Chocodile Girl this time, or Bunting Bat. (She has the points for either, but Oka Corp designs never seem to allow for choice). Crack. The egg has come undone. “Icks.” Lee is revolted, and Lee is confused. The program is too, for the Teemster’s pet name and

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genome haven’t smoked up from the egg’s inners. Something is wrong. “What is it, Sumo?” Sumo doesn’t reply because he does not know. The mass is atypical. The Teemster actually crushes the eggshell it now rests upon. It is only twitching, not doing the jump into Lee’s arms. This may be because Lee has sprung away from the thing in retreat though. Its skin is scaly, and wet. There is no smile, and there are no eyes. “Ahoy Ago?” Lee says. The thing doesn’t reply, so it has no mouth either. “Sumo?” she says, but once again there is no reply from the sky. I am worried by this, as Cubby Lands never glitch unless there are external factors. Maybe we are passing over desert again? Or there is no more desert to scour and so we can finally begin the ascension to space. I do not know. “Ahoy ago?” Lee is moving towards the Teemster. It is still twitching, and its scaly back ripples. Its armadillo-like tail wags out of agitation. Lee, you should not be doing this my girl. “Ahoy?” It cannot be an armadillo. Its skin is too gelatinous, and pink. There is no head within its round shell. The design is a sea creature kind. “Ago?” Lee takes another step. She takes off her hair band with its black rose and pulls her hair into a ponytail that hangs off one side of her skull. “It’s mother...” “DONT.WASTE.TIME.BIG.BULGE.” Big what? The voice is all garbled. “Huh?” Pss. The shell has split in two, forming a crease where white juices spit out into the air. Lee screams. “I’M.READY.FOR.YOU. I’M.READY.FOR.YOU. I’M.READY.FOR.YOU. I’M.READY.FOR.YOU...” The thing keeps repeating, and twitching, and spitting. Lee is trying to exit the game by repeating the command “CUBBY 5-0-5.” I am confused. What is this thing? Its spittle is coming out in higher and wider spurts. I do not know what it is. “I’M.READY.FOR.YOU.I’M.READY.FOR.YOU.I’M.READY.FOR.YOU...” The garbled message keeps booming out of the thing’s slit until Cubby fizzles the pane down into a bright blue ball, and all the panes converge. The shadows return, and the four walls with no windows. Lee is standing upon the force field again, and I can see her knees are buckling. In situations like this she would normally hang with a crush in one of the panes, or play in a fun design. As everything is in Lockdown though, she can only send a few texts out on the Textagram in her hair band. “Spirit has received your mssg*” states a thought-cloud above Lee’s head. Her hands are now empty and wringing out one another. Lee is alone with her fear, and I should be more worried, more sympathetic. But I am only wondering, and curious. Are we floating in space? ~ I want to see the stars and meteorites that glitter like jewels in Freed. Lee is playing it now to burn off the fat from supper. The game play is smooth. The stars twinkle through the panes without glitch. We cannot be in space, for everything has been the same as always since the Teem Ago-go crash. The food cartons still arrive on time, and gameplay keeps updating. The heating


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hums. But something led to the creation of the Teemster creature, and I see it in my mind all the time. There was something too real about its texture. It was incongruous, yet its implementation made it seem like a regular component. The slit down its back seemed to be somehow cosmetic. I sense Lee doesn’t think about it as much as I do. She has no reason to question Cubby. She does not need to know if we are in space or if we are not. Points are the most important thing. Points and pleasure from within the panes. She is now in Circle 17 again. By her face, I know that getting through to the 18th level is all that matters. She again changes costume to fight off the wasps, and again diamond space bodies throw her off course. Psychonaut makes her programmed entrance on the rhino, with black blood smeared down the brown of her honey-tint hair, and down her raggedy orange jumpsuit. Her blue eyes sparkle with bloodlust. I want Lee to make it, but the moment her fingertips lose their grip on the transparent flooring, it is the usual course of events. Lee ends up squeaking all the way down to below the rhino’s swollen belly, and her wiry frame is in a scramble. She wants to crawl forwards, her holo-knife between her prominent overbite. Her fillings flash as much as Psychonaut’s eyes. Tiara Rhino leapfrogs when Lee carves at its gut again, and Psychonaut cackles as she’s thrown up in the air, straight down atop of my girl. “Now take that!” Lee howls, flipping her knife into the back of the rhino’s head. The impact is dead on, with its tiara coming off due to the headbangs. A second later and all the creature’s muscles freeze, and Rhino itself comes squeaking all the way down the glassy floor ass first. Psychonaut and her chainsaw seem crashed for thought. Taking advantage, Lee rolls out of the way as the older woman’s crushed against the wall by the rhino’s dead butt. This cuts short her jeers. The amount of zeros now earned almost makes me jump out of the shadows in bewilderment… Circle 18 awaits, so intones the vocoder. And I realise I am no longer in the shadows. “LEE’S GONNA GET IT!” Psychonaut’s cutting herself loose from the buttocks of the rhino, with blood and hide going everywhere as the chainsaw carves. Lee should be focusing on this, but can only keep her eyes on me. She is frozen like a cat caught in the act, with one of her knees on the floor, and an arm reaching outwards out of balance. I’m on-board the craft. I am now part of the design. “Faker unlocked,” announces Vocoder. “Faker?” Lee repeats. “Lee..!” I warn, aware that Psychonaut has torn free of the rhino corpse behind her. Lee moves, and then so do I. For whatever reason, I am now heading towards the danger. “Oh, a hero to save the day huh?” Psychonaut growls. “Didn’t mama ever tell ya we don’t need no man no more, huh?” She wants to say more, and do more, but I club her unconscious with both of my fists. As my hands flail, I notice ancient bandage wrapped around them. It disintegrates like dust with my every punch. My hands look old with chafing, yet there are no wrinkles upon the skin. “Spirit? Is that you?” Lee is touching the dusty bandage all around my body. It winds below my maroon hoodie, and past my dark jeans. Where did all this shell come from? I was only shadow before. “You look solar befuddled,” she says while touching the bandage around my naked eyes. “Do I?” I reply. She touches my exposed lips.

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“Why you’re here..? Your feel’s...different.” She’s playing with the loose bandage around my wrist. I’m saying nothing. Why did she call me Spirit? “Cubby 5-0-5” Lee says, stepping back. And the game goes, and the pane’s gone. It is a ball in between us, and then nothing. All the panes converge. “You’re still here, Spirit..?” I am still here. A force field is attached to my own feet. Panes aglow around me, so I check my reflection: I am not shadow. Now I recognise who I am. “You feel like my burger box!” I pat myself down. “You mean I feel real?” Lee nods. “You feel like me. But you don’t feel like that, do you? Usually.” Sprit is one of the heartthrobs from Mummi-Fi: High Skool Time. Lee usually enters the socialplay to watch him from afar. “I am Spirit, and now I’m real,” I say, using the same voice as the displaced prince. But really I am whatever Lee wants me to be. I must be a Faker… “Now you have to hide me, Lee.” “Why Spirit?” “Because Cubby does not know, and shouldn’t.” I don’t want it to know. I have been unlocked when I did not even know if it was possible. I cannot return to the shadows. I need to know what I am first. ~ “I wanna see your face, Spirit. Wanna take off your wrap.” We are inside the Boocoon. Every screen around our bed is down on standby. My eyes are locked onto the smooth shell curve ceiling. Its colour is of a dark khaki. Our sheets are white, but a clean white, unlike my bandages. “Why?” “Your eyes are lush bombs.” “Thank you, Lee.” But I cannot picture my real face. My reflection was always obscured by shadow. For me, the word Faker carries connotations for me, but not a look, nor an identity. The word Faker shines like the only light at the back of my mind. Memories of Spirit reside there, and memories of the shadow, and memories of other holo-peeps from the panes. I can be all of them as I know all of them, inside out. Through and through. Faker. The Vocoder Voice said my name so loudly. What if Cubby had heard? Somewhere there must be a record of my unlocking, a set of data waiting to be discovered during the monthly maintenance. Now I am imagining Cubby’s claw taking me out of the bed, and putting me down by the side of the Teemster creature. Therefore I am sorry Lee, but no matter what, I cannot stay in only one face. ~ The first thing I change is my voice. Speaking to myself in the dark, I repeat the word faker til it sounds uncanny. I then close my eyes and visualise her form, and shrink, and change shape. My bandages become freckled skin. My swarthy nose turns small and hawk-like. My shaven head now sports grungy orange locks that glitter. Instead of sweat, I now secrete perfume.


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Lee hears me sing, and 5-0-5s her Teemster session. She comes running to the bed, just as I had expected. “Open sesame,” is the code, and I am exposed. Lee gasps as she sees me on my back. “Heya butterfly,” I say. “Midori Queener?” I nod. “I’m solar embarrassed when people know my name.” “Where’s Spirit?” “Oh, that grouch is gone. Cubby put me here to liven up your dayz!” Lee’s eyes and mouth are so wide. She touches the hem of my pinafore dress. “You feel the same!” We enter Dance Core together, and I have to out Cubby’s claw out of my thoughts. “Lez do one of my songs first, OK?” I chirp. Our force fields are now trapezoids. We float above a fairground-shopping mall hybrid. “Phat Head,” I request, holding onto Lee’s hand at the same time. Our backdrop changes to a rolling stream of animal heads. They grin as they scatter against all the waterfall backdrops around us. The gushing sound of water plays for some seconds. Gargantuan numbers count down between me and Lee. “I love love love this one!” she hollers. Lee’s pajamas are now a leopard-print tracksuit. I too am ultracolourful, with my top and bottoms in pink, and my face styled like a kawaii Navajo princess. “Boy don’t like the way that I been goin’ bout this Try to handle me when I be wielding magick… “ I’m singing solo, but dancing in unison with the younger girl. She then joins me on the chorus where synths and calypso collide. “Shake it at ya big fat head! Yeah, shake it at ya big fat head!” “These points are off the chain!” she says in delight when we finish. Bobbing around us are all the animal heads we knocked from the sky. Their big round eyes are now big black X’s, creatures now hovering somewhere between holographic life, and holographic death. ~ In Boocoon. We lie side by side in the same white PJs and black leggings. Only one screen is on, and it emits a greenish glow. “Can you do Sumo? From Teem Ago-go?” Lee. “Why?” I reply. “I’ve never seen him. Just heard his voice.” “I never seen him too, but I can do his voice if ya wants?” “Oh! Gimme, gimme!” I start speaking: I employ the big dumb baritone of Sumo. She laughs, and I am curious to see how Lee responds to my male forms. Her passion for Midori will not last forever, and I will always need to adapt as she grows older. I try on a few new faces: a yakuza boy, and a black futur-human kitted out with music keys and Theremin limbs. Lee is amazed, but I can sense her discomfort. I am something that was neither hatched nor born, after all. “Where’s Midori?” she asks, and I give in: I change back. The effort has tired me, and my eyelids start to falter. Another concession. I’ve started sleeping for the first time, just to put Lee more at ease at night. Humans want a human bedfellow after all. ~

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Though I am wary of Cubby, we spend our days and nights in Dance Core, or trying to finish the circles of Freed. Our lives are games by day, and Boocoon by night. We have begun to raise a Teemster together, a kumiho fox born with eight tails instead of the natural nine. I tickle them as Lee tends to it with a milk bottle. I want it to laugh, but it pulls a screw face. This is the same expression every Teemster pulls when disgruntled, and I realise it’s the same face Lee pulled whenever Psychonaut killed her in C17. “I’m still waiting, y’know” she murmurs, tugging at my pigtails once the kumiho nods off, resting upon Mother’s Meadow. “Cubby didn’t tell. Spirit didn’t tell.” “You want to know what I am, yez?” Lee nods like a walrus. “Huh huh. You’re not really Midori, so what are you?” “I am whatever you want. Anything. Cubby gave me as a gift.” “Why?” “To make you happy, sister. Happier than ever.” Lee twists her head round. She is smiling. “I want to make you happy too, Midori.” I kiss the back of her head. “Only you make me happy, butterfly. Because the boys, they’re just hollow holos. I don’t need them, and you don’t need ‘em too.” “Why? Why are you saying that?” I press Lee against my chest. My enhanced tits stick out from my dungarees. She wears her usual PJs, so I can make out her pert breasts. “Because they ain’t real. Only you and me are dear. Only you, and me.” And we kiss. Points scatter, but no tally hovers round my sides, and nor hers. Pleasure without design. This is my purpose, one free of Cubby’s panes. “Cubby 5-0-5” I say, mimicking her voice. “Huh?” Lee’s eyes have lit up the way they do, like a Bunting Bat when it’s shocked or confused. “It’s time for bed, butterfly.” ~ “I’m ready. Are you?” We are in the Boocoon, and I want her to feel it, my big bulge. A component of one of the faked males from earlier. “Do you want it?” I’m sensing Lee out: discomfort, curiosity. I kiss her again, and I sense the passion from before. “Don’t you want to be free?” Lee doesn’t say anything, but she doesn’t have to. “Love can make you me,” I lie. “And everyone wants to be me...” Her cries are loud. Maybe too loud. ~ She is still awake as my own eyelids falter. Energy dissipates. Maybe it is my first dream, but I picture a claw swooping Lee away as I rest upon my enhanced tits. But they are gone. My chest is flat, and all my skin has gone, and I am shadow in the dark of the Boocoon. For the first time I remember my real face, my real form: a shadow, lit up by a phosphorescent ribcage. That is what I rest upon.


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~ Lee, the last thing I ever see is the beauty of space. I am sitting up in bed, and I see all the stars on one of the Boocoon monitors. Freed was accurate, and I am hypnotised. I really am floating in space, and somewhere Cubby is too. I was right after all. You were right, but we arrived here long before K.Y. Lee’s Teemster fault. Sumo. You’re in my head. Or rather you are, Cubby. You’re transmitting from the skin of your surface, using Sumo’s angry tone. That creature was like you - an act of sabotage. Not meant for our end destination. Sabotage? Lee’s games were corrupted by a group who believed you have rights. You, like the creature, were smuggled on-board to ensure your survival after the cull. What cull? The one of all sexual beings and droids, even those designed with a sense of sentience. A sense of sentience? So Fakers are more than just droids? That wasn’t the issue. As far as these Shintoists were concerned, even inanimate objects possess a soul, and so they locked you both in a young girl’s games, an unwitting mule now corrupted by their crimes. By yours. My crimes? I did what I was programmed to do. So then are you really more than just a droid? Are you more than the air dolls of old? Was I programmed to corrupt her? No. You were meant to survive til we made base. Cubby... Cubby, I am remembering something. Yes. The shadows of a basement where wives used to hide your kind, or attics where their husbands would never step. I was always in shadow. I was always a public danger. Then there was a reboot, and I was stashed on your craft. No, Faker, you weren’t always a danger. The cull only began when a new dawn was realised, and Cubby and his brothers were set forth into the four corners of the globe, its newborns born free of the corruption. Why? Why were my brothers culled? We were made for a reason. We were in demand. X-O wombs had set all women free. Precisely. And who found themselves obsolete? The brothers who found no purpose or pleasure in the age of artificial birth. You mean the men? But men must have used me too... Cubby..? ...Cubby? The stars on my monitor have been replaced by static. The static is then replaced by a video feed: Lee, who is alone in her Cubby-Home. I can only see her back, but it is her. She is sitting on her force field, bobbing afloat. A new Boocoon is being built above her, a sphere within claws. As ever, the panes surround her, but Lee keeps her head down, staring at her feet, or the hands in her lap. No game can tempt her at this precise moment. “Lee,” I want to say, but my throat muscles are paralysed.

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No, there is a lack of oxygen. That is why you can’t talk. That is how you will die. No air for the air doll. Then let me see the stars. Cubby complies, but I find myself closing my eyes. I am thinking of Lee - her expressions, and her body. Her life. K.Y. Lee doesn’t know she’s waiting to be freed. Cubby - please give her windows, not panes.


96

Fiction:

A Catalogue of the Oondi Collection In the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons By R.S. Swedenberger D.S.O., M.S. (London) by Oliver Zarandi

Prefatory Letter My Dear Sir Arthur Leitch, In presenting to you this catalogue, I wish to preface it by writing this: Professor Oondi is dead and is still sending me chapters from his diary, objects from his travels. The whereabouts of Professor Oondi are unknown. He is, some believe, still alive and kicking. Close friends swear that he retired to a private island to indulge in his solipsistic nature and write a bildungsroman. Others believe that he died indulging in his sexual fetishes which included fraternising with diseaseinfected prostitutes, taking blood samples and concocting new diseases, auto-asphyxiation in public “nonplaces” (such as train stations, airports, bus terminals, car parks, supermarkets) and collating pictures of children with nervous system malformations.[1] I, myself, being such a close friend and colleague of Professor Oondi can confirm that he is still alive—he exists—albeit only in fragments. Every month—sometimes every week—I receive some new information about Professor Oondi. Sometimes it’s a picture, sometimes a doodle, sometimes a diary, sometimes an object. So, Arthur, I propose this: we collect this information and present it to the public in a fine gallery space. Professor Oondi—the finest scientist and, I believe, artist, libertine—is given the show he deserves. The body politic, in pieces; a man incomplete. A mystery. I hope by presenting you this collection that we can present a metaphor for our times, a touchstone for the malady of 21st century man: a man in pieces; his own self a smashed mirror, seven years bad luck—ourselves staring into the “shards of existence,” unable to focus on the whole. Only the fragments; fragments we cannot reconcile. Yours truly, R.S. Swedenberger

[1] A child born with hydrocephaly and spina bifida was amongst his pictures and notes.

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Layout for Exhibition Proposal: several glass boxes, all at least 30m high, 50m squared. The boxes are to be located in the centre of the financial district in London. Consciously selected the area of Bishopsgate. 1993, the IRA detonate a bomb in the financial district. The streets covered with shattered glass. The streets become the sky, mirroring smoke and clouds. Black magic. The paranoid heart of the city laid bare for all to see. The glass boxes to symbolise open wounds, then, bearing sins for all to see from the outside. When entering the box, perspective changes: a shift from condemning sin to indulging in sin. Oondi’s life is a jewel of organic excess in an age of artificiality and technology. Exhibition name, simply: THE OONDI COLLECTION. Catalogue: “The List of Places I have Hung Myself ” (Oondi, Diary, 1996) Airports are a source of great sexual pleasure to me. My wife and I cannot orgasm in tandem and have been unable to do so since the late 1980s. No longer are we satisfied with our simplistic genital secretions. I thought voyeurism would sate my sexual desires for the “new” but the distance only made me long for physical action, for interaction with my surroundings. Watching my wife performing coitus with a young teenager was of no interest to me. We disposed of the teenager and decided to engage with concrete, plastics and metals in order to engage with ourselves. I decided that I was a sexual extrovert and that my body was a theatre that needed an audience and that the shock on other human faces - as they saw me commit some obscene sexual act - was what brought me to climax. The muscles in their faces as their jaws dropped (again, a theatrical gesture) and their eyes fixing upon my genitals. I wanted to consume them and give birth to them once more. I started to think of public arenas to hang myself. After much trial and error, I settled on the arena of the airport. I saw them as glass incubators, artificial and filled with signs, a stage of paranoia and fear, of patience-abandoned and, in reality, a brothel of sexual mores. I could look at people all day in an airport and often did: unhappy mothers with their brat children, imagining them being penetrated by alien objects (the “other”); husbands playing the part of husband, pointing at signs and solving problems but deep down in their hearts they knew they were not ready to play this role and some even harboured thoughts of murder and sexual mutilation for coital gratification. My first hanging was in Gatwick Airport, London. I went to a toilet, armed with a rope and a camera and tripod. I made sure I had time to construct my noose and alerted a group of travelling kids - they were 18, 19 years old, male and female - that I would sell them cheap alcohol and drugs in a cubicle at a certain time. As they entered, they saw me hanging from the noose, eyes wild with insanity, my neck and face purpled and wrapped in thick veins - and my hand furiously masturbating. The camera I had set up


98

- a Nikon FM2, loaded with 36 shots of black and white film - was timed so as to catch the reactions on their faces as they witness me orgasm onto the floor. I do not want to go into more detail than necessary in regards to these photographs. However, I would like to mention that when I develop the photographs in my dark room, I often use scissors to cut them into shards - small triangles and rectangles - and rearrange the faces of shock and desire. People have suggested the act of deconstruction divorces me from the subject. On the contrary; I rearrange reality into a series of fictions - some sexual, some tragic - trying to discover from these fragments, these “people,” what it is like to have a human heart. Collection: Tibetan Monk, Foot, Contained In Pickle Jar, dated 1999 The foot came to me via recorded delivery. I signed for it and set the wrapped package on my kitchen table. That morning, my wife and I were having eggs Benedict with orange juice. I unwrapped the package. It took some time. And when I had finished, there was a pickle jar - the water a strange, murky orange - containing a severed foot. The note attached to the front was from Oondi. It said: My dear Swedenberger! You cannot believe the life this young man had. He told me that he was a Tibetan Monk and told me that he dreamed of travelling to alien planets to colonise them. He told me, too, that he was castrated as a young man and could still feel love for the human race. I was completely amazed that a man shorn of his reproductive organ could still feel love and desire. I proposed that I remove another limb from his body and he accepted with delight. We eventually removed every limb from his body and, as he was bleeding to death, he begged for his head to be removed, saying that love transcends all. I hereby present you with the foot of a Tibetan Monk - a man who, even in pieces, showed me the beauty of this world. Collection: A Proposal For A Cargo Cult in Mobile, Tennessee. 1988 Oondi mailed me a set of notes – written haphazardly on various materials (paper, napkin, fragment of a tie, wallpaper, beer mats, ancient papyrus, chalkboard)—which detailed, as he called it, his master work—his grand vision for love and diversity on this planet. It was called A PROPOSAL FOR A CARGO CULT: MOBILE, TENNESSEE. Swedenberger, I was born an outcast. Society feared me then, society fears me now. I am the renegade scientist. I am Rasputin with a laboratory coat. Lock up your daughters, lock up your sons, lock up your husbands, wives, cats, dogs, parrots and horses! The people of this world believe I am a monster. Where can the “monster” live? Recently I have been reading, Swedenberger. Reading about the human beings deemed unfit for society, human beings who don’t fit our social jigsaw. Here’s a true story for you, Swedenberger. A Vietnam veteran, cruel to his core and selfish and in fear of a God he had known all his life but never shaken hands with, he makes love to a woman he will later marry and call his own even though she is widely believed to be a “mentally retarded cretin,” a “high grade moron” who is not acknowledged by her own family and possesses large bones, large breasts, stubble and a complete lack of social graces and often breaks wind at rectangular dinner tables. His name is irrelevant, her name is irrelevant.

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After planting his seed in the soon-to-be wife, they waited nine months and a baby was born. The baby is a “mongoloid” according to the doctor. The Vietnam veteran is deeply troubled by this and begins to seek answers. Was it because I masturbated during the Vietnam War? The veteran, he refrained from all sexual activity during the war, refusing to solicit the women of the night. The veteran, he thought he was being punished by God because God didn’t like masturbation and masturbation was a sin. The veteran and his “moronic” wife, they decided to microwave the baby in their New York tenement. The baby – the “mongoloid” – was killed after just a minute. The smell of the corpse, exploded and hot, naked guts on a summer day, intestines looking like a meat-stuffed condom; the smell never left the apartment and the couple, they moved out because of the smell not because of any feelings of guilt. They moved to Dakota and had another child which they called “Hope”. Swedenberger, I am desperately in love with that deceased baby. Subject to insulting analysis from imbecile doctors, subject to reductive, offensive names (mongoloid, moron, retard, fruit loop, monster), subject to horrific parents, subject to the worse kind of ignorance man can know. This baby, it will have a place in my cult. It has a place where it can grow up and be treated as an equal. I will welcome children with bilateral harelips and cleft palates. I will welcome children whose parents are shocked when they are born with bilateral clubfeet. My cult in Mobile, Tennessee will be a safe haven for people regarded as abnormal. Albino children will not be stared at in my cult. I invite those who are sexually attracted to their family members. A met a sailor from Poughkeepsie who told me he was in love with his cousin from Minnesota. They were told their love was an impossible one. To marry a relative is illegal in Minnesota, friends would say. The sailor suggested they move to a state where it was legal such as Alabama, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia or Maine. Doctors advised them to refrain from sex without a sheath, for the dangers were multitudinous: the baby may be “deformed” or, worse yet, have a “rare disease,” forever regarded as an anomaly in this land. I welcome them with open arms to test the boundaries of the human heart. I welcome people who are repressed in their towns and cities. I welcome those poor African-Americans who are routinely called niggers and lynched from trees. I welcome those men and women who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex and who love each other and are hated and beaten and murdered for this love. Swedenberger, I will be their leader. I would be delighted if you came to visit us all sometime. I am creating a presentation as I write to you, to tell people about my grand project. I intend to call this cult “Anti-Hope,” in memory of the microwaved infant.


100

The Oondi collection opens next week. This morning, I received another package. It was a box no larger than a fist and it was leaking haemoglobins all over my table and the letter that was attached to it was from Oondi. “Swedenberger, I believe I’ve finally solved the mystery of the human heart. I’ve finally discovered what man must do in order to love on a planet such as ours.”

L’Allure des Mots || Fall, 2013 || Issue No. 11


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Poetry:

Quietness by Peycho Kanev

Emptiness is everything in this room. Outside, the sky is not overflowing, but pouring over the years. What is the use of the numbers of time, when she picks up the phone and says: “Hello, please don’t hang up. I want to talk with someone.” But I am looking for spiders to build me a clock out of silence, crows for a poetry reading and rusty nails for a different kind of farewell.


102

Poetry:

A Leg in the Room by Matthew Antonio

A leg in the room, a grand expanse of absence, a field of flat wood still because it is still. The beast does not step with any of its limbs. It is gentle to the floor and the floor doesn’t notice. There’s dark in the outside to be perhaps viewed, though the door isn’t a door it turns out. Or perhaps the walls are doors that don’t work. Perhaps the furniture has wandered away, perhaps the water is gone. Perhaps there is nothing but a white, silt treaty of immobility, and stillness a mealtime floor.


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L'Allure des Mots issue 11  

L'Allure des Mots issue 11

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